The Billies, there are two to be exact, are Jersey expatriates who now make their home in Lancaster. The duo consisists of Chrisie Santoni on guitar and vocals and Craig Smith on percussion and vocals. I catch up with Craig prior to the group’s performance at this Saturday’s Tristate Indie Showcase at East Petersburg Community Park. My first question for him is how does a nice musical couple from New Jersey end up calling Lancaster home? “We came here for a music conference and saw Orange Street with it’s charming houses and trees and that was it. We had lived in Jersey for so long and just got tired of the scene and being so close to New York. Lancaster City is up and coming and very affordable. It is also in close proximity to all the major East Coast cities. There is a wonderful energy and this is just a great place to work from.” The Billies work constantly playing colleges, coffee houses, and wherever they can from Georgia to Maine and as far west as Iowa. “We have a strong work ethic and do whatever we can to make our living working at our art.” That includes leading songwriting workshops at colleges and even writing jingles. You can hear the ditty they wrote for Kegel’s Produce by going to the local company’s website. Craig and Chrisie are seasoned musicians who worked in various bands before joining together. “Working as a duo has been the best thing for us. There are less folks to pay and less people to worry about not having the same commitment as us. The Billies are strong on commitment.” I ask about influences and get slightly unexpected answers. “Chrisie loves Dave Matthews and we both were influenced by The Smiths. We don’t just listen to you average female singer-songwriter stuff.” Speaking of songwriting it should be noted that Chrisie Santoni is an accomplished songwriter having won first place in the Unisong Songwriting Competition and 1st runner up in the John Lennon Competition in 2004 for her song,” Mona Lisa”. Besides the music she writes for The Billies, she also composes children’s music under the label, Dancing Bears Music. Craig and I talk at length about the music business today, it’s difficulties and challenges. “Some young bands are still waiting for that guy to come or that spot on American Idol to hand them a contract and make them successful. We find it doesn’t usually work that way. You have to go out there every night and be professional and on time and connect with whatever audience is out there.” I firmly agree. Catch The Billies this Saturday at 2pm at East Petersburg Community Park.