By night, playing music is a party.
But as a day job – promoting shows, drafting contracts, booking tours – music is kind of a drag for Jim Boyd.
After all, he got into the business because he likes rockin’ out, not because he’s passionate about budgeting, scheduling and negotiating with lawyers.
Music is supposed to be fun, and when it became so serious, Boyd burned out and backed off. However, during his hiatus, the award-winning singer-songwriter took a job that had nothing to do with music, and in the end that’s what led him back to writing and performing songs again.
“It got to the point where I was the manager and booking agent and it turned into 95 percent business and 5 percent music and I just didn’t feel like doing anything for a while,” said Boyd, who won five national Native American Music Awards, including artist of the year in 2006.
“Lately, doing this other work has made music fun again. I love my day job. It took away all of the business end of the music.”
Boyd, a Colville tribal member, works during the day as a facilitator for the Arrow Lakes Aboriginal Society on the Colville Reservation, where he deals with historical research and negotiating with lawyers.
“I do a lot of interviewing, documenting, and I helped create the website, the lawyers are just there to get in the way,” he said.
One of his main issues is helping to attain title rights in British Columbia for his tribe, which at one point was considered extinct by the Canadian government.
His work inspired Boyd to quietly release an album last year called “Voices from the Lakes,” a collection of traditional songs with cedar flute player Brian Phillips.
It’s drastically different from the last album he recorded before his hiatus, the blues-rockin’ “Harley High,” designed as a promotion with Harley-Davidson motorcycles. It was a fully amplified record with guitars, keyboards, backup singers and a host of hired guns, and all of the songs are about motorcycles.
When things turned bad with the economy, the album was shelved indefinitely by Harley-Davidson, Boyd said, until he put it out on his own Thunderwolf Records in January.
In the midst of all of this, the “band’s niece,” Tawnya Phillips (Brian’s daughter), was diagnosed with and succumbed to cancer. She was 13 when she died in December.
“She used to call it ‘stupid cancer’ so we decided we were going to do this ‘stupid cancer’ show,” Boyd said. “We didn’t know there was an actual organization with that name. They found us when they heard about the show. And it’s kind of cool because they do stuff with kids, so they decided to go ahead and let us use the name.”
The show is a benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Since getting the band back together – now a trio with drummer Alfonso Kolb and bassist Eric Arnold – Boyd has been playing various types of music, from “Harley High” – like rock and the traditional style found on “Voices …” to country and “goofy songs that are just nuts.”
“We’re hitting all over the place,” he said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do with it or where it’s going to go. … We’re not sure what we’re going to be when we grow up, but we’re having fun with it.”
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