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August 9, 2013


Acclaimed singer-songwriter pens new songs and instrumentals
for the award-winning documentary Running Wild,
about wild mustang activist Dayton O. Hyde

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Steve Poltz has found success in a variety of musical pursuits. He fronted the irreverent indie band the Rugburns and co-wrote Jewel’s romantic mega-hit “You Were Meant for Me.” Named the Most Influential Artist of the Decade by the San Diego Music Awards, Poltz has released highly-praised solo albums, done a children’s record, penned jingles and even created a CD filled with 45-second “answering machine” songs; however, he has never scored a movie soundtrack — until now.

Poltz’s latest album is the soundtrack for Suzanne Mitchell’s award-winning documentary, Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde, opening in theaters nationwide and on VOD on October 4, 2013 via Screen Media Films. For this film festival fave, he created a set of evocative instrumentals and rough-hewn odes that reflect the life and work of the film’s subject, wild horse activist and cowboy poet Dayton O. Hyde.

According to Poltz, this was the perfect time for him to do a soundtrack. “I don’t think I would have been able to do this 15 or 20 years ago,” the artist admits. When he was younger, he wasn’t as open to other people’s suggestions as he is now. “My skin has gotten way thicker and now I just try to do the best I can.” One talent from his younger days did prove helpful for this project. As a child, he played classical guitar and this background resurfaced when it came to composing the instrumentals for Running Wild. His agile yet relaxed fingerpicking perfectly fit in with the film’s rustic environment.

While Poltz’s quick-witted songwriting skills are well known, he had faced the test of fitting his music into specific spots on the soundtrack. He found this challenge, however, to be fun and one that he had unknowingly prepared himself for. Besides doing more than 50 mini-tunes for his 1999’s The Answering Machine album, he further honed his ability to quickly craft songs when, a few years ago, he served as bandleader for the Internet series The Hugh Thompson Show, and had to create original music for each program. “I like deadlines and restraints,” Poltz confesses.

This high-tech variety show also marked his first collaboration with Mitchell, who is a long-time fan of the singer-songwriter’s work. Mitchell was already working on the Running Wild project when they did the Thompson show and even then felt that his soulful music would match well with Hyde’s life-story.

It was only last year that Poltz really got involved with the documentary. A trip to meet the 87-year-old Hyde in South Dakota and visit his 12,000-acre Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary greatly inspired him. “It was important to hang out with him and feel his energy, see the way he was with his horses.” Hyde’s unique life-story is rendered poetically in tracks like “Dirt Cowboy” and “Mustang Call,” while South Dakota’s open sky tranquility comes out in the instrumentals’ laidback vibe and in simple pastoral tunes like “Pray It Never Comes to This.”

After visiting Hyde, Poltz dove into writing Running Wild music when he returned home to San Diego. In the spring, he rendezvoused with Mitchell in Austin to record the soundtrack. “It was one of the funnest times,” Poltz says. “We were just looking at film clips and I would come up with pieces on my guitar and having immediate feedback really helped a lot.” When he was told that “Song For Hawk” was too slow and sad sounding, Poltz took out a bridge and sped up the tempo. Mitchell so loved how the track turned out that she placed it as the film’s end credit song.

Creating music for a soundtrack, Poltz discovered, was a slightly different process from making one of his own albums but one he enjoyed nonetheless. “With this project, I’m serving a different master,” he admits. “The person I wanted to please the most was the director.” Both Poltz and Mitchell stated what a great and easy time they had working together. They enjoyed a level of trust, as Poltz explained, that allowed them to be open with their opinions and not worry about being polite.

Poltz is thrilled with the music he created for Running Wild, a film that he very much admires. Several of the songs have already become part of his famously ever-changing live set, which provides him the chance to talk about the film and Hyde. The hard-working troubadour also has not one but two albums in the pipeline. While in Austin, Poltz went into the studio one new song he was dying to record, and wound up with an 11-song rock ’n’ roll album called, appropriately enough, The Accident. He also has finished a more mellow album, The Claims Adjuster, and is still contemplating putting them out together (as he did in 2008 with the Traveling and Unraveling CDs) or staggering their releases. With Running Wild being unleashed this fall and more albums on the horizon, there will be no slowing down for Steve Poltz.

Sat., Aug. 17 BEDFORD, NOVA SCOTIA Patchwork House
Sun. Aug. 18 CHESTER, NOVA SCOTIA Chester Playhouse
Mon. Aug. 19 LUNENBURG, NOVA SCOTIA Knickle Wharf
Tues. Aug. 20 ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND Ship Inn
Thurs. Aug. 22 ALBUQUERQUE, NM Albuquerque Zoo
Fri. Aug. 23 ALBUQUERQUE, NM Albuquerque Zoo
Fri. Sept. 6 SISTERS, OR Sisters Folk Festival
Sat. Sept. 7 SISTERS, OR Sisters Folk Festival
Sun. Sept. 8 SISTERS, OR Sisters Folk Festival
Wed. Sept. 18 LA JOLLA, CA The Green Flash Concert Series
Sat. Oct. 12 SUFFOLK, VA Bill and Dana’s Living Room

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