I love Ornette Coleman’s music, and his death a few days ago hit me hard. I first heard him when I was fifteen; his music has been a touchstone ever since. His endlessly inventive and beautiful songs changed my life.
I just completed a slew of shows that took me through NY State, Western MA, Vermont and Rhode Island. I made lots of new friends and heard some great musicians, some for the first time. Many thanks to Rob Flax for his fine violin playing and excellent conversation on some long trips; to Jim Whitford and Rob Lynch for their wit and cameraderie, and for being such a great rhythm section; and to my pals Robert Fisher and Donald Saaf for putting together memorable nights. Robert is the idea man behind the great Willard Grant Conspiracy, while Donald writes folk music for a country that never existed, and plays it beautifully with his Bluebird Orchestra. Check their music out people!
I also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Melissa Sheehan, of Saxtons River VT. What a brilliant songwriter and singer she is. There’s something bare and vulnerable about her music that strikes me as courageous. She told me that she’s become a farmer and doesn’t perform as much as she once did, but if you get the chance to hear her, do it!
Things are slowing a bit for me with the coming of summer, but I’m working on new songs. To my surprise I’ve found myself in editing mode, revisiting old songs that never seemed quite complete and, where I can, adding what seemed to be missing. Where it’s worked it’s been a relief. I hate leaving things incomplete, but songs arrive in their own time.
Here are a few of the things that have gotten me through the last few months:
—— My daughter asking me if unicorns are made out of corn.
—— Preparation For The Next Life, by Atticus Lish. A brutal novel that gives human suffering its noble due. It’s a ground’s-eye view of city life; trash, and trashiness, play a major role. It reminded me of the way things would sometimes look and feel during the strange, endless hours of my time as a cab driver.
—— Elder Greene Blues, by Charlie Patton. A song that stretches across time in black and white technicolor, so vividly and with such vitality that, in the end, it tells you a lot about how to live.
—— The poems of Frank Stanford. A poet of the American south who died young. Just getting into his work, liking what I’ve read so far.
—— The Poems of Francois Villon, translated by Galway Kinnell. Profane, profound, funny and desperate work that inspired me like nothing else I read or heard this spring.
That’s all for now. Call me if you’re thinking about hosting a house concert!
Alrighty then… I’ll be playing a set every at The Cantab Lounge, in Central Square Cambridge, every Monday in April. I’ll play from 9.30-10.15 PM.
I’ll be joined on April 6 by string bassist Johnny Sciascia and, on April 13, by violinist Daniel Kellar. Other friends will join me later in the month. These shows will be a chance to bust out a handful of new songs and play them in different contexts. Looking forward…
Hey! I just booked aa 4/17 Baltimore house concert and a 4/24 loft show in Brattleboro VT. Both are open to the public.
E-mail me at info[AT]tarboxramblers[DOT]com for info about the Baltimore house concert. Links to info about the VT date are on the “Shows” page. These are gonna be some fun nights!
On Saturday, November 22 I’ll play at the Sumner Knight Chapel, in Keene NH, as part of the Keene Music Festival. This will be an acoustic, unamplified show in a beautiful intimate space. I’ll use the occasion to unveil a few new songs. My old friend Donald Saaf, and his Bluebird Orchestra, will also appear. Music starts at 7 PM. Venue address, for GPS, is 0 Chapel Drive, Keene NH. Hope to see pals from the great north!
My October 18 show as part of the Summner Knight Music Series, in Keene NH, has been rescheduled for Saturday, November 22. Sorry for any inconvenience!
My Sunday residency at The Plough & Stars in Cambridge concludes this weekend. It’s been a good run, one that’s given me the chance to introduce and mess around with a bunch of new songs. Thanks to Jim Seery for setting it up and to the initimable Nate the bartender for doing sound, playing cool music and being one of my favorite people to work with. I’ll be joined by Chris Toppin and her mighty new band LOVE LOVE for this weekend’s Labor Day blowout. 10.30 PM. Don’t miss it!
I’m in the middle of a Sunday August residency (all Sundays except August 24) at the mighty Plough and Stars in Cambridge. The shows have been a blast, and have given me an opportunity to bust out a bunch of new songs. I’m also having some of my musical friends and heroes drop by to play mini-sets. This week I’ll be joined by alt-Gothic country pioneers The Willard Grant Conspiracy. The band’s main man, Robert Fisher, has just returned to New England after years in California, so I hope to be able to see WGC more frequently. My guests on 8/31 will be Love Love, ace songwriter Chris Toppin’s crispy new duo. I can’t wait to check their stuff out.
Here’s info for Saturday’s loft show in Union Square Somerville.
Loft Show, 7.30 doors. Music starts at 8 PM.
438 Somerville Ave. #4
Union Square Somerville
*21+, BYOB, $5-10 suggested donation
Where is it?
If you’re facing the Market Basket in Somerville, there is an Indian grocery store in its parking lot to the right. Turn the corner of that building. The first door is the entrance to The Loft. Bands may park against the side of The Loft’s building. Audience may park on Somerville Ave. Do not park in any of Market Basket’s lots…they will tow!