Dave McKey and Jessie Miller are acoustic duo Hungry Girls.

Hungry Girls follows its own lead

Guitarists Dave McKey and Jesse Miller, aka Hungry Girls, take rock influences from City and Colour, Weezer, Blind Melon and Stone Temple Pilots and lend them to their original, acoustic music, then flavor it ever so slightly with soul from the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Al Green.

"I played in bands that play everything from metal to hip-hop when I was in high school," says South Medford graduate McKey.

"For the Hungry Girls project, I started playing leads on electric guitar and singing vocals, with Jesse adding acoustic rhythm. I added a drum kit with a tambourine attached to the kick drum and played percussion with my heels while standing and playing guitar. The tambourine adds a whole new element to our sound. It's halfway between a cymbal and a snare."

With about 10 new songs to the project's credit, Hungry Girls receives positive responses when it performs rare live shows in Medford and Ashland.

"We brought a massive crowd to Johnny B's," McKey says. "We've been getting the word out on Facebook, and we've got a couple of videos on YouTube. We sat in on one of Frankie Hernandez' open mics at Northwest Pizza in Ashland, where we got offers from trumpeter Hernandez and guitarist Kyle Cregan of Delta Halos to do some solos on a new demo we're working on."

DJ Bloody S. Mess will host a live, acoustic show by McKey and Miller at 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, on KZZE FM 106.3.

The duo's radio and regional credits outnumber their local shows.

"We know people around Eugene from playing a lot of hip-hop music," McKey says. "They help us find shows outside of this area."

McKey and Miller will perform later in February at Granary Pizza and Nightclub in Eugene and the Voodoo Room in Astoria. In March, the pair will perform on KWVA FM 88.1, the Oregon Ducks' radio station at the University of Oregon.

"In the meantime, we'd like to pick up as many local shows as possible," McKey says.

McKey, who will be 28 this spring, was born in Astoria and moved to Medford with his folks in 1998. His father works for the U.S. Postal Service. Miller, 24, was born and raised in Medford.

"I took a hiatus from music after my son was born," McKey says. "That was a time to knuckle down and take care of business. It turned out to be the greatest experience of my life.

"I also learned to record and produce music using samples, keys and MIDI," he says. "But I've always been way more into organic instruments than samples, and I got tired of stealing music from other people. It limited me creatively. I could never sell anything without paying tons of copyright fees. That's when I switched to acoustic guitar."

McKey and Miller do most of their songwriting together, with McKey writing most of the lyrics.

"Jesse does more leads now," McKey says. "We switch back and forth at live shows depending on the tune we're playing."

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