by James Garcia Jr.
I first met brother and sister, Nicholas and Kara McIntyre, in Reedley, California, where we attended Community Christian Fellowship Church together. As often happens, life intervened and my family and I began attending church near our home in Kingsburg. However, I “bumped” into both of them once again on Facebook as they began doing PR for the band that they had put together, The Autumn Lo.
The Autumn Lo is their Alternative, Folk band that just enjoyed their first release late last year. It was a Christmas CD of some of their favorite songs and was entitled, Fa La La La La La La La La. Check out the review of this CD right here on KRL. (check out KRL’s review of this CD)
“How does it feel to make music with your sister? It feels like home,” answered Nick, a graduate of Reedley High School and Fresno Pacific University. He and his wife, Margie, live in Reedley where he works as an After School Program Coordinator for Community Youth Ministries. “Music was a big part of growing up for both of us. Our dad sang all the time and we loved singing with him. Anything he sang, we sang. Overall, our childhood taught us that music is supposed to be fun.”
“I still remember when we were kids and Nick built a makeshift drum set out of boxes and crates so the two of us could give an impromptu concert for our parents,” said Kara. She lives in Fresno and also graduated from RHS and Fresno Pacific. Kara now works for the University as a Graduate and Degree Completion Admission Assistant. “When he attached a string to an empty oatmeal can and put it over my shoulders, I thought I had hit the big-time. Getting to play music with him still gives me that level of joy.”
The siblings grew up in Reedley, California, taking piano lessons at the Reedley Yamaha Music School. According to their Official Facebook Band Page, they discovered a passion for music very early on. “I still remember the time I had to write my own piano song for class,” said Nick. “There were no rules, no expectations. It was pure creativity.”
“I don’t know when it exactly happened,” said Nick. “But at some point songwriting became something serious. We’re definitely both deep thinkers and lyric writers at heart. We’ll stew over lyrics like [they are] all one big puzzle. We know all the pieces are there; the trick is how we are going to piece them together. I’d been primarily writing songs on guitar and used songwriting as a platform to push through different seasons of my life. My sister was the same way. Songwriting was our therapy.”
As life took its turns, things began to evolve. “Though [musical therapy] can be a good thing, it seemed to contradict the free spirit of music from our childhood,” said Nick. “The question remained: why were we making music so serious?”
It was during this time that music began to become fun for the duo once again. They discovered the simple magic of ukulele, bells, and Christmas music. “It all felt so right,” said Nick. “It was fun, simple, and seemed to bring our childhood love of music back into the picture. Shinn Photography in Reedley asked us if we’d be interested in doing some live Christmas music for their ‘Pictures with Santa’ event during the 2009 Reedley Electrical Light Parade. I played the ukulele, while my sister played the bells, and every other crazy thing I put into her hands, or strapped to her ankles. It was the first time since childhood that we felt like we stepped into something that gave us permission to make music fun again.”
The response that they received was really encouraging. People began to ask whether the band had anything available. That was how the idea first developed that they should record their very own Christmas CD. “People were bummed when they heard we hadn’t recorded any of our Christmas covers yet,” said Nick.
They began production on the album in September 2010, using the ukulele, xylophone and bells although it was a project which was harder than they expected. During the holiday season they went out on a local tour. “We played at Borders, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Sierra Vista Mall, Reedley’s Electric Light Parade, and even a thrift shop,” said Nick. “We pressed a 10-song album and sold it on iTunes and Amazon.com.”
According to Nick, the name that they chose to call themselves, The Autumn Lo, fit their nature well. “It was different. Autumn is most definitely our season, and ‘Lo’ hinted of something to be surprised by.”
“One thing that has always defined our music is the fact that we’ve been mostly self-taught,” said Kara. “Piano lessons, band and choir sparked our love of music growing up, but a lot of what we know has come from experimentation. Nick is always looking for new instruments, and when we find a sound we like, we use it. Our newest addition is the Melodica. It’s basically a small keyboard you blow into while you play. It has a really interesting sound and we’ve had a blast incorporating it into some of the covers we’re working on right now.”
The band currently finds itself searching for the next project. “Where are we now?” asked Nick, anticipating the question. “We are slowly trying to develop what The Autumn Lo could do without their beloved Christmas season. We realize we both need projects and deadlines to keep us moving forward. We know there are things coming that are going to surprise us. Our hope is that we move in a direction that ultimately brings us back to our childhood, when music was supposed to be fun.”
“We’re honestly not looking that far into the future,” said Kara. “We’re just doing what we love and seeing what happens. Our Christmas album was insane and exhausting and completely amazing, so now we’re just keeping ourselves open to the possibilities. We both have lives and jobs outside of this, so we’re taking it one step at a time. As long as we can continue to support each other, harmonize together and spread our love of music to anyone who will listen, we’ll be happy wherever this takes us.”
The Autumn Lo will be performing at the Reedley Street Faire on Sunday, May 1 at the corner of 10th at G Streets at the Kings River Life Entertainment corner. You can find more information about their album as well as any other upcoming performances by looking up their website as well as their Facebook Page.
For details on their Street Faire appearance, check out the Kings River Life Street Faire event page.