By MICHELLE SCHMIDT Inland360.com
Listening to Kray Van Kirks acoustic folk music doesnt have to cost you anything. Whats unique is not that his concert is by donation which is standard for concerts at the Attic its that he makes his songs available for free download on his website.
No, the songs are not just free samples and theyre not just song portions: Van Kirk makes all 20 of his recorded songs available for anyone to download in a variety of formats. Its not that the singer-songwriter wouldnt want to make his living off music Van Kirk has an underlying philosophy as to why he wants his music to be available without cost.
Were in a cycle where we value money over everything else, Van Kirk says. But the very nature of human existence is not based on how much money you can get from it.
That means some things shouldnt be assigned monetary value. Love, for example, he says, becomes something different when you pay for it.
Van Kirk knows he doesnt get to change how culture uses money to place value on personal expression, but he does get to say he doesnt buy into it. Offering his songs for free is one way to say so and offering only downloads has the added benefit of keeping CD plastic out of landfills.
Van Kirk plays a bit of everything when it comes to folk. He explores stories, socially progressive themes and retells classic myths thats what the new folk style is made of, he says. He writes his own songs, largely based on a hero or other stories.
The songs are out there, they already exist, so youve got to be available to write them down, Van Kirk says.
Years ago, Van Kirk left graduate school to pursue the life of a musician, which meant living out of his van for five years while driving around the West Coast. But he found it wasnt a life well suited for a single parent. These days he lives in Alaska and makes a living analyzing fish statistics he did go back to graduate school and got his doctorate in fisheries population dynamics. One weekend a month, he performs a series of shows at various places throughout the United States.
So when the musician lifestyle didnt work out, why didnt he just give up on his music? I cant, Van Kirk answers.
Its not that he hasnt considered it, or even wanted to at times. Its just that he knows music is part of who he is. He chuckles and compares the situation to something that Calvin, of "Calvin and Hobbes," once said: I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul.
More about Van Kirk and downloads of his music can be found online at www.krayvankirk.com. if you go WHAT: Kray Van Kirk in concert WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, May 16 WHERE: The Attic, 314 E. Second St. in Moscow COST: By freewill donation Schmidt can be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 305-4578.