Ive been a big fan of wife and husband Avant Folk duo Shanti and Buck Curran, better known as Arborea, for some time now. I’ve watched their music grow and develop and I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. We’ve come to know them fairly well and they’ve stayed with us as friends during a UK tour. They have a special place here at Folk Radio UK so for that reason I’ve been wanting them to complete a tour blog to provide you all with an insight into life on the road which plays a very big part of their life.
So, during their latest US tour they gathered their thoughts, moments and photos to provide an intimate glimpse inside their world which we’ll be featuring over the next week or so. To kick things off at the beginning we join them as they are about to hit the road…
DAY 1 – To Hudson, New York
After two days of rushing around, sorting things out around our house, finding caretakers for our three pets, doing last minute interviews for the tour, and gathering what we needed to live on the road for a week with our daughter as travel companion (she’s a well seasoned and experienced tour mate actually, or Road Manager as we like to call her)…we were finally ready to hit the road again.
We left Maine at 1:00pm on August 19th (a familiar several hours later than we always hope for) in the warmth of the Summer Sun. Our destination was 5 hours to the South in the town of Hudson, New York. We stopped there for the night, and stayed with our dear friend, Rob Caldwell, who owns the music store ‘Musica’ in Hudson. Rob is also an accomplished musician who plays guitar and Hurdy Gurdy among many other instruments. We talked and made tentative plans to come back and record him playing Hurdy Gurdy on one of our new songs.
Driving to Hudson, New York.
Along the road…old farms tell the story of our past
and beg us to remember the way home
Hudson is a beautiful small town located along the massive Hudson River. Historically, Hudson was known as a place for processing Whales that were brought up river after being hunted in the Atlantic Ocean. Today it’s known as a quaint village of art galleries, vintage clothing and antique stores, restaurants. It’s also the home to some great artists, writers, and musicians like 12 string acoustic guitarist Alexander Turnquist, drummer Otto Hauser (Espers)…as well as Bernard Stollman of ESP Disk’, the owner of the record label we released our latest album ‘Fortress of the Sun’ through.
Morning Coffee and Dream Building with Bernard Stollman of ESP-Disk’ (who released our latest album Fortress of the Sun)
It looks like I am in trouble again :-) !
Many of the people who live in Hudson, have relocated from NYC…leaving behind the madness of the city, for the pastoral vistas of the Hudson Highlands just East of the Catskill Mountains.
Shylah and I went for a walk to explore the beautiful town of Hudson and we found a huge chalkboard painted on the side of this building. We thought of the things we would like to do in our lives and each wrote our wish on the board.
Hudson has also become a favorite destination for us when touring up and down the East Coast…either to visit our friends or peform at one of two popular venues there – Spotty Dog Books and Ale, or Half Moon.
DAY 2 – Syracuse, New York
We slept well and woke in the morning to meet with Bernard Stollman over coffee at the local cafe ‘The Swallow’…. we talked of bigger projects, higher ideals and new dreams. Bernard started ESP-Disk’ in the early 1960’s releasing cutting edge records by Avant Garde Jazz pioneers like Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra. In the late 60’s and 70’s he released albums by Freak Folk pioneers ‘The Fugs’, early Psych Folk ‘Pearls Before Swine’, and even spoken word albums by William Burroughs (Call Me Burroughs) and Timoth Leary (Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out). Bernard is a man of such peaceful intensity and far reaching vision that we always spend a few days readjusting our minds to the possibilities of unlimited creativity. It an amazing blessing to spend time with him and know that his faith in our music and our ability to weave together so many elements of life, through song, is unwavering and so strong. After meeting with Bernard, Shanti and Shylah wandered the streets of Hudson, looking into shop windows and dreaming of little things, and wishes for adventures to come, and wondrous lives to build upon.
We said goodbye to Rob and headed onward to Syracuse, NY. to meet with fellow musician Amanda Rodgers who was hosting a house concert that would be the first show of our tour. As well as writing and recording her own music, Amanda has been very invovled with supporting traveling musicians…organizing, curating, and hosting the wonderful Sub Rosa Sessions (https://www.facebook.com/SubRosaSessions) at SubCat Music Studios in Syracuse.
Syracuse is about a 3 hour drive North-West from Hudson and very close to Lake Ontario. The land there is extremely beautiful and the historic home of the great Onondaga People…one of the Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy (Mohawk and Oneida to the East, Seneca and Cayuga to the West, and Onondaga). Being centrally located with relation to the other tribes they’re known as the “Keepers of the Fire’ of the symobolic tribal ‘Longhouse’ and for that reason, the Leauge of the Iroquois historically met at the Iroquois capital at Onondaga…a tradition that the tribal Chiefs continue today. With the expansive beauty of the whole region, it’s easy to imagine travelling through these forests long before Europeans arrived and began farming the land, building towns and cities.
First show of the tour, a House concert hosted by the wonderful singer-songwriter Amanda Rogers. https://www.facebook.com/amandarogersmusic
We arrived at Amanda’s home around 4:30 in the afternoon and began setting up and preparing for the show that night. It’s a beautiful poetic looking home made of old wood and stucco and a perfect sanctuary for a house concert. The afternoon flew by and the concert started with Amanda playing the opening set. Her voice, keyboard and songs filled the room with a powerful, yet fragile irradescent beauty and set the ideal mood for the evening. A young girl sat in chair next to Amanda’s keyboard staring up at her, transfixed by every word she sang and the movement of her hands upon the keys. At one point, Amanda’s cat jumped on the keyboard and started walking back and forth…bumping the mic stand, occasionally hitting some keys as if to play along with Amanda…we all had a good laugh.
Following Amanda was a young woman from Burlington, Vermont, Hana Zara…her music charged with understated electricity and poetry and reminiscent of a young Lenoard Cohen. Meghan Yates and her husband Mordechai Rosenblatt (The Reverie Machine) played the next set of music…we’ve known them from Maine and have shared a couple of shows together over the years…we were completely surprised to see them walk through the door an hour after we had arrived. Mordechai played a massive old Kay Upright Bass that really filled the room that evening with deep undulating tones, while Meg delicately fingerpicked her guitar and sang with resonant Soul. Meg has a captivating, classic Blues voice that’s deep, and warm like dark ambered honey. The kind of voice that would also work well in Jazz…it’s easy to imagine her doing a unique arrangement of the Billie Holiday recordings ‘Strange Fruit’ and ‘God Bless the Child’.
Transcendent and Spiritual, Meghan Yates and Mordechai Rosenblatt of ‘The Reverie Machine ‘. https://www.facebook.com/thereveriemachine
Arborea closed out the night. Being the first concert of the tour, we were feeling a bit anxious, and a bit reserved. It always take a few songs to really get into the groove of performing if there’s been any downtime between performances. It felt really good though, to play in that room that night….surrounded by good people and great musicians we’ve known for quite a while.
Arborea Singing “When I was on Horseback”
The night also flew by quickly and we tried to get to bed as soon as we could in preparation for the long drive to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the next day.
The night has ended on Day two…we whisper ghost stories and fall into sleep
More from Arborea Soon
Photo Credits: Main Image Marticus Magnificus / In post images Shanti Curran