Most nights are meant for one stroll, a walk that goes solemnly and reverently around the neighborhood or what have you. It's meant to get the stink off before settling onto the couch or the easy chair for the evening, watching a film, reading a book or chatting. It's meant to burn off some of the that evening's meal and it's meant to let the children roam zig-zag down the sidewalk. It's meant for a taking your love's hand in yours and letting the final light of day drizzle off the edge, into the ground, where it will lie for a few hours - just long enough for you all to regain your energy.
The nights that Brittain Ashford sings about with her Prairie Empire project are ones that take you on walks that will last the duration of the evening. You'll hear the night birds. You'll feel the yellow eyes of the nocturnal creatures coming alive, impatiently waiting for you to get off their lawns so they can find some breakfast and something warm to chase. You'll feel yourself slow down to a point where you can sense everything that's occurring inside and out. You begin to speak and it sounds like an explosion so you stay quiet and just listen more closely. She's escorting you through the twilight.
Now begins the Daytrotter Dream Interview, where Brittain Ashford both asks herself and answers some probing questions.
Q: You have to break into the Pentagon to destroy some documents that wrongfully incriminate your father in a high-profile arms deal. (Whatever, just go with it.) You are allowed to assemble a dream team of musicians to aid you... anyone, living or dead. Who do you take with you and what role do they play in the break-in?
A: Johnny Cash, for one. He's just such a badass. What would he do? I don't know. Be a badass. Maybe a totally badass lookout. Aimee Mann, so she could go all nihilist like in The Big Labowski-- you know, if she needed to. And maybe Elvis Costello. He just seems like a real smart guy, all James Bong style, too. Maybe I'm not assembling this team correctly, given that I've selected three people mostly for their cool cache. But I think a no-nonsense group, for sure. Plus, if all else fails we could just do a killer version of The Other End (of the Telescope).
Q: There's much lamentation about the lack of ritual in modern society. Are there any secular rituals you enjoy on a regular basis?
A: While we're on the road, we play endless games of would you rather that usually have something to do with eating our latest fast-food fascination; Arby's Cheddar Beef, the McFish* and KFC's Double Down. Generally, it goes something like this: "would you rather eat nothing but a McFish for every meal for the rest of your life or go blind?" We assure you, this type is the cleaner variety of the would you rather? series. Also fond of the game that's your house-- which is really just getting the attention of a band member and declaring that some vaguely standing structure is "their" house. Is goes something like this, "hey Mark..." -- "what?" -- "that's your house!" (Cue uproarious laughter from vehicle.)
*McFish and Cheddar Beef are willful bastardizations of actual sandwich names.