Music has seen numerous family acts of sisters and brothers, but identical twins who perform together can be as rare as a tourist on the Homer Spit in November.
This weekend, one such group, twin sisters Katelyn and Laurie Shook of The Shook Twins, will perform starting at 9 p.m. on Saturday for the Salmonfest Music Series at Alice’s Champagne Palace.
Tickets are $20 at the door or $15 in advance and on sale at Alice’s, the Homer Bookstore and the Old Inlet Bookshop.
Notable twin acts include Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin of Tegan and Sara, Charlie and Craig Reid of The Proclaimers, and Tim and Phil Hanseroth, who sing and play with Brandi Carlile.
Katelyn Shook, 34, the slightly older sister — by 1 minute — said they do something even more special.
“I don’t know too many bands who have the lead, the front people (being) twins,” Katelyn Shook said in a phone interview from her Portland, Oregon. “We say our voices are the main instrument.”
The sisters grew up in Sand Point, Idaho, went to college together and even graduated with the same major, radio-TV-digital media production.
“We’ve done everything the same,” Katelyn said. “… We have this other trippy thing that happens to us where we mixed up our memories. Somewhere along the way the wires got crossed. One of us thinks the story happened to them — we have specific memories we fight over.”
Katelyn plays guitar and Laurie plays banjo. Though their voices have subtle differences, “they’re pretty identical,” Katelyn said. “When we sing together it sounds like one voice.”
Their sound creates beautiful harmonies reminiscent of duos like Laura and Lydia Rogers of The Secret Sisters (not twins).
Of The Shook Twins, author Neil Gaiman said, “They make music that twines through your soul the way vines cover an abandoned shack in the woods.”
The Shook Twins’ career goes back to when they were 18 and first started working on their sound, writing together and learning how to blend their voices and instruments.
Their first album, “You Can Have the Rest,” came out in 2008, followed by “Window” and “What We Do.” Their latest album, “2,” is a stripped down version of previous albums and songs.
“It was to tide people over until our new album comes out in February,” Katelyn said.
The Shook Twins usually play with a full band, but for the Alaska tour they’re just bringing up Niko Slice.
He usually plays guitar and mandolin, but for their tour backs the twins on bass and sings.
“It’s really fun,” Katelyn said. “He gets more intricate in his bass lines and treats it like an electric guitar. … He’s rounded out our sound.”
Like a lot of modern singer-songwriter acts, The Shook Twins have built their career playing the festival circuit at venues like the Oregon Country Fair and Red Rocks, where they performed with Ani DiFranco.
“That’s our main thing, especially in the summer,” Katelyn said. “We do 20 festivals. It’s awesome. You get so much more exposure than a club date.”
It was playing in Portland that led the twins to settle there.
“We passed through Portland and always felt like it was a place we could live,” she said. “We just were eager to get someplace easier to tour out of.”
Intimate clubs like Alice’s allow The Shook Twins to focus on a highlight of their sound.
“Our whole motto is that we hope to let people feel comfortable in their own skin,” Katelyn said. “That’s our main goal — just feel comfortable in the room. … A lot of people say if they see our show, it feels like they’re hanging out in our living room. We’re pretty casual.”
The twins won’t be bringing up their mascot, the Golden Egg, because it’s too fragile to carry. Laurie Shook acquired the giant golden egg in 2010 from a man outside a show for the band Hockey in Seattle.
He told them he got it from a woman who said he should sign it and hand it on to the next person he saw. Laurie took it, and later put popcorn into the egg to make it a giant shaker.
At concerts the twins would talk about the egg and how they got it. After one concert, a woman wrote them and said she once had the egg, that it was a magical wishing egg she and college friends passed on as a gift.
It originally came from a performance artist, Lucian Neare, who created many golden eggs to share with the world.
“It’s our little manifestation of magic,” Katelyn said. “…It’s become our mascot, our emblem. … We came from one egg. It’s our magical egg that we came from.”
For more on The Shook Twins, including samples of their songs and the full story of the Golden Egg, visit https://www.shooktwins.com.
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.