It’s said that a great band is like a gang or perhaps a family, united by music, sweat,
passion, and blood. That is certainly the case with Matrimony, an exhilarating new
band whose interpersonal connections run far deeper than your average combo.
Fronted by the husband and wife duo of Ashlee Hardee Brown and Jimmy Brown, the
Charlotte, North Carolina-based band are accompanied by Hardee Brown’s talented
brothers, Jordan and CJ, resulting in an intuitive collaboration that is both immediately
affective and utterly their own. “MONTIBELLO DRIVE,” the band’s eagerly anticipated
debut album, takes its title from the Hardee family abode, a bucolic homestead
where multiple generations of friends and family all sang and played together.
Fraught with collaborative chemistry and determined artlessness, songs like “Last
Love” and “Obey Your Guns” ring out with Matrimony’s astonishing communal spirit,
their tight harmonies and intuitive musical telepathy born of true love and a shared
“We have this understanding among each other that we don’t always have to
communicate with words,” says Hardee Brown. “And that just naturally comes out
when we’re all in the same room, making music together.”
The Northern Irish-born Brown initially made his way to the States via China,
accompanying a real estate developer friend on a business trip that wound up in
Charlotte. He played guitar in a fellow Belfast ex-pat’s band while simultaneously
working on his own songs with a rotating roster of local musicians. One of them, a
certain Jordan Hardee, suggested Brown meet his sister Ashlee, herself a gifted
singer/songwriter. The two hit it off from the jump, co-writing a song their very first
time together, ultimately tying the knot in July 2010 in North Carolina. As they
continued to pursue their respective musical careers, both soon realized that there
was little point traveling separate roads when they should in fact be sharing the
“It really wasn’t about anything other than us wanting to be together,” Brown says.
“We realized that there wasn’t much point in being together if we were both going to
do music separately. So we decided to make music together.”
Matrimony began their musical life as a duo, performing in clubs and cafes around
Charlotte. Brown veered from electric guitar to acoustic, while Hardee Brown
adapted her indie influences to fit a folkier frame. 2010’s “THE STORM & THE EYE”
EP was quickly recorded, earning the couple considerable local acclaim for their
melding of rock, country, gospel, and the great Irish and American folk traditions. To
replicate the EP on stage, Matrimony absorbed other musicians and friends into their
live sets, coalescing with the official membership of Ashlee’s brothers CJ (banjo,
mandolin) and the aforementioned Jordan on drums. 
“Both my brothers put their own spin on it, just with their own talents and musical
abilities,” Hardee Brown says. “Once we finally found that mesh, the band took the
course we’d always imagined it would.”
Matrimony performed relentlessly, sharing the stage with a diverse range of acts
from Langhorn Slim to Passion Pit. They refined their distinctive sound by cutting aeries of demos, both at home as well as with producer (and Interpol drummer) Sam
Fogarino at his Normal Studio in Athens, Georgia. In July 2012, the band headed for
Nashville to finally begin their full-length debut, this time with Jay Joyce (Brandi
Carlile, Cage the Elephant, Eric Church) at the helm. The sessions had barely gotten
underway when a mighty summer storm hit Music City and almost put the kibosh on
the entire project.
“We were in the studio and this huge BANG happened,” Brown says. “Everybody’s
ears popped, but we knew it was just lightning so we just kept working.”
When Matrimony and Joyce eventually emerged, they were shocked to discover that
the lightning strike had in fact sparked a tiny fire in a bird’s nest on the home studio’s
rain gutter. Five smoldering hours later, the eave was well and truly ablaze.
“I jumped up on the roof with a hose and we started trying to put it out,” Brown says.
“But the flames would not go down, they were just getting higher, so we jumped off
and called the fire brigade. By the time they got there the whole roof was on fire.”
Matrimony returned to Charlotte while the studio was repaired, reconvening in
September to resume recording. Fortunately, the sessions went without further
natural disaster, with Joyce capturing the band’s on-stage intimacy by recording most
of the album live in the studio.
“It was really enjoyable,” Brown says. “It felt like we were recording downstairs at
our friend’s house. I think Jay understood where we were coming from. It felt like he
was another band member really.”
The songs of “MONTIBELLO DRIVE” reverberate with memory and feeling, embodied
in both the band’s layered instrumental interplay as well as the Browns’ individual
talents for powerful, evocative lyricism. 
“This record kind of sums up where we’ve been,” Hardee Brown says. “We all grew a
lot, just living there, so there’s a lot of emotion that runs through the songs.”
Brown points to his beloved’s haunting “Giant” as the album’s defining moment.
“There’s just some kind of magic on that one,” he says. “Everything about it, the
words are a little dark, it’s got this section in it that’s really vibing and cool, I just love
playing that song.”
“I think it’s one of those songs that feels really genuine and really real,” Hardee
Brown says. “Just the fact that I was able to write a song that captures who I am as a
songwriter and put it on an album like this means a lot to me.”
For her part, Hardee Brown returns the compliment by noting Brown’s buoyant
“Southern Skies” as one of her personal favorites. “That song speaks a lot to where
we are and how we grew up,” she says. “Plus it’s always fun to play live.”
Having made an album that sings of home, Matrimony are now poised for life on the
road. This band of lovers and brothers are keen to bring the sublime songs and
extraordinary character of “MONTIBELLO DRIVE” to the stage, where their
camaraderie and connection come full to the fore.
“We just want to write great songs and we want to play,” Brown says. “It’s not about
anything else. We love traveling together and hanging out, there’s no bigger dream
for us than just being able to write great songs and play them as much as possible.”Me and my brothers, we always knew we wanted to be in a band together,” says
Hardee Brown. “I guess it’s worked out. Everything just fell into place.”

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Friday Jun 14, 10:40 PM on New Music On Tap Lounge brewed by Miller Lite
Saturday Jun 15, 6:15 PM on Sonic Stage

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