Call it serendipity, fate or kismet. The force that brought Madeline Fendrick and Brian Peck together in music and life seems to be the same one carrying them across oceans on concert tours. It has the folk duo living prairie-side in a 10 by 16 dwelling. And next week, it will bring Fendrick & Peck to the Scandia Farmers Market.
The pair wasn’t playing a show when they befriended a vendor at the Stillwater Farmers Market. Instead, Fendrick and a housemate were selling crafts at their booth, Forager’s Knapsack. Peck was nearby, strumming a gentle soundscape for the stand. The weather was less than ideal.
“We got snowed on and another time it was rain and heavy wind,” Fendrick recalled. “So it was kind of a dud in selling our crafts but we had a nice time meeting the other people selling things there.”
One of them, Scandia market vendor Janelle Johnson, discovered their music and passed high praise to Sarah Porubcansky, an organizer of the Scandia market who reached out and asked them to play.
“That’s kind of like life,” Fendrick observed. “You’re doing one thing and it doesn’t work out like you thought it would but it leads to something else.”
Going with the flow seems to be a guiding philosophy for the couple, who met in New York City in 2011.
“I wanted violin lessons,” Fendrick said. “We had a mutual friend I’d met in Alaska. She introduced me to Brian. He was teaching me and we started singing together. It was really fun. A few months later we started to date.”
Perhaps not realizing it, they drifted into the pull of a current, booking their first show before they had a set list.
“A friend offered us a residency at a coffee shop in Manhattan,” Fendrick said. “We scrambled to put together a set, doing songs we liked and some of Brian’s originals.”
In the years to follow they would live and record in Nashville, move to Fendrick’s Wisconsin hometown, Stoughton, and later to the Minnesota prairie. They’ve released three albums: “Make Your Way Out / Make Your Way In,” “The Sandhill Crane” and “Lucky Penny.”
“Now we travel and tour,” Fendrick said. “It’s kind of gone off on its own.”
So, what’s the music like?
“There’s a familiar quality to it,” Peck said. “Familiar in the folk music sense, yet people say there’s a freshness, a new perspective. It’s new folk music in a way, in sound quality.”
“In some traditions of folk music the lyrics speak the concerns of the day,” Peck said. “We’re no longer singing about trains and some of the images of the old West or those kinds of things. We’re in a new world, and what are some of the things people are concerned about?”
“And it’s about more than people, I think,” added Fendrick. “We can’t have a voice for the others on this planet, but we can certainly sing about them. … Humans are often forgetting that we’re not the only ones here.”
And don’t be surprised if they invite the crowd to sing along.
“A lot of us have forgotten that we can sing,” Fendrick said. “Brian and I are truly normal people. We haven’t taken singing lessons. We just got together and sang. … I think a lot of us think creativity belongs only to a few people. We all have it in us and I wish we could remember that. I hope our music does that, adds more creativity to people’s lives.”
This will be the duo’s first farmers market performance.
“We’ve always liked farmers markets but never played at one,” said Peck.
Upon reflection, it’s an apt venue.
“Places where people are trying to consider, ‘What am I putting in my mouth? In the ground? How am I participating in this bigger organism that is the earth?’ seem like good places for our music,” Fendrick said.
Added Peck, “There’s a movement we’ve been hearing about, the local movement. It’s farmers markets, co-ops, knowing your neighbors and acknowledging the land. There’s a bigger picture but also a smaller picture there, and we’re trying to align ourselves with that.”
Find Fendrick & Peck July 10 at the Scandia Farmers Market, or online at fendrickandpeck.com. The duo is also on Facebook and Instagram.