Roots in the Music Room’s The Small Glories and opening act Joe Crookston share adventures from the road, their musical origin stories, and what projects are coming up next before their April 16 performance.
Cara & JD, your artistic collaboration came from happy happenstance when you were paired up to play with another artist you didn’t really know, and discovered what a perfect fit you were for each other. Does all of your work together happen that smoothly or do you have to negotiate your different perspectives now and then? How do you work through those?
Cara Luft & JD: We’ve both been artists and songwriters for many years, and we each have our own way of going about things, so we’re aware there’s going to be some give and take. But what we’ve found is that we have something incredibly special in the way we create and perform our music together, so it actually doesn’t really feel like we’re giving up anything. Some people have said we have a brother and sister vibe about us, that there’s something very natural about the way we are able to present our material. We both appreciate music and the art of song and the craft of songwriting, and we both appreciate and respect how the other approaches their music and songwriting. It’s more of a symbiotic thing, we want to be stronger artists and songwriters, and working together helps us achieve this goal. TSG has redirected both of our paths. We’re running in parallels, creating new things and it’s very good. We come from a shared musical history and have a deep love for music and the creation of music. We’re finding that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that our music is better when we’re working together.
When was your turning point where you realized music is what you want to do? What was that like?
CL & JD: Our families are musical and we both grew up singing and playing music in the home. Our parents encouraged us to experiment with and share music, and that helped develop our individual passion for music. So it was somewhat inevitable that we each wanted to pursue music in some capacity. We’ve pursued our careers in different ways, we’ve been part of different groups, and we both feel lucky that we’re now on this new path together.
Joe Crookston: The Kent State Folk Festival changed my life. I was a student at Kent State, and a friend of mine said, “Hey do you want to go to the Kent State Folk Festival?’ I said, “What’s a Folk Festival?”…After a weekend of amazing concerts, I was blown away! I sold my electric guitar, bought a steel string started writing, and never looked back. Seeing performers like John McCutcheon, John Gorka, The Horseflies, and Nanci Griffith…I knew right then what I wanted to do with my life! I’ve been at it ever since. The last 11 years, I’ve been performing and touring full time…
What do you most love sharing through music?
CL & JD: We like to spread some joy, to give people a chance to leave their burdens at the door. We’re also reminding people they’re not alone in their struggles or pain or love or joy. We’re singing about the human condition, what we feel is common among all people. We often joke that we’re a bit like social workers… We also love where we live, and a lot of the songs we share talk about the beauty of the land where we come from.
JC: Often people hear the word folk and their eyes glaze over. My concerts are high energy, rhythmic, lush, fun, and yet I’m really into telling a good story. For me a successful concert is one where people hoot and holler, listen intently, and ride the wave of hilarity and sacred all in the time we spend together.. I love to surprise people with humor and let the music wake us up and help us remember who we can be! Some of my music is haunting and serious and some will crack you up…I like to connect to the many facets of my personality… I’m interested in exploring those through great songs..
What’s one of your favorite stories from touring?
CL & JD: Oh there are so many! When we were down In Nashville for the Americana Music Conference there was an afternoon where we each spent time with some incredible individuals: Cara spent time with guitar hero John Knowles (a former close friend of Chet Atkins), and JD hung out with David Briggs, a rather famous producer and piano player for Elvis. One of our other favourite tour stories is when Cara taught JD how to drive stick shift in the dead of winter, on on the side of a mountain on Bowen Island (near Vancouver), lots of rolling down hills. On that same tour Cara almost backed the car off a cliff because of ice. Oh my…adventures with TSG!
JC: I loved a big moment when I was touring in Ireland. I was at a pub and someone announced that they would sing a “traditional” song…They began to sing “Fall Down as the Rain” which is ONE OF MY SONGS! Boom! Right there I was blown away. My music had grown wings. Also, once I received an email from Plum Village in France. This is the community where the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh lives. He was in a coma, and the email asked if they could sing Fall Down as the Rain to him as a healing song! WOW.
Where is the most mind-blowing place you’ve travelled to?
CL & JD: So many… We had the privilege of playing the Moab Folk Festival last year and had a chance to visit Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon. Mind blowing indeed! There are some places in BC that are incredibly stunning: driving up to Kispiox Music Festival, driving up to Argenta and Johnson’s Landing on the West Side of Kootenay Lake, visiting Lussier Hot Springs. This past January we drove the West Coast of the Highlands of Scotland, and drove around Loch Lomond in torrential winter downpour. Our first show in England as the duo was in the attic of Rudyard Kipling’s house. Ahh we love our job 🙂
What do you see as your next artistic challenge?
CL & JD: Oh there are a few! Writing for another record. Also introducing trombone into our live show. We’re serious! 🙂 Cara would love to learn how to clog, and play the violin. That would make for an interesting show 🙂 We’re also talking about a tiny house tour. Cara is building a tiny house on wheels and we’d love to do The Small Glories Small House Pop Up Concert Tour. Outdoor shows of course because we could only fit 2 more people in the house 🙂
JC: TEN BECOMES ONE is a project I’m working on right now. I’ve developed so many styles I love. Fiddle, Slide Blues Guitar, Acrylic painting, guitar picking, story songs. My vision for this new project is to synthesize all these disparate styles and loves and culminate them into ONE WHOLE. This is where I get the name, TEN BECOMES ONE. Some of my songs are being made into films. I also have a vision of a traveling film and music performance. A combination of film screenings and live music. As always I really see my artistic challenge to be real and true to my way of creating and to not follow trends. It’s worked for me so far!