Former Parkite returns to town to play some music
June 26, 2012
Vermont-based singer and songwriter Erica Stroem loves Park City.
She was a Parkite for 13 years from the early 1990s to the mid 2000s and became a regular in the town’s music scene while performing with the Motherlode Canyon Band and on her own.
"Park City molded me into the person I am today and the people took me under their wings," Stroem said during a telephone interview from her home in Burlington, Vt.
"My musical birthing happened there and they taught me how to love music. They taught me how to do it. They taught me how to be creative and how to move my goals forward. That was a huge part of my life."
Stroem will find her way back to Park City as one-half of the duo Last October, which features guitarist James Kinne, to play at the High West Distiller on Wednesday, June 27, the Riverhorse on Main on Thursday, June 28, and at the Silver Star Café on Friday, June 29,
"It will be nice to return with something I can share with everyone," Stroem said.
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Stroem moved to the East Coast in 2005 to focus on her music.
"I initially moved to New York to play music," she said. "In Utah, I was a big fish in a little sea, but in New York, I found myself as a very little fish in a great big sea and that took some of the enjoyment out of playing, which was interesting, because I love playing music. I love singing and I love collaborating and doing harmonies."
Although she played some band and solo shows in New York, nothing clicked for Stroem.
"So, I moved to Vermont, which made more sense because when I was a child I spent half my time in New Jersey and half my time in Vermont," she said. "My family is from there and I wanted to be closer to my family."
Stroem, who basically gave up on music, wanted to live the simple life gardening around her home.
"Then I stumbled upon James, who was playing with another guy named Rob Williams and they rekindled the love of music in me," she said. "I stalked them a little bit and sat in with them and we became a little trio called Phineas Gage."
While the trio still plays together, Stroem and Kinne decided to make music together on the side.
"That’s how we came up with Last October, which is the project that is very near and dear to my heart," said Stroem, who grew up listening to early country music, opera and Broadway musicals.
The origins of Last October developed in a "cosmic" way, she said.
"It was created by the most magical and natural energy that I have ever felt," Stroem said. "I remember when we both sat down and 11 songs kind of fell out of us. It was like something was using us as songwriting vessels.
"The feeling was so powerful and it blew us both away," she said. "We both felt like it was gift and it was too overwhelming not to share this gift with anyone we could."
Kinne ignited the songwriting, because his creative mind is always coming up with new ideas, Stroem said.
"All of a sudden a riff will tumble out and when I hear it, I’ll usually come up with a story," she said.
The song called ‘Catch a Moment,’ the first piece the two wrote, happened that way during one afternoon.
"We were in my house, which is kind of like a 1960s ski lodge, so it’s pretty retro," Stroem said. " I have a wood burning stove that heats my house, and we sat down in front of it and it inspired the words ‘Catch a Fire.’ It was so much about that moment and we were in the space and fell into it."
Another song, "Eastern Horizon," came about the same way, Stroem said.
"If you listen to that song, it reflects that setting," she said. "It talks about the logs burning slowly and the warm air becoming a blanket. There really is no rhyme or reason of how the songs come, though. They just do."
Sometimes a song would come when the two were not together.
"’All You Do’ was written by James when he was at his home," Stroem said. "He went home to take a shower and came back and said, ‘I wrote this while I was at home,’ and that’s kind of how it went."
One song, "Angel’s Touch," was created in another "cosmic situation," Stroem said.
"We were talking about a friend of James, a musician who had died from an overdose," she remembered. "We were listening to some of his music and all of a sudden James grabbed his guitar and pulled out a riff and the song came right there. If felt as if something had come through us."
The result of the songwriting sessions became Last October’s self-titled debut CD.
"The songs were written in October of 2010 and the CD was released in October 2011, thus the project’s name," Stroem said. "I am so grateful that I am able to participate and contributed to the project."
After completing the CD, Stroem and Kinne decided to take their music on the road.
"It was a good way to share what we experienced," Stroem said. "We’re also writing more songs and trying to return to that magical space where we created our first songs.
"You get caught up in the rigmarole of trying to book gigs and touring and sometimes the creative side of the job gets away from you," she said. "That’s why we’re excited to come to Utah. It’s a very inspirational place and we’ll have some time to sit and do some writing."
Last October, featuring Erica Stroem and James Kinne, will perform at the High West Distillery on Wednesday, June 27, at 9 p.m., the Riverhorse on Main on Thursday, June 28, at 7 p.m., and at the Silver Star Café on Friday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.lastoctobervt.com.