Folk singer-songwriter Clementine Darling says she was chasing the sunshine when she busked her way from Seattle to the Bay Area in 2010, living in Santa Cruz and Berkeley briefly before moving to Sonoma County, where she’s lived the last seven years.
“The initial thing that brought me to Sonoma County was the connection to nature—it was such a beautiful place,” Darling says. “And the people have been what kept me here.”
Last year, Darling stepped out of her busking shoes and took to a stage for the first time ever at the 2017 Next Level Music Industry Conference, hosted by Creative Sonoma. Darling’s onstage debut coincided with her participation in a songwriting workshop with nationally recognized producer Sam Hollander, in which she and Hollander shaped one of her original songs, “Choose Love,” into a strong acoustic number in the tradition of alt-folk heroines like Ani DiFranco and Cat Power. “Choose Love” wound up being the first track on Darling’s forthcoming debut EP,
11:11, available on June 1.
“It seems like I can’t get a plane ticket or look at the clock without seeing an 11,” says Darling of the EP’s title. “That number has always been important to me.”
Originally planned as a four-song EP, 11:11 was half recorded when the Tubbs fire forced Darling from her Mark West Springs area home in the late hours of Oct. 8. Darling adds that after escaping the flames and reaching safety, she looked at the time; it was 11:11pm.
Coincidentally, one of Darling’s few remaining possessions was her guitar, as she had left it at a storage unit earlier that afternoon rather than leave it in her car. After finding a new rental on the Russian River and picking the guitar back up, Darling composed a fifth track for the EP, “Fire Map,” that originally began life as a poem about last summer’s fires in the Pacific Northwest.
“For the most part, it’s a song of gratitude,” Darling says. “As much loss as I experienced, I didn’t lose any of the people I love.”
Many of those people will be on hand this week when Darling officially releases 11:11 at a concert event, dubbed Bohemian Groove, in Santa Rosa with support from Petaluma songwriter Ismay, one-man-band Banjo Boombox and anti-folk outfit Django Moves to Portland. “The dress code is denim and floral, or whatever makes you feel groovy,” Darling says. “It’s going to be a celebration of life.”
Bohemian Groove happens on Friday, June 1, at the Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 7pm. $10. 707.528.3009.