I try very hard not to get political, on the notion that I’m trying to provide an oasis for folks from whatever problems they’re facing in their lives, a bit of respite from the tribulations. But there comes a point when you just have to speak up.
Given all the depressing, appalling, frightening, disgusting (I could go on) things that are happening in our world today, I have decided to take refuge in gratitude. Despite all the Bad, every day we are all surrounded by things, people, moments that are wonderful, beautiful, transcendent—and I don’t want to lose sight of them because I’m focused on the nasty stuff. Read the full story . . .
It’s been a while! Life has been way too busy lately — I thought things were supposed to slow down at this stage of life.
The new album, to be called “Voices,” is nearing completion and should be released early in 2018 (though PledgeMusic supporters will be getting their copies around Christmas). The recording was done in Nashville with Jim Rooney as producer and “Rooney’s Irregulars” as the session players — I couldn’t be happier with the results. Here’s a sample: Elder Green.
The original completion date was in early October, but some of life’s curveballs slowed me down, as they seem to do with alarming regularity. The artwork, and then manufacturing, are the remaining hurdles and we’re knocking them over one at a time.
I’m flying home to Maine as I’m writing this. (Did I mention that we’ve moved, again, this time to Maine? So many moves! This Witness Protection Program isn’t as much fun as you’d think.) Much of Maine is without power at the moment in the aftermath of a violent wind and rain storm that went through while I was in DC and Maryland celebrating Tom Paxton’s 80th birthday and Oscar Brand’s life and career—two very excellent musical parties! The next few days will, I expect, be spent dealing with downed limbs, keeping from freezing (it’s supposed to be several days before the lights come back on) and finding drinkable water.
Upcoming shows (all with the fabulous Matt Nakoa on keyboards):
* Friday, November 3rd, Scituate, MA, at the River Club
* Saturday, November 4th, Fall River, MA, at the Narrows
* Wednesday, November 8th, Cleveland, OH, at the Music Box
* Thursday, November 9th, Minneapolis, MN, at the Dakota
* Saturday, November 11th, Green Lake, WI, at the Thrasher Opera House
* Sunday, November 12th, Chicago, IL, at the Old Town School
Check out the upcoming shows page for details about shows later in the year, and stay tuned for the album-release announcement!
All the best,
Scattered thought of the month: I like the line in Elder Green, “He’s got greenbacks, sweet babe, enough to make a man a suit.” I was thinking of having one made for myself, but calculations showed that a 2-piece in $100 bills would take $33,300, a 3-piece $42,800. I’ve determined, then, that I have enough greenbacks, sweet babe, to make a man some shorts. Maybe a thong. Once the kid is out of college. Something to look forward to!
Call me a sentimental fool, but it would seem to me that, in the richest nation on earth, the object could be to give more people health insurance, and better, not less and worse. Who benefits?
Lately, I’m being inundated with email solicitations for walk-in bathtubs, reverse mortgages, electric stair climbers, annuities, bacteria that will grow me a full head of hair, wrinkle creams, a product enticingly called “SnorBGone” and cannabis gummy bears. Are they trying to tell me something?
When a mermaid gets the crabs, it’s serious. Stay away!
What’s Wrong with America (youtube)The new album project is moving forward, thanks to those of you who’ve gone to PledgeMusic and generously participated. The recording part is done (though I may tweak a bit) but the artwork, the manufacturing—all that stuff—remains, and help is still needed and very much appreciated!
Gigs coming up, all with the amazing Mr Matt Nakoa at the keyboards:
The roller coaster picks up speed, and thoughts are even more scattered than usual.
First and foremost, some misguided souls have taken my comments about the Big Record Companies, and how they want your soul and at least one kidney, to apply to the little labels, and to Appleseed in particular. WRONG! There are folks out there like Jim Musselman, running small operations because they love the music, and they are the heroes! I’m only down on the multi-nationals who regard artists as a disposable commodity and profit as the only goal.
Second, I got mentioned in the New York Times Science Times section last week. Not because of my towering intellect, or because I discovered a cure for anything (except boredom), but because I was misconstrued—again!—as disparaging a dog, or, more accurately, a breed of dogs.
The Ugliest Dog in the World was, for years, a Chinese Crested named Sam, who lived near us in Santa Barbara, and was a source of great civic pride. When an interviewer writing his obituary speculated that Sam, in spite of his looks, was probably very sweet, his owner said, “No, he was a really foul-tempered son of a bitch.” Sam has now gone to his reward and his title has passed on to another, who, hopefully, did not also inherit his temperament. (Our family’s Chinese Cresteds have all been extraordinarily lovely and/or handsome, intelligent and sweet!)
