The Bay Street audience on Saturday, March 7 is in for an absolute treat when East End legend Inda Eaton takes the stage for Shelter in Place.
We had a chance to catch up with the musician about the exciting show – which will feature many guest appearances, her Melissa Etheridge and John Mellencamp comparisons, new music, and more.
What will your Shelter in Place show at Bay Street entail?
IE: It’s going to be big. I call these, with love, the tent revival shows, because we’re going to have the full band. We’re going to have not just the rhythm section, we’re going to have B. Rehm-Gerdes, he’s on the album, and he’s going to play guitar. He’s flying out for the show. Also, we have Jeffrey Smith, the percussionist that I do a lot of touring with. He lives in Milwaukee, he’s flying out, so we’ll have that drum and percussion situation. And we don’t always get that, so it’s going to be a big show that way.
Rose and Lee Lawler are going to sing, and Nancy Atlas is going to sit in a little bit and do some singing.
We’re going to have a lot of vocals, we’re going to have an expanded rhythm section with the percussion, and then the visual, we have some stunning visuals. In the fall, we were shooting, for lack of a better term, a music video. When we were in Wyoming, we shot some footage there, and we have some stunning footage that we’re going to integrate into the evening. Certain venues we play have limitations, so with Bay Street we have some stagecraft to play with. It’s going to really work to use the visuals.
We’re going to premiere a music video that night, I think. It’s a stunner. It’s one of the songs on the record, Shelter in Place. The song’s called Free. I hate to call it a music video, because that just implies something from MTV, which I was addicted to, and I don’t want to down that. But, to me, it’s like a mini movie. It’s like a visual representation of the song. The photographer that shot that is Mike Lavin and he works out here. He does a lot of LTV work and he tours with comedians and rap artists. It just has such a brilliant aesthetic and he shot the footage in Wyoming and the video – it’s a stunner. It passed our expectations completely. So, lots coming together on this night.
Kate Mueth from the Neo Political Cowgirls is going to come up and do some of the stagecraft and light. She’s going to help produce the show. We’ve got really a pro up in the light booth and that’s going to be a huge difference maker.
You play throughout the East End year-round. So, when playing for a hometown audience that’s familiar with your music, how do you come up with your set list?
IE: It is a bit more difficult, in that when we’re touring, you’re just always introducing yourself, you’re always saying, “Hello, my name is Inda and these are the songs.” They’ve never heard of them or maybe they have gotten it off the internet. But, you bring up a great point, because many of these people are going to be familiar with some of the material, we are going to play some new material as well.
I think I’m more drawn to it, because I know these people love the music. It’s exciting, and this crowd, many of them, not everybody, there’s going be room for some newcomers, but many of these people are fans of the Project. So, I get giddy because I know we’re planning a show that they’re going to love.
I’ve talked about this before, but because we play a lot at the Talkhouse, I visualize those people. It’s not like I sit there and write, oh, this is a song and they’ll love it. But, I know that when I’m digging it, they’re going to dig it. We get thrilled because we can totally picture how the people are going to take it in.
Do you have a favorite song to perform?
IE: It’s a toughie because each configuration is a different type of show. For these big tent shows, with the full band, and all these vocals and extra percussions, they’re all different. You can only have so much going on in a song at one minute. The biggest restraint is that every song can’t be like the kojiki drummers, full choir show, and that’s the biggest restraint. Because we have so much talent, so much firepower on stage, you just want every song to be an epic anthem. It’s hard to show restraint in a show like this because of the level of talent and love on that stage is just overflowing. In a way, I love every song because we got so much to play with.
You mentioned earlier that you will be premiering new music at Bay Street. Are you working on a new album at the moment?
IE: I wouldn’t say album. Let’s not say that yet. You know, it’s funny because this record, Shelter in Place, yes, we have played it for the Inda faithful, and they know the record well. But, it did not get off the ground on the national scene as much as we would have liked right away. I think, quite literally that had to do with right as we were mastering it and getting to the point where we would release it, my mother got sick and then ultimately she died.
I’m sorry to hear that.
IE: Thank-you. So, all those baby showers and all those things that you would do to go around the country to tour the record, everything just got thrown in slow motion. That was the hardest thing, because this record… This is the best work I’ve ever been a part of. And yet, as frustrating as it was, it was the right thing. We almost held the record back, we almost didn’t even put it out because you could see the way that everything was tanking in my personal life. We really took a meeting to say well, maybe we just hold this record back, but I’m glad we didn’t, because it has a life of its own and it started standing on its own feet. The response has been so healing and so loving and so powerful about the record. I’m okay that we did what we did.
So, here we are now and we really haven’t even taken it out that much, we haven’t really tested it out in the country that much because I was tied up. But, I look at this show, the Shelter in Place themed show, I look at it as a way to celebrate this record. Especially since pretty much everybody who worked on the album will participate in the show, which is odd, and doesn’t always happen.
In the meantime, new tunes, new songs are coming to life. That always happens. You’re out promoting a movie or you’re out doing a play and you start getting traction with the new material. So, yes, we’ll have that. But, on some level, I think there’s still a lot of life and a lot of interpretation that we haven’t explored on these tunes.
When touring, how do you manage to “shelter in place” and find calm within the chaos of being on the road?
IE: Well, that’s just it… I don’t think it’s easy. When you’re on the road and you’re staying at a hotel, you’re not really thinking about your roof caving in, you’re not really thinking about the paint that’s falling off the porch. So, in a way, your world requires tremendous presence, because that’s all you have. I think, too, much has been written about that I love the road so much. I think that’s because it requires so much presence. To me, everybody has a different take on this, but to me, there’s more distractions being home than being on the road. On the road, everything’s just calm and in slow motion.
You’ve been described as a “fusion of Melissa Etheridge meets John Mellencamp,” but which musicians have inspired your sound or career?
IE: I think the John Mellencamp comparison is apt in this record and in the song that we’re going to release at the show, because it reminds me of a couple of those records he made in the Scarecrow era, which was very Americana. I love John Mellencamp. He’s always given me the vibe and the hope of America, just this inclusion.
You listened to his music and no matter where you were coming from, you felt America as a positivity. There was no division. I’m not saying that’s apt. Maybe that’s a fairy tale. But, when you listen to the music, you really thought, God that just really makes you feel like America. I think there’s some anthems on this record that are really in that Americana, roots rock genre that are just inclusive. In this fractured time, I really see the symmetries of more people at that table.
Melissa Etheridge, I think that’s a no-brainer – only because, obviously, you’ve got the woman with a guitar and the more I think about it, I didn’t think about it at the time when I started my career, but there really aren’t that many women rocking out with the acoustic guitar. When you’re a kid, you think that’s just what everybody does, but I don’t think there are that many. So, I always get that comparison, and at first, it drove me a bit nuts, but I think it’s an honor. She kicks ass. She’s amazing.
I really wasn’t thinking about it. I would start playing guitar probably at six and I would just go around instead of air guitar, I would take the tennis racket and walk around the garage to rock and roll tunes playing air tennis racket. I thought that was normal. That’s the funny thing. You think that’s just what little girls do. And, when you really get into it, there really aren’t as many as you’d like to think.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
IE: I come from the heartland, and identify so much as an American – it feels like anything is possible here. We are the best chance for hope. We can argue politics and policies, but, at the end of the day, we are bound together beyond these. I do what I do to connect – music has this great disarming quality – it leads to vulnerability as people lay down their shields.
Tickets to Shelter in Place are $30.
Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org. For more information about Inda Eaton, visit indaeaton.com.