“Music never left our house, never,” declares Deb Morrison-Littell, a photographer and Altadena resident who also anchors Morrison & Co. with guitarist hubby Matt Littell. But music inevitably got pushed aside as they raised their family — until one Mother’s Day, when Morrison-Littell arose to find her husband (who also plays bass in Chip Kinman’s punk-blues outfit Ford Madox Ford) had claimed floor space in their living room for a 1963 sparkling Ludwig drum kit, just like one they’d had years before.
“He said, ‘Happy Mother’s Day, we’re bringing music back. We’re going to do what we used to do prior to having these little rug rats,’” Morrison-Littell recalled. “I said, ‘OK!’”
The two had played in various rock bands over the years, but never in the same one. Now, with Morrison & Co., their sound is somewhere between Bakersfield country and classic Laurel Canyon-style pop, performed with a shifting array of friends drawn from their Living Room Session jam nights.
“We started having these crazy jam sessions in this old place we live in, and it just started turning into a thing,” she explains. “We’ve got an old Hammond organ in the living room, a standup bass and vintage gear. I actually started recording and filming some of those nights because they were so magical.”
Friends across the street installed a home studio, so now, Morrison-Littell says, when inspiration strikes during house jams they stroll across the road to capture “raw moments” on recordings. They’ve been posting singles on their website.
“I have a lot of material,” she says. “But it doesn’t make any sense to release an album in its entirety; people’s attention span isn’t that long. So I’m just going to release one single at a time with a video, because that makes sense in today’s modern world.”
This Saturday they’re returning to Old Towne Pub (“our old stomping grounds”) with a lineup of friends: Medicine Hat, T-Lowe (“True Blood” actor Todd Lowe), and the Lost Weekend. Come Aug. 28, Morrison & Co. will return to Highland Park Bowl, where Morrison-Littell books weekly Americana Music Nights.
“I noticed that it was difficult to find Americana music nights except in the wonderful places like the Grand Ole Echo (in Echo Park) and Maui Sugar Mill (in Tarzana), which are out there a little bit, but no place around here. So I asked Highland Park Bowl if I could book Wednesdays with other Americana bands. … Now it’s going really well.”
“We started playing again just for the love of music and for community,” she says of her band’s evolution. “Just getting together and doing it the old-fashioned way, with no expectations other than just to hit that sweet spot when you’re playing music and everybody’s looking at each other and you [realize], ‘This is why I’m playing.’ We just decided to keep riding with that.”
Morrison & Co. headline at Old Towne Pub, 66 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17; music starts 8:30 p.m. $5 cover. Info: (626) 577-6583. morrisoncompanyband.com, theoldtownepub.com