When the pandemic hit in 2020, The Indigo Girls had just released their 15th album Look Long. Forced to cancel their tour, the folk duo of Emily Saliers and Amy Ray regrouped with members of their backing band and featured guests from around the world to create a career-spanning concert special, Look Long: Together.
Though concerts were postponed indefinitely, the pair connected with musicians in the studio where they could, and other members of the band working remotely across the globe to begin capturing some of the performances live, recording mostly at 800 East Studio in Atlanta with additional filming at Brighter Shade Studios, owned by Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins.
“We were so bummed about that summer tour because the band that we had put our dream band together,” Ray tells American Songwriter. “They’re people that were our barometers, our musical parameters in life, and we were just psyched because we hadn’t toured with a band in a long time. It was all going to come together, and was a combo of all the people we loved to play with over the years.”
On Look Long, Brady Blue laid down drums from his home in Stockholm, Sweden; guitarist Jeff Fielder added electric rhythm guitars, dobro slide guitar, and mandolin from Seattle; keyboardist Carol Isaacs and bassist Clare Kenny sent tracks from London, England; violinist Lyris Hung recorded from New York City. In the film, everyone was streamed in from wherever they were in the world— London, Stockholm, and Seattle.
“We wanted to make sure we did a bunch of the new songs there and included some songs that we haven’t done live for a long time including a song of mine called ‘Something Real’ [off 2004 album All That We Let In], and a couple of favorites like ‘Closer to Fine and to mix it up, which was important for us for people to hear since we didn’t get to tour with the band,” says Saliers.
The duo wanted to create more than a typical live-streamed performance while capturing some of the essence of the tour and the scope of the band with additional personal stories and special guests.
“It took longer, because we kept trying to make it more special or something different because every time people put things like out the bar is kind of raised,” says Ray. “This is more fun and not just little squares on the screen.”
Segmented by multiple camera shots, the film features more intimate home video vignettes featuring Saliers and Ray discussing what inspired some of their hit songs and gave them a chance to perform some rarer tracks as well as songs off Look Long for the first time.
Now more than 35 years later, many fans consider Look Long their favorite album from the pair to date which gives a sense of validation, says Saliers, that The Indigo Girls have been doing something right since their 1987 debut Strange Fire.
“You can tell when it resonates emotionally with an audience,” says Saliers. “I still have the utmost gratitude for the people who come to our shows, who stick with us. There’s always people in the crowd that really want to hear old stuff, and that’s cool. I understand that. Sometimes when I go to see one of my favorite bands, I want to hear the songs that I’ve known, that I grew up with, that I associate with in my life.”
Saliers adds, “But our fans were particularly interested in hearing new stuff as well, and add it to the rest. They kind of grew up with our music and live with our music, and it allows us to keep playing, and they keep coming back to shows. We’re just really grateful for the longevity.”
Photo: Jeremy Cowert / Kid Logic PR