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December 5, 2006 > The dynamic musical duo

The dynamic musical duo

by Charlotte Flowers-Weston

They are two energetic, ebullient, and fun-loving people. They are outgoing, friendly, and beautiful. They are Patty and Abigail – a passionate pair of melodious musicians.

This duo has a set of vocal cords that will sweep you into an imaginary paradise with an ability to make their acoustic guitars sing right along with them.

Patty and Abigail simply means, “the two of us” for two women that have been best friends and a musical duo since they met in 1987.

“We have about 15 or 16 guitars between the two of us,” said Newark native, Patty Sutherland, who received her first guitar at age 9. 

“My eldest sister gave me a guitar and I played it a little bit then lost interest. I was at my nephew’s birthday party and Abigail was there. They sent us to the store to get ice cream or something, so we got in the car and we started singing. I started singing the harmony and she kept on with the melody and I was like, ‘nice,’” Patty remembers, smiling.  “She had a guitar and I had a guitar and we knew about three chords,” she adds.

But that didn’t keep them from auditioning Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco for a summer street music festival. To their surprise, they were hired. “We took some lessons for about five months and got a few gigs at retirement homes to get us ready for Ghirardelli Square,” said Patty.

Abigail Mueler the soft-spoken one of the duo, worked hard on her music too, devoting many hours after high school locked in her room learning chords on six and 12-string guitars while imitating the vocal harmonies of classic pop-rock tunes like “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons.

Abigail shyly admits that she’s always loved Mary Poppins and her music. “I’ve always loved to sing and play guitar in high school. I use to perform Mary Poppins for my family and friends. When Patty and I hooked up, it just grew,” she said.

Patty’s mother Judy King said she saw something special in her daughter as soon as she was born. “Patty was a Christmas baby, always a joy and so much fun,” she said.

In between working hard at honing their musical talents the duo managed to find time to plan their families, including having a couple of their children at the same time.

Bruce Kaphan the duo’s project producer, said when he first met the pair they were reluctant to work with anyone. “They seemed a little afraid of trusting a relative stranger to help them with their recording project,” he said.  “I quickly learned that they had recently had a less-than-positive recording experience, and were justifiably a bit nervous about trying again to make an album.”

Patty and Abigail started writing and producing their own music and with Kaphan’s help, they cut their first album “Here We Go” in 1999 and released it in 2000.  Their second album, “Here We Go Again” was released five years later.

The women say they write their music to reflect songs of love, life, laughter and change. “Can’t Get Over you,” came to Patty while she was shopping in at a Safeway supermarket. “I had the first line of the song and kind of the tune of the chorus, so I called Abigail as I was writing the words on my grocery list,” she said laughing.

The pair has written many other beautiful balladic tunes such as “Run Away” which features the duo’s delicate guitar phrasing balanced by Paul Olguin’s rock solid bass line, gentle percussion by Pam Delgado, and elegant keyboard parts performed by project producer Bruce Kaphan.

Now married with two sons and one daughter, Abigail has been a massage therapist for nearly a decade.  Prior to that, she worked as a Special Education teacher.

Patty is also married with two teenage daughters, who according to her have not been bitten by the music bug, just yet, but instead have a talent of their own. “They don’t seem to be into the music like I am, but they write very well,” said Patty.

The duo resides as neighbors in Fremont and when they aren’t making music, Patty and Abigail donate their time performing at homeless shelters, convalescent hospitals, and supporting a local breast cancer foundation. They also play regularly at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and local wineries.

Both women are happily married and say that their husbands are supportive of their music. “They have to be,” said Patty. “They know it’s our passion and we won’t stop.”

You can find out more about Patty and Abigail, their music and upcoming concert dates by visiting their website at www.pattyandabigail.com.

 
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