August 2015 Newsletter
Sunday, August 2, 2015
I have a hard time settling down. Much like the notion that a shark will drown if it stops swimming, I too need to be doing something, or laying the groundwork to do something several weeks hence, at virtually all times. This may be a trait shared by many successful and productive people, but it can also be extremely draining--both for me and for loved ones who have to live with me. Old habits can both comfort and calcify, to the point where their familiarity prevents us from exploring other potentially more efficient and effective ways of doing things.
This time last summer, I was readying the release of my 9th solo record, Milltowns, which I funded with a successful Kickstarter campaign. At a time of the year when I could have been savoring the tang of homegrown tomatoes, or sneaking in an extra dip in the ocean, I was instead trying to stuff the boys into bed as early as possible so I could work til 1 am on whatever Kickstarter rewards I needed to fulfill. While I was grateful for the show of support and eager to make good on all I promised to my backers, it was a windfall that came with a price. I was happy to settle that tab in long hours and sleepless nights, but looking back I can see that to a certain extent my whole family was forced to invest in that process as well. And they didn't even get to stand on stage at the end of it all and have people clap for them.
This spring, I began work on my 10th solo record. In just two days in the studio, all the drums, bass, acoustic guitar and lead vocals were completed. I squeezed in a day-long, marathon keyboard session in mid-June before the kids got out of school. I was cooking on all cylinders and very happy with how things were shaping up, and then I just...stopped. School let out, we took the boys down to Cape Cod to visit their grandfather and, with the exception of just a few gigs, I have simply been their dad for the summer. Every once in awhile I'll get a pang of nervousness that I'm not doing enough to set up my fall touring schedule, or that I should be working on the new record. But then I'm quickly distracted by a cooler to pack for a day at the beach, or a game of backyard tag to play, hot dogs and hamburgers to grill, cuts and scrapes that need Bandaids, stories to read and movies to watch together. All in all, it feels like I've finally learned to indulge in an equally important life strategy: Just. Slow. Down.
Of course I still think of all that is left to do come September, but after ending spring at a full boil, it feels so good to dial it back to a slow simmer. I used to think of simmering as a sort of holding pattern, but it is actually an important technique in and of itself, deepening flavors and preserving the texture of what might otherwise fall apart under a more intense boil. And I feel like this summer I'm doing a lot of simmering, taking the time appreciate the season and the time with my family. And it definitely makes life richer, sweeter.
In this day and age, when independent artists are supposed to be constantly harranguing you via social media, simmering at a lower profile for a few months seems like a genuinely radical proposition. I truly can't wait to play for you all again in the fall, but I also can't express just how much I am appreciating this summer break. Whether it's swimming, a good book, tomatoes (always tomatoes!) or carving out as much quality time with family and friends as I can afford, it turns out I needed it more than I realized. May we all have the time to simmer a bit, and savor the long summer days before the fall heats up once again.
TAKE DOWN YOUR FLAG BENEFIT: Thanks to all who chose to pay to download July's free MP3 of the MONTH, which was a cover of Peter Mulvey's "Take Down Your Flag," inspired by the tragic events at Mother Emanuel church earlier this summer. The flag has come down from the South Carolina statehouse, but there is still much work and healing to be done. It is my privilege to donate all the proceeds from July's download to the Emanuel AME Church. Thanks to all who chipped in.
MP3 of the MONTH: We're back to a free track this month, and better than that, it's a demo of a summery song I haven't even released on a record yet. In fact, it's so new it doesn't really have a title yet, but I refer to it as "12:15 AM ATL," after the time and location I started writing it one summer night in Atlanta a couple years ago. Everyone else will call it "Georgia Saturday Night," so let's go with that for now. It's available for free for the month of August on my Bandcamp page and you can download it HERE. Enjoy!
I've so fully embraced dialling it back to a slow simmer this summer that I don't even have any solo shows this month! But there's lots more to look forward to in the fall, see the "On The Horizon" section below.
Wed Aug 5 - Wequasset Inn, Harwich MA (with Paula Cole) (FREE show)
ON THE HORIZON:
Sept 11 - Dreamaway Lodge, Becket MA
Sept 12 - Sounding Board Coffeehouse, West Hartford CT
Sept 18 - Deb's Chesham House Concerts, Harrisville NH
Sept 19 - Music at Sanctuary Hall, East Weymouth MA