steve ward

 

 

now playing: steve ward, “evergreen”

 

i gotta tell ya about this guy – i was driving home last night, late, listening briefly to wrvv during their local music show, open mike night…and they played a new track from this guy, steve ward.

now, i didn’t realize it, but i had heard a cut from this guys’ previous album that a steel player i was aware of had worked on…but that lone cut didn’t come close to scratching the surface of what this guy is capable of.

and, as i found out, his record apparently isn’t really new at all…it’s a year old…but i’m sold.

great stuff. check it out.

the financial reality of original music

 

 

now playing: the olympics

 

i thought i’d relay a conversation that took place today via “reply to all” email between myself, keyboardist extraordinnaire diamond dave minnich, and phoenixville expatriate charlie degenhart:

charlie:
(attached to an email discussing potential philadelphia-area dates in october, including the famously frugal grape street pub…)

just a heads-up, boys!
i’ll keep ya posted!
your pal,
charlie

diamond dave:

cool man

are we playin’ for money or a hamburger? 🙂

hope you’re havin’ a great summer!

diamon’

yours truly:

hey, dave….

he’s talkin’ about the Grape here – i think you’d better bring your own hamburger, man.

and this, truly, is the nature of playing your own songs on this level of the food chain…it’s ironic that this cyber-conversation happened on the same day that my beloved white trash, trailer park, classic rock cover band was booked for a new years’ eve gig for a thousand bucks.

i can go play american band and sweet home alabama for eighty-five bucks an hour, or i can go out and play original music for….

…a hamburger.

these are both paths that i’m walking at the same time right now – i committed to at least one charlie gig on 10/29, and i’ve officially joined nik everett‘s band as well, and neither of these situations are going to make me rich, but they scratch an itch that isn’t going to be scratched otherwise.

my teenage twin

 

 

now playing: nik everett, “the rest doesn’t matter”

there seems to be this cloud of Offspring Turmoil hanging over the room in which i’ve spent the day…my shopmate is having a huge fight with her freeloader married-with-children son, whose shiftless wife is becoming a wedge between the two of them…and i’m having some Son Issues of my own.

i found out today – five days after the fact – that he took money from a wallet that his mom’s boyfriends’ 5 year old son found in front of their house and divided it up between himself and his friends. i use the word “divided” in a pretty liberal sense…there was a total of $43 in the wallet…dylan gave a dollar each to his three co-conspirators and kept the two twenties for himself.

this isn’t a new development….i’ve talked before about his liberties with the truth. it hasn’t gotten any better.

some days, he makes jon lovitz’s saturday night live character look like george washington at the cherry tree. this, plus there are problems he seems to have at his mothers’ house that i don’t have…and i got to listen to a phone call between the two of them via my answering machine that didn’t shut off this week, which was pretty telling….he’s very short with his mother, and you can hear the rage in his voice when he talks to her. there’s something pretty scary that comes out in his voice when you hear him talk to her.

there are some obvious questions that probably come to the minds of outsiders when they read things like this, and trust me – i’ve answered most of them many times over. yeah, there are what would seem to be simple solutions to some of these problems, but the whole situation is rather complex. and at the points at which i’ve just had to chomp off a big bite of this, i’m not prone to wax on about it much…

suffice to say, there are some rough, adolescent waters ahead for this family.

kill the fire and turn to the sun

 

 

now playing: dan fogelberg, “face the fire”

 

one of my absolute favorite guitar solos, the end of that song…builds perfectly to the end of the song.

at some point, though, i gotta turn this off and brush up on my nik everett a little bit…first full band rehearsal tonight.

anyway, a couple of things today – last night, my buddy blake sent me a link to a blog article that quoted dan’s mother in the peoria journal star, saying that the cancer had spread to his bones, and that he was undergoing experimental treatment at Harvard Medical Center…first with hormone therapy and a nutrition program, then a new form of chemotherapy (“not the kind that tears you up”, his mother said). today, though, dan’s official site refuted much of the article, saying that “the quotes attributed to my elderly mother not only misrepresent the extent of my illness, but also the treatment involved“. (you can read the original peoria journal star article here and another news article referring to it here.)

