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Deb Brisson and the Hay Burners perform original music on their first CD

Middlebury — After finishing recording her first album, local singer and songwriter Deb Brisson says she’s so proud of the result that it brings her to tears.
“I’m really happy with it,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming and we’ve been playing other people’s music for so long. I just can’t help it.”
The 10-track album, called “Heart Shaped Stone,” is the work of the newly formed band Deb Brisson and the Hay Burners, which combines the sounds of two different folk and rock ’n’ roll groups. The band will formally introduce the CD and perform their debut concert this Friday at the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury.
The band is a recent collaboration between two groups, both featuring vocalist Deb Brisson, 45, of Weybridge. Deb Brisson and The Hay Burners borrows drummer John Wallace, bassist Pete Ryan and guitarist Clint Bierman from the Weybridge-based cover band The Horse Traders and brings aboard Mark Pelletier, Brisson’s boyfriend with whom she’s played music for the past two years.
Brisson grew up in a “very musical household.” Her older sisters always had the record player spinning and her aunt often played piano. While she said she lacks professional training, she said her appreciation for music and keen ear for collaboration has guided her projects.
“It was mostly all by ear,” she said, describing her training. “It’s really come from a love of music and an appreciation for the rhythms and patterns.”              
Brisson has been playing music in Addison County for 25 years. She began performing covers of Bonnie Raitt and Nancy Griffith songs with local guitarist Bob Recupero. When Brisson began performing with The Horse Traders 10 years ago, the music was electric and more rock-oriented, playing hits from everyone from The Pretenders to the Rolling Stones to Adele. Creating original music, she says, has been a recent development with other members of the Hay Burners.
The album of completely original music combines the songwriting styles of Brisson, Ryan and Pelletier.
“Pete’s music is inspired by his time out West, so a lot of it is inspired by nature and his friends and family from there,” Brisson said. “Mark (Pelletier) wrote three of the songs and he grew up in a small town in New York so those songs are about the things that he encountered in his life. Mine are some silly things that I made up as I went along. Some of it’s thought provoking.”
Brisson is the owner of an e-commerce company, maintaining websites for clients such as American Meadows  and April Cornell, a day job that she says allows her time to practice and record in the evenings or on weekends.
“It’s a pretty full life,” she said. “We’re busy and I’m definitely not bored.” 
Brisson and the Hay Burners recorded their album in Burlington. For musicians accustomed to playing live gigs in local establishments and private parties, Brisson said the experience of working in a professional studio was completely new.
“It’s much slower,” she said, describing the creative process of working in a studio. “But the creativity is very interesting to see how we can create a song. We came into the studio with a base of a song but then we were able to go back and listen and add where we want. It’s a totally different approach. It’s fun and if you have the studio time, it’s an interesting and creative way to put music together.”
While recording last year, the band was able to tap musicians on the other side of the country. Her nephew in North Carolina submitted lyrics for one of the songs and Martin Guigui, a producer and musician who grew up in Vermont and now lives in Los Angeles, was able to help with editing and even sent piano tracks to the band to feature in the studio in Burlington.
“It was really a ‘wow’ kind of a moment for us,” she said. “We didn’t all have to be together to do this and we could produce it with so many of us far away.”
Two songs from the album will be featured in the Mark Mooney Jr. documentary film, “The Green Mountain Upset,” which profiles the 1983 MUHS boys’ basketball championship team that defeated two-time defending St. Johnsbury Academy. That film premiers at the Town Hall Theater on March 28.
Deb Brisson and the Hay Burners will make their debut on March 21 at the Town Hall Theater at 8 p.m. The concert will feature all the members of the band performing the full album along with help from various guest artists. After an intermission, bands Ten Rod Road and The Horse Traders will close out the evening with dance music.

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