Courting her muse
Ryan Summerlin January 6, 2013
As a wife and the mother of two children, it’s imperative that Dar Williams restrains herself from spending too much time lounging in the creative space inside her head.
“I’m left-handed, so I’m very right-brained. I could live in this highly associative, spaced-out place and, you know, forget to function,” she said.
Instead, she most of the time strives to pick up her kids on time, keep to a schedule, find the right hotel and do the hundreds of other little things that life requires.
“It feels really good when life works and when you’re doing all of your little jobs, cleaning out the drawers and such,” she said. “You keep on looking around and going ‘wow, I’m such a grown-up.'”
But when it’s time for Williams to write songs, she puts away her organized self and, as she puts it, courts her muse.
“I put myself in that creative space, surrounded by works of people who also value creative space,” she said. “You actually need to create time where you pull things apart and you’re interested in them, more than at work on them. I’m looking forward to getting to Beaver Creek, walking around and seeing if the muse will come back.”
Williams performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Jan. 9. Though she visited the area, and the theater, a few summers ago after playing a show in Denver with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jan. 9 will mark her first time performing locally.
“We loved it,” she said. “We sent our daughter up a rock walk and our son on the bungee jumping and we saw the theater. It was great.”
For Kris Sabel, the executive director of the Vilar Center, booking Williams was an easy choice.
“When you read the reviews for some of Dar’s most successful venues on her tour – like the Ark in Ann Harbor, or the Aladdin Theater in Portland – it is clear that her greatest success comes in small, intimate venues where she can really connect with the audience both during and in between songs,” Sabel said. “Similar to what we offer in the fall with our Underground Sound Series, this is another one of those concerts that is perfect for our venue and will give you an experience you can’t get in every hall.”
He describes Williams’ music as “confessional folk songwriting.
“Dar Williams is a great choice for fans of Ani Difranco, Shawn Colvin or Catie Curtis,” Sabel said. “Her music is upbeat and catchy, with the brilliance and spunk you would expect from a folk singer. She pairs this with hints of blues, jazz, rock and pop, with a hint of ache in her voice that keeps her sound unique.”
Williams released her ninth studio album, “In The Time Of Gods,” in April 2012. It was produced by Kevin Killen (who has worked with U2, Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel, among others). The album explores many of today’s most challenging social issues juxtaposed against the parables of Greek mythology.
“It has to do with civilization as we are reckoning with epic events,” Williams said. “And also being in my 40s, how do I reckon with being a citizen and having power in civilizations? In your 20s, you’re like ‘Someone should do this.’ When you’re 40, it changes. I have friends running for office. Friends who are heads of companies. Friends who live in the backwoods and have no running water. People have made big decisions about how to live their lives.
“While technically the lens of this album is looking back at the sort of epic Greek myths I grew up with, there is something very modern about how we wrestle with our pride and power and loyalties when the stakes are high – hurricanes and blizzards and filibusters.”
Despite “all of the drama and real life to deal with,” Williams remains optimistic, she said.
“There are many ways in which we are, I think, a beautiful, flawed civilization,” Williams said. “I feel committed to that, and that’s the environment in which I wrote the album.”