i wonder how much of this is typical celebrity posturing posing as rumor control, personally…it’s certainly hard, from the outside, to separate truth from fiction, and i find myself torn between wanting to know everything that’s going on out of my own sense of concern for one of my heroes…and maintaining a distance and taking in the news as it becomes available and quelling my curiosity out of respect for his always-guarded privacy. that idiotic “inquiring minds want to know” phrase seems to come to mind…

this whole thing just sucks.

my buddy mitch is clamoring for poco stories…which i’ll probably oblige later today. i need to get out of this room for a while first.

to recapture the innocent age…

 

 

now playing: elton john, “tiny dancer”

 

 

shaping up to be another long night at work – the drives that we ordered for our now long-suffering UNIX machine arrived today, so here i sit, as the Adaptec card writes a brand spankin’ new RAID-10 stripe onto the drives…39% complete…

got an email from someone who i only really correspond with in matters regarding a common hero late this afternoon, and it was not good news

with the words that i have at my disposal, i’m still not sure how i would go about trying to explain how important this guy has been to me…i know that there are those who think of this music as hokey, sentimental crap, and that’s ok. i’m alright with that. to each his own.

see, here’s the thing…

i pretty much missed the whole punk thing. i never got it. still don’t.

when the clash hit, i was blissfully unaware of them, until such time as rock the casbah hit, and by then i was in high school and DJ’ing at one of the radio stations in my hometown – and it was an adult contemporary station. by that point, my tastes were pretty much carved in stone. and i didn’t care for the loud, angry shit at all.

i’ve heard the whole “revolt against the corporate dreck that the music business had become” argument, and it’s a powerful argument. but i never made peace with how you effectively backlash against the status quo by sucking. the mindset was apparently that if there were already all these bands who were commercially successful as a result of writing good songs and playing them well, then the way to start the revolution was to go out and be awful. and a lot of them were.

awful.

i don’t get the clash. i don’t get television. i don’t get lou reed. i don’t get david byrne (then or now. hell, especially now.)

even now, i listen to radio stations like wxpn and i hear one song out of maybe six to ten that i can tolerate. it used to be one in every three or four, but we’ve again come full circle in many ways to those halcyon days in the late seventies when the punk movement made it hip to suck ass.

let’s look at lucinda williams, for instance.

every critic on the planet has had to lunge for their collective thesauruses to find new words to use to shine lucindas’ ass, and i can’t stand her. she can’t sing for shit, first of all…and while she used to write good songs (something about what happens when we talk and sweet old world, for instance), she seems to have given that up in the wake of her critical success.

yet people fawn over her.

don’t get it. nope.

now, i don’t know why i got off on this tangent in the first place, but now that i’ve come down this street, i want to stress that it’s not that i have a bias against anything recorded in the past 20 years, or anything of that nature. i love counting crows, for instance. i love lori mckenna and michael tolcher and train and sarah mclachlan and shane nicholson and…and….

well, you get my point. i’m not an “era snob”.

but some people are, and those are the ones who’ll be shaking their heads when i talk about what a huge influence dan was on my formative years.

everything that i wanted to be, he already was. he wrote amazing songs, and his voice did them justice. he was equal parts composer, musician, and artist, and he gave me the drive to broaden my horizons and listen to other types of music that i wouldn’t have given time to, otherwise (and yeah, i fully realize the irony in that statement, considering the first part of my little stream of consciousness rant…).

as i found out what little there was to know about him at the time, i was even more intrigued…his father was a classically trained musician, and a conductor and teacher by trade. his mother was a trained singer. he spent his adolescent years in peoria, illinois, not really fitting in with the social classes that i believed to exist in every high school, and ended up playing in bands through high school, doing beatles and buffalo springfield songs. as he matured as a musician, he was drawn to songwriting and the acoustic guitar, and gravitated to a favorite spot over the river where he found his feet as a songwriter. left home, struck out for the city with his then-manager, irving azoff, who shopped him around LA, trying to get a deal for him for months before he finally ended up with a deal with columbia, where he cut his gorgeous debut album, home free.

his lyrics were literal poetry…abstract imagery, but literal enough to conjure a common wistfulness or a shared experience, and sung with equal parts conviction and sincerety.

