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Lost kitchen utensil is a reminder that Flynn’s music won’t grate on my nerves

Oct. 29, 2011

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Ashleigh Flynn will be at the Columbia Arts Center on Nov. 5.

Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog

Lost kitchen utensil is a reminder that Flynn’s music won’t grate on my nerves

It finally dawned on me that since a musical artist is coming to a performing arts center, wouldn’t it be fun to blog about it in a style that’s like, oh, I don’t know . . . a play?

I’m pleased to present my first one-act screenplay, if you will, possibly based on autobiographical experiences.

The stage is a kitchen.

A long, narrow kitchen. Opening the dishwasher makes the kitchen impossible to navigate. It’s a narrow kitchen.

A man is standing in the kitchen. He is doing something, probably related to food, or cleaning of the narrow kitchen.

A woman enters the kitchen, stage right. Or at least, what I’m calling stage right. It really doesn’t matter, not for a kitchen as narrow as this one.

The dialogue begins.

Woman: Where’s the cheese grater?

Man: The what?

Woman: The cheese grater.

Man: We have a cheese grater?

Woman: Sigh. I know I have one, it’s a long metal thing that’s flat and fits on top of a bowl and you can grate cheese with it.

He tells her that he does not recall seeing this so-called cheese grater device.

Woman: Well, never mind.

She exits the narrow kitchen, from the same side she entered.

• • •

He must solve the dilemna. There were undertones in the conversation that indicated it would be a good thing if he found this lost cheese grater.

He bends down to look in the large cabinet.

The light doesn’t make it to the back of the large cabinet, making it hard to see.

But even with his bifocals, there doesn’t seem to be anything that resembles a cheese grater.

He stands up, his hands now on the countertops — one hand on each side of the kitchen. It’s a narrow kitchen.

He pulls open the smaller of the top kitchen drawers. He thinks to himself there must be a drawer like this in every kitchen in the world. Not just narrow kitchens, either. It’s a drawer which seldom gets opened, for good reason.

No one knows what’s in it.

But now, in a search for a cheese grater, he’s going to find out.

Describing the contents of this drawer would take its own 20-page report.

But, yes, under the six pounds of cookbooks, notebooks, magazine and newspaper clippings, the full-size apron, the 26 pairs of chopsticks, the plastic baggie of multi-colored birthday candles, the mechanical pencil and the thing that can only be described as a plastic asparagus tag, there it is.

He laughs when he sees it. But it’s not the cheese grater, it’s a book of matches.

The kind that you don’t see much of anymore. The kind that someone would collect, if they were into collecting matchbooks. This matchbook advertises something called “Home Perm Records,” which happens to be Ashleigh Flynn’s record company.

The graphic of the young girl with an apparent home perm makes him laugh. He mentally files a note to himself. It would be nice to hear what she’s been up to.

He continues his search. He turns up three wooden spoons. A pastry brush. An old butter wrapper and a small wicker basket.

Well, there it is. The cheese grater. He tosses the slightly rusty but not too rusty utensil on to the back counter of the narrow kitchen.

As if on cue, the woman returns.

Woman: Where did you find it?

Man: In the very back of that drawer.

Woman: Oh.

She picks up the cheese grater, examines it, and says “I know just where this should go.” She opens the other, much larger top kitchen drawer, moves all the junk from the back of the drawer, and puts the cheese grater in the back, under all the other junk. She closes the top drawer to the narrow kitchen.

There’s probably a drawer like that in every kitchen in the world.

Singer-songwriter Ashleigh Flynn will be at the Columbia Center for the Arts on Saturday, Nov. 5, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 available at the Arts Center.

I can’t remember exactly where we picked up Ashleigh’s matchbook souvenir — it must have been at one of her gigs, but I’m glad we did, and it just goes to show — if you put something in that kitchen drawer, chances are, it’ll be right there, even if it’s years later.

Hood River is in for a good show, as this matchbook reminded me. Ashleigh was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk about her new album, why she enjoys the Gorge, and hanging out with Nanci Griffith. — Jim Drake

1. Yours is an enjoyable press release to read, to me there’s a lot of recognizable names. Let’s talk about some of them:

a) What’s it really like hanging out with Todd Snider? (I bought his album “Step Right Up” and it’s great…)

I adore Todd Snider. He is a brilliant storyteller, and very sweet and full of conviction. We always have a good time in the green room sipping wine and gearing up for sets. He travels with two fellas who are like his brothers, and they are a hoot, too. I feel lucky to know him.

b) Not too long ago I saw the Band of Heathens on an Austin City Limits TV show — I had never seen them before, but they really rocked! You’ve worked with those guys?

