Portland folk duo Pretty Gritty may have never discovered one of their signature covers, “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” had it not been for a chance suggestion by producer Fred Cannon.
At the time, they were deeply engaged in the process of recording their 2018 album Seven Year Itch with Cannon and Paul Buono of Creative and Dreams Music Network in Franklin, Tenn.
Cannon, who has an affinity for Pretty Gritty’s take on classic covers, suggested the pair give the song a try.
“When we tried it out,” Sarah Wolff remembers, “it was like instant magic between Blaine and I. We really pride ourselves on our vocal harmonies, but certain songs just lock up so nicely. It took little to no effort for us to find that perfect blend and we all fell in love. Since then it has become a favorite of ours and our audiences."
For the duo, the discovery of the cover’s magic exemplifies how they work in the studio.
“When we eventually head to the studio to record a project, we know to leave ourselves totally open to the possibility of tweaking the arrangements of our songs, as our producers may have some really cool ideas," Wolff notes. "The days of acting really 'precious' about our songs have long faded away. It’s a special thing to be able to work with producers who really understand what we’re trying to convey with our music and can help us pull it off.”
Their collaborative nature has been paying off since it first brought them together while the two were living in Maryland in 2010.
Both multi-instrumentalists, Wolff recalls, “It was our vocal blend that gave us that initial feeling in our gut that we needed to stick together.”
When they moved to Portland shortly thereafter, they made a name for themselves by busking, most notably outside a favorite Sellwood haunt, Kay’s Bar.
But it wasn’t long before busking led to tours all over the Pacific Northwest, with opportunities to open for The Wood Brothers (Salmonfest 2016), Michael Franti & Spearhead (Salmonfest 2018) and Lake Street Dive, among others.
Now, with their 2018 full-length album under their belts, they are starting to bring new songs to the table. As with everything the pair does, their new music promises to be enchanting, folksy and a little quirky.
“We always make it our own,” Blaine Heinonen says. “Always adding that Pretty Gritty flavor.”