Cellist Janel Leppin and guitarist Anthony Pirog attended the same high school in Vienna, Virginia (outside Washington, D.C.) during the 1990s, but didn't begin playing music together until their high-school years were behind them. Leppin grew up in Wedderburn, a grouping of small cottages in a secluded wooded area that had evolved into an art colony of sorts, and during her college years she would invite friends, including Pirog, to her cottage to play both written and improvised music. Leppin earned a degree in cello performance from George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia; meanwhile, Pirog had studied jazz guitar at Berklee before attaining a degree in jazz performance from N.Y.U. in 2004.
While following distinct paths in their academic pursuits -- Leppin explored North Indian, Persian, and Japanese classical music and Pirog was drawn to avant-garde jazz and experimentalism -- playing music together at Wedderburn revealed the pair to be sympathetic collaborators, and they began performing as Janel & Anthony at D.C. area venues in 2005. The following year they self-released an eponymously titled CD (reissued on vinyl by Cricket Cemetery Records in 2011), and subsequently Leppin and Pirog were active as working musicians both in their duo project and in separate endeavors with other artists. They performed as Janel & Anthony at a variety of East Coast venues and embarked on extensive touring, while individually the two maintained busy schedules performing and recording with other musicians across a wide spectrum of experimental, modern classical, world music, jazz, and rock genres and styles.
Amidst all this activity, Janel & Anthony took time over a three-year period to complete their sophomore album at a Washington, D.C. area analog recording studio. Released by Cuneiform in May 2012, Where Is Home features not only Leppin on cello and Pirog on guitar, but extensive use of loops, electronics, and other instruments including koto, harpsichord, accordion, and detuned autoharp (Leppin) and electric sitar, bass, mandolin, and lap steel (Pirog). The result is a deeply layered and atmospheric work touching on the musicians' varied musical influences and interests, imbued with a sense of reflection and longing for -- as Leppin has described it -- "a new, deep-seated home," particularly given the razing of Wedderburn to make way for new suburban housing in the greater Washington, D.C. area's expanding real estate market (national housing bubble notwithstanding). ~ Dave Lynch