Woodwindist Nancy Rumbel remembered hearing about her duo's recent Grammy nomination last January for the album "Acoustic Garden."
"I had forgotten the Grammy nominations were coming out and was gone from the house," Rumbel said during a phone interview from her home near Seattle. "My husband's sister called from New Jersey the moment it was announced. When we found out there was a lot of jumping and celebrating."
Rumbel, whose musical partner is acoustic guitarist Eric Tingstad, then had four weeks of waiting to see if, in fact, her duo won.
"It was nerve-wracking," Rumbel said. "We didn't know what to expect.
"Once we got into the cab that took us to (the ceremonies in) Madison Square Garden, we began thinking it could happen. We could win. It went back and fourth — maybe yes, maybe no."
As fate would have it, Tingstad and Rumbel won the award for Best New Age Album.
"It was going to be special, no matter what happened," Rumbel said. "Then we won and I vowed then to always write a speech regardless, because I wasn't prepared at all."
"Acoustic Garden" is the first Grammy nod since the duo formed 17 years ago.
"We started out a little later than the average group or duo," said Rumbel, who cited her pianist mother as her main musical influence. "We were in our 30s and knew our strengths and limitations. We didn't have to go through that phase of deciding what style of music we were good at."
Both shared a love of performing.
"That was the first thing that brought us together," Rumbel said. "We wanted to make music together."
The fact that the musicians decided to keep their "group" down to two people also helped with music-making decisions.
"With us, there are two leaders," Rumbel said. "It's easier to make decisions for the better of the music."
Although the two have been together for nearly two decades, Rumbel said music marketers still have a hard time categorizing the music.
"Some say we're classical," she said. "Others say we're jazz. Others, still, say we're New Age and then there are those who say we're folk.
"I don't think we have a category," she said. "But we've had a lot of support through the years. It was that support that inspired us to release our first album, 'The Gift,' back in 1985."
"Acoustic Garden" ties into Tingstad's and Rumbel's love for natural preservation. The musicians have been actively involved in protecting and preserving historic and natural treasures and have been affiliated with such organizations as the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and the Wilderness Society, just to name a few.
"I have always been interested in ecological issues," Rumbel said. "I worked at an environmental information center in Florida, and that's where I began to understand the balance in nature.
"I was also in the Paul Winter Consort for a number of years, and he has always been using his music to help the environment. And Eric and I have similar ideas about the environment and we have used our music to raise awareness of issues that mean something to us."
If you go . . .
What: Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel
Where: Exchange Place Plaza, 351 S. Main
When: Friday, noon
How much: Free