It hardly seems possible, but Houston's classical music rock stars Two Star Symphony have been together ten years. Comprised of Margaret Lejeune, Jo Bird, Jerry Ochoa and Debra Brown, the group that walks off with some Houston Press music award each year has carved a niche for itself among hipsters and literati while working everywhere from Rudyard's and Café Brasil to Zilkha Hall with the Dominic Walsh Dance Theater.
Along the way, Two Star has scored numerous silent films and played their scores live at Discovery Green while the films show. They recently recorded the score they wrote for Walsh's production of Titus Andronicus, and they'll play the piece in its entirety at two shows at Divergence Music & Arts this weekend.
Chatter: It's been ten years. Did you ever think you'd be saying that?
Debra Brown: We really had no idea. We just had common interests and got together and started playing. We didn't really have a plan, we just enjoyed playing. I had actually given up playing violin, and I realized I just wanted that experience again. And it's not like I could just go audition for the Houston Symphony.
C: You guys are known for playing gigs at all types of venues. Why are you debuting this CD at Divergence rather than at Rudyard's or Café Brasil, where you play fairly frequently?
DB: We want to present this in a space where people will be able to hear this. And in this space we won't need amplification, which is the way we want to present it. We love playing bars and odd venues, but for this, we want people to really be able to hear the music without the talking and the hubbub that is always present in a bar environment.
Plus, we're doing a private show [Thursday night] for our fans who donated the money to record this CD, and we want this to be something nice and private for them.
C: There can't be any money in this, so how do you guys keep it together?
DB: Day jobs. One of us works at United Way. I manage a sandwich shop. Sadly that's the way most artists are surviving and doing their thing.
C: It's been three years since the last CD. What do you hear that's changed?
DB: We sound more grown-up.
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C: You recorded this at KUHF studios. How did that come about?
DB: We were tentatively going to do it at SugarHill, but we did a live show on Front Row at KUHF and the engineer there, Todd Hulslander, set us up and recorded that show. Jerry came by my house at 11 p.m. and literally made me sit in his car and listen to what Todd captured and how good he made us sound. And we were all truly blown away. It was the best recording of us I'd ever heard. And we all knew it. So we asked Todd to do this record.
C: You've planned an odd promotion with the CD release. What's up with the tattoo artist?
DB: Anyone at the show can get a tattoo of our logo for free. We've actually got a 60-year-old lady who's getting her first tattoo ever for her birthday.