Esmé Patterson has been very busy since parting ways with her longtime band Paper Bird in September 2014 and moving from her hometown of Denver to Portland, Ore.
On Friday, Feb. 13, she appeared alongside Shakey Graves’ Alejandro Rose-Garcia to play their popular song, “Dearly Departed,” on The Late Show with David Letterman.
What started as a funny, Halloween-inspired tune in October 2013 quickly became a catchy hit for the duo, who met on tour together when Patterson was still with Paper Bird. On Feb. 12, when the duo taped the song in front of a live audience, with Letterman watching from his desk, Patterson couldn’t believe the simple collaboration had gone this far.
“To be honest, the song ‘Dearly Departed’ that we wrote together, I thought it was a joke,” Patterson says. “ I am surprised; people have really responded to it. It’s amazing to see something grow from nothing, like that.”
“The Late Show” isn’t just another televised performance for Patterson, though, it’s a way for her to give back. This weekend, she plans to put the vintage floral dress that she wore on Letterman up for auction and give the proceeds to Girls Rock Denver, a music camp for young women.
“I’ve done work with Girls Rock Denver in the past [and], for me, being able to express myself through music as a teenager and a young woman saved my life,” Patterson explains. “It’s kind of a nice feeling that, instead of self-promoting constantly, you’re using an opportunity to do something good for somebody else.”
The dress, which Patterson bought at a thrift store years ago, also graced the cover of her 2014 album, Woman to Woman, in which Patterson gave voice to a number of female characters from various popular songs. In “Valentine,” for instance, Elvis Costello’s “Alison” tells the obsessive male character of the song to move on.
From a premier in American Songwriter magazine, Patterson says that she always loved Costello’s “Alison” but, upon closer examination, she realized that it’s actually about, “a really bitter guy meeting up with an old lover and being pretty cruel to her, speculating unflatteringly about very intimate moments in her life. My idea for the response was what I think any woman would say over that cup of coffee or martini with an old lover — it’s really none of your business anymore!”
Unlike Woman to Woman, Patterson says that her new effort will be more introspective and rock ’n’ roll inspired.
“There’s definitely no concept to it,” she mentions. “I’m moving back into autobiographical songwriting and it’s definitely about creating a high-energy mood, sonically.”
When she gets back to Portland after a Valentine’s Day show at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. tomorrow, Patterson will finally be able to sit still and start letting the tracks come out.
“I am really looking forward to staying put and recording. I like to let songs grow up to be whatever they want to be, and give them the space, time and patience to become their own creation. I’m really looking forward to that process.”
Check out Patterson’s Twitter and Facebook for details on the auction and more info about her upcoming album.