December 2016 Newsletter
Monday, November 21, 2016
An artist's job description is far simpler than it would seem on the surface. Sure, you have to learn to play your instrument, develop your voice--both in song and on the stage, book gigs, travel, make records, do all the nefarious things one must do to promote your music, and look good while you do them. But at the most basic, fundamental level, the job of an artist boils down to two words: PAY ATTENTION.
To pay attention is to be fully-invested and open to the possibility in each moment, having faith that this focus will lead you to a place of creation. My commitment to this philosophy over the last 17 years led me to the best year I've ever had as an artist in 2016. I wrote the best songs I've ever written, recorded them exactly how I envisioned them in my head and heart, released them with your enthusiastic support, and toured around more than I have since I became a parent nine years ago, both on my own and with Aoife O'Donovan, Lori McKenna, Paula Cole and Josh Ritter.
Being open and honest with myself at this time of year always fills me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude--for the musicians I play with, for the booking agent who keeps me working, for the fans who keep coming out to the shows, and for the country where it is possible to make a living as a truly independent artist. Almost everything I do is so that I may keep doing this job, something that I fight for every day. Every. Day. Being an artist is a complicated and nuanced endeavor, and we are not the easiest people to live with. For this reason, I am grateful for the support of my family most of all.
Unfortunately, this year paying attention also meant focussing on the consistently divisive and mean-spirited barrage of the recent election. I won't dignify all that was said by repeating it here, but like many of you I am completely exhausted by what our country just endured. I can't even spin it positively as the 'voice of the people' making itself heard, as only about 55% of eligible voters actually voted, and the candidate who won the popular vote lost the overall election. Even if our president elect is somehow successful at governing, America still loses on some fundamental level. Maybe he didn't do the things he said (the jury's still out on that), but in my book simply saying those sorts of things renders you unworthy of contention for the leader of the free world.
Of course, we all still have our jobs to do. I can't retreat into my own shell--I have to pay attention to the world around me in order to create meaningful work. I've already brought many songs from Hope & Other Casualties and Delivered back into my live shows, and it's sad that all I wrote in the wake of terrorist attacks and war feel relevant in the aftermath of this election. I can't yet say how this will affect the art I've yet to make, only that it surely will. I can tell you this, though. Whatever comes next will be the heartfelt and honest result of trying to live up to those two words in my job description.
HOLIDAY ORDERS: Want to give the gift of music (or posters? or t-shirts?) this holiday season? You've got excellent taste. Place your order at my site by December 15th, and I'll be happy to get it to you before Christmas. You can start shopping HERE.
MP3 of the MONTH: 2016 has taken so many iconic musical figures from us, and the one I've grieved most recently is the loss of Leonard Cohen. He's one of those artists I didn't get for a long time, but when I finally did get it, I fell hard. There'll never be another like him. In celebration of his life and work, I'm offering a cover of his song "So Long, Marianne." It's available for FREE for the month of December. Download it HERE.
Sat Dec 3 - South Shore Folk Music Club, Kingston MA - 8 pm
Long-held in the Beale House, this series is a long-running, iconic New England coffeehouse. There will be intense listening. There will be carrot cake. There will definitely be me and my guitars, singing my heart out for you all by my lonesome.
Sun Dec 4 - Tamworth Lyceum, Tamworth NH - 7 pm
I love this tiny little room, located in Bill Morrissey's hometown. I'll play a few for Bill, and a whole lot off the new record, and a few oldies too. But not Free Bird.
Fri Dec 16 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA - 7 & 10 pm SOLD OUT!
This is perhaps my favorite annual tradition, the 13th Under The Covers show with Jake Armerding, Rose Cousins and Zachariah Hickman. I start thinking about this show in January, and it's always a blast when it finally rolls around 12 months later. I'd tell you to come, but both shows are already sold out. I'd tell you to act a little more quickly next time, but that would be mean. So I'll just say that if you can't join us, you can probably tune in on Concert Window.
Sat Dec 17 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA with Lori McKenna Band 5 & 8 pm (SOLD OUT!)
ON THE HORIZON:
Jan 9 & 10 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA (Sub Rosa Songwriting Retreat shows)
Jan 20 - Columbus Performing Arts Center, Columbus OH
Jan 21 - Peninsula OH