Indie-americana band The National Parks jammed out with 30 fans in the flickering light of a small campfire in a Grant Creek backyard as part of their COVID-19 safe Campfire Tour on Sept. 30, 2020.
The Provo, Utah-based band has been touring the west, playing small backyard concerts at private homes to promote their newest album, "Wildflower," released in June 2020.
Brady Parks, lead vocalist for The National Parks, said the new touring format comes with additional challenges, "We have completely stripped it back, its the four of us on the road and that's it. We set it all up, we run our own sound, we do our own mixing," Parks said. "It's been quite the adjustment."
The band travels in a single van, which was parked neatly in the driveway of the Grant Creek home that hosted the show. Hosts for the tour volunteered over social media. The only requirement? A big backyard.
Parks said the idea for the tour began as the state of Utah was beginning to open up after the spring COVID-19 shutdown. They played around 20 shows in Utah and Idaho before hitting the road for other "open" states, bringing together small groups of people six feet apart and always outdoors.
It's the perfect fit," Parks said. "We write a lot of songs about the outdoors and our music has a lot of ties with nature."
But playing in such an intimate setting means a strip-down of the songs. The "Wildflower" album is energetic and loud, but Parks says it wasn't a problem. "Its been so fun to strip it down to the form it was written in," he said, "I think it just works rally well with our vibe and who we are as a band."
During the show, Parks and his bandmates: Sydney Macfarlane on keys and backup vocals, drummer Cam Brannelly and violinist Megan Taylor Parks, conversed and bantered with the crowd. The crowd asked questions, told stories and even joked that the The National Parks ought to write a song about Glacier National Park - to which Brady Parks replied by admitting he had never been.
"There is a big part of us that misses the big energetic crazy crowd shows," Parks said, "but also it's so fun knowing that we can have these intimate experiences with close, tight-knit fans."
He says that even when COVID-19 is no longer a concern, the band might consider continuing with a few campfire-style shows each tour.
The band is headed to Washington for a few stops in Spokane and Morton before continuing down through Oregon and Colorado before traveling over to the midwest, where they plan to play in Manhattan, Kansas and St. Louis, Missouri.
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