Yes! I am friends with Gordy Quist, who I met when we were both invited to perform at a Folk Alliance event in Austin. We hung out and became friends, and have kept in touch since. I have played shows with them back east and really love their work!

c) You’re the second person I’ve known to play music with Nanci Griffith (the other is her ex-husband, Eric Taylor, a great songwriter in his own right). Must be nice hanging out with her?

Nanci is one of the first songwriters I fell in love with way back when … and playing shows with her the last few years has been a real privilege. She was extremely kind to me and had me up to sing with her too. It was nothing less than a dream come true.

2. One reason I really like your albums (which I own all of, by the way) is that you seem to always surround yourself with lots of good players, and it really sounds like a lot of work went into the production. So what’s going to happen at the Hood River show — is this solo or are you bringing people in to help?

Well thank you for supporting me! Making studio albums is big fun, and yes, lots of work has gone into the production on those records. I value the listener’s experience and want it to take folks somewhere. I do however tend to play a more stripped-down show, and this is what you will have in Hood River. In fact, two of your native sons will be joining me: Ben Bonham on acoustic slide and Ronnie Ontiveros on upright bass (both from the Hapa Hillbillies).

3. So, looking back at the other three records, your new one is a bit different. There’s definitely a folkier, more bluegrassy, more acoustic vibe going on, and my impression is that the songs are sounding somewhat more personal. How did these songs take shape?

With “American Dream,” my intention was to embrace simplicity and also to embrace my roots. The songs took shape over a period of a few years — and perhaps some are more personal — songs about love/relationships — likened to a volcano, or an incessant rain. But there are also songs about the human experience — people experiencing hard-times, songs about religion vs. atheism, all within a landscape that is America. The songs Hazard County, Knock on Wood, Isaac on 3rd and Burnside, Last Chance Saloon all are distinctly Americana tunes.

4. In recent years, you’ve been a guest at the Sisters Folk Festival here in Oregon, and you’ve been spending time in Kentucky and you’ve toured Europe. When did you start playing music and did you ever expect to be touring around like this?

I started writing songs and singing them in earnest when I got trapped in Blue River, Ore., by a flood in the mid 1990s, but only in the past few years have I started actually peddling my songs farther afield. I didn’t expect to make an album, let alone tour, but I sure love to do both!

5. What artists do you listen to for inspiration?

This past year I have listened a lot to Ray LaMontaigne, Mumford and Sons and Avett Brothers, also a gorgeous sister act from Scandanavia called First AID Kit. My tastes are diverse — Patty Griffin, Nanci Griffith, Todd Snider, Emmy Lou Harris, Dixie Chicks, John Prine, John Hiatt, Neil Young, early jazz/blues singers, Motown; all these inspire me.

6. Your manager wrote that you like to spend time in the Gorge when you can, windsurfing and skiing, I think. I also noticed a photo credit by Richard Hallman – the Gorge photographer? Where in Hood River do you like to visit?

This summer I SUPed (stand up paddled) across the Columbia and up the White Salmon a few times. I also paddled up the Klickitat, the Sandy and in a bunch of lakes. I love to hike and ski as well. I usually ski Meadows; Heather Canyon is a favorite winter spot. I have tried to do more “backcountry” to earn my turns as well. I love the waterfall hikes off I-84, and I love to get up higher so I can see a view of the mountain and all of the wildflowers in summer. And yes! The new album photo was indeed taken by Richard Hallman, who is a dear friend that I made through playing music!

7. Finally, please tell me how you came up with the name for “Home Perm” records. Must have been a sort of traumatic childhood experience? (I laugh every time I see that graphic …)

My older sister is to be credited with the name. And YES! When I was 8 I was infatuated with Annie. I cut my hair, got it wet, put braids all in it, slept and woke up excitedly sure that I was going to look like Annie. Well, not so much, as you can see . . . and voila!

Thanks Ashleigh and good luck at the arts center!

Thank you! Hope to see you and all of your readers there!

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