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At Sou’wester, Laura Gibson sings of building an ‘Empire,’ rebuilding a life

Singer and Ivy Ross Ricci perform Jan. 26

Published on January 25, 2018 12:29PM

Last changed on January 26, 2018 12:24PM

Laura Gibson


Laura Gibson

SEAVIEW, WASH. — The Sou’wester Lodge will host a special benefit show with musician Laura Gibson and Ivy Ross Ricci 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26.

“Empire Builder,” Gibson’s fourth LP, is named for the Amtrak route she took while moving from Portland to New York City in the summer of 2014, after deciding to enter graduate school and move away from a supportive community, a close-knit family and her longtime boyfriend.

Gibson found even more of a challenge than she’d envisioned. Immediately upon arrival, she broke her foot and barely left her fifth floor apartment for the first two months.

Then, on March 26, 2015, her East Village building burned to the ground in a horrific gas explosion that killed two people and left many homeless. Gibson escaped from her apartment unharmed, but lost everything: all identification, eyeglasses, musical instruments, years of notebooks and every word she had written in response to her move.

She spent the next few months rebuilding her life, bouncing between friends’ couches and guest rooms, finishing her second semester and rewriting the lyrics she’d lost. A financial recovery was made possible with help and support from hundreds of friends, fans and strangers. It’s no surprise that “Empire Builder” stands as her most personal record to date.

Ross Ricci, the music curator at the historic lodge, is a teacher, musician and activist who incorporates philosophy, poetry, humor, storytelling and a radical understanding of human potential into songs and social service.


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