Steamboat Springs As cars whizzed passed The Nields on a U.S. highway, a light of inspiration came to the eclectic folk band that minutes before considered breaking up and high-tailing it back to North Hampton, Mass.
With a broken down van and no reason to go on, The Nields opened a piece of fan mail to find that a nationally recognized author, Pam Houston, had seen a show and was now praising their performance.
Her electrifying words inspired The Nields, yielding a future relationship of mutual respect and thought-provoking words.
Without ever meeting, The Nields wrote songs about Houston's stories and Houston wrote essays and stories about the band. As the relationship grew, so did the connection between them.
"I take so much inspiration from her lyrics and bravery," Houston said of Nields. "It's also incredibly playful. It just makes me feel good every time we're together."
Houston saw The Nields, a band consisting of Nerissa Nields, her husband, her sister, her sister's husband and a drummer, perform at a folk festival in Lyons, Colo.
Now, with creativity and exuberant spirits, Houston and Nerissa Nields will perform on stage together for the first time.
This Saturday, Houston and Nields will dress in their best improv masks for an unplanned storytelling episode about life, love, women and men.
After Houston reads a short story or essay, Nields will play a tune woven around the same theme as the story.
The two female souls have found the common bond of love and respect for each other's work over the years. In their symbiotic relationship, they will share their stories with Steamboat.
"We love each other's work and we love each other. We're good in front of audiences. We've talked about this a long time," said Houston, author of "Cowboys Are My Weakness," "Waltzing the Cat" and "A Little More About Me," among other essays and stories.
The women will reflect on their creative works and intend to sing together at least once a big step for Houston, she implied.
Although the song may not be ready in time for the Steamboat show, their journey on the road for three weeks hopefully will give birth to a new-found voice inspired by two lives intertwined with wisdom, insight and stories to fill a thousand books.
Houston and Nields are anxious about the new style of touring, but say they are confident in their storytelling abilities.
The two women first played together at The Bottom Line in New York's west village, where Houston presented her short stories and essays on stage. When she finished, The Nields performed live on stage. They've never been side-by-side on stage feeding off each other's talent and creative energy.
The Nields call North Hampton, Mass., the stomping grounds for the band. Although the band does not tour outside those perimeters, Nields said a band hiatus has taken precedence while her sister, Katrina, enjoys new-found motherhood.
Nields said this was the perfect time to get on the road with Houston and represent The Nields as a solo artist.
Houston said they will take suggestions and questions from the audience, as well as create a safe haven for new material and improvisational talents to emerge.
"When we get there, we'll get the inspiration. We're flying by the seat of our pants, inventing as we go," Nields said.