Antje Duvekot's new record, more than her previous work, is all hers. Cooking in her oven for nearly a year, it is the Boston-based singer-songwriter's first stab at self-producing. But, more than that, the songs from the soon-to-be-released CD can be heard as a metaphor for the struggles and triumphs she has experienced over the course of 15 or so years carving out a living as a modern folk troubadour.
Duvekot, who will be appearing at Popolo in Bellows Falls next Saturday, has had her share of triumphs along the way, winning the both the prestigious Kerrville's 2006 Best New Folk Award and Boston Music Award's Outstanding Folk Act, as well as grabbing the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. She has appeared at The Newport Folk Fest and Mountain Stage, and even had her song "Merry Go Round" featured in a high-profile commercial during last year's Super Bowl.
Duvekot has also endured many obstacles along the way, beyond the typical trials and tribulations everyone faces in the highly competitive and often lonely folk music biz. A fractured family life and a recent bout with Lyme Disease were chronicled at length in a recent Huffington Post article that can be found on Duvekot's website.
In a phone interview as she was making her way to a gig in Ohio this past week, Duvekot touched on her career path and the resulting the thematic vision for her new album. "The original title was "Twenty Dollar Leap Year" but that was more of a working title during the fundraising for the record through Kickstarter. I changed the title to "Toward the Thunder" which is taken from a line from the Dar Williams song. "The Light and the Sea" In the song she is on the ocean in a small boat being tossed around. The song is essentially about the way there is always a light even in the dark turbulent waves. She turns the wheel of the boat toward the thunder. I like that sort of defiant spirit, the idea of going toward the mist, toward the thing that scares you. That line signifies the theme of the entire record, which is about perseverance and taking risks, being brave. A lot of the songs are about that, living with a certain amount of passion and the highs and lows that entails."
I wondered how "Toward the Thunder" might reflect on the vulnerabilities of being a highly personal writer and performer. "It was always my dream to do what I am doing, and it has been so hard and so rewarding at the same time. But I could not have it any other way. So I guess the title of the record and a lot of the songs are very much about that, about pursuing your passion and your destiny and being brave enough to do that, in spite of the dangers and scary aspects."
Having recently turned 40, Duvekot felt ready to take full control of nearly every aspect of hew new project. "I am even doing the cover myself. I drew this little person in a boat cast about the waves of the ocean. This record is going to be my personal favorite because I did every part of it myself, pretty much. So I feel closer to this record than any previous one because I have had complete control." Duvekot laughed for a moment. "Maybe my inner control freak wanted the challenge to do it mostly all myself. And it has been totally overwhelming because I don't exactly know what I am doing But I am also extra proud of it.
Duvekot is particularly excited to return to her old stomping grounds in southern Vermont to share the stage with some old friends. "I love this area. I lived in Brattleboro for a year or so and Barry Stockwell is a good friend. I have been working with him for over a decade. My music is definitely introspective I want to take people on an internal journey".
Antje Duvekot and the Stockwell Brothers will be at the Windham Ballroom on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 8 to 10:30 p.m. The Windham Ballroom is located at Popolo Restaurant, 40 The Square, Bellows Falls. For more information call 802-460-7676 or visit popolomeanspeople.com