March 2016 Newsletter
Friday, February 26, 2016
THE CREATURE & THE PIONEER
There is, of course, no one, particular way to "be" an artist. Some consistently surge forth into the unknown, searching for sounds, colors or language they've yet to encounter. Others take shelter in comforting talismans and routines...the lucky pen, the morning pages, the daily walk. I've found that the most artistically fruitful path for me is a blend of these two seemingly exclusive methods--the creature of habit and the freewheelin' pioneer.
Of the two models outlined above, the "creature of habit" is the decidedly less sexy one, and one can imagine the comfort of certain routines easily evolving into unsettling ticks and quirky rituals. Though I've always thought of myself as a normal enough guy, the creature of habit is the model that best describes me. It's the reason I can sit in front of my stereo with an electric guitar or lap steel and puzzle out a particular solo or instrumental passage. It's the reason I can grab a cup of coffee, sit down with a notebook and a guitar, and chase the same line in a single song, day after day. It's tempting to think of artists as mystical antennae, tuning in to waves of inspiration. But more often than not, we're grinding it out, one syllable at a time.
As effective as commitment to a particular creative approach can be, a potential wealth of artistic dividends await one who is willing to reach beyond his comfort zone. I don't even have to try out new artistic situations to get inspired: new life experiences are just as useful as a way to break new creative ground. For example, I've cross country skiied for most of my life, but I'd never tried downhill skiing until a few weeks ago. I had all sorts of reasons for not braving this unknown frontier, not the least of which was concern for the appendages with which I make my living. But I decided to take the plunge and try it on a recent family vacation in Vermont, and after a day of tentative turns and more than a few minor falls I found I loved it. There's something exhilarating about taking up a new hobby or skill in the middle of your life. And something humbling (and terrifying) about watching how much faster your two sons pick it up and go hurtling down the mountain.
I don't imagine I'll write any skiing songs anytime soon. But there's a rush of creative energy that follows trying something novel, of pushing beyond self-imposed boundaries and coming out the other side unscathed. I feel a bit braver, a tad less afraid to try new things, and it makes me wonder: what other fears are holding me back in my life? What else could I do if I occasionally abandoned my comfort zone and tried something new? Could I write that quirky, poetic story song I've always wanted to? Could I nail one of those pithy, pitch perfect pop anthems that Tom Petty seems to write in his sleep? Only time will tell.
But for now, I'm going back to my lucky pen and trusted notebook. And after last winter's snowpocalypse, I'm patient enough to wait til next year before I take my chances on the slopes again.
FOR A SONG: We're now in a bit of a holding pattern for the record. It's gone out to reviewers, press, radio, and people are (hopefully) listening and deciding whether to play it on the air, review it, etc. Many of you who supported the Kickstarter campaign have already heard the record, and have sent me lovely emails that I truly appreciate. If you love the record, tell someone else...either online or in person, write a review on Amazon, iTunes, etc. Your votes of confidence mean more than any other piece of the equation.
ALBUM RELEASE TOUR: We're still pulling all the dates together, but I'm really excited to get down the East coast a bit with a band that will include, at various points, Marco Giovino (drums), Zachariah Hickman (bass), Charlie Rose (pedal steel) and James Rohr (piano & organ). Check the ON THE HORIZON section (or the TOUR page of my site) for the latest dates and details!
MP3 of the MONTH: This month's track is a cover of "The Eye," a wonderful Brandi Carlile song about learning how to take the tumult of life in stride. Or maybe it's about downhill skiing...you'd have to ask her. My cover features Jake Armerding, Zack Hickman and Rose Cousins, all singing like angels, and it's avaialble for the month of March at my Bandcamp site. Enjoy!
Sat Mar 5 - The Kate, Old Saybrook CT - 8 pm (supporting Richard Shindell)
Though I'm a big fan of his work, and we shared a record label with each other for years, I've never actually shared the stage with Mr. Shindell. That injustice ends on this night, and I am truly excited to kick off the night and then sit backwatch the man work with the rest of you.
Barnstar! Rides Again...Again!
Fri Mar 11 - Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2), New York NY - 8 pm
Sat Mar 12 - Private House Concert, Towaco NJ
Sun Mar 13 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA - special 3 pm brunch show!
Can this really be the second month in a row that Barnstar! has done gigs? It's almost like we're starting to know what we're doing. Just kidding: we know EXACTLY what we're doing and we are having a blast doing it. Come out and see everybody's favorite rowdy bluegrass bands before we go to ground again and don't play another gig til August.
Sat Mar 19 - Williamstown Inn, Williamstown MA - 7:30 pm
I don't get up to the northwest corner of my state nearly enough for my liking. I've got lots of new songs to play for you. I'm so excited that I'm going to bring along Zack Hickman to help me out on bass, pump organ and mustache.
Fri Mar 25 - You can pre-order FOR A SONG on iTunes on this date!
Supporting Aoife O'Donovan
Wed Mar 30 - Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis MN - 7:30 pm
Thu Mar 31 - Stoughton Opera House, Stoughton WI - 7:30 pm
I couldn't be more excited to head out for a run of dates opening for my friend Aoife O'Donovan. She's got a fantastic new record out, In The Magic Hour, and I'm grateful for the chance to introduce her audience to my new record.
No sideman gigs this month, but you never do know where I'll pop up unannounced.
ON THE HORIZON:
Apr 1 - SPACE, Evanston IL# #supporting Aoife O'Donovan
Apr 2 - The Hi-Fi, Indianapolis IN#
Apr 3 - Taft Theatre, Cincinnati OH#
Apr 5 - The Southern, Charlottesville VA#
Apr 6 - Ram's Head Tavern, Anapolis MD#
Apr 7 - Barns at Wolf Trap, Vienna VA#
Apr 8 - North Shore Point House Concerts, Norfolk VA# (FOR A SONG is released!)
Apr 9 - The Spire Arts Center, Plymouth MA** **FOR A SONG CD Release Tour!
Apr 15 - Stargazers Theater, Colorado Springs CO^ ^supporting Paula Cole
Apr 16 - Soiled Dove Underground, Denver CO^
Apr 20 - Rockwood Music Hall 2, New York NY**
Apr 21 - Burlap & Bean, Newtown Square PA**
Apr 22 - The Strand, Lakewood NJ**
Apr 23 - Charlottesville VA**
Apr 24 - IOTA Club & Cafe**
Apr 29 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA**
Apr 30 - Parlor Room, Northampton MA**