Ruby Dear is a new band full of faces familiar to those who have followed the Lehigh Valley music scene for the past 10 years.
Lead vocalist-guitarist Jenny Founds is a Philadelphia native who also sings backup in Talking Heads tribute band Start Making Sense. Drummer Jon Braun doubles as frontman for Start Making Sense (in the role of Talking Heads' David Byrne). Bassist Jesse Braun is the drummer for Start Making Sense.
Still following? Good.
Founds said the popularity and momentum of Start Making Sense -- the group spends nine months out of the year on the road touring the country and, earlier this year, performed in Cuba -- ultimately inspired her to bring her own songs to life.
"In February 2017, we sat down and started talking about the idea of doing this band. Basically, the whole year it's been incubating and now we have a full set of music," Founds said during a recent phone interview.
Ruby Dear performs 4 p.m. tonight on the Lagerplatz stage at Musikfest. They return Friday to Musikfest for two performances on the Main Street stage.
After moving to Bethlehem from New York City in 2016, Founds said Jon Braun suggested fleshing out her music in a band setting. (Prior to the move and joining Start Making Sense, Founds was a student of Braun's at the School of Rock in Downington, Chester County.)
"I wrote these songs on my acoustic guitar; it was just me in my dorm room in New York City," Founds said. "I think in the process (of rehearsing), we tried different versions of all the songs -- try it as a punk song, slow it down as a soul tune. We came to the agreement to try to do a little bit of everything."
Founds said one of her biggest influences is the late Jeff Buckley. "His music always spoke to me," she said of the late singer-songwriter.
The band has earmarked a September release for their debut recording.
The songwriting process has allowed Founds the opportunity to find herself as an artist. "The trippiest thing I've been dealing with is I went from School of Rock, doing cover songs, then moved to New York to go to school for musical theater, playing different roles in college, and my first gig out of school was Start Making Sense," Founds said. "I started showing Jesse and Jon these songs and I went, 'Holy crap, I haven't been myself for almost 10 years."
Jon Braun said being back behind the kit has been a welcome change of scenery after so many months being front and center. (The Braun brothers occasionally perform in surf rock band Great White Caps in which Jon Braun is the drummer.)
"We're creating original music and the process has been really enjoyable because the three of us work together so well," he said. "It's been a lot of fun and truly satisfying to sit and work on music and not have an audience in mind and doing what we want to do and what we think we want to hear and hope people enjoy it. There are no expectations."