Search results for: big star

Star Anna

Buy Star Anna’s music here on Amazon or here on iTunes.

From the press release:

Seattle, Washington, by way of Ellensburg, Star Anna’s Go To Hell, comprised of ten tracks, was a hard record for her to make. Her personal life was in upheaval as the record was being made; yet Star Anna persevered and came out better for it.

“There were a lot of battles going on at the time this record was being made and a lot of betrayals that I was dealing with that had been woven into my personal life as well as the life of this record,” recalls Star. “We decided to keep moving forward and make this record. The title speaks for itself.”

From the fiery opener, “For Anyone,” a keyboard-drenched soulful number that seeps melody, but also packs a punch with its deep, rich groove, through the heartbreaking, folk-pop of “Mean Kind of Love,” to album closer, “Smoke Signals,” a gritty punk rock number, Star Anna doesn’t give in, letting the emotions fly as she deals with everything life had thrown at her.

Go To Hell is purely cathartic for Star Anna.

Along with cohorts – co-producer Ty Bailie (keyboards/organ/piano), Julian McDonough (drums), Jacques Willis (vibraphones), Will Moore (bass), and Jeff Fielder (guitars) – Star Anna went into the studio with only a few completed songs, and the others just rough ideas, and made a record.

That freedom helped Star stretch herself as a songwriter and vocalist. She didn’t play guitar on the record, she just sang, giving her a chance to focus on her voice.

“I was surprised by how I was able to push myself vocally,” she says proudly. “When the guys would say, ‘Ok, that was good, but go do it again and just let loose,’ I’d think, ‘well, fine, fuck you. I thought that was great. You’ll see. I just can’t do better.’ But, somehow I was always able to pull it out.”

She continues, “It was nice to be able to focus on just the vocals and let the rest of the guys worry about the music.”

Two big firsts for Star on Go To Hell is the inclusion of covers, including Tom Waits’ “Come On Up to The House,” and co-writing with someone that wasn’t in the band, her friend Shane Tutmarc, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter.

The song “Let Me Be,” which was co-written with Tutmarc, has some of the album’s most significant lyrics for Star.

“It was written after the first recording session in Portland, where we recorded three songs that were meant to be demos. They were the inspiration for the rest of the album,” she recalls. “It was co-written by a friend in Nashville who did not know the back story of the song and was just going off the first verse and chorus. He managed to capture the idea perfectly. The line, ‘I’m a new man looking sideways in the dark’ feels most significant to me, as it describes being stripped down to nothing. You have the freedom to become whatever you want because there is nothing left. It’s a heartbreaking place to be, but it opens up your world to rebuild.”

For all she went through to make this record, Star came out stronger, with a better direction of where not only she wanted her music to be, but also where she needed to be.

“[The album is about] balance. There is a lot of anger and loss, but there is also the other side of that. When something happens that strips you down to the bone, you can choose to only focus on the anger or you can also look around at the people who are still there, who are still trustworthy, loving and truly kind.”

That is what Go To Hell is all about. Telling off your past demons and poisoned relationships and forging ahead, picking yourself up and showing the world you’re stronger than that. Now, with a handful of songs, and a new record, Star will hit stages across the country and offer up some cathartic tunes that will help, revitalize, and inspire others, just as they did for her.

Sadler Vaden #1609

Sadler Vaden released his debut full length solo album in August 2016. His DIY effort morphed and was scrapped then re-imagined and recorded over a few years. What ultimately became this upbeat, pop influenced rock record demonstrates Vaden’s expertise gleaned from fronting his own band in the early 2000s for 8 years, playing for Drivin N Cryin, and most recently for Jason Isbell. Even his cover of John Moreland’s song, “Nobody Cares About Songs Anymore,” becomes Vaden’s own, filtered through Big Star and Vaden’s own sensibilities.

Buy Sadler Vaden here on Amazon or here on iTunes.
Vinyl, CD, and digital available.

Allen Thompson #1608

Allen Thompson Band‘s new album, Brace Yourself, is still kept under top-secret guard, but the stories leading to the title seem surreal. Thompson and band mate, Clint Maine, both broke their backs in separate accidents within a month of each other. The following year helped them expand their sound and get weirder, as they describe. Thompson called on a slew of music friends to contribute to the record, including the first single, a duet with Elizabeth Cook, “Long Time Thinkin’,” out now.

