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Bethany & Rufus Define Their Own American Music

Bethany & Rufus play their own style of traditional American tunes on the new recording 900 Miles, which comes out Tuesday. The duo of Bethany & Rufus features Bethany Yarrow singing and Rufus Cappadocia playing cello.

Yarrow grew up surrounded by folk music. Her father, Peter Yarrow, was in the group Peter, Paul and Mary. But Bethany Yarrow wasn't always interested in pursuing traditional music. She started out writing rock songs and hanging out in New York clubs like Danceteria and CBGB.

Yarrow eventually realized that she had broader musical interests. She met Cappadocia in at a New York show in 1999 and started trading musical ideas with the inventive cellist.

That friendship led to 900 Miles, a full collaboration between the two that reinterprets American folk songs with a sound that resembles jazz.

There is a dark sound to 900 Miles, with one critic calling the duo "a darker and grittier Tuck & Patti."

The recording follows a release by Yarrow in 2003 called Rock Island that included slave lullabies and prison songs, another avenue of traditional American music.

It's not surprising to find Yarrow playing music rooted in the American experience, and its many struggles. Beyond her father's devotion to folk music was his devotion to the political causes of the 1960s. Peter Yarrow involved his daughter Bethany in the events and campaigns that followed that tumultuous decade, a series of experiences that surface in her music today.

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