After night one of last winter’s Portland's Folk Festival, I walked up to Bart Budwig to congratulate him on his stellar set. It had immediately followed a great showing from The Hackles, the project of husband-and-wife duo Luke Ydstie and Kati Claborn (also of Blind Pilot), and seeing as all three are frequent collaborators, The Hackles just stayed on stage to offer accompaniment for Budwig’s set.
This was nothing new for Budwig, something of gravitational force with a rotating cast of characters orbiting around his own musical efforts as well as the ones he records out of Eastern Oregon’s historic OK Theatre in Enterprise (including recent efforts from TK & The Holy Know-Nothings, MAITA, Erisy Watt, Five Letter Word and Caitlin Jemma). On that cold February night, he was holding a burned CD wrapped in a sheet of printer paper, a receipt from a storage facility on Joseph Highway. With “Working Title: Another Burn on the AstroTurf” jotted on the front in Sharpie, it was intended for someone else but that person had already left the venue so Budwig offered it to me.
A year later, that CD I blasted on the way home is now set for release on January 24 via Fluff & Gravy Records, and once again features Budwig’s musical brood with the record's second single, the poignant and silly "Sock Song," including contributions from Claborn (banjo), Ydstie (upright bass), Forrest VanTuyl (electric guitar), Ben Walden (electric guitar), Seth Kinzie (piano), Cooper Trail (drums), and a chorus of John Craigie, Rainbow Girls and Nevada Sowle.
Always drawing inspiration from the myriad music makers who come in and out of his life, "Sock Song" was inspired by an Austrian friend who “once said dropping a musician off at the airport is like ‘socks in the washer, they never come back.’ That's where this song started,” Budwig tells.
Another Burn on the AstroTurf “was made with over seven musicians on every song in a five-day period,” Budwig says. “This is the first record where I got my Astoria musician friends and Moscow, Idaho, musician friends all together to record a Bart Budwig record live in the OK Theatre. I would say this is the most dynamic and interesting Bart Budwig record to date because of their additions to the songs. During the week-long session, I also had a group of friends around taking care of photography, cooking, video, art and sound engineering. You get to see most of these folks in the 'Sock Song' music video. Luke Zwanziger wrote and directed the 'Sock Song' music video while we were recording the track. The next day we went to the laundromat behind the OK Theatre and got all the filming done. He is an improv comedian in Portland. Catch a show of his sometime.”
And a laundromat is not the only thing that’s behind the OK Theatre, Budwig also lives in a small apartment back there. “There is a small patch of oddly shaped AstroTurf outside my door. The phrase [Another Burn on the AstroTurf] became a joke we'd say when someone dropped a smoke on the AstroTurf.”