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M. Lockwood Porter #1509

Max Porter performs as M. Lockwood Porter, in homage to his grandfather and to make it easier to find him on the Internet. Partly based on a childhood dream to leave Oklahoma and live in California, and partly pulled by his network of friends and musical colleagues, Porter claims both areas as home. His recent album, 27, honors Chris Bell of Big Star, and will be released in the UK and Europe late Spring 2015.

Buy M. Lockwood Porter’s music here.

Download here, links below, or on SoundCloud.

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Scott Miller #1421

Scott Miller is miles away from his days with the V-Roys, but Knoxville still claims him as their own, even if he has since returned to rural Virginia to farm. Raising cattle requires his presence, limits his touring, but allows Miller hours and days to think. From talking with Miller, I get a sense that the cows are going to win out over the road, sooner rather than later, making his performances more precious to fans than they may realize. His most recent album, Big, Big World, unites Miller’s lyrics with Doug Lancio’s guitar thoughts, for a cohesive, but not yet thematic, album. Both recorded multiple instruments on the record, with just a few friends stopping by to add to the sounds. Miller is already writing for whatever his next album may be, in his assessment moving even closer to a “vibey” complete thought.

Please scroll down this page for the podcast.

Thanks to Rhythm N Blooms in Knoxville, TN, for connecting us with Scott Miller.

Buy Scott Miller’s music here on Amazon for physical or digital, or Scott Miller on iTunes.

scott millerpg


Have Gun, Will Travel #1402

Matt Burke of Have Gun, Will Travel has been around the block with label and indie success with his bands over the years. As his previous band saw critical and airplay success, but not a comparable financial reward, his songwriting took a different turn and he forged ahead with Have Gun, Will Travel — initially a solo effort to let the new sounds have a platform, but ultimately becoming a band in itself. HGWT plays extensively throughout the Southeast and will reach much more of the nation this year, with runs joining Shooter Jennings, Railroad Earth, Country Fried Rock alum, Matt Woods and also The Whiskey Gentry, and Radiolucent. Burke is a talented songwriter and the band balances fun, upbeat music with more reflective tracks, not descending too much into SBM that is prevalent in the genre right now. Grab some friends, and go see Have Gun, Will Travel.

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This podcast includes three songs from HGWT, with express permission of the band.  Thank them by buying their music!
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Liner Notes

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Alex Chilton

I learned about Alex Chilton from The Replacements. My parents listened to The Boxtops, but Big Star was not on my radar until I had to figure out the lyric from the song, “I never travel far/without a little Big Star.” I realized that I recognized some of the songs, but I had a lot to learn. Thankfully, I followed that thread and checked it all out.

I never saw Chilton play live in any format, so this impromptu recording that recently surfaced is pretty incredible, especially given the circumstances of its existence.

Buy Alex Chilton’s music here on Amazon.

From the album notes:

Electricity by Candlelight is a live recording of Alex Chilton released this Fall by venerable indie label Bar/None. On the night of February 13th1997, Alex Chilton and hisband were getting ready to play their second set of the night at the Knitting Factory in New York City when the lights went out. What happened was this album, a spontaneous off the cuff performance by Alex on a borrowed acoustic guitar with his drummer Richard Dworkin sitting in for half the set. It’s Alex Chilton thinking on his feet, totally in the moment, bouncing songs and ideas off the folks that stuck around for a real, one-of-a-kind exchange.

Elizabeth Mitchell — Folk Songs For Families

I grew up singing this song at Folk Mass in my hippy Episcopal church. –SS

Elizabeth Mitchell & Friends – Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Dan Zanes, Aoife O’Donovan & more – explore the Ruth Crawford Seeger Christmas songbook on ‘The Sounding Joy’; Oct. 15 via Smithsonian Folkways. This album is also called The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In & Out Of The Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook.

Buy this record here on Amazon or on iTunes.

On Oct. 15th, GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell releases The Sounding Joy, an exploration of Christmas and solstice songs from the American folk tradition. Drawn almost exclusively from the often overlooked but deeply influential songbook of revered composer and anthologist Ruth Crawford Seeger, these songs evoke an era before mass media and the commercialization of Christmas, when sacred song, dance, contemplation, and gathering were prized above all else during the holiday season. Mitchell’s fifth album for Smithsonian Folkways, The Sounding Joy features husband Daniel Littleton, daughter Storey, and special guests Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Aoife O’Donovan, Gail Ann Dorsey, Larry Campbell, Dan Zanes, and John Sebastian, among many other family, friends, and neighbors. This gorgeously reverent 24-song collection attempts to save these traditional American holiday songs from an “unmarked grave,” as Merchant puts it in her essay included in the liner notes. The Sounding Joy is truly for listeners of all ages and is Smithsonian Folkways’ first holiday album in more than a decade.

