22 Years and a Million and a Half Miles…
Twenty-two years ago, Jacquie Manning and Rich Prezioso, the Chicago-area duo known as Small Potatoes, decided to hit the road. “In one year, we quit our jobs, bought a house, bought a car, and became full-time folk singers–not exactly the greatest combination, financially speaking, or what most people would call a sound business model. We didn’t throw darts at a map, but we might as well have.”
They might not have had the best plan, but what they did have were great songs and musicianship, and the ability to put on a show. Twenty-two years, more than a million miles, 3000 shows, and five Dodge Caravans later, they are listed as a “favorite act” by many coffeehouses, clubs and house concerts across the U.S. They have made repeat appearances at major folk festivals, including the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Walnut Valley Festival, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
From the start, they’ve called themselves eclecto-maniacs and described their music as “Celtic to Cowboy”. They say it has taken them “years of careful indecision” to come up with a mix of music that ranges from country, blues, and swing to Irish, with songwriting that touches on all of those styles and more. Their four recordings, Alive!, Waltz of the Wa flowers, Time Flies and Raw demonstrate that “indecision” can be wonderfully entertaining . They both sing, they both play guitars and an array of other instruments. They even yodel.
“Jacquie Manning and Rich Prezioso combine cleverly witty with powerfu y poignant songs, along with we chosen covers to present an unusua y entertaining and involving repertoire engagingly delivered. Prezioso’s song “1000 Candles, 1000 Cranes” is one of the most outstanding songs of the past 50 years.”
Rich Warren, The Midnight Special – WFMT Radio, Chicago, IL
“Make ‘em Laugh, Make ‘em Cry, Make ‘em Think”
When you see Small Potatoes perform, you hear two great voices, some fine guitar playing, and a touch of tin whistle, flute, mandolin, bodhran and other percussion toys. Together they present a truly rare blend of vocal and instrumental abilities, award-winning songwriting and arranging talents. They have the unique ability to adapt to the style of music they happen to be playing, and they also pay attention to the little things, the warmth, the humor and a rapport with the audience that makes for a memorable performance.
“Specificity Leads to Extinction?”
“They don’t sound like anybody else. I like that. They lay out a blanket and every song is a picnic.” Warren Nelson Big Top Chautauqua/Tent Show Radio–Wisconsin Public Radio, Bayfield, WI
These words mean a lot to us. They make us think we’re doing something right. We joke about “specificity leading to extinction” –for us, at least, we believe it really would. There are many great performers who do one thing and do it extremely well–that’s what makes them special. Not us. Actually the eclecto-maniac business began as an accident. We are absolutely no good at decision making, if someone told us we could only do one thing we’d probably implode. So we began by playing some of our favorite songs…and we do like a lot of different kinds of music. It’s become a kind of mission now, our audiences love it–no one (except for a few people in the music industry) has ever told us we bounce around too much.
We figure “focus” is an overused word anyway. We still play our favorite songs. We try to write songs in all kinds of styles, but it doesn’t matter if we wrote the song or not, or if it’s an old song or a new song, or if it’s a folk song or not.
There’s a lot of good music out there.