Tell us about the songs you choose to perform with Iron & Wine at
Yosemite—was there a particular relevance to them?
Yes, I chose "Manifest" as the song imagines explores reaching the Grand Canyon or
Olmstead Point and thinking not "what a wonder of the natural world," but "how do
we exploit this or at least get to the other side." Manifest destiny was such a part of
our national mindset to make the wilderness submit to our will that it's still
something we're grappling with. Thankfully, there was the forethought to protect
some of it years ago.
You've already made two albums recorded fully in nature—what is it
that keeps pulling you back? How would you explain the difference
between recording in nature and in a studio?
I like environments that I have to adapt to and converse with. The studio is of course
a controlled enviroment. Sound waves bouncing off reflective surfaces tell you
where you are in the world.
Let them talk about acoustics — Why did you choose Tenaya Lake? How
did the surrounding landscape influence your performance?
Sound waves bouncing off reflecting surfaces tell you where you are in the world.
You can hear a distinct conversation on the other side of a lake, where as a forest
and bed of pine needles is almost anechoic. The performance of "Manifest" moves
from a meadow through a Pine forest, then out into the lake. The intro to "Manifest"
was improvised on the fly because of how Sam tunes his guitar and the bucolic
surrounds of that meadow.
If there's one thing people take away from watching your performance
here, what do you hope that is?
"Fixed Positions" addresses how we need to change enviroments sometimes to
keep our world view from cementing. As we've learned over the past few years, that
stasis plus online information can take us individually and collectively to a dark
Your work is at once similar and totally different—what do you like about
working together and what's unique about your collaboration?
I really admire Sam and appreciate where he's coming from. There's a quiet elegance
to his songs. How he can sing so quietly and emotive is beyond me. I'm often trying
to tamp down the implusive toward virtuosity to do something as simple and
understated as what he does. I like playing with musicians that have had a different
trajectory than me. Where we meet on that path leads to some unexpected
moments. "Upward Over the Mountain" has been one of my favorites for the past 20