- Courtesy Photo
News of the move of Ken Sanders Rare Books has circled around town for the past year, with the celebrated bookseller now doing business at both his original location (268 S. 200 East), as well as at The Leonardo, where a smaller, satellite location’s begun business. Eventually, all of Sanders’ thousands of books will wind up at The Leonardo, where the store’s namesake has started ramping up live programming of various sorts. An art gallery has been discussed, and spoken-word events have already been booked at The Leonardo Auditorium (209 E. 500 South), including a recent lecture from activist and writer Doug Peacock.
The next event on the eclectic KSRB schedule brings a unique combination of Utah talents to the stage, as author and traveler Craig Childs will read from Tracing Time: Seasons of Rock Art on the Colorado Plateau. Joining him will be SLC’s Kate MacLeod, whose newest work, a double CD called Uranium Maiden, was released nationally in February after a regional release last October. The nature-based themes of her 17-songs are a perfect complement to Childs’ work, making this a double-bill with a lot of shared sensibilities.
The album is described thusly on MacLeod’s website: “The state of Utah became my home in 1979, and since then it has been inspiring my music compositions. From landscape-themed instrumentals, to a journal entry of a pioneer woman, to the complicated issues of uranium mining, this project represents decades of note taking and musical musings. The earliest song included here dates back to the mid-1980s, with the latest written in 2021.”
For her gig with Childs, MacLeod (who sings and plays guitar and violin) is keeping her options open. She’s prone to play a song, or two, that are as yet unreleased and completely new to an audience, along with tracks that play to the spirit of the evening—a decision that’s made once she’s arrived at the venue. A few from Uranium Maiden could be perfect fits for this bill. Then again, a few from her extensive catalog might be on the original list when arriving at the venue, only to be replaced onsite after consulting with Childs.
“I have music that’s environmentally-based,” she says. “Some songs are specifically about the desert area that Craig writes about. So I’ll be performing music within the same atmosphere of his talk.”
MacLeod even hopes that with a bit of time remaining before the event, she’ll have time to write a song specifically about the book. While that might seem like a quick turnaround, she can write with speed when inspiration hits. It’s also possible that some type of onstage collaboration might wind up presenting itself that evening, as “I’ve actually done improvisation with writers, so that’s something that has to be decided between Craig and I that night. It would not surprise me if some improvisation happened.”
While the Uranium Maiden project is only a couple months into its promotional life after a six-year period of creation, MacLeod’s already started work on a new project, though she expects its development to last long enough that another entire album could sneak into existence before it’s completed. That work will focus on songs by Jean Ritchie, the Kentucky-born dulcimer player who passed away in 2015 at the age of 92. Recording has begun on that project in West Virginia, with no end date set.
MacLeod plans to create not just an album, but a website to accompany it. She says of that project that “I’ve been thinking about it for decades. … I’ve developed a lot of musical ties with a lot of old-time American musicians there. It’s going to be another long project that’ll take place alongside others.”
A whole album’s worth of material from her river travels, for example, could eventually be put onto tape, with only two of many songs from these trips committed to Uranium Maiden. More are written, yet unrecorded. “I could do an entire collection of river songs,” she says. “That’s been a fun, annual trip. When I started going on these, I started writing songs all the time. Now, I can write a song every day.”
As for Uranium Maiden, MacLeod says that “I’m really pleased with (the reception). It was an expensive project. I had about 26 musicians on it, and it took me a long time to compile. I was afraid it would be dismissed as a regional thing, but my radio promoter is getting a lot of great remarks about it.”
MacLeod and Craig Childs will appear at The Leonardo Auditorium (which she calls “a very nice auditorium with an intimate feel”) on Saturday, April 16. A 7 p.m. showtime is preceded by a 6 p.m. meet-and-greet reception with the two performers. Info on the book and ticket availability can be found at kensandersrarebooks.com, while a whole page on Uranium Maiden is at katemacleod.com.
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