From Wyoming With Love 

Screen Door Porch’s WYOmericana Caravan hits the road again

click to enlarge You will want to leave the door wide open for this kick-ass country-rock band.

photo by BHP Imaging

You will want to leave the door wide open for this kick-ass country-rock band.

About a month before Screen Door Porch embarked on its 2013 tour with fellow Wyoming acts Jalan Crossland and J Shogren Shanghai'd, the groups were contacted by writer Michael Segell.

"He approached us because he was talking about writing a book about Wyoming music," said SDP lead singer Seadar Rose. "And he heard about the tour and he wanted to talk to all of the artists."

The musicians had lunch with Segell and discussed the tour, which Rose had organized and named the WYOmericana Caravan. A couple of weeks later, they heard that Segell might pitch a story on the Caravan to The New York Times.

"That's never gonna work out," Rose thought. But as she and her tourmates were at a bar nursing hangovers one morning, they got word that the Gray Lady had given Segell the go-ahead.

"That was a pretty classic road moment," Rose said. "Drinking at a dive bar at 10 in the morning and [learning] we're going to be in The New York Times."

Screen Door Porch's smooth, mellow blend of blues, country, folk and rock had already received some good press. While the alt-country band's 2012 release The Fate and the Fruit was voted the No. 2 album of the year by Wyoming Public Radio listeners, The Austin Chronicle's Doug Freeman wrote that Rose's singing "triangulates the soulful grit of Lucinda Williams, the easy twang of Gillian Welch, and the acoustic indie intensity of new songstresses like Sera Cahoone." But with the Times feature—which ran on June 23, 2013 and includes details of the tour's stop at Pengilly's last Spring—SDP received its biggest boost yet.

Boise will get another taste of Wyoming's finest when the WYOmericana Caravan plays Neurolux on Monday, May 26. This time around, the show will feature SDP, J Shogren Shanghai'd and country-rock band The Patti Fiasco.

Originally from North Carolina, Rose moved out to Wyoming while in college. She met her husband, SDP guitarist-vocalist Aaron Davis and observed the state's music scene evolving.

"When I first moved out here, it was a lot of rock cover bands and not really a lot else going on," she said. "I've really seen in the last 10 years this great emergence of [original music]. There's always been a bluegrass scene, but bluegrass bands doing their own stuff and then these more rootsy, folk, singer-songwriter artists—that's definitely blown up all over the state, the singer-songwriter scene."

Eventually, Rose started brainstorming ways of calling attention to Wyoming-based music. This led to the first Caravan, which got positive feedback almost immediately.

"It was really surprising to us how much people in Wyoming were really coming out for it and traveling for it and really promoting it themselves and how cool they thought it was," she said.

Two of those people were Mike Vanata and Brian Harrington, who volunteered to travel with the bands and film the tour for almost no money.

"We're huge supporters of local music. ... An opportunity to tour with three bands and go to four different states [Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Colorado] was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime deal," Vanata said.

Once may have been enough. Vanata described tour life with a laugh as "unpredictable. I'd never toured with a band before, never gone on a road trip this extensive in my life. It was definitely an eye-opener."

Segell's Times article describes some eye-opening experiences. He writes of the band "braving spring hailstorms, snow-clogged mountain passes and squalls that threatened to blow their vehicles into oncoming traffic." He also mentions a fight breaking out near the end of the Caravan's Pengilly's show.

"It was great for the New York Times writer," Rose said, chuckling. "I think it was the only fight of the tour, so it happens when he's there."

Jokes aside, Rose considers the first Caravan a great success; it produced not just the Times piece but the short film WYOmericana, which was a finalist in the 2014 Wyoming Short Film Contest. All of the coverage has helped Rose negotiate deals with venue managers and attract sponsorships from Wyoming businesses and organizations. These include the Wyoming Nature Conservancy, which has set up community clean-ups around each of the current Caravan's home-state dates.

Rose hopes to keep building on these accomplishments. SDP recently completed its third album and plans to release it this summer, followed by another tour in the fall. Rose would also like to keep the Caravan going and put together new lineups.

Vanata, for one, still supports the Caravan.

"I think with the WYOmericana Caravan, it just showed that you don't have to move out of the state or go to a different place to make it big or make it interesting," he said. "You know what? You can stay here and accomplish your dreams."

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