Americana musician extraordinaire Sarah Jarosz gave a rousing performance as part of A Prairie Home Companion: America the Beautiful Tour Sunday night at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster. Performing classic Prairie Home medleys with the soon-to-be-retired Garrison Keillor, Jarosz also performed her own repertoire, including a Bob Dylan cover and the title track off her latest album, Build Me Up from Bones.
One song Jarosz didn’t perform was a song off her first album – Song Up In Your Head – called “Fischer Store Road,” written in tribute to the winding road located near her home in Wimberley, TX. The song took on added meaning for Jarosz earlier this year when the bridge crossing the Blanco River on Fischer Store Road was washed away in flash flooding in May. The town of Wimberley was devastated when the Blanco River crested at a record level of 41.5 feet – more than 30 feet over flood stage.
Jarosz, who now calls Brooklyn, NY, her home, watched with horror on TV as she saw homes in her hometown washed away. Wanting to do something for her community, Jarosz volunteered to play at a music festival in town back in June to raise funds for people who lost everything.
I asked the young musician about the flooding during our interview for this month’s Fly Q&A and what her song “Fischer Store Road” means to her now.
Michael Yoder: What was going through your mind when you were watching the flooding disaster unfold in your hometown on TV in May?
Sarah Jarosz: It was really hard. A lot of my friends were reaching out from all over the country, checking in and making sure things were OK. My parents were fine, thankfully. But I was hearing news about a lot of my high school friends losing their homes and some other close friends having really close calls. To see photos and videos online of the destruction was really, really hard – mostly it was hard to be so far away. That’s when the thoughts of really wanting to help and not sure how to started happening. It turned out that Susan McCord at the Old Glory Ranch was putting together a benefit, and she emailed me and asked if I would come and play. The timing of it all worked out beautifully. It was really hard to go home and see it all, but it was also pretty amazing – the hope that people still have as they move forward. It made me really, really proud to be from Wimberley, and that community there is so strong.
MY: Did you get a chance to drive down Fischer Store Road when you were home?
SJ: I didn’t have a chance this time, but I saw a lot of the videos of that and the bridge being swept away. It’s really heartbreaking to see such a beautiful part of our country, I think, so devastated. And it’s my hometown; it’s what I grew up knowing. And to see it so different was really intense. But like I said, people are really hopeful, and I was happy to be able to go down and help out as much as I could.
To get an idea of the damage caused by the Wimberley flooding, take a look at the video above made by Wimberley High School student Tess Hasbrouck. And if you feel motivated to help, here’s a link to The Barnabas Connection – a group working with local families to rebuild and recover after the flooding.