Sisters musician releases ‘Good Luck Road’

 

Last updated 6/22/2022 at Noon

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Jenner Fox has become an integral part of the Sisters music community — as a performer and as a teacher with Sisters Folk Festival’s music education outreach programs.

On July 1, he will release his new collection of songs, titled “Good Luck Road.” In this latest release, Fox brings to life stories and soundscapes from the small Wyoming town of Dayton.

The Sisters-based songwriter wrote “Good Luck Road” during his stays as Dayton’s artist in residence in 2019 and 2021. Upon arriving in Dayton for the first time, Fox attended a community meeting in which a local policeman outlined a new program to defend against school shootings (ALICE).

“There was no air in the room. It was hunting season in Wyoming. I couldn’t believe the acronym was really a girl’s name.” That night, after a conversation with some locals, Fox went home and started writing:

I remember, I remember when we were boys

And dad would take us out before class

And we’d hold guns and laugh and shoot squirrels and dirt

And I never once thought that bullets were to hurt other people.

“Good Luck Road” is a dreamy journey through a corner of America. It’s a concept album: songs drift into one another, we hear field recordings from Dayton, snippets of conversation, characters exit and re-enter, and a picture begins to form. As Fox writes in the liner notes, “Look inside, you’ll find a story, scratched off by a penny. A small town, a parent a child, two wheels four wheels, life begun life lost, a fishing pole, an unmade bed.”

Fox assembled an all-star cast of Pacific Northwest-based musicians arranged in a circle in an airplane hangar in Sisters around engineer Keith Banning’s world-class collection of vintage microphones. The rhythm section features La Pine-based Jefferey Ingraham on drums (Merle Haggard & Kris Kirstoferson), Sisters local Justin Veloso (Jools Holland) also on percussion, Mark Karwan on bass, Beth Wood and R.O. Shapiro on harmony vocals, and Bellingham’s duo Jeremy Elliott and Aaron Guest (of Polecat) on keyboards and electric guitar.

“We sat in a room together, rehearsed, and arranged the songs for a week while the tape was rolling,” Fox said. “Sometimes the rehearsal became the final take, and other times we worked and reworked over the course of the next year. I assembled a cast of musicians I really admire and bet on the magic of playing live.”

The album opens with Jack Russell, a portrait of the town’s legendary “mountain man.” Fox met the 85-year-old Russell and asked if he had any stories that might assist a songwriter. Russell found the request peculiar, but brought Fox out to his car (with the missing side view mirrors from an incident with a bear) and read him his handwritten obituary. Fox adapted Russell’s words into the refrain:

Don’t shed a tear, it’s not the end of my story

I’ll be here in a blaze of glory.

The rock ’n’ roll climax comes with the bicycle ballad, Tongue Canyon Road. The band relentlessly builds the Bruce Springsteen-esque chorus until you can’t help but feel like you’re riding your childhood bicycle, no hands, with the wind in your face. During the writing process, Fox played the unfinished tune for the third grade at Tongue River Elementary. As the visiting artist, Fox asked for “ideas of where the song might go.” Silence. Then one brave boy raised his hand to offer, “I feel seen” — perhaps best reception a songwriter can ask for.

You can listen to “Good Luck Road” in its entirety wherever music is streamed or sold July 1. Fox will celebrate the release in Sisters with a backyard album release concert. The event is a house concert at a home in Sisters. RSVP to [email protected]

 

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