Colorado migr Beth Wood hails from Lubbock, the West Texas city known for cotton, conservatives and celebrated musicians like Buddy Holly, Terry Allen and Natalie Maines. It's a place where folks are proud of their impact on musical history, but also realize that most artists tend to leave town the first chance they get.
"I graduated from Lubbock High, and I took off as soon as I was done," recalls Wood, who says her hometown is "a wonderful place to grow up, but it is kind of out there in the middle of nowhere. It's just one of those weird places where a lot of people come from."
Wood left for North Carolina, where she studied voice and piano at Brevard College. She relocated to Austin in 1996, picking up the guitar and becoming part of the city's thriving music scene.
Thousands of shows and seven indie albums later, Wood who describes her original repertoire as "soulful, organic, free-range, barefoot music" has built a national reputation as a talented singer-songwriter. Her most recent offering, Beachcomber's Daughter, covers a wide emotional range, whether contemplating the state of the world (in the poetically disillusioned "Our New Century") or the state of the male species. ("All those empty beer cans in my sink / How many freakin' light beers can one man drink?" she marvels before issuing the ultimatum, "Clean up your shit, man, before I change my mind.")
"Yes, that song ['Clean Up (Before I Change My Mind)'] is about my husband," says Wood, who moved with her spouse and dog to Lyons last June. "And I married him anyway!"
So he cleaned up his act?
"No, but I have to say, he's a very good sport, and he doesn't embarrass easily," says Wood. "And being in a solid relationship has affected my songwriting: I'm starting to write about being happy. So that's good."
As for the decidedly less whimsical "Our New Century," Wood says recent political changes have done much to improve her outlook: "I was feeling a little bit hopeless when I wrote that song. And now when I sing it, it feels different to me. I'm definitely more hopeful."
In addition to touring and playing gigs around her new home state, Wood is looking forward to heading out a month from now on Cayamo, a seven-day "songwriters cruise" whose best-known travelers will include Lyle Lovett, Tift Merritt, Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin and fellow Lubbock native Joe Ely.
"It's basically a floating music festival," says Wood, who held her record release party on last year's cruise. "They have four or five different stages, and there's music going all day and all night. And the people that go are really super music fans, so you already have, like, 3,000 instant friends."
And yes, she says, there's still plenty of room for shuffleboard, as well as gambling, swimming pools and a giant water slide. Plus, this time around, Wood may have a chance to make up for last year's missed opportunity.
"Lyle Lovett is one of my biggest musical heroes," says Wood. "But I kind of chickened out when it came to talking to him."