The story goes a little like this; in 2004 Todd Ashley, the singer and songwriter behind the entire Firewater project, was devastated by the concurrent misfortunes of losing his wife to divorce and the re-election of George Bush. He opted to lick his wounds by doing a great deal of globe trekking. Over the course of his adventures at some point he was drugged and robbed and stuck somewhere in Pakistan. His blog/journal, Postcards from the Other Side of the World, chronicles much of the time after he got out of that particular jam and is an absolutely fascinating read.
What to do when you're destitute musician in a foreign land with no desire to head back home? Well, start writing songs, of course. Ashley supported himself by teaching English and doing odd jobs. All the while he kept working on the material that would ultimately become the current Firewater album. Recruiting musicians from various countries and musical backgrounds to play his songs results in an album that, while having that completely distinctive Firewater sound, also has a richly flavored global vibe to it. There’s plenty of klezmer and banghra alongside eastern European and middle eastern folk. Though, most of the exoticism exists more to set the atmosphere than drive the songs… maybe as a way of illustrating Ashley’s journeys. Sort of mirroring his state of mind in that despite fleeing to all these exotic locales, and despite his soaking-up of all these musical influences, he remains unable to lose himself in any of them fully. That’s a sentiment that’s never too far from the surface in the lyrics. Tales of loss and woe abound. And even when he sings about being lost and robbed in very foreign lands, the things he lost and left back at home continue to haunt him with far more urgency than any fiasco abroad.
So, the show… wow. Firewater absolutely blew the roof off of the Empty Bottle. They had the normally too-cool-for-school, folded-arms
And so we kept on dancing.