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Spokane’s Ruthie Henrickson pays tribute to Priest Lake on her debut album ‘Summers I Know’

UPDATED: Fri., April 6, 2018, 8:27 a.m.

After years of performing around town, Ruthie Henrickson will release her debut album, “Summers I Know,” on Friday at the Bartlett. (Jennifer Harvey)
After years of performing around town, Ruthie Henrickson will release her debut album, “Summers I Know,” on Friday at the Bartlett. (Jennifer Harvey)

Ruthie Henrickson’s debut album “Summers I Know” wouldn’t be what it is had it not been for a tractor.

Henrickson’s friend used to deliver tractors and, while making a delivery in Cheney, met Michael Hathaway.

After seeing that Hathaway ran a recording studio, Paradise Rim Recording, the friend struck up a conversation with Hathaway and mentioned Henrickson’s name.

Shortly thereafter, the Moses Lake-born, Spokane-based singer-songwriter was making trips down to Cheney to record.

“It was this weird thing that happens in life when everything works together,” Henrickson said.

The duo started recording in November and wrapped up the album in early March.

Henrickson will release “Summers I Know” at the Bartlett on Friday.

The album is named after, and ends with, a song Henrickson wrote after increases in land taxes caused her family to lose the cabin they’d had at Priest Lake, a place the Henrickson family has visited for more than 100 years.

She wrote the song last year, about three years after her family lost its cabin, at a time when she was in a nostalgic mood.

“When I thought about childhood innocence or growing up, I would always think about Priest Lake,” Henrickson said.

She started by writing down her memories of her time at the lake, things like peering through pine needles, laughing to the point of tears while playing cards and stepping on tree sap, or tree blood, as Henrickson sings.

She also sings about her parents’ remedy of using butter or alcohol, “something soft like velvet or hard as hell,” to get the sap off.

Henrickson produced the “Summers I Know” video, which features picturesque shots of sunlight shining through the trees, flowing streams, the glowing embers of a campfire and a dock leading to the lake, herself.

She chose to insert a few family photos, some taken before she was born, into the video during the song’s musical interlude.

“I really wanted to make something that made people have a filtered window into the meaning of the song,” she said.

Henrickson and her family still spend time at Priest Lake, only now they stay in a rented cabin on the other side of the lake from where their single-room, rustic family cabin used to stand.

“We all feel like ‘Yeah, it’s still our lake. We don’t have our cabin, but it’s still ours,’ ” she said.

Recording “Summers I Know,” the album, was a new experience for Henrickson, who has been writing and singing for as long as she can remember.

In her mind, recording only took musicians a few days, but she quickly learned that it took much longer.

She and Hathaway met up on weekends and, if their schedules allowed, during the weekday to record.

“He was such an incredible coach and supporter to me throughout the process,” Henrickson said of working with Hathaway. “He really took me under his wing with the whole recording process. If I didn’t have him, I don’t know how the album would have turned out and if it would have been what it is right now.”

Henrickson estimates the title track is the most recent song on the album, with the rest being several years old.

She reworked the older material to fix minor inconsistencies, like saying “I” in some songs and “you” in others, and cleaning up lyrics here and there to make the messages clearer.

“Getting all these recorded was in a way like filing them, like putting them to bed,” Henrickson said. “Now I can start writing new ones and I don’t have to worry about those old ones being forgotten.”

With the album finally out, available at her shows and online through Spotify, iTunes and Google Play, Henrickson is happy to have something to offer fans who ask about music after shows.

She’s hoping to book a small tour in late summer around the area, and potentially down to Oregon and California, bringing “Summers I Know” with her to help make friends and build connections.

And with those old songs filed away, new music is definitely on the horizon.

“(Recording) was almost like what I’ve heard from people having a baby, you’re like ‘Never again’ ” she said. “But I’ll definitely do it again. I’ll start working on it probably sooner than later.”


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