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Walkabout 

by JEFF ECHERT & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & F & lt;/span & or some, wanderlust is inevitable. It doesn't matter how comfortable such people are or how much they love their current situation, is the bone-deep desire for a change of scenery is unavoidable. The latest victim is Josh Hedlund of Sandpoint, a talented young singer-songwriter gripped by a desire to move south. After years of toiling in Sandpoint -- in his bedroom for a long time, then in wineries, then in larger venues and finally, thankfully, heading down for forays into Spokane -- he's heading to San Diego. The reasons to roam are legion and each walkabout is different. Hedlund, like so many before him, is -- partially at least -- following a girl.





A man of deliberation, Hedlund's not going without a certain amount of indecision. "The area has been such an inspiration for me," he says, "just seeing the geography and the seasons. I feel a pretty strong connection to the mountains and to the bodies of water." These sentiments are conveyed in his music, which draw inspiration from a vast host of sources but seem to juxtapose quiet snowy peaks and pristine lakes with a psychological twisting of the human heart and a physical gnashing of teeth. Hedlund's is emotion made visceral by its environment.





And that's part of the problem. He has mined the depths of this land and its people. He has exhausted, to a degree, its resources. "I'd be happy in this area, but I don't really feel like I'm going to turn over any new leaves anytime soon," Hedlund says. "I feel so comfortable here that sometimes I get stuck in the grooves of routine." He concludes sharply, "I've lived here my whole life. I want to try living somewhere else."





There's a sense that he's going to miss this place dearly, though he's optimistic about the move. He speaks excitedly about meeting new people and playing with new musicians, hopefully getting involved with a few West Coast tours. A new locale carries with it new inspiration and new experiences, ones that Hedlund clearly craves.





Of course, the walkabout is not without its doubts. Hedlund echoes the general trend, saying, "Part of me is afraid that I'll be overly happy in San Diego because it's going to be so sunny and the people will be so healthy that I'll just sit on the beach by a campfire and become Jack Johnson," he says. "But I'm not so afraid that I'm not going to go." And he won't go without a fond farewell, with friends Dane Ueland and Joel Smith joining him on stage for his final Spokane show at the Empyrean next Thursday, Aug. 7. The music scene in this town is not so big that it won't miss the Hedlund-shaped hole in its heart. Might as well make the best of the last hurrah.





Josh Hedlund with Joel Smith and Dane Ueland at Empyrean on Thursday, Aug. 7, at 8 pm. Price TBA. Call 838-9819.
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