2016: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Erica Sutherland)
by Steven Spoerl
Heartbreaking Bravery recently went offline but all facets of the site are back to being fully operational. Apologies for any inconveniences. All posts that were slated to run during that brief hiatus will appear with this note.
Littlefoot has earned consistent mentions on this site ever since their set at DBTS acted as an overdue introduction. Over that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Erica Sutherland a little better, whose constantly involved in any number of fascinating projects. Sutherland graciously agreed to be a part of this edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories and offered up a beautiful photojournal chronicling a fateful 2016 trip that had a finale that was a little terrifying before it became necessarily heartening. Take in the sights (and accompanying memories) below.
At the beginning of 2016, I flew to California to escape the harsh Boston winter and go on my first solo tour. After a stressful fall and an even more stressful week, I was ready to get away for a while. It was my first time seeing most of the west coast, and I was about to be traveling with two of the most easygoing people I’ve ever met. Scott, my photographer friend from Providence, works long hours at a pizza shop so he can save up money to travel.
I’m always impressed by Scott, because along with being a dreamer, he gets things done. He doesn’t just talk about things like going on a trip to Spain with a bunch of his friends to take photos, he actually does it. Miles, whose project, California Redemption Value, I was touring with, never seems bothered or stressed out by anything. He just kind of floats. He has a mysterious accent that has a little bit of a southern twang to it, even though he grew up in California.
When I started writing this, it became a detailed account of everything we saw, everyone we met, and all the bands we played with. For the sake of anyone with a short attention span (myself included), I’m just going to write my favorite moments as a list.
Everything along route 1 // listening to Mississippi Mixtapes // stopping in Eureka, CA and finding an abandoned train car // running around on a foggy beach at sunset, somewhere in Northern California // driving through all of the wide open spaces, the kind you don’t see back east // reading Stevie Nicks’ biography // many many trips to In-N-Out Burger
Staying with Kaede, Jason & Lucy (three of my favorite humans) & their dog Monkey (one of my favorite non-humans) by the beach in Corona del Mar // meeting up with our pals Ian Sweet to play a show at a bowling alley // watching Nicey Music’s pop princess Banny Grove cut a rug on stage while wearing an amazing wig // window shopping on Rodeo Drive pretending I’m Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman // playing a show at Gnarburger with Shannon from Feels // being in the audience on the Conan O’Brien show
Mississippi Records // playing with Haste and Brumes (she plays an electric harp!!!) // getting a big hug from my long lost pal Chip King // hanging out with Ty Segall & the Muggers (Miles’ friend Garth who we were staying with was opening for them) // Powell’s Bookstore
Skrill Meadow’s karaoke-style set // lots and lots of coffee // meeting Phoebe from Tiny Thunder Jewelry // our new friend Opio (same birthday as me!! same year!!) // meeting all of Miles’ old friends
Playing with CAMP and Night Cadet // staying with Jenn Champion and her cute dogs // picking the nose of the Fremont Troll // octopuses on ice at Pike’s Market // riding the ferris wheel with Scott // taking a day off to explore Snoqualmie, the filming location of Twin Peaks >> the waterfall at the Great Northern, coffee and cherry pie at the diner, Ronette’s bridge
My memory of what happened after our last show in San Diego is a little fuzzy. I woke up back in LA with a fierce hangover and a Facebook message from a stranger that said “Did you lose something?” It was only then that I realized at some point during the night I’d lost my backpack, which contained my wallet, passport, medicines etc… basically my entire life. The woman who’d messaged me said her mother had found the backpack and asked her daughter to find me on Facebook to tell me, since she didn’t speak much English herself.
Miles and I drove back to San Diego, arriving at a tiny house where we were met by two elderly Mexican women and my backpack. I thanked them profusely in English while they spoke to me in Spanish, their hands gesturing in a manner that I assumed meant they were talking about how they found my backpack. The fact that a complete stranger cared enough to go out of their way to help me get my things back gave me that warm-fuzzy-“oh good, I still have faith in humanity” kind of feeling. I texted her daughter afterwards to thank her for getting in touch with me, and she responded, “We’re all put on this Earth to help each other.”
A year later, with the Trump administration rearing its ugly head, her words are more important than ever.
All photographs by Scott LaChapelle.