I've had the chance to tour five states with some of my best friends for the last couple weeks. We slept five wide in the back rooms of bungalows in Taos, camped in the boulders of Gunnison, swam in rivers and pissed off the continental divide (you know who you are, Paul). Never would have guessed Carbondale is home to a legendary guitar shop with a stage played by the likes of John Oates, or that Taos has this tight knit group cultivating a killer craft beer and live music scene, or that the UMS Festival in Denver had swelled to take on a life of its own and attract incredible national talent. But it happened.
Staying in hotels and showering daily has its perks, but I'd rather crash on the floors of the lovely people we met at shows. You don't know a city unless you know its people, and every single city (no matter how sleepy it may seem) has its niche of creative, loving people. I've seen this in the generosity of strangers and instant connections with new friends, many of whom happened upon a folk show and stayed because they connected with the music and the musicians.
And no matter where you live, people want the means to support each other and experience music in more intimate ways than a club or venue can afford. In Denver we saw this in the backyard shows thrown by Greg & Garrett & Art & Macon- where you can listen to songs alongside like minded folks without pretension or distraction. But you still have guys working the door and making sure the artists have a few bucks to fill their gas tanks (i.e., Chris).
Or the inspiration of songwriters like Christian Hutson, Michael Donner, Vikesh Kapoor and Kaleo Kaualoku, incredibly talented guys that hone their craft relentlessly and encourage us to keep going. There's no lack of innovative new bands, but not nearly enough that work as hard as those we met this week. And all we can do is support each other and recognize that music doesn't happen without a dedicated few that work and travel to support it. These few are a huge encouragement.
Not sure what's next for us. Release our album as Fox and the Bird in October, put out Jacob Metcalf's album Fjord in January... and hopefully after that more touring and traveling is in our future. But for now I'm glad to have shared a 15 passenger van with Paul 'calls-it-like-he-sees-it' Grass, whose snarky wit, spontaneous adventurosity and star-spangled party pants propel him to bring out the best in everything and everyone he encounters. And Petra Kelly, ever the realist and veteran among us, connecting all the dots and always one to be counted on. And Jacob Metcalf, pushing on despite a gimp knee to play one of his (perhaps) most energetic and enigmatic performances (at the UMS)... always an encourager, and never one to let us accept the convenient or conventional without a little critical thought. Of course we can't forget John Grass, brother to Paul and friend to us all. Sure he helped sell our merch, but moreso he was steadfastly chill, indelibly reliable, and lightened the mood to keep us calm under pressure.
I can't begin to express my love for the folks we met and got to know during this tour... some opened their homes to us, but all shared their lives (and honest conversations)... Tugboat, Daniel, Cammie & Jess in Lubbock, Josh, Eddie, Kele'n, Nathan & Misty in Abilene, Bobby Joe, Drew, Shane & Becky in Taos, Shannon & Steve in Carbondale, Brett, Clark, Fraser, Caryn & Rev in Salida, AJ and David in Gunnison, Lloyd & Tammy in Evergreen, Bryan, Sarah & Gordon in Colorado Springs... And more friends in Denver than can I can mention here (Macon, Michelle, Nicole, Anna, Julie & Joe, Nathaniel & Jules, Aaron, Art, Garret, Greg, Lara, Heather, Kaleo, Cayla, Esme, Eric, Ben, Hollie... to name a few).
Fox and the Bird Summer 2013 tour, it's been a pleasure.
- Dan Bowman, Fox and the Bird