Eric Krans and Jen O’Connor (collectively The Parlor) live on a farm in upstate New York where they make music and cold processed soaps, among other things.
They mentioned this while setting up for their show at Junior High and it produced the kind of oohing and aahhing to which they are by now surely accustomed. “So basically you live on a beautiful farm and make music together” said a member of one of the opening acts.
The couple seemed amused by the room’s wide eyed enthusiasm. They half-heartedly tried explaining that actually quite a lot of work goes into running a farm, that their life is not a Mumford And Son’s video, but even they knew it would do no good. To a bunch of tired LA hipsters who just braved rush hour traffic to find parking in Thai Town on a Friday night, the pastoral vision was as welcome as a chute pull to a skydiver hurtling towards the ground.
It’s sort of neurotically comforting to believe that someone’s figured out a way to do this whole life thing that doesn’t involve being sad and stressed all the time, even though you’ll almost definitely never be as happy as you think they are.
But the challenges of being a working musician compounded by the stress of living off the land are formidable: there are woodchucks who eat vegetables and have to be chased down and cornered with a shovel – and ensuing moral fallout for a man who hates violence (the subject of The Parlor’s song, “Woodchuck Charlie).
Even the idyllic dream of finding a soulmate and moving to the countryside to make music and love and organic produce has to eventually be copyedited by reality.
Of course, the flip side is that within the sad and stressful stories we’re all busy learning by heart, there is some kind of outward facing sparkle that can’t help but dance in the eyes of a room full of strangers.
Towards the middle of their set, the couple played a beautiful love song called “Wishes in the Sheets” and Eric talked about their difficulties trying to have a baby. “And that’s what this song is about,” he explained quietly. It was soft and vulnerable and after a moment someone asked something like, “is it a happy song?”
He paused. “Well, the thing about trying to have a baby is that you’re sharing a lot of love. And you’re having a lot of sex.”
I laughed and thought about how I want to be more like the people who can hold disappointment and gratitude in the same breath.
The Parlor are currently on tour. Get tickets here to see their intimate (and very danceable) disco-infused folk set (I know, intriguing right?). You can buy their music on Bandcamp here. Look for more from the duo in 2017!