Flannel Shirts, Totem Poles, and New Dear Friends
As the sun set on Tuesday evening over the Cook Inlet, I sighed; both at the beauty of its light and for the relief that came with March 26th having come and gone. Our new album was now officially available to the world, and I could now turn my focus towards the shows directly ahead of me.
At around 6 PM on Wednesday night, Bryan and I drove across Anchorage to a home on the hillside that we have come to love: the Ely house. The Elys have been hosting house concerts for us since 2011, and they are always special. The evening did not disappoint. There was a wonderful turnout of old listeners and new. Halfway through the show, our host, Craig, gifted me with one of his red and black flannel shirts that he says should be my “country song shirt.” It’s soft and loved, and I think it will keep me warm around many a campfire. One of my favorite aspects of house concerts is that if you play the same house enough times there is no escaping feeling like family.
We were up bright and early on Thursday to start our 360 mile drive to Fairbanks. The drive was long and relatively uneventful, except for the amazing views near Denali National Park. That night we played at The Round House, a house concert venue owned by Karen and Tim Foote. The house was built in the 60’s in the shape of a yurt, with a giant wooden totem pole in its center. It may have been one of the coolest places we’ve ever played, and the show itself was amazing. We played to an enthusiastic and supportive crowd, and you could see and feel them reacting to each song and story, excited for more.
We started our Friday with a soak in the hot tub. Our hosts had us feeling like royalty, as they were so kind and generous. The rest of our day was comprised of busily running from one radio show to the next. We were honored to be guests on KUAC’s Alaska Live and also do a Takeout Session with the station that MTV has labeled the US’s current best college radio station,KSUA. That night we played to a rowdy crowd at the UAF Pub. It was a bar gig, but there were attentive listeners, and we had fans come up after the show to get copies of the new album. That always feels nice.
Saturday morning was very special. Our hosts, Karen and Tim, are fellow songwriters and musicians, and the four of us had a lovely jam and song trade. Their group is called The Lost Lakers. I have a feeling we are going to be friends for a very long time. They write beautiful songs and made us feel so welcome in their home. We can’t wait to go back! After a light lunch, we hurriedly packed the car and started our four hour drive to Talkeetna to play The Roadhouse. It’s a very cozy venue, and we set up next to the fireplace and piano and played to a room full of listeners. My mom and dad were able to make it and called themselves our “roadies.” They are so sweet.
On our drive to Palmer today, Bryan and I listened to an album I had not heard before. It’s by a gentleman named Harper Simon and the album is self titled. He is Paul Simon’s son. We did not realize at first until I asked Bryan, “Who does this guy remind you of vocally?” We kind of looked at each other and Bryan whipped out google. It’s uncanny how much Harper sounds like his father. The album itself is amazing. It brought me so much joy because Simon and Garfunkel’s album Bridge Over Troubled Water was one of my biggest musical influences as a child, and some of the tracks on Harper’s album recall the feeling of that record. We were very excited to learn that our favorite song by him, Tennessee, was co-written with his father. It may seem silly, but this album is a great discovery for me. It means that a sound that shaped who I am as a songwriter is being carried on and that there are new songs to be heard, learned and cherished. They are a throwback to Paul Simon’s earlier sound, but with a new a fresh, even Americana tone. I’m in love! Bryan liked all the steel guitar, courtesy of Lloyd Green.
Now I’m sitting here at Vagabond Blues getting set up for our show tonight. It’s hard to believe that it’s our last show of this tour. Bryan flies out early tomorrow. What’s even harder to believe is that on April 12th we start a tour of 51 shows in 55 days!