Gray mornings often plod slowly, sluggishly, and they offer time.
Time, like love, rests heavy as one of life’s constants—that regulated movement along a line from birth to death, where love may be found, and sometimes lost, along the way. Time’s journey carries cause for reflection, gray-morning moments to slow down in order to chew on what might have been, or to think about what might be.
Flagstaff, perhaps unlike other cities that boast a vibrant music scene, offers hardy mountain soil from which to grow music. The climate of friendship and common cause among musicians in the city nurtures and allows the time, inevitable time, for talent to take root.
Two local musical acts, Quinn and the Confluence and Jay Meyer, explore this constant and the moments of reflection that go along with it in new albums they’ve created, and they have joined together to perform and to formally release those collections to the world Saturday night at Firecreek Coffee Co.
Quinn and the Confluence
The members of Quinn and the Confluence met during their middle-school years in Flagstaff, and they bring diverse musical backgrounds to the band’s mix. Quinn Scully plays the guitar and sings; Tre Hibbert bangs the drums and sings; and Jillian Wagner plays bass and sings.
Time and Wishful Thinking is their first album, and they had some help from Anthony Chesney on lead guitar and Willem Blakey on trumpet.
“There’s a constant theme of time, and it references a toast my brother made,” Scully says. “It’s clear that many of the songs focus on love.”
The linear expanse is at play, too, in the writing of the songs, he adds. Of the eight songs on the album, he wrote seven of them, and they were written between his high school years and just before the band went into the Hive to record.
Hibbert says the band has been playing together for a year, and they understood that they had a repertoire of good songs to record. With the help of local musician and producer David Strackany, who also goes by Paleo and gained media attention by writing a song a day for a year, the band recorded Time and Wishful Thinking in 48 hours over the course of a week during winter break from college.
Their reasons to record: To honor the music, and … “Everybody wants to be on a record,” Hibbert says, smiling.
Wagner adds, “It’s also to get our sound out there … It was so fun to be in the studio—like getting a tattoo. When you get one, you want another.”
The band’s sound is a mix of folk, bluegrass, new country, and, of course, some rock and roll. Song titles include “Boxing Day,” “More,” “Be My Love,” “Autumn Leave,” “Wasted Time” and “Pray the Day.” Thoughts of struggle, change, hope, love and loss prevail.
In “Pray the Day,” Scully sings:
The dark thoughts drum through my head,
hold them close, take them to bed.
I think of you when I’m alone,
Pray the Day that you’ll be home.
“The whole thing has been a dream come true,” Scully says, adding that the album is the result of help from family, friends and mentors. “They will know who they are. Doing any of this wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
Southside resident Jay Meyer was recently nominated for a Viola Award for his work with the rock band Le Trebuchet.
Grey is his second album, and his all-around generally supportive friend and Le Trebuchet bandmate Alex Tippett helped with playing bass and guitar across much of the album.
The theme of Grey centers on the morning.
“It’s supposed to ask the listener to slow down, try to pull you out of the moment you happen to be in,” Meyer says.
The album relies on the influences of Beck and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, he adds. He let go of trying to hide his musical influences in order to let the inspiration flow. The process was “very freeing,” he says, and it allowed him to acknowledge being part of a larger creative process.
“I hope the listeners get a little peace, or calmness, a little bit of space from it,” Meyer says.
With songs like “Grey,” “Proper Home,” “Temple,” When You Go,” “Highway” and “The Field,” Meyer states: “Grey is calculated deviation, experimental through form more than function …” Meyer also recorded his album out of the Hive with Strackany. He credits Strackany for helping him workshop his songs and arrange them to create his “plea to slow down.”
Grey will serve as an “archival” effort, Meyer says, of his life, at the moment, where he stood musically.
He plans on giving copies of the album to friends who have trips planned abroad—London, Paris, Barcelona, Sydney.
“I put a lot of work into Grey, and I’d love to see how many continents I can get it on,” Meyer says, laughing.
When Strackany suggested the two acts release their albums together, they readily agreed. The performance would be richer and more meaningful for the Flagstaff residents who faithfully support local musicians by attending their performances.
“We’re all friends,” Scully says of the musicians working in Flagstaff. “We all go to each other’s shows and hang out with each other.”
There is no real jockeying for position that leads to darker elements of competitive nature, Meyer says.
Flagstaff’s musicians come from a variety of backgrounds and tastes and possess distinct sounds to create flavors that mix well on the palate, Scully adds.
Wagner says, “When we’re not playing, we’re at each other’s shows.”
And the venues, which include smaller, more intimate spaces all the way up to larger “dream-come-true” venues, allow local musicians to grow, to develop their sound for the benefit of the faithful listeners, Meyer, Scully, Wagner and Hibbert say in conversation. And that incubator, the warmth of it, with help from studio gurus like Strackany at the Hive and David James at Mudshark Studios, has led to a growth in recordings by Flagstaff bands. This time in Flagstaff is an exciting one to be a musician.
The members of Quinn and the Confluence and Meyer all have plans to continue to explore their music in the future—some hope for full-time work in the industry, others want to do it part time to keep it special.
In the meantime, they are almost done giving birth to their creative work, but not quite.
“I feel like we’re not finished until we get it out,” Scully says.
Hibbert adds, “We’ll be able to breathe after the show.”
Then, they will get back to writing more songs.
The show, which takes place on Sat, April 8 at Firecreek Coffee Co., 22 E. Rte. 66, begins at 7:30 p.m. The Canaries (performing for the first time) will go on first, then Jay Meyer, who will be playing with Proud Mother, followed by Quinn and the Confluence wrapping up the night.
The albums, Time and Wishful Thinking and Grey, will be available for sale during the show. Entry is $8 plus a CD of your choice or $10 and a copy of both CDs. For more info, call 774-2266 or visit the artists on Facebook.