“The places dash and the faces dart
Like fishes in a dream
Hiding ‘neath the murky banks
of long forgotten streams
The lines of life are never long
when seen from end to end
The future’s never coming
and the past has never been…”

(from in the passage)

“…Every time I try to put
This puzzle into place
There always seems to be
A piece that’s missing
And through the eyes of someone else
I look into my face
And can’t believe the sorrow
There I see
I can’t believe this lonely man
Is me…”

(from lost in the sun)

“…Pressed in the pages
Of some aging text
Lies an old lily, crumbling
Marking a moment
Of childish respects
Long since betrayed and forgotten.

Times stills the singing
A child holds so dear
And I’m just beginning to hear
Gone are the pathways
The child followed home
Gone, like the sand and the foam…”

(from the sand and the foam)

 

as an alienated teenager fixated on rock and roll and belonging nowhere in particular, i found something to relate to in what he said, and the enigmatic image he projected…i identified with the reclusive artist persona, as i felt that this was something that we actually had in common. he got me out from behind the drums and lit the fire inside me to learn guitar, to pick up a pencil and write songs, to be willing to make mistakes and learn the craft of songwriting and to find the words inside myself to express what i felt, even if those early efforts struggled just to be worthy of amateur status.

when he came to memphis my senior year in high school, there was no way in hell i wasn’t going. a buddy of mine who was also a fan knew how to get there (i didn’t), so i bought the tickets, he bought the gas, and we went.

i couldn’t believe how his voice seemed to fill the entire auditorium. it was just him, guitar and piano…and one of the first things i noticed was that when he played the songs, his accompaniment was perfect – it was the first glimpse i’d gotten of what the process was – i’d always thought that the songs probably started with a rudimentary chord progression, and all the frills and accents were added on later. what i learned was that songs like make love stay started out with the chord progression and melody completely intact, and that the arrangements on the recording were done to complement the songs as they were written. i noticed that while a lot of his songs did have the traditional folk fingerstyle accompaniment, he mixed fingerpicking with strumming for dynamics, and he wasn’t afraid to snap a bass string with his thumb for good measure, and that he actually tuned his guitar differently to play certain songs…i knew those weren’t the basic chords that he was flying by in some of those songs, like once upon a time and longer and so on…he was just an amazing musician, and that two and a half hours changed my life. it set me on the path to become a better guitarist, to stretch my voice and lose the timid delivery that had been a subconscious barricade for me…

it’s no exaggeration that i wouldn’t be the musician that i am now if it weren’t for him.

i’ve known…forecasted, even…that there’d be a time when the years would force the human side of my heroes to the surface, and i’d have to stand by and watch them start to fall, one by one. last year, we lost warren zevon and just last month one of my heroes whom i’ve been fortunate enough to call a friend as well, george grantham from poco was felled by a stroke onstage, two songs into a show in springfield, mass. (he’s doing much better and has returned to nashville just this past week, although he’s still hospitalized at this point, by the way).

i can see the age in my own eyes when i look in the mirror with some strange mix of regret and anxiety…but as time goes by and the cultural landscape under my feet continues to shift and mutate into something that i fail to recognize sometimes, nothing drives home the passing of the years quite like seeing my heroes age.

if you’re not too cool to do so, say a prayer for dan tonight.

coherent

 

 

now playing: poco, “indian summer”

 

wendy brought home the first season of six feet under last week, and i’m firmly convinced at this point that it’s probably the best show on TV right now. i used to watch it pretty religiously when we still had HBO (before the great purge of the pay channels), and lost interest when it wasn’t around anymore, as i typically do with TV. it’s not terribly often that i’ll allow myself to ignore all the things around me that need my attention and sink into the sofa and indulge myself with tube time…it’s just hard for me to relax if something’s pressing on my “to do” button. and to clarify – it’s not so much an OCD type disorder as it is a matter of tending to basic needs. it’s generally more of a “do i want to watch tv or have clean clothes to wear to work tomorrow?” more than a “how can i waste my time watching tv when i haven’t alphabetized the soup cans in the cupboard yet?” thing.

and yes, i am aware of a person (who happens to sit just to my right, through a wall) who actually does that…alphabetizes his soup cans.

