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Trout Fishing in America casts a line in Charleston

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While they've never been to Idaho, Keith Grimwood (left) and Ezra Idlet of the family-friendly folk duo Trout Fishing in America has been just about everywhere else. The pair plays the Clay Center this weekend as part of the Woody Hawley Series.
WANT TO GO?Trout Fishing in America With The Sea The SeaWHERE: Clay CenterWHEN: 7:30 p.m. SaturdayTICKETS: Adults $18, students and seniors $15INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.orgKeith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet of folk rock duo Trout Fishing in America have been just about everywhere in the United States.Grimwood, who plays upright bass, bragged, "We've been to 49 out of the 50 states. We've even played Hawaii and Alaska."They've also played West Virginia, and on Saturday, they return to West Virginia for a Woody Hawley Series show at the Clay Center. All this begs the question, "So, who's the hold out?"   "Idaho," Grimwood said though even he is at a loss to explain how that happened. Both he and guitarist Idlet, he said, share a kinship with the state."We love Idaho," he said. "I love potatoes. Ezra loves to fish. We should have been there ages ago." They've even written a song about how they've always wanted to go to Idaho, but so far, no takers.Still, Grimwood said, what choice do they have but to trudge on?It's what they want to do anyway. Trout Fishing in America has been together for 35 years, and the pair sees no point in slowing down."The funny thing is we've actually received a couple of lifetime achievement awards," Grimwood said, "but we're still engaged [in music]. We're still interested in writing songs and playing in front of people."
Grimwood and Idlet started playing music together in 1976 as part of the folk band Wheatfield. After the band dissolved, they struck out together as a duo. Grimwood said they were as unlikely a pair as you'd ever meet --and still are to some degree."We're very different," he said. "Ezra is 6-foot-8. I'm 5-foot-5. I made good grades in school and played music. Ezra played basketball and did not make good grades. He writes from music and moves toward lyrics. Ezra is very organized. I write from lyrics toward music, and I just slap it down."
But they compliment each other. "We act as editors for each other."The duo's music can go all over the map but is often very slice of life and very funny. It's a folksy kind of folk music and is largely kid-friendly."We've got some songs that talk about kissing," Grimwood explained. "There's nothing you couldn't let your kids hear. It's just that it's about kissing, and what kid wants to hear about that?"Grimwood is fairly confident there aren't many that would. Along with writing music mostly aimed at typical, good-humored grownups, the band has written songs specifically for children for decades.
Grimwood said they got into it accidentally. In 1977, a teacher asked the two to come play at her school as part of a lesson on where music comes from."She wanted to show her students that music didn't just come from the radio or from the television."They didn't know any children's songs. They couldn't even think of any to make up."So we played some Beatles music," he said. "We played some folk music. We played some blues and a little rock n' roll -- stuff like that."The kids loved it, and the pair loved playing for kids, so slowly, songs and shows for kids became part of the band's business.The trick to writing songs for kids isn't really much of a trick, he said."From the beginning, we've always played real music for the kids. We played right at them. We never talked down."They'd have heard about it otherwise. Kids, Grimwood added, are great music critics."If kids don't love a song, they'll say what's on their mind. They don't know how to be polite yet. They just say what comes to their minds."Eventually some of the kids' songs made it into the regular shows, and they evolved a kind of broader family show.Grimwood said, "So now we've got the coolest thing: We have people who bring their kids to our show and people who bring their parents. We're talking three generations all in the same place."It's a very exciting thing to see, he promised.One day, they hope to show the people of Idaho.Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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