Q: What has been the main benefit of live streaming from your home?
A: As the lockdown continued and I did my shows from my garage, I ended up performing every song I ever recorded. It was digging into songs that I hadn’t played in years. There were newer songs that I did that I just dropped and I don’t really know why. It put me back in touch with a lot of my music, so now I’m digging deeper into my catalog. I had my band learn 150 songs, so every night is a very different show.
Q: In addition to the original material, you also performed covers on some live streams. What did you like the most?
A: Playing covers was one of my favorite things. I used to do that. For many years in the early part of my career I played in cover bands and played solo. I was playing in bars and it was other people’s material. I was able to play songs that I liked, but I was also learning to write songs. Coming back to that was so much fun. I was like, ‘Oh, okay, I remember why I like Bruce Springsteen.’ I was able to interpret many of his songs. It was a real pleasure and I learned a lot.
Q: You talked about the long gestation period of “One Way Out”, how you wrote the songs in the 1980s, recorded them in 2013 and released the album last year. What did you take away from this experience that applies to songwriting?
A: Probably the big thing I’ve learned is that I don’t have to be so hard on myself. Most creators are really hard on themselves. We criticize a lot and we think most of what we do is stupid, so I dropped some of those songs. When I found them, I was like, ‘Wait a minute, what was I thinking?’ Now that I’m out of that situation and I’m older and feeling better about myself, I can say that these are good tracks. I have to be a little more delicate with myself, recognize when it’s a good job and give it more opportunities. The song may not make it to the end, but I have to at least let myself grow and experience it.
Q: Etheridge Island, your musical getaway to Mexico, runs from August 30 to September 5. You have a big lineup with Elle King, Ani DiFranco, Larkin Poe and others. How involved are you in selecting acts on the bill?
A: It’s all me. When I agreed to do it, I told them that I really wanted to oversee everything. I wanted to make it a place where people can come and listen to really good live music. It’s the music that will move them. Most people who love my music really love meaningful music and artists who write, sing and perform. I give most opportunities to women. People don’t understand how much talent there is and some of them just need to be in front of people. It’s a place to give a lot of women a chance to perform, but everyone is invited. Men, women and everything in between are totally invited to Etheridge Island. I’m ready for that.
Q: In addition to Etheridge Island and the subscription streaming service, you’ve branched out beyond music with your foundation. How’s it going ?
A: I was so happy with what the Etheridge Foundation did. This came from the death of my son from opioid addiction. I had a desire to understand this better and to help others. So many families go through this and it’s hell to have a struggling family member. It’s really hard to see their life go. The foundation raises money for medical research into alternatives like herbal medicines that have been shown to lift people out of addiction to opioids, methadone and heroin. These are drugs that can relieve pain and provide an alternative to opioids.
Q: What’s the next creative step?
A: I’m in my writing phase for another album. I hunt, I gather and I am inspired, but I have other things in mind. There’s something brewing at the end of the year that I hope will turn into some sort of “Melissa on Broadway.” I am also working on a memoir of the last 25 years of my life. My first book was The First 25 Years and so many things happened. I have grown so much. I’m a different person so I want to write something that might inspire people. There’s a lot of creativity going on but I don’t push a thing too hard. I let it be like that.
Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or by email at [email protected].
HOW TO GET THERE
Who: Melissa Etheridge with Cecilia Castleman
Where: Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering
When: 8 p.m. Saturday July 30
Cost: Tix pack $20, lawn and patio $30, orchestra $40, plaza $45 in advance, Tix pack $25, lawn and patio $35, orchestra $45, seat $50 the day of the show
More information: 937-296-3300 or www.fraze.com
Artist Information: www.melissaetheridge.com