Here are some highlights from the recent past.
(Dominick Leslie, mandolin)
It’s January again, and we’re going back to Cali (which always reminds me of the Notorious B.I.G. song of the same name…). Or rather, we’re here already, and just late in writing this note about it. We’ve already been down in Big Sur and Ventura (where this picture was taken, on an exceptionally windy day), and now we’re up in the piney aromas and sunny skies of the foothills, in Murphys. Thanks to all those who made this possible! It’s been a wonderful week, and we’re looking forward to much more. Hope to see you out there!. Oh, and in case you didn’t get the email that we sent to the California list, here it is, because, well, I’m pretty proud of the sheer strangeness of it:
Peanuts? Peanuts. Some love ‘em, some love to hate ‘em, and some don’t mind them but would rather eat something else, thank you very much. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, just bear with me. The humblest of all the nuts (in my opinion), the peanut isn’t as trendy a snack as the almond or the cashew, doesn’t have the high class cache of the hazelnut or the pecan, and lacks the exoticism of the brazil nut. In fact, it isn’t a nut at all, rather a legume, finding it’s way by name into the family of tree nuts by virtue of it’s similarities and in spite of it’s differences. It is the people’s nut, the most economical and quietly sustaining… nutritious, and dull only if you don’t care to explore it’s possibilities; it can be quite surprising if one takes the time. OK. What the hell am I talking about? You are in California, and I’m talking about peanuts because I’m eating them on an airplane on the way to California, and I’m on that airplane because I’m going to meet fellow Bee Eaters Tristan and Tashina for our yearly turn through your fair state. We look forward to this every year, and not just as an excuse to flee from the frigid east, but also because we just love California, and can’t wait to run through the redwoods in Humboldt, clamber down cliffs in Big Sur, squander time by the sea in SoCal, and hike the hills in the Bay. And, most importantly, play music, and hang out with the good people there, such as yourself. So, to bring this all together, I would like to humbly posit that the Bee Eaters are the peanut of the music world: unassuming (ie, we’re terrible at self promotion) yet sustaining, unexpectedly surprising and… well, we may never be as ubiquitous as the peanut, but I like to think that wherever we do show up, we bring a unique recipe made of very simple and earnest ingredients, one that will nourish the soul and keep you on your toes. Bee Eaters. Peanuts. Dig. If I’m reaching here, and/or this is the weirdest email you’ve ever gotten from a band, well, It’s been a long day sitting on airplanes, and a guy’s gotta do something to keep himself from going bonkers. We hope to see you out there, and to share some tunes, songs and stories with you!
There are a lot of things one could say about a record they just released, and we certainly said some of them in the liner notes of this one, so we won’t repeat all that here. But we will say that after all’s said and done, making this record has felt a lot like life… by which we mean it felt like the making of it somehow managed to include all the ups and downs, all the quietude and clangorousness, that make up the bigger picture. But then, that’s just our experience speaking, so you can take that with a grain of salt. And now it seems awfully unfriendly of us to be tight lipped about this record on our own news page, so we take it all back, we will put some of the liner notes up here. Here we go: It’s hard to look back on three years and sum up what they felt like. But if it were possible to do, a collection of songs might be the way to do it. This particular collection came together slowly, as most things in this band do; some were around when we recorded our last record, others were coming together still as the tape was rolling in the studio. Each one, for us, is a trip back to the times and places and people these tunes grew out of: Petersburg Interlude will always conjure that harbor in Alaska, where we stayed in among the fishing boats, looking out through the fog and rain towards the mountain across the water. Gyrosmoke is so Darol, all swirling poly-rhythms and twisty melodies. He sent us the sheet music years ago, and it took us all of those years to figure out how to play it. The Way It Is came much later; Tashina’s serendipitous encounter with a live recording of Bruce Hornsby and his piano led to us listening to the song while we sat around the kitchen discussing the future of the band and ourselves. Something about the phrase “the way it is” struck a chord with us… don’t you believe them. Oddfellows Road is another tune that incubated for years, unnamed and unyielding to our efforts to arrange and play it. It gets it’s name from the street Simon grew up on, a short shot from the old port, running through the pines and madrones of Bainbridge Island. And Ran Aground… we all wanted this on the record, but hadn’t been able to spend much time with it beforehand. It was the last thing we recorded, and it is the last track on the record… Finishing with an unfinished thought.
Well, dear listener, thanks for lending us the attention of your eyes, as well as your ears… which, I suppose, makes you a reader as well as a listener. But you were that anyways, and many other things besides.
So, dear friends, spring is here, (not a moment too soon) and we are about to pack our bags and head west, for that is the habit of this band when it comes to touring. To the northwest! My home territory, which I, and all of us, are incredibly excited to visit… man, if I had a nickel for every time I thought longingly of Seattle, while wincing away from the winter wind here in the east, or sinking in the sticky summer, I’d probably not have to worry about making rent anymore. But then, getting someone to pay me for being homesick is even less plausible than getting paid to play the hammer dulcimer. Hmm. At the very least, that means that I didn’t make the absolute worst career choice possible. Ah, comforting thoughts all around! This is what I get for staying up late writing this, and listening to extremely moody music as I do so. What I really mean to say here is that we’ll be playing all around Washington and Oregon this May (see the tour page for our schedule), and we’d love to see you out there. I’d also like to add that the northwest is the best and most beautiful place on earth, in my entirely unbiased opinion.