Dec. 26 2012 12:00 AM

Country duo carries on classic honky-tonk sound


When you’re a happy newlywed, penning tear-in-your-beer honky-tonk tunes can be a bit fiddly. But that doesn’t stop Carra Barratt Stasney, one half of Copper and Coal, a Portland, Ore.-based classic country group. Her songwriting partner is East Lansing native Leslie Beia, and while they echo newer rustic acts like the Secret Sisters, they also conjure up the sounds of Bonnie Owens.

“I’m inspired by older music, and I try to write songs in the style that I’d like to hear,” said Stasney, 34, who is from Detroit. “I don’t write much about my own life — there aren’t many country songs about being really happy with your new husband.”

Stasney and Beia met about a year ago and have become a fixture in the Portland music circuit since then, but both women cut their teeth gigging in Lansing. Stasney used to play with The Saltines in 2004, and Beia, 34, got her start in the ‘90s when she was just 17 with The Jawas, a local Grateful Dead cover band. 

But now it’s all about that classic high-lonesome sound, which Beia doesn’t want confused with modern pop country. When describing Copper and Coal to those who haven’t heard them play, she makes it abundantly clear they don’t have a glossy contemporary sound. 

“I know when I say ‘country’ what image it brings up,” Beia said. “A lot of people hate new country music, but I don’t think anybody could hate Hank Williams.” 

Saturday’s audience can expect to hear original torch tunes and danceable ditties, along with some golden country covers, including songs by Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn. So what are these two up to when they’re not playing at honky tonks? Stasney said they’re both “working people.” And not playing music fulltime is fine with both of them. 

“It’s cool to not have that pressure and just be able to enjoy it,” Beia said.  “That way I don’t have to play in five bands to get by. I can give everything to one project.”  

Copper and Coal
Dec. 29
5 p.m.
The Avenue Café 2021 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing