Music that carries

Acoustic duo MaMuse has gotten to the heart of Chico

TWO AS ONE<br>Karisha Longaker (left) and Sarah Nutting look for inspiration at the source for their acoustic duo MaMuse.

Karisha Longaker (left) and Sarah Nutting look for inspiration at the source for their acoustic duo MaMuse.

Courtesy Of mamuse

“Hallelujah, I’m gonna let myself be lifted.”

The a-capella lyric floated though a silence that was holding the Chico Women’s Club.

Generations sat beside one another smiling, as lovers leaned in close. When the melody came to rest, a reprieve settled between the two women and their listeners. Something was shared among everyone in the room, and no one made a sound.

Then a sigh passed through the audience, followed by a whisper, and a hum and finally applause. It was joyous applause, with whistles, and stomping and people yelling out “Thank you!”

The music began again with a bright mandolin and the laid-back slap of an upright bass. Some people clapped, and some began to sing.

Judging by the response, this ambiance of family and old friends that surrounds MaMuse performances has been a breath of fresh air for the Chico community.

There is a deep-felt honesty resonating from Karisha Longaker and Sarah Nutting, the two women with deep Chico roots who make up MaMuse. The blend of vocals, mandolin, string bass, flute, foot stomps, bouzouki, bells, guitar, and even a unicycle co-mingle in lively, often improvised, call-and response sets full of memorable verses.

“We are using our words to give people something to ride on, something that’s moving and uplifting,” said Longaker with a beaming smile. “People come who are ready to take in the music and lend their emotion.”

The buzz surrounding MaMuse has grown rapidly. In its first year of existence, the young duo went from playing local living rooms to packed venues in Chico and across the country.

This past June, the two women cobbled together a loose tour during a road trip to Muscle Shoals, Ala., to record at the famous Wish Bone Studios (home to recordings by Hank Williams Jr. and Roy Orbison, among others). There they created their debut LP, All the Way.

The adventure took MaMuse to a variety of big and small venues, including Georgia’s legendary Eddie’s Attic performance hall, where they played, and placed, in a songwriters’ shootout.

Now back in Chico, in the middle of a busy and eclectic performance schedule, the duo is preparing to share its new creation at a CD-release party this Friday (Feb. 27), at the Chico Women’s Club.

Nutting and Longaker admit the intimate experience of their shows is difficult to describe, but fans have made it clear that they have come away affected, and nourished, in ways they did not expect.

“The songs tell something you’ve always known or thought that may not have been shared,” said Longaker, of the intimate stories in her lyrics. “People tell us the music has helped them in hard times and connected them to the richness of life. One woman told me she listens to us as a practice at the start of her day—I am so humbled to be part of that.”

With shared backgrounds in music therapy, dance, movement and contact improv, and community organizing, the two identify themselves as healers and view music as a healing art form. Focused on connecting with and celebrating community, MaMuse is turning outward to make an offering of service with their music.

MaMuse can often be found in local gardens on volunteer days with the GRUB cooperative, or at Café Culture’s Saturday morning Soul Shake Dance Church. During their recent travels, the two women even partnered with the Florida-based Turtle Safe to raise awareness of endangered sea turtles in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

“The more connected with a community we are, the more inspired we become,” said Nutting.

“I am always asking myself, ‘How is this feeding my roots to become a stronger tree in the community?’ “ added Longaker. “What we really want to ask people is, ‘How can we be of service to our community? Tell us where you want this music.’ “

Ideas for future service include performing for shelters, school children, retirement homes and for environmental and social causes.

“We call it our little experiment,” Longaker said. “Life is a river and MaMuse is the boat we’re traveling in. It’s our vessel for experiencing the world, and our way to give back.”