Sneak Peek at The Sounding Joy: Listen to “Children, Go Where I Send Thee (Little Bitty Baby: A Cumulative Song)”

While recovering from surgery four years ago, Mitchell spent a Thanksgiving weekend thinking about the project that would eventually become The Sounding Joy. A longtime fan and champion of Ruth Crawford Seeger’s work, Mitchell soon found herself thoroughly immersed in Seeger’s third and final songbook, American Folk Songs for Christmas. Seeger, mother of musicians Mike and Peggy Seeger and stepmother of Pete Seeger, died from cancer at age 52 in 1953, the very same year American Folk Songs for Christmas was published.

Mitchell chose to strike a balance between remaining faithful to the beauty and subtle complexity of Seeger’s unique arrangements, and bringing her own breadth and range as a producer and arranger to bear on these largely unknown traditional songs. The wide diversity of voices, players, and instruments on the album breathes new life into words first sung over a century ago by farmhands, country preachers, and small-town congregations and gospel groups.

Adapting a number of Seeger’s piano arrangements for a string trio and inventive percussion, Mitchell radiates warmth on “Ain’t That Rocking” and “Shine Like a Star.” Amy Helm leads a rousing version of “Last Month of the Year” through a groove and vocal quartet style that invokes the early Staple Singers with guitar figures reminiscent of Malian desert blues. Merchant lends her vocals on the haunting “Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol),” and also contributes an essay to the liner notes, while writer/artist Brian Selznick (author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret) provided illustrations for the album package. Recordings not from the songbook include classics “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” and an a cappella arrangement of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” a “family heirloom” arranged by Elizabeth’s father-in-law, Michael Storey Littleton.

Although the songs presented are specific to the Christian tradition, Mitchell’s husband Daniel Littleton cites the inclusive nature of the project, describing the assembly of musicians as an “ecumenical summit” of sorts, with participants of many religious and non-religious backgrounds coming together happily to bring the songs to life. Mitchell sums up the spirit of the album best in her notes: “However you and your loved ones celebrate the last month of the year, I hope it is filled with the sounds of joy.”

The Sounding Joy Tracklist:
1. Oh, Mary and the Baby, Sweet Lamb
2. Mary Had a Baby
3. Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow (feat. Mike Merenda)
4. January, February (Last Month of the Year) (feat. Amy Helm and Marco Benevento)
5. Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol) (feat. Natalie Merchant)
6. Shine Like a Star in the Morning (feat. Simi Stone)
7. Joy to the World (feat. Jay Ungar)
8. Christmas Day in the Morning (feat. Peggy Seeger)
9. Mother’s Child (Child of God) (feat. Peggy Seeger)
10. Sing-a-Lamb (feat. Dan Zanes and Suzan Lori-Parks)
11. Great Big Stars
12. Baby Born Today (feat. The Silver Hollers – Amy Helm, Ruthy Ungar and Chris Wood, with Larry Campbell)
13. Ain’t That a-Rockin’ All Night
14. Cradle Hymn
15. Bright Morning Stars Are Rising
16. Sing Hallelu (feat. Elizabeth Clark-Jerez)
17. The First Noel
18. The Blessings of Mary (feat. Larry Campbell)
19. Oh, Watch the Stars (feat. Aoife O’Donovan)
20. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
21. Mary Was the Queen of Galilee (feat. Gail Ann Dorsey and Joan Osborne)
22. Silent Night
23. Singing in the Land (feat. Natalie Merchant, Happy Traum, and John Sebastian)
24. Children, Go Where I Send Thee (feat. Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Ruthy Ungar, Gail Ann Dorsey, Dan Zanes, Aoife O’Donovan, Simi Stone)

Artist Bio
Mitchell is a founding member of the veteran indie rock band Ida and is one of Smithsonian Folkways’ best-selling artists alongside Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Ella Jenkins. Her previous Smithsonian Folkways releases are Blue Clouds (2012), the GRAMMY-nominated Little Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie (2012), Sunny Day (2010), and You Are My Little Bird (2006). Elizabeth and Dan Zanes also recently released a duet album Turn, Turn, Turn. Starting with the album You Are My Flower, recorded in 1998 in a single afternoon as a gift for friends and family, Mitchell has developed into an accomplished artist with a devoted fan base and critical acclaim. She recently hosted the children’s music tent at the Newport Folk Festival for the third time, and NPR (All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation) described her music as “some of the most uplifting kids’ music out there,” while People Magazine described Little Seed as “exquisite.”

Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy #1334

If you think you know Shonna Tucker from her years playing bass with Drive-By Truckers, then you are in for a surprise with her debut album of her songwriting with her new band, Eye Candy. The songs are sweet, fun, grooving, mellow, occasionally dark and reflective — a nice analogy for her last couple of years. Given the amazing band of John Neff (another former Trucker and player on nearly every record out of Athens in the last 15 years that I can recall), Bo Bedingfield, Clay Leverett, and Neil Golden, the record could easily move into heavier territory, but Tucker’s voice keeps it lighter and balances the monster playing. A Tell All has instant sing-alongs and lyrics that will make you laugh aloud, but also some deeper themes that are even a bit disturbing. If you are looking for a repeat of her previous band, you will not find it in this album; if you are looking for a solid hang out and have a mellow happy time, or weekend morning drive record — with a fantastic band and guest keys from Spooner Oldham — then you will be thrilled with A Tell All. Be sure to order the recipe poster, designed by our alum, Jack Logan, with Shonna Tucker’s recipes!

Liner Notes

Music Films: Special Deal From Amazon in October just for signing up for 30 days of Amazon Prime for free – watch over 40,000 movies

Download the podcast for free here or subscribe on iTunes.

Browan Lollar #1319

Browan Lollar released For The Givers And The Takers, an EP of his songs backed by someone from each of the hottest bands in Alabama right now in the studio, then promptly joined St. Paul & The Broken Bones on-the-spot one week later.  In the craziness that ensued with joining that fantastic band, Lollar’s EP may not have gotten the attention it should.  As an artist, Lollar is more than a go-to guitar slinger, he also is a visual artist with many notable album covers in his portfolio.  He prefers a complicated scratch-etch with colored India ink method that yields intense designs  that lend themselves to graphic replication, and creatively, this allows him to distill the music he hears on an album into a visual thought that adds to the story.  Although you may know him more for playing with some other bands, Browan Lollar’s EP demonstrates that he has a lot to offer of his own music as well.

Buy For the Givers and the Takers here or Browan Lollar on iTunes.

Liner Notes
The Pollies Where the Lies Begin
St. Paul & The Broken Bones Free EP
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit (Deluxe)
Big Star #1 Record/Radio City
The Bear Overseas Then Under
Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil Victims, Enemies & Old Friends The song in this radio show is from their previous album, but they have a new one, too: Catch the Presidents
Pine Hill Haints Ghost Dance
Etta James Tell Mama The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions

Browan Lollar For The Givers & The Takers I don’t do track by tracks reviews, but I’ll give my impressions of some of these songs because I really like them.
“Freight Train Heart” reminds me of the Replacements a little bit. You know I love them times eleventy zillion.
“Cars” I don’t think they know each other, but this song reminds me of The District Attorneys.
“Hotel Bars and Ringing Ears” Mellow interlude.
“One In Every Color” Intro builds like something familiar? What is it? This song has the lyrics for the title, “For the givers and the takers,” a phrase used regularly by my best friend. This is a dark tune…
“30 Nails” A delicate duet about divorce, that has a shift midway and the instrumentation really spreads the mood. I’m struck by the comments made by BJ Barham of American Aquarium on one of their songs about Bill Corbin’s divorce, “This is a song about divorce and how much it sucks.”

Here’s a gallery of some of Browan’s album cover art:

Contact Browan Lollar for cover art work through Twitter @BrowanLollar

Kenny Roby #1317

Kenny Roby returns to music with a dark record, Memories and Birds. Roby describes it as a “slow burn,” an album that builds as you listen to the entire sequence. You cannot miss the vocal hint of Elvis Costello in Roby’s voice, which surprised me, as I had not noticed that back in the 6 String Drag days. This is not a nostalgic record–it is totally new territory for Roby. Make some coffee and slowly wake up on a weekend morning with this record on repeat. You’ll find yourself reaching for it again, as the lyrics slowly burn in your psyche and emerge at the strangest times. Roby has made a memorable album, but not one that jumps up in your face at first.

