Seth Glier is an anomaly in the music world. He’s played the vaunted Kerrville Folk Festival and shared the Eighth Step stage in October where he did a duet on “Driving Wheel” with Tom Rush, whose repertoire runs from Harvard Square folk to electric blues. He returns to Schenectady, New York’s Eighth Step Saturday night (February 10th). Seth’s new album is appropriately called Everything. The first song on the LP is “Rise.” Also a single, it opens with the line “What if this is the beginning, not the beginning of the end?” He’s singing positively about the environment in a post pandemic world. How unique is that?
“One of the reasons I decided to open with that line – and even writing this record – is that most of our cultural narrative when it comes to climate change is pretty doom and gloom. It’s pretty much the apocalypse. Those are our TV shows. Those are the stories we have.
“We’re in such a place with our climate where the natural world is not going to be able to fix itself without our involvement. That’s one of the reasons rewilding is so attractive. It requires citizen science groups and communities like Trout Unlimited to get involved and either rewind a river or preserve a meadow. These are little things that add up, but I think we spend a lot of time going, ‘Well it’s over. Things are gloom and doom!’ And the question at the beginning is just asking you to (flip) that narrative upside down.”
Seth’s muse evolved from a childhood spent caring for his autistic brother. “He lived his life being unable to speak at least in a verbal form. When I was about 13, I would wake him up, give him a shower, dress him, get him ready for a state program, and then I would catch the bus to school.
“I was having a non-verbal conversation with another human being. It required of me a whole new way of listening, and I really attribute my brother for shaping me into a songwriter ’cause having a relationship with him required me to pick up a lot of observational language. A gesture in his shoulder might (cause) him to have a seizure or he might throw medication across the room. Sometimes there were positive things in the relationship, but I would say that had a lot to do with my drive and my focus because once I found a way of communicating my music with songs and storytelling, I became pretty committed to being musical in that way.
“I think for me serving an audience in a small room and taking care of them as a songwriter and as an entertainer for a night is a very natural extension of communicating and getting my brother breakfast. There was an absolute line between looking after someone and advocating for them and how that has evolved into my music and how I present my gifts.”
Another single from Everything is “Mammoth.”
“There are these two Russian scientists who have a belief that nature can correct itself when it’s given the tools to do that. They want to try to bring back an extinct animal, the wooly mammoth. They’re finding these perfectly preserved specimens, and they’re able to clone their DNA, extract their DNA. The next question is how do we recreate a mammoth?
“This team of scientists around the world is building wombs. It is literally an insane story. They’re putting millions and millions of dollars of resources into bringing back extinct animals. None of those resources are actually going to the people who are already facing challenges of climate catastrophe. I couldn’t help but feel so terrible for the mammoth coming back. I’m really writing about resurrection in general and how peculiar that is.”
Seth performs solo on piano and guitar, both acoustic and electric, but his lyrics are most important to him. “I really like having rhythm as a foundational part of my music even though I don’t play with a drummer. To me I want the rhythm of the song to be hypnotic enough that the message sneaks its way through.”
Doors open at 7 pm; 8th Step at Proctors (Addy Theatre) is wheelchair accessible; free audience parking is available around the corner in the Broadway Garage. Tickets are $25 advance / $28 day of show / $40 Gold Circle (front center section seats, available at 8thstep.org and through Proctors Box Office (518) 346-6204.