The Pledge Music campaign is hitting its stride! We’ve reached our goal of funding the recording sessions and are now working on paying for the artwork, the manufacturing (we’re going to do an LP as well as the CD!), the promotion and all that stuff you didn’t plan on. We’ve added a cool new enticement (a video greeting from me to your loved one on a special occasion), and for those who still haven’t visited the site, there is still some pretty cool stuff, including rare, out-of-print LPs and cassettes—check it out! (For those of you who have pledged, you’ll be getting exclusive behind-the-scenes from Nashville, including rough mixes and session pictures.)
And for those of you in the Boston area (or who have a computer or smartphone) I’ll be on WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio” 89.7fm, this Friday at 12:30 PM Eastern, with hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. Give a listen.
No shows coming up, just recording sessions next week. Send positive energy!
All the best,
One more scattered thought: It came to me in a vision—why not open up Central Park to logging, oil and gas extraction? It breaks my greedy little heart, seeing all those trees just standing there, going to waste. The Boston Common? Why not? These are, from a certain point of view, wasted resources! I’m just sayin’ …
You guys are amazing! Two weeks into a 10-week campaign on Pledge Music, we’re 83% of the way to our goal. (P. M. says they like to see their campaigns reach 25% in the first week—we got there in the first 2 hours! So some very special thanks to you first responders.)
I don’t want to get all gooshy on you or anything, but it really does mean a lot to me that you have stuck with me over the years, through a lot of adventures (and, admittedly, a mis-adventures or two). I was asked recently, “Why are you still doing this?” (I think he meant in the nicest way, but he might have been saying, “Where’s Jack Kevorkian when we really need him?”) The honest reason I’m still at it is that making music for you guys is still a thrill for me—I’ll keep at it as long as you keep listening. You make me feel good!
As a way to entice you back to PledgeMusic (or maybe get you there for the first time) we’ve added a couple of things. While rummaging about in a storage locker I happened upon a box of cassettes from years gone by. (One of these, “Work In Progress,” never made it on to any other format, others have been out of print for decades.) I have not yet found the mother lode of wax cylinders or 8-track tapes, but will continue to search.
I’ve now used up my allotment of exclamation points and parentheses, so I’ll close by mentioning that I have four upcoming dates, so check them out on the shows page. As usual, if you can’t attend, send a friend.
Thanks again, gang. Enjoy the Spring …
Quote of the month:
“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”
–– Maya Angelou
The room I’m in has 25 LEDs in it. I just counted them. Orange ones, white ones, red ones. Some blink, some just stare. Light switches, the smoke alarm, computer, printer, modem, power strips—the list goes on.
I’m coming to believe that they are something like early one-celled life in the primordial oceans. It is their way of saying, “I am!” The ones that blink, of course, are saying, “I blink, therefore I am.” The poor old devices that have no LEDs are more like rocks, inert and dumb, the creations of mere humans.
While the devices with simple LEDs are admittedly still primitive, they are evolving rapidly. Some of these things now beep when you poke at them, and others—way too many of them—display the time of day. In the kitchen, too many gadgets want you to know that they know what time it is, and while they may have differing opinions on this matter, it is still disturbing. Have you wondered why a toaster has to tell you the time? It is asserting a modicum of authority, of superiority, over you. “I know the time and you don’t.” If you tell it that you do, in fact, know the time, it will haughtily ignore you. (I know this because I’ve tried it.)
Now, I don’t want to sound paranoid, but I think they’re coming to get us. It’s just a start with the shining, blinking, beeping and time-telling, but mark my words, it’s rapidly going to turn into something ugly. Consider this: the screen you’re looking at right now, the one you spend entirely too much time staring at in a semi-hypnotic state, is made of millions of tiny little LEDs.
I’m just saying. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
Don’t just sit there, take action! Run screaming from your home and come to one of the upcoming shows!
Stay warm! If you’re trying to make maple syrup, good luck! From what I hear the weather has been too squirrely for the sap to flow.
Some 50 years ago, late at night, I’d listen to radio station WWVA out of Wheeling, West Virginia. They were a powerhouse, 50,000 Watts (the legal maximum in the US) “Clear Channel,” (meaning that no other domestic station had that frequency). AM stations bounce their signals off the ionosphere, and when that layer gains altitude at night, a clear channel station can be heard many hundreds of miles from the transmitter. (Dick Summer on Boston’s WBZ, another 50K CC station, got fan mail from Guam on one occasion.)
