Cry Cry Cry singers, Lucy Kaplansky, Richard Shindell, and Dar Williams reunite June 18 at the Clearwater Festival in Croton.
HARRISON, NY—Cry Cry Cry singers, Lucy Kaplansky, Richard Shindell, and Dar Williams will reunite on June 18 at the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson, but according to Kaplansky, they never really broke up.
“We never officially disbanded,” said Kaplansky, whose recent album is coincidentally titled “Reunion.” “We just kind of took an extended break.”
The trio debuted as a group in 1998 with “Cry Cry Cry,” an eclectic album of covers that included songs by rock band R.E.M and folksinger Greg Brown. That was followed by a national tour in 1999, but despite the album’s success, they soon resumed their solo careers.
“We had always intended for ‘Cry Cry Cry’ to be a one-off, a short detour from our solo careers,” said Shindell. “After it ran its course, we all went back to our previous trajectories.”
But the music they made attracted a lot of attention and some persistent fans.
“It was intended to be its own standalone thing,” said Williams. “Then we were haunted for years to come by people who asked when were we going to do it again.”
The almost two-decade wait will be over for Cry Cry Cry fans when the singer-songwriters harmonize this June on the Croton stage. The trio will perform songs from their debut and individual albums, as well as a few new creations.
A love of harmonizing is what first brought them together.
“We all loved coming up with harmonies and arrangements for other people’s songs, and beyond that we all had a strange need to harmonize in general, like with an elevator hum or the sound of the washing machine,” said Williams. “We decided to put our passions into our own group.”
It was an easy decision to collaborate since Shindell had played with both Kaplansky and Williams.
“I believe we were in a museum in Seattle when one of us brought up the idea of a record of covers, conceived as a vehicle for shameless, rampant harmony singing,” said Shindell. “But for that kind of excess we’d need three parts. Lucy’s was the only name that came to mind.”
“We certainly all knew each other and each other’s music,” said Kaplansky.
Performing together as Cry Cry Cry helped further their solo careers. For Kaplansky the exposure was very useful. For Shindell, singing with the group taught him “how to listen in the moment and turn on a dime if need be.” For Williams, working with her band mates inspired her “to become a better musician.”
All three singers agree that performing as a group is fun.
“It’s fun to travel with other people as opposed to alone,” said Kaplansky, who is based in New York City. “Lots of laughing involved!”
Much has changed since their original debut. Both Kaplansky and Shindell say they’re more confident musicians.
“I play more instruments. I’ve learned to play some mandolin and have been playing more and more piano,” said Kaplansky. “I’m more comfortable expressing my opinions.”
Shindell says he is a more confident guitarist and more comfortable on stage. For Williams it’s more a matter of personalities evolving.
“I think Richard is nicer,” she said. “I might be a little meaner. Lucy is her same wonderful self.”
Just as there was no plan to continue performing after Cry Cry Cry’s 1998 album, the musicians have no mutual engagements scheduled after the Clearwater Festival. Shindell now spends part of the year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, making it more difficult to spontaneously meet.
“When we came together to rehearse this time, we just kept thinking how lucky we were to be able to sit and work out these interesting arrangements,” said Williams. “But at some point you have to step out and take the risk of creating your own material and venturing out into the world on your own steam. I think we were all making sure that our collaboration would spur us on individually, not be a replacement for our careers, no matter how tempting that was at the time, and it was.”
What are they working on now? Kaplansky is writing songs that she hopes to record within the next year. Shindell released “Careless,” a collection of original songs and one cover, in Sept. 2016. He’s touring and writing new songs.
Williams, who grew up in Chappaqua and now lives in Red Hook, released her last album “Emerald” in 2015. She has a book coming out this fall titled “What I Found In a Thousand Towns.”
“It’s my guide for how to be a cool town, based on all the places I’ve been in that have evolved from tumbleweed ghost towns to cultural meccas.”
Cry Cry Cry fans may be curious to see if time has improved the singers’ harmony.
“When you have a musical bond, it’s like siblings,” said Williams. “You are always returning to that unspoken language and understanding. I love Richard’s and Lucy’s voices more than ever.”
You can find Clearwater Festival ticket information here.
This story was originally published on patch.com.