Ken Bevis writes songs about bears, sandhill cranes, hummingbirds and snowy owls, dogs and other pets, and even insects.
So it’s no wonder that Bevis calls himself a “nature troubadour.” The songs, many written in the first person – but from the animal’s perspective – capture the compelling experiences Bevis has had in the presence of these creatures.
But Bevis also applies his talents for thoughtful lyrics and beguiling melodies to what he terms “musings on life.” The title track of his new CD, “Great Divide,” ponders the great mystery of life and aging. Songs from that release will be featured at a concert presented by Bevis and other musicians on Sunday (July 28) at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp. Also part of the concert will be songs from Bevis’ 2016 CD, “Wanderer’s Moon.”
Bevis, who lives in the Methow, has been writing music for 40 years. But by day, he’s a wildlife biologist who helps people manage their property to provide animal habitat. Seeing woodpeckers thrive among standing dead trees and listening to coyotes are among his joys. In “Glad to be Alive,” he speculates about what those coyotes are singing.
“The Fish for Me” is “kind of a love song to a fish,” he said. It’s a meditation on bull trout, a native fish that relies on the clean, cold rivers of the Methow.
Balancing out the sometimes-whimsical tributes to animals are some deeply personal tracks. Bevis wrote “While Life Lasts” as a tribute to a very sick friend and performed it at his memorial.
“Methow Band” helps tell the story of the Methow people. Bevis wrote it to accompany a presentation by local historian Richard Hart on his book “Lost Homeland,” which relates the history of the Methows. “It’s sung in the voice of an original Methow man, as if you went up the river and had a conversation,” said Bevis.
Then there’s “Countin’ on the World.” “It’s not a protest song, per se, but it’s really a coping song, sort of about contemporary politics,” said Bevis.
Bevis was honored to collaborate with local and regional musicians on the album. “The unique and wonderful thing about this recording is that I didn’t tell people how to play a song,” he said. “I created the song, laid down my track, and they came to the studio and interpreted it.”
Bevis has gathered almost all those musicians for a CD-release concert next week. The Methow’s Laura Love and Tonasket-based Julie Du Bois contribute vocals. On one song, Love recorded multiple tracks and sings a Gospel-infused trio with herself.
Wayne Mendro plays saxophone, clarinet and flute. Lynette Westendorf contributes accordion on several songs.
Arnold Cleveland, a Native American musician from Ellensburg, sings and plays flute on “Methow Band.”
Former Methow resident John Weeks will be in town with his violin for the concert. Don McIvor plays bass, and Carl Bevis, Ken’s brother, joins on guitar. The album was recorded locally by Chris “Breathe” Frue.
The concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door for adults (cash or check only). Youths under 16 are free. CDs will be available for purchase.