By Matt Wickstrom
Michigander turned Nashvillian Lindsay Lou joined Infamous Stringduster bassist Travis Book on Wednesday night for the third installment of The Travis Book Happy Hour, recorded live in front of a reduced and socially distanced audience at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina.
Despite the show being billed as a happy hour, the event proceed more like a sermon in which Book and Lou spread the word of peace, love and positive thinking through their music with bits of insightful dialogue between songs about spirituality, a perspective into the creative mind of an artist amid a pandemic and more.
The uplifting night of music and conversation began with Book performing “Rise Sun” and “Planets,” both cuts from the Stringdusters’ 2019 effort Rise Sun, the first being a song of hope and the later one about projecting into the future, worrying and wondering when things will change as he sang “Will we ever be as one? / Or just planets circling the sun?”
Book performed one more song solo, a cover of Jonah Tolchin’s “Beauty In The Ugliest Of Days,” another song with lyrics portraying a positive, glass half full perspective, riding with the waves, or adversity, in your life rather than letting it trap you under the surface.
For the majority of the night from then on Lyndsay Lou was in command, who started off her time on stage with a newly-penned song, “Silent (Reconstruction),” a song about watching Nashville go from bustling to on the brink of disaster in March due to a tornado destroying large portions of the city followed by COVID-19 arriving and shutting down much of what was left all within a few days time. Lou then welcomed husband and bandmate Joshua Rilko to the stage to add a mandolin flourish to “On Your Side,” a new song appearing on Lou’s recently recorded EP in partnership with OurVinyl.
For the rest of the show Book retook the stage on bass to join Lou and Rilko, with the first song played as the trio being the carefree “The River Jordan” written by fellow Michigander May Erlwine about canoing through Michigan’s upper peninsula and ripe with baptismal references of being reborn.
Book and Lou then swapped their guitar and bass before firing up “The Voice,” a cut from the artist’s 2018 release Southland about allowing yourself to be vulnerable and live in the moment. Lou prefaced the song by saying that she “likes to imagine Donald Trump crying in public and having a real, vulnerable and true moment” when she’s singing it before jumping into the song and letting her dreamy vocals do the talking through the upbeat chorus “Watch out what you let guide you / It’ll grow up from inside you / Everyone gets down sometimes / Ooooh / Trust the voice you know is right.”
Other stand-out performances on the evening included “Won’t Be Long,” a song from the Stringdusters’ 2016 effort Ladies & Gentlemen that saw Lou’s vocals and Rilko’s mandolin fill the void of Sarah Jarosz—who was featured on the studio version of the album—along with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” led by Book’s steady croon and a set-closing rendition of Lou’s “Shining In The Distance” that was preceded by Lou reciting the following poem by Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke of the same name.
Already my gaze is upon the hill, the sunlit one.
The way to it, barely begun, lies ahead.
So we are grasped by what we have not grasped,
full of promise, shining in the distance.
It changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something we barely sense, but are;
a movement beckons, answering our movement . . .
But we just feel the wind against us.
You can re-watch episode three of The Travis Book Happy Hour on Facebook. The Happy Hour returns on Aug. 19 with Tommy Maher of Fireside Collective.
The Travis Book Happy Hour 8/5/2020 in Asheville, NC
Rise Sun 
Beauty In The Ugliest Of Days 
Silent (Reconstruction) 
On Your Side 
The River Jordan 
The Voice 
Go There Alone 
Won’t Be Long 
Tomorrow Is A Long Time 
Everything Changed 
Shining In The Distance 
 Book solo
 Lindsay Lou solo
 Lindsay Lou w/Joshua Rilko
 Book, Lou and Rilko