Mark Erelli

January 2019 Newsletter

January 2019 Newsletter

Hallmark cards promise a new year that dawns like morning on a field of untrammeled snow, a pristine expanse waiting for us to chart our course. It's a hopeful time, as renewals often are; another chance to do better, to be better. Luckily, the slate is not swept entirely clean, as we head into uncharted territory with the wisdom of our acquired years, like a map that once was (and perhaps remains) accurate.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I know and why I think I know it. In my most confident moments, I am certain of my knowledge and how it's been tested and verified through years of experience. If the world didn't change with time, then maybe 11 years of fatherhood, 17 years of marriage, and 20 years in the music business would add up to something like "wisdom." But the world does change, and vertiginously at that. How many times have I grown accustomed to some plateau of certainty with respect to parenting or my marriage, only to find that my boys have grown into some new maturity or that my wife's needs had evolved? How many times have I thought I reached some sort of summit, only to have the parting clouds reveal that there's a whole lot of mountain left to climb?

There's no need to forsake everything I've learned in favor of some new reality. Rather, all I know is required to synthesize some new blend of knowledge, a mix of what I remember and what I observe before me now. In 2019, I see whole lot of opportunity before me, and it has me questioning everything I've heretofore taken as fact. I'm not a big enough artist to justify being on a record label. I need to do another Kickstarter. I have to get a new record out in 2019 to capitalize off everything I did last year. If you asked me a year or two ago, I'd have said all those things were true. But the music business has changed, and my art has changed. Maybe I need to just throw away the old map and find a new one?

I hope to release a new record out in 2019. I am a month or so away from finishing one, and it feels very different from anything I've done in a long time. My initial instincts are to get it out as soon as I can, but maybe that's the path I'm reading off the old map? For the last decade or so, I've had very little patience with the machinations of the music business, but if I put in the time and invest in new relationships then maybe there's a way I can make it work for me. I've learned a few things in the 20 years since my debut was released, but I don't know everything. Right now, I'm questioning the wisdome, both the conventional kind and my own, wondering if what I've learned through experience is guiding me or holding me back.

I guess I'll find out in the coming months. Right now, I'm excited to venture forth into the untrammeled snow, maybe make a snow angel or two. 2019, here I come.

MP3 of the MONTH: It's difficult to figure out where you need to evolve and what you can lean on. In other words, it's hard to make a stand, as Sheryl Crow so ably put it on her 1996 eponymously-titled sophomore release. Ms. Crow bailed me out last year when I was beginning to wonder if I would ever be able to find a final voice to join my "By Degrees" project. In honor of her generosity, I wanted to pay her the highest compliment one songwriter can pay another and cover her song "It's Hard To Make A Stand" this month. It's available for free for the month of January on my Bandcamp page. Enjoy!


Annual Sub Rosa Songwriting Retreat Shows!
Sun Jan 6 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA - 7 pm
Mon Jan 7 - Club Passim, Cambridge MA - 7 pm
Every June, a group of songwriters loosely associated with Rose Polenzani's epic "Sub Rosa" nights at Cambridge's Lizard Lounge convene for a songwriting retreat on an island in Lake Winnipesaukee. The following January, as many of us reunite to peform the results of the previous year's retreat. These nights are magical, with one-time collaborations and public debuts of new songs that may land on recorded projects later on...or not. It's a celebration of creators creating.

Thu Jan 10 - Gateway City Arts, Holyoke MA - 8 pm
It's always an honor to open up for an artist you respect and whose work you've cherished for years. Marc Cohn is one such artist for me. His debut was a seminal record in my self-directed musical education--soulful, literate, atmospheric. He's of course done a lot of great stuff since then too, and it'll be a privilege to play a short opening set and then get to watch his whole show from the side of the stage.

Thu Jan 31 - Songwriting Workshop, Dennisport MA - 6:30 pm
In conjunction with the 21st annual Eventide Arts 2019 Songwriting Competition, I'll be giving a songriting workshop at the Cape Cod Media Center (17 Shad Hole Rd). I'll talk about my songwriting career, my philosophy about the tools you need to write songs, I'll play a few of my own and hopefully we'll get to hear a few of the workshop participants' songs as well.

Fri Feb 1 - Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, New York NY - 7 pm
I know NYC is the "City That Never Sleeps" but I'm hoping it's also the "City That Starts The Night Early," as I don't think I've ever hit the stage this early in the evening before. On the plus side, this means that we're done early and then we can all go do other things after the gig!

Sat Feb 2 - Irvington Town Hall Theater, Irvington NY - 8 pm
I'm so thrilled to open again for the wonderful Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams. They are two of my favorite Americana singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists working today. Larry was, ahem, instrumental in my "By Degrees" project last year.

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

Mar 2 - Center for the Arts in Natick, Natick MA (co-bill with Liz Longley)
Mar 31 - Temple Isaiah, Lexington MA


updated: 8 months ago