“Good times,” yelled Inda Eaton to the Stephen Talkhouse crowd last Thursday — which she is indeed known for creating, with her music, raspy soulful voice, truthful storytelling, and sense of humor.
With a gift for connecting with an audience, Ms. Eaton, who has lived in East Hampton for seven years, showed the locals she gets it, saying how thankful she was for being able to walk into the I.G.A. after the frantic holiday weekend “and load up for next weekend.”
“I do tend to talk,” she told the crowd, and she does, whether it’s between songs or between phrases. Generating laughs and smiles with her stories, she takes the stage with a go-with-the-flow attitude, as when she decided she wanted piano accompaniment and sang out for Joe Delia, scheduled to perform next, to come from the green room and play. The show’s end-time was decided by asking the audience, “Are there 70 20-year-olds lined up outside?” Then “Bring in the Bonackers!” she shouted. “We need the liquor sales!”
“I feel sorry for the rest of America that doesn’t have a Talkhouse,” Ms. Eaton said. “We can just stop by and see our favorite band, even on a Thursday night.”
Last week, Ms. Eaton sang selections from her eighth and newest album, “Go West.” In September she will do just that, in her mobile studio, “Delmer,” for a tour. “I absolutely love a road trip,” she said on Monday morning, “wandering around gas stations, eating crap you never eat. It feels so free — no past, no future.”
To raise money for the cross-country tour, the artist has launched a campaign on Kickstarter.com, a funding platform for creative projects, with a goal of $25,000 to pay for gas, graphics, and marketing. The adventure will become a documentary film, including not only shows and interviews but “handshakes, hugs, and barbecues.”
With 17 days left on the Kickstarter site as of Monday, Ms. Eaton had 26 backers who had contributed $4,140. A $10 minimum pledge gets the donor a digital download; thank-yous go up and up from there to include an autographed vinyl record and Indawear T-shirt, a beach bonfire dinner for four prepared by Inda, private house parties, a song written and recorded for the donor, and advertising space on the 32-foot tourmobile.
Ms. Eaton has been performing her mellow acoustic, country western, and rock music around the country for years, opening for acts such as the Blues Travelers, Hootie and the Blowfish, LeAnn Rimes, and Molly Hatchet. Yes, she said, “It is exciting working for bigger artists,” but what she’s doing now on the grassroots level “feels so good.”
“We played the Whaling Museum the other day, oh my god it was delicious,” she said. A room of talented musicians, and about “30 people . . . hanging on every note of every song.
. . . To play and be part of that, it doesn’t get any better.”
Her plan is to hit key cities, playing in clubs, and living rooms too, for those who have pledged for it, with a focus on the cities where those on the record have ties, including Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. The album was recorded over three days by Cynthia Daniels at Monk Music Studio in East Hampton, with Eve Nelson on piano, B Rehm-Geredes on guitar, Jeffrey Smith on drums and percussion, and Curt Mychael on bass. Local artists also graced the recording, with thumbprints from Nancy Atlas, Caroline Doctorow, Lee Lawler, and Randolph Hudson III. The whole project has been “one big miracle,” Ms. Eaton said, made on a shoestring, promoted and produced on a grassroots level.
The tour will probably extend through October, with a return to East Hampton in time for an October show at Guild Hall with Nancy Atlas and Caroline Doctorow. The three women are friends, and get together regularly. “All of us absolutely love music and love to cook,” said Ms. Eaton. She predicted that the show will be “intimate, acoustic, and raw.”
Ms. Eaton began her career as a classical pianist in Casper, Wyo., but by the time she entered Boston University the portable six-string was her instrument of choice. “Coffeehouses and college stairwells proved difficult with a piano,” she said on her Web site.
Over the years, she has endured several medical tribulations, including a hip replacement following a car accident and cerebral malaria, which she contracted in Africa.
“Without the soundtrack,” she said, “I couldn’t function. That is the way to get through the trying times. It’s the nicest benefit of things going to hell.” Ms. Eaton was working in New York City before coming to the East End. A voice-over project here for CMEE, the children’s museum, introduced her to the area. She still does some voice-over and production work, she said, including co-writing and producing a Julie Andrews song for one of her books, “The Great American Mousical.”
Ms. Nelson captures “the best of what I do,” she said, calling the pianist “a brilliant musician, a savant really. She has been able to combine her pop sensibility with my raw live energy.” She also paid tribute to Ms. Daniels, calling her “the cool hand at the controls to not screw up the vibe, to encourage it, and to get the sound quality right.”
Always down for combining her talents with others, Ms. Eaton will play tomorrow at the Wolffer Estate wine stand with Lee Lawler (Mama Lee), Scott Hopson, and Jeff Marshall. On Saturday, she will play for the wounded warriors and the Soldier Ride participants at a picnic at Ocean View Farm in Amagansett, and on Aug. 29 she will be back at the Talkhouse, just before she hits the road.
“With the amount of effort and love and joy put into this project, it’s a great reason to go out and celebrate it,” she said. “Life is short. When a creative project comes along that allows you to have fun, break bread, talk about the truth, whatever that is to you — I can’t ask for anything more.”