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Us the Duo on Music and Marriage: "Our Relationship Comes Before the Band"

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Many people have trouble maintaining a marriage; some have difficulty keeping a band together. Michael and Carissa Alvarado raised the stakes by not only marrying, but also founding the folk pop group, Us the Duo. In a joint interview with New Times, they shared their secret for maintaining both a matrimonial and musical union. "Our relationship comes before the band." Michael said. "That always has to be number one. If we weren't in good graces with each other, we'd have to stop the band."

Fortunately for fans of their gentle, folksy harmonizing duets, things are currently very good between Us the Duo. Their third album Just Love  has just been released. It was inspired by creative frustration with their previous label. "We didn't have the freedom to let ourselves all out. We left that label, locked ourselves in the studio for two weeks with three studio musicians, and created something unique. There are no sounds except from the instruments, which is rare on today's pop charts."

The pair met in 2011 in Los Angeles. Michael was in town to help a friend from his native North Carolina move cross country when he got a job as an extra on a music video. Carissa was already at work there. The two background artists gravitated toward each other. Carissa says it took a few months of dating before the songs began "We were both making music separately before we considered it." They began uploading six second covers of popular songs on their Vine account and quickly became internet sensations. With Carissa taking the lead and Michael beatboxing while playing keyboard or guitar, their renditions found something worthwhile in even the most disposable pop song.

Though Us the Duo recently came to town to open for Pentatonix at the BB&T Center, their headlining show at Culture Room August 8 marks the first time they appear in South Florida with a full band. "We're going to play a lot of new music, some older songs and a lot of covers that are fun and  funky that everyone will know and can sing along to." Carissa says. She's also confident that by taking notes from other husband and wife bands like Johnny and June Carter Cash and The Civil Wars, that they know the secret that will keep Us the Duo together. "When you're touring and you're with each other 24/7, you have to know how to give each other space."

Us the Duo
7 p.m. Monday, August 8, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy.,  Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1074; cultureroom.net. Tickets cost $18 plus fees.

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