Inside the dynamic duo of Jody Feeley and Brad Rasmussen
Chamberlin Birch, featuring singer-songwriters Jody Feeley and Brad Rasmussen, has a unique style with tight harmonies and creative instrumentation, evoking an Americana/folk sound of the mountains. Following their debut EP “Falling In Love,” they’re working on a follow-up while performing locally as a both duo and playing with other bands (they’ve opened for such artists as country star Cam and Jonah Werner). Covering genres as varied as our snowpack, they call their style “Indie Core Alt Country Pop,” a tribute to their versatility. Here’s a little more on what makes them tick.
S&C: How’d you come up with the band name?
Jody: I love vintage things – making old things into something new, and beauty in simplicity. Our producer told us about this old rundown ski area in Vermont that had just one rope tow that goes up to a small hot chocolate stand. It was open from 1930 to 1988 — $25 for a season pass. It stayed like that the whole time it was open. The name of the ski mountain was Chamberlin Birch.
Brad: We got a text from our producer that just said “Chamberlin Birch.” I thought it was a musician from the studio we forgot to pay or something. It ended up being our favorite band name idea. We loved the story of the ski hill, so we went with it.
S&C: Where’d you grow up and what’s your music background?
Jody: I was born in Illinois but have lived here in Steamboat since I was 10. I’ve been on stage since I was 5, doing all kinds of things like plays and singing in church. Music has always been a big part of my life – I started young and have never stopped singing.
Brad: I grew up in Oklahoma City, and moved here in 2009.
S&C: How’d you two meet and how did the band come together?
Jody: In 2009, Brad was between jobs in Oklahoma and needed a break. A mutual friend suggested he come to Steamboat, where he lived with my parents for a month. That’s when I met him and he told me he played guitar and sang a little. We worshipped together at Euzoa, where we started finding our sound and voices. Then we started writing songs together and decided to record our first album. Our friend Jesse Christensen heard us and shared his stage and we’re forever grateful.
Brad: I was in Oklahoma and looking for somewhere new to go. I worked with a guy who was friends with Jode and her family. After a couple things fell through, he put me in touch with her dad Rob. Three weeks later I packed up a ’95 Ford Taurus named “The Green Machine” and was on the way to Steamboat. Jode was doing the music at Euzoa and while I was unpacking my car she saw my guitar and asked if I played. She immediately brought me in and we’ve been playing together since.
S&C: What makes your sound so unique and do you play off each other well?
Jody: Our voices blend well together and we both love a good harmony. We’re able to make a big sound with just the two of us through our different instruments. We’re like a brother/sister duo. We’re very different – I’m more of an extrovert; I love to dive into the people and soak in the moment. Brad is passionate about the details and works hard on us sounding the best we can.
Brad: Vocals and harmonies and what I think is a big full sound for a duo. As for playing with each other, first off were great friends, which is where it all starts. We also balance each other well — between Jode’s love of engaging with people and me liking the details.
S&C: How hard is it to write a new song?
Jody: Sometimes it comes easily – I wrote a 40th birthday song for my best friend the night before her party. It came together so quickly because of all the memories we shared. Other times it’s really hard. I’ve found it’s always best to let it flow from my heart and my journey than to try and make a song work.
Brad: It can be pretty hard, but a lot of times a song just sort of unravels itself.
S&C: How often do your kids come up and sing?
Jody: It truly is a blessing to be able to sing with my girls (Alexa and Micah Lynn). Anytime I get a chance to do so is such a gift.
S&C: What’s your favorite song you guys play?
Jody: I don’t really have one favorite, but I love the ones that are rich with harmony and have a good beat. It’s fun to tweak a song and make it our own. Lately, we’ve been playing some Brothers Osborne and Maren Morris and that’s been really fun.
Brad: That’s a tough one. We do so many different genres, so a favorite song moves around a lot. Lately for me, “Honey Jar” by The Wood Brothers has been pretty fun.
S&C: How hard was this last year?
Jody: I didn’t realize it would be so hard – the break seemed nice at first, but then I understood how much the music meant to me. Nothing else gives me that feeling of expressing who I really am as much as my music and sharing it with everyone. I love sharing my music with people – the universal connection of music is so powerful. We still played together quite a bit because Brad is a part of our family, so that gave us some time together.
S&C: Brad: It was really hard, as it was for a lot of other people. Losing a large part of how we make a living and not being able to do something we love to do was pretty difficult.
S&C: What do you love about Steamboat?
Jody: Everything. Growing up here I have a lot of fabulous memories. I met my husband here, my kids were raised here, and both sides of my family are here. There’s a simplicity to the beautiful people and landscape here, including the mountains, lakes and rivers. I love to explore it.
Brad: Definitely the people. I feel blessed to have the community I have. There are lots of great things to do outside here.
S&C: What do you do when not making music?
Jody: I’m usually camping in the woods in the summer, or skiing on the mountain in the winter, with friends and family.
Brad: I like a lot of the normal Steamboat stuff, including fishing, camping, hiking and skiing. I also like projects — fixing stuff and making stuff. Whatever I can do with my hands that’s creative.
S&C: What’s your favorite place to play?
Jody: Each place is so uniquely different and each place has something special about it. Whether it’s the people, the location or the atmosphere, every experience has a nuance for me. I’m so thankful to have a place like this with such amazing people to do the thing I love.
Brad: That’s a difficult one to answer. There are a ton of great places to play around here, for a ton of different reasons. I like them all and look forward to playing this winter.