Margo Cilker discovers her sense of place on ‘Pohorylle’
Margo Cilker has long wanted to connect and explore the world around her. This desire to travel resonates throughout the nine songs of his sparkling debut Pohorylfrom country jazz band “Tehachapi” to album opener “That River”, “Flood Plain” and everything in between.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Cilker now resides with her partner in south-central Washington. Previously, her travels have taken her to Enterprise, Ore.; Clemson, SC and Spain, all helping to inform and shape the sound and perspectives present throughout Pohoryl.
“I feel like I always live in a city before the press,” Cilker tells The Boot. “Since I started traveling, I wanted to find a place where I could settle down with a small urban community full of natural beauty.”
Cilker’s wanderlust was instilled in her by her parents, who constantly took her on hikes and trips to Mexico to visit her eccentric uncle during her youth. It was in Mexico that she was amazed at how ingrained music was in the culture there. This sense of adventure led Cilker to travel east to attend Clemson University, where she eventually went to study abroad in Spain.
There, his musical ambitions and influences continued to grow. Cilker met and eventually joined a band performing covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Neil Young. She was also captivated by the local Basque culture of the region, which is reflected in Pohoryl in the romanticism of its writing and the intricacies of the arrangements, including the additions of horns and accordion.
“My inspiration has always come from nature and new places,” says Cilker. “I’m lucky to have parents who have always taken me exploring the woods and the backcountry. My grandparents also have an amazing farm nestled in Trinity County California, which is full of mountains with a river running through it. It has long been one of my favorite places to find inspiration.
One of the songs most directly influenced by Cilker’s travels is the swinging “Tehachapi”. The track was inspired by Cilker’s cross-country expedition to the Pacific Northwest after dropping out of school in Clemson which took her through Tehachapi, a small town just east of Bakersfield, in California. Cilker recalls Little Feat’s “Willin'”—another song that references Tehachapi—being her anthem at the time, further contributing to her wonderment as she rode through town.
“It was a very cathartic moment that went through town,” Cilker says. “At the time I wrote the song, I was rooted to one place, so much of its content reminds me of my travels while exploring the contrast between being in one place and moving around.”
However, Cilker’s thirst for exploration is not the only subject explored in the album. She also addresses abuse and hurt in “Broken Arm In Oregon” and exposes the flaws of southern tropes on “Kevin Johnson.” She later reflects on the feeling of helplessness in the face of authority, subjugation and angst of young women in today’s world with “Brother Taxman Preacher”.
The song evokes how many of our societal structures were designed to primarily benefit white men, brothers (“So I can light up every room / I’ve ever walked in / All that matters is / What’s true in your head”) to the tax authorities (“I could go door to door / Blame all the unlucky and the poor”) and the preacher (“I could tell you who to love / I could tell you who to vote for / Who to pity, who to fuck…”)
“This song is about me creating something productive out of the dark feelings that I have,” Cilker says. “The constructive nature of music is so healing for me. To be a writer is to live traumatic experiences and to be able to turn them into something beautiful. »
The harmonies of Margo’s sister, Sarah Cilker, help bring even more life to all facets of the album. Their musical bond was forged at a young age, thanks in part to their grandmother Esther, who was herself the child of a preacher, and one of her four daughters who traveled in a family band .
“Whenever Esther and I are together, we always go into song,” Cilker explains. “I feel like I got my musical work ethic from her. She taught me that when you have a good voice, it’s important to use that God-given ability to spread happiness and love in the world.
Cilker has done just that with Pohoryl and will look to do the same with her highly anticipated follow-up which she recently began recording in Vancouver, Washington. She will also bring that joy to people on her upcoming tour dates out west with Hayes Carll and overseas in Europe this summer and fall. You can see Cilker’s upcoming itinerary below and find additional ticketing information on his official website.
Margo Cilker 2022 Tour Dates:
April 19 — Commonwealth Hall — Salt Lake City, Utah
April 20 — Olympic Site — Boise, Idaho*
April 21 — Tractor Tavern — Seattle, Washington*
April 22 — Tractor Tavern — Seattle, Washington*
April 23 — Aladdin Theater — Portland, Ore*
April 24 — Arcata Theater Lounge — Arcata, California*
April 26 — Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub — Sacramento, CA*
April 27 — The Guild Theater — Menlo Park, California*
April 28 — Great American Music Hall — San Francisco, California*
May 1 — Kilkenny Roots Festival — Kilkenny, IE (2 sets)
May 2 — Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival — Belfast, UK
May 3 — Ruby Sessions — Dublin, IE
May 4 — Workman’s Cellar — Dublin, IE
May 6 — Poetry Club — Glasgow, United Kingdom
May 8 — The Cluny — Newcastle, UK
May 10 — The Blue Basement — London, UK
May 12 — The Great Escape Festival — Brighton, UK
May 21 — Fisherman’s Village Music Festival — Everett, Wash.
June 2 — Schellraiser Music Festival — Mcgill, Nevada.
June 18 — Lost Art Music Festival — Douglasville, Ga.
July 2 — High Sierra Music Festival — Quincy, California.
September 1 — End Of The Road Festival — Salisbury, UK
September 3 – Moseley Folk Festival – Birmingham, UK
September 21 — Ideal Bar — København, DK
September 22 — Kulturkvarteret Kristianstad — Kristianstad, SE
September 23 — Folk å Rock — Malmö, SE
September 24 — Garage Bar — Höganäs, SE
September 27 – Belleville, Oslo – Oslo, NO
September 28 — Bar Moskus — Trondheim, NO
September 29 – Captain James Cook – Östersund, SE
September 30 — Kulturväven — Umeå, SE
October 1 — Gasklockorna Gavle — Gavle, SE
October 2 — Bryggarsalen Konferens, Event & Konsert — Stockholm, SE
* opening dates for Hayes Carll
John Prine: 10 things you might not know about the folk icon