Coming Home: The War + Treaty to Play Union Stage
March 21, 2023 @ 12:00pm
The duo behind The War and Treaty discuss their musical road and how it led them back to D.C.
Sitting at a traffic light recently, Michael Trotter Jr. looked over to see his wife’s eyes welling with tears. While one might assume marital strife, these tears weren’t brought on by an argument or upset. They were brought on by hope.
Trotter Jr. and his wife Tanya Blount Trotter comprise The War and Treaty, a D.C. country-rock-R&B duo who had been indie darlings until they were on the verge of signing a deal with a major label (in this case, UMG Nashville). This was not a new road for Blount Trotter, who had her own solo major label deal in the 90s and was featured in the movie “Sister Act 2.” But the industry is fickle. After some minor hits and industry recognition, Blount Trotter was unceremoniously dumped. Now she found herself, once again, on the precipice of much broader success.
“Is this really happening for me again?” Blount Trotter whispered in the car.
“I looked at her and she wasn’t even talking to me,” Trotter tells District Fray. “She was just having that moment. In my mind I’m like, could it be that she felt it was over? Could it be that she felt that she lost it? Could it be that she felt she didn’t get a fair shake? Or could it simply be that she felt lucky the first time and now she’s definitely feeling luck again?”
Luck may have some role in the duo’s success. Was it luck that allowed the pair to meet in the middle of a field in 2010 at a Maryland music festival? Or was it luck that found the two meshing musically, years after they had started a personal relationship?
“It was a combination of both,” Blount Trotter offers. “I think you have to have God, and you have to have people that just see that this is something different. They open the door for you. You have to have people in order to go from one level to the next in your life.”
Now residing in Nashville, the pair are hoping to go to the next level with the release of their fourth studio album, “Lover’s Game.” The album is produced by Dave Cobb (who has worked with Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, among others), whom the pair met while performing at Big Night at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where Cobb was serving as a mixer. After taking the pair’s vocals and putting them through the same chamber used by Ray Charles, they were stunned by the results.
“We had never heard our voices like that,” says Blount Trotter. “[Cobb] then said, ‘Well, we should work together. You guys need to do a record that reflects what you do live.’ Because I think we had great records before. I love them all. I felt the vocals were great as well but he wanted the energy from our live show to be put on a record where people could still, while driving in their cars, feel like they were at a War and Treaty show.”
Working from Cobb’s home in Savannah, Georgia allowed the duo to bond with the producer over meals, creating a relaxed atmosphere and permitting the pair to delve deep into relationships, past and present, for their source material. The song “Ain’t No Harmin’ Me” is a perfect example of that.
“It deals with the reality of our past relationships showing up in our current relationships,” says Trotter Jr. “I feel that song we wrote to our own inner demons. People will say, ‘Oh, you’re talking about your ex.’ No, I’m talking about who I was when I was with my ex. I’m talking about the inner demons that showed up in me. The inner demons that showed up in Tanya that we won’t allow to show up in our relationship. Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
The War and Treaty will soon hit the road as both an opening act for Chris Stapleton and for their own headlining dates, which will include a show at Union Stage on May 6. (If you want an idea of the amount of energy they exude while performing, Trotter Jr. recently broke a fibula after a fall while performing at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and kept singing.)
While no longer DMV-based, they still carve out time on their days off to return to the area and visit family. Blount Trotter recently visited her father. (“He’s 76 this year. He loves to travel and he’s still working two jobs, so I have to work around his schedule. He’s the busy one.”)
Recently, while doing promotion for the album in New York City, the pair swung by Times Square and were surprised seeing a video billboard promoting their music video for “Have You a Heart.” With jaws agape, it was Trotter Jr. this time who was brought to tears, leaning on his crutches and uttering, “Man, I have no words.”
The War and Treaty will play Saturday, May 6 at 7 p.m. at Union Stage. Tickets start at $26. To learn more about The War and Treaty and their music, follow them on Instagram @thewarandtreaty.
Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; unionstage.com // @unionstage
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