Portland, Oregon-based duo Jenn Rawling & Basho Parks are continuing to tour in support of their debut full-length, Take The Air (Waterbug Records), by setting out on another national tour. Tour dates are below.
Jenn Rawling, ace songstress and vintage American folk and old-time country singer, joins masterful string player & harmony singer Basho Parks in a partnership of formidable musical talent and palpable sympathy. Their music marries musical and lyrical imagery, with repetitive figures that subtly shift accent and meaning like sunlight gleaming from a stream. The result is an emotionally rich recording which unfolds more gifts with each listen. There’s a flowing kindness at the heart of this music; more than a nod to our barn-raising ancestors; and a formal mastery of the song form whereby the inevitable continues to amaze. Recorded and produced with Skyler Norwood (Blind Pilot, Horse Feathers) at Miracle Lake Studios, the duo pared down a fistful of songs to the ten that comprise Take The Air. This album will get in your head and heart, and you won’t mind a bit. Using both stripped down and lush instrumentation,Take The Air reels the listener in with its delicate subtlety and glowing warmth. This is superb artistry and the effect is profound.
Rawling & Parks were joined in studio by a slew of local talent for Take The Air, including William Joersz (Ezza Rose), Mub Fractal (Brownish Black), Matt Berger (Laura Gibson, Portland Cello Project), Skyler Norwood (Point Juncture Washington), Joel Ricci (Lucky Brown, March Fourth Marching Band), and Brendan Phillips (Fast Rattler).
A rare songwriter whose varied and distinctive melodies carry the story, Rawling’s tunes can trace the motions and calls of birds and, in “Gather it Up,” the determined, seemingly desultory motion of honey bees, echoed and elaborated by Parks’ evocative violin. A melodic section’s end in “Whistle Bird” soars headlong into a new feeling; “Little Swallow” sashays in its groove like an old string band mainstay: Basho’s fiddle calls up a little bit of “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” daring all within earshot to give it up, to join in and dance like fools. “Leaving So Soon” captures the suddenness of a relationship loss by reaching the chorus so quickly we haven’t got time to prepare for it. We are waiting for more of the verse, each time, but like the person who left the author, it’s not there. And we feel it. “Lonely Owl,” “Gather it Up” and “Tidal” are cousin to the ecstatic nature poetry of Mary Oliver. Jenn Rawling’s songs don’t connect the dots. They leap, and the intuitive connections she makes are so true that she takes us with her. Each track stands individually on its own, together forming a collection of work both captivating and full of heart.
Jenn and Basho met while contributing their musical talent to bands around Portland over the past few years. Both were recovering from potentially career-ending wrist injuries, but had almost simultaneously decided to play music again. Discovering these common loves propelled the folk-duo to become romantically and musically inseparable, and now they’re taking it all on the road with a great dane and a van. “Ours is a story of triumph in the face of adversity. Real phoenix-rising kind of stuff,” chuckles Parks.
Happy to call the Pacific Northwest home, the two revel in its natural scenery and draw much from the flora and fauna of this region. Wisconsin-born Rawling spent many summers working atop a firetower in the Mt. Hood wilderness. Wrapped in that isolation, Jenn was able to give focused attention to songwriting. She is an artist governed by intuition, tapped into the poetry of human life, who bides her time painting, gardening, cooking and admiring salamanders. “[I’m] inspired by nature’s seasons, and these are my love songs to the moon and stars, ballads to the birth of flowers, and human expressions of love and loss,” she explains.
“Take The Air is a victorian colloquialism meaning ‘to go for a stroll,’ but it’s got undertones of carpe diem too,” says native Coloradoan Parks of the album title. “[It] feels very optimistic and hopeful and about action,” Rawling asserts. “I think the name fits the songs with all the airy violin parts and also expresses our attitude about the newly formed duo, putting ourselves out there, taking the leap, starting a new project together. I’ve been on several walking pilgrimages in my life that have had major spiritual and political impact on me, plus Basho and I love being in nature, hiking and traveling. Basho and I are wonder twins in the studio,” she continues, “It was a nice realization for us, since this was our first time recording as a team. We’ve got a lot of magic together recording and it brings out a lot of goodness in both of us, which is exciting. Throw Skyler Norwood into the mix and there was a great synergistic laughter that definitely went into the songs.”
“Boasting immaculate musicianship and clean, unobtrusive production, Rawling and Parks’ Take the Air is a record that won’t wear out its welcome anytime soon.” – The Portland Mercury
“An album of old-timey, soulful folk music.” – Mad Mackerel Music Review
9/13/12 – WMUD – Duluth, MN
9/14/12 – 2nd Street Bistro – Ashland, WI
9/15/12 – Beaners Central – Duluth, MN
9/16/12 – The Rookery – Washburn, WI
9/20/12 – The Acoustic Cafe – Eau Claire, WI
9/21/12 – Tarantula Arms Benefit – Rushford, MN
9/27/12 – Boats & Bluegrass Festival – Winona, MN
9/28/12 – Boats & Bluegrass Festival – Winona, MN
9/29/12 – Boats & Bluegrass Festival – Winona, MN
10/4/12 – Wisconsin Public Radio – Madison, WI
10/5/12 – Huebschman Barn – Platteville,WI
10/6/12 – Musical Offering – Evanston, IL
10/11/12 – Folk Alliance Midwest – St. Louis, MO
10/12/12 – Folk Alliance Midwest – St. Louis, MO
10/13/12 – Folk Alliance Midwest – St. Louis, MO
10/14/12 – Folk Alliance Midwest – St. Louis, MO
10/15/12 – Barking Spider Tavern – Cleveland, OH
10/17/12 – Club Helsinki – Hudson, NY
10/19/12 – WERU Radio – Ellsworth, ME
10/20/12 – 430 Bayside – Ellsworth, ME
10/27/12 – Circling the Square Press – Gardiner, ME
11/2/12 – The Listening Room – Fargo, ND
11/3/12 – tba – Minneapolis, MN
11/8/12 – Luna Cafe – De Pere, WI
11/10/12 – Lakeshore Fellowship – ManItowac, WI
11/16/12 – Cafe Carpe – Ft. Atkinson, WI
11/24/12 – Trempeleau Hotel – Trempealeau, WI
11/29/12 – Avogadro’s – Ft. Collins, CO
12/1/12 – tba – Denver, CO
12/2/12 – The Helm – Colorado Springs, CO