By Michelle Trauring
Inda Eaton is addicted to the joy and pain of road trips. It’s refreshing to get out there and see the world, she explained.
Even so, her most recent jaunt was a bit of a stretch.
As she found out, the dead of winter is not the easiest time to drive cross country, nor the most spacious. Between the weather and the cramped quarters — one car for Ms. Eaton and her wife, Annemarie, to ferry their two dogs, a 12-year-old poodle named Lucky and a shepadoodle puppy named Maisie, from Springs to California and back — it had the potential to be a complete disaster.
Against all odds, it proved to be a road trip they needed to take, especially for the musician of the group.
The journey transported Ms. Eaton to a different time, when she was a child moving from state to state and, unbeknownst to her, growing into the singer-songwriter she would become. As they drove, they kept up with the national news, though all they needed to do was look out the window to see firsthand what was happening across the country.
They did. And with it came an album’s worth of inspiration for Ms. Eaton.
It will eventually find its place on her newest album, which she said she hopes to start recording in March. In the meantime, the songs will develop and evolve as Ms. Eaton tests them out on East End audiences, the first of which will be on Friday during the Songwriters Share concert series.
“After a month of being on the road, I can only imagine there will be a bit of a travelogue involved,” she said during a recent telephone interview from somewhere in Ohio. “It’s not gonna be a political thing, but we’ve just been so in America that I’m sure it’ll come up. I know it’ll be an energy-packed show because there’s a lot to talk about. I think anytime you have a fresh road trip on top of fresh material, these are evenings and shows not to be missed.”
A portion of the proceeds will benefit Project MOST, where Ms. Eaton teaches a songwriting workshop to children not much different than herself at that age.
“I believe I was 11 when I wrote my first song. I started out as a piano player and then I got my hands on a guitar when I was 9,” she recalled. “I grew up between Wyoming, Arizona and California. I was a migrant child of divorce. I think divorce was just coming in vogue in the ’70s, and I think I embodied the suitcase kid very well — and there is a direct correlation to being a suitcase kid to my wanderlust now, and unrequited yearning.”
Songwriting as a child was a creative outlet, she said, and she still remembers her first song to this day. It was titled “Overnight Stardom” and asked big questions of fame, superficiality and vapid celebrity culture. “Even then I wasn’t fluffy,” she laughed. “But I didn’t even know it.”
These days, the musician is admittedly more self aware, she said.
“I think, lately, I’ve just opened up my heart. And whatever it is, it is,” she said. “Coming out on this next record, this will be about the new frontier. There’s a song coming out called ‘Route 66.’ Well, in the last month, I’ve just driven it twice. So it will take on a whole new meaning.
“I get a lot of ideas from the road,” she continued. “Sometimes you don’t finish the entire song on the road, but you certainly can’t help looking out the window. Whether it be weather or activity, I get inspired to write a song. But I’d say I close a lot of my songs at the kitchen table.”
As of last week, the family road trip came to a close, and they are back safely in Springs. Ms. Eaton is left with endless musings to ruminate on, most significantly the sheer power of music, she said.
“I was sitting recently, of all places, in San Clemente, California, at this very groovy bistro and I was listening to some Sirius satellite station. And there was a Tom Petty Song, and a Beatles song, and a Rolling Stones song, and a Stevie Nicks song, and the tears were rolling down my face,” she said. “And you know every word and every song that came on was like a daily quote. I just sat there singing these songs between a beautiful omelet and extreme tears, and boy, if that’s not medicine. Sometimes Neil Young speaks for you when you can’t.”
“I think we’re in a different era of music, in that the artists I just mentioned, I don’t know if we’ll see the likes of that huge career ever again,” she added. “But as an artist, I feel very strong that my best work is right now. You think it’s when you’re 18, but I don’t think that. I think my best work is coming out of me now. And I think for the current cultural climate, music is the true uniter. We really are more connected than not.”
Inda Eaton will perform during the third annual Songwriters Share concert series on Friday, February 3, at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse of the South Fork in Bridgehampton. A reception will follow. Tickets are $15. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Project MOST. For more information, call (631) 725-3938.