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Canadian duo Azalea blooms at Creekside Café on Saturday

WANT TO GO?

Azalea

WHERE: Creekside Café, 3380 Teays Valley Road, Hurricane

WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: Free

INFO: 304-562-2594

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Benjamin Hackett and Mia Cioffi of Azalea started out as a couple of songwriters in Canada with a fairly big problem: neither one of them could write a song on their own.

"I'd always just sort of dabbled with songwriting," Cioffi said. "So had Benjamin. But neither of us had been able to complete a song."

"It just seemed a little impossible," Hackett added.

The two, who appear Saturday at the Creekside Café in Teays Valley, said it was only after they were put together that they were able to make their own music work.

Hackett and Cioffi met at church in Ontario, where they played music as part of worship services. Eventually, someone in the congregation suggested they might write something for an upcoming special program. Something between the two of them clicked.

"It was just so cool," Hackett said, "and it started a passion for us to write together."

The two began spending more time together, started playing music together and became friends.

"Then, as history goes, we fell in love," Cioffi said. "Then we released an album."

That was 2007, when they were still performing under their own names. The fledgling folk-pop duo wasn't happy with the approach, though.

"A band name seemed to have more commercial appeal," Cioffi said.

So they started looking around for something that described who they were, at least symbolically. They settled on a flower, the azalea.

"We looked it up," Cioffi said. "It's a really colorful flower that does well in different climates and is considered kind of showy in the garden."

"We're not show-offs," Hackett said, "but I think we step up and do more than people expect on stage."

"We're young. We're happy. We're colorful and positive," Cioffi added. "The name really seemed to express that."

It's also been a name they could grow into. Both say their musical style has blossomed since they took on the name.

"Our songwriting process is about the same," Hackett said. "It's probably more fine-tuned, but how we sound, I think, is more coherent. We sound like us."

Writing songs, becoming friends, falling in love and then starting a band led finally to a wedding. The two were married in June 2010.

"The same month our second CD, 'Coffee and Kisses,' was released," Cioffi said.

They say they're very happy together and are ready to take their music as far as they can. Since they started playing together, they have largely just performed along the southern part of the Canadian province they hail from, with a few shows here and there in the United States.

"This is really our first extended trip south," Cioffi said. "We've got shows in Johnston City, [Tenn.], and Urbana, Virginia. We're really hoping it goes well. We want to come back."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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