- "The Hitter," new song about fatherhood & baseball, available everywhere online this Fri June 14th!
- "By Degrees" nominated for "Song of the Year" at the Americana Music Awards!
- I'm performing at the Independent Music Award in NYC on Sat June 22!
One of my favorite podcasts is Broken Record, which features nuanced conversations about music with New Yorker writer Malcom Gladwell, producer Rick Rubin, and special guests. One of their recent episodes focused on the venerable producer T Bone Burnett, who is responsible for so much of the music I have loved over the last 30 years or so (check out his discography). Rubin and Burnett could have talked about the vast swath of popular music for which they are responsible, but most of the conversation focuses on the mystery and ephemeral nature of art and how best to document something so fragile and fleeting.
"All artists really do, we're going down a road and we mark things. We say at this day I was at this place and I saw this thing and it was beautiful. And so I'm gonna mark this so that maybe you don't miss it when you're going by." -T Bone Burnett
This one particular quote from their exchange really struck me like a ton of bricks. It begins with the assumption of a journey. Musicians move around all the time, of course, but the journey Burnett references is surely both literal and figurative. An artist surely travels deeper into her soul and her craft, even if she never hits the road. From there, he touches on the nature of inspiration, which at its most pure and basic level, feels to me like noticing and celebrating something beautiful. Lastly, he brings in the audience, not as consumers, but as fellow journeyers. Art is part of life, something worthy of note as we all travel the same actual and metaphorical terrain.
This is how art feels to me, and I love how inclusive and welcoming this way of thinking about it is. The notion of audience is inherent to this vision of art, not in a commercial way but as a shared experience. I've been thinking a lot on why a song can make me feel hopeful, or a little less powerless, and this quote really helps me articulate it. If I write something, and mark it by singing or recording it, that's just me. But when you "go by," when you hear it and note this beautiful thing that inspired my song, now there is you and me, US. That "us" is where the hope lies, because now I know that whatever struggles or trials I may face, I am not alone.
Not to get too "meta" about all this, but I was literally driving down the road on the way to a gig when I heard this beautiful quote, and I had to pull over and transcribe it into my phone, to mark it. My first thought was "that is exactly how art feels," but my second though was "I gotta put this into a newsletter so others don't miss it." Consider this marked.
NEW MUSIC - "THE HITTER:" I'm very excited to announce the release of my new song about baseball and fatherhood called "The Hitter," out this Friday June 14, just in time for Father's Day. This digital-only single will be available at Spotify, Apple Music, and anywhere you get your music online. If supporting artists more (ahem) directly is your thing, you can purchase the song on my Bandcamp store. Stay tuned for some more exciting news on "The Hitter" that I'll debut on social media later this week.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Speaking of tuning in on social media, though this is my preferred method of interacting with you, please consider following me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I post about a lot of stuff besides my music, like parenting, bugs, and politics, for starters. The other thing following me online does is it helps others find my music. Did you know there are certain online outlets that won't even consider writing about music or reviewing an album if the artist doesn't have at least x amount of likes or followers? I know, crazy, but this is the world we currently live in and I would like people to hear what I do. So gimme a follow or a like!
"BY DEGREES" NOMINATION: I am extremely honored that "By Degrees" has been nominated for "Song Of The Year" at the Americana Music Awards in September. I share that category with Lori McKenna, Ruston Kelly, and John Prine, and I am just blown away to be in such stellar company. Even if it doesn't win, this is an important recognition of both the song and the cause which it benefits. Wish me luck and I'll let you know if we win in September!
MP3 of the MONTH: In keeping with this month's essay on beauty and mystery and wonder in art, this month's track is a live performance of a new song of mine called "Sense Of Wonder." This recording was taken from a show at Club Passim that came together at the last minute in the wake of a schedule cancelation, and features Zachariah Hickman on upright bass, Dinty Child on accordion, and Dietrich Strause on acoustic guitar. These guys hadn't ever heard the song before this show, and I had never played it before either. It's not a flawless performance, but it's got a lot of heart. It's available as a free download for the month of June. Enjoy!
Wed June 12 - Live on WERS 88.9 FM, Boston MA - 9 pm
Haven't been back to this fine college station in awhile, but I'm looking forward to playing "The Hitter" and a couple of other songs live on air. You can tune in in the Boston area, or from anywhere online or on a smart speaker.
Fri June 14 - Shea Theater, Turners Falls MA - 7:30 pm (supporting Amy Helm)
I've been a big Amy Helm fan since her debut came out several years ago. Have always wanted to cross paths and now we finally will when I get to open for her and her band at this wonderful little theater. I always say that if you don't have lots of gigs in a month, then just play one or two really great ones...like this!
Independent Music Awards Ceremony
Sat June 22 - Symphony Space, New York NY - 5:30 pm
Being nominated for music awards is a new thing for me, it's only happened a couple times before. I'm honored that "By Degrees" is up for "Best Social Action Song" at this year's Independent Music Awards, but I'm doubly honored that they have invited me to play the nominated song (and a couple others) at the awards ceremony in the Big Apple.
No sideman gigs this month, as I prepare to hit the road in Josh Ritter's band in July and August (tour dates here). But you never really do know where I'll pop up next. Hell, I hardly know where I'll pop up either.
ON THE HORIZON:
July 18-28* - European tour playing with Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band
Aug 16-24 - Western/Midwest US tour playing with Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band
Sept 26-28 - Nebraska tour