November 2018 Newsletter
Monday, October 29, 2018
LET'S BE ON THE LOOKOUT
The dispiriting torrent of headlines requires of us a whole suite of coping mechanisms to maintain our sanity. We have many arrows in our quiver, but on social media we often resort to the sharpest barbs of anger, sarcasm, and dark humor to process perceived injustice. While I have certainly lobbed the occasional snarky quip on Twitter, the tools that are actually the most effective are often the most difficult ones to embody: compassion and empathy.
These are best reserved for the least and last, the deeply aggrieved among us who need it most—the refugee walking across a desert or adrift in a crowded, leaky boat. The black man arrested for sitting a coffee shop or shot during a routine traffic stop. The young child who hasn’t seen her family in weeks, caged in a shelter filled with other children who committed no crime and simply followed their parents. It’s enough to make anyone want to look away or harden their hearts, lest the pain become unbearable.
I am a less effective artist if I indulge in the luxury of looking away. But it’s not enough to simply notice things. Observations and details must be explored and mulled over…why did I notice? What is it that moves me once I am paying attention? This is where compassion and empathy come in. It’s what elevates the mundane and makes it profound, imbued with the emotions we all have. I find the best way to summon them is by reminding myself: others are simply like you, with the same joys, fears, motivations, hopes, and people that they love in their lives.
When I write a song, I’m always trying to get to the heart of its protagonist. If I’m working in the voice of a character, be it Leonardo DaVinci or a kid reminiscing about the Hartford circus fire, I’m trying to imagine what motivates that individual, and compassion and empathy are critical tools. But here’s a secret: I do that even when the song is ostensibly about me. I am not as perfect as the guy in my songs, but a little compassion and empathy help me recognize where I fall short and better articulate the ideals I am striving for.
We could all use a bit more compassion and empathy in our lives these days. Let's be on the lookout for every opportunity--in our families, our communities, our daily routines and our work, our votes, and, yes, our art--to put some more of it out in this troubled world.
BY DEGREES: The response to the new song I released a couple weeks ago has been nothing short of amazing. Rolling Stone said it "shines an essential and sobering light...Erelli crafts a modern protest song that finds its power in poignant observation." WNYC Studio 360 producer and Fantasyland author Kurt Andersen calls "By Degrees" "one of the best political songs ever." And lastly, but certainly not least, I am humbled by all the kind words you have sent to me. We raised over $4,000 in the few days post-release, and with your help, we can spread the word and encourage more to download the song directly from Giffords and raise even more to support their efforts to fight this national scourge.
VOTE: This is a big election--no matter which way you lean politically--and you should be eager to participate in our democracy. Please vote on Tuesday November 6th.
MP3 of the MONTH: This is a new song I was frankly hoping to save, but the time, I fear, is now. I wrote this last fall upon learning that Tom Petty had died, the day after the Las Vegas shooting. It's called "A Little Kindness," and you can download it for free for the month of November. Enjoy!
Thu Nov 1 - The Egremont Barn, South Egremont MA - 8 pm
I've never played here before but I am always excited to play more often out in the Berkshires. I will lean heavily on brand new, unrecorded and unreleased material for this show, as I'm getting ready to go into the studio and it frequently pays to learn the songs before committing them in their final form for all of posterity.
Sat Nov 3 - Fall Moon Festival, Casino Theater, Newport RI - 8 pm
This is an amazing little festival featuring Peter Mulvey, Caitlin Canty, Maya Devitry and yours truly. I can't even find a way to say it modestly: that is a damn fine night of music.
Thu Nov 15 - Spire Center, Plymouth MA - 8 pm
Fri Nov 16 - Bangor Arts Exchange, Bangor ME - 8 pm
Sat Nov 17 - Bass Hall, Peterborough NH - 7:30 pm
Sun Nov 18 - Jalopy, Brooklyn NY - 8 pm
For an intermittent band, we've really stepped up our game this fall. The guys are singing and picking great, we've got some new material we're working up, and if you haven't seen us yet I don't know what you could possibly be waiting for. These are the last shows on the books for awhile, so catch us while you can. You won't regret it!
Wed Nov 28 - Lizard Lounge, Cambridge MA - 10 pm
I'll be playing a short solo acoustic set in between the Dennis Brennan Band's 2 sets, it's like an Erelli sandwich. Dennis has the best band in Boston, so you can't go wrong with this one.
Thu Nov 29 - Cabot Theater, Beverly MA - 8 pm
Super excited to open for Rosanne Cash (and her excellent band featuring John Leventhal) as she celebrates the release of her new record She Remembers Everything. I'll play a short solo set to kick off the night, and then play another set in the theater's bar immediately following the show.
Fri Nov 30 - 38th Annual John Lennon Tribute, New York NY - 8 pm
This year's tribute, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, will honor Rosanne Cash with the 2018 John Lennon Real Love Award, in recognition of her extraordinary artistic achievements and life-long commitment to social activism. I'm so honored to have been asked to help honor Ms. Cash by duetting with her on "By Degrees." I'll also front the house band for a selection from the White Album. Pinch me.
There are no sideman gigs on the books for this month, but you never do know where I'll pop up next.
ON THE HORIZON:
Dec 13 - Narrows Center For The Arts, Fall River MA* *Under The Covers
Dec 14 - Parlor Room, Northampton MA*
Dec 15/16 - Passim, Cambridge MA* 5 & 8 pm shows both days!