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Big Bend Invites Songwriter to Reside

Big Bend Invites Songwriter to Reside

Local artist to spend 30 days in the national park

By Fin Martinez

Albuquerque songwriter Russell James Pyle has been accepted for a National Parks Arts Foundation artist residency at Big Bend National Park in Texas. Pyle will be staying in Big Bend for November, writing songs inspired by the environment of the park.

Pyle was granted the honor from among more than 100 applicants.


   How do you feel about getting this artist residency?

“I was actually pretty shocked that I got picked, to be honest. I go to a lot of national parks and I’ve always seen these artist residents, and I was like, ‘man, I wonder if you could do that as a songwriter?’ And one day in June I just started digging around on the internet and I realized that you can apply for them, so I did.”


   How are you preparing for the residency?

“This is what I do for a living. I’m a songwriter, so it’s kind of nice to think that I’ll be able to just go do that, and so the preparation I’ve done is less with the music stuff and more with the land, you know? Big Bend area truly was remote, and it’s kind of a harsh and unforgiving environment. I’m really looking forward to that. Although, I did just get in the mail yesterday – a friend of mine gave me a ukulele to take with me on backpacking trips during the month, and as far as musically preparing I guess I picked that up and learned how to play it.”


   Is the ukulele the only piece of equipment you’re bringing with you?

“No, I’m going to bring everything I’ve got: I’m going to bring my keys, my guitars, all of my recording equipment – which is not a whole lot. I’m going to bring all the musical equipment I have because I figure, why not? I’ll be there for a month; I don’t want to get stuck on the same thing.”


   Is this process going to be similar to that of indie band Bon Iver’s first album, where it was made in isolation?

“I hope so! I really plan to spend a lot of time in the primitive areas of the park. Although I’ll have a living space, I’m hoping to spend half of my nights outside. I’ll be doing a lot of field recording of just the landscape, and then adding that to other stuff that I do, stuff that I write. I plan to do a lot of it out in the middle of nowhere, under the stars. I think it’ll be really cool.”
Russell James Pyle will be playing a send-off concert at Low Spirits on Oct. 29 with Silver String Band and Sage Herrington. His EP “Seasons” will be released on Dec. 9.

Fin Martinez is a freelance reporter.

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Lex Voytek is a nervous wreck and reading quiets the noise. Reach her at books@freeabq.com.