Laguna Beach High School junior Macarena Rivera began playing "homemade music" with her stepdad, Jason Farthing, in the family's living room about two years ago, in order to promote his cigar box art and guitar business and to help the performing arts student step outside of her comfort zone.
"After a while, I got less shy and we started singing cover songs together," she said. "Eventually, I started writing my own lyrics and it turned into this really cool thing."
That really cool thing, now a band called The Budrows (slang for "buds" or buddies), recently started spreading their Jefferson Airplane-meets-Janis Joplin bluesy sound around Orange County. Now returning from a gig in Fort Collins, Colo., the duo will perform at 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Marine Room as part of Beth Fitchet Wood's singer-songwriter night.
The blend of Farthing's handmade cigar box guitar, kick drum and tambourine and Rivera's powerful voice, captures the sound of that "down home, front porch delta blues."
"We try to pick songs that lend themselves to our stripped down, sparse instrument sounds we play," Farthing said. "What you get is feel-good music."
Rivera, whose lyrics are inspired by anything from nature to deep introspection and just "living in the moment," said she'll deliver her latest originals including "Out in Space," a song about the anomaly of pushing away the people and things in life that we love, as well some of her favorite covers like the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith's, "Blue Spirit Blues."
While Rivera does most of the writing, the pair also like to play some of Farthing's storytelling lyrics, like the story of "Johnny Goldheart," a kid with a hard shell who grows up to realize that life is more rewarding when you embrace feelings.
"When I first saw how much people really enjoyed our music, it just clicked that this is what I want to do," Rivera said. "Looking out into a crowd and seeing even just one person who really digs the sound and is feeling it, that makes it all worth it. That's what music is."
Aspiring to learn to play the harmonica and cigar box guitar, Rivera admits her dream would be to make music a career.
"I know it's a big dream and I don't think I've even admitted it until now," she said. "So until it happens, I'll plan to study nursing and continue to make music as a hobby.
"But that would be awesome."