California-based husband-and-wife duo Andrew Stern and Laura Arias of 3 Pairs of Boots share a vast musical history as well as a talent for pairing catchy melodies with heartfelt messages. The two artists met through a “Singer Wanted” ad and were married within a year of their first encounter. Together, they experimented across a spectrum of genres and bands before solidifying their distinctive sound– an Americana-leaning blend of folk, rock, and country– as 3 Pairs of Boots. Their unique connection is evident in their music as well as their songwriting process: Stern functions as the main songwriter, crafting songs for Arias, who tweaks, edits, and re-arranges the music as they play. Arias’s striking vocal style falls somewhere between Cyndi Lauper and Shania Twain, blending a little bit of attitude with a little bit of twang. “I’m the technician, and she’s the magic,”says Stern. “When I write, I’m always thinking of her voice.” Like many of their influences, which range from genre-bending bands Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash to iconic country bards Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, variety and human connection are key aspects of their songwriting. “We sort of stumbled into this genre: It was there the whole time, and we just had to realize it,” says Stern. Their songs typically feature rock-and-roll roots, catchy melodic hooks, and country storylines with engaging, often biographical lyrics. “Andrew likes to take someone’s story and run with it,” says Arias. “The story is always important.”
The band’s debut album Gone South was released in July of 2019, with singles premiering on Americana UK, Guitar Girl Magazine, B-Sides & Badlands, and The Bluegrass Situation. At the time, Stern ran a successful tax accounting business, working with top professionals in the arts, while Arias raised their son at home. 3 Pairs of Boots played shows on weekends, finding time to write and record in between trips and daily tasks. But when Stern sold his business at the end of 2019, the band became the central focus. They now write and record full-time in their two-room home studio. “It feels like we’re settling into who we are now, writing whatever feels right,” says Stern. “We’re self-sufficient. Having the studio at home allows us unlimited time to create and perfect the tracks.” In addition to writing music full-time, 3 Pairs of Boots is developing a YouTube series called Cook’N’ & Country, which will combine recipe demonstrations with live country music performances.
Their new album Long Rider, set for release in January 2021, presents a carefully crafted collection of twangy, bluesy Americana anthems written, recorded, and tracked by Stern in the couple’s home studio. The opening track “Quittin’ Time” (to be released in January 2021 along with a stunning video by Nashville photographer Anna Haas) is a bittersweet yet catchy single that showcases Arias’s emotional range as well as her vocal range. In “Everywhere I Go,” lush vocal harmonies give way to foot-stomping rhythms as the song evolves into a complex pop country anthem. “Summer of Love” offers a message of empowerment and equality in a gently driving single reminiscent of early Melissa Etheridge. The release of Long Rider is supported by a cast of top artists: Christian Paschall, Nashville drummer and bandleader for Maren Morris, tracked the drums remotely, and acclaimed photographer Eric Wolfinger shot the album cover at a 500-acre cattle ranch in Nicasio, CA. Mix engineers include Grammy-nominated Bart Schoudel and Rob Beaton.
The title and several songs on Long Rider are inspired by the life of “Lady Long Rider” Bernice Ende, who traversed the country alone on horseback over 30,000 miles in the later years of her life. “The story was so incredible– her persistence, her spirit, and all the kind and generous people she met in small towns across the country… it set the scene for the record,” says Arias. Arias and Stern met Ende through friend and filmmaker Wren Winfield, who was making a documentary on Ende, and wrote several songs featured in the documentary. “We felt a connection with her story. Ende discovered this freedom in doing the thing she loved most, and doing it for very long periods of time,” says Stern. “That really resonated with us. We feel that way about making music– we’re longriders, too.”