Coming from a thousand miles and a border apart, Pharis and Jason Romero met in 2007 at an old-time fiddle jam. Both had been playing music for decades – Pharis her whole life – and both were drawn to early country, old time, blues, and bluegrass. In 2010 they moved their home and the J. Romero Banjo Company north to Pharis’ hometown, the small interior B.C. town of Horsefly. In this wilderness town they build their finely crafted instruments and play and write the music, new and old, that they adore.
Writing songs about ageless characters, hard lives, loss and love, Pharis’ songs have been played on radios around the world, and she was called a “historical treasure” by the BC Folklore Society. On stage from a very young age with her family’s country band, she was a co-founder of the award-winning and innovative roots-folk band Outlaw Social, releasing two celebrated albums from 2005 to 2009.
Jason was a fixture on the Arcata, CA bluegrass and old-time scene, and is deft in banjo styles from early fingerstyle to clawhammer to bluegrass. When not playing banjo, his resophonic and acoustic guitar playing is a distinct texture, melodic and percussive.
Jason and Pharis played with the Haints Old Time Stringband, with fiddler Erynn Marshall and mandolinist/guitarist/songwriter Carl Jones. Releasing their debut recording, Shout Monah, in 2009, SingOut magazine said “This is a very special recording, one that [we]’ll return to time and again. “They play and sing superbly” (fRoots), and Shout Monah was named one of the best banjo releases of 2009 (Banjo Newsletter).
In 2010 Jason and Pharis went on to release their concept recording Back Up and Push. This instrumental album of fiddle tunes by nineteen west coast old-time fiddlers with guitar and banjo back-up earned them the accolade “old-time duo of Canada” (Penguin Eggs).
2011 brought the release of their first duo album, A Passing Glimpse. A beautiful collection of songs – originals or lovingly sourced from old recordings – acoustic & National guitars, fingerstyle and clawhammer banjo, and plenty of powerful duet singing. 2012 Independent Music Award winner for Americana Album of the Year, A Passing Glimpse hit #1 on the North American Folk DJ playlists, and won a 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award for New/Emerging Artist of the Year.
Their second release as a duo, 2013’s Long Gone Out West Blues, has found a new place in their songwriting, picking and closeness as a duet.With an adventurous sense of simplicity and a “refreshing veteran spirit” in this collection of songs new and old, it is being called “music made on a timeless continuum”. Long Gone Out West Blues has been featured on NPR Music’s Favorite Sessions, Utne Magazine’s February 2013 Monthly Music Sampler, and in Folk Alley’s Hear It First.
Pharis & Jason’s releases continue to attract audiences and radio play globally. Their delight in making music for music’s sake no doubt contributes to the joyful lack of pretense in their albums and performances and to the rapidly-growing fan-base for both.
Performance highlights include A Prairie Home Companion and the Winnipeg Folk Festival. When not building or performing, they also spend much of their year teaching at music camps and workshops including Voiceworks, BC Bluegrass Workshops, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Fiddle Works, 108 Mile Bluegrass Camp, Georgia Straight Guitar Workshop, and others.