It's been rainy and windy for seven days straight
I've been going to bed early and getting up late
I look out my window and it's one shade of gray ...
River take me, river take me
River take me far from troubled times
The lyrics to Darrell Scott's "River Take Me," one of 14 tracks on his latest album, could be a current commentary on the Bitterroot Valley's long and soggy spring. His local fans know the Grammy-award winning songwriter has played in Hamilton before and has derived inspiration from all that Montana has to offer.
"I love Montana, it’s just beautiful," he said during a recent phone interview. "I distinctly remember the small town of Hamilton. It has a strong nucleus of good quality of living. There were really good restaurants and people who are interested in the arts, which is why I’m coming again. I really enjoyed playing there in the Performing Arts Center. I'm looking forward to it."
The Bitterroot Performing Arts Council is hosting Scott as its final performance of the 2016-17 series.
"Over the years, the final performance has usually been someone of great talent who can carry the momentum and excitement through the summer to when we start our next season," Laurie Ruffner said.
In her first season as executive director, she is thrilled that Scott is her anchor act. "People are very excited that he's coming back to Hamilton."
Exactly a year ago, Scott released his latest album, "Couchville Sessions," which was recorded at home.
"Recording in your living room is really a relaxed way of going at it," he said. "Instead of feeling like, 'Oh my god, this studio is so expensive and the red light is on and I should be playing my best but I'm all nervous.' No, I like to go the opposite direction. We push the coffee table aside. There’s a roast in the oven that we smell while we play.
"I’m more interested in creating an environment for the recording that helps the recording itself. We eat, tell stories and I surround myself with the best musicians I know and make easy work of it instead of facing the challenge of spending time in the music industry's way of doing things."
Scott is quick to admit that the reason he's able to enjoy artistic freedom and record his own albums under his own label is because of his success in Nashville with big-name recording artists.
"For the past 20 to 30 years, really it’s the songs that have helped me succeed," he said. "I’ve had success with talented people recording my songs and in essence that allows me to pay for my own records and do the things I want to do. I’ve played with a lot of famous people and that’s all fine and dandy, but I still feel this pull back to my original music.
"It all comes back to that at the end of the day. I’m not forever on tour with Robert Plante, that’s only two years. But I write songs before and after and that’s what's consistent. Beyonce and Dixie Chicks may do my song at the CMA Awards, but what I love is song writing, putting out my own records and playing shows."
Scott will perform at the Hamilton Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 29.
"What happened in my living room when we recorded Couchville is very similar to what’s going to happen on the stage in Hamilton," he said. "I don't have a set list. I show up and come out on stage and I don't think you'll find me unsure or hyper. I'm way past that.
"I really just come and find out what the audience is into that night. Some people may make requests. Something will have happened in the news that day that reminds me of a song. It’s a very intuitive way of doing a show. I’m floating around not knowing what the next song is, but I’m not really worried about it. On stage, something kicks in after all these years in the profession and I offer my best. But I’m very interested in the unknown, the part that we don’t plan on and I bring that on to the stage.
"I'm sure I'll camp out on the piano for awhile," he said. "I have some friends who make instruments in Montana, so I might be trying out something new. It’s different all the time. But the thing that stays consistent are my songs. I kind of fly and flow in the wind, but we're all going to enjoy the experience."
If I had a boat, you know what I'd do
I'd float me and my family down to Baton Rouge
I wouldn't work in no factory, I'd live off the land ...
Oh, the river flows and a young man dreams
And the river can drown you or it can wash you clean.
River take me, river take me
River take me far from troubled times.
In promoting his new album, Scott scheduled an intense tour of 80 shows in 2016.
"This year I thought it would be a lot easier," he said. "But suddenly I’m already at 77 dates. It’s all OK. All good stuff and coming to Montana will be a highlight."
Scott has never conformed to the business side of the music industry, even though he's been a forceful talent shaping the last two decades of successful music.
"Now that I'm focused on performing my own work, it surprises me that you really can do this — write songs that you feel and make records that you want and that there’s an audience for that," he said. "That continually surprises me because I know I’m off the beaten path. I’m not what every music critic wants me to be.
"But I betcha we’re going to have a really important and impactful time on that Saturday in Hamilton," he said. "There’s a career and a way to do this without being in the limelight of the silly stuff. What the (BPAC) is doing fits exactly with what I'm doing. I love that people in the town of Hamilton can say, 'We want art and music in our community and we’re going to fund it and find a way to bring it here.'
"It's a cottage industry of people as opposed to some star-making system. To me that’s great news. We don’t have to wait around for the New York Times to tell us what we want to like. This off-the-radar approach is so much better and applies to so many things — even restaurants or growing our own food — we can make up how we want to live and what we enjoy and I applaud the people of Hamilton for joining me in that."
To purchases tickets to see Darrell Scott in concert on April 29, call the BPAC Box Office at 406.363.7946 or stop by at 127 W. Main St. suite 103 in Hamilton. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.bitterrootperformingarts.org.
The Bitterroot Performing Arts Council also invites the community to attend its annual fundraiser, "Spring for the Arts" at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 13 at the St. Francis Community Center in Hamilton. Tickets for that evening are also available at the box office.