Suitcase is the duo of Judy Hyman and Jeff Claus, founding members of the alt-folk band, The Horse Flies. Jeff grew up in a small town in rural Illinois, where it's flat as a table, and cornfields, cows, soybeans and silos dominate the endless horizon. His mother bought him his first guitar from the only music store in town, paying it off in small monthly payments. Judy grew up in New York City and New Jersey and was steeped early in a rich combination of classical violin and urban soul and R&B. She discovered southern traditional American fiddle music in college and has been playing it ever since. She listens to Persian radio now, too. The two met in college and have been happily married longer than they've been apart.
Judy plays fiddle/violin, has recorded and toured extensively with Natalie Merchant, and is an Emmy award-winning composer for film and television. Jeff sings, writes songs, plays guitar and banjo ukulele, and has had songs and music used by Natalie Merchant, MTV's Rock the Vote, the band Fiery Furnaces, film director Oliver Stone (in his film Any Given Sunday), and others. Together they play in The Horse Flies and the indie rock band, Boy with a Fish, and they compose and record filmscores for feature films and television documentaries. They also regularly teach workshops and classes at folk/traditional and other music programs and festivals. In Suitcase they mostly perform as an acoustic duo, playing both original and traditional songs and tunes. Sometimes, closer to home, they add a drummer and use electric guitar and violin, too.
Writing about The Horse Flies, Rolling Stone magazine has said: "A band that's earned a buzz. They churn out swirling, addictive songs, blending tradition with invention."
Describing Jeff’s songs and singing, reviewers have written: "a masterful combination of the best parts of Neil Young and Michael Stipe"… "a reedy plea that sounds like a keening hybrid of Freedy Johnston and David Byrne"… "very intelligent, very original material" ... "deceptive simplicity that aches with a lethal combination of nostalgia and regret" … "observational tales of loneliness that carry beneath them a sense of deep emotional attachment making their bittersweet protagonists all the more poignant," ... "quirky and poetic, the kind of album that makes you want to sit and pour over the liner notes while you listen."
And, writing about Judy’s playing, critics have used words like: "powerful," "haunting," "impressive," "rousing," "intense," "gorgeous," "sepia-toned," "stirring," and "beautiful."