The subject of today’s interview is Alaska-born singer-songwriter/activist/poet/teacher Libby Roderick. I first chatted with this delightful lady back in 1991 when she came to Maine in support of her second album titled “Thinking Like A Mountain.” So, when I discovered that Roderick was coming to do a show at the UU Coffeehouse on Saturday, May 19, I was very excited and wanted to talk with her and catch up on what’s been happening with her for the last 27 years. When contacted at her Anchorage, Alaska, home she was more than happy to fill me in.

Q: Now, you haven’t been to Maine in a while, have you?

Roderick: Well, you know that is a great question — I haven’t. I have the worst memory on the planet for these things, but I know I did a show with a wild connection to CNN, doing a special on one of my songs at one point, in a show at the Chocolate Church. That might have been the last time I did a show there, which is amazing because that’s probably 10 years ago, at least.

Q: Well, I hear that you’ll be returning to our fair state, in central Maine this time at the U.U. Coffeehouse in Waterville.

Roderick: Yes, that’s right.

Q: So, what has been happening with you of late, musically speaking, because I know you have many hats that you wear.

Roderick: Well, I’ve sort of upped my touring a bit since the election — a service to all of us, I hope — and I was given a fellowship by a foundation, so I put out a new album, which is fun and I’ll bring that with me. So, yeah, mostly it’s that. It’s just been more on the road in terms of concerts and putting a new album out.

Q: Just out of curiosity, is songwriting something that comes easy to you or is it hammer-and-tongs?

Roderick: No, it’s pretty easy. I’m sure you’ve talked to a million people about the topic and everybody’s unique. For me it’s more about living and then I will realize that there’s something in there, some emotional response to what’s happening in the world, or in my world. The process itself is very quick as a rule. Not in every case. There have been songs that I have, sort of, simmered on for a while. I’d say, though, most of the songs are very quick. I often write when I’m walking; often I write when I’m in the wilderness, and a couple of songs on the new album that popped out very quickly when I was up in what the native folks call “the sacred place where life begins” — a camping companion had kindly insisted on bringing my guitar in and when we got to the base camp both of these songs just came popping out.

Q: What number is your “Winter Wheat” album in those CDs that you’ve released so far?

Roderick: I think it is seven — yeah, that’s right.

Q: Now please refresh my memory. How long have you been doing the singer-songwriter aspect of what you do?

Roderick: Well, let’s see. I think it truly started in 1990, so nearly 30 years.

Q: Congratulations. What can folks expect from your upcoming show in Waterville?

Roderick: Well, I hope they have fun, for starters. I mean, my purpose for doing the music is to help inspire and help all of us celebrate and protect this extraordinary world in which we live and each other, and hope we love — that’s always why I’ve been on the road. I obviously have many different things I do in my life; this is one of them, and that is why I do it. So, I think there’s never been a more important time for people to gather together, to sing together, to weep and celebrate together, to mobilize. This is, in my opinion and many people’s opinion, the most dangerous and important moment in certainly the history of our nation, or at least one of the most dangerous and important moments in the history of the nation and democracy. I am very aware that this is the moment for our species to find a new way forward together on behalf of our children and everyone who comes after them. So, for me, doing the concerts is a chance to use music and humor and community and fun and singing together and being together as a way to, kind of, reinvigorate us, and as I said, to celebrate and protect what we love. So, I hope they can expect something like that.

Q: I was just thinking and back at the beginning of this interview I tried to compartmentalize the music aspect of what you do from the rest, like activism and teaching. I realize now that that is impossible because your music impacts those other aspects and, in turn, is impacted by them, as well. It’s not many hats you wear, it’s just one with a lot of accoutrements.

Roderick: Well, I am a big believer in integration. I think that is partly what is making life so difficult for so many people these days is the disconnection. Like the elders up here say: the root cause of all our difficulties, whether they are economic or environmental or social, is the disconnection. So yeah, you’re right — for me it’s all the same thing: I love this world. The way I view my songs — I mean, other people can say what they think — is that I’m writing love songs. As I will talk about in the concert, we protect what we love and it just so happens that I love everything. My music is my love song for the world and then my activism is my love action for the world, and my teaching is trying to help all of us figure out ways to treat each other better and honor our beloved earth, and make sure we have good lives for seven-plus generations to come. You’re right, to me it all feels like the same thing.

Q: I know you have other places to be today and other important things to do, so I’ll ask the traditional closing question: Is there anything, Libby, that you’d like to have passed on to the folks reading this article, seeing it’s been a while since you were last here?

Roderick: Well, obviously I would love to see them. I love Maine and I would like to say that they are more important than we may think these days, right? What we do now together is absolutely the most important thing that will determine what happens in the future of our species. So finding ways to remember how brilliant we are, how powerful we can be, how loving we are, how connected we are to each other and to our world, whether that’s through music or comedy or what have you. Now is the moment to remember who we really are and move together to insure the bright future for our children and all the rest of what we love. So it will be fun to have them come out!

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.