Grammy-wining country band Restless Heart is playing April 19 and 20 at the Skagit Valley Casino Resort in Bow, and I was contacted by the band's press agent, Don Murry Grubbs, asking if I would like to interview lead singer Larry Stewart.
Because it's sometimes difficult to make a phone connection with a band that's on a national tour, I was able to send Don a few questions, and Larry kindly responded with a couple of band members - keyboardist Dave Innis and lead guitarist Greg Jennings -chiming in. For ticket details, go to theskagit.com.
MB: How do you keep the excitement, the energy, the new-ness of performing and recording after 30 years in the business?
Stewart: Well, the audience brings an excitement, especially when they are into the show, singing, dancing, you know, when there is an energy in the room. We feel blessed to have the music that we still enjoy performing and a show that we have confidence in, that helps us be the best that we can be. Every day, every crowd is different. So that keeps a freshness from show to show.
Same with recording. Every song is different. You are creating something from scratch that will last forever and will represent your legacy for years to come. I think we appreciate the opportunity to do all of this more now than ever.
MB: How is country music changing in 2013? How have things remained the same?
Innis: The business model for country music is evolving to keep pace with the technological advances of the present and future. Digital recording software has turned the laptop into a virtual recording studio. In decline are physically packaged CDs that are manufactured and distributed to brick-and-mortar retailers.
Single-song digital downloads from iTunes now account for the majority of music sales. Increasingly, when people want to check out a new artist, they do a "search" on YouTube or Google. It's a very different landscape from what it was 30 years ago, when Restless Heart signed its first recording contract with RCA.
What has remained the same is the appeal of a well-written song - The marriage of great music, lyrics and melody. People still spend their hard-earned money to go to concerts, where they interact with other fans experiencing their favorite artists performing live. That's the magic of music.
MB: What have been some of the highs and the lows of your career?
Jennings: I have always been a huge fan of music and other musicians. Being in Restless Heart has given me the opportunity to meet some heroes, see some amazing shows, perform at some high-profile events and travel around the world with incredible artists.
The downside of that is sometimes the travel is difficult and sometimes you have to be far away from home at critical times when you're needed. All in all, it's been a tremendous blessing.
EARLY TICKETS ON SALE FOR 542 MUSIC FEST
Keeping the country-music rhythm: Planning for the second 542 Music Fest, July 12-13 at the Deming Logging Showgrounds, is underway, with headliners Steve Augeri, former lead singer for Journey; and Fran Cosmo, former lead singer for Boston. Both men will sing their bands' hits.
And recently announced: local favorite and one-time Whatcom County singer Jamie O'Neal.
Early-bird tickets are on sale through April 30 at http://542musicfest.com. Camping is available.
IS THAT A POEM IN YOUR POCKET?
As part of the continuing celebration of April National Poetry Month in Ferndale, Mayor Gary Jensen has proclaimed April 18 "Poem in Your Pocket Day," sponsored by the Ferndale Arts Commission.
Ferndale public officials, educators, librarians, businesses and residents are encouraged to carry a favorite poem in their pocket to unfold and share with friends, family, co-workers and peers.
Have a favorite poem? Put one in your pocket!
Participating Ferndale businesses will offer special discounts to patrons who share a poem in their pockets. Those businesses are Carol's Cake Designs, Celebrations, McKay's Variety, Floralescents, Good Burger, Barb's Pies and Pastries, Find Your Fashion, International Athletic, Kula Yoga and Gentle Acupuncture.
Ferndale Public Library will offer treats to participating patrons.
REGISTRATION OPEN FOR CHUCKANUT WRITERS CONFERENCE
Early registration is open through May 15 for the third annual Chuckanut Writers Conference, which takes place June 21-22 at Whatcom Community College, co-sponsored by Village Books.
This year's theme is "Inspiration into Action," and is designed for writers of all experiences and levels, with workshops, speakers and symposiums. Faculty members include Bruce Beasley, Kathleen Flenniken, Suzanne Paola, Naseem Rakha, Jennie Shortridge and Garth Stein.
Details: 360-383-3200, chuckanutwritersconference.com.