December 2013 Newsletter
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
PRICELESS & WORTHLESS
Automobiles aside, I am loathe to waste time looking in the rearview mirror. I don't like reunions, I'm not particularly nostalgic for any one time in my life, and I can't commit to artistic endeavors that don't feel like I'm breaking some sort of personal new ground. Like most of us, however, I do allow myself a quick glance over my shoulder at the end of each year (and once again at tax time, but that's a different newsletter) to take stock of how far I've come.
It's been just three years since my last solo record Little Vigils was released. That's not a long time, but still about twice as long as it has taken me to prepare a new record in the past. I told myself this year that I was just giving myself a breather, letting the songs come naturally. The truth is, I was trying like hell and writing a lot--I just wasn't falling in love with what ended up on the page. I felt like a fisherman endlessly playing out line to some unseen leviathan thrashing in the murky depths. When I completed a couple of songs this fall that I'd been wrestling with for years, it felt like finally landing a beast that had heretofore only flashed me a fin or a glimpse of pale underbelly.
Just like fishing, songwriting can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But sometimes insight only comes when I am most spent, when my conscious mind is too tired to resist revelation. What this year taught me is that my songs are priceless. I can't put a value on how much they uplift me or get a fix on where they come from, nor can I imagine the depths of my despair should I ever not be able to sing them. You could say that my songs save my life, or at the very least make it more worth living.
At the same time, the past year saw the music industry roiling with change and reeling with uncertainty. Every week more and more artists take advantage of the fact that it has never been easier to release new music into the world. The supply of songs, when you factor in the dwindling of attention spans and free time, now approaches infinity. As such, it's hard not to feel like these songs that mean so much to me are, at the same time, essentially worthless.
The magic that reconciles this duality happens where my songs find your ears and hopefully lift your spirits. It's the whole tree falling in the forest thing--I'm not sure if it matters that I write songs if you aren't there hear them. For yet another year, each of you bore witness to my music, and never has creation and its resonance been more important to me. I am humbled by your company, and I look forward to another year together. I would still do all I do without you...but it wouldn't mean a thing. I wish you and your families the healthiest and happiest of holidays, and I'll see you out there sooner or later.
CHOOSE COVERS SHOW SET LIST: This year is our 10th (!) annual covers show, and though we'll keep it going (sans Lori McKenna from here on out), this year feels like a milestone of sorts. The 7 pm show is sold out, and there are about 25 tickets left for the 10 pm show. Whether you'll be in the front row or even if you're unable to make it, you can still vote for the songs you'd like to hear us perform that night from a list of everything we've done for the past nine years of covers shows. VOTE today, as we're going to shut down the polls at the end of the week and start re-learning the songs.
MP3 of the MONTH: Usually I try to draw some parallel between the theme of the monthly newsletter essay and the free download, but this month...screw it. I got nothing, other than a version of Van Morrison's "The Way Young Lovers Do," which I did at last December's covers show. It's available for free for the month of December over at my Bandcamp page. Check it out.
Thu Dec 5 - Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River MA - 8 pm
This is one of the South Shore's best music venues. A big, old former mill space turned into a top shelf place to hear music. This night, I'll be opening for Lori McKenna and then playing a whole bunch of guitar in her band. Our keyboard player will unfortunately not be able to make this show, so all my solos will be twice as long. Yeehaw.
Sun Dec 8 - The Kate, Old Saybrook CT - 7 pm
Thank God for Katharine Hepburn, the namesake of this lovely venue. Can't think of a better thing to do on the coast of CT on a Sunday night than come to this show. Once again, I'll be opening for Lori McKenna as well as playing in her band.
Fri Dec 20 - Passim, Cambridge MA - 7 & 10 pm
We've done this annually for the past 9 years and are doing something a little different this year. You choose the set list (see above for how to vote). These two shows are part of Lori's annual three night-stand at Passim, and pretty much every show sells out in advance. If you're thinking of coming to the show, buy tickets now. Especially if you want to hear me sing the theme from the 80's classic movie "Dirty Dancing," which is currently polling very well.
Thu Dec 26 - Port City Music Hall, Portland ME - 8 pm
Normally, I wouldn't be working this soon after Christmas. However, this is a gig opening for Stephen Kellogg, a friend for going on 18 years now, in my former hometown of Portland ME. Either would shake me out of my post-holiday stupor, but both together make this a no-brainer.
Sat Dec 7 - Joe's Pub, New York NY **with Lori McKenna Band
Sat Dec 21 - Passim, Cambridge MA**
ON THE HORIZON:
Barnstar! hits the road again for a few shows^^
Jan 3 - Parlor Room, Northampton MA^^
Jan 4 - Old Sloop Coffeehouse, Rockport MA^^
Jan 5 - Passim, Cambridge MA^^ 2 SHOWS! 5 & 8 pm