Inspired by childhood in Polson, Fugleberg launches music project
POLSON — A man from Polson recently launched his new music project that’s bringing together big-name artists from throughout the nation to create messages of hope.
The project “Seeking Permission: Songs in the Key of Hope” started back in 2020, when Polson’s Tom Fugleberg, now residing in Minnesota, found himself in a challenging position as a father of three young kids.
“Covid hit, then a whole lot of other things hit. We were in a very unique position here in Minneapolis, because we were right at the center of everybody’s eye globally because of all the protests in the wake of the George Floyd travesty,” Fugleberg recalled. “The intensity and anxiety of the world really felt like it was amplified. It really felt like it was getting kicked up to a notch where I didn’t know if I had any real words to explain all this to my kids.”
Once heavily involved in music, Fugleberg said he hadn’t done anything musical for a very long time. But finally, it hit a point where he couldn’t leave it bottled up anymore, and so he began trying to create songs to explain what he couldn’t explain with words. “It was literally intended as a project for my kids,” he explained.
At some point, Fugleberg realized he couldn’t leave the songs he was writing stuck in himself and his iPhone, so he reached out to a former creative partner to see if he’d be interested in contributing.
That old friend was Brian Kroening, who experienced quite a bit of success since their last partnership in the country band “Rocket Club,” which has become a multi-top 40 charting act through the years. Fugleberg admitted he was a bit nervous to reach back out to him, but Kroening was readily welcoming.
The two began meeting in parks during Covid, Fugleberg sharing what he’d written and the two starting to hammer out songs. After working together for a while, Kroening asked if he could reach out to his producer from Rocket Club, Matt Kirkwold. Fugleberg agreed.
“Really it just kind of caught momentum from there,” Fugleberg laughed. “(Kirkwold) got all of these big timers on board, and now here we are two years later, ready to release something that was originally intended for my living room onto a far bigger stage. It’s overwhelming in a good way.”
The project has become an entire collection of artists and singer songwriters, all with the same goal. “This project is about songs of hope and love and putting a little of those things out into the world,” Fugleberg explained. “’Seeking Permission’ was inspired by how we think of the songs and writing process, like little permission slips to not forget in the chaos of the world that it’s okay to love.”
Fugleberg may now reside in Minneapolis, but his roots in Polson have been a driving force for his work. The son of Paul Fugleberg, his dad was “the newspaper guy” in Polson for over 50 years. Former editor and owner of the Flathead Courier, later the Lake County Leader, Paul’s ‘Among Other Things’ column ran from 1959 until 2016, and was even published into a book in 2010. Paul passed away in 2017.
“I don’t think anyone who grew up in any era could say there weren’t tough times. It just felt a little more insular,” Fugleberg said of his childhood in Polson. “The small, simple pleasures like driving with the windows down, down the strip to the beach, and the friends you had and the way you’d play together, and the way people connected was different.”
One of Fugleberg’s upcoming songs, ‘The Best for You,’ is inspired by the innocence of his small-town Montana upbringing, and is meant for his son. “How do I give that to my son in his life? Growing up in these times, how do you maintain some of that innocence?” Fugleberg said he explored in the song. “It’s a song about sharing a little of my yesterday, with the idea that today is (my son’s) yesterday. So how can I give a little bit of that so he can look back as fondly as I do?”
The project website, seeking-permission.com, has recently gone live, and features Fugleberg’s first song with Seeking Hope, “We Can Try.” This Father’s Day weekend, “The Best for You” will also be released. All songs will become available on iTunes, Spotify, and 150 other streaming platforms worldwide in the next couple of weeks.
Some of the artists involved with the project are names like Justin Cortelyou, a Grammy nominated, multi-platinum selling mixing engineer and producer, Maureen Murphy, a lead and background vocalist who has performed with the likes of Carrie Underwood and John Mayer, and Tommy Barbarella, Prince’s longtime keyboardist and songwriting collaborator. And the list keeps growing. Fugleberg hopes the project will grow enough to add in a charitable component down the road.
“I think no matter what side of the fence you’re on, I think everybody is kind of beaten down and tired sometimes,” Fugleberg stated. “Hopefully this project is a feel good for everybody.”