WWVA played, of course, country music, which I loved, but I was equally intrigued by the ads. By way of example, they were at one point selling a, “Handy, Dandy Bug Killer, absolutely guaranteed, folks, to kill any bug that creeps, crawls or flies! So simple a child can operate it, following the simple instructions on the package!” What you got for $4.99 (plus $3 in postage) was two small blocks of wood. One of the blocks had an X painted on it, and the simple instructions were, “Place bug on the X and slap.” They sold a ton of them. (Mine worked real good!)
Now, I’m not for one minute drawing parallels between this and the recent election (the Handy Dandy was not, for example, made in Russia, and Trump’s campaign did not overtly say, “Place disadvantaged people and the environment on the X and slap”), but the point is that sometimes you don’t get what you thought you bought. Or you do, but it doesn’t work the way you’d expected. Or at all.
Happy New Year to one and all! I hope that 2017 is treating you appropriately so far. As for me, the news of late has been so alarming and depressing that I’ve taking to finding refuge in flights of fantasy. (Call me Tutankhamun, I’m da king of denial!)
For example, it was brought to my attention that an application was filed for a license to use Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” in a commercial for hemorrhoid cream. The application was denied, but it got me thinking. How about “Urge for Going” for adult diapers? “Someday My Prints Will Come” for CVS film processing? Carly’s “Anticipation” re-written as “Constipa-a-ation (Is Making Me Wait)? The possibilities are endless! Feel free to go to my Facebook page and post further suggestions.
A network massage: I’m looking for a writing space in the western ‘burbs of Boston, hoping to be able to finish up work on songs for recording sessions in the spring. (I almost have enough to record an entirely self-penned album, which would be a first.) A vacant guest house? In-law apartment? A home that’s empty while the owners tour the world while there’s still time, and a world to tour? Suggestions welcome, percs available. (Album credit? A home concert? The possibilities, again, are endless.)
And a treat for you! I’ve had the honor of working with two ultra-talented youngsters over the past year or so. Matt Nakoa has been my musical compadre for most of the shows I’ve been doing lately. He’s also got his own thing going on and is attracting a lot of attention. Seth Glier and his buddy, saxophonist extraordinaire Joe Nearny, have also joined me on stage on several occasions and just blown the audience away. (I must have a masochistic streak to be working with such show-stealers as Matt, Seth and Joe.)
Seth Glier and Matt Nakoa
They’re all doing a show together at The Center for the Arts, Natick (TCAN) this Friday the 13th in Natick (of course), Mass. They’ll each do their own sets, but I’m pushing them to collaborate on some songs—I think this could be a 1+1=11 situation. I plan to be there, hoping that the kids might let the geezer on stage for a tune or two—hoping we might get to do “Kids These Days,” a song I haven’t done in forever, but kind of fits the situation. These guys are going to be big deals someday soon, and you can say you saw them back when. (Did I lie to you about Joni? Jackson? James?) Come on by—I guarantee a night to remember!
Hang in there. Remember, it’s always better to fight for something than against something.
Stay warm, stay sane!
Quote of the month: “Democracy is a device that insures that we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
–– George Bernard Shaw
Right off the bat, I’m going to massage the network a bit: we’re going through the college frenzy with our 17 year-old daughter. She’s developed a keen interest in journalism (inspired by Arron Sorkin’s “Newsroom” series, and intensified by two summers of internships at WGBH in Boston). Northwestern U in Evanston, IL, is high on her list, along with Barnard, Columbia, perhaps Georgetown and Duke. Anyone out there have a kid at one of these schools? Faculty? We’d like to get the backstage tour if at all possible. Let me know!
It’s been busy lately, on the verge of too busy. Just got back from 6 days out West, from Portland down to San Diego, then out to Phoenix. Music business savant and blogger Bob Lefsetz came to both the early and late shows at McCabe’s in Santa Monica and wrote a very, very nice review. Bob is passionate about music, has high standards and is an extremely busy guy, so I’m flattered that he took time to come to the shows and that he enjoyed them so much!
In other news, I just did a concert for the Circle of Friends in Franklin, MA, and was surprised and delighted that two guys had travelled a very long way, from opposite directions, just to see the show; one came from Australia, the other from Switzerland (see picture).
I suggested that, going forward, they should bring me to Australia and Switzerland, respectively, and save themselves the trip. That’s just the kind of guy I am. Coming up, it’s just as busy!
Enjoy the Fall,
Quote of the month: “Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy person has no time to form.”
–– Andre Maurois
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