One of the defining moments during the writing of this album was the day that we got the call in April 2021 that our friend Duane Mark (Mark Davenport) passed away. To lose this larger than life personality, this source of love and creativity, and this pillar to our music community was a shock to the system, to say the least. We were all gutted.
We met Mark years ago during the Choice City Stomp at the Swing Station in La Porte, CO, and we hit it off instantly. We talked with him at length that day about running sound and cooking–he was one of those people who you’re instantly at ease with. We were such newbies then and got all tongue-tied when he called us out from stage after we’d played. We thanked him for that when we got to talking to him later, and he gave us our favorite advice that we still laugh about to this day: At a show with other bands on the bill, you ALWAYS acknowledge the bands before and after you, and when your set is over, you get your shit off the stage immediately. Even now, when someone leaves a mess of gear on stage too long, one of us always says, “Duane Mark would have something to say about that.”
We had the good fortune of playing several more shows with him after that day, and hosting him at our place a couple of times. We still look back and laugh about the late-but-too-early mornings spent stumbling over each other in our tiny kitchen trying to find coffee and breakfast.
After he passed, and we were all trying to process the loss, something he used to say became kind of a coping mantra for a lot of people. Mark didn’t do anything halfway, and he was known for nothing if not dependability. “Live on purpose” was a phrase he embodied. His dedication to his family, friends, work, and art was unmatched. And we have tried so hard to carry that forward. It’s so easy to look up and wonder where the last 10 years have gone. But we do our best to decide what life is going to look like, to make things happen, rather than sitting around wondering what’s next.
Rebecca wrote the lyrics to “Live on Purpose” within a couple of weeks of Mark’s passing. The Holmes ladies (whom many of you know) were coming to stay with us and Rebecca kept writing on this song while getting the house ready for them. This wasn’t one of those, “Oh I’ll remember this and write it down later” pieces. It felt too important to deprioritize. Months later, we debuted it at Mark’s memorial in Kansas City, and it felt like the most heartfelt tribute imaginable. The entire event was a beautiful moment that we all wish never had to happen.
We’ve since played this song in many places and watched it fully form, but it wasn’t until we toured with Sam, Kim, and Helf (Brightwire) in June 2022 that the song found its final shape. All five of us played it onstage at Pondstock in a moment that we will never forget. And one week after that, we played it together again, at the Swing Station, for the Choice City Stomp–the very place we met Mark so many years ago. Needless to say, this moment remains one of the high points of our lives.
We decided to pay homage to this song and to its importance, and we’re happy to be joined by Kim Barker (of Brightwire) as she sings the high harmony on the album. The Barkers are important people in our lives, and it felt immediately appropriate that Kim should be on the record. (As an aside, Kim ended up getting a lovely tattoo that includes a small part of this song. It’s just funny sometimes to see how pieces end up connecting.)
So live on purpose, friends. Take the long way home; go the extra mile for a friend; give everything back you’ve ever received and then give some more.
Run away and join a circus. Find forgiveness in the fray. Hold on tight and live on purpose. Shine some light along the way.