In 2009 the composer Eve Beglarian spent four months traveling down the Mississippi River — from the Headwaters in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. She made the trip mostly in a kayak, trading off for a bicycle on some stretches. But “it wasn’t stressful exercise,” she tells Kurt Andersen. “It was that kind of wonderful exercise where your mind can travel as you’re travelling. And I think it put me in a different kind of place in relation to the sources of my creativity.”
The sounds and stories she gathered from the trip inspired her new collection of compositions, BRIM: Songs from the RiverProject. She performs songs from the album live in the studio.
Beglarian didn't have an itinerary. "By getting on the river you're following a line," she explains. "You may not know the outcome of anything that's going to happen along the way, but you are going in a particular direction. And that's what is in Huck Finn: it's that sense of both open endedness and that there's an outcome we're headed towards." One of the characters she encountered was a riverboat captain “straight out of Twain. He grew up in Mississippi and gave me all these Eudora Welty stories, and mapped them to the towns where they were set — it was basically a literary map of Mississippi."
Some of her songs were inspired by confidences told to her by people she met along the way. "I think the role of a traveler is to be a stranger,” she says, “to be someone that people can confess to. … I felt really lucky to find myself in that position."
- "I Am Really a Very Simple Person" – Eve Beglarian and Jeffrey Gavett, vocals (with additional vocal tracking by Eve); Mary Rowell, violin
- "In and Out of the Game” – The Guidonian Hand (Jenn Baker, Mark Breshinsky, William Lang, and James Rogers, trombones) with prerecorded electronics
Video: "It Happens Like This"
Eve Beglarian, vocals; Mary Rowell, mandolin and vocals
Video: "In and Out of the Game"
The Guidonian Hand: Jenn Baker, Mark Breshinsky, William Lang, and James Rogers, trombones
I Am Really a Very Simple PersonArtist: Eve Beglarian, Jeffrey Gavett, Mary RowellAlbum: BRIM: Songs from the RiverProject
In and Out of the GameArtist: The Guidonian HandAlbum: BRIM: Songs from the RiverProject