by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & The Cycle & r & & r & It's easy to compartmentalize the parts of a music career. The steps involved lend themselves to it, in a sense. Composing comes first, with some local playing, then recording and, sometimes, touring. Writing requires imagination and creativity. Recording requires that plus money. Touring requires that plus money plus marketing and booking and promotion -- a transition that leads away from the art of the thing and toward the business of it. For a lot of artists I've talked to, the business end feels a little unseemly, and also difficult, and -- given the number of tours that lose money (most of them) -- a little like bad business.

One local artist, though, has found inspiration in all of it.

At the end of June, Karli Fairbanks moved out of her house, quit her job and took off on tour. Then she went and squatted in Portland for a few weeks, making friends and fans, doing some networking. Then she came home to write a new album. Then she went to Seattle to record it. This week, she heads out on tour again. The whole process -- the travel, the good shows, the bad shows -- has fed her art.

Her advice for breaking into strange towns includes "learning how to tap into communities that already exist instead of trying to create one around your show," she says.

"The music is the foundation," she says. Then it's a matter of knowing your people: "Musicians and audiences -- finding them, getting to open for them, or getting them to your shows and then maintaining [a] relationship and connection with them so they remember you."

Though it's paying dividends for her as a brand, it's doing just as much for her song craft. Touring and networking, she says, "just opens your perspective on life and music."

Fairbanks begins her 14-stop, 16-day tour -- including six gigs with Nick Jaina -- on Saturday in Tacoma. She's back in Spokane playing Empyrean on Nov. 22.

OTHER NEWS: Ben Cater, former owner of the B-Side, tells us he's resigned his post booking gigs at the Casbah less than a month after the club officially opened, citing "fundamental differences in philosophy." We'll keep you posted.

Evergreen State of Consciousness Five Year Anniversary @ Washington Cracker Co. Building

Sat., Jan. 28, 5 p.m.-1:45 a.m.
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