It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford
Singer/songwriter Coles Whalen lived out of a camper and truck for three years and towed herself across the country to share her music. She played in coffee houses and small businesses. Eventually, she found a home at Borders bookstores playing free shows.
It didn’t matter that she didn’t get paid for most of the performances because she sold so many of her independently produced, self-titled EPs. She played 150 shows in the first 12 months of the road-trip-turned music tour and traveled more than 200,000 miles.
She sold more than 3,000 CDs from the back of her truck.
Whalen and her manager would often park the camper in front of 24 Hour Fitness gyms and use the facilities to shower and exercise. She recalls waking up one morning and opening the door to the camper, still wearing her pajamas. A farmers’ market had been set up around her.
Eva Cassidy and Joni Mitchell are among Whalen’s favorite artists. She describes her music as acoustic pop folk.
Whalen will bring her unique sound to Park City when she and her band play at Newpark Amphitheater Thursday, Aug. 14, from 6-8 p.m.
Whalen started singing for audiences when she was eight years old. She traveled all over the country, and even to China, performing. "That’s when I figured out how to tour," she laughed.
As a teenager, Whalen was exposed to jazz music and by age 18, she was writing her own songs.
Whalen recorded a full-length album, Gee Baby, in February of 2005, according to her Web site coleswhalen.com. In the next year and a half, Coles Whalen played more than 600 shows and sold more than 7,000 albums.
She has spent much of her career performing solo, but when she comes to Park City this week, it will be with a band. Instead of a camper, Whalen will arrive in a Jeep.
Whalen released another album, "Nothing is Too Much," in March of 2007 on Iconic Records and is currently in Nashville working on material for a new release.
She said her new album likely won’t hit stores until 2009.
As Whalen starts work on her third album in three years, she said coming up with new material has never been a problem. Since moving to Nashville in the spring, Whalen has even tried her hand at penning songs for others. "I would say 70 percent of what I write doesn’t get on the record," she said. "I would hope that people connect with my music. There’s not a lot of fluff. I base what I write on experience. I think people can relate."
Whalen, who plays the piano in addition to the guitar, was the frontman for an L.A.-based rock band for two years before she launched her solo career. She started playing with a band again in the spring of 2007. This time, however, she’s the boss.
The group played a Mountain Town Stages concert at the Canyons last year. She said Park City was one of the band’s favorite stops. "We rarely have had more fun than when we played in Park City," she said. "We were so excited to be invited back."
Whalen’s schedule has slowed down considerably in the past year. In 2008 she will perform about 100 times. That may seem like a lot, but it’s a far cry from performing five or six nights a week, she says. "It’s my goal to get as many people to my live shows as I can," she said.
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Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work.