Bouncing back

The major music label thing didn't pan out, so siblings Judd and Maggie are doing it their way

May 24, 2007|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun reporter

In the past year, less has been more for Judd and Maggie.

The brother and sister singer/songwriter team was signed to a major label in 2004 and dropped at the end of last summer. Now, after writing and recording a new EP in their Nashville, Tenn., apartment, the duo is on a two-week tour. They come to the Ottobar on Tuesday.

Judd, 27, and Maggie Bolger, 23, started playing music together about five years ago. Though their family is originally from New York, they lived near Catonsville for a while and moved to Frederick during high school.

Judd played in a couple of bands around Baltimore, including the Newlyweds. Maggie started singing along with Judd, and they developed the two-part vocal harmonies that are still present in their songs. Their debut album, Concentrate, came out in 2003 and was well-received locally.

"I think the vocals always clicked," Judd said. "We're probably not the best co-writers because we're very personal, private people. ... I think we just get better as we go along. At least, I hope we do."

In 2004, Judd and Maggie's melodic folk pop sparked interest from a few major labels. The duo signed to RCA Victor and released Subjects in the fall of 2005. A national tour followed.

But album sales were tepid - somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000, they estimate. Maggie said the label could have done more.

"There wasn't a big push," she said. "I don't know if they could handle that much for a new artist. They're better with big artists where money can do the work. But we were grass-roots."

But Judd and Maggie's first major-label experience wasn't all bad. About six months ago, they moved to Tennessee, met a new producer and started working on an acoustic EP. They bought recording equipment with some of the money from RCA Victor and set it up in their Nashville apartment.

The new acoustic EP, simply titled Judd and Maggie Acoustic, is now on iTunes. Judd and Maggie will also sell it on their current tour.

A new full-length is in the works and could see a national release later this year, they said.

Though the past couple of years have been bittersweet, Judd and Maggie have plenty of hope for the future.

"We're grateful for the opportunity we had," Maggie said. "But this is an exciting time. It's the exact opposite - just making it in our bedroom. This is really fun, too. We'll see how it does."

Judd and Maggie play the Ottobar on Tuesday. Romania, Steven Delopoulos and Steve Hefter and Friends and Friends of Friends open. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the music starts at 9 p.m. The venue is at 2549 N. Howard St. Call 410-662-0069 or go to theottobar.com

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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