"Side By Side is truly a team effort comprised of not only the dynamic duo and other area musicians—including Kyle Dahlquist, Larry Garrett, Christian Hankel, James Isaac, Nate Hofer, Rick Willoughby—but also the band’s fans. About 130 backers contributed to Victor & Penny’s Kickstarter campaign this fall to help push the album through the final stages of production.... Victor & Penny met the goal of making an album people of all ages can appreciate. In short, Side By Side is a great mix of songs that an entire family can enjoy. This album should be a go-to when you need a break from the all-holiday-music-all-the-time radio stations, which can make you wish you got that Red Ryder BB Gun so you could shoot your own eye out. It’s a family friendly and enchanting album!"
Victor & Penny is Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane.
The duo is the creation of Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane who, prior to the pairing, worked in a variety of performing genres and troupes. Freling is a skilled guitarist, who attended Berklee School of Music, and spent a dozen years with Blue Man Group, while McGrane's juggled bands like Blue Museum and Alacartoona with acting work, including a supporting role in the George Clooney film Up in the Air.
McGrane explains the process by which their ambidextrous careers have intersected and speaks to the trend toward artistic collaboration.
"I don't know if anyone has coined a great phrase for that other than an awkwardly long cross-discipline collaborative performance," she says. "But I think they will soon because I think it's a reflection of what's happening societally. So all of these narrow definitions of performance and every other thing are kind of going away because we have access to everything. A lot of those boundaries have been removed because of technology. I think the art is reflecting that and it's exciting."
What has surprised McGrane and Freling is the range of audiences they're appealing to and how the Victor and Penny characters have transcended their fictitious personae.
The antique-pop duo had previously divided their time between Chicago and Kansas City. Both band members also have multiple projects that they juggle.
Erin has been an active performing artist in the KC arts and music scene for many years. Erin is a film, theater and commercial actress; a musician and songwriter; and one of the co-hosts of the new TV program CINEMAKC. Most notably, Erin appeared in the Emmy-winning web series THE UNREAL HOUSEWIVES OF KANSAS CITY and in the Oscar-nominated film, UP IN THE AIR alongside George Clooney. Look for Erin in the thriller feature film NAILBITER. As chanteuse Ruby Falls, she fronts the cabaret act Alacartoona who was awarded a 2009 Inspiration Grant from the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City. She is proud to say she mis-spent her youth singing in a rock band and was named Kansas City’s sexiest musician in the Pitch Magazine’s “Best of KC 2005”.
Jeff, originally from Kansas City, calls Chicago home most of the time where he has performed regularly with Blue Man Group, Tributosaurus, Mar Caribe, the Tom Waits tribute band B1G T1ME, and has performed alongside Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices). He began furiously studying the guitar at the age of 10 when he first heard Jimmy Page’s guitar solo on “Whole Lotta Love” and has considered himself a guitar geek ever since. In the late 80s and early 90s Jeff was the guitarist and co-songwriter for two of KCs favorite bands: The Mongol Beach Party and Grumpy. He studied at the Conservatory at UMKC and at the Berklee School of music in Boston.
James Isaac kicked off his professional music career over twenty years ago by running away with the circus. After two years playing saxophone for the touring Circo Mundial, James returned to Kansas City and has become a mainstay of the thriving jazz scene there. He is adept at many styles, as is evident from a small selection of the groups he performs and records with: Killer Strayhorn, The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, and The Village Gypsy Jazz Band. After having provided music for everything from acrobatics to musical theater, ballet to burlesque, swing to avant-garde jazz, James has founded a group of his own to play his unique arrangements and compositions. In early 2013 he founded Isaac & Isaac with artist Laura Isaac to create large cross-disciplinary collaborative projects. James is on the music faculties of The University of Central Missouri and Johnson County Community College. James received his Master of Music in Saxophone Performance from the Eastman School of Music.
Link to James Isaac's Website
Rick Willoughby graduated from University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory of Music with a B.A. in jazz performance. He began playing at the age of three, but it was not until the age of eleven that he found his calling -- the bass. He works regularly with prominent Kansas City acts including: Barclay Martin Ensemble, Victor & Penny, and Quixotic.