Beki Hemingway: From a Larry Norman video to giving thanks for the rain

Thursday 13th July 2017

Tony Cummings met up with critically acclaimed singer/songwriter BEKI HEMINGWAY

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So did 'Too Much Plenty' sell? Said Beki, "Yeah, it sold. . . for an indie. I think we went through a few thousand copies - just getting on the road and selling them." Randy added, "Even before we hit the road, even just from Chicago, we did about 110 shows a year, two or three years, before we even went full-time. Every vacation was a tour - calling in sick and going to Wisconsin or Indiana or anywhere, just trying to work like crazy. When we actually did go full-time we were doing 120, 150 a year for close to eight years."

Beki continued, "That first year, the number of states that Randy called in sick from - I wish we could've kept track. We were booking like crazy, but he really was still holding down a full-time job. I was booking us, so I'd say, 'You can call in sick from Omaha. It won't be a problem.' I wore him out, but we lived through it."

In 2002 Beki released 'Words For Loss For Words'. Beki is particularly fond of the album's title. "I liked that one because it's a palindrome. I wrote most of that on the heels of my father's sudden death. The theme running through that is loss and hope. It's trying to put into words this experience where you're at a loss for words. It seemed appropriate and it was a palindrome, so how could I refuse? Trying to finish that album was really difficult because of my father's death. Randy had to sit me down and say, 'We have to finish writing it.' At one point I had to sit the band down and say, 'We have a tour but we have to finish the album.'

"There was a lot of work in finishing that one, but I think it turned out really well. One of our producers had to quit toward the end and we wound up going to Nashville to finish it with John Mark Painter, which was an awesome experience. It was amazing how much we could get done quickly working with somebody that skilled, with all the tracks we already had done. I thought that was such a great experience finishing up that album. I was really pleased with how it turned out. When we released it was when we needed to fire our manager. What had happened was we were so busy we hired a manager. But he wasn't doing his job, and we were well into a tour before we figured it out. We were doing all these shows and they weren't even up on our website; meanwhile someone else he was managing that sounded kinda similar to us had all of our contacts and was suddenly booked everywhere we used to go."

As already noted in this article, Cross Rhythms loved 'Words For Loss For Words'. Other reviewers didn't agree. Commented Beki, "It wasn't as well received as the first one by, say, Paste magazine or the other allies we thought we would have, so it was a bit of a let down from that respect."

Randy added, "We had been doing over a hundred shows a year, and we morphed from punky rock and roll into sophisticated writing. Some people mistook that as falling into Nashville where they took off some of the edges, a little too shiny. But I think that was just part of growing up. You should review music for what it is, not what it isn't, otherwise you've got a basic bias coming in."

Beki picked up the Hemingway/Kerkman story. "After 'Words For Loss For Words' and the manager, we just hit the wall and thought, 'We need to knuckle down and be responsible, maybe live a normal life.' We moved to Denver. There were a couple other ideas about recording studios and things that fell through, and we just had a few years of nothing really working. We moved to Tennessee for a couple years, went to Glasgow for a few months. Nothing seemed like it was going to work, so we wound up in Denver and we had normal jobs. Randy was a deputy sheriff and I was a tour guide and events coordinator. We just lived our lives for 10 years, had a house and a dog. Somewhere over the course of that time we made this EP, 'I Have Big Plans For The World'. It's another weird title. I was taking an online quiz and it had a multiple choice that said, 'Do you find yourself saying things like, "I have big plans for the world" yet never getting things done?" I thought, "Maybe. I'm going to start saying that now, for sure!" I think there's a theme on that of just pondering where we were in life, having given music up and thinking about what was possible in this new phase."

Beki brought her and her husband's story up to date. "We've just put out a song on Bandcamp, and it's pay what you want. Our story right now is that we've sold our house and we've hit the road again, doing music after thinking it was totally gone from our lives. We felt this stirring a couple of years ago, so with a very open hand we are out doing music again thinking maybe God has given this back to us. We've done house concerts all over the US last year. Now we're on the road with The Sweet Sorrows, although along the way I've been given a breast cancer diagnosis. So we're done tonight; I'll go and have surgery, and we'll see what the next year brings. That's part of why we've settled in Ireland too. We'll be still for a little bit until we get the all clear. But the goal is to make another CD this year as soon as I'm healthy. The songs are written and we'll see what I come up with for a title."

"Thank You For The Rain" is one of the best songs Beki has ever penned. "We've been waiting so long for the first signs of spring/We've been waiting so long/Now it's coming back in everything/Healing up the seams we had torn/Coming back in everything/Just when we thought we were worn out/Coming back in everything/Like everything reborn." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Bob glovik in Austin Tx @ 02:34 on Sep 19 2017

I saw Beki and Randy in Chicago.
Wow, what a great performance!!!
My buddy Dan introduced me to them

Posted by Laura Larkins in Denver @ 06:30 on Jul 17 2017

Just saw Beki and Randy play tonight. Once again, they rocked the backyard. Rather a miracle lyricist, you are, Beki!! So gifted. But, really in half a year, and you come out with a new deeply riviting album?? Who does that?! So, I came to upload a couple of videos and spied this Crossrhythms interview/review. WOW. Nice job.

Posted by sammy horner in ireland @ 20:00 on Jul 15 2017

great interview Tony, these guys need more exposure in the UK...

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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