- Eric Overacker
Squabbling musicians storming out on each other is a played-out trope that everyone knows by heart. But somehow, mismatched folk duo Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimwood has achieved the unthinkable theyve been doing their thing for almost 40 years, and a wise gambler would bet on Trout Fishing in America sticking around.
Our friendship has remained strong, and our collaboration has remained strong. Im still interested in the creation and the performance of the music that we do, Idlet said. We havent lost the creative drive; we havent lost the urge and the need to perform. Were road dogs.
Idlet and Grimwood, at 6 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 5 inches, respectively, are as visually contrasting as their divergent backgrounds.
One of the things that has given us the longevity that weve got is that we do come from different traditions. And weve been free to explore those traditions, and its added to both of our musical lives, Idlet said.
A self-proclaimed folk tradition musician, Idlet doesnt read music; he plays by heart. He walked out on his college basketball team at age 19 to play rock n roll in the U.S. Virgin Islands and never looked back. Meanwhile, Grimwoods roots are steeped in classical music and jazz. At the University of Houston, Grimwood studied 15th-century counterpoint and he once had a chair in the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Idlet said Grimwood would go back to school today if he had the chance. Conversely, Idlet has never regretted trading chalkboards for surfboards. The pair was part of folk-rock band St. Elmos Fire until the group disbanded in 1979, and theyve been playing together as Trout Fishing in America since 1977.
Touring is a constant thing for us, Idlet said.
Based in Arkansas, the band makes short treks to play a string of gigs over a few days and then heads back home before setting out again.
Its been a good way to stay in touch with our families. We both have kids, and weve been married for a long time to our wives, Idlet said. Its a great way to run a musical life.
The four-time Grammy Award nominees write a slew of childrens songs to parallel the duos grown-up fare.
On tour, theyll often do a kids show earlier in the day and then a show for the parents at night. Trout Fishing in America released two childrens books with accompanying CDs My Name is Chicken Joe and Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important in 2009 and 2011.
Their upcoming show at The Blue Door will be targeted at an adult audience, but much of their music radiates a lighthearted flare and comic smirk.
You need to be entertaining ... you need to write songs that make people interested to come out and hear you make them laugh, make them feel. I think thats something we excel at, the natural humor, Idlet said. I dont take what we do lightly, but its hard to stay serious for too long. I enjoy what I do. We both do.