so i got a tip that there’s a relatively cheap pickup truck for sale in ephrata that might fit my (nonexistant) budget, so i think we’ll go have a look after work tonight. good excuse to go to boehringer’s, too, since it’s on the way. i also need to drop off the videos from the weekend as well (one time when i did blow everything else off to sit on my ass and watch movies with my kids was this past week when we all went and rented movies together…)

wendy is heading off for maine and massachusetts for labor day weekend (plus part of the week after), so i’m gonna have large chunks of alone time over the weekend to finish up some household stuff (building dylan’s new bunk beds and getting the garage/workshop in order, as well as helping jayda situate her room the way she wants it), and after all the headway made this past weekend, it’ll be a long stride towards finally making the place feel more like home than storage space.

this has been another of those “time-delayed” attempts at sitting down and writing something…i open up Notepad, and start scribbling, and the phone rings, and then i start scribbling, and someone comes back to the shop with a printer problem, and i resume scribbling and the phone rings again, and i dash off to help someone restart their machine to clear a program error (yeah, it’s true…i have callouses on my palms from the hand-holding that i do on a daily basis)…so i think i’m going to abandon this particular attempt at coherency before it becomes all too obvious that there’s much more of a lack thereof…

vehicular deja-vu

 

 

now playing: the innocence mission, “mercy”

 

well, i batted one out of two for the auditions i had this weekend…i didn’t make the sunday audition, thanks to my van deciding to splinter the alternator belt…i had both the battery and the oxygen sensor lights come on on the dash, and when i parked it, i had coolant going everywhere in the back. what’s worse, when i came back to it to move it, the rear tire on the drivers’ side was flat.

i’ve really, really had it with this thing. obviously, having an ace mechanic isn’t improving the uptime ratio of this thing.

(it should also be noted that my ace mechanic must not be in the shop today, since no one seems to be either answering the phone or returning my calls)

wendy made a good and relevant point as i was silently and inwardly expressing my disgust with this piece of shit – in that i should definitely consider getting another means of transportation if i’m considering taking on a band that’s headquartered two hours from home.

good point.

i’m pretty thoroughly disgusted at this point. tired of not being able to follow through on committments because of shit like this.

anyway, i didn’t have my cell phone with me yesterday, and didn’t have freds’ number with me either…and after dwelling on wendys’ comment for a while, it probably didn’t matter. as much as i’d like to take this on, i just can’t see clear to committing to these guys if i can’t get in my fucking car and somehow, through the miracle of modern transportation, get from point A to point B.

so i guess i’m going to have to accept the reality of being in the market for a new ride…my buddy mitch had told me about a guy he knows in the philadelphia area that would probably be able to do something for me some time back, but after i tripped over my mechanic and he got me back on the road, it seems to have slipped my mind.

guess i gotta refocus.

the nik everett encounter went much better, probably because nik came to me instead of vice versa…and while i didn’t have the songs mastered to the extent that i would’ve liked, it went alright nonetheless. we’re planning on getting together with niks’ rhythm section at the end of this week, which should prove to be a lot more productive…it’s tough to relax and play your best when it’s two people face to face and you’re busy trying to be subtle and stay out of the way of things in that particular environment. he’s already taken a date for his CD release party in october at the point in bryn mawr…which he was laughing about on saturday, saying that having the date in stone would force us to get off our collective asses.

i was glad to hear him say that we’d probably pick up one or two of the old songs as well…one of my favorite nik songs is from his second record, called “love equals blue”…in fact, i go to his site every now and then and refresh it until that song plays under his index page.

anyway, the one good thing that came from having my plans derailed yesterday was that i got enough wind at my back to finish wiring the studio…so now everything is in place and functional. i did do one stupid thing, though…and it didn’t occur to me that i was doing it until everything was already wired and in place.

i have an old 16 in, 16 out patch bay that i’ve had literally since i first began making recordings, back in 1986. my console is a 20 channel RAMSA, and i have 2 ADAT machines that make up my non-hard disk recording environment. since i only use 16 channels at a pop on the console (and generally use the last four as effects returns), i got a 16 channel custom insert snake for the first 16 channels.

so, i figure as i’m agonizing over the layout and such, why not use the old 16 in/out patchbay for the channel inserts? it’s the same number of ins and outs, no confusion, no extra patch points to waste…perfect, right?

