Mark Erelli

June 2017 Newsletter

June 2017 Newsletter

The expression to "lift one's voice in song" truly says it all. The joy and sense of freedom singing radiates really can lift us above whatever weighs us down. The primal human need for communication, for communion, means it matters not if voice is pretty or technically proficient, or if the song is "happy" or "sad''--the very transmission of the song by another human voice moves us.

Singing is unparalleled as a means of self-expression, for letting out whatever emotions or thoughts are trapped inside. To sing provides the soul with a kind of pressure release valve, and it's probably saved my life a few times. In addition to giving voice to the interior world, there's another dimension to singing that seeks connection with the world around you. I'm not just referring to a voice locking in with a band of musicians in a harmonically-pleasant way, but singing that resonates with some larger force in the world. Call it God or whatever you please. There's something out there, undeniably, and I have glimpsed it not with prayer but through song.

Or perhaps the singing is the prayer? On nights when I'm in good voice, I've felt moved--emotionally, physically and spiritually--through the act of singing. However, sometimes I have to perform when a cold or virus has sapped me of energy, and I used to think I felt disappointed because I couldn't sing like I wanted to. I realize now is that what I'm feeling isn't so much painful or frustrating as it is profound loneliness. I can't tap into the physical potential of my own body, nor can I lift my voice enough to resonate with, as Leonard Cohen put it in "Hallelujah," that secret chord that pleases the Lord. And so, nights when I can't sing well feel utterly devoid of spirituality, less like a prayer and more like a long journey I must take alone, nobody walking beside me.

I've been thinking a lot about singing because I'm making a new record where my singing is more of a focus than on anything I've done before. And I've been thinking about singing because we lost another great voice a couple weeks ago in Jimmy LaFave, an Oklahoma-born Austin-based troubadour known primarily for the direct connection between his sweet, soulful voice and his tender spirit. Every time we lose such a singer, there is one less voice raised in prayerful song. When we mourn, is it because the world has, temporarily, become a less holy place? It feels that way to me.

So how do we get it back, that holiness? Perhaps our loneliness fades not because we forget or move on, but as those left lift our voices in song just a little more fervently to fill the void. It doesn't matter what we sing--an exultant love song or a downhearted blues--it's that we keep singing our way through.

If anyone's looking for me, that's what I'll be out there trying to do.

ALASTAIR MOOCK: I'm very proud of the new self-titled record I've produced for Alastair Moock, his "singer/songwriter" return after a decade of GRAMMY-winning work in the family music scene. I've known Alastair for just about as long as I've been doing this, and it was a real honor to help this album into the world. Songs about life, love, death, family, Martin Luther King Jr and Donald Trump...in short, it covers a lot of ground. Plus, he does an amazing cover of my song "Let's Make A Family," from 2004's Hillbilly Pilgrim. You should check out his new video and order the new record. Do it now! We'll also be celebrating the release of the record at Club Passim in June 2nd. I'll be playing in the band and tickets are still available.

MP3 of the MONTH: Speaking of singing...wanna hear some SINGING?!? This month's free track is a cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying," done as a duet with The Western Den's Deni Hlavinka (who also sang her behind off on For A Song). You gotta check this one out. Download it now from my Bandcamp page, for free, for the month of June. Enjoy!


A couple more for May...

Sat May 27 - Vanilla Bean Cafe, Pomfret CT - 8 pm
Sun May 28 - Secret Show, Mid-Cape Cod, MA - 7:30 pm (SOLD OUT!)

Indivisible CT presents "Songs of Despair & Hope"
Sun June 11 - Infinity Hall, Hartford CT - 2:30 pm
I don't do a lot of expressly political shows, but I'm making an exception for this one organized in part by the Hartford CT-based supergroup The Shinolas. And, really, these days I can't think of another cause I feel more strongly about than the resistance that Indivisible chapters are trying to support all over the country. I'll front the band for a couple of my own songs, as well as sit in on acoustic guitar. Also performing will be Vance Gilbert, Richard Shindell, Jon Pousette Dart, Christine Ohlman, Hugh Blumenfeld, The Girls From Ruby Falls, Joanne Perricone and more.


Sat June 3 - Passim, Cambridge MA (Alastair Moock CD Release Show)
Fri June 16 - Tupelo Hall, Derry NH (**with Josh Ritter)
Sat June 17 - Clearwater Festival, Croton-on-Hudson NY**
Sun June 18 - Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square PA**


Sun Aug 13 - Energy Park, Greenfield MA


updated: 1 year ago