Mark Erelli

May 2018 Newsletter

May 2018 Newsletter

Each April, we visit my father-in-law on Cape Cod, where we spend a couple of days cleaning up his yard and helping get the house ready for summer. I say "we," but typically this means mom trying to keep two boys from killing each other, and dad raking the entire yard by himself. That dynamic was pretty much in full swing this year, when out of the corner of my eye I saw my wife dragging a kayak across the yard, followed by two boys carrying hedge clippers, bolt cutters and a saw.

I followed them down to the adjacent field, where a typically modest frog pond was swollen with spring, muddy water lapping at the rotting legs of the old wooden jungle gym. I intuited her goal immediately: to hack through the wall of brush on the perimeter so the boys could take the kayak out on the pond. They wasted no time setting upon the tangled thicket of grape vines and buckthorn at the water's edge. My youngest soon lost interest, but my older son Owen, predictably, was all-in. Owen is, for better and worse, so much like a miniature me and I know the mix of problem-solving and adventure would have proved irresistable to me as a boy (and, truthfully, as an adult too).

The pond is maybe 50 feet across in July, but it is not without its secrets. I've seen a snapping turtle bigger than a basketball crawl out of it in search of a place to lay her eggs. Each April, spring peepers raise up their voices en masse in hopes of finding love. A peeper is a tiny frog no bigger than your thumbnail, but males are capable of a very loud, repetitive mating chirp. A couple males calling sounds not unlike a truck backing up. A full-on chorus of hundreds of calling males is like a riot of urgent, miniature smoke alarms.

As Owen pondered which remaining tendrils and branches to cut, I could hear a few frogs starting to vocalize. By the time he finally made it through to open water, it was late afternoon and the frogs were at full chorus. I watched Owen float his kayak into the middle of the pond and stare up at the sky, lost in the sound. It filled my heart to see my smiling kid out on water, filling in a blank spot on the backyard map, exploring where the monsters lay. It was an experience that I knew both of us would never forget, and it pained me to tell him to come in for dinner.

Why share such a personal family moment? Because this is essentially what writing a song feels like. Sure, sometimes I can easily launch my boat from a clear spot on the shore and be on my way in minutes. But more often than not, I have to hack my way through the tangle of distractions and critical voices in my head, which are sometimes enough to halt my adventure at the waterline. But I know that if I can just push through, I will eventually get to the open water of the song. I will explore its contours, filling in a previously blank spot on the map, the world somehow both less mysterious and more so.

And when I'm done, I will lace my fingers together behind my head, lean back and stare up at the sky, lost in the miraculous cacophony that surrounds me, music to my ears.

MANAGEMENT, AT LONG LAST: I have, with the brief exception of a couple years, never had a manager to help me guide and grow my musical career. I am very proud to announce that I have started working with Kristina Latino at Cornerscape as my manager. This won't change much for you loyal listeners, but it means the world to me to have someone helping me flesh out and realize my musical dreams. More to come on this.

MP3 of the MONTH: While I'm reminiscing about childhood adventures with backyard exploration, it's only fitting that this month's track be a live version of "Basement Days," a song about youthful exploration of rock n' roll. It was recorded with a full band at Jammin' Java in Vienna VA last month, and is available as a free download for the month of May. Enjoy!


*Midwest tour accompanied by Jake Armerding on fiddle/mandolin

Thu May 3 - Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake MI - 7:30 pm*
I had the pleasure of playing here several years ago as a sideman for Paula Cole, and my only regret is that it's taken me so long to come back for my own show.

Fri May 4 - Cafe Carpe, Fort Atkinson WI - 8:30 pm*
Some rooms are just special, and that's usually because they're run by special people. It's no surprise that the Carpe is special, given how wonderful its proprietors Bill Camplin and Kitty Welch are. I've played here on bills with Jeffrey Foucault and Peter Mulvey, but it's a rare treat I get the whole evening all to myself.

Sat May 5 - Three Springs Barn, Lancaster WI - 8 pm*
A concert? In a barn? Well, you had me at barn. This is a fantastic house, er, barn show, but it's open to the general public and I encourage you to come hear some great songs in a, well, did I already mention I'll be playing them in a barn?

Fri May 18 - Lizard Lounge, Cambridge MA - 9 pm (open for Session Americana)
Session is one of Boston's best bands, period, even if that calculus includes Aerosmith and the J. Geils Band. I'm honored to open a show for them, where they'll even back me up on a few of my songs, as they celebrate the release of their new live album.

Sun May 20 - Infinity Hall, Hartford CT - 2:30 pm
I don't do politics from the stage, but this show (a benefit for Indivisible CT) will likely be more politically-informed than most. I will be the "5th Shinola," playing electric guitar with that great Hartford-based band as they back up Jonathan Edwards, Tracy Grammer, The Nields, Jon Poussette-Dart and many more for an afternoon of songs of hope and resolve (including a couple of my own).

Thu May 31 - O'Shea's Olde Inne, West Dennis MA - 7 pm
Bar gigs ain't my typical scene, but O'Shea's is not your typical bar. It's more like an Irish pub, a lively gathering place for stories and song, than a bar. Very excited to be joined for the first time by the great Lyle Brewer on guitar. Lisa Bastoni opens.

No sideman gigs this month, but you never do know where I'll pop up next.

June 2 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA (2 SHOWS! 5 & 8 pm)
June 8 - Stone Mountain Arts Center, Brownfield ME (co-bill with Rose Cousins)
June 9 - Salmon Brook Music Series, Granby CT


updated: 1 year ago