well, it seemed thus until last night when i got everything in place and started testing the rig and realized that my old, trusty MTR patchbay that i was using for inserts wasn’t normalled – which means that unless a cable is in place on the channel, the circuit is broken and nary a sound shall ye year until you patch the send into the return.

now, i have a behringer patch panel in there that’s switchable, and that’s where the inserts went before…but being the lazy fuck that i am, i’ll probably leave it the way it is and just get extra cables to leave in the insert patchbay so i don’t have to move shit again.

although there’s an excellent chance that it’ll eventually bother me to the point that i’ll fix it.

it was quite nice, though, at a little before 4am this morning, to hear audio coming from my speakers through the console.

i sure am payin’ for it today, though.

road stories and such…

 

 

now playing: dolly varden, “progress note”

 

so i’m in the middle of a little data housecleaning, and i found the following in a word document that was in an old backup file. from the days when i was compiling my thoughts in a more centralized fashion.

not sure why i thought this would be relevant, but some of it is pretty funny.

***********************

Earthquake? What Earthquake?

January 16th, 1994 – my sidekick at the time, Todd Bartolo, accompanied me to one of our regular stops in Lewistown, PA…Kirby’s. I’ve heard that they’ve since closed, which is a shame, because it was a great place to play, and we always had a good turnout. This particular night was the coldest in recent memory, with a wind chill well below zero, and we were travelling in my old 1976 Ford Econoline with no heat. We finished up the show and were getting ready to tear everything down when a guy walked up to us and asked, during the course of our conversation, where we were from.

“Reading”, we answered.

His face fell, and he told us, “maaaaan…you guys had an earthquake tonight, dude.”

“Really?”

“…yeah, man… bummer.”

Todd and I looked at each other with that knowing glance that wordlessly said, “OK. Sure. Right. Whatever.” We then loaded into our refrigerated van and got ready to make the trek home.

If you’ve ever travelled 322 East towards State College, you’re familiar with the void that exists in that part of the state…and we had gotten just outside the city when the van started sputtering. I told Todd that if the van died, we would die with it, because it was just too friggin’ cold. I had a quarter tank of gas, and I didn’t believe for a minute that the gas was the problem. We managed to make it to a Sheetz that had only been built at its location for a few days and gassed up, and it ran fine the rest of the way home…cold, but fine. (we actually ended up stopping at a truck stop further along the trip to buy socks for Todd, since he was wearing those cute little ankle socks that didn’t provide much protection from frostbite..)

The punchline? We arrived home to find that our hallucinating friend out west hadn’t been hallucinating at all, and that there actually had been an earthquake in Reading that night…but, of course, you miss a lot when you live this life….

Speaking of COLD….

February of 1998, my then-manager booked me a short weekend trip to play at a couple of rooms in Kentucky – Picassos’ in Elizabethtown and the Second Song Coffeehouse in Louisville. Kind of a standard thing, we had someone in the area that I could split shows with, and in my then-characteristic abandon, I left for the gigs without really thinking twice about it. I had this habit of assuming that everything was taken care of (including making connections for places to stay…silly me!), so I left my apartment at 6AM and started south.

At the time, I was driving SYD (acronym for Suburban Yuppie Dirtmobile), my trusty ’89 Dodge Caravan. This vehicle was a wonder – 4 ½ engines during our time together. We travelled many, many miles together…from Memphis and Nashville to Toronto and many, many points in between – NYC, Boston, Pittsburgh, DC – you name it. This particular weekend, though, I had two gigs down south and then back home – piece of cake, right?

Well, the shows went well, and I got to visit Guitar Emporium in Louisville, KY (where I bought my first mail-order Les Paul years before) and did a lot of window shopping during the day. I also got to sit under a tree in the park and read for a few hours on that particular Saturday. I had slept in SYD the night before, parked strategically behind a convienence store, and had managed to shave and wash my hair (and select other body parts…too much information?) in the bathroom at the McDonalds’ on Bardstown Road the following morning. You see, these are the secondary skills that you glean as a musician…learning to make a Hilton out of a Motel Six seems easy compared to making a bed and bath out of a rest stop. So, having soldiered through the previous two days, I thought nothing of sleeping in the van after the last show of the jaunt. So, as per the lessons experience had taught me, I drove the first couple of hours up the interstate after the show to warm up the van, and climbed into the back seat and zipped my sleeping bag up around my face and went to sleep. Now, it was the first week of February, and I should have expected as much, but it had been pretty mild the previous two nights, so I thought not much of it….but this last night, it was COLD. I mean COLD. I sleep pretty heavily as it is, so I didn’t really feel it until the next morning, when I woke up. My nose and cheeks were almost numb from the cold, and were my willpower a little less weak, I’d have still been there, shivering, in the bag. I actually had to scrape the INSIDE of the windshield before I could start driving north that morning. All this to play two gigs that netted me $38.00.

