When Lorri Solomon decided to go on her first American tour, she didn't quite know what she was getting herself into. But the idea of playing music to strangers, miles from home, greatly intrigued the Carlyle-based singer/songwriter so much so, that no matter what would happen along the way, nothing would deter her from sharing the songs off her sophomore release, 'Two Days in June.'
Solomon embarked on a five-show tour in the Minneapolis area this past fall to promote her new release, which turned out to be an incredible experience - despite the few hiccups along the way.
"Right up until the last day I wasn't sure that I was going to be going," Solomon explained. "It was such a gong show. I got my permission to cross into the States - by email - two days before I was supposed to leave, and I got my CDs the day before. It clicked in at the last minute."
Fred Keller, a mandolinist from Minneapolis, whom Solomon met in Saskatchewan while he was touring with his band, helped her coordinate tour dates.
"He helped me set up shows in Minneapolis and he did an outstanding job," said Solomon.
A fan of Solomon's music, Keller jumped at the opportunity to arrange shows for the Saskatchewan musician.
"I met Lorri at the Forget Summer Arts Festival the first year the Whistlepigs traveled there," Keller wrote on his blog, when he informed his fans Solomon would be coming to Minnesota. "That was2005 I think. I believed she performed that weekend and we jammed around the campfire. One song she did-"My Flat Rock"-stuck with me: catchy melody, bittersweet theme, well sung. The next year I went up I requested it and that, I think, cemented the friendship."
Though she received help from Keller, she admitted she took a huge step out of her comfort zone because she went alone.
The tour was "so far out of my comfort zone because I went by myself," Solomon said. "I loaded my car up, drove 14-15 hours, found out OnStar isn't all it's cracked up to be, got lost, got found, got lost, got found; it was all good in the end but what a train wreck for me."
Looking back on the tour and all the unexpected things that happened along the way, Solomon said it all just added to the entire experience. And, now she'll be better prepared next time she heads out on the road - which she anticipates will be on Canada's East Coast.
"I want to go to the East Coast in late spring/early summer," said Solomon. "I love the East Coast and I have friends out there who are willing to come with [me on tour], and if they end up not coming with, that's okay because we can still get the shows set up."
"This next [tour], I'm working with a musician who has contacts on the East Coast, plus I have friends who are already working musicians on the East Coast," continued Solomon. "So I'm waiting to hear about a festival I want to play there, and if I get the festival, that will determine when I book around it."
Though Solomon goes on tour as a solo artist, performing intimate acoustic shows, she's quick to announce she's never fully alone.
"It's not ever all by yourself," said Solomon. "You use your contacts and your networks [to book shows.] You use your contacts and relationships, then you return the favour for them when they come."
Closer to home, Solomon has played a number of house concerts. These concerts put Solomon in your living room, your backyard or wherever you have a space for her to play. The setting is intimate, allowing Solomon to interact with her audience in a way that is just not possible in a larger venue.
"I'll do as many of those as I can," said Solomon. "To me, that is the preferred way to play because people relax."
In the new year, people can expect to see Solomon play at least one somewhat larger show close to home, in order to promote the release of her album, 'Two Days in June.'
"I will definitely do it at the Kenosee Inn because they have been so supportive," said Solomon. "I haven't checked on dates yet, but it will probably be in January [or] February."
'Two Days in June' is the follow-up to 'Behind the Eyes of a Dreamer,' which was released more than a decade ago. The years between the two releases are due to the fact she dedicated her time to raising her daughters. Now that they are grown she has completely thrown herself into her music.
Her latest release is raw - just like Solomon. She doesn't hide behind an over-produced sound; she just puts herself out there. You can take her or leave her.
True to the folk genre, Solomon sings about real people in everyday life. She takes the seemingly ordinary and gives it a voice. Her voice.
'When I Was Your Princess' is one of the album's songs that really stand out. In this song, she explored her own personal childhood memories and the way things changed over time.
The song starts with Solomon recalling memories of the boy next door.
"While you yelled dragon, I yelled my head off. I thought that's what princesses did," she softly sings on her most recent CD.
She continued to tell their story, touching on their teenage years and closing with where they are today.
"I saw you walking, with your new princess, she's got your same little nose. When she gets older, I'm going to tell her something she already knows; she's holding hands with her hero," Solomon sings during an interview with a twinkle in her eye, clearly remembering an enjoyable time in her life.
'Bow to Bow' is another exceptional tune. Inspired by two fiddle players she met one year at Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party, 'Bow to Bow' represents Solomon at her finest.
"I met two old fiddle players at the [Kenosee Lake] Kitchen Party and just the way they were sitting [made me think of writing this song]," Solomon explains. "This song is important because both of those fellows have passed away. When I went to record the song, neither one of them ever heard it finished."
"They were both brothers who inspired the song," she continues. "They were in their 80s or 90s. They were talking about how the Kitchen Party is such a great thing because it lets things like fiddle be passed down, and while he was talking the tip of his bow was touching his brother's [bow]. It hit me as 'Bow to Bow' so I wrote the song about them. And Fred [Easton, a local fiddle player] stepped up and played it on the CD."
She called Easton in at the last minute to record the song and if you listen carefully you'll hear as the fiddle starts off quiet and weak while it continually gains strength and momentum through the verses and courses.
At first "it's buried in the mix because he doesn't know the part and is trying to find it, which makes sense to the song because the song is about someone who doesn't know how to play [fiddle]."
The way 'Bow to Bow' is recorded is explanatory of how Solomon's entire CD was recorded. They sat down, played as a band and recorded straight through. They kept in all mistakes and mishaps to complement the natural rawness of Solomon's sound.
For more information on Lorri Solomon or to purchase a CD, check her out on Facebook: Solomon Songs or contact her by phone at 306-453-2402. To listen to a sampling of her music - including 'When I Was a Princess,' visit reverbnation.com/lorrisolomon.