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Local music: Like father, like daughter

Published September 26, 2012 5:41 pm

Local sounds • Duo make country-pop a thing both father and daughter can love.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There's a long list of musical families who don't get along— the Gallagher, Robinson and Davies brothers are just a few.

But Breneau, a father-daughter pop-country duo, proves that you don't need to feud with family to feed your music.

Scott Packer, 53, of Alpine, and his 20-year-old daughter, Kimber Packer, of Salt Lake City, perform a unique blend of clawhammer banjo and acoustic guitar. The clawhammer banjo differs from other stringed instruments because it uses a down-picking style. Guitars and other banjos are generally played by up-picking with the fingers and down-picking with the thumb.

Father, who owns his own business, and daughter, a hairstylist in Sandy, spend many evenings harmonizing, rehearsing, performing and recording. Their second album should be released in early 2013.

The Packers answered questions about performing together and their second album.

How did you get into music?

Scott • I was paroled from a life sentence of piano lessons while attending high school in Kentucky and was allowed to take bluegrass banjo lessons instead. After graduating, I moved to Utah to attend college and formed an acoustic band for fun. I finished college, married my beautiful wife, Donna, had four wonderful children, and adopted a below-average cat and a great German shepherd. Six years ago I picked up the banjo again and began taking clawhammer banjo lessons to prevent further loss of the right side of my brain.

Kimber • I always loved singing and eventually picked up the guitar. I started taking guitar lessons and began writing for our first CD.

Why did you decide to start performing and recording together?

Scott • Unlike most high-school kids, Kimber would stay up late every night learning the guitar and writing her own songs. She never planned on sharing the songs until I made her play them for her guitar teacher. Her teacher was a former music professor at the University of Utah and told Kimber she had the right stuff to make it. (I, of course, would be along for the ride.) Kimber and I then began working together and liked the sound. We created the band Breneau to crystallize the sound of our work.

Kimber • My dad and I decided to play music together because we love the sound of the guitar and clawhammer banjo. We wanted to create a new sound with lyrics that listeners can relate to.

How will the second album differ from the first?

Scott • We liked the first album. It had more of a "pop" feel to us that would make it a little more mainstream. The second album will be more organic and driving — less electric more acoustic.

Kimber • The second album will have more of a raw, organic sound. The lyrics are slightly less sugar-coated.

What is your most memorable musical experience?

Scott • The first time we played one of the first songs for Kimber's guitar teacher and my banjo teacher. We were looking for soft critical comment, but we saw them both with a surprised, but genuine, look of satisfaction. They said, "That's a wrap, ready to go." We still use them both as sounding boards, and we do get a lot more input to challenge us as we move forward. If you listen to the first album and realize Kimber has not yet learned to read music and has had no formal music training outside of guitar lessons, it makes the talent evident.

Kimber • My most memorable experience with music is when my dad and I played at Cranky Chuckies [restaurant] in Provo. It was the first time I felt truly connected to the audience. The food was good and I left feeling like I knew what I was doing.

Some famous bands have broken up because of familial tensions. Are there disagreements, and how are they resolved?

Scott • As a small-business owner, I have found that things run smoothly if responsibilities and communications are clear. Kimber takes care of all music and creative aspects and politely listens to my opinion. She does listen carefully to how I feel the music should be done so she can get a good laugh. Since I went to high school in Kentucky and I am an engineer, the expectations are really quite low. I take care of the business side along with Kent Kingston, who helps with marketing, promotion and booking. It's pretty easy to manage — just pay money for everything.

Kimber • My dad and I rarely argue when it comes to music. If we do, it is solved within a matter of minutes — as soon as my mood swing is over.

Does living in Utah affect the music you create?

Scott • Moving from Kentucky to Utah brings its share of stark contrasts and cultural differences. I really like the mountains in Utah. I travel all over the world for my work and find vast differences in peoples and cultures. Kimber has had the opportunity to travel with me and gain an appreciation for the diversity. The common thread that we both share in the music is to do a small part in making the world a better place. Life's challenges are felt by everyone. Sometimes a song can make a difference.

Kimber • Being close to nature helps me get grounded, but the city also makes for good lyrics.

dburger@sltrib.com

Family ties

The father-daughter pop-country duo Breneau has several upcoming performances:

When • Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28 and 29, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Where • Mo's Neighborhood Grill, 358 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City

Cost • no cover

When • Wednesday, Oct. 24, 8 to 10 p.m.

Where • Guru's Café, 45 E. Center St., Provo

Cost • No cover