Kathleen Edwards is part of this year’s traveling Outlaw Music Festival, but you will most definitely not find her on a tour bus.
“I think they’re awful,” Edwards explained on the phone last week, in the midst of running errands before hitting the road. Rather than take her chances with a bus, Edwards is instead going from gig to gig in her own pickup truck, getting behind the wheel and hooking up her own trailer.
“I’m just driving myself to shows because I hate tour buses,” Edwards added. “I love it. It’s really heaven to travel that way.”
Using her own transportation seems an appropriate choice for the 45-year-old singer and songwriter who has been blazing her own trail since releasing her debut disc in 1999. Feeling burned out and depressed after the release of her album, “Voyageur” in 2012, Edwards packed away her guitar, quit music and opened a coffee shop in a town outside Ottawa, Ontario, in Canada. She doggedly rose with the sun, made muffins, ran a mop across the floor at closing time and carried out all the chores at a cafe that was named, appropriately enough, Quitters.
“It really gave me a pretty substantial opportunity to have a different experience running my own business,” she said. “Because in music you are an entrepreneur, you are self-employed. Running a small business, you have upwards of 25 employees and it’s a really different experience. It forced me to remove myself from music. I really gave it my everything at the beginning, and it was a total learning curve.”
After some time clearing her head, Edwards made her way back to music. She released her first album of alt-country songs in eight years, “Total Freedom,” in 2020, and is on the bill of this year’s Outlaw Music Festival, which will be at the Star Lake Amphitheater in Burgettstown on Saturday, Aug. 12. Led by headliner Willie Nelson, this year’s Outlaw Music Festival also includes Gov’t Mule, John Fogerty, Flatland Cavalry, and Nelson’s son, Mikah, who performs under the name Particle Kid.
“My re-entrance to music was for all the right reasons,” said Edwards, the daughter of a Canadian diplomat. “I just had a new appreciation and perspective on what that life had been after I’d been able to come up for air in the, quote unquote, real world.”
In the years before her hiatus from music, Edwards found that “no one wants to tell you it’s going to be incredibly hard work. You’re going to be exhausted, and the kinds of sacrifice you have to make in your personal life to have a career… And there are a lot of disappointments. There are a lot of great moments that people see, but behind the scenes there are a lot of disappointments to being in showbiz. It’s hard on your soul.”
The Outlaw Music Festival gets underway at 4:30 p.m. For additional information, go online to www.blackbirdpresents.com.