It was almost two years ago when Ashley Plante first met Joe Berardi.
The two were working on the set of "Cold & Dark," a short film by a Byfield native, being shot in Newburyport during cold January nights. A Georgetown native then living in New York City, Berardi was acting in the movie. Plante, 24, who works in visual communications at New Media Associates, was assisting in production.
From there, a friendship grew as the two realized they had much in common — including a love of the same types of music and a background in performing.
Berardi, 24, moved back to Georgetown and Plante readied to relocate from her native Amesbury to Newburyport. One night as the two hung out with other friends, they decided to take a stab at writing some songs.
By the end of the night, the process was going really well, Plante said.
Maudsley, Plante and Berardi's folk band, was formed.
As the two began performing together and writing music, they often found themselves heading to Maudslay State Park on Curzon Mill Road in Newburyport, for inspiration — and a beautiful backdrop to work in.
Therefore, the state park was a natural inspiration for their band name, Berardi said.
They cross "a lot of different genres" in their songs, Berardi said, but "folk is probably the root."
For the last 10 months, the pair has been focused on writing and rehearsing material. They've also been planning a two-week buskers tour through Europe, for which they leave on Saturday.
Buskers entertain by singing or dancing on a street or in a public place.
The pair has a passion for European culture, Plante said. After watching videos of performers playing live music in unsuspecting places, such as the middle of the street, they wanted to experience it.
"We thought, 'wouldn't that just be the dream,'" Plante said. "I think we just sort of realized we can do that, if that's what we want to do."
So, the question became how.
The duo "worked as hard as we possibly can" to raise money and plan the tour, Plante said.
Berardi worked four jobs. They played when they could and they practiced hard.
To prepare for the task, Plante and Berardi spent the summer playing on the streets of downtown Newburyport.
"It's been really amazing," Berardi said. "We didn't know what to expect."
With downtown Newburyport constantly crowded on summer days, they found they had to wake early to find a good spot to stand and perform. Berardi plays the guitar and the pair sings.
They also found a receptive audience.
"There's so many varied tastes in music," Berardi said. "The boardwalk ... there's every walk of life there. Thankfully, we've been able to appeal to most of them."
"The first time we went out in Newburyport to busk, there were so many positive encounters with strangers," Plante agreed.
Of course, performing in front of an audience is nothing new for Plante. Her family is one of musicians, after all. Her father, Bill, most recently formed the band, The Pleasant Valley Social Club. Her two brothers, Joe and Chris, are members of the popular Amesbury-based band, The Brew.
"Growing up in a musical family shaped every part of who I am and taught me from a young age that I am capable of anything I put my heart and mind to," Plante said. "Collaborating musically with family members is one of the most rewarding experiences I can imagine. I believe one of the most important things a parent could do is encourage their child to learn a musical instrument; it allows you to hold on to your imagination beyond childhood."
Will Maudsley and The Brew ever play together?
"The Brew has been so supportive and helpful every step of the way. We are always playing music together and bouncing ideas off of each other, so it seems natural to collaborate some day," she said. "It would be an honor."
With a band that consists solely of two voices and one guitar, Maudsley is mobile. They are prepared to play anywhere they can find where people want to listen — be it a street corner or a table in a cafe.
The two friends will backpack through Amsterdam, Paris, the south of France and Belgium.
"We're just looking to meet interesting people," Plante said. "Who knows how it's all going to pan out. Joe will pretty much have his guitar with him everywhere we go; therefore, we'll have the band."
"We know we're going to be so inspired by it," Berardi said. Upon their return later this month, the pair will head to the recording studio.
"Maudsley will continue to post tracks from our live album and videos from our Europe tour, which will give listeners a good idea of the music we'll be bringing into the studio," Plante said. "No firm date has been set to release the studio recordings, but we will start recording in September."
With a mellow sound, their music can be adapted for all situations, Berardi added. They have penned about 25 of their own songs.
Berardi speaks French and Italian and has incorporated the language into some pieces. With a "timeless sound," Maudsley infuses different styles of music together, including folk, jazz and world music.
It's probably a safe bet that this buskers tour won't be the last for Maudsley.
"I have a feeling this is just opening a can of worms, a great can of worms," Plante said. "I have a friend in Hawaii and we've talked about doing a similar trip there next year."
Visit Maudsley's website at www.maudsleymusic.com or follow them on Facebook as they travel through Europe.