Handmade Moments would like to introduce you to their new album. They’d also like to say farewell.
It is a farewell for at least a couple years, anyway – it’s hard to determine how long a drive from Fayetteville to Buenos Aires, Argentina, will take. Google Maps won’t even guestimate it, if you’re wondering. Vocalist and songwriter Anna Horton says it might take two years to make it there. That’s the kind of schedule she hopes for anyway, because that would mean she and bandmate/fellow native Arkansan Joel Ludford have played many gigs along the way. The plan is to play anywhere they can. Proper venues would be nice, but they are also prepared to play on the custom-built stage they had affixed to the top of their short bus.
The folk meets jazz meets silly sweetness act releases their second full-length album, called “Eye in the Sky,” this weekend on the heels of the trip of a lifetime. That show takes place at about 10 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 5) at Smoke & Barrel Tavern in Fayetteville. Admission is $5.
Then, they’ll go, but not before saying goodbye to family members at Christmas.
The eventual destination is Argentina, sure, but there are several other benchmarks to pass along the way. Horton wants to spread the idea of sustainability, and to prove it by living off the grid for however long the trip takes. The bus runs on biodiesel, and the stage operates on solar power. Handmade Moments, meanwhile, operates on the idea of spreading a little love wherever they go.
Handmade Moments formed from the wake of popular Arkansas-based indie folksters Don’t Stop Please, a meteor of a band that burned out just as quickly as it ascended. Ludford and Horton were both members, and they tour with Nick Caffrey, who played bass guitar in that same band. Caffrey will make the South American journey with them, too.
Ludford and Horton split songwriting duties on “Eye in the Sky,” which takes its name from a song on the album talking about a friend of Horton’s who self-medicated with marijuana in a fight against cancer until she was stopped dramatically after her home was raided. Political statements of that sort are interspersed on the new album with outright love songs. The album was recorded by Kelly Mulhollan of notable local folk act Still on the Hill, and features several guest musicians. With the album in hand, and the bus recently readied, Horton said Handmade Moments is ready for the ultimate roadshow.
The “Bus Without Borders,” as the band is calling it right now, will carry them through uncharted territory, but it’s not all unfamiliar to the group, which previously toured Argentina on a whim after a chance meeting of an Argentinian mural painter. He told them if they ever wanted to visit, he would loan them a van to explore they country and tour from. They promptly blew the motor of that air-cooled Volkswagen and spent the next few months gigging to raise enough money so repairs could be made. That process set the current idea in motion. It made the band realize they have a great thing going, and they have the potential to be well-received in South America, Horton said.
The idea was to take off months ago, but delays in building out the bus pushed back the departure date. Importantly, it allowed Handmade Moments a test run at the Hillberry Festival, held this October on a private farm near Eureka Springs after the sudden cancelation of the Phases of the Moon festival. The bus worked, so all systems are go.
And so the band will go, too. Just as far as good luck and enthusiasm and a bus with a new diesel motor will take them.