Allen and Amanda Rigell haven't lived in town for long, but Madison will proudly claim them as its own when their Americana duo, Count This Penny, plays for a national audience on A Prairie Home Companion broadcast from the Milwaukee Theatre on March 31.
"Ho-ly wow, you guys," the pair announced to its fans on Facebook late Friday afternoon, linking to a site where fans can buy tickets for the live broadcast, which is heard by 4 million listeners each week on more than 600 public radio stations.
In an Isthmus profile of the Rigells, who moved to Madison in the summer of 2010 from Johnson City, Tennessee, Jessica Steinhoff detailed Count This Penny's Appalachian bona fides.
Both Rigells play guitar and bass, and their voices -- one a bit gravelly, the other crystal clear -- form gorgeous harmonies and textures when paired. Their instrumental history includes a romantic flourish: Allen insists he learned guitar about 10 years ago to impress Amanda, a fellow Emory University student and high school friend who'd already been playing for about five years. It worked.
In addition to their instrumental love affair, the pair have a cultural connection to their sound. Being from eastern Tennessee -- Johnson City, to be exact -- they know Appalachia well: It was their backyards and their front porches. The mountains' musical traditions are a cornerstone of their sound and have shaped other musicians they admire, such as Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
Since arriving, Count This Penny -- which often includes banjoist John Ray, fiddle player John Henry and/or multi-instrumentalist TJ Jones -- have endeared themselves to Madison's enthusiastic roots music community, appearing at every local club of consequence, as well as a few house parties. Last April, they taped an episode of Wisconsin Public Television's 30-Minute Music Hour.