There are at least two tiers of nostalgia. On one hand, you might hear a song on the radio that reminds you of a first kiss, a fey romance, the first slow dance at a high school mixer. And it can come as quite a shock when the song in question pops up on the oldies station.
On the other hand, some songs remind us of shores we’ve never seen, if only because we weren’t born in time. “Nostalgic” as an adjective locks like a Lego with the songs of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin—but fewer and fewer among us can actually say “I remember when.”
Lori Conner is talking about the time the Tim and Lori Show played for the elderly residents of a local senior care facility. Their audience was mostly silent, she says, and many of them didn’t or couldn’t register much response at all, but she knows that the group’s repertoire fell on appreciative ears.
“Those were their songs and their times,” Conner explains. “We just wanted to do them as well as we could because we knew they’d remember.”
Guitarist Tim Mueller, summing it up nicely, puts it another way: “It would be like if you were in a coma right now and we busted out a Flock of Seagulls song.”
For Conner and Mueller, there’s a nostalgic connection with the music, too: love for “the old stuff” played a part in getting them together romantically as well as musically. The two had known each other since they were 12, she explains, but after graduating from high school in Darby they went their separate ways and didn’t meet again until their 20-year reunion.
“We’d both been in bands before and had just fallen in love with the old stuff, and even though Tim was still living in California we used to send tapes to each other. I sent him the music to ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and he sent me back a tape of him playing it on guitar. And I just thought, ‘Wow!’
“We didn’t start out wanting to play together,” she continues. “We just wanted to get together, and it took us the first year figuring out how to be together. Then we started playing more and more and we thought, ‘Hey, we don’t sound so bad.’”
The two (drummer Tom Bushey makes it a trio) favor sparse arrangements and simple bass lines. They trade off between nimble guitar leads and Conner’s soaring voice, which effortlessly pulls down the high notes and, you might say, quenches the spots that others can’t reach. Simplicity, they agree, is the watchword.
“One of the things you learn after 15 or 20 years of learning an instrument is how not to play,” Mueller muses.
“And I think people try to make some big statement when they play old jazz,” Conner continues, “But when you listen to some of those old songs, you can just hear how much attention the songwriter paid to each note. We don’t want to add anything that isn’t there.”
See The Tim & Lori Show Friday, Dec. 31 at the Hob Nob from 7 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday, Jan 4 at 6:30 p.m. You can also catch them Wednesday, Jan. 5 at Marianne’s at 6:30 p.m. All shows are FREE.