Syracuse Post-Standard

Area bands showcase talents on new CDs
May 06, 2003 / MARK BIALCZAK
Music Critic/ Syracuse Post-Standard
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The husband-and-wife team of Darryl and Julia Murdock know that the viola and cellova are perfect instruments for folk music.

The former Syracusans have put together a powerful second album from their new home state of Vermont.

"Fragile" allows both Murdocks to shine when taking lead vocals. Darryl's guitar work and Julia's play on the strings usually reserved for classical music blend together for a rich, vibrant sound.

The pair combined to write a song about Sept. 11 that deserves to be recognized among the best anywhere inspired by that tragic day.

"Be Strong for Me" tells the tale of a man who calls his wife from the 96th floor of one of the Twin Towers soon after the plane hits.

Julia sings: "Buildings are swaying. And people are praying. Be strong for me. And I see your face on the edge of that cloud. Been meaning to tell you how you make me proud. I remember the moment we first said hello."

It's tragically sad to connect with Julia's delivery of such sweet and strong words.

"Fragile" has 12 songs and runs 53 minutes, 48 seconds.


Penfield Post

Growing together in music and love

April 01 , 2004 / AMY CAVALIER
Staff Writer/ Penfield Post
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Julia and Darryl Murdock have a home, two children and a cat. They have bills to pay, mouths to feed and full-time jobs. They also have a band together.

"It's relaxing, challenging and exhilarating all at the same time," Darryl Murdock said of playing on stage for an audience with his wife. "As we go through an evening you can have everything from tension to relief to just absolutely forgetting where you are. It's a great feeling when we get it right…and we get it right a lot."

Known as Shrinking Violets, the acoustic duo plays what they describe as "jazzy acoustic folk pop."

"It's not country," Julia Murdock said. "It's not Elton John. It's not folksy in the sense that Peter, Paul and Mary were. It's just good, very rich, lyrical and emotional stuff."

Julia Murdock plays viola and her husband plays guitar. Together, they provide the vocals and write a lot of their own music. The couple has release two CDs since 1993. The Murdocks and their two sons, Benjamin, 5, and Charles, 2, recently moved to Penfield from Vermont, and they are starting to play regularly in coffee shops such as Zamar Café and Earthtones in Webster, as well as various Borders locations.

Although music takes a back seat to family, Julia Murdock said the couple has made a commitment to play out more.

"It's really worth it to us," she said. "It helps our marriage. It's really enriching, literally an emotional release."

The partnership began in 1993 at the State University of New York School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. The two graduate students were introduced by a mutual friend. At that time, Darryl Murdock was playing regularly at open mic night at a small club. One night, Julia showed up with her viola and bow and asked Darryl if she could accompany him.

"She opened her mouth and I was like, 'Where did that come from?" Darryl recalled. "Then all of a sudden, she started playing and I'm like, 'Wow, maybe I better start paying a little more attention to this."
He did and the relationship developed. On Valentine's Day 1996, Darryl proposed. They married in September of 1997 and moved to Vermont. It was around this time they made a decision to settle down and have children. Music took a back seat. Darryl said it was the right thing to do.

"If I could flip a switch and make music my living, I'd do it in a heartbeat," he said. "The issue is it would have to be in a fashion where I could provide a stable environment for my kids and we didn't have to be gone 300 days of the year."
Instead, the couple work and raise their children full-time. Julia Murdock teaches math at the Harley School. Darryl Murdock works for a division of Kodak, soon to be owned by ITT Industries, as a senior imaging scientist and is in the process of getting his Ph.D.

When they're not working, they play music and dream of the day when they'll make enough money playing out to pay the babysitter and still have some cash left. They talk about selling it all, buying a Winnebago and traveling across the country. For now, though, they are setting their sights on playing out two or three times a month in the area.
Mary Durance, who owns Earthtones coffeehouse in Webster, said the duo is a perfect fit.

"They are very mellow and yet very interesting," she said. "Our customers really enjoy sitting here with a drink in a nice, comfortable atmosphere, so we usually look for groups or musicians that are acoustic or with only a small amount of amplification so people can talk over it."

The couple has released two CDs of self-produced songs. The most recent, "Fragile," was released in 2003, the same year they moved to Penfield. While both admit juggling life and music can be hectic, it's those experiences, Julia said, that inspire them to write music. "Fragile" she said, is a reflection on the couple's coming into adulthood.

We're seeing things now not as individuals, or as students, but a parents, as middle-aged, middle-income Americans who are faced with the same political, religious, emotional and personal issues that everyone deals with."

Through it all, Darryl Murdock said he hopes their dedication to music will be a lesson to their sons.
"You lead by example," he said. "You show them what's important and if you show them that following their heart is an important thing, then they'll do it too."


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