things l like

This week, I have come across a few things for the first time and revisited a few old favorites. These are at the top of my list:

(book) Mary Oliver

(music) Dan Jones' record "For Your Radio" (sorry Dan, I know it's old but it's so good!) It's on Itunes.

(artist) Richard Serra

(brainless entertainment) This guy on YouTube: watch the Santana one

(documentary) The Fog of War

What's your list?



I had a thought.

It's funny that the world just is. It does its thing...rolls right along so steady and un self conscious. It has no opinion of itself. It is not a bad world or a good one in its own eyes.

In our eyes, though, the world can be both. We judge it as though it has some responsibility for the way it is. When we see the world as being cold and unhelpful we feel angrily towards it. We want it to change its ways and to treat us kindly.

When we see the world as a friend, it is our best friend. We laugh with it and are happy to be in its presence. We say things to the world like "Your sun sure looks nice today, and your grass is so soft!" On these days, if the world has any shortcomings they are hardly noticed.

I suppose that it is part of our nature to look outward as much as inward. It must be helpful to project ourselves upon something outside of us. That way, we can examine and understand, circle around and look from all sides. We are good at projecting. Are we good at examining?

We are so used to hearing the cliches: 'Life is what you make of it'. It rolls off the tongue easily and we say it, knowing that it is true but hardly considering the depth of the statement.

So we project ourselves like a picture on a wall, sometimes appreciating the beauty and style of life, sometimes only seeing it for its smudges and erase marks.

The world, the picture, just is what it is. It is both beauty and smudges.


Show (s)

Well, things are moving right along. I'm playing a show tonight in Eugene with some good buddies. Sean Peterson and Rich Sellars will help me rock out at Sam Bond's Garage, and The Dimes will rock out there too. I like Rich, Sean and The Dimes very much.

I realized recently that I have some baggage left over from growing up playing baseball. Ballplayers, you see, are very superstitious. You'll never see a guy step on the chalk line on his way out to the field. Mitts, bats and hats might be lucky or unlucky. Each guy has his own set of things which he believes, if done properly (or not done at all), might influence the outcome of the game. Some guys wear the same undershirt every time they play. Some guys don't shave on game day.

I haven't played organized baseball in years but I'm still a little superstitious. I'd like to let you all know about some fun news related to making the record but I'm afraid I might jinx it and everything will fall through. I can't help it.

As soon as my plans are firm and unlikely to change, I'll clue everyone in.

In the meantime, come to a show! I'll be in Chicago soon, among other places. Also, my old bandmates, Justin King and the Apologies, are about to embark on another national tour. Check their schedule...they're probably coming to a town near you!


Mastan Music

I met a couple of cool folks at the Eugene Celebration and I thought you all should know about them...

Mastan Music (www.mastanmusic.com) is run by a couple of guys who are working pretty hard to help the Northwest music scene. They run a recording studio in Portland and host a podcast spotlighting Northwest artists. They were kind enough to play one of my tunes on their most recent podcast...thanks guys! Check out episode 32.


Went to a show

I saw some great music last week and I think I may have been bitten by the tour bug.

A friend of mine called and said "I'm working for A Fine Frenzy...wanna come to the show?" They were playing with Brandi Carlile, who I really like. I went.

A Fine Frenzy is a trio led by songwriter/pianist Alison Sudol. The tunes are mostly mid tempo, dreamy, Tori Amos-ish...well supported by the keyboard player and drummer, who are both extremely creative dudes. My buddy was their tour manager so I got to hang out a bit with the band. Very nice!

I was struck by a few things while watching the show. The band really made the most of their tools. The tunes were well arranged and played and the choice of sounds and instruments was great. There was no bass player, but I didn't miss it. They played with subtlety in a way that most bands don't. It was cool.

As I watched them I thought about how much I enjoy the process of writing, arranging and performing music. I thought about how great it is to play with musicians who bring their own voice to the songs, and who elevate the whole experience. It was inspiring.

Brandi Carlile was great too. She brings 100% every time.

I'd like to hit the road...I'm getting antsy.


In the studio

It was a good weekend. I was in the studio from Wednesday night to Monday afternoon with Alexis Stevens; she's a talented songwriter and a good friend. She and I, with the help of Scott Hedrick and Dave Snider, worked hard. Probably about 14 hours each day, I'd imagine. We came up with a cool sound, described by our friend John as 'desert music'. Scott's drumming was great, Dave played amazing bass, baritone, and banjo, and Alexis sang and played like an angel. I pushed buttons, moved faders, positioned microphones, and ate Erin's Kettle Corn by the bushel. I played a little guitar and sang, too. Justin King let us use his place and we all really appreciated it.

There were some magic moments for sure. Recording is a funny process; sometimes you happen upon a single thing, maybe a bass line or a vocal harmony, that breaks the song wide open and defines its character in a whole new way. It's as distinct a feeling as if you walked down a street in Cottage Grove, turned a corner, and found yourself in Times Square. I love it.

One night, after a particularly long day, Alexis and I were tired but not ready to go to sleep. We ended up sitting at the table listening to some of our favorite songs on my little laptop speakers and wondering how people like Patty Griffin ever got so good. We sat in silence while the songs played, eating tortilla chips and taking big swallows of cold beer. A song would finish, we'd tell about the first time we'd heard it or why we liked it, and then one of us would suggest another song to listen to. It was almost like a musical...we were having a conversation and the dialogue was continued and supported through the music.

I'll mix her record this month and hopefully it'll make its way out into the world sometime soon.

I've been listening to Lucinda Willams' 'West'. It took me a couple of listens to get into it but now I love it. It's one for the headphones...each song is so well recorded and there are so many subtleties that are lost when listening through regular speakers. Her voice is amazing.

I upped my caffeine dosage to about double the usual amount...I'll be scaling it back down this week. I might be grumpy.