Liner Notes

  • Kenny Roby Memories & Birds
    “Memories & Birds,” “Tired of Being in Love,” “The Monster” Roby was also the founder of 6 String Drag, a band signed to Steve Earle’s label, E Squared, in the 1990’s. They recorded 3 or 4 albums, depending on who you ask, 2 of which were released. Roby also collaborated with previously featured songwriter, Neal Casal.
  • The V-Roys Sooner or Later Sooner Or Later “Cry” This is another band with many branches that have touched this program, including Scott Miller (and the Commonwealth, not the guy from Big Star who passed away this April), John Paul Keith (now of the One Four Fives), & Mike/Mic Harrison (and the High Scores).
  • Two Dollar Pistols Here Tomorrow Gone Today
    “Here Tomorrow, Gone Today” We’ve played several songs from the guys who were in this band at various times on this program. They’ve backed Tift Merritt, as well. John Howie still fronts a band, The Rosewood Revue, and the original drummer also played for the Squirrel Nut Zippers. I think those are all the branches of the family tree that touch this band that have been on this program!
  • 6 String Drag “She’s a Hurricane” on 6 String Drag 6 String DragHigh Hat High Hat & 6 String Drag are not currently available on mp3, so these are CD links. There’s a long-standing rumor that some deluxe re-issues of these 2 albums and some other bootleg material might get released. My fingers are crossed! Rob Keller of the band has a great bluegrass band, The Welfare Liners, who we will feature soon on the program.High On A Hilltop
  • Tim Easton Beat the Band “Nobody Plays Piano in Athens, GA” Roby will be on the road with Easton later this year.

Zion National Park

Family hiking vacation, April 2018: athletic, outdoorsy family from South Carolina, with minimal desert hiking experience (56 miles in Grand Canyon). Regularly mountain bike, run, day hike, kayak, and lift weights. Physical preparation: just altered our normal routes to include more hills and stairs with our packs.

Let’s start with the lesser parts of the trip, to end on a high note, so to speak.

Emerald Pools (Upper & Lower): People, man. They suck. Especially parents who are about my age. They’re the worst…and their kids are the biggest brats. Imagine the most spoiled group of kids having a meltdown at Disney while their parents wander off and leave them to disturb everyone else and deface the flower beds, then transport those people to a beautiful natural phenomenon of pristine emerald green pools in the desert, where they throw snacks in the pools, run up and down the trails endangering other hikers, kill the insects and spiders, move rocks and throw them in the pools, and listen to their music blaring on portable speakers — and that’s just the parents. Encapsulate this group of people and you’ll know why people hate American tourists.

Zion Lodge: Stay in a less expensive hotel in Springdale, just outside the official park gates. Take the shuttle into the park, since parking is often full. While clean with comfortable beds and nice bathrooms, there is simply nothing special about this lodge, unlike many historic lodges in other National Parks. It’s definitely not El Tovar (Grand Canyon) and not in the “great location makes the price worthwhile” category, either. We preferred the Watchmen Campground, where we stayed for three nights.

Red Rocks Grill: Absolutely do not waste your time and money, unless you desperately need a spinach salad. If you are staying at the Lodge and want to eat after the shuttle stops running in the evening, you are trapped here for supper. Their signature Red Rocks Salad with spinach, fruit and prickly pear vinaigrette is delicious. Despite having eight servers for twenty tables, the restaurant managed to take over an hour to serve the food each time we ate there. The food itself (trout, steak, hamburgers, supposed grilled chicken on the salad, but much more like freeze-dried dog chews) had absolutely no flavor. I’m honestly not sure how they managed to make the most bland, poorly cooked meals outside of a hospital, but they did it.

The Cafe attached to the Zion Lodge: Bless their hearts. So many people working, yet not one able to actually do their job. I thought one was going to cry when we ordered the bag lunch on their menu. I mean, the sandwiches were already made and in the fridge, but putting an apple, cookie, and sandwich in a bag completely overwhelmed him. If there are 3 people waiting for meals, expect waits of 30 minutes or more for breakfast items. Tip: ask for your coffee cup as soon as you order, because you can drink 3 or 4 cups while you wait..and wait..and wait for your food.

…my opinion, based on my experience April 2018

Now for the great stuff!

Summary: The harder the trail, the more likely that people practice Leave No Trace and proper hiking etiquette. Always be prepared with adequate hydration (and electrolytes, if it is hot). Four liters per person per day is a good minimum. There are NOT places to refill along the trails. Flip flops are not hiking shoes; I did not realize this should be specifically stated prior to this trip. Most of the trails are sand or sand on rock and VERY slippery.

Don’t endanger your safety and the safety of other hikers by being unprepared. This was notable, rampant, and unexpected at Zion. There were many, many, many people on trails that were entirely too difficult for their physical condition and preparation.

