Colleen Kitchen and Laura Zaerr have been collaborating since the 90’s. Laura’s diatonic lever harp was a natural fit for Celtic music, and Colleen had spent three years in Ireland with no piano, so she had gotten a pennywhistle and learned Irish music for lack of other options. Their first Celtic band, “Heather Breeze,” was active doing dances and festivals including the inaugural daVinci days, until other competing interests such as the birth of Colleen’s daughter put a crimp in that. The two collaborated on a number of classical endeavors in the ensuing decades. Laura put together “Village Green”in the oughts, and Colleen was part of that ensemble for a while. But meanwhile the jazz roots were beckoning. While Colleen crashed Neal Grandstaff’s jazz improv class at Oregon State, Laura had been sitting in with Winston McCullough’s jazz ensemble and discovering ways to make the big harp work for jazz. It’s NOT easy. Only the best harpists can do it. With a natural gift for improvisation, and inspired by Dorothy Ashby Colleen and Laura developed ways to tag team each other, and the bright brilliant choros and bossa novas of Brazil seemed especially suited to the sound of the harp. You can’t have a Brasil band without percussion, and when expert percussionist Kevin Ronkko joined the group, it was just the ticket to make manifest the groove that was driving the music only in their imagination.
The group played for a while with no name, and everyone was telling them they needed a name. It was the drought year of 2015, not only dry, but very hot. The band was rehearsing the song “Chovendo na Roseira” and all the references to good nurturing rain were making everyone thirsty. Someone remarked that we could use a dose of “Chuva Boa” (good rain) right about now, and the name stuck. Below is a video of Brazilian icon Gal Costa performing “Chovendo na Roseira” (to be replaced with our own when we get a nice clean one.)