The scenic small town of Wimberley, Texas (pop. 2625) may be best known for its legendary swimming hole, but its artistic community is gaining ground on the natural beauty of what was once a trading post and later a gristmill. Just 38 miles southwest of Austin, it's fitting that artists, artisans, sculptors, writers, poets--all are welcome here to create in a laid-back atmosphere where "to each his own" is a kind of unwritten philosophy. It's this easygoing ambiance that singer/songwriter/musician Amanda Mora says gives her her greatest inspiration. Plus, it's home.
"I grew up here," says Mora. "I actually live in a cabin on my family's land, the same piece of land I was literally born on. It's so sweet and I have a sweet relationship with my family." Mora comes by her musical leanings naturally, the daughter of what she describes as her "hippie" musician mother Jill Jones of musical trio 3 Hand High and a "really amazing songwriter" father, along with a musical family legacy that goes back generations. She recalls an idyllic childhood, "like an Indian princess running around creeks and rivers and springs in Wimberley."
These days Mora is still running around, but her travels are taking her much farther than Wimberley. In 2010, she and musician partner and cellist Mollie Rose Fletcher, along with a band of up to 19 musicians, singers, and crew, toured Europe in what has to be one of the most eco-conscious and environmentally friendly tours ever. "The whole approach was, we're musicians concerned about environmental and social issues, but we found that the lifestyle of musicians has a really huge carbon footprint. We're guzzling gas, eating packaged food, and using a lot of things that are hard on the environment. So we wanted to change the touring musician paradigm to make it part of the environmental movement as well."
And change it they did--to the tune of carrying only what they could fit on their backs and cargo bikes. Seriously. Bikes. Thirty miles a day, for 6000 miles total. "We started in England, then to the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, Italy, and France. "We had a lot of support," she says, from bicycle advocacy groups in Europe that provide low cost bicycles to the community. "It's a really beautiful connection between music and bicycles. They both empower people to create on their own." Even the fans got into the act: Audience members pedaled stationery bikes to power the generators for the performances.
Wimberley is where her heart is, but Mora, Fletcher and the group go back on the road in the fall, to Ireland, Holland, France and Germany. No bikes this time, she says, but still with the goal to "make it as eco-friendly as we can." Then Mora and musicians go back into the studio this fall for her third album. Her first two are "The Ribbon" and the acclaimed "Awaiting the Sound."
As if singing, songwriting, performing, touring, biking, engineering, producing and recording weren't enough to keep a Texas Hill Country artist busy, Mora and her mother run a quaint, quirky store in Wimberley called By the Bridge. "We sell a little bit of everything," says Mora. "A few lines from local artisans who do jewelry and other accessories. We look for fun, functional antiques instead of the stuffy old sit-on-the-shelf things." Many come just to hang out "and hear what music we have playing," says Mora, laughing. "I can't tell you the number of times I've written the name of a song on a sales receipt."
For more info on Amanda Mora, Mollie Rose Fletcher, music clips, videos and news, go to amandamora.com.