During their initial five-year run, the everybodyfields seemed as if they had stepped straight out of a storybook: Johnson City's Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews met at a summer camp in the early 2000s, started dating and writing songs together shortly thereafter, and formed a band that eventually moved to Knoxville and caught the attention of NPR and national music magazines Paste and Harp. It was an appropriate backstory to the music they made together—romantic, Appalachian alt-country defined by the couple's otherworldly harmonies.
The fairy tale took a harsh detour into real life, though, when Quinn and Andrews ended their romantic relationship. The breakup was actually good for the everybodyfields' music—the haunting, emotional 2007 album Nothing Is Okay turned out to be the most fully realized of the band's three albums. But Nothing Is Okay also turned out to be the band's last statement together; the everybodyfields, after two tough years of trying to keep it all together, finally called it quits in 2009.
Local enthusiasm for the band never really faded, though, even as both Andrews and Quinn launched solo careers. (Both have released excellent solo albums: Quinn's the fake that sunk a thousand ships in 2010 and Andrews' The Mirror in 2011.) So it was only a mild surprise that an opportunity to play at the storied Rhythm and Roots Reunion music festival in Bristol, Tenn.—practically the band's hometown—convinced the most recent lineup of the everybodyfields (Andrews and Quinn, plus keyboardist/guitarist Josh Oliver, steel guitarist Tom Pryor, and drummer Jamie Cook) to get back together for one more show. And then another, opening for the Avett Brothers in Sevierville this summer. And now, finally, one in their adopted hometown.
"It started out as just being one and then developed into a couple more," Andrews says. "We only meant to play one show at Rhythm and Roots, and then we played a show at Smokies Stadium with the Avett Brothers, which was awesome. And we thought, man, we're so close to playing in Knoxville, which is where we all live. We should just do that. And we wanted it to be a small, intimate show, so we're playing at Barley's."
For Andrews, the passage of time has erased much of the stress and strain that accompanied the band during its difficult final years.
"It's been really fun," she says of the band's recent performances and rehearsals. "Not that it wasn't, but we've had our trying times, and now we've had years of separation from all that emotional stuff. We're all just friends, and it's good. Now we're just getting together and making some music."
Andrews is writing material for a follow-up to The Mirror, and is planning to shoot a video for the song "Blue Sky" in early 2012. She will also be on the road with her band (which includes Oliver) for much of the winter. She says her experience with the everybodyfields was essential to getting a good start to her solo career.
"For me now it's not such a new thing," she says. "It's not uncharted land like it was in the early days of the everybodyfields, because we had never stepped foot into a studio before we did. We didn't have any experience with it, none of us did. So it was very, very new then. Now I feel like I've gained a lot of knowledge and I'm putting it to use. It's different. It's exciting, when I can get into the studio and bring my and out on the road and everything. It's really, really fun."
She is emphatic that these three reunion shows are more about capping off an earlier phase of her life than a hint that a full-time revival of the everybodyfields is on the horizon. In fact, she says, anyone who wants to see the band any time soon should make sure to attend the band's performance this weekend.
"We wanted to make the Knoxville show a priority," she says. "We don't really have any plans in the future of doing anything else. I mean, granted, if we get offered something amazing, you know, we probably wouldn't turn it down."