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ABOUT THE BAND

One spring evening in Ridgefield, Washington, Chad and Rachel Hamar walked onto the Clark County Amphitheater stage as 18,000 spectators sized them up. Four songs later, they left that stage to waves of cheering and applause, plus a lot of puzzled people turning to their friends and asking, “Who the hell was that? And why haven’t I heard of them before?”

The answers were simple. Chad and Rachel were and are partners in music and in life. And this gig, opening for country music icon Kenny Chesney, was only the second time they had ever played as Cloverdayle.

How they earned that opportunity is but one interesting detail in the saga of Cloverdayle. Plenty of history preceded that night, going back to the moment Chad, a college freshman, and Rachel, still in high school, locked eyes across a giant, crowded room at a jazz festival. (If you remember the words to “Some Enchanted Evening” or the “Dance at the Gym” scene in West Side Story, it was exactly like that.) Before then, their childhoods forecast their eventual union.

 

Both grew up in the state of Oregon, raised by parents who passed their love for music onto their kids. They each had an affinity for the outdoors and in particular, shared a love for riding bikes with their friends. She sang in the choir at school and at church in Bend, Oregon; he built his foundation as a drummer, kindling a grasp of groove that would later underlie the guitar rhythms that would anchor the Cloverdayle sound. Singer/songwriters like Carole King, Amy Grant and James Taylor inspired Rachel, not only to write, but to sing songs with awareness and respect of their craftsmanship. He drew similar lessons; at age 3 Chad was spellbound by the music of Bobbie Gentry, then moved from there through Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Everly Brothers, and Willie & Waylon to name a few.

No wonder they connected at that jazz festival — a connection they affirmed when Rachel enrolled a year later at the same college Chad was attending. Their uncanny creative synchronicity was clear the first time they tried writing something together. “We were at Chad’s parents’ house,” Rachel recalls. “We took some lyrics Chad had already written. He was messing around with some guitar chords. So I came up with a melody and sang his lyrics back to him. I remember him saying, ‘Oh, my! Dad! Come here! You’ve gotta hear this girl sing!”

“I still remember that first feeling of collaboration,” Chad adds. It was so inspiring to have somebody else’s insight and to combine our ideas.”

They weren’t old enough to play the bar scene yet, so they started by performing as a duo at local coffeehouses. A following grew, first in their community, but then throughout the Pacific Northwest. Step by step, they scaled to higher levels of visibility, earning opening slots for Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Lady A and Tim McGraw. Yet they left when the time was right for Nashville, to seek the stimulus and songwriting opportunities that beckoned from Music City. Devoted fully to music, they subsisted by teaching private music lessons online from home. Rachel also has delved into the voice-over world and they both have done some session work. All while continuing to play together at iconic Nashville staples like The Bluebird Cafe, 3rd & Lindsley and The Listening Room.  

As Cloverdayle, they developed a routine that served them well. For several years, they’d leave Nashville in their pickup truck and drive back to their old circuit, playing small-scale, acoustic shows along the way — mostly house concerts and honky-tonks. Once they’d hit the Northwest, they switched to bigger venues, backed by a band of their favorite local musicians and welcomed by the fans they’d won over from years before. Then when they returned home to Tennessee, they’d pour the tour earnings into their music while continuing to entertain audiences around the globe through social media live streams. The fruits of their labor were becoming fully recognized when Women of Country named Cloverdayle as their “Group of the Year” for 2018.

2020 brought on the COVID pandemic that resulted in Chad & Rachel’s road plans being halted, but their partnership and their hunger to continue writing songs had only grown stronger despite all of the uncertainty. Soon after, 2021 came along and they began releasing what they describe as the most honest music they’d ever written.

“It’s been a tough couple of years,” Rachel admits. “I had major surgery. Chad’s dad passed away. Several big, big things really shook our lives. So it’s important for us to tell the next story through our lens only. That’s why this latest project is the first to have every song written by just the two of us.”

“We’ve broadened our perspective,” Chad adds. “We’re less worried about the machine that is the music industry and more focused on sharing our real life stories through these songs.” Rachel continues: “In the past we’ve had to think about how our production will translate live. This time, we’re more concerned with it translating honestly.”

As they finessed their new tracks, Cloverdayle, with co-producer Steve Sundholm, followed that mandate faithfully. They also put a lot of thought into finding a way to introduce them to the public — and to thank their army of supporters whose Kickstarter contributions made the work possible. For example, contributors were honored on video as Rachel and Chad noted each benefactor’s location on giant maps attached to their wall. Rachel adds to the celebration by creating an original piece of visual art for every song they’re releasing, as well as featuring the art on exclusive merchandise for select Kickstarter contributors. 

They’ve also challenged tradition by releasing the new tracks one by one before compiling them all onto a full length album. The reason? “A lot of people are really distracted by so much these days that, while they intend to listen to a new album, they might only get through the first three or four tracks. By releasing one song per month for a solid year, there’s more potential for listeners to digest every song.”

One thing hasn’t changed through three full-length albums, three EPs and countless miles on their truck’s odometer: Cloverdayle always charts its own course. They are fiercely independent, always reserving the responsibilities of management, marketing, social media — even some graphic design. Freedom to express themselves through music is all they’ve really strived for.

“We didn’t have big dreams of being a cover band and playing all night along Nashville’s Lower Broadway. That never has felt like the path we’re supposed to take.” Rachel sums up.

Chad laughs and adds, “There’s somewhat of an expectation in this town of what a duo is supposed to look like & sound like, but I don’t think we fit into that mold. Very rarely will you hear me sing. I leave that to Rach. We’re a little bit like the Eurhythmics in that sense.”

We’d put it more directly: They’re Cloverdayle. Someday soon, that’ll be clear to everyone.

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Cloverdayle

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