Indigo Girl to sweat it out on rocking solo tour

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Amy Ray is definitely burning her candle at both ends this year. The out singer/songwriter, independent-record label head (Daemon Records) and sometimes-rock bandleader is setting off on a tour for her recently released solo album, “Didn’t It Feel Kinder.” This would be a sizable piece of work by itself, but it seems especially arduous considering Ray just recently came off the road touring with her more high-profile gig as half of the hugely popular Indigo Girls with Emily Sailers. “It just happened,” Ray remarked about her tight schedule. “Usually I try to do a solo tour and then have a big gap of time, and I kind of do. I have a solo tour and then have six weeks off and then I do another solo tour. Then we start back with the Indigo Girls because we have an album coming out in late February. So it’s backed up against the end of our touring and the ending of our touring almost in a way. It’s a little hard logistically. It’s independent, so I’m doing a lot of that work myself and that is challenging. On another level, it’s really cool. I get this total difference and I see it because I’m coming off of one tour and go on to the next.” For Ray, touring behind her solo record is a chance for her to trade the deluxe buses and large concert halls she’s accustomed to for a more stripped-down, do-it-yourself road experience. “It is exhausting but it isn’t daunting to me,” she said. “I enjoy it so much. As long as we’ve been in a bus, I’ve always preferred vans. I like to open the window and see where I’m going and feel attached to it in that way. The bus thing is a luxury but, for me, I start to feel out of touch with what I’m doing sometimes. This brings me back in touch with the music and the community. You really understand it better when you’re in a club. I think I sort of have the best of both worlds. When I do a solo tour, it’s just a rock band. It’s electric and raw in sweaty clubs. It’s all out there just doing everything ourselves. Everything contributes to the energy being different.” Ray was quick to add that the Indigo Girls like to raise the roof as well. “Even though we play acoustic music, we tend to be pretty loud too,” she said. Still, there is a significant difference between the Indigo Girls’ show and an Amy Ray show beyond the size of the venue. For one, Ray’s shows tend to attract a different fan base. “There’s not as many Indigo fans at my solo shows,” Ray said. “So the other people must be the other thing. When I first toured solo back in 2000, I think people were curious. I think it weeded out pretty quickly who just didn’t like that as much; the people that preferred the Indigos over the electric thing. It’s kind of a weird combination of people. It’s the people [who] are into the musicians that I play with. It’s people that don’t love the Indigo Girls but like what I do solo because they’re just more into rock music. Then there are some Indigo Girls fans that like all of it.” Another difference is Ray’s songwriting, which tends to be more lyrically unfiltered than songs she writes for the Indigo Girls. “It’s me, so there can’t be a huge difference,” she said. “When I write a song, I kind of know when I start writing where it fits. When I write a duo song, musically I hear Emily’s voice in my head while I’m doing it. When it’s a duo song, it’s something I feel lends itself to two people singing about it. Emily’s voice colors it in a certain way so lyrically it has to make it richer. My solo stuff is something very singular to me and I’m expressing something that I don’t think will lend itself to the duo vibe of having the harmony and the compromise. My solo stuff is more raw lyrically and maybe more graphic and intimate sometimes. It might be really specific to myself or I would expect that to be something that Emily would sing with me. It’s more strident sometimes as well. When you sing with someone as your equal, it’s not that you’re hiding anything, but you think about the other person and you think about what they would want to sing with you.” Ray performs with her rock band at 9 p.m. Nov. 13 at North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. For more information, visit www.amy-ray.com or www.daemonracords.com, or call (215) 684-0808.