From Steamboat to subways
Singer-songwriter plays homecoming show Saturday
February 1, 2008
Carrie Elkin answers her cell phone and warns that she and fellow singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt are about to break down from boredom. They’re driving through West Texas, starting a tour that will take them through New Mexico, Colorado, Tennessee and the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
“We were about to try to think up a driving game to pass the time, so it’s good that you called,” Elkin said.
After four years living in Steamboat Springs and working as an office manager at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, Elkin left town to play street troubadour in Boston, eventually finding her way to Austin. On Saturday, she’ll play here for the first time since releasing 2004’s “The Waltz.”
On her new record, 2007’s “The Jeopardy of Circumstance,” Elkin plays narrator, spinning yarns that have the power to make you stop and listen to the whole story.
Elkin talked to 4 Points about coming back through her one-time home, her songwriting philosophies and playing in subway stations.
4 Points: You lived in Steamboat for years. How long has it been since you’ve been back?
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Carrie Elkin: It’s probably been two years since I’ve been back, and I haven’t played there in a really long time. So it’ll be exciting to be back, for sure. I worked at Perry-Mansfield for a long time, so it makes it kind of a special show for me.
4 Points: Quick overview, what have you been up to since you last played here in 2004?
CE: I moved to Boston from Steamboat and lived there for two years, and played subways, that sort of thing.
4 Points: Was that an intentional thing, playing in the subway?
CE: It was a big kind of selling point of moving to a city with a subway system – was being able to play music there. You meet all kinds of people in the subway. And it’s easy to get around.
4 Points: Where did you go from there?
CE: I just moved to Austin, Texas, a few months ago. I spent a couple of months recording there, and just didn’t want to leave. Now I’m just playing music full time.
4 Points: I was reading some of the articles the Steamboat Pilot & Today did on you a few years ago, and in almost all of them there are a few paragraphs about you waking up at 5 a.m. to write songs. Do you still do that?
CE: Not as much anymore, simply because I don’t have the normal 9-to-5 job, so I don’t have to wake up as early to get it done.
4 Points: So this wasn’t an, ‘Inspiration woke me up at 5 a.m. and I can’t sleep,’ kind of thing.
CE: No. I do think its really good practice to do that. But with playing out at night and all those things, 5 a.m. is a little early. Now I get to write whenever I want, which is nice.
4 Points: How would do describe your style of songwriting? Has it changed since you moved to bigger places?
CE: I think that this last record was a lot more storytelling from the records before. And it feels more rooted in kind of my philosophies. It’s a lot about my family, which I had never really written about, so that part of it makes it more personal.
And then there’s also the kind of kitschy, catchy songs that were written just for fun.
4 Points: Is that something you try to pay attention to when you’re putting an album together, having those different speeds and emotions in songs?
CE: That’s a balance that’s really important to me. I like to make a record that people can listen to start to finish, and it’s hard to do that when you’re writing all super-serious stuff. It also fits my personality more.
4 Points: When you say these songs go along with your philosophies, what philosophies are those?
CE: I’m going to have to answer this vaguely.
4 Points: Go for it.
CE: I think that it is a more spiritual record for me, and it addresses my idea of spirituality. I also wrote about philosophies regarding money, and the importance of everyday honesty. I think that’s a nice broad explanation.
4 Points: I’d agree with that. So what can people in Steamboat expect from Saturday night’s show?
CE: The concert is all acoustic, which is different from what most people in Steamboat had heard – I played with a band a little bit while I was there. This will be very raw and much more intimate.
So I think it’ll be real sweet, just because I’m so excited to be back and reconnect with the community there. I miss being in the mountains.
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