The idea for “Pilgrims and Runaways” came in Belfast, Ireland nearly eight years ago. The band had just finished a show there and the promoter had kindly put us up for the night at a small bed and breakfast; a welcome change from the cheap motels we were growing accustomed to on that tour.

In the morning I came downstairs and settled in with my tea in the small reading room. On the center table I noticed a large book of photographs by the great Henri Cartier-Bresson. As I was reading the liner notes, I was struck by a phrase from one of his neighbors and friends. They were speaking about his dedication to his craft, and how sometimes they would be coming home from an all-night party and he would just be leaving, tripod over his shoulder, heading to work. They said it like this, “Oftentimes we would meet on the road at the hour reserved for pilgrims and runaways.”

I loved that phrase ‘pilgrims and runaways’, and I felt it truly captured that magical hour just before the dawn. It also captured the sentiment that we are all either trying to get to, or run from, some place or thing. No matter who we are, we are all pilgrims and runaways as we move through life.

I remember thinking at the time that I had a few songs that felt like that hour. Quiet songs. 4:00am songs. Songs about the journey and songs of escape. And so I started filing those songs away as they came up, saving them for a record called “Pilgrims and Runaways”.

I can confide in you now, this was no easy feat. I think for most artists, when you write a song, there is an enormous pull to share it immediately. In fact, with today’s technology, it is easier than ever to write, record and release a song in less than 24 hours. This is truly exciting, but it just didn’t feel like the way to make this particular record. We felt it was imperative to take however much time we needed to find the right group of songs, and then to let these songs develop and mature organically, to let them find their voice, and really find our own voice in the process.

Still, hiding away songs I loved and couldn’t wait to record was a bit torturous at times. Songs like “Love & Glory” and “Half Past Four”, written in 2002, were the first two songs recorded for the album as far back as 2004. Other songs came and went over the course of these past eight years, until finally we found ourselves with a batch of songs that, when they were all placed together, felt like they told the story we wanted to tell.

Now, I must also tell you, as it turns out, this is NOT a record of quiet little songs. That’s what happens when the rest of Stewboss gets ahold of things, and the natural metamorphosis of any creative endeavor.

Still… Whether you are a pilgrim, or a runaway, it is my great hope that these songs will wrap themselves around you and keep you safe and warm on your journey. May they be a reminder to you that all is well, and you are loved, no matter where you are or how lonely the road may seem.

Safe travels…

Gregg Sarfaty
January 2010