Grammy-winning Indigo Girls performing March 20 at F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre with opening act Danielle Howle
Indigo Girls are no strangers to the road, and after a month-long break in December, the Grammy-winning duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers return to Wilkes-Barre.
The Georgia-based folk sensation will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 20 at the F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square. Since releasing their latest studio album, One Lost Day, in 2015, the ladies have toured almost constantly, engaging crowds across the country with a rotating ensemble of musicians.
Years of experience on the road have left few parts unknown to the pair, Ray said.
“We’ve been touring so long, it’s unusual to go somewhere we haven’t been,” she said. “We played down in Key West at a little theater in January,” Ray said. “And we did a festival with Tedeschi Trucks Band in St. Pete, which was really cool. So those are two things that were off of our beaten path.”
For Ray, it is the audiences, not the locations, that make each experience memorable.
“Every crowd’s different,” Ray said. “So it’s not like the same old, same old every time we go somewhere.”
Ray and Saliers toured with a violin player and producer of One Lost Day, Jordan Brooke Hamlin, who played multiple instruments on stage, and friend Lucy Wainwright Roche.
“Every tour we do is a little bit different,” Ray said. “We take a different set of players. We learn different songs. So we’re always on our toes.”
Part of keeping Indigo Girls on their toes is a movement to engage fans and seek their input.
“We did a poll over social media of our audience and said, ‘What songs do you want to hear that you never got to hear?’ and people voted on it,” Ray said. “So this tour, we’ve been playing some very obscure songs.”
Besides some of the lesser known tunes from the ladies’ catalogue, fans in Wilkes-Barre can expect a different supporting act. Danielle Howle will open the March 20 show.
Learning new arrangements and playing with different musicians is fun and challenging for Ray and Saliers.
“It’s kind of what we thrive on,” Ray said. “In a way, it’s learning new stuff and feeling like we’re evolving in some way.”
Fans respond positively to newer material from One Lost Day, Ray said.
“Even when we play the old stuff — the ones that people have requested — we still get requests for the newer stuff,” Ray said. “So, that feels really good. That’s the ultimate for every musician. They want people to want to hear the new record.”
Songs from One Lost Day, such as “Elizabeth,” “Learned It On Me,” “Fishtails,” “Texas Was Clean” and “The Rise of the Black Messiah,” have found their way on the girls’ setlists.
“‘Spread the Pain Around’ was the biggest surprise, because it got such a warm reception,” Ray said. “It’s generally consistently requested, which is unusual for a new song. And ‘Happy in the Sorrow Key’ is just a rock song, so people like to dance around to it.”
One Lost Day is a sort of travelogue, featuring songs born from lyrics Ray and Saliers jotted down on the road, but the record also deals with the emotionally heavy themes of loss and parenthood as both song writers lost their fathers and had children in the same period of about a year.
“There’s no shortage of emotional energy in the show,” Ray said. “The new record, for me, is still pretty intense, but all in a good way. It’s still fresh feeling, and I don’t feel shy about playing the songs. I want play them. I want to feel it. I want to experience that.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected]
IF YOU GO:
What: Indigo Girls
Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: 7:30 p.m. March 20
Additional Information: Tickets cost $39, $49 and $59 and are available at the Kirby Center Box Office, by calling 570-826-1100 and online at Ticketmaster.com.