March 2012 Newsletter
Sunday, February 26, 2012
SOMETIMES THE EAGLE FINDS YOU
Last week, I had a couple hours to burn with my younger son Caleb and decided to find a playground we'd never been to before. We ended up in the next town over, at a nice park on the shore of Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield. Normally, my sons explore a playground for the first time with a kind of laser-like, singular focus, a spell that can't be broken until they clamber over everything in sight. This day was different--Caleb was far more interested in patrolling the shoreline of the lake, throwing any rock he could lift in the water.
My attention was drawn upwards by a man farther down the shore who was pointing at the sky. I followed his gaze and saw an instantly recognizable, large brown bird with a white head soaring above the lake--my very first bald eagle sighting. Now, I've been places, ok? From the backwoods of Maine, to the high desert of eastern Arizona, to the Canadian Yukon. I walk in the woods like my sons explore new playgrounds, focussed on things small and great, from the tiniest bug to the grandest panoramic vista. Normally, I am more enthralled by the creepy crawlies, smugly immune to the charms of the more charismatic megafauna. However, I have always hoped, in vain, to see a bald eagle. Yet here I was, on a Tuesday morning in the Boston suburb between where I now live and where I grew up, watching the very embodiment of wilderness against the backdrop of a Jordan's Furniture and a Home Depot.
Sometimes, the fevered, singular pursuit of a specific goal doesn't pan out so well. I have started songs I was convinced were going to be really killer, only to have them languish, unfinished, in my notebooks for the better part of 10 years. I'll take one out sometimes, copy the lyrics down on a fresh sheet of paper, tweak lines and phrases, in hopes that a fresh crack at it might make all its tumblers fall into place and unlock its potential. Recently, I sat down with one such elusive number, that I thought was a lost cause. I don't know what made me change the key, but that led to an increase in the tempo and a completely different chord voicing, all of which combined to make it finally come alive.
You can chase something all you want, search for it far and wide, but you can't keep up the hunt indefinitely. Sometimes you have to put the notebook back on the shelf for awhile. Go to the playground. And just maybe, when you least expect it, the eagle will find you.
GUESTAGE: Last year, I was on a slew of recording sessions for other artists, and many of those projects have come out recently or are slated for imminent release. Check out Jake Armerding's CSA (Community Supported Art) project, where you can hear me playing lap steel on his new song "Blessed Are The Poor." Antje Duvekot has another cd out called "New Siberia," on which I play mandolin and co-wrote the ending track "Juliette." Lastly, you need to hear Rose Cousins' newest, "We Have Made A Spark," which features Rose and yours truly duetting on Bruce Springsteen's "If I Should Fall Behind." There are lots more projects coming out in the near future that feature me in some capacity and I'll be sure to keep you in the loop.
MP3 of the MONTH: This month's free song is a demo of a song I co-wrote with a wonderful writer from Nashville, Fred Wilhelm. We came up with the first verse and chorus of this song when I was down in Nashville in 2007 or 2008, and despite loving the melody and the premise of the tune, we didn't finish it until Fred came to visit me in New England in 2010. It's available for free for the month of March on my Bandcamp page. Enjoy!
Thu Mar 1 - Bellows Falls Opera House Lower Theater , Bellows Falls VT - 7:30 pm
This solo acoustic show kicks off the Flying Under Radar series in the Lower Theater, a new venue at the beautifully-restored Opera House in downtown Bellows Falls. I love this town and have had many memorable gigs here over the years, but it's been about 4 years since I last passed through for a show. On the banks of the Connecticut, just over the NH line, it's the perfect place to hear songs about milltowns, bends in the river, and the yearly test of endurance that is winter in New England.
Sat Mar 10 - First Baptist Church of West Hartford, West Hartford CT - 7 pm
My first time at this venue, and also the first of two shows featuring Zack Hickman on upright bass (along with whatever other musical toys he brings). My shows as a duo with Zack are pretty special, as we somehow manage to make two people sound like a whole band. For a taste of what to expect, check out my official bootleg 4.2.10.
Sun Mar 11 - House Concert, Sandy Hook CT - 3 pm
My second gig with Zack this weekend, our first house concert together. House concerts are great for catching your favorite musicians up close. So close that if we were to, say...start smashing watermelons with a sledghammer in a spontaneous tribute to Gallagher, that no tarp will save you. For reservations, please email Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fri Mar 23 - McCabes, Santa Monica CA - 8 pm
It's been soooo long since I played anywhere on the left coast, so I'm excited to open even just one show for Lori McKenna on her upcoming California swing. That it's a show at a guitar shop is even better (and dangerous for my wallet). California is also a pretty rocking place to be this time of year, as back home in New England everything that's not covered in snow is still muddy and gray.
Sat March 31 - Shutesbury Athletic Club, Shutesbury MA - 8 pm
No need to lace up in your cross trainers for this gig...the Shutesbury Athletic Club is, in fact, a bar on a tiny little backroad that runs through the woods between Shutesbury and Wendell MA. Come at 8 pm for the concert, or come earlier for a catered dinner by a renowned local chef. Athletic drinking...catered dinner...need more? If that isn't enough for you, I'll be accompanied by fiddle/mandolin ace Jake Armerding for this gig.
Mar 2 - Passim, Cambridge MA (singing a duet with Rose Cousins for her cd release show)
Mar 3 - Stone Mountain Arts Center, Brownfield ME (with Lori McKenna)
Mar 24 - Sings Like Hell, Santa Barbara CA (with Lori McKenna)
Mar 25 - AMSD Concerts, San Diego CA (with Lori McKenna)
ON THE HORIZON:
Apr 6 - Peace Dale RI (opening for Red Molly^^)
Apr 7 - Peterborough NH^^
Apr 10 - The Woodlands TX (opening for Lori McKenna**)
Apr 11 - San Antonio TX**
Apr 12 - Wimberley TX**
Apr 28 - Monson MA