Luke Redfield, who plays at The brewLAB in Carpinteria on Saturday, Dec. 12, comes to the California coast with a lifetime of traveling behind and ahead of him. The never-idle Redfield originally hails from Minnesota but loves to spend his life on the road, where unbounded horizons and the histories of deeply musical cities bring out inspiration. His newest EP, Uncover The Magic, features cinematic country-western tunes with beautiful slide guitar. I talked to him about the new EP, life on the road, and his favorite places.
Where are you right now?Right now I’m at a coffee shop in Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s nice and sunny. Still got a winter coat on, little bit of snow on the ground, mid-40s …
You have lived quite an itinerant life. When did your travels begin? I started traveling when I was 21, 22. I’m 32 now, and it’s been about 10 years of just drifting around. I dunno, I just got kind of addicted. I went to Europe with a guitar on my back, played a couple bars and coffee shops over there and took a liking to being on the road. Being in a new place every night just really inspired me, and I just decided to keep doing it. I’ve tried to settle down in certain places for a few months at a time and end up getting stifled creatively and find if I travel and go place to place I feel a lot happier and healthier and more creative and able to do more of what I enjoy doing.
Has it been all smooth sailing, or have their been dark periods? Quite a handful of dark periods, but overall it’s been pretty in between. It’s been pretty awesome – 80% awesome – but I was broke and homeless a couple times and had a couple serious illnesses and injuries … There were four or five instances where I felt pretty bleak.
What keeps you going? I think it’s just the love and the passion for the songwriting and touring and I don’t really want to do anything else… This is what my path in life is and there’s going to be challenges and obstacles like any occupation has them. I didn’t go to college or anything, and if you’re gonna go to college for four years, you’re gonna have to pay it forward and go through some struggles to get the job you want, just to try to get to where you want to be. I’ve gotta go through it, everybody does.
Where are your favorite places on your travels? There’s a lot of them. I like the west coast, and I’m stoked to be getting back to California. I love Austin, Texas, love the Smoky Mountains, I love New Mexico… The whole southwest is where I feel most at peace and most creative in terms of writing. As for areas in Europe, I love Scandinavia and London and Dublin … cities that have some traditional folk singer-songwriter history. A lot of great writers have come out of London and Dublin. Minneapolis has produced a lot of great musicians – Prince, The Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, The Replacements, any city that has kind of a rock’n’roll history. I love being out in the country and just seeing the natural splendor.
I really like the intro on Uncover The Magic, “Siphoning Gas.” How did the newest EP come together? Did you plan on having the intro? I guess I don’t really have any preconceived ideas, I just kind of let it happen and, you know, work with the guys in the studio I’m working with, and if I do have any preconceived ideas it ends up really different than I expected. I felt like “Comeback Kid” was such a grandiose really lyrical story that I felt like it needed some introduction, so that’s where the intro came from to set the mood for “Comeback Kid.”
Do you have any favorites on the new E.P., or ones that are a new sound for you? “Comeback Kid” is probably my personal favorite in terms of songwriting, but definitely not a new style to me. Maybe “Resurrection Day” or “Places That We Love” are more of a new sound for me. Originally on “Places We Love” we were gonna bring in a brass band and give it kind of a Van Morrison feel. Traditionally I’ve been inspired by Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Townes Van Zandt, but lately I’ve been listening to Paul Simon, who is a little bit more poppy and a little less folky, and maybe that comes through.
You’ve played with Marissa Nadler. What’s she like? How did that show come about? Yeah, she’s awesome, man. I met her through a mutual friend and a booking agent in Minneapolis hooked up the show together. We haven’t kept in touch too much. She’s reserved, very quiet. She keeps to herself, but she’s very kind and sweet.
What does 2016 hold for you? 2016 is gonna be a fun year. We’re hoping to record a new album and looking into actually touring fulltime with a band when that becomes financially possible. Otherwise more of the same, but hopefully some higher profile gigs and start making more money in the game. And I’m starting to require a higher maintenance on the road – I’m 32, I can’t just eat and drink anything anymore. I’m trying to find a bed to sleep on every night instead of a couch and floor, and I’m trying to eat a little healthier. When I was younger I could live on a bagel and two hours of sleep. Now, not so much.