Eugene Weekly : Music : 10.09.08

Living Sweet Life Means Giving Back
Catie Curtis pays it forward
by Suzi Steffen

Mid-autumn: Time for walking hand in hand through the leaves, running through the raindrops, contemplating the internal dynamics of relationships in a challenging world — and heading to a Catie Curtis concert

Somehow, Curtis always makes it to Eugene at this time every year or two, often with a new album in tow. Her recent release, Sweet Life, strikes a chord in this town. You’ll hear the title and start dreaming of vegan chocolate cakes and decadent desserts of all kinds. 

But — despite her songs urging things like “Let yourself be happy” — Curtis dedicates her life and work to anything but decadence. Recently, she’s reconnected to some of her roots. When she was a 15-year-old aspiring musician in small-town Maine, a woman traveling through town with a theater troupe gave her a guitar with the condition that she learn to play. Without that gift, Curtis wonders if she could have become the singer-songwriter she is now, with nine studio albums and a variety of awards — and her own sweet life, one in which she lives happily in Massachusetts with her family (her wife, Elizabeth, and their two kids) and gets to travel around the country and occasionally around the world on tour. That came from the guitar — and her ambition, of course.

So she’s returning the favor now. She created an ongoing “micro-endowment” fund, the Aspire to Inspire Endowment, for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (better known as ASCAP) Foundation. The fund (at can receive small or large donations in any amount from Curtis fans — and there are already results. On Sept. 9, she gave 15 guitars to kids in N.Y.’s Fresh Air Fund, and she hopes to donate many more.

In a Curve Magazine interview, Curtis explains that although her songs usually advocate relaxing and trying to enjoy life, she’s a person who is “hyper-vigilant” and often worried about the world. But music can provide both a break and an inspiration to do better. Since the times almost demand worry, you might want to relax with Curtis and her own Sweet Life.

Catie Curtis. 9 pm Wednesday, Oct. 15. Sam Bond’s Garage. $15 •21+ show.