Singer-songwriter Trevor Hall to play Moe’s Alley on his ‘Small is Beautiful’ tour
It was after a concert at the World Cafe in Philadelphia that things fell apart for Trevor Hall. A touring musician who started his music career at the age of 16, the now 27-year-old had finally hit his wall. He was feeling tired before his performance and as time went on he felt weaker and weaker. He didn’t know if he could go on stage. He pushed through and played but afterwards he could hardly stand up.
“I was just getting so overwhelmed with things in the music world and just being a touring musician,” he says. “I couldn’t find a moment in time to plug back in and recharge my own batteries. I got offstage, sat down and said, ‘I think I need to take a break.’”
Hall was scheduled to take an early flight to California the next day to play a wedding but he had to cancel. “There was no way I was going to make it to California,” he explains.
The road can be grueling for any artist, but Hall is not a typical young rockstar. In a lifestyle notorious for excess and pre-fab images, Hall is a soft-spoken spiritual seeker whose music reflects his belief that all life is sacred, everything is connected, and there is a peaceful, beautiful place inside each of us.
A singer-songwriter who crafts songs around his acoustic guitar, Hall adds hip-hop-inspired beats, reggae-tinged grooves and just a touch of gritty rock to his music. His lyrics dismiss division and fighting and paint images of one people, happiness and love. In his song “Unity,” Hall sings about moving beyond theology and connecting on a higher plane:
“I don’t want to reason any more about the one I love / I don’t want to reason any more about God above / I just want to melt away in all its grace / Drift away to that sacred place / Where there’s no more you and me, no more they and we, just unity.”
The sentiment is typical of Hall, who manages to embrace vast, open spirituality, without sounding like a watered-down, New Age wanna-be. And it’s because this connection between his spirituality and music is so vital to what he does that Hall knew he needed to temporarily step away from the music business.
After the episode in Philadelphia, he did take a break. He went to India, a place he visits every year, and spent a lot of time in the forests of Vermont and Maine. The plan for his time away was to not do much but he ended up doing quite a bit, including getting married.
One thing he didn’t do was play music—at least not at first. He says picking up his guitar was the last thing he wanted to do. But eventually he did pick it up, not out of a desire to write new material, but out of the love of the music.
By the end of what became a year and a half-long break, Hall had 12 new songs that would become his recently-released album, Chapter of the Forest. The album is, for him, all about healing and taking a breath. “I spent a lot of time in the forest, but it’s not just about being in the forest,” he says. “Chapter of the Forest is about your internal place of solitude and reflection.”
When GT spoke with Hall, he was preparing to hit the road for his Small is Beautiful tour. After a summer of playing festivals and big stages, he’s playing small venues this time around. Finding balance and space to feed his spirit while being on the road is a challenge that Hall is still working out. His approach is to have fun and “not be tight,” but to stay focused on the big picture.
“As soon as I get a little bit lazy,” he says, “it all unravels super quick. For me, my main thing is to try to be very disciplined when it comes to my food and exercise and rest, and just try to get through it.”
Being clear and tuned in to the spirit behind the music, and sharing that spirit with audiences, is of utmost importance to Hall. He can push through being weak physically, he says, but it’s crucial he stay strong spiritually.
“When I’m weak in my spiritual life and I don’t have that to plug into or grab onto, then I fall really quickly,” he says. “If I don’t have that internal space within myself, and I’m singing about it, then it will just be empty singing.”
Trevor Hall will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15/adv, $20/door. For more information, call 479-1854. PHOTO: EMORY HALL