The Adirondack’s rose above half iced-over lakes. With their peaks no longer blanketed by snow, but still frozen in time, they are rampart reminders of age-old battles and lifelong challenges. From the windshield of the old ‘98 band-van, we gazed upon vistas once seen through Iroquois eyes and still echoing Algonquin tongue and trapper accents of old world France. It all seems to harken back to a day when the Saranac, Sacandaga, and the Oswegatchie ruled the valleys alone, free from the shadows of concrete trails and iron trellises.
It’s difficult to think of a more powerful, albeit over-used metaphor for life’s ups and downs. But for a small indie-band starting anew, on our first long tour together, the paradise that is defined by high reaches and ancient flows seems tailor-made for our pursuits alone.
The trials and travails of this band, not to mention my own personal journey over this past year are stories as stark as any granite cliff and as raging as any forever-wild river. This trip north, with a new band and a new record, seemed improbable at best, just a few short months ago. I admit that when compared to a visceral example of life and death, playing music seems a hard sell to put into the same category. But when music is your life, the death of it is as unacceptable as any, and you ford whatever cold water and scale any ridiculous pitch you must for one more chance to place a chord into harmony and to state your business through rhythm and rhyme.
So we made a new record and endeavored to load a van and find anyone and everyone we could sing to. We left Nashville behind for stages that stretched out over 7 days, 9 states and 2,600 miles. The not-just-metaphorical mountains of the Adirondacks gave way to fertile farmland dotted by generational barns and Amish simplicity, just mere miles from the Canadian border. We played a benefit in a North Country family restaurant for women celebrating their victory over cancer and other women just beginning their journey. We played the storied Pickens Hall – dating back to the mid-1800’s. We loved playing for Huevelton’s schoolchildren in the morning, half excited to be part of the band’s day and maybe more than half excited to be out of school for a few hours. We played radio stations oddly eager for new music, a vineyard enthusiastically dancing to fiddle tunes, drinking wine-slushies’ and exercising their love for a good time. We also played a wonderful Jewish temple and community center, filled with people who followed along to every word, even when we did not. In between it all, we sat around meaningful kitchen tables with good friends and sang songs. We played music on an Amish front porch and drove an Amish buggy. We ate Cowboy Burgers after the crowds went home and further down the road, we drank with old friends in an even older bar in Connecticut.
I’m proud of our little band of three, as well as the musicians, friends and fans who have stuck with us and who have chosen to continue sharing our space. In a very short time, we will be telling you all about the new record, how to buy it and of our always bigger-than-life plans to bring the music to your town.
I do love the life of independent music making, despite the challenges brought before us or even sometimes created by us. It’s all absolutely worth it. Mountains are indeed high and rivers are for sure deep. The alternatives, however, are neither.
Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“It’s The Music That Makes Us Smile”