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The Heart of Pluto is an incredible new group out of Nashville comprised of world-class fiddler Sarah Wilfong and guitarist extraordinaire Steve Peavey. Call it an excellent mix of acoustic, Celtic, bluegrass, folk, and everything in-between. Sarah is no stranger to Performer readers, having penned a number of guest articles for us in the past and having been featured as an artist, as well.
About the track, Wilfong has this to say:
“When Steve and I sat down to write The Heart of Pluto, we were playing around with using a symmetric diminished scale to sound ‘space-y’- John Williams uses symmetric diminished all over the Star Wars movies- and combining that with a driving Bluegrass style tune. The result is really fun, and who knows? Maybe Spacegrass will be the next big thing!”
The Heart of Pluto started in a pub. Like all good origin stories, this one is filled with the soaring highs and crushing defeats of two quirky individuals who overcame adversity through cleverness, tenacity, and serendipity to write and record an album of music from the heart. Does this sound like the plot of an indie movie yet? (Side note: no one has the rights to their biopic, strike while the iron is hot, people!)
Let’s start with Steve. Steve Peavey is from Brewer, ME. He started playing guitar at age six, wrote his first tune at fourteen (and sold it to a marionette man at a music festival for $50), studied classical guitar in high school, and went on to study jazz guitar at the University of Southern Maine all the while experimenting with composition. He moved to San Diego in 2000, and won the southwest regional Guitar Center sponsored ‘Guitarmageddon’ competition. He toured with many different bands paying many different styles of music, and spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of Irish music in the San Diego pub scene. Then came Nashville. Like many people, Steve found Nashville to be a tough town and he bounced around for a few years, not settling there permanently until 2007. Once he did, the discovery that everyone loves a multi-instrumentalist started opening doors. Steve played pedal steel, mandolin, dobro and fiddle for Don Williams from 2014 until Don’s retirement in 2016. Along the way he started playing with an Irish singer-songwriter who performed with a fiddle payer at a local pub. One day in early 2013, the fiddle player wasn’t feeling well and sent a sub.
And that sub was Sarah Wilfong, who was born and raised in Chicago. Her persistent nature first appeared at age three, when she flatly refused to take piano lessons and petitioned for a violin instead. Despite the crushing discovery that her first composition at age eleven was a blatant ripoff of Pachebel’s Canon, she continued to make ‘be a composer’ one of her life goals, along with ‘play Carnegie Hall’ and ‘learn to sword fight’. (All of which she has accomplished. Still on the list: ‘learn to flip an omelet’ and ‘perform with Weird Al’.) Sarah attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, then moved to Nashville in 2004 to join the all girl country band Mustang Sally. After touring the world for eight years and experiencing the ups and downs of the music industry (Hooray, a record deal! Oh no, the deal fell through. Rinse and repeat), she began working as a string arranger and freelance fiddler in Nashville; a highlight being arranging and performing on the re-release of Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl album and companion documentary. When a friend asked her to fill in for his regular show at a pub, she readily accepted.
Long story short, Sarah became the regular fiddle player for that particular gig, and she and Steve forged a friendship based on a mutual love of Bach, the Irish composer O’Carolan, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It took two years for the idea of the duo album to come about, but once it did, the two started composing and arranging at a dizzying rate. Nearly one year to the day of the original idea, The Heart of Pluto was launched into the universe.