News & Updates
OCTOBER 2019 NEWSLETTER: A GOOD STORY (SOMEDAY)
I recently returned from Nashville, where my song “By Degrees” was nominated for Song of the Year, and I had been asked to perform it at the Ryman Auditorium during the Americanafest Awards and Honors show. I had been a sideman at the Ryman before, but I’d never sung my own song in the room. Lori McKenna and Josh Ritter, two of my closest friends who had sung on the “By Degrees" recording would join me, and J.S. Ondara and Shawn Colvin would each sing a verse as well. I was so excited, and so ready to sing on that hallowed stage to an audience of my musical peers and heroes. It was just one song, but it felt like the biggest gig of my life.
The soundcheck went smoothly, the house band (led by Buddy Miller!) had done their homework masterfully, and the singers poured their hearts out. I was all smiles, loose, thoroughly present and enjoying every minute of it. We ran the song twice, but we would’ve been fine with a single rehearsal. I ran back to the hotel to get dressed and meet up with my wife, who had flown in for the ceremony. Both sets of grandparents were on duty back in Boston. Polly and I would get dressed up, walk the red carpet, and though it was a long shot, I harbored dreams that I'd win and somehow thank her for years of support from the Ryman stage without dissolving in a puddle of tears.
As my song approached in the program, I headed to the stage left wing, where I felt like a rock star when a guitar tech handed me my guitar, perfectly in tune. The Milk Carton Kids, who hosted the show, started to introduce me. In that split second when both of my hands were busy putting on my harmonica rack, my guitar strap slipped off the endpin jack and my instrument fell to the floor with a sickening crack. This guitar was made for me by the widely-revered TJ Thompson, and I have an I’d-run-back-into-a-burning-building-to-save-it kind of relationship with it. I dropped an F-bomb, then did the only thing I could think of in the moment—I re-checked the tuning and then walked out on stage and played my broken guitar. The guitar held, the singers and the band were extraordinary, and I made my way back to my seat in the audience. Shortly thereafter, I lost the songwriting award to none other than John Prine.
The next morning, after texting TJ some pictures of the damage, he assured me he could fix it but “it would be great if you could find the missing piece.” I hadn’t noticed, but sure enough there was a quarter-inch piece of ivoroid binding that must have shot off somewhere when the guitar dropped. I walked back to the Ryman and talked my way up onto the stage, where a stagehand told me sheepishly “they swept up last night.” But there, a couple feet from where I’d dropped the guitar, was the tiny missing piece, which had somehow escaped the broom! It’s still a bit too soon, and the guitar is currently being repaired, but someday this will all be a damn good story.
What did I learn from all this? That it takes as long as it takes, and then it maybe even takes a little longer. That friendship is everything. That my wife is hot, and can rock a red carpet like a movie star. That there is nothing broken that can’t be fixed. And that losing a songwriting award to John Prine feels suspiciously close to how I imagine it must feel to win.
SPOTIFY PERSONALIZED PLAYLIST LINK: If you’ve been digging my newest single “Her Town Now” on Spotify, you can click HERE get a personalized Spotify playlist that will feature my song, as well as some other great new folk music.
MP3 of the MONTH: This month’s track is a worktape of a brand new song, “Good Time,” that snuck up on me a couple months ago on a day off in Omaha during the Josh Ritter tour. I sat down to write, excited about Americanafest and to connect with an old Gibson J-45 that I borrowed from Ritter for the day…sometimes it’s really that simple. Download “Good Time” from my Bandcamp page for free for the month of October. Enjoy!
Sun Oct 6 - City Winery, Nashville TN - 8 pm
Tue Oct 8 - City Winery, Atlanta GA - 8 pm
I’m really excited to head back down south to open a couple shows for MARC COHN. Marc’s debut—one of the finest ever—came out while I was in high school and it’s been a part of my musical DNA ever since. I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll also sit in with his band to sing and play electric guitar on a handful of tunes. Somebody pinch me.
Thu Oct 10 - Arts at the Armory, Somerville MA - 8 pm (SOLD OUT!)
Sun Oct 12 - Capitol Arts Center, Concord NH - 8 pm
If you haven’t seen ANAIS MITCHELL’S “Hadestown” on Broadway yet, you simply have to. But if you’ve never seen her completely devastate a room just singing her own songs, you’re really missing something sublime. She’s one of the best songwriters of our generation, a friend and singer on last year’s “By Degrees,” and I’m honored to share the stage with her. Somerville show is sold out but New Hampshire isn’t far away.
Tue Oct 15 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA - 8 pm (SOLD OUT!)
Wed Oct 16 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA - 8 pm (SOLD OUT!)
The boys are back in town! And if you didn’t already get tickets, well, you’ll have to wait til next time. We’re finishing up a new record and have to whip ourselves into a frenzy before heading back into the studio. Can’t wait for these shows!
Sun Oct 27 - Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley MA - 7:30 pm
A few weeks ago, I posted a cryptic picture of some song charts and said I’d be doing a few gigs backing up a new artist soon. I’m happy to announce that I’m going to do a few gigs with the amazing AMY HELM, as part of an acoustic trio also featuring my Barnstar! compatriot Charlie Rose! I’ll also be opening this last show of the run, so come on out.
**playing with Amy Helm acoustic trio
ON THE HORIZON:
Nov 1 - Emelin Theatre, Mamaroneck NY, supporting Marc Cohn
Nov 8 - The Word Barn, Exeter NH^
Nov 9 - South Shore Folk Music Club, Duxbury MA^
Nov 10 - The Kate, Old Saybrook CT^
Nov 23 - The Burren, Somerville MA (WUMB Hootenanny)
“HER TOWN NOW” OUT TODAY! (Sept. 4th)
I’m so proud to announce the release of my new single “Her Town Now,” co-written with Chuck Prophet and klipschutz. I recorded this in one take down in Nashville with a killer band that included Sadler Vaden on guitars (Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit), Kai Welch on keys (Kacey Musgraves), Jamie Dick on drums (Milk Carton Kids), and long-time collaborator Zachariah Hickman (Josh Ritter, Ray Lamontagne) played bass and produced the track. It’s available everywhere you get your music online. Check it out but don’t forget to TURN IT UP.