One's a German, one's from Memphis, Tenn., and it took a British theater manager to bring them to Durango. A circuitous route, to be sure, but locals with an ear for good music will be the beneficiaries as their paths cross tonight at the Henry Strater Theatre.
Chris Anderson and Thomas Hien (Hien's the German) have performed as the acoustic-folk duo Chris and Thomas since they studied together at Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts in the late 1990s. That's where they met Sophie Parrott, who now manages "The Hank." The trio's next meeting took place about 8,000 miles from the Beatles' home town.
"When I lived in Los Angeles, I literally bumped into them, and we realized we lived only a few blocks from each other - crazy!" Parrott said. "We became good friends, and I became an avid fan of Chris and Thomas. They play all over L.A. regularly and have a pretty big following out there."
Chris and Thomas have been compared, favorably, to Simon and Garfunkel, but the description is more for simplicity than accuracy. Their sound is their own, and while Anderson, 36, concedes that much of their musical influence does come from the 1960s and '70s folk music era, he and Hien never set out to imitate any particular artist.
"I played a lot of acoustic music when I was younger. Then I was in heavier rock bands in Memphis, and then I got into composers," Anderson said Tuesday from his Los Angeles home.
He said he originally wanted to be a writer and traveled Europe in his 20s to gain "life experience," but succumbed to pressure from his parents to get a formal education. He met Hien in Greece through a mutual friend and settled on Sir Paul's school as a compromise to satisfy his own artistic cravings and still fulfill his parents' wishes.
"I wanted to tell stories, but tell them through music with more than just a guitar. Tommy and I bonded doing film work - we never sang together during our studies and only wrote instrumental music," he said.
After school, Hien got to L.A. first.
"He and his friend traveled all over doing the VW van thing, and he got a real taste for American folk music. I visited in 2000 and had a blast. Everything was just charmed from the moment I got on the plane," Anderson said.
"I never thought I'd live here in my life, but now I mostly like it. It's a land of dreamers, and there's so much of everything here, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it well and enjoy yourself. I feel that energy comes from the West, and Colorado's like that, too."
Chris and Thomas released their first full-length album "Land of Sea" in 2007 and are working on an upcoming CD, "Into the Sun," scheduled for release this fall. Tonight's show will be a mix of the two, but not even the musicians are sure how the new tunes will shake out. They've been working on a movie soundtrack, and the experience again has changed their musical direction.
"We thought it was more finished than it was. Now, we're like, 'let's change this up a lot,' and we're adding more electro-acoustic and orchestral sounds, and it's a lot more experimental," Anderson said.
"We're working on an analog way to do it live in a very organic way."
This is their first time playing Durango, and while Anderson and Hien are looking forward to a reunion with Parrott, Anderson said the trip will be of the whirlwind variety; they arrived Thursday night and leave Saturday.
"We're really looking forward to playing that wonderful theater, and it will be like a mini-vacation - I just wish we could spend a little more time," he said.