Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Susitna Summer

Well here's part of the answer to my questions below. Steve Durr plays to river rafters and self-publishes his music. One can only wonder how much this can bring in, or cost but then being locally famous in a small pond is easier than the traditional market. "Pursuing his artistic endeavors," is how Durr describes his life at Back-Lake today noting that all of the other cabins from the old days stand empty and the settlers I met in 1976 either died or moved on unable to make a living in Chase. But not him and his dad and brother. Gee ya think? How is it that only the Durrs can do so? Where does their grubstake come from? We don't learn that in the book that's for sure, since thirty years of living are left out.

I listened to all of the clips on his CD and while there is something resembling craft there such as with the track "Fishing Hole" where he laments too many people, I don't find Durr's voice to be distinctive or well-suited to the work. He just kind of drones in the background. I can't imagine how it plays standing in the river. I only recall hearing him and his brother Jon at the Fairview Inn in Talkeetna once and bar bands rarely register with me anyway unless they're known. As for the lyrics, he's been in the woods too long wondering what it is the crow is telling him outside his remote window. Take this from a biologist: nothing concerning you; the incessent rain and gloom of the woods and the like. I did wonder about the girl drowning in the lake though. Did she? The amazing thing to me is he recorded this work in his cabin sans electricity. He must have a generator which would be too noisy or some other source of battery powered juice, but nevertheless the tracks sound home made.

Look, Durr chose a tough line of work in a tough place, but he'll get to live out the fantasy and that has value. Like all vanity work, it's not the same as a real music career. I think opening for Peter Yarrow and his brother Jon is misleading advertising. That's quite a range of credentials.

The impression I got at Chase was that of New Yorkers wanting to shut the gate behind them. Looks like they did. It's still Morrisville (NY) north as it was when I went there. Nothing has changed, still marginal musicians hanging on.


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