Grateful Web Interview with Arthur Lee Land

Article Contributed by June Reedy | Published on Sunday, December 1, 2019

It's a wonderful life after all… If you want a piece of feel-good to put under the tree this year, look no further than the at your service songwriting duo extraordinaire, Arthur Lee Land and Carol Lee. Commissioned by Laura Levy, Two Rivers is a beautiful piece of musical literature that celebrates the mountain town of Lyons, Colorado.  The story of the singing river together with the feminine nature of the valley community contributes part of the proceeds to LEAF, Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund.

From valleys to mountaintops, there is hardly a more well-rounded and well-liked musician than Arthur Lee Land. Grateful Web had a chance to catch up with Arthur from Alaska while touring with Great American Taxi.  While the phone lines may have dropped our calls, his musical vision did not. Arthur has plenty to say and a lot of love to share. This is what he had to say about the new single, Two Rivers.

GW: It’s like you’re at the top of a mountain like you’re on Everest and I’m speaking directly to you live from Everest, haha

AL: I can see Russia from here! Great American Taxi is on tour here for a string of shows, then I do a couple of days mentoring kids, then I come back on Wednesday and leave for Daniel Rodriquez tour Thursday morning at 9:00 am which will take us to Sante Fe Thursday, Flagstaff Saturday, Phoenix, Sunday, Joshua Tree Tuesday, then up the coast of California, Oregon, Washington then back. 

GW: Back to Lyons, Colorado! You are releasing a song on December 6th about your hometown, yes?

Two Rivers | Lyons, CO

AL: Yes! We were able to spend about 3 hours in the museum soaking up all this information about the town with a private tour which was really great.  Then we recorded in a great studio in Lyons with Brian McRae who is also playing on the track. He has engineered some other local cats and has a great studio. We got a choir for what started it out as a duet. I’m pretty pleased with the track. The song has a lot of colors, a lot of nuances before and after the flood scenario in a very poignant but subtle way.

GW: You’re talking about the flood of 2014?

AL: 2013 actually. It was the end of 13 the 13,000-year flood.  We moved to Boulder in 2000 for 5 years then moved to Lyons. We really wanted to be here but for financial reasons kept going back and forth. Then the flood-hit in 2013.  We ended up in an RV for 18 months trying to rebuild what we had lost while parked in the front lawn of a friend's place. It’s just such a family, family scene here. We started doing Rave to the Grave as a benefit concert every year around Halloween that has exponentially grown and contributes more every year for LEAF, Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund

GW: Tell me more about the proceeds and what LEAF does!

Arthur Lee Land | Lyons, CO

AL: They have grown since after the flood when they came together to run a food pantry, offer assistance with mental health, anything that will heal the community.  The first year we made like $300, but the next we turned that into $3,000 then $13,000 and each year it has evolved. Now we have sponsorship programs and more and more special guests. This year we went into the lab and created an almost EDM influence combined with costumes for the bands with all sorts of local singers, musicians, and artists collaborating to make each year’s events bigger and bolder.  

GW: Where do you find all the time in the day to be keeping this busy?

AL: It’s a labor of love. We pay hard costs for the bands and production but the time and effort to create the themes... it first comes in bones and then fleshed out by us all. It’s always super fun and I like that. It’s a huge mash-up of 80’s and classic tunes and good ol' Grateful Dead.

GW: It certainly sounds like a party!

AL: Ya know, Two Rivers is such a special project because we’ve had this relationship with Lyons for so many years.  Finally getting a chance to live here it’s this other different relationship and then you have this very sacred land where the natives have been coming to and gathering at and celebrating.  The fact that people have come here and celebrated art and music goes right along with the energy of the land. It’s something really special. It’s like the land calls for it.

GW: To write a song about an entire town, that is a huge undertaking, where did you even begin?

AL: We did a behind the scenes interview that really captures it but I really started with Carol’s chorus.  We went to the museum and thought about bringing life to the valley. It’s a feminine nature of the life-giving powerful nature of the land.  The rivers had to be the central theme.

GW: So who thought of donating the proceeds to LEAF?

AL: I mean, it was the obvious thing. We had talked from the beginning of it to do something like that if we sell something we should definitely put a portion back into the town.  For me, that’s always been the lead. I’ve been involved in so much with this town for so long now, so in that sense, it’s just what we do.