Here is how this music happened:
2012: Back then, I (Heather) was playing piano in a local band. At some point, my own songs began pouring out of me. I started playing at open mic nights around Anchorage. Even though I was writing more songs on banjo at that time, I was still learning to play the instrument. I didn’t know many chords or technique, restrictions that helped me focus my songwriting but didn’t make a strong overall performance. I kept at it and took lessons. I got better, but I am still learning and learning to be okay with not being better than I am. So, for all the teachers of the world, and the friends, family and fans who cheer us on through our years of learning: Thank You! You are appreciated more than you will ever know.
2016: String of Lights started when I decided to record some of those original songs and release an album. I recorded under the band name ‘String of Lights’ as a celebration of the gifts we all bring to this world. I was lucky to have friends to collaborate with on it who are good people, talented musicians and dedicated to their craft and community. I wasn’t able to get video footage from the release party, but the Migration album launched the next few years of practice and performance.
2017-2019: With different line-ups, the band played on. Charlie (bass guitar) and Jamie (cello) were the mainstays of the band in these years. But I was flexible and worked with a variety of musicians.
This video (above) is from a 2017 practice session we recorded to help us prepare for a show. Poof (Charlie’s cat, RIP) is in the video, sitting on a desk. I ended up submitting the video to NPR’s Tiny Desk that year because I found out about the competition the day submissions closed and this was the only video any of us had with a desk in it (required by the competition that year). At the time, I wished we were more prepared and had something more polished to put into the world. But music has taught me to curb my perfectionism and make the most of the moment because at times, that’s all I get.
2017 was the first of a four-year run at the Anchorage Folk Festival (above).
The Veggie Sessions (above) was a 2018 practice session recording, in which Charlie (a.k.a., Charles Earnshaw Photography) got creative about the videography.
The KTOO Red Carpet video (below) was filmed in 2018 during the Alaska Folk Festival. Charlie’s plane was late to arrive in Juneau so we had to record without him.
Matt Faubion (another Alaska musician and videographer) filmed this gem (below) in a noisy hallway at the 2018 Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, Missouri. We were at there with a group of other Alaska musicians to play as part of The Alaska Room showcase.
I got more involved with a part of the Alaska music community that has been working to strengthen the support for and caliber of the Alaska music scene (AKIMI). This led me to play an Alaska Showcase at the 2019 CD Baby DIY Musician Conference in Austin, Texas. I was traveling without my normal bandmates and had the joy to play with other Alaskan musicians attending the conference. One of the other Alaskans graciously filmed this with my iPhone. I also returned to Folk Alliance in 2019, performing solo sets as String of Lights.
2020: Our most recent year at the Anchorage Folk Festival and the first year featuring me on piano instead of banjo (below).
Maybe a week or two before the pandemic shut everything down, we recorded Live at Telequana Tavern. Matt Faubion filmed the video (below), with the audio recorded and mixed by Matt Brenna at Alpine Music Studios for the album.