For 25 years, Deb Hunseder and Stephanie Callahan have been working together and sharing their music with the world. And over the course of 2 decades and some change, these self-proclaimed “girls with guitars” have a list of musical accomplishments a mile long. They have played all over the country with some HUGE acts. They’ve performed their stirring acapella rendition of the national anthem for the Atlanta Braves, Tampa Rays and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And between the two of them, they’ve released eight albums. Recently, AMG got the chance to chat with Stephanie about Halcyon’s beginnings, successes and future.
AMG: So you met in 1989 and then had your first gig together 2 weeks later? Obviously you guys realized you had a connection quickly- tell us a little about what lead up to that first performance and the moment when you realize you had something special.
Stephanie Callahan: Yeah- We both had mutual friends. I was in college at the time. Our friends knew I liked to play guitar and sing. And I wasn’t doing it, or even thinking about doing it, professionally at the time. And they insisted that I meet this other person that they knew, named Deb and she liked to sing and play guitar. We didn’t even live in the same city. So sure enough, they introduced us and we ended up playing poolside at a party the first night we met. It was like wow. I think I was just singing harmonies at the time and she knew a ton of songs already. And the harmonies were spot on without any effort. So I think we realized at that point that this was pretty special and that we should probably try to get together and make something of it.
AMG: What is it that each of you brings to the table that makes you such a good match?
SC: The thing that is unique about what we do is that we don’t write together. We’re completely separate writers. We have never written a song together. So what we add to each other’s songs has become kind of our specialty and our novelty, in that what we bring to each other’s songs in the harmonies and different ideas after the song has already been created works for us. And it make it unique because its not like listening to the same singer/songwriter all night long. Our writing styles are very different. So it has worked for us in that it’s a variety of songwriting instead of it being a similar songwriting style.
AMG: You guys have opened for so many big names, John Mayer, India Airie, Sister Hazel, the list is immense, who was the first major act you opened for and what was that experience like?
SC: Oh my gosh, I have to think about this. Deb probably would be better at answering this. I think the first big one…well it would have been Sister Hazel but the funny thing about it at the time is that they opened for us. We played a college bar in Gainesville and they asked if they could open for us. The bar name was Rickenbackers. That’s how we got hooked up with those guys, that’s how we met those guys, so we played with them. Matchbox 20 was Tabitha’s Secret at the time. We used to play shows together and they became big after that. The first big national act we opened for I think was Crosby Stills and Nash and that was really, really big. I remember my knees shaking actually doing that because there were so many people there and it was a massive, massive crowd. So, yeah, that was the biggest and the first national act and it was quite an experience.
AMG: You guys have been performing together for 25 years, what’s the strangest thing a fan has ever done for you?
SC: I was playing in Atlanta at the time and we were flying out the next morning and I had a fan run through the airport and try to catch me on my way to my flight.
AMG: So you have several albums between you and Deb, which one do you think best defines the group?
SC: Gosh, that’s hard because they all represent different time periods and at the time, they were all very special to us. I think Two Bars Short of a Hit probably, believe it or not, is the one that represents the spectrum of where we’ve been and where we’re at. It’s more of an acoustic record of all the ones we’ve done, but I think that pretty much sums up a lot of where we came from and where we are now.
AMG: How would you describe your live performances to someone who’s never been to your show?
SC: We’re definitely very, very audience interactive. We’re not shy, bashful singer/songwriters that stand up there and don’t really say things between songs. We’re definitely into engaging the crowd and having a lot of fun. It’s definitely not a serious show. Definitely like to bounce things off the crowd, bounce things off each other, laugh a lot, joke around, that’s kind of our thing and the music happens to be really good as well so it’s a very entertaining show – and they’re never the same.
AMG: Lastly, what can we expect from Halcyon in the next year?
SC: Interesting- it’s funny because we’ve become more nostalgic. That being said, we both live in different states now. We definitely would like to each write another 5 strong songs, I think they will be completely different from each other because we musically gone in different kind of directions. But, yeah, I think it would be a really interesting record and we would absolutely love to write and release another record. And our fans would love it too! But definitely have that on the back burner, trying to do another record.
AMG: Anything else you’d like to add?
SC: Yeah- one thing that I think is important that Eddie’s Attic became really our favorite venue in the Southeast. It probably gave us the most opportunity that we’ve had too as far as meeting different people, playing a different scene, getting our name out there and Eddie’s, of course at that time was very,very tough place to get into. If you played Eddie’s, you had reached a certain level. And I think that really gave us a start in the Southeast and our Atlanta fans remain some of our most loyal and favorite fans too. So I definitely have a soft spot for Atlanta, for sure.
Halcyon is one fun show that you don’t want to miss. Check this talented duo for yourself at Eddie’s Attic on August 1st at 7:30 P.M.