About seven years ago musician Jeff Penque, who will be performing at The Mews in Provincetown at 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 29, was playing a solo gig in a coffee house in New Jersey. Always attuned to the audience and its response, he noticed a woman in the crowd was joining in on his glee. “She had a nice voice. She was so comfortable,” he says.
That woman was Karen Fairweather.
“He played a lot of cover tunes, I was humming and singing along, he had his eagle ears on and heard me. After the performance he asked me if I wanted to sing with him, I said yes. I didn’t really have to think about it, I had been singing off and on for years,” Fairweather says.
The duo formed, an agreement was reached and now they perform several concerts together every year throughout the Poconos, New Jersey and points north.
“I thought it would be fun to try to be a duo,” says Penque. “It’s more fun with another person — we do fun harmonies and arrangements. For The Mews we’ll perform some original songs from our CD, a couple of holiday songs, some folky pop, fun folk music. We like to do songs from when were young, the ’60s and ’70s, like The Partridge Family, The Monkeys; we create new arrangements with old songs. John Denver to Lady Gaga,” he says, laughing.
To land on the mike at The Mews, Penque googled the establishment and found it fit the duo’s comfort level. He then e-mailed Peter Donnelly, who responded with a thumbs-up.
The pair is psyched to be coming to town. Fairweather was here about a year ago and has visited off-season a few times before. As for Penque, well, his partner has a home in Orleans, so he is a pretty frequent Cape visitor.
Both musicians are from New Jersey and still live there, though Penque has been a bit displaced since the three-story parking garage in his apartment building in Hackensack collapsed last July, forcing the tenants to be evacuated. Miraculously, no one was killed, and the building renovations should be completed in December. Happy holidays to be sure.
Penque was a communications major at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, but upon graduation he decided to give acting a chance. For 10 years he toured and did musicals all over the country and Canada.
“I got tired of that path after a while,” he says. “When I was in college I played guitar, sang and wrote songs but not when I was an actor.” So he picked up the pen and guitar again when he made a leap to the business world.
“I work for Barnes & Noble now, I arrange the author events,” he says. “I match authors who tour with the stores, it’s kind of interesting. Before this I worked for a publisher for seven years where I also did author events.”
Fairweather is also in the corporate world; she has been an administrative assistant for an insurance consulting firm for the last seven years. With an English degree from Douglass College, in New Jersey, she says she has been singing in church choirs for several years, mainly cantoring in the Catholic Church. In addition, she has done musical theater and private singing engagements. For the most part she says she is self-taught.
While Penque plays guitar, Fairweather has become adept at the tambourine, triangle and shaker eggs. But mainly it is her voice box that she plays with passion. And, oh, yes, she does some interesting things on stage to keep the audience on its toes, or in this case, her own. For instance, in “Brand New Key,” she dons a pair of rental roller skates and buzzes the stage.
What will she come up with next? Find out Monday.