In support of its most recent album, Blooming Through the Black, Connecticut-based Parsonsfield brings its tour to OBERON as part of the Sound Society concert series.
Parsonsfield provided original music for, and performed each evening in, The Heart of Robin Hood at the American Repertory Theater a few seasons ago, and its ascent has been steady since.
Here, lead singer Chris Freeman looks back on Robin Hood, how it changed the band, and the uniting power of music.
The Heart of Robin Hood was the first time that you guys worked with the ART, so this is kind of like a homecoming for you guys.
Yeah, for sure.
Wasn’t Robin Hood supposed to go to Broadway? Can you tell me what’s going on with it?
After Boston we went up to Canada and we did it in Toronto for about three months, and Winnipeg just before that. Yeah, they announced that it was going to New York, but it never ended up actually going. Tickets were on sale and all that, but I can’t get too deep into it because I just don’t know. I can certainly talk about what our experience was doing it and what we learned from it. It was a totally different kind of way of presenting our music that we hadn’t thought of before, and it was an opportunity to congeal as the five of us in the band just really working hard on writing new music and making it work within the context of something bigger.
Following the show, did you find a greater theatricality in your music?
Yeah. We started to realize, musically, what our range was in terms of different types of feelings that we could create sonically, and it allowed us to realize that our music could be used in other contexts other than just as a touring band. We also met so many other really creative people that I think [it] has inspired us to continue to find new avenues to present our music.
That’s so cool. You guys are probably a stronger band because of it, too. A lot of bands can’t survive multiple albums, let alone a project like that.
Yeah, for sure. It brought us together. We were living together and it allowed us to stay really excited and creatively active. We’re so far ahead of where we were before we had the opportunity to be in the show.
How are your shows different across the country?
Well, in other parts of the country, a lot of times we’re playing to people that have no idea who we are. To a lot of them they’re taking a risk, you know, and they’re the unconverted, we’re trying to pull them in. And so there’s certainly some of that in those parts when we’re far away or playing a city for the first time. It can be exciting because you can really blow people away when they have no idea what they’re getting into. But at the same time, coming back home, that’s just as exciting. There’s nothing like [being] in Boston and around New England. That’s our sweet spot.
Being on tour right now must be kind of tricky with all this pre-election anxiety and post-election divide. What is it like to tour the country where you’re playing to so many different types of people?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I think it came as a surprise to all of us how divided it is, and we are certainly going to a lot of places where they have very different views from us in New England. I think that we have a responsibility to provide an escape from it all, to provide something that everybody can agree on and can find joy in. Music is something that—no matter what your political beliefs are, it can pull people together and offer an escape from the things that divide us. We’re living in an amazing time, and I feel really lucky to get to go around and see the country the way it really is. It changes the way you think a little bit. I certainly hope that our music can be something that folks can find a little bit of joy in and a little bit of happiness in when there are so many things that are kind of frightening right now. And with this Oberon show, especially, we’re trying to create something totally different for ourselves. We just had a meeting about it last night and, man, is it nice to be thinking about something else.
PARSONSFIELD. 11.17 AT OBERON, 2 ARROW ST., CAMBRIDGE. AMERICANREPERTORYTHEATER.ORG