Three Minutes, Three Questions: Ordinary Elephant, Nick Nace, Ali Holder & Megan Palmer House of Songs musicians

Three Minutes, Three Questions: Ordinary Elephant, Nick Nace, Ali Holder & Megan Palmer House of Songs musicians

The House of Songs Bentonville — the music collective started in Austin that seeks to link songwriters from all over the world — hosted seven songwriters from far-flung locales this month. Musicians Ashtyn Barbaree, Willi Carlisle, the duo Ordinary Elephant, Ali Holder, Megan Palmer and Nick Nace have been working together at the organization’s location in downtown Bentonville, which culminated in a recording session at Bentonville’s Haxton Road Studios. After that, the musicians headed north to the Folk Alliance International conference this weekend, whose mission, according to the organization, is to “serve, strengthen and engage the global folk music community through preservation, presentation and promotion.”

Ordinary Elephant, Nick Nace, Ali Holder and Megan Palmer took time out of collaborating to answer some questions for The Free Weekly.

Q. Does this kind of collaboration inspire your creativity and/or productivity? If so, how?

Ordinary Elephant: Any songwriting-centered gathering is exciting and inspirational for us. Full-time musicians wear many hats, and it can be hard to carve out as much time as we want for the fundamental creative parts. So having days dedicated to being creative is beyond welcome.

Nick Nace: It’s great to be around so many songwriters and is very inspiring to see how everyone approaches their own process and definitely gives you ideas and technique to borrow from in the future. And we’ve certainly been productive! I’ve written five songs in two days!

Ali Holder: I love co-writing with other artists because it allows me to witness how their craft works. Learning how to combine your crafts it’s like an interesting problem to solve.

Megan Palmer: I have done some co-writes before in Nashville. I always find it both exciting and challenging to navigate the synergy that ultimately occurs when two people throw down some ideas and feelings. This past week has been extra special because everyone here is a stellar writer and performer, and our focus was writing songs here. Having a dedicated space and time is really helpful to find those magical verses, melodies and choruses. I have written six songs this week which is a lot for me, and I have a good feeling I will end up playing them on the regular at my shows.

Q. Did you have any set goals/plans for the week, or is it best for you to just go with the flow and see what happens?

OE: Generally we like to have plans and goals, but given that this gathering is focused on co-writing, it invited us to be more open and flexible.

NN: I’ve always been more of a go with the flow type of fellow. Songwriting is a finicky thing. The more you try to plan the end result the less likely it will turn out the way you thought it would.

AH: I like to not have expectations and just see where the songs take us. Getting to know all of the other artists in the process is the best part.

MP: I came to The House of Songs with no expectations. I was thrilled to have some time dedicated to writing. My life is busy. Even when I “book” time with myself for writing, I am easily distracted by other tasks like paying bills, answering emails, playing with my dog Baba, etc., so having this mental and physical space means so much to me. It’s a wonderful gift, and I couldn’t be more grateful to participate. Plus I’ve gotten to know some great artists a little better, and my soul is stirred and I’m even more inspired to keep working on writing with others.

Q. Folk Alliance International is one of the largest gatherings of folk artists in the world. What does it mean for you to participate in the FAI?

OE: It reminds us of the community we form and foster through music by bringing together so many members of it.

NN: It means seeing lots of old friends and checking out acts I’ve never heard before! And late nights. Lots of late nights.

AH: I am so thankful to being going to Montreal this year. Folk Alliance allows you to make connections across the world that share your same goals.

MP: I’ve been to Folk Alliance International quite a few times, and it’s always exciting to hear new artists and reconnect with the ones I meet on the road throughout the year. It will be different to be in Montreal, as the past several I’ve been to were in Kansas City. Plus with The House of Songs group, we have the chance to perform some of our freshest material. After the conference I’m doing a tour from Montreal to Toronto with British artist Roxanne de Bastion. I’m really excited to play in Canada again, and see old friends, and make new ones too.



Who Are These People?

Ordinary Elephant is Crystal and Pete Damore, a husband-and-wife duo who have performed together since 2011. They were recipients of the International Folk Music Awards 2017 Arts of the Year and count Gillian Welch, Guy Clark and Anais Mitchell among their influences.

Nick Nace is originally from Canada but now calls Nashville home. “I travel around and sing folk songs and tell stories to anyone who’ll listen,” he says of his music.

Ali Holder is an Austin-based musician whose music, she says, is a blend of indie, folk and Americana. “Holder shows a solid grasp of what makes a good song… her songs are personal and intimate but feel like experiences we can all share,” says the roots music journal No Depression.

Megan Palmer had been playing fiddle in bands since she was 11 years old. Since she decided to try her hand at songwriting, she’s produced four albums and is based in Nashville.

Categories: Music