Laura Veirs is on tour with “The Lookout.” (Courtesy Jason Quigley)

Folk rocker Laura Veirs writes songs and children’s books

Two years ago, nine albums into her classy career, Portland folk-rocker Laura Veirs got a surprise career boost. Oregon transplant k.d. lang enmailed her with an impulsive idea, to form a fun power trio with indie rocker Neko Case, record an album “case/lang/veirs,” and go on tour to promote it. “My world definitely felt like it got a lot bigger,” say Veirs, recalling the project. “And overnight, I learned a lot about singing, songwriting, co-writing and collaboration. Plus we’re all still friends.”

After “case/lang/veirs,” you seem rejuvenated, with a new 10th album, “The Lookout.”

Writing it, I was in the mindset of, “Trump is destroying us. What are we going to do?” It’s such a strange, confusing world, but I feel like people look to artists to make sense of it. So I used metaphor a lot, and I tried not to be heavy-handed in my lyrics. But I didn’t want to be light and fluffy, because this is not a light and fluffy time.

The recording, like others on your own Raven Marching Band Records, was produced by the brilliant Tucker Martine, who happens to be your husband.

Yeah. I really lucked out meeting him back in 2000. And now I’m able to make these really great-sounding records because of him. But he pushes me into writing more songs, way more than I would just by myself. He told me to keep writing so many times last year when I was doing “The Lookout,” and I was so annoyed. But I did keep writing and eventually I had over 100 songs to choose from.

You’ve also published your first children’s book, “Libba: The Magnificent Life of Elizabeth Cotton,” about a real-life blues musician.

It was really interesting to go through that process and realize how complicated an art form it could be. To do a children’s book, well, is difficult. I learned how to write from a different perspective. I am a woman musician, writing about a woman musician, but I’m not black, and I wasn’t born in the early 1900s. I wanted to get the story straight, so I met with one of Cotton’s great-grandchildren, and she helped me understand my book better.

You also have your own podcast, “Midnight Lightning,” about touring parents.

Being a musician is an unstable career, and not one that you think has anything to do with children. But a lot of people struggle with it. So I did 15 interviews with women about musicians’ parental concerns, and next time I think I’ll interview men because no one ever seems to ask them about it.

Laura Veirs
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F
When: 8 p.m. May 21
Tickets: $16 to $18
Contact: (415) 551-5157,

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