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With multifaceted musical talents on the ukulele, guitar, flute, glockenspiel, and kazoo, and their signature soprano harmonies, D.C. natives Maureen Andary and Sara Curtin bring their poppy blend of folk music to the Washington Folk Festival today as the Sweater Set.
Though Andary still lives in D.C.,and serves in the festival’s board, Curtin resides in New York—-meaning that this bi-city duo gets limited playing time together. They usually meets up twice a month, for a performance in D.C. and for one in New York, getting together a day or two ahead of time to rehearse.
In D.C., Andary and Curtin have performed at such venues as Shakespeare Theater’s Harman Center for the Arts and the Fort Reno Concert Series, which the women attended as youth. Though they’ve played a numerous venues in New York, including Bryant Park’s After Work Series, one of their favorite places to perform is the subway, especially the Delancey Street station on the Lower East Side.“We like busking in New York,” said Andary. “You interact with such interesting people.”
The women note the differences in the two cities’ music scenes. “D.C. is small and friendly,” said Andary. “There are always interesting arts institutions looking for performers.” Compared to their hometown, “New York is very satiated,” said Curtin. “It’s saturated with so much art and music, which is why I love it, but at the same time it can be hard as an artist to find your voice.”
Both Andary and Curtin supplement their Sweater Set income with other jobs. Andary teaches guitar and ukele, sings at church, and does freelance event production. Curtin works as a fishmonger at a farmer’s market. “We’re living the artist life and not being committed to a particular career,” said Andary.
But Andary doesn’t give up on the hope that the Sweater Set might someday be the duo’s sole source of income. “You can’t psych yourself out and say it’s not possible.”
The Sweater Set plays the Washington Folk Festival today at 4:30 at the Yurt Village Stage at Glen Echo Park. Free.