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!