East End fixture Inda Eaton is currently working on her latest album, Shelter in Place. But, before the record’s released in June, she’s offering a sneak peek at the new songs and other hits during Inda Eaton – Authentic Adventures: Acoustic Highway at Bay Street on Friday, March 16.
We recently caught up with the talented musician to learn more about the concert, which will feature longtime collaborator and world class percussionist, Jeffrey Smith, her new album and more.
Now your show at Bay Street will feature an original music experience, as well as comedy and improv. Have you ever done anything like this before?
IE: Well, I’ll tell you, comedy always sneaks in. I don’t bill it as a comedy experience because I think that puts a lot of pressure on it. I think I’m probably scared straight from seeing the Fame movie years ago, the original one, where the comic goes and does all the material and then they go have the second show and nobody gets it. Sometimes there’s just some comedic moments, but again I don’t bill it out like that. Hopefully there’s a lot of existential discussions that get in the humorous realm – probably aligned with the concept of Christopher Guest because nothing beats reality. Some of the things that we go through in life are the best fodder for comedy.
As a fixture on the East End music scene, what’s it like performing for a hometown crowd?
IE: It’s lovely because so much of this music was written and performed immediately for this crowd, and so, in a way, I’m trying things out on them. We’ll go and we’ll work on a song – on a new part or a new transition or some new ideas – and it’s been a joy to think of them in mind to present it.
It’s very gratifying to play for the hometown group because it’s like they’re with you and they’ve seen the changes and they’ve seen the developments. It’d be like you’re the hometown sports team. You’re thrilled to go show them the new play.
This show will explore the backstory of an indie music project. Is the storyline autobiographical?
IE: It’s gonna dip there a bit, but because right now we’re in the middle of making a new record, there’s a lot of fodder, there’s a lot of material to riff on. Some of that is just the metacognition of the process of putting together an album. I think it’s right there in front of the audience to explore that. The album’s going to come out in June, so to overlook this process and weave this into the storyline would be negligent. We’ve got it right there, and the cookies are never as fresh as when they come out of the oven. I think, referring back to some of that dry humor, there is a lot of comedy within the arts. Some of the things we go for and we take it so serious, as we should, I think some of the backstory on that is highly enlightening, and it’s happening right now so that will be a little bit of a weave. I think the biggest thread is gonna be the tension between the road and home. The new album’s called Shelter in Place. I think if we really look at it broadly, it’s really about that tension between the road and home and hearth. Living out here, I’ve been out here 15 years, this is the first time the entire full album of material was completely synthesized and written from my kitchen table in Springs. It’s kind of like you are what you eat, so that experience of the East End for this time, this is the first full-length record that features everything that was written from that time period.
Will the audience get to hear some songs from Shelter in Place at Bay Street?
IE: We are going to play some material; it won’t be all new material. Jeffery’s coming in for the show and to record his percussion parts on the record. So, we’ll definitely play some of that. It’s a unique opportunity because it’s a duo show so they’ll be things – when Jeffery plays with the whole band you still see his brilliance but, when it’s a duo that spotlight onto his intricate and interesting relationship with percussion is on full view. It’s intimate and very exposed.
What was the inspiration for Shelter in Place?
IE: As a performer you’re always on the road to somewhere. Often times the venues we play at, there’s a new venue all the time. You’re never quite comfortable and so you’re taking shelter in every venue. All that travel, which is exhilarating, is definitely not the comfort of let’s say home. I think Shelter in Place, one of the aspects is a tension between the road and home. In a way, every time we do a show or every time we’re gone, we are sheltering in place because we’re making a home wherever we are.
I had an opportunity last year to travel across the country in winter, right after the election, between the holidays and the inauguration, and it was fascinating to be on the ground seeing some of these places that you only see on television and spending time with people. I think we always try to find the similarities and also realizing that there’s a tremendous amount of tension in the country. At the time, it had just passed the election and at any other traditional time you’d think, oh, the election’s behind us. We’re not really thinking about that. But, it was so clear; the yard signs were still up. I’ve been through the country many times during an election and I’ve never seen it where the yard signs stayed up, where the highway signs stayed up, where the tribal kind of affiliation stayed up so long, and nobody would take it down. I’m not making a comment on whether that’s bad or good. It was just noticeable and I was stuck in the car listening to Sirius radio, trying to listen to all the different points of view and my already leaning towards the concept of shelter in place was so confirmed by just, God, we’re all just sheltering in place on some level. We’ve got our lawn signs, we’ve got our tribes and we’re all just sheltering in place.
What was it like being able to record the entire album in the comfort of your own home?
IE: That became another part of Shelter in Place, which was not intended exactly. That’s fun how that puzzle fit together as well. When I conceived Shelter in Place for the various reasons, some of which I’ve just mentioned, I wasn’t thinking about recording in Springs, at home. But, it was really a happy accident and the right conclusion, which is the songs were written here, they were conceived here. I’ve got a studio space that we rehearse them in, so it just made the logical next step to record here. A group came out from Queens, a world-class group really, and made that happen. It was seamless, and I think the focus for another shelter in place metaphor is they were stuck here in the woods. So there were no distractions. It was January in Springs so there full focus was on this project. It’s not like they were going out at night to catch the local culture. They were stuck at the neighbor’s house with no WiFi.
Shelter in Place also features quite a few cameos. How did you decide whom to include on the album?
IE: It evolved naturally. The people that I tour with naturally, they’re going to be featured on this record. I’ve played with Jeff Marshall, the bass player, quite a bit as a percussionist. When we met Mike Guglielmo, the drummer, it gave him the opportunity to play bass. I’ve always thought it would be deadly if we combined Jeffery, who’s going to do the Bay Street show, with a drummer like Mike. It’s hard for me to say which is more important – the harmony or the percussion because they’re just equal to me. Between Mike, Jeffery, Jeff, and then the vocals we’re going add Lee Lawler and Rose Lawler – it’s going to be big.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
IE: This show that we’re doing at Bay Street is really a nice leadoff into the new album and it’s going to be an intimate evening, but beyond that, it’s really a way to support the new album. This is our barn raising and a way to start talking about the new album. With the stagecraft at Bay Street, with the use of imagery and lighting, it’s a unique show that we’re not able to do all the time.
Do you have any plans for a launch party for the album yet?
IE: We’re going to launch on June 28. We’re been making different trips to L.A. to record the piano player, do some mixed thoughts and we’re going to do some recording here. We’ll get her done by June 28th.
Tickets to Inda Eaton – Authentic Adventures: Acoustic Highway are $30 and the show begins at 8 p.m.
Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information about Inda Eaton – Authentic Adventures: Acoustic Highway call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org. For more information about Inda Eaton, visit indaeaton.com.