First grader Keith Figueroa carefully selects his next Lego. KATE RIGA
Wooden outdoor furniture.
It’s the afternoon after the “Go West” tour kickoff concert at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett and Inda Eaton and the boys in the band are tired.
Gathered around Ms. Eaton’s dining table just off the kitchen in her Amagansett home, the musicians—percussionist and drummer, Jeffrey Smith; guitarist and singer, B. Rehm-Gerdes; and bassist and singer Curt Mychael—are “bone-tired and weary,” Ms. Eaton said last Thursday, but otherwise in excellent spirits.
The Talkhouse concert the night before had been an emotional one, she added, because so many of the band’s fans and supporters turned out to see them off for their upcoming month-and-a-half-long tour in support of the “Go West” album.
The house was packed, Ms. Eaton said of the show, which was emceed by Bonnie Grice. And the musicians who came to share the stage with Ms. Eaton and the band on Wednesday night included locals such as Caroline Doctorow, Nancy Atlas, Joe Delia, Scott Hobson, Lee Lawler of Mamalee Rose and Michael Pour.
“It was an incredible outpouring of love,” Ms. Eaton said. “And the perfect send-off.”
Tired or not, the show must go on. And after a couple more gigs here on the East End, the band will pack up their gear and load it into Delmer—“You can’t have a vehicle like that and not name it; to call it an RV would be demeaning,” Ms. Eaton said of the band’s mode of transportation—and hit the road. The “Go West” tour will take them to Los Angeles and back, returning home in time for a gig at Guild Hall in East Hampton on October 26 with Ms. Atlas and Ms. Doctorow.
The purpose of the tour is simple, Ms. Eaton explained. To take their music on the road—stopping off in different small and large towns along the way, sometimes playing house concerts and sometimes playing significant venues, while dropping in at local radio stations too—building communities with each stop.
“What we’re doing, I believe, is a real throwback to how the music industry got started,” Ms. Eaton said, her soft but husky voice filled with passion. “I feel that’s the way we gonna do it; we gonna get the music out. This is about one community at a time, building it from the bottom up.”
The places the band visits on their trek out west are significant, the singer/songwriter/guitarist reported.
“We want to hit the communities that have participated in this project,” she said.
The “Go West” album—which contains 11 songs and includes background vocals by Los Angeles-based producer and pianist Eve Nelson, was engineered by Cynthia Daniels and includes Ms. Atlas, Ms. Doctorow and Ms. Lawler as guest vocalists—was released in June and is all about capturing “the optimism of the American dream,” according to Ms. Eaton’s website.
The first stop on the more than 5,000-mile national round-trip tour will be at The Bitter End in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday, September 5. Ms. Eaton and Mr. Smith, who have played music together for approximately 15 years, have played the famous Bleeker Street club in the West Village before. But for Mr. Rehm-Gerdes and Mr. Mychael, Wednesday’s gig will be their first time on the 50-year-old stage that has hosted everyone from Arlo Guthrie to Lady Gaga.
“Cross that off the bucket list,” Mr. Rehm-Gerdes said with a smile.
“Its a New York City staple,” Mr. Mychael added. “To play at that historical place is to play America in a way.”
After that, the band will hit Philadelphia to play a house concert on Saturday, September 8. Other stops will include Mikey’s in Milwaukee (“Curt and Jeffrey live there,” Ms. Eaton explained), the Hard Rock Café in Phoenix (“B. lives there,” she said), house concerts in Boulder, Colorado and Casper, Wyoming (a significant spot for Ms. Eaton, who not only recuperated there after contracting cerebral malaria on a trek through Africa but also gave a sneak peek of “Go West” there in May), a stop at an Arizona Diamondbacks game to sing the national anthem, and wherever else the spirit might take them.
“We’re going to cut through St. Louis and Kansas to hit the barbecue situation,” Ms. Eaton said. “We’re going gonzo ... That’s how this is rolling.”
Turning philosophical, the singer said that she had the title for “Go West” picked out about a year before she and the band even began recording last September. The album, which the liner notes says is “a deliberate journey with imagined destinations and unintended results,” is a “driving record,” and contains songs such as “Hold On,” “The Road to Arizona,” “Long Way Home,” “Things Change,” and “Jump In.”
“Aren’t we all products of going west,” Ms. Eaton mused. “As Americans, we always think there’s always something greater around the corner. The metaphor’s not lost on me.”
Though it’s her name on the cover of the album, putting together the CD, and the tour, was definitely a collaboration, she said.
“It was a leap of faith of the people sitting right here at this table. That is the beauty of this situation,” she said. “It became so clear that ‘Go West’ was ready to be recorded—and we did it in three days. I was like a crazy person, putting everything on index cards, the song order, the flow, that’s how intentional it was. Each piece of the puzzle brought more bounty.”
She cited the strong relationships within the band—from her 15-year collaboration with Mr. Smith to more than 12 years working with Mr. Rehm-Gerdes, to an immediate connection with Mr. Mychael, who came on to the project just one day before the album was recorded—as the foundation of the album and of the tour.
“In this situation, we’ve got this love and we’ve got this material,” Ms. Eaton continued. “Let’s make ‘Go West!’”
Mr. Smith, a career musician, said that the specialness of the “Go West” project—and taking part in a grassroots tour—was not lost on him.
“What we’re doing, it’s not common. I totally understand the rarity of it,” he explained. “Absent of fame and money, you’ve got to have some measure of success.”
“‘Go West’ has got more symbolism than a Dan Brown book,” Ms. Eaton laughed.
She said that it was a failed Kickstarter campaign that actually got the ball rolling for the funding of the tour. The band couldn’t raise the requisite $15,000 required by Kickstarter, which meant that all the donated funds were refunded to those who donated. But a wonderful thing happened after that, Ms. Eaton reported.
“We had a 100-percent conversion rate. People went out of their way to help us. People were even slipping me cash last night, that’s what’s funded this tour,” she said. “Hey, I’d love it if Heineken funded the tour. I love their beer and I’d love their money, but that’s another thing about this project: the love and support of our families and our fans ... of our brothers and sisters in music. That’s what’s made this happen.”
“It’s been a great confluence of events,” she said of how everything fell into place for “Go West.” “I get very emotional. Not only is the money tight, but the fact that these people took the time to respond and take action to support something good,” she trailed off, her eyes filling with tears. “What they’re saying is ‘What you’re doing is so great. It’s hopeful.’ How could you not love that?”
For more information on Inda Eaton and “Go West,” visit indaeaton.com.
To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.
We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.
One fine body…