Driving is like life; it can be a herky-jerky stop-and-go or a smooth straightaway, less dependent on road and vehicle conditions than the mindset of the driver. Salt Lake singer-songwriter Stacey Board figured that out some time ago, and now, it’s about setting the cruise control with no immediate destination.
Board’s ride began in Decatur, Alabama, home of the world’s first wave-making pool, where she learned to swim and buck defeatism. “I was told I was a natural born sinker. That established my love of being told what I could not do.”
Her earliest memories, though, are of singing in churches, schools, anywhere. When her parents bought her a guitar, she “plunked around,” trying to come up with her own tunes. She became a compulsive composer. “Somewhere, writing became incredibly important, just for the sake of writing.” At 16, she sang on a dare at a radio station in Pensacola, Fla., where her family had moved. Someone called in and offered a spot in a band, priming her engine.
“That led from garage band stuff to working with adults in house bands at nice fern bars,” she recalls. “I was writing songs, but only sang covers with them. I was too shy to bring my songs to anyone.”
From there, she went to Athens, Ga., where she attended college. There, she overcame the shyness, performing her tunes for friends, but some “youthfully inexperienced choices” stalled her creatively. A “horrible” marriage and the ensuing emotional shell shock caused her to abandon music. She again hit the road, pulling up on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, where she discovered hang gliding, which landed her in L.A. and, coincidentally, back in music. Some new “flying friends” dabbled in recording and persuaded Board to demo some tunes so they could try out some new gear. Her creativity sputtered to life. “As soon as we started recording, I started writing like crazy.” The end result? Her first CD, Simple Thing.
Concurrently, Board was slogging away in the film industry at a postproduction house for digital special effects. Though it was “a great environment” and paid “ridiculously well,” she was unhappy. “They owned you. You could be called in at any time, for ridiculously long days and nights. There was no option of saying no.” Sleep, social life and music were falling by the wayside and, when a close friend died in a flying accident two months before his wedding, she woke up. “I had allowed myself to be sidetracked for so long and it seemed that the universe had tilted to get me to slide back over into music. I had a second chance and I was going to grab it.”
Enter Tony Kane, a “flying buddy” who had become much more. He’d previously encouraged her to send Simple Thing to Salt Lake’s community radio station KRCL. “Bill Boyd was the program director at the time and he liked it, played it, and actually called me about it. I thought it was a prank call!” More raves from local papers convinced her to take her money and music on the road to Utah.
That was five years ago. Since then, Stacey Board has played anywhere, everywhere and with everyone, making friends and fostering collaboration in a budding singer-songwriter scene. She’s released three albums, the latest of which is the aptly titled Drive (StaceyBoard.com), a collection of mellifluous, folky pop tunes. It’s her first with a full band and features cameos from her talented circle of friends (among them, Wendy Ohlwiler, David Prill, Glade, Gina French, Melissa Warner and KRCL DJ Susanne Millsaps), and was produced by Kane who, incidentally, is now her husband.
The songs are different characters interconnected on their “little metaphorical drive through life,” but the record is actually a reflection on Board’s ride, laced with modesty, moxie and humor. She’s arrived at her destination; making music is her “day job” and she’s living “happily ever after.”
“I do it for pleasure, but it’s more accurate to say I do it because I can’t not do it. I may find that in the future, things may be different, but this is working for me now.”