Bellingham musician Tracy Spring is a woman for all seasons

For many of her songs, Bellingham songwriter and guitarist Tracy Spring draws inspiration from her travels exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with her outdoor photographers Dad and Uncle Bob and Ira Spring. She has fond memories of harmony with her mother and sister during long car journeys.

“Particularly memorable musical exhibits, she says, “were the Tlingit and Inupiat stories, songs, and dances in Southeast Alaska and in the arctic villages of Ulquigvik, Kotzebue, and Nome.” Alaska remains one of his favorite places to visit, kayak and perform.

Tracy has shared the stage with Doc Watson, Cris Williamson and Tret Fure, and The Tannahill Weavers, among others.

Tracy attended Fairhaven College at Western Washington University in the mid-1970s, where she cut her performance teeth in the college stairwells. She then performed in a duet with her friend Karen Reitz for many years. In the 1990s, Tracy performed at festivals and folk clubs with her original songs, which were often written and arranged in alternate guitar chords. She also began teaching guitar, songwriting, and directing in one-to-one and camp settings.

Bellingham’s Tracy Spring has launched several projects to see her through the pandemic, as live performances are minimal. Photo credit: TR Ritchie

Seattle-based Tracy’s girl trio Christel, Spring and Carper ran from 1999-2001 and created 2004’s ‘Of This World’, a lasting legacy recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary for their final album, “In These Times”. ”

During the first decade of the 2000s, Tracy wrote and co-produced four soundtracks for the Washington State Combined Fund Drive, a side benefit of her work with a nonprofit that raises funds for relief and development. international.

Since 2010, Tracy has produced her fifth album, created choral arrangements and toured with a focus on folk festivals, progressive church services and “small is beautiful” house concerts. “Indoor performances are currently on hold,” she says, “but I will be booking shows again as soon as it is safe.”

The Bellingham songwriter and guitarist performs frequently at regional folk festivals, like this one in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Tracy Spring

His songs – my favorite is his third album, 1995’s ‘Life and Art’ – are about people finding love for the first time, desperate over loss, experiencing joy, searching for ways to improve our world and reaching balance in their lives.

Tracy is currently in the midst of several projects to help her through the pandemic, as options for performing live are minimal.

The number one pandemic project is a children’s book and music video that Tracy will release later this year, the first in her “Grandmother’s Tales” series. “It’s a collaboration with Bellingham multimedia artist Bob Paltrow,” she says, “based on my whimsical song, ‘Love Doesn’t Care Who You Love.’

A Kickstarter campaign will soon be launched to fund Bob’s 28 color illustrations and prepress production work.

Tracy attended Fairhaven College at Western Washington University in the mid-1970s and cut her performance teeth in the college stairwells. Photo courtesy of Tracy Spring

“Bob’s vivid imagery and uplifting, inclusive lyrics show how the gift of love, in whatever form it takes, is the most powerful force we can use to make ourselves, and the planet, whole. healthier, whole and happy,” says Tracy.

The second pandemic project is The June & Farrar Project, which originated when multidimensional artist Skye Burn contacted Tracy in 2020 about the possibility of working with her on a project inspired by her grandparents, Farrar and June. Burn.

As a student at Fairhaven College and caretaker of the Outback Farm in the 1970s, Tracy I lived above the farm in one of two cabins built by Farrar Burn in the 1930s. June’s study cabin,” Tracy says, “where she wrote articles for the Bellingham Herald
and Farrar played his original music.

As a student at Fairhaven College at Western Washington University in the 1970s, Tracy Spring resided in June Burn’s study cabin at Outback Farm. Photo by June Burn courtesy of Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Western Libraries Heritage Resources, Western Washington University

In 1941 June Burn wrote “Living High: An Unconventional Autobiography” about the free-spirited adventures she and her musician husband had in Bellingham and beyond.

“Thirty-five years after I wrote it, I read it,” Tracy says. “Their story and philosophy of life resonated deeply with me then, and still does today.”

“Nearly 40 years after writing and performing my songs in June Burn’s Cabin, and after a year of helping Skye formulate and articulate her scope, I am the Artistic Director of the June & Farrar Project. We started a GoFundMe campaign to fund my position and move the work forward. Updates and details will be posted on Facebook. For updates, please visit www.facebook.com/groups/juneandfarrar.

Pandemic project number three is the “Masako’s Guitar” music video.

“Luthier Rob Goldberg wrote that he was restoring a vintage guitar with a remarkable story attached to it,” Tracy says. “I was inspired to take a deep dive into studying the history of her former owner, the late Masako Tada.”

Telling the story of Masako’s Guitar and its connection to internment camps during World War II is one of Tracy Spring’s projects during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Rob Goldberg

Following the Pearl Harbor bombing and Executive Order 9066 in 1942, 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes, livelihoods and communities, allowing them to n take with them only what they could take.

“Masako bravely carried her guitar,” Tracy says.

To commemorate the strength and resilience of Masako and so many others, Tracy’s music video uses historic photos to document this sad chapter in history, as well as recent photos taken while visiting the National Historic Site of Minidoka.

The fourth pandemic project is to continue the music of his beloved partner, TR Ritchie. After a songwriting career that spanned more than four decades, Ritchie returned to his North West roots in 2012. In December 2013, he was discovered to have inoperable cancer. Less than two months later he was gone, leaving behind a tremendous legacy of beautiful songs, images and poetry. TR faced his illness and death with grace and dignity.

One of Tracy’s plans is to continue the musical legacy of her late partner, TR Ritchie (pictured right). Photo courtesy of Rob Goldberg

Ten days before his death, friends gathered at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship to sing his songs to him and watch his reading of his poem ‘No More Words’. Footage from this extraordinary evening was captured, combined with interviews and produced as a documentary by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and longtime friend of TR, Dennis Dougherty, who made his Kerrville Folk Festival debut in 2016.

For updates on Tracy’s pandemic projects, visit www.tracyspring.com.

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