Nora Jane Struthers’ ‘Carnival’ ride
Americana singer-songwriter Nora Jane Struthers has been touring full time for the past three and a half years, but she didn’t expect to make a career out of music.
She spoke with The Herald-Sun from the road this week while waiting for the mechanic to call about her band’s van being repaired in Virginia. Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line will perform at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro tonight.
Struthers grew up in a conventional community in New Jersey, she said, and her friends are bankers, lawyers and teachers. She became a high school English teacher, though she always wanted to be a musician, too. Struthers said she didn’t have a model for unconventional jobs. Then she started coming South for fiddler conventions and met professional musicians.
“I thought I’d give it a shot or regret it,” Struthers said. It paid off. She released her second album this spring, “Carnival,” with her band The Party Line.
“The only way to do it is just to do it,” she said. “One step at a time, learning from people along the way.”
Struthers has lived in Nashville five years now.
“Nashville is a really supportive community – the only way to make it is through getting help and giving help. It’s not cutthroat,” she said.
The Party Line band was assembled last year to record “Carnival.” On tour, they play at so many different venues, it’s a rollercoaster, she said.
“Every night is its own party. I named the band The Party Line because everywhere we go is an event,” Struthers said. It’s a change from her workweek as a teacher. Every night of the week on tour is like a weekend, she said.
Struthers draws on literature for her songwriting. When she first moved to Nashville, she was reading a lot of Larry McMurtry, whose work is often set in the Old West.
“Early American life interested me, and it’s a consistent theme in my writing,” she said. Struthers also reads Amy Chan, who writes about relationships between women.
“Carnival” songs are told from the perspectives of women as young girls, teenagers to adults, and old women.
“I’m beginning to realize that the initial kernel for a song is a perspective on the world I distilled into one idea,” Struthers said. Her favorite song from her new album is “Bike Ride.”
“That song for me, when I’m performing it, if I’m stressed out or having a bad day, playing that song brings me back to the present,” she said. “I have an overwhelming gratitude for where I am.”
WHO: Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
WHEN: 8 tonight
WHERE: The ArtsCenter
300 E. Main St., Carrboro