There’s something so curiously captivating about Buck Meek (of Big Thief). The unique way he approaches the guitar. The storylines embedded in his lyrics. The delivery with which he presents his songs. He’s an artist that’s hard to put words to. His music is equal parts joyously jagged and cathartically comforting. Required listening to wrap your mind around the aforementioned sentiment includes Big Thief’s NPR Tiny Desk session (Google it), and his recent, self-titled debut record.

Meek is on the road bringing the songs from the later to audiences around the globe, which will find him in Portsmouth on Tuesday, July 2 for a gig at the Book and Bar.

EDGE caught up with Meek in support of that very show.

EDGE: When did you first cross paths with a guitar? How’d you begin to figure out how to wrangle that thing and get it to work for you?

Meek: I first crossed paths with a broom while watching Raffi at 6 years old. I loved the sound of the hundreds of straw bristles singing together, which felt like my favorite song of his, “Brush Your Teeth,” coming to life.

EDGE: What do you appreciate about exploring its powers?

Meek: I love how portable the guitar is. I love writing in nature, or in living environments; like an RV park in a foreign country surrounded by BBQs and the white noise of many conversations in languages I can’t understand. It’s only an instrument, like any other, but it’s unique in that it can provide harmony, melody, rhythm, and can be carried on your back into any paradigm.

EDGE: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it?

Meek: Music provides a medium to translate the abstract from within into physical laws, high orders of mathematics, frequency akin to color, etc., and most importantly, a form of communication. What are we without communication?

EDGE: What do you appreciate about going from a band setting (Big Thief) to a solo entity? Is diversity in your musical diet important to you?

Meek: Big Thief is an expanse with which to create my identity as a guitarist, composer and improviser, and my solo project is an expanse with which to create my identity as a songwriter and storyteller. Those worlds are all very different, yet symbiotic.

EDGE: I love the album cover. The fox and the rainbow. So much beauty in those two things. Where’d that snapshot come from? What’s it mean to you?

Meek: My pal E. Ryan McMackin took that photo on a hike in Iceland. I thought of my song “Best Friend” from the record, which is about a dog running away from his owner to return to nature. I saw both fear and curiosity of domestication in the fox’s eyes.

EDGE: Is songwriting an easy or arduous process for you? Is there a particular well you draw inspiration from? Do you write “in the moment,” or do you actively need to schedule time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards)?

Meek: Sometimes they come in a flash all at once. More often than not, the first verse or idea usually comes very quickly and beyond my control, behind the wheel, while swimming, etc., then it takes intentional hard work and time to finish. I’m learning to trust – and really enjoy the process. Songwriting is like building a puzzle while simultaneously solving it.

Lately I’ve been spending much of my time in the mountains, the desert, and the ocean, and have been pulling a lot of inspiration from nature, and humans' relationships with it. For instance, I’m inspired by how humans developed intuitive relationships with herbs in order to make their own medicines, so I try to build my own intuitive relationships like that in song. Though the most fluid process for me is to listen to my body, and my mind’s noise, and take the central truth I’m feeling in a moment, and attempt to externalize it in the most genuine way that also moves me. Writing feels the most essential and effortless (a labor of love at least) for me when my intention is to heal myself.

EDGE: What do you appreciate about traveling around the country and, heck, the world performing your songs for people?

Meek: Gaining perspective into how other people live and communicate with each other is naturally equalizing, which I think is critical for human development.

EDGE: Is it weird to step onto a stage to play to a roomful of strangers? Or does that add to the intrigue of performing?

Meek: It’s much easier for me to play to strangers than to close friends or family. Strangers allow you the freedom to fully inhabit your stories, even if they’re completely true or confessional, without the empathetic awareness of people who have seen you through various stages of your life and consciousness. ... I value both experiences equally, but they feel different to me.

EDGE: Are you good at staring contests?

Meek: I’m no good at staring contests, but I’ll eat anyone under the table in a fried catfish eating contest.

EDGE: You’re heading to Portsmouth – a place you’re no stranger to – for a show at the Book & Bar on July 2nd. What excites you about the gig? What can folks expect?

Meek: I love playing in bookstores; it’s always humbling to be surrounded by an audience of great authors. Plus most people are better listeners when they’re among a wealth of books. I recently played in a library, and sang my song “Tom the Tall,” in which I yell for a moment at the end, which was thrilling – to scream in a library!

EDGE: Being that it’s an establishment that slings books and beverages, let’s discuss: what’s a book that best sums up the existence of Buck Meek? What’s your bar beverage of choice?

Meek: There’s not one book that sums up my existence, but I’ve dreamt of someday writing a travel guide for my secret America. In my time touring I’ve stumbled upon so many enigmatic and beautiful places - barbed wire museums, lithium hot spring oasis, the birthplace of the hamburger, and so many perfect breakfast joints, etc.

I’ve been in Portugal this week, and almost every bar has a robotic fresh-orange-juice machine, with swarms of bees crawling over the clear plastic casing, and a doomed few trapped inside the spinning gear orbs. I’ve been feeling especially romantic this week - maybe a symptom of accidentally drinking honey bee spirits.

Visit for further information and to scoop up a ticket to this show.

Go and Do

What: Buck Meek

When: 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 2

Where: Book and Bar, 40 Pleasant St., Portsmouth

Tickets: $10, available at

More info: Visit