The park was “full” when we were there, so I can only imagine how much worse this would be in the summer heat. Prepare all of your food and beverage before you head to Springdale/Zion. Options are minimal and expensive once you are in the area. Start your days early to avoid the worst of the tourists and crowds. Shuttle waits at the Visitors Center can be 3 hours. Really — you’re going to end up as a misanthrope by the end of this trip.

Snow Canyon, St. George: Magical Martian Moonscape! Imagine bright orange whipped cream formations of rock. Amazing. We hiked 5 miles at Snow Canyon, mainly to acclimate our Southern hiking experience to desert conditions and get comfortable with our footing on the sand and sand-on-rocks terrain. So glad we detoured for this hike on our way to Zion.

Observation Point: We took the shuttle from the Watchmen Campground (where we were car & tent camping) to the trail head. As always, if there’s a bathroom, use it. We hiked the 8 mile round trip route (up 4 miles, down 4 miles). Like most of Zion’s standard trails, paths are well-marked, although in many areas, so many people have hiked off-trail, that it can look like there are options, when there are not. Stick to the trails. Parks are not the place to forge your own way. Leave that to the Park Service and keep other hikers safe by staying on the marked trail.

NOTE: If you go off the edge, you die. Adorable, enticing chipmunks scurry around the top, and a toddler would have gone off the edge if an alert stranger had not grabbed his arm at the critical moment. The clueless parents paid no attention at all to their precious child chasing the chipmunk, and got ugly with the person who prevented their child’s death. WTF? People: you suck at parenting if you hauled your pre-schooler all the way up to Observation Point for your family photo, only to ignore their safety to the point that your child almost went over the edge. This hiking trip instilled in me a deep hatred for idiot parents of my generation.

The Narrows (Virgin River): Absolutely worth doing, even when crowded. Wish we had hiked further up the river. Definitely rent the dry pants, neoprene booties, and water shoes non-summer. We found the wooden hiking sticks surprisingly helpful in the current. Proper gear made this a wonderful hike and prevented hypothermia. It was 74F air, but 46F water when we went. FYI The first mile is on a paved path. You can put on your dry pants, etc. when you get to the river, if you’ve brought a daypack, but it’s extremely crowded at the start of the river trail, so it’s simpler to gear up before you get on the shuttle. Experienced Narrows Hikers all seemed to gear up early and wear it all the way back to the Outfitters to return it.

Tip: buy 2 shower coins and take the best 10 minute shower of your life afterwards in the public shower down around back of the outfitter building. Bring your own towel and soap. We also did laundry there halfway through our trip, which was glorious.

Hidden Canyon to Secret Arch: We had low expectations for this hike, but it turned out to be one of our favorites. The “secret arch” is half a mile past the end of the maintained portion of the trail. According to the park service people we spoke with, this is an official-unofficial path and does not violate the LNT ethic. It’s definitely more challenging to navigate because you have to scamper over boulders and “scramble” in several areas. It’s not a “path” in the typical sense. We did not notice the decades-old arrows etched in the rock until our way down.

Grotto Trail: We did part of Grotto Trail as an extension to our Hidden Canyon hike. Beautiful. Not physically demanding.

Watchmen Trail: We hiked Watchmen as an afterthought, but it was lovely. Really glad we added this trail on our last morning in Zion.

Watchmen Campground: We camped for 3 nights in the full campground. Other campers observed the quiet hours, except for one old drunk fart on our last night. There were mule deer behind our tent. Only one of the three bathroom buildings was open. It often ran out of toilet paper and soap. Be prepared. It had a large sink for cleaning cooking equipment and a drinking water hand pump to refill bottles and hydration packs.

Travel Logistics: There are several shuttle companies from Zion to St. George and Las Vegas. For your Zion drop-off/pick-up, book it from the Visitors Center location; do not pay extra for a “door to door” pick up within the park. The traffic is horrible at the entrance and could delay your arranged time significantly, and commercial vehicles are not allowed past a certain point within the park. Cell phones and WiFi are non-existent in the park. Even the supposed WiFi for Zion Lodge guests resembled early 1990s dial-up. Do not count on being able to communicate in any way other than traditional landline.

Gear I’m Super Glad I Brought: Osprey Day Pack, biodegradable bathroom wipes (pack in/pack out, y’all!), chapstick, sunscreen, 3L hydration pack, double walled stainless water bottle, merino wool socks, quick dry underwear, lens wipes, moisturizer, G2 powder, Nuun hydration, snacks, snacks, snacks, & ear plugs.