If you go
What: Opening reception for "As the Road is Long," photography by Sarah Law
When: 7-10 p.m. March 8. Exhibit runs through April 6
Where: Leon Gallery, 112 E. 17th Ave., Denver
More info: leongallery.com
For several years, photographer Sarah Law has been documenting the lives of bands on tour.
She spent several years on the road with These United States, as well as Colorado band Paper Bird. Law grew up in Colorado and was once part-owner of Denver's Leon Gallery. Next week, she'll open an exhibit there, "As the Road is Long," so we gave her a ring to talk about it.
How did you end up working with so many Colorado bands?
Well, I actually grew up in Fort Collins, and in '88 I left for college and my family moved back to California. I was one of the original owners of Leon — the gallery where the show will be.
These United States, the first band I was working and touring with, when they were a band their label was based in Boulder. They would spend a lot of time in Colorado, and I was often with them and became reconnected with the Denver community. It's a much tinier world than people think. Everyone knows everyone.
Paper Bird, several years ago, probably four years ago, was playing the same festival as These United States and pulled up to the camping site next to us in a giant bus and we had dinner with them. They've become really good friends of mine. They're the only band I still really get on the road with, because we're friends and it's fun to get out with them ... I think Brooklyn, Denver and Portland are the places I've spent the most time.
You've worked with The Lumineers, who did Brooklyn and then Denver, which is weird.
They're just dear friends. I ended up meeting them probably three years ago. They played a teeny tiny garage show in Colorado Springs and they opened for These United States, and there weren't many people there, and it was kind of us watching each other and a few other people. They stayed in touch and another Denver band, Dovekins, were friends of mine and played with The Lumineers ... So I've never actually toured with The Lumineers, but we're good friends and by virtue of that, have gotten to do fun little shoots with them. It's been interesting watching their path and it's been a joy to see. They're lovely, amazing people.
How many years were you on the road with These United States?
Probably about three total. I've only been touring with bands for a few years. I was a high school teacher before ... It's a really cool journey because so few bands at that level will ever have documentation of it because they don't have the money, and there's very few people who can afford to spend time on the road like I did. I was in a lucky position.
Does documenting that kind of experience highlight certain things about that life?
Absolutely. It is very interesting because I'm very unobtrusive, and that's one of the reason everyone lets me come along. I never get in the way. I try to not exist ... It's been a very nostalgic process to go through, because I have thousands and thousands and thousands of photos from the over years, and I remember every moment, and its emotional because remember everything I was feeling and everything we were doing.
I think the moments I love the most are the quiet ones. I think people have this image in their minds of what bands do and what people do backstage. What a band wants after a show is a hot shower, clean laundry, something pretty healthy to eat and room with a door so they can go to sleep. So the privilege for me is getting to see that. They're normal people ... I feel like the dichotomy of what everybody thinks and what is the reality is really amazing, and I love to be able to show a little bit of that.
For me it's all the truly dreary day-to-day stuff that I find more interesting than anything. It's just people. That's what I hope the show is going to show.
Contact Ashley Dean at 303-473-1109. On Twitter: twitter.com/AshaleyJill.