Mark Erelli

October 2008 Newsletter


We live in a culture of simple characterization and snap judgment.  The ability to quickly and accurately size up a new person or situation, documented in the recent bestseller "Blink," is not without evolutionary advantage:  the cavemen philosopher pondering whether or not the charging saber-toothed tiger feels emotion did not likely survive long enough to pass his genes on to the next generation.  Our modern technology, from the 20 second sound samples on iTunes to good ole' channel surfing, subtly encourages and reinforces our tendency toward speedy analysis and judgment.  

My non-musical background is in evolutionary biology, the kind that by some polls a majority of Americans don't seem to believe in.  I am asked all the time how one goes from science to songwriting, as on the surface the two seem so disparate:  science is cold and calculated, black and white, while art is subjective and traffics in shades of gray.  This misconception stems from precisely our tendency to rush to judgment.  Science actually deals less in certainty and more in degrees of probability, and requires an intense amount of creativity.  Songwriting oftentimes involves careful and systematic observation.  Persistence, attention to detail, and innovation...the same skill set is required of both disciplines.  

We have heard the platitude warning us not to miss the forest for the trees.  However, sometimes, in the rush to focus on the forest, we miss out on all the rich detail and complexity of the individual trees.  This point was driven home recently when I took part in a film shoot for a new show on the Discovery Channel called Time Warp, set to begin airing on October 15th.  The show uses high-speed cameras to film everyday phenomena, slowing things down to elucidate the underlying scientific principles at work.  

I might think I'm simply strumming an E, but when filmed in high speed, there are strings oscillating at different rates in rippling waves that travel from my fretted finger to the bridge of my guitar.  There are pulses of air moved by the vibrating top of the instrument, and this air reaches my ear, where there is a whole host of specialized machinery and circuitry that help me perceive the E chord as a pleasing event.  

The lack of careful examination often makes things seem more monolithic than they really are, whether your talking about music, science or politics.  Perhaps some have a problem with science because they are worried it will become a surrogate for God.  I view it as a wonderful tool that helps us see the complexity of life. Every answer leads to another question, and yet the fundamental mystery of the beauty and intricacy of life persists, and inspires.  

I always have to remind myself of this simple lesson:  don't blink, you might miss something important.

DELIVERED: I continue to be grateful for your response to the new cd.  Many of you are buying multiple copies to pass on to friends who would likely enjoy it.  Keep spreading the word, your endorsement means more than any radio airplay or magazine review.  You are all responsible for the good things that come my way, all the milestones I reach.  I can't thank you enough and can only encourage you to keep it up!

TIME WARP: Check out this new show on the Discovery Channel.  I'm not sure when the episode with my friends and I making music will air, but check the show's schedule to see what's on tap.  I will post something to my site when I have more specific details on my episode.

MP3 of the MONTH:  In keeping with this month's themes of mystery and complexity, I'm posting a live cover of the U2-penned, Roy Orbison song "She's A Mystery To Me."  It features Zack Hickman on pump organ is available for free this month on the Downloads page at markerelli.com.  Check it out!


Fri Oct 3rd - Me & Thee Coffeehouse, Marblehead MA  8 pm
This is the first of my big fall tour with Midwestern folk-heartthrob Jeffrey Foucault.  He recently became a father as well, so we're calling it the "Sleep Deprivation & Dirty Diapers Fall Tour 2008."  Two dates is all we could manage, but there will surely be more in the future!  Visit the venue site for all the details.

Sat Oct 4th - Unity Center, Unity ME  7:30 pm
I've not done a gig this far north in Maine in a long time, and I'm glad Jeff Foucault will be along to help me conquer the Great White North.  We'll do our own songs and likely do a few selections from our record of murder ballads that we've been working on for the last couple months.  Check out the venue site for all the details.

Fri Oct 10th - Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton MA   7 pm
It's no secret, Northampton and the Iron Horse hold a special place in my heart.  I always try and do something a little special for this venue.  This night, I'll have Liam Hurley and Zack Hickman, the rhythm section from "Delivered," playing with me.  Also, Austin Nevins (also from Josh Ritter's band) will be joining us on electric guitar.  Miss Tess, that hip and sultry jazz songstress is kicking off the night.  One for the books indeed.  Check out the venue site for all the details.

Fri Oct 17th - Hooker Dunham Theatre, Brattleboro VT  7:30 pm
Fair Brattleboro, I can't wait to return.  I love this town, and it'll be a beautiful time of year to be in the neighborhood.  I'll be performing solo, and Miss Tess will open the show.  This is one of only two VT gigs this fall, so perhaps a road trip is called for?  Visit the venue site for all the details.

Sat Oct 18th - Vanilla Bean, Pomfret CT  8 pm
It's always a bit difficult to work up the righteous indignation required for all folksingers when I play this room.  The sound is great, the food is amazing, and everyone is so nice and accommodating.  How can I be expected to work under these conditions?  Visit the venue site for all the details.

Sat Oct 25th - First Encounter Coffeehouse, Eastham MA   8 pm
I love the Cape, and it has special appeal this time of year once all the tourists have gone home.  Locals, unite!  Come on out for my only Cape Cod show for the rest of the year.  No pressure.  Visit the venue site for all the details.

Oct 2 - Atwood's Tavern, Cambridge MA  (accompanying Jeffrey Foucault)

Nov 6 - McCook NE
Nov 7 - Hastings NE
Nov 8 - Lawrence KS
Nov 9 - Oklahoma City OK
Nov 20 - Ashland VA
Nov 21-22 - Decatur GA
Nov 23 - Hickory NC


updated: 9 years ago