Inara George (The Bird and The Bee)

Inara George (The Bird and The Bee)

Rupe Shearns

Fri, January 26, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Boot & Saddle

Philadelphia, PA


This event is 21 and over

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Inara George
Inara George
When Inara George was five years old, she attended the wake of her father, musician Lowell George, the beating heart of the band Little Feat. Strangely enough, it was also her birthday.
Hazy memories include a mountain of presents that engulfed the family grand piano, a piñata filled with treasures but somehow, she got stuck with the yucky sesame candy, and most of all, a heavy sense of the day that couldn’t yet be articulated by her child mind.

As anyone who has lost a parent or a close loved one knows, the grief and the gratitude for a life that touched yours spreads out for years. Creates rivers of emotions running through families that must be navigated, side-stepped, sometimes drained. On Dearest Everybody, her latest solo album since 2009’s Accidental Experimental, Inara (The Bird and the Bee, and the Living Sisters) mines that initial loss and others that friends and family have suffered, to find the
sorrow, and sometimes the joy blooming in the rockiest of places.

Sometimes the line between joy and sorrow is hard to parse, as she sings on the opening song, “Young Adult,” a tender, uplifting homage to the messy thrill of growing up. In “Release Me,” Inara sings from her mother’s perspective regarding the loss of Lowell. A few of the songs, including “Tusker 4,” “Slow Dance” and “Take Me to Paris” stem from Inara’s annual tradition of writing a song for a dear friend’s baby who was lost in childbirth. The sweetly playful “All for All” was written for her producer Mike Andrews who told her of a funny misunderstanding between him and his elderly father in his last few days.

About three years ago, Inara set out to record the album on her own – between raising her three children and various projects but eventually she reached out to Andrews, her collaborator on all her solo albums, including breakthrough All Rise from 2005. The two recorded whenever their schedules yielded, and occasionally called in friends to play.

The hallmarks that are present in Inara’s other projects, The Bird and the Bee (her collaboration with songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin) and the Living Sisters (with singers Alex Lilly, Eleni Mandell and Becky Stark), are present here: soaring melodies, airy vocals that swing high and low, exquisite touches of keys and strings that never overwhelm, but the finished result is fully Inara. Dearest Everybody is her story, in music and in life – of taking the losses that formed her and strengthened her, and shining them out to the rest of the world.
Rupe Shearns
Rupe Shearns
In the Spring of 2010 I hit and killed a deer driving to play a show with my band in Ithaca, NY. At the time the experience of killing the deer didn’t feel tremendously significant. But during the course of making this record, the event took on greater meaning for me. I came to see it as portending a series of losses that the songs on this record are about.

I had a batch of unfinished song ideas that in the fall of 2011, I brought to Noah Murphy (producer/musician), a friend I’d played with off and on in New York since 2001. 2011 also brought the breakup of my band (Earl Greyhound) and with it a sense of uncertainty I hadn’t had in the 5 years since we’d begun touring. In response to my apprehension about the open road ahead, I hastened the start of the record without many lyrics and with even fewer arrangements.

I sang mostly gibberish with a 12 string guitar to a metronome and invited friend and former bandmate, Chris Bear (Grizzly Bear), to record drums to my demos in a basement studio in South Williamsburg. I knew I didn’t want to make another rock record this go around but beyond that I had little prescriptive direction for any of the songs.

Over the next 4 years Noah lead the way adding layer upon layer to the songs, and I slowly became comfortable enough with a maximalist approach to keep going until we’d reached a mutually satisfying conclusion. Noah is an oddduck. Deeply strange, predisposed to the long way home in pursuit of an idea, enormously talented and mostly self taught. His approach was often at odds with mine and one that I found counter intuitive to say the least. For example, in the single instance in which I wanted to play a brief and fast electric guitar part (Forgive) he suggested we dig into the cartoon Metalocalypse for direction until I came up with a suitably legitimate guitar solo. Or when I brought to him a minimalist 1 minute long techno track I’d made on my laptop (Lowlight), he had at it for weeks with a vocoder, Chicago House Music electric piano, and an acid synth bass freakout until the track was 3X its original length. I can’t emphasize enough how much his influence opened up the way that I now approach making music.

Throughout much of the recording process I spent most mornings in a 75 sq foot room in a shared Greenpoint apartment writing lyrics to these songs, and doing so as earnestly as I could. With my former band the music was often aggressive and screamed just as much as it was sung, so I used to find it comparatively easy to write lyrics given that it was in a voice far removed from my normal, not screaming disposition. With the songs on this record though, wanted to try to write as true to my experience and be as unguarded as I could stomach. Having been born into the non-generation between X and millennial, I somehow think it’s partially my lot to feel ill equipped to navigate the range between ironic and earnest expression. And as a consequence, I spent much of the time I was writing these songs in varying degrees of resistance to what I feared would come off as any color on the objectionable rainbow of self serious, precious, aloof, dismissive, or bad lyrics.

It was during this period that I became more intimate with loss than I’d ever been. I was witness to my best friend’s protracted death from cancer, a former bandmate was killed in a car accident in Bangkok, and a family friend had ended his own life after battling clinical depression for decades. found myself writing about my experience with each of the above; sometimes directly, sometimes obliquely, but always as honestly as I could. Though it was of my own choosing, I found it an uncomfortable circumstance to be in to say the least: riffing on my developing ideas about God and death, keeping in mind that on some level I’d like people to listen to me do as much at some point. Like how I find it to be the case as a grown man nearing the end of a pint of ice cream, finishing these songs felt shameless and unavoidable all at once.

Thanks to the contributions and patience of a beloved community of musicians, I was able to finish these songs and now six years to the month Noah and I began what I’d estimated would be a 1 month long process of recording and writing, I’m happy to at last be sharing the record we made.
Venue Information:
The Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147