November 2011 Newsletter
WE'RE ALL FOLKSINGERS NOW
As a father, I struggle to follow the news with as much regularity as I used to. It is a problem of simple arithmetic...there are only so many hours in the day, and when I get a free moment I usually choose exercise or music over current events. Yet there is also a more intangible emotional calculus at play. I love my beautiful family and I love what I do--I have many reasons to feel grateful and hopeful instead of dwelling on the woes of the world. Still, I don't live in a bubble, and some stories manage to rise above the din of the 24 hr news cycle (and screaming kids) and make me pay attention.
The Occupy Wall Street protests popping up all over the country have become quite the phenomenon in recent weeks. Though some pundits have been distracted by more frivolous concerns, such as the average age and hygiene of the protesters or speculation regarding the movement's longevity, we are still managing to have more of a national discussion on economic inequality than any time in recent history. The new Congressional Budget Office report detailing the increasing concentration of the nation's economic gains in the top 1% of earners should only fan the conversational flames.
Sometimes the economic discourse comes home to roost in very direct ways. I have stood at the merchandise table after performing a free show, listening to people debate whether they could afford to buy a $15 cd. This partly motivated my decision to move towards a pay-what-you-can/want system for cd sales at my lives shows whenever possible. More generally, any time the zeitgeist focuses on a particular topic, that nationwide discourse becomes part of the grist for the songwriting mill. That doesn't necessarily mean writing protest songs to shout out over the crowd at my local OWS sit in. For example, I have a new song called "Always Amazed," which contains the following passage:
Everybody prays or plays the lottery
But you work so hard with grace and dignity
I'll be your lover, baby I'll be your witness
I'll walk beside you when it all seems hopeless
The national discourse on the economy seems to have surpassed some critical artistic threshold, where the difference between a protest song and a love song is not so cut-and-dried. When references to economic woes weave their way into what is essentially a love song, I take that as a sign that art is echoing some of the complexity of modern life, and I'm okay with that.
Ultimately, this examination of economic inequality seems to me a long overdue example of useful public discourse, especially when compared to other trending topics like the President's birth certificate or an electrified border fence. Let me be clear, I am fine with capitalism, in theory. Our economic system lets Donald Trump be The Donald, but it also enables someone as under-the-radar as myself to do what I do. Between you and me, I note all this anxiety over the economy with a bit of amusement. Unemployment is no laughing matter, but as a folksinger I lead a 24-7, quasi-recessional existence. I never take any gains for granted, knowing full well that my whole deal, no matter the purity of my intentions or how hard I work, could fall apart in a few bad months. I don't wish the insecurity I live with, and freely chose, on anyone. Nonetheless, these are hard times and many can now claim to know what it is like to trudge a mile in a troubadour's scuffed up boots.
We're all folksingers now.
BARNSTAR! CDS ARE HERE: Until now, the new cd by Barnstar! has only been available digitally. I'm excited to announce that you can purchase cds via markerelli.com. It makes a great gift for any fan of roots music, and I'm as proud of this record as I am of anything I have done under my own name. I encourage you to check it out.
MP3 of the MONTH: It's been awhile since I've released a good ole' fashioned demo, so this month's track is a home recording of the aforementioned new song "Always Amazed." It's available for free for the month of November on my Bandcamp page. Enjoy!
THE SHOWS:Fri Nov 4th - House Concert, Pittsburgh PA - 8 pmOk folks, let's talk turkey. There's a lot going on in Pittsburgh this night. Springsteen's joining longtime friend Joe Grushecky, but they're also playing on Sat night. Ray Davies and the Indigo Girls are also in town. I'm playing in a living room, one of just five solo shows this fall. I'm a Dedicated Follower of Fashion. I sing about the Glory Days, or at least the Basement Days. And I can bring you Closer To Fine, and for a lower ticket price too. I doubt I'll be back in town for awhile, so I'd love to see you there. For tickets, call Tania at 412-422-4662 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sat Nov 5th - UU Fellowship of Centre County, State College, PA - 8 pmI haven't been back to State College since I first played there 3 or 4 years ago. Last time I was in town, there was a double rainbow. I'll bring an extra one with me this time and try for a triple. You'll never know if I make it happen if you don't come out!
Friend of Mine: The Bill Morrissey Tribute ConcertThu Nov 17th - Somerville Theatre, Somerville MA - 7 pmI owe a deep debt to Bill, who unfortunately passed away this past July. I was intimately involved in the planning of this tribute, and I'm honored to share the stage with Shawn Colvin, Cliff Eberhardt, Patty Larkin, John Gorka, David Johansen, Pete Nelson, Peter Keane, Fred Koller and Cormac McCarthy to honor the musical legacy of Bill Morrissey. This event is also a benefit for MusiCares. A great lineup paying tribute to a great songwriter for a great cause. Please join us.
SIDEMAN SECTION:11/11 - York PA (with Josh Ritter)
11/12 - Richmond VA (with Josh Ritter)
ON THE HORIZON:12/1 - Portland ME (**"Seven Curses" with Jeffrey Foucault)
12/2 - Brooklyn NY**
12/3 - Pawtucket RI
12/9 - Natick MA (with Barnstar!)
12/10 - Fall River MA (^Under The Covers with Jake Armerding, Lori McKenna & Zack Hickman)
12/11 - Collinsville CT^
12/16 - Cambridge MA^