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Sunday, July 04, 2004

I once liked Storyhill

Last week, I found out that Storyhill would be coming to the Bay Area in their 2004 tour, but would be playing in Emeryville. Few other things would ever draw me to Emeryville. I'm sure that they are shunning all of the great San Francisco venues because of a friend of a friend of a friend of a guy they met in a bar in Butte. But, it is still Emeryville.

When I first heard of Storyhill, they were Chris and Johnny. It was the early '90s and I have to admit for the record, I discounted (issues with the messenger) them. Then I listened to their music and promptly went to Cactus Records and bought their CD. A lot has changed, a lot has remained the same and a lot is gone since the ol' days in Bozeman, Montana when Chris and Johnny set out.

I went to a couple of shows, most memorably at the old Leaf and Bean. This was back in the days when the Leaf and Bean was pit-stop for skiers, back before the remodeling. Back in the days before the Cowboy Cafe became Boodles (where you now go if you want to hit on Kerry's daughter). Way back before the R-Bar became a fern bar. Back when Main Street sold saddles not artwork. Back when Bozeman was a quaint town and the world shook it awake.

These were the awkward days for Bozeman when the sleepy cow-town was discovered by retiring Californians building castles on the hills as the locals learned of economic slippage. Back when the Bozemanites (myself included) slapped their 4WD's with the infamous, "Keep Montana Beautiful, Put a Californian on a Bus" bumperstickers. Now I live in California and only make it back for the Sweet Pea Festival and the holidays.

In Montana's unfortunate economy, the inflation of the 1970's and the 1980's Reagan recession were so severe as to have prevented the 1990's Clinton boom from bringing anything to Montana other than retirees and the part-time, no benefits jobs that typified seasonal tourism in a state that was ranking 51st (behind Guam) in income.

But the influx of those who could live anywhere reminded us that we were born lucky. Chris and Johnny told this story, blending the working man's virtue with a musical Amstel Adams appreciation of the beauty of knowing you're living in a postcard landscape.

Chris and Johnny spoke of Montana at the end of the 20th century as only those who have gotten out, yet come back, understand. The spoke of love under the Big Sky. They spoke of the hills and mountains and streams that kids growing up in Montana knew would be only memories as they were forced to flee the state to make a decent living. They captured the longing and dreams of a disillusioned generation hoping for nothing more than what their parents thought they were going to get by staying in Montana.

Billboard Magazine said, "...(Storyhill) recalls the harmonious interplay of Simon & Garfunkel; the pained, plaintive sound of Cat Stevens; and the acoustic juice of the Indigo Girls."

Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson always seem to put on shows that blow your mind. I've seen them in coffee shops, at the Gallatin Gateway Inn, Wilson, the University of Montana and most recently at a reunion concert at the Emerson Cultural Center. When it comes to either final concerts or reunion concerts, Chris and Johnny have the best of both and prove it on a regular schedule.

But they're now back on tour. And coming to Emeryville? But hey, where can you find a better place outside of Detroit to contrast with Montana. I can't wait.

I once liked Storyhill, now I miss them.

Check them out. Buy their albums:

Dovetail 2002
1. Seven Sisters
2. What Was Wrong
3. Cupid's Dance
4. Angel
5. Background for your Blue
6. Worst Enemy
7. All I Need
8. Soon
9. Homeland
10. Honesty

Reunion 2001
Disc 1
1. Great Divide
2. Absaroka Air
3. New Year's
4. Spirit of the Ghost
5. Forgotten
6. Schoolbus
7. With You Here
8. All I Need
9. Mary on the Mountain
10. Old Sea Captain
11. Gone Away
12. Full Circle
13. Thing for Me
14. Hard Wind
15. Spaces
Disc 2
1. White Roses
2. Stillwater
3. Let the Wind Come In
4. What Was Wrong
5. Parallel Lives
6. Boulder River
7. Somewhere in Between
8. Loose Summer Clothes
9. Tremblin' Tracks
10. Good Rain
11. If I Could
12. "2 Songs at Once"
13. I-90
14. Steady On
15. Inside Emotion

Echoes 1997
Disc 1
1. Inside Emotion
2. I-90
3. Great Divide
4. Mary on the Mountain
5. (C & J talking)
6. Another Time
7. Satisfied Land
8. Storm
9. Stillwater
10. Loose Summer Clothes
11. 4 am Blues
12. (more talking)
13. I am a Lover
14. Whippoorwill
15. Charlie's Cabin
16. Somewhere in Between
17. Spaces
18. Boulder River
19. Mentors
20. If I Could
Disc 2
1. Absaroka Air
2. Tremblin' Tracks
3. Holding On
4. American Tune
5. (more talking)
6. Steady On
7. Things I Love
Additional Tracks
8. After Dark
9. Gone Away
10. What I Know
11. Absaroka Air (w/ cellos)
12. Good Rain
13. White Roses / I'm Looking Through You
14. Painting
15. Shapeshifter

Storyhill Live 1997
1. Schoolbus
2. Somewhere in Between
3. Old Sea Captain
4. Hard Wind
5. Let the Wind Come in
6. Loose Summer Clothes
7. Forgotten
8. Great Divide
9. Elizabeth Page
10. Letter of the Law
11. Spaces
12. It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go
13. Happiness Runs
14. Steady On

Collage 1996
1. White Roses
(from This Side of Lost)
2. Great Divide
(from This Side of Lost)
3. Hard Wind
(from This Side of Lost)
4. If I Could (live)
5. Steady On (live)
6. Mary on the Mountain (live)
7. Old Sea Captain (live)
8. New Year's (live w/band)
9. Great Divide (edit/remix)

This Side of Lost 1996
1. Great Divide
2. Hard Wind
3. Another Time
4. White Roses
5. Mary on the Mountain
6. Old Sea Captain
7. Spaces
8. Continents Collide
9. Life to Live
10. Gone Away
11. Standing on My Own
12. Good Rain

Clearing 1995
1. Absaroka Air
2. Stillwater
3. Forgotten
4. Tremblin' Tracks
5. Open up Your Eyes
6. I Can Believe
7. Somewhere in Between
8. Loose Summer Clothes
9. Happiness Runs
10. Charlie's Cabin
11. Back Home
12. Steady On

Miles and Means 1994
1. After Dark
2. I-90
3. What I Know
4. Schoolbus
5. Jackrabbit
6. Parallel Lives
7. If I Could
8. Suvi
9. Hide in the Rain
10. Let It Go
11. Boulder River
12. New Year's
13. Mountains Rise Up

Live at the Grand 1993
1. Things I Love
2. She Holds My Heart
Out in The Wind
3. Let It Go
4. Shattered Horizons
5. I-90
6. Inside Emotion
7. My and Steve
8. Take My Hand
9. Crescent Moon
10. Whippoorwill
11. Missouri River
12. Pancho and Lefty
13. Within

Different Waters 1992
1. Freedom
2. Inside Emotion
3. The Garden
4. Holding On
5. Satisfied Land
6. 4 am Blues
7. Desert Heart
8. She Holds My Heart
Out in The Wind
9. Missouri River
10. Take My Hand
11. Pancho and Lefty
12. Darkness
13. Campfire on the Taylor Fork
14. Storm
15. Within

Shapeshifting 1991
1. Shapeshifter
2. I am a Lover
3. Shattered Horizons
4. Everything in a VW Van
5. More than a Morning Sun
6. Months with You
7. Painting
8. My Little Friend
9. Summer Will Fly
10. Across This World
11. Looking for Someone
12. Mentors
13. The Things I Love

- Bob Brigham
Bay to the Beltway
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