December 2014 Newsletter
Thursday, November 13, 2014
I have two annual newsletter traditions. The first: keep August short and sweet so I can enjoy the dog days of summer. The second: December is devoted to expressing my gratitude for another year doing what I love to do. Usually, it takes me til things slow down a bit around the holidays to reflect on the year's journey . This year, however, a milestone birthday (I turned 40) and its memorable celebration gave me a valuable opportunity to assess how far I've come and those most responsible for helping me get here.
It might surprise you to learn that I rarely feel comfortable at parties. I used to think this was some sort of social shortcoming, but I realize now that it's because I'm an introvert. It doesn't mean I can't function socially, or that I don't like to have fun. It's just that social interactions don't energize me like they do extroverts--they eventually deplete me and leave me needing to decompress, to recover. When my wife suggested throwing me a 40th birthday party, I was game because I wanted to see if I had grown enough to get outside my comfort zone and enjoy myself.
It wasn't a surprise--I knew we were renting out Club Passim and that some friends would come to play music. What I didn't expect was a cavalcade of singer/songwriter friends performing my songs backed by a band of musicians I've played with throughout my 15 year career. There was Lorne Entress, who produced my first five records, on drums. There was Zack Hickman, Barnstar! compatriot and producer of my last two records, on bass. Jim Henry, who taught me how to be a sideman, on guitar, and Charlie Rose, my current touring partner, on steel. My niece, who as a five-year old got onstage in a red dress with me at the Iron Horse to duet on "I Want To Sing That Rock N' Roll," drove herself to the party and tore through "Basement Days" with my nephew. Epic.
It was overwhelming, and I should thank Lori McKenna for whispering in my ear to pay attention and remember it all. I did, and I always will. It was like being at my own wake without having to die. I woke up the following morning a day older and, literally, wiser. For all those people to still be in my life, I must be doing something right. I know every time I doubt myself or feel alone in my career, that those feelings are illusions and can never be as real or powerful as my family and friends.
The only people missing from that party were YOU. This has been a year when I relied upon you more than usual. After a longer-than-usual recording hiatus, I put out a record that most probably didn't expect. And I've gone around singing Bill Morrissey songs in small milltowns and big cities, for long-time fans, new followers, and even Bill's 93-year old mom. It's been very cathartic, a sort of folk singer's exorcism, and I wish I could relate how grateful I am for your support. Every time you buy a ticket, or listen to a record, or spread the word about my music, you literally change my life. I don't know much about a tree falling in the proverbial forest, but I am certain that none of what I do means anything without you.
Fifteen years in, I am doing exactly what I want to do (though I'll always gladly do it for bigger crowds and more money) and it all leaves me wanting just one thing more: a sixteenth year.
HOLIDAY SHOPPING: Have you gotten your hands on a copy of MILLTOWNS yet? Yes? Good. Wouldn't you say it would make a nice gift for that music fan who act like he or she has heard everything? Place your order by Fri Dec 12 to make sure I get it to you in time for the holidays.
MP3 of the MONTH: In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude and sticking with each other through the years, I've recorded a little version of the soul classic "Stand By Me" in my basement just for you. It's available for free on my Bandcamp page. Enjoy!
Fri Dec 5th - Live From Dirt Floor, Chester CT - 7:30 pm
Never been here before but this should be a cool show, an intimate performance in a recording studio (Dirt Floor Studios) that is recorded and filmed for posterity. I will have Charlie Rose with me on pedal steel and banjo.
Sat Dec 6th - Stone Soup Coffeehouse (at Slater Mill), Pawtucket RI - 8 pm
I've played these Bill Morrissey songs from MILLTOWNS in several milltowns now, but never in an actual mill. The Slater Mill, which hosts this Stone Soup Coffeehouse gig, has National Historic Landmark status and has been called "The Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution." Should be the perfect marriage of music and setting. I'll be joined by Charlie Rose on pedal steel & banjo (and he'll open) and Richard Gates on bass.
Ok Chicago, I know we don't see each other very often, but just like the Beatles sang, don't let me down. I don't even remember the last time I was here on my own and had time to play a whole concert of my material. I'll be focusing on MILLTOWNS this time around, but we'll have time for some other stuff too.
Sat Dec 13th - Three Springs Barn, Lancaster WI - 7:30 pm
Never played here before, but their website says it's a gig for musicians "seeking an attentive audience in an antique setting"...um, YES, that's exactly what I'm seeking. Please join me. For reservations, call Jeff at 608-642-0509 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sun Dec 14th - Cafe Carpe, Fort Atkinson WI - 7 pm
A fine listening room and bar in a fine little midwestern town. I'd be honored to be here alone, but I'm way more honored to be part of Peter Mulvey's "Lamplighter Sessions," with Randy Sabien and Bill Camplin. Peter describes these shows as musicians in the round making music like it happens offstage, which I assume means complete with lyrical flubs and copious whiskey. We shall see.
Fri Dec 19th - Club Passim, Cambridge MA - 7 & 10 pm
This will be the 11th annual Covers show and we're shaking things up. Lori McKenna has bowed out but I'm carrying on the tradition along with Jake Armerding and Zack Hickman. Lori cannot be replaced so we're gonna try and have a different special guest each year, and we kinda hit it out of the park with our first year of this arrangement: Rose Cousins will be our 4th. These had always sold out, but I wasn't sure how it was gonna go in our 2nd decade. Looks like the 7 pm show is already SOLD OUT and there are only 45 tickets left for 10 pm. You know what to do.
Sat Dec 20 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA (Lori McKenna & her band)
Sun Dec 21 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA (Lori McKenna acoustic duo)
ON THE HORIZON:
Jan 4-6 - Sub Rosa Collective shows
Jan 9 - Old Sloop Coffeehouse, Rockport MA
Jan 10 - Fox Run House Concert, Sudbury MA
Jan 15 - Rockwood 2, New York NY
Jan 16 - Strand Ctr for the Arts, Lakewood NJ