Dar Williams: Return to MORTAL CITY, The 20th Anniversary Tour

The Rialto Theatre Presents

Dar Williams: Return to MORTAL CITY, The 20th Anniversary Tour

Lisa O’Neill, Kristen Nelson, Tc Tolbert, Aisha Sloan

Jan 10 Tue

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Rialto Theatre

$25.00 - $34.00

This event is all ages

Reserved seating floor section

Dar Williams
Dar Williams
The 20th Anniversary Tour

When The Honesty Room came out in 1994, I left my three part time jobs for one touring life, writing songs on notepads and napkins as I went. I have clear memories of places where I wrote lyrics. My housemate Sarah Davis had said, "I think you should look at this story about an ice storm in Philadelphia. The whole city basically shut down, voluntarily, to help the hospitals keep running."

So I wrote half of the song, Mortal City, in Lisa Wittner's bathtub in Boulder.

I wrote a verse of As Cool As I Am looking out my friend Jay's window in San Francisco. And then I tried it out on a group of cool woman at the Kumbwa Cafe in Santa Cruz.

I started The Ocean in an undisclosed Washington city, surrounded by aspiring heroin addicts, while February began on the drive home from a friendly coffeehouse in eastern Massachusetts.

I wrote Iowa...well, it's pretty obvious where I wrote that.

Steve Miller, who had done such beautiful work at Wyndham Hill, produced the album. He had this crazy new thing called digital recording that you could do anywhere, and since I lived with one of my managers, Charlie Hunter, we tacked up blankets on the walls and turned a whole room into the sound booth.

The Nields sisters went in and harmonized with their sister shorthand:
"That's too--"
"Maybe I'll try--"
"Yes. And I'll--"

Gideon Freudmann wandered into the blanket room and played the now familiar part in February as well as the trippy solo (as only Gideon could do), on the song about college potheads.

Steve brought players into New York City who were as generous of spirit as they were wildly talented. He introduced me to Steve Gaboury, Larry Campbell, Zev Katz, Billy Ward, Marc Schulman and his good friend, the late, great Jeff Golub. He also fired me on back-up vocals on The Christians and Pagans and asked Lucy Kaplansky to sing them instead!

He got Eileen Ivers to play the tempestuous part at the end of The Ocean and helped me invite John Prine to sing on it. I remember the first time I was on Mountain Stage in West Virginia, John poked his head into my dressing room and said, "I'll sing on your song."

And then, when we released the album in 1996, Joan Baez let me come with her throughout the United States. I loved every minute of touring with Joan. She did everything she could to teach me the ropes while always noting how far I'd already come. One night she had the band in her room after a show and the next morning I found my boots outside my room with the note, "You need new shoes. Other than that, you're perfect. -Joan"

A second album can be a daunting experience, but thanks to my managers Charlie and Carole, Razor and Tie, Steve Miller and Joan, it all felt like a magic carpet ride, and I can't thank everyone enough (I might have been too tired to thank them at the time).

And, given the title of the record, I also want to mention what I've seen since I released Mortal City. In the nineties, most towns and cities were still reeling from the decline of manufacturing and the rise of shopping malls. I was working with coffeehouse volunteers, local radio stations, and promoters who were trying very hard, with limited resources, to bring music, poetry and life back into their downtowns. Thanks to people like them, not only have many places reclaimed their former glory, they've improved on their histories, embracing their brick-walled, tree-lined Main Streets as they've welcomed more worldliness and diversity in the present. In 1996 I said, "We are not lost in the mortal city" as a statement of faith, and now, twenty years later, I say it as a statement of fact.

Thank you for opening up your towns and cities to me over the last twenty years. We're very excited to be presenting the full album on tour this fall.

Dar Williams
Lisa O’Neill
Lisa O’Neill
Lisa M. O'Neill is a writer whose work explores politics, art, pop culture, feminism, and a range of social justice issues. From New Orleans and based in Tucson, Arizona, she is interested in the transformative power of language and art to inspire social change and help people thrive even in dark times. Her essays and articles have appeared in Diagram, defunct, drunken boat, Salon, GOOD, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, The Feminist Wire, Edible Baja Arizona, among others. She is the founder, editor, and curator of literary blog The Dictionary Project and is currently writing a collection of essays on sound and silence. As a teacher, editor, and creativity usher, she helps writers discover and clarify their voices and stories. Lisa is also a singer/songwriter who taught herself to play guitar learning Dar Williams songs in her freshman dorm room and is so honored to be part of this evening.
Kristen Nelson
Kristen Nelson
Kristen E. Nelson is the author of two chapbooks, sometimes I gets lost and is grateful for noises in the dark (Dancing Girl, 2017) and Write, Dad (Unthinkable Creatures, 2012); and is a 2016 Pushcart nominee. She has published work in The Feminist Wire, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Tarpaulin Sky Journal, Trickhouse, and Everyday Genius, among others. Kristen is a founder and the Executive Director of Casa Libre en la Solana, a non-profit writing center in Tucson, Arizona; and the Program Coordinator for the University of Arizona’s Institute for LGBT Studies.
Tc Tolbert
Tc Tolbert
TC Tolbert often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, dancer, and poet but really s/he’s just a human in love with humans doing human things. The author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press 2014) and 3 chapbooks, TC is also co-editor (along with Trace Peterson) of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books 2013). S/he is Core Faculty in the low residency MFA program at OSU-Cascades and spends his summers leading wilderness trips for Outward Bound. His favorite thing in the world is Compositional Improvisation (which is another way of saying being alive).
Aisha Sloan
Aisha Sloan
Aisha’s essay collection, The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2013. Her most recent essay collection, Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit, was just chosen by Maggie Nelson as the winner of the 1913 Open Prose Contest and will be published in 2017. A contributing editor for Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics, her writing can be found in The Offing, Catapult, Ecotone, Ninth Letter, Identity Theory, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain, Callaloo, The Southern Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Essay Daily, Tarpaulin Sky, and Autostraddle.