There's no doubt that this country's national parks hold a beauty unmatched by the typical bar or nightclub. So when Dana Falconberry started thinking about a tour for her latest album—From the Forest Came the Fire—the idea struck to move the performances to settings that better fit a suite of songs about or inspired by the natural world.
Explaining her intentions to often-confused park rangers, Falconberry's tour came together both as an appropriate tribute to the centennial year of the National Park Service and a way to make the performances memorable for both her and audiences. The tour—which makes stops in White Sands, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Crater Lake and Sequoia National Park—includes Tucson's Tanque Verde Ranch, adjacent to Saguaro National Park East.
"A huge part of it is these songs were born in parks like these," Falconberry says. "A lot of the imagery and a lot of the scenes of the songs come from experiences that I've had, either touring or going to write."
The songs on From the Forest Came the Fire came from a series of solo writing retreats to places like White Sands, New Mexico, which inspired the album's powerful closing track "Alamogordo." The notion to sing about White Sands in White Sands became too tantalizing to leave unrealized.
"I've done a lot of normal touring, in bars and stuff, and it was just feeling old and feeling like it didn't necessarily match the music I was making," she says. "I love playing in bars and I'm not against that, but the aesthetic of it didn't match what we're trying to do with the music."
Besides, Falconberry says, she and her bandmates spend downtime on the road trying to find great hikes, including some time in the past in Saguaro National Park, so this sort of a tour puts them directly into nature from the start.
"I just picked dream parks. A lot of them, especially on the West Coast, are ones I've never been to and I'm really excited to go," she says. "I'm interested these days in bringing the audience in and making each show a really special thing that's happening, something that they won't forget and something that I won't forget. I want to take the audience into a different world, which is what I try to do musically."
From the Forest Came the Fire, released in April on Modern Outsider, is the first album released as Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow, reflecting a greater role for her band: Christopher Cox (bass), Gina Dvorak (banjo, guitar), Karla Manzur (keys), Matthew Shepherd (percussion) and Lindsey Verrill (cello).
"What I'm trying to do with the songs on this album in particular is to take the listener by the hand and guide them into a natural landscape that plays with supernatural elements as well, and mystery and unknown forces," she says. "I hope that's exactly what we're going to be doing on this tour. I think of it as an extension of the songs themselves. I think it will reflect the aesthetic of the songs to be in these beautiful backdrops."