Megan Alder and Alex Klivecka met in Hood River.
Alder, a Pennsylvania native, was volunteering on an organic farm through WWOOF-USA, an program she signed up for after leaving her job in fundraising.
Klivecka had just arrived from Seattle, where the former tech worker — who’d become disillusioned with the industry and quit to travel and play music — was living in a tent and busking.
“(The farm) had a campfire thing. I showed up with no food and four beers out of a six-pack of PBR,” Klivecka recalled.
“It was love at first sight,” said Alder with a laugh.
It was definitely something. The two quickly connected, and soon they were not only a couple but also a musical duo.
As The Naughty Sweethearts, they play their own brand of high-energy Americana, a roots/swing/jug band/stomp/jazz/funk mix.
They’re stopping in Richland on July 1 for a show at Emerald of Siam. Music starts at 9 p.m. Cover is $5.
Scratchdog Stringband from Portland also will perform.
We want to force people to look up from their drinks and look at the stage — to put enough energy out that we’re commanding people’s attention.
Alex Klivecka, The Naughty Sweethearts
Alder and Klivecka are now based in the Columbia River Gorge, near the town of Lyle, Wash.
They live in a cabin off the grid, spending their days making music and building a recording studio on their land. They envision the place as becoming a haven for musicians — a place to create and record in the peace of the woods.
Alder and Klivecka spent this past winter in New Orleans, honing their skills in the city’s storied jazz scene.
“It was a fantastic place. People there are very willing to teach. We increased our technical ability a lot and came back better than when we left,” Klivecka said.
On stage, The Naughty Sweethearts play both traditional music and their own tunes. Their stuff is funky, clever, catchy, melodic.
Take the rootsy romp Been Lied To, in which they sing in perfect harmony, with Alder on guitar and Klivecka on banjo.
“I’ve been lied to, I’ve been played,” the song goes. “Whatcha cookin’ in the kitchen, babe? Look at the mess you made.”
Alder said she and Klivecka “tend to play off each other a lot (on stage). We try to listen to each other.”
They don’t often make set lists, so their shows have a spontaneous spirit. That works because they’re in sync.
“We work together, we live together, play gigs together. It seems to be fun to watch; it’s definitely fun to do,” Klivecka said.
He and Alder both said they’ve found greater happiness and meaning in making music than in their old lives.
“You go to school, work hard, get a good job and you’re supposed to be happy. I was not,” Klivecka said. “I don’t want to seem too cliché, but the rewards that you get from that type of life aren’t things that are valuable to me anymore.”
Alder said that, “the thing I like the best is being able to learn every day. Being able to know that there’s really no end to our potential success. The harder we work, the more we’ll learn and grow, the more people we’ll get to know. It’s been a really welcoming community (of musicians in the Northwest).”
The Naughty Sweethearts are looking forward to their Tri-Cities debut.
“We want to force people to look up from their drinks and look at the stage — to put enough energy out that we’re commanding people’s attention,” Klivecka said. “We plan on being around for a while. We put on a good show. We take a lot of time and effort to make a product people like and have fun watching. They should come see us. Maybe we might change perception of what you can do with a banjo.”
Emerald of Siam is at 1314 Jadwin Ave.