Monday, September 28, 2015
Rambling around New England this time of year is a sublime joy, as warm days, crisp nights give rise to colorful panoramas and bountiful harvests. On nearly any backroad, you can pull off at a farm stand and sample a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables. The variety and quantity of offerings is often pleasantly overwhelming, leaving one sated with the impression of abundance and plenty.
A couple winters ago, after loving Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Mineral, Vegetable," my wife decided that our family should get healthier by eating more locally. Though we were both enamored with the notion of becoming farmers enough to at least partially feed our family, it dawned on us that the logistics of preparing, planting and tending to it all would demand far more than a full-time working mom and folksinging touring dad could manage. Fortunately, we had many options to support local, Massachusetts-based farms through community supported agriculture, and this has proved to be a wonderful compromise that allows us to eat well and to support the folks who bring in the harvest.
Just like the pastoral vibe of those roadside farm stands can inspire anyone to plant a garden, modern technology has democratized the means of recording and distributing music to the point where it seems like anyone can be a musician. I do believe this to be true--not long ago we were daily and more intimately involved with both the cultivation of our food and the making of our own entertainment--but looks can also be deceiving. Last night, I encouraged my wife to contribute her voice to a chorus of backing vocals for a song on my new record. She makes no claim to being musical, but with some repetition and some creative editing, I was very proud to add her voice to the choir. After she had finished, I laid down a couple more harmony parts, and she remarked on the speed and ease with which I did all this. It was a good reminder that such endeavors are the fruits of much labor: it takes a lot of work to make it look easy.
I consider the small-scale, family farm agricultural model to be very relevant to how I approach my music career. The economics of both are fairly dismal, and only those who are commited to certain lifestyle choices and philosophical principles will last for the long haul. But standing by the merch table at the end of my concerts, I imagine I feel a lot of the same things a farmer does at a roadside stand. I'm proud of the blood, sweat and tears that went into all of the offerings, and I do feel there is inherent diginity in art that is made humbly, honestly, and independently of giant corporations.
So do yourself a favor and stop by the side of the road for the best apples, corn or tomatoes you've ever tasted. And come out to a show to avail yourself of some of what my friend Jake Armerding calls "organic music." It's locally made, with much care and dedication, by the musician right in front of you. And I've got plenty that you can take home when this farm stand moves on to another town down the road.
NEW ALBUM NEWS: After letting it lay fallow for much of the summer, I've been back at work on the completion of tracking for my as-yet-untitled 10th solo album. I'm proud to say that the recording phase is now finished, and I'm moving on to mixing and mastering. It won't be officially released until the spring, but before too long you'll have an opportunity to get involved in the process and help me finish the record and give it a fighting chance to be heard in a very crowded musical marketplace. More soon.
MP3 of the MONTH: In honor of this newsletter's autumnal theme, this month's track is a cover of one of my favorite Greg Brown songs "Here In The Going, Going Gone." If you're not hip to Greg's music, you've got a LOT of homework to do, as the man has many albums and there's something to recommend about almost all of them. This song is from 1994's Poet Game, one of only three albums that have ever inspired Jeffrey Foucault and I to sit down with a couple guitars and some whiskey and play all the way through, from memory. It's available for free for the month of October on my Bandcamp site. Enjoy!
**Opening for Paula Cole
Fri Oct 2 - Davis Theatre, Concord NC - 8 pm**
Sat Oct 3 - Holly Springs Cultural Center, Holly Springs NC - 7:30 pm**
I rarely get down South anymore, so I'm always excited when the opportunity comes my way. Lots of people might remember Paula Cole from her 90's heyday (I Don't Wanna Wait, Where Have All The Cowboys Gone) but it would be a big mistake to think that's all she has to offer. I've become such a fan that I spend a lot of nights playing in her band. These will be special duo performances, and I will have the added honor of opening the shows with a short set of my own material.
Fri Oct 9 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA - 7 pm
When we recently went to Passim to see my friend Peter Mulvey play, my youngest son tried to open the locked green room door. When I asked him what he was doing he said "Dada, I want to see your office." That's how closely affiliated I am with this venerable institution. Every show I do there is a treat, and this time around I'll be solo acoustic, with Monica Rizzio opening. There are less than 40 tix left as of now. Just sayin'....
Sat Oct 10 - First Encounter Coffeehouse, Eastham MA - 8 pm
I spent my whole summer on Cape Cod and somehow didn't play one show in the area. I am very excited to return to play for the locals after all the tourists have gone home. This venue is located at the beautiful old Universalist "Chapel In The Pines," where they've presented acoustic music for, literally, as long as I've been alive.
Sat Oct 17 - Parlor Room, Northampton MA - 7 pm
The fine folks at Signature Sounds, whose friendship and support I have long enjoyed, run this wonderful establishment. There are several posters of younger versions of me that look back at me from the walls, so when I play here I have to close my eyes. Jim Trick will open the evening.
ON THE HORIZON: (check the TOUR page at my website for more details)
11/5 - 7 Central Songwriter Series, Manchester-by-the-Sea MA
11/6 - Kami Lyle's Sit-A-While, Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit MA
11/12 - Music Box Supper Club, Cleveland OH
11/13 - Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake MI
11/14 - City Winery, Chicago IL
11/19 - Burlap & Bean, Newtown Sq PA
11/20 - Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem PA
11/21 - Salmon Brook Music Series, Granby CT