We had the good fortune of connecting with Eli Blackshear and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eli, how do you think about risk?
Risk is probably the biggest factor in how the Barefoot Family Caravan came together in the first place. When Micah, Skip and myself started this project we were all looking for people that would be willing to take the serious risks. As the old idiom goes “No risk no reward.” and that statement has some real merit, but the truth is it’s a risk because it can go bad! It can end up ugly! Over the years, we’ve had to prepare ourselves for what can happen if something falls apart. It’s had to be calculated. I think the biggest thing in making the push for success is not being afraid to fail, and that’s the place where you can find the real gold nuggets. Planning for what happens next, and how to overcome and keep going is exactly what has gotten us anywhere at all.
One of the biggest risks we ever took was almost three years ago when we went off on our last multi-state tour. I mean, we left our homes, bought a bus, booked a tour going from Oregon to the Florida, and we just left! We had no idea how it was going to go, and there were hard days but even in those tough spots, we had to just adapt to the situation and plan for what we had to do next! That kind of situation teaches you a lot of things, ya know? The first time something breaks, you’re always ready for when it breaks again, so you kind of just get used to looking a few steps ahead and saying “What’s the move if this blows up?” and that keeps you from that fear of failure. Risk is just what we do now, ’cause it’s really the only way to grow and explore as an artist, and we really want to see how far we can go.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Music is one of the most powerful forces known to man. It can encapsulate entire eras, it can take you back to a moment in time, and it can change the world. When we think about our music that’s a huge part of it. We wanna do something not so ordinary with our time here, and that desire has breeded our sound. We really like to take elements from all over the many realms of music, and we try to create songs that tell you this story of some moment in time. A lot of our work has come from these real places, or people, or experiences and when it comes to the lyrics, we want it to be as relatable and relevant as it can get.
One of the really cool things about being a part of this band is that our sound is always changing and getting more refined. We’re constantly growing and adding new things to the sound and to the music and it makes for a really exciting body of work. Like, it’s really amazing to see what differences are in this next album we’ve been working on, compared to the last album or last single that we put out. These new elements of jazz, and folk, and funk just kind of started poppin’ up and the songs started taking on this new sound that I really feel like is wholly ours. It keeps things fresh, and I’ve always enjoyed the places Skip, Micah, and myself have been willing to push the music.
It has been a task getting here both creatively and professionally however, and I think it shows in the songs. These were things that really happened to us, and sometimes it’s a hard process to find a way to convey those kinds of ideas into the format of a song. It can be hard to sing about some of this stuff, ya know? Beyond that I think that when you get real serious about doing this thing we’re out here doing, it can come with quite a bit of sacrifice and hardship. Getting to where you make a living playing music is tough. I really think that it’s that type of thing where music has chosen you, and you have this chance to choose it back.
The important stuff to remember is to stay true to your art, and your people, and be confident in the decisions you’re making. Remember to enjoy yourself and to take the time with everyone who enjoys the music with you, ’cause that’s where you get this undeniable magic and it’s what makes the experience so great. Music actually brings us all together. We just want to have a good time doing this and get out as much music as we can, and see how far this can go! The best thing is to do something good with you’re music and that’s exactly what we aim to do!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living in Colorado puts you right smack in the middle of one of the most robust musical communities in the country! It’s insane the amount of talent and diversity we see here and Manitou Springs is one of the best examples of that! As I mentioned earlier in the interview, our hometown venues are an integral part of are community, and if you miss one of our shows you’ll likely see us on any given Monday or Wednesday at one of the Open Jams/Open Mics held around town weekly. Truth is though, we get around quite a bit and our extended network is just as fantastic as our hometown network.
Near and far we’ve been so lucky to play at some of the coolest places in the state. In Colorado Springs we have regular watering-holes such as the Axe and the Oak Whisky house, The Garden, and Front Range BBQ. Then there are the gorgeous, scenic venues we play all over the mountain ranges of Colorado. Crystola Roadhouse and the Blue Moose Tavern are among some of the best of these, but my absolute favorite of ’em all is the Bucksnort Saloon in Pine, CO. The Bucksnort is the oldest bar in Colorado, and the view outside of the Platte River is breath-taking.
You really get the best of all of it out here in the Mile-High state though. From the Ogden or Fox Theaters in the cities of Denver and Boulder, to the Blo Back Gallery in Pueblo, there’s no lack of magical places to see an array of truly some of the best music in the world. The impact that the environment has had on our songs and our career itself is part of what makes us who we are.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Being in a band like this has definitely taken a village, and that village puts the “Family” in the B.F.C. We have such an incredible amount of love around us, it really is so heart-warming. All of our parents have been so supportive of us following our dreams, and have been there for us the whole way. Our manager Matt works very hard to ensure that we get to focus on the music, the business, the albums, and the shows. Without him, I swear I’d be pulling my hair out with everything we have to do! And you know, it’s just the community around us in Manitou Springs that really makes a lot of opportunities possible for us. Our friends have been there for us through hell and high-water, helping move equipment, or making the long drive hours away just to catch some of our shows and it’s really amazing to be doing something like this and have all your people with you.
Beyond just the folks around us, we have a great network of venues, marketing folks, and promoters that over the years have been an absolute pleasure to work with. Our hometown venues like the Armadillo Ranch, Kinfolks, and Buffalo Lodge are some of our favorite places to play in the state and their continued love of our music will never go unappreciated. The people who put together the Top-Plaza Concert Series this summer up at Red Rocks Amphitheater helped us reach one of our major goals of playing at Red Rocks this year in a really cool atmosphere. I mean, just knowing how close we were to the stage where our idols have played, was truly inspiring. Then there’s everyone who helped us get here to begin with; Our old manager Travis will always hold a special place in this family, and he got us so far. Our old guitarist Gabe will forever be my best friend and a large part of our lives. To everyone who ever traveled with us, or dealt the the bull- when we were just trying to reach our goals, we love you guys. Seriously, it wouldn’t be half of the adventure it’s been without you all.
Website: Hey, check out my website, “thebarefootfamily” with this link: https://mmountainmusic.wixsite.com/thebarefootfamily
Ami Blackshear Drew Miller