The Great Disappearing Audience Trick

Yet another Kirby’s story…I had the good fortune of having a core following at Kirbys’, a group of people I could count on showing up every time I was there…one of them, Marylou, was especially close to me. She was a joker of the highest order. On one particular night, she seemed especially intent on pulling one off at my expense – and she must’ve succeeded, because I still remember it…

The setup at Kirby’s was unique…I played in the basement tavern, and there was a piano in the room, but it sat flush against the wall that I stood against. This meant that if I wanted to play the piano, I had to do so with my back to the audience…which sucked, but it was one of the only places that I had access to a piano, so I felt obligated to use it. This particular night, I was in the middle of “Candle in the Wind”, and I listened as I played to the room growing really quiet…”wow,” I thought…”this is unusual for this room..” I finished the song to the same silence, and turned around to find that there wasn’t a soul in the entire room. After a brief pause, I heard uproarious laughter coming from just outside the doorway, and Marylou opened the door and everyone came back in…she had led everyone in the room outside during the song, and no one opened their mouth or gave away a thing. I was so intent on playing that I had no idea what was going on behind me until I had already been duped. And, of course, Marylou never let me live that one down.

**********************

now, in retrospect, i don’t remember why i started writing all that stuff down…i obviously hadn’t abandoned capitalization yet at that point…and i’d forgotten about a couple of those stories.

anyway, there ya go.

another one i found was written just after the death of folk musician dave carter…

************************

i’m not sure why this news bothers me as much as it did for most of last night – i wasn’t terribly familiar with his music, and i only met him briefly, but he made an impression.

we saw him at Falcon Ridge last year…we were there for their mainstage performance, but it was so late, and so cold – we called it a night and went back to the tent and collapsed into sleep.

the next day, he and Tracy Grammer were at the festival stage, and Dave played a Christmas song he wrote, and talked about writing it in the middle of the summer because it was a commisioned work, and the awkwardness that accompanied writing it…i related to that, because i had done the same thing myself. i had to write “the road south” in the middle of august in a sweltering three room apartment above 5th street in reading, listening to the sirens and the wheeled subwoofers that coasted to a stop beneath the open window that faced the street – and i knew it wasn’t gonna be a Santa Song or a Frosty Song or a Birth of Christ song…i wrote instead about a fantasy Christmas trip home with Chris that i thought might happen someday. I had talked to her on the phone just prior to writing it, and told her that i was hanging up and i couldn’t talk to her until it was done. when i put that particular spin on it, it poured out – it wasn’t a particularly hard song to write, but it was a personal song, and they never seem to be….but writing a Christmas song, a Real Christmas song – there just seems to be this sense that other people should “get it” as such…but i really didn’t care about that.

so Dave asked for title ideas for his song and Dylan came up with one. So I took him with me to the rear of the tent to tell Dave his Grand Idea for the title of his Christmas song. Dylan, as is his way, was loathe to say anything when we first went back, but Dave talked to him (and to me) for a time, and Dylan seemed to feel at ease with him. He just seemed like such a warm and gentle person, sincere in talking to Dylan – I had told him that I was a writer as well…or maybe Dylan told him, I can’t remember, but Dylan told him his idea for his song title, and we chatted a little longer, and he turned to me and said, “I’d love to hear some of your music sometime, too…”

and i felt as though he actually meant it. and i never feel that. the fact that i remember that from the conversation is probably the most telling thing about the impression he made.

i’ve said “thank you” so many times that it almost feels contemptuous when someone complements me on my talent. to thank someone for their kind words is a motor response, an expected dialouge from someone that a stranger might admire or respect in a certain light…and when you travel in musicians’ circles, it becomes, over time, a phrase incapable of penetrating ones’ impervious cynicism.

