December 2017 Newsletter
Sunday, November 19, 2017
NEVER NEEDED IT MORE
What. A. Year.
My year began and ended as it so often does--at the venerable Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. January kicked off with the traditional Three Mile Island songwriting retreat shows, the stage jammed with friends debuting new songs written together the previous summer on an island in New Hampshire's Lake Winnepesaukee. It will end as it has for the past 14 years--with December's sold out run of Under The Covers shows featuring Jake Armerding, Rose Cousins and Zachariah Hickman.
In between, however, the year was anything but routine or traditional. It started with arguing about inauguration crowd sizes and is ending with a national debate on sexual assault and harrassment. Along the way, we saw mass shootings, nuclear arms tests, refugee crises, terrorist bombings, mass shootings, hurricanes, special counsels investigating Russian election interference, Nazis, and tax reform that manages to both gut health care and give handouts to private jet owners. Oh yeah, and a few more mass shootings.
I made a mindful effort not to dive in to this stuff on stage, honoring my pledge to never utter the president's name at my shows. As a folksinger, you'd think I'd have been eager to meet this stuff head on, especially given that I have songs that directly address most of the societal ills listed above. On social media, I often called out the madness I saw in our politics, but I found myself profoundly reticent to jump into the fray once I was in a room full of people that came to hear me sing.
So I sang, and probably better than I ever sang in my life. I made a record of covers, Mixtape (available for pre-order, to be released Jan 26th), that is hands down the best singing I've ever gotten on tape. I convinced myself that my job description is to "sing sad songs with my eyes closed," and that's mostly what I did. And I have never felt more comforted or rewarded by the community that singing brought me. I had many nights where I realized after a show that I had not thought about walls or Nazis or mass shootings for a whole hour and a half. Music is a minor miracle wrapped in a magic trick.
If I've learned anything from 2017, it's the folly in ruling out the possibility that things might unravel further still. For this alone I am grateful that I'm finishing the year with a busy month of shows. I am a father, husband and modern American male, and it is expected that I project a certain amount of steadfast strength. But I am not afraid to admit how much I depend on this outlet, how much I need YOU. Singing alone in my house brings me nowhere near the same degree of comfort and solace that I get from singing to you.
We've almost made it through 2017, but we aren't there yet. I hope you'll join me this month for an evening or two of singing sad songs with my eyes closed. I've never needed it more.
EXTRA "UNDER THE COVERS" SHOWS ADDED: We added another night to our annual Under The Covers stand at Club Passim! Normally, we do 2 shows on a Friday, but the 7 pm is already sold out and there are only 11 tickets left for 10 pm. So we added another night of TWO shows, 7 and 10 pm on THURS DEC. 14th. The Thu 7 pm show is already sold out too, but there's plenty of room for the 10 pm show.
PRE-ORDER MIXTAPE: Didn't get in on the Mixtape Kickstarter? That's ok, we did just fine. If you can't wait to hear the new record, you can pre-order it now and you'll get to download or stream a couple of tracks immediately to tide you over til the album's official January 26th release.
MP3 of the MONTH: I'll end this year's offerings with "Troubadour Blues," a long-standing mission statement of sorts. It was recorded live at Club Passim when For A Song was released, and features a rollicking barrelhouse piano solo by James Rohr. It's available free for month of December. Download it today!
Thu Dec 7th - The Kate, Old Saybrook CT - 7:30 pm
I am SO excited for this show, where I will open up for Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams! He is one of my favorite instrumentalists (having worked for years with Bob Dylan & Levon Helm) and she is one of my favorite singers. They've released two fantastic records in the last 5 years, and I couldn't be more pumped to kick off this show and then watch from the wings.
Fri Dec 8th - Next Stage, Putney VT - 7:30 pm
Vermont is lovely any time of year. But a dark, chilly night in a beautful old wooden hall with yours truly warbling from the stage? That's when it really shines.
Sat Dec 9th - Unity House Concerts, Springfield MA - 7:30 pm
This will be a special mostly-covers "house concert" at the UU Society of Greater Springfield. The promoter is behind the excellent Cover Lay Down blog, and is offering all who contributed to my MIXTAPE Kickstarter at the $25 level or above an exclusive invitation to an appetizers-and-drinks reception before the show, and a soundboard recording of three carefully-chosen covers from the show!
Sun Dec 10th - Tamworth Lyceum, Tamworth NH - 7 pm
I first started performing in Tamworth 3 years ago, when Milltowns came out, as it was the place Bill Morrissey called home in the final years of his life. I keep coming back because of the warmth of the people and this venue. It's TINY but I love it. Extra bonus: I'm bringing my friend Deni Hlavinka (from The Western Den) to sing with me on this show.
14th Annual "Under The Covers" Shows!
Thu Dec 14th - Passim, Cambride MA - 7 (SOLD OUT) & 10 pm
Fri Dec 15th - Passim, Cambride MA - 7 (SOLD OUT) & 10 pm
What can I say? These shows are the most fun I have on stage every year, and now they've inspired my upcoming covers album, Mixtape. We're cooking up a new batch of covers as I write this, and can't wait to surprise you FOUR shows in a row this year. The early shows are already sold out, and tickets are going fast for the late shows. Get yours now!
Fri Dec 1 - Stone Mountain Arts Center, Brownfield ME** **with Lori McKenna & her band
Sat Dec 2 - CityStage, Springfield MA**
Sat Dec 16 - Passim, Cambridge MA**
ON THE HORIZON:
Jan 5 - House Concert, Worcester MA
Jan 7 - Passim, Cambridge MA (Three Mile Island songwriting retreat show, buy tix)
Jan 8 - Passim, Cambridge MA (Three Mile Island songwriting retreat shows, buy tix)
Jan 26 - Official MIXTAPE release date!