Music Spotlight: The Hoe And The Harrow

Music Spotlight: The Hoe And The Harrow

The Hoe and The Harrow is an amazing local band based out of Anacortes. In the last couple of years, they have shaped their music to work as a duo on up to a seven-piece band, featuring three new members on fiddle, mandolin, viola and vocal harmonies. The Hoe and The Harrow are getting close to wrapping up recording on their first studio recorded album, Blue North, which is set to release April 30th. They will also be performing at this year’s Northwest Folklife Festival and the Skagit County Fair.

We were fortunate enough to listen to this local band at Anelia’s Kitchen and Stage during the Skagit-Fest-Of-Ale. The setup at Anelia’s allows for you to be able to interact with the bands before and after they play. The sound system is not overpowering so you can still have conversations while enjoying the music.

Get To Know The Band

  • James Harper is the lead vocalist, songwriter and plays the Irish Bouzouki. He owns and operates Anacortes Window Cleaning & Fidalgo Home Watch.
  • Ben Goe plays the cello and sings. He runs the produce department in the Skagit Valley Food Co-op.
  • Keith Boller plays the bass and is Head Start Program Manager at SVC.  
  • Matt Harding rocks the drums and vocals. He also owns a land clearing/maintenance business.
  • Arielle Luckmann plays the fiddle. She works at the Well Fed Farms, the Skagit Valley Food Co-Op, teaches fiddle & music workshops
  • Kyle Miller plays mandolin and viola. He teaches guitar full time with his business Strings of Resonance.
  • Channing Waage plays guitar and lends her unique voice to their music. She is a preschool teacher and owner of Present Healing.

The Hoe And the Harrow Sound

While you can hear an influence from Folk and Americana, their sound is very non-traditional and can range from a slow whispering waltz to a fully distorted grunge influenced flurry. "Solemn, haunting and steeped in the rich river valley and maritime culture of our home, these lyric-driven melodies serve as food for the soul and spirit." James Harper explained.

Their songs range drastically in style with topics like aging gutter punks, surfing Neah Bay, day drinking in Alaska when the sun never sets, Norsemen, oyster farmers, firefighters, the Civilian Conservation Corps and prohibition era moonshiners.

While this lyrically driven music is written by James Harper, each member and instrument contribute to the overall tone that gives this band such an eclectic sound.

  • Ben and Keith work together to create the bass and cello parts, and Ben writes a lot of the instrumental melodies for the music.
  • James (who was actually the drummer in Spoonshine for a decade) works with Matthew on drums to work out rhythm parts.
  • From writing out the sheet music for the viola parts to using music theory to create really beautiful vocal harmonies, Kyle and Channing have been working hard to create parts for about 3 hours of original music.
  • Arielle (aka "one take Ari" in the studio) is a seasoned pro on fiddle and really adds a nice high-end element to the band.

A Little Musical History

After a year or two of talking about the prospect of starting a band James, Keith and Ben finally got together.  Ben likes to joke it wasn't until James heard him play the Cello that he actually believed that he could do it.  Early on they added drummer Matthew Harding, and that's when things started to gel.  They are now incorporating additional members to the mix as well as commissioning local artist Luuk Honey to create four seasonal poster designs, band logo, and album art.  "We are fortunate to have him working with us.  His artwork is spiritual, and we feel it's a great visual representation of our sound."  

What is their favorite part of a local band?  

James enjoys playing small, quaint venues and events in and around the Valley area.  "Most of all I love the creative outlet being in a band affords. We all work hard in our day jobs and to have this group as an outlet is extremely important to us."  

Ben added, “My favorite part of being a local band in Skagit County is our tight-knit community. Playing music can be cathartic, but being able to share my music with the local community, well it makes it just that much more enjoyable.”

You will be able to purchase their new album, Blue North at their shows, local music shops, website ( as well as iTunes and Amazon in the near future. 

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