Soulmates in Art and Love

How Birds and Arrows’ Andrea and Pete Connolly got through a ‘doozy’ of a start to their relationship and found an open, creative oasis in Tucson

Numerous love stories can be heard in the music of the Old Pueblo. What happens when "'Til death do us part" meets rock 'n' roll? This week, meet Pete and Andrea Connolly, the husband-and-wife duo of Birds and Arrows.

How they met:

When Andrea and Pete Connolly met working at a brewery together in North Carolina, there was an instant connection.

It wasn't long before Andrea shared her solo project with him and invited him to play drums on a song. Their love story would unfold quickly from there, but it wouldn't come without a little intensity.

"When we met I had just gotten married to my college sweetheart, we'd been together for like maybe seven years, but when I met Pete we'd been married for six months," Andrea said. "I had to tell my husband, just be upfront with him, and say I think this is the person I'm supposed to be with. I just had to say I think I made a mistake, I'm in love with somebody else and he wanted to go to counseling and try to work through it but this isn't something you counsel away, I feel like I've met my soulmate."

Pete had been divorced for a year and when the pair got together it would take time for friends and family to accept the new relationship.

It wasn't until Christmas that Andrea's family asked Pete to make the two-hour drive to spend the holiday with them. And they loved him right away.

Since then, Andrea's ex-husband has become good friends with the couple, often watching their shows. Their choice to pursue the relationship, was one of the most important in their lives.

"It wasn't really a decision," Pete said. "We just fell in love and it was one thing where we knew we had to make it work."

Since they married, the couple moved to Tucson about four years ago after touring there with their band, Birds and Arrows, falling in love with the city's "bohemian grit" and "openness."

How they make it work:

Pete is a full-time visual artist and Andrea teaches guitar from their home, as well as at the Allegro School of Music two days a week.

They said the only stressor they really deal with occasionally in their life together is monetary, though living inexpensively in Tucson makes all the difference.

"Month to month we're so sporadic in what we do and are full-time artists," Andrea said. "Even though I'm teaching it's really unpredictable to know each month how much we will make or how long to save."

Working together is the easy part.

"We spend a lot of time together, it's kind of ridiculous," Pete said. "I don't know how we do it, we just do it."

How they rock:

Birds and Arrows formed in 2007 with a folky, jangly rock sound powered by guitar and drums. They've since transitioned to a more rock 'n' roll sound in the desert. The pair is constantly working in tandem on all aspects of their music.

"We collaborate a lot and the music is almost a 50-50 collaboration," Pete said. "I mean one of us will have an idea for a song but we both work on it and the same thing with collaboration on album layout."

The trust between them allows for musical growth and makes it easy to offer suggestions or changes for the good of the song.

"People can feel so insecure about music and we don't have that," Andrea said. "We are our own worst critics but the biggest fans of each other and we'll say, 'Oh dude, you got this. Think about that time you did this and this.' We will be cheering each other on to do hard things, which is really cool."

How they roll:

Their schedule is packed with gigs, making music videos together, Pete's art and Andrea's teaching. They enjoy creative projects and have illustrated children's books as a pair as well as made album art for friends.

When they have some free time, they love cruising around Tucson and exploring the small, historic towns of Arizona.

Revisiting their roots:

Since coming to Tucson, Birds and Arrows has transitioned from a folk sound to louder rock.

The couple will be revisiting their musical roots in an upcoming, intimate show at Exo Coffee on Nov. 9.

"We wanted to play Exo for a really long time because we love it as a listening room but we're just a little too loud," Andrea said. "This was a good opportunity to do a paired down, very different acoustic version of all these songs we have now rewritten or written completely electrified, and we're going to do it in consecutive order to take people through this guided tour of our catalog."

They view it almost like looking through an old journal and will be telling their story between songs.

"Back in North Carolina we were pigeon-holed as a folk act and then we wanted to be more rock 'n' roll and it was less accepted," Pete said. "It's the other way around, starting out as a rock band here, so showing this acoustic side seems like a more natural reach for people than the other way around."

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