“great set, tom.”

“dude, that song is amazing.”

“i loved your record.”

it’s a record of the damage that a prolonged existence on this rung of the food chain does to a persons’ expectations. It made me into someone capable of being unmoved by the compliments of the very person or persons i wanted to reach with my music.

coming from another musician, of course, whatever was said was automatically bullshit. i saw it so many times during the Grape Days – a fellow musician tells another musician that his new songs are really cool, good stuff…until he escapes to the bar for a beer, at which time “his stuff is really tired, man….” “what’s up with that shirt?” “he wasn’t at Ben Arnold’s party last month, was he?”

thus the reason I find myself here, voluntarily extricated from the Grape and the Grape Days.

yet that day at Falcon Ridge, I felt like I was in the presence of the Real Thing for a couple of minutes. Someone who played because he loved playing, who wrote because he loved writing, who interacted with the people who took the time to see and hear him out of genuine, sincere gratitude…

he was 49 years old when he died, and he was a very accomplished musician – jazz pianist, degreed…yet he found his voice in folk music. i can’t help but admire that, too.

but i found myself feeling sad that he’d passed on, partly because of the impression of him as a person that i’d formed from that one meeting, and from having read what Tracy had posted on his website when i checked it yesterday when i came home – i found myself mourning as much for her loss as for the worlds’.

and the irony is that wendy and i discussed exchanging vows at falcon ridge – which, this past weekend, was the scene of a dave carter tribute concert and a memorial…and which would have made it impossible for me to try and impose nuptials into the same space.

it was almost as if we weren’t supposed to know about it before we left, and we weren’t supposed to hear about it until we came home…

the memory of this past week as we lived it out will be largely uncluttered by any memory of it having occured during the week after Dave’s death, yet his death feels like a loss to me. in a lot of ways, i’m not sure why…i feel like i should be harder than this by now.

so last night, i lay in bed next to my new wife, who knew (of course) that I was sad, and in my fashion, i was purely unable to talk about it. i wasn’t able to tell her that this was affecting me the way it had, or why, or make any sense out of it until i had time to think about it today and put it into perspective.

so i lay there, with tiny tear tracks finding their way from my eyes into my hairline, staring at the ceiling with my insides twisted up, unable to really deal with it in any way that made sense on what i’d probably call a rational level.

and i felt a loss for my son, too, who had lost another potential role model before he got the chance to fully experience what he was about.

I started to tell him about it when he came downstairs last night to go shopping, but it didn’t seem like it was a huge priority – he’s still of an age that doesn’t feel the weight of death the way we do when we grow up and learn to interpret death as loss – death, to a child, is totally foreign until they lose someone who represents a personal loss.

Dylan doesn’t feel these kinds of losses yet.

This all seems to contain a message for me – as have a whole string of events that have played out over the past few months.

First, my old lawyer books me for a show in DC and manages to parlay it into a fresh shipment of “mutual angels” – which had been out of print and largely forgotten, so i thought, until then…

then Pete from Shame asks me to open a show for them and tells me that an opportunity exists for me to make another record for free.

then I go to Albany, and to New Hampshire, during the course of our vacation, and find out that there are still people out there who I had no connection to who love my music, and who want to see me continue to make records…

i feel like my resistance to all this has been justified in my own stubborness, my own trite refusal to write, sing, play, record – feeling that if i wasn’t doing it for a viable (meaning large in my mind) audience, then I shouldn’t bother….my whole “what’s the point”-ness.

i think if anything significant comes from feeling a sense of loss from Dave Carter’s death, it’s that there are reasons to do this that have nothing to do with who might be listening at a given point.

************************

some of this might still be relevant – i have two separate auditions for a couple of different situations this weekend, and they’re both things that i’d really be psyched to be a part of…not sure what else to say about any of that until such time as i have something substantial to report.

ejected

 

 

now playing: james taylor, “don’t let me be lonely tonight”

 

so, get this….they’re chasin’ me outta here. my boss just came over and gave me this incredulous look and said, “you’re still here?”

so i’m being sent home.

which is fine…i mean, hell…who wants to be inside with weather like this, huh?

(ultra-thundershowers, for those not in our local listening area)

man…JT – they shoulda played sleep come free me….