Just got back from our April 1st gig at Perk. Really good show, leaves me exhausted and hungry. Lots of pleased faces, which is flattering since the night started off as not-so-good. No-one seems to have had a good day. Everyone was angsty and over-wrought. I’m glad that ilyAIMY could bring some light into this dark, dark world… Heh, or something. Dave Pahanish brought light into MY dark dark world. I’m so glad when I can actually snag one of the amazing creatures we’ve encountered out there somewhere and bring them back HOME with us.
Heather and Meg. Another presence from the past who shows up and shakes up my world. She and Heather and Amy and Allie did some exquisite singing. A high-point being an Indigo Girls tune. (Photo courtesy of Alex Colvin)
In any case, too tired to really talk about that TOO much – let me just tell you my Happy Thought.
When I got back to Heather’s parents’ house in Owings Mills, the night was filled with the gentle patter of rain, and the spring song of happy frogs. I had a very sharp and Lovely image of lots of frogs with their snouts upturned into the gently falling rain. They know Tuesday is coming and have little smiles on their amphibious faces.
The last few days have been exhausting. Days of dreamless sleep followed by mostly non-sleep filled days. I’m not quite sure what’s been happening, but I’ve been falling to sleep later, and later, and later – dawn is a constant bed-time companion. One of those things where I seem to have the option of lying in bed awake, or getting up and DOING sruff – I feel like I’ve wasted enough of my Life simply lying in bed, waiting for unconsciousness. I’ve always hated the “1/3 of your Life sleeping” statistic. It makes sense – but I think I first read it in 321 Contact and the concept haunted me. So, I hate to sleep… and even worse, I hate wasting time TRYING to fall asleep. I’m sure I’ve gone on about this before – but recently it’s been a real problem.
A couple of years ago a friend made the suggestion of counting backwards by threes – but now I’m so good at that that it doesn’t zone me out at all. So, counting backwards by sevens. It’s a lucky number, but it doesn’t seem to work anymore. I just lie there, toss, turn, and stare at the ceiling. I’m worried about my Dad, worried about the new album, wondering about what stuff I’m forgetting… I know I’m forgetting something….
We were in the studio this weekend, and that sort of neccessary schedule keeping seems particularly contrary to my current sleepless condition. Being up till 7, and knowing you’ve got to be getting up to deal with people again at 11.
In any case – the studio sessions are going great. We’ve practically finished seven songs. I hate having to pause to go back on the road, but there doesn’t seem to be any way around it. At least the weather is cooperating. We’ll leave tomorrow for California, PA in almost California-esque weather. I could bring my speedo if I wanted to.
Yeah, that one’s for everyone – go ahead and visualise my pasty fish-white body crammed into tight right bikini bottoms. Look away lest you go MAD! (or blind).
Monday, before heading over to the studio, my Dad had a surprise visitor. A face out my past – it took a couple of seconds to dredge up a name and a place and a story and a face. I think I might have said “holy shit” when I opened the door.
My 5-6th grade science teacher, Mr. Edwards. Can’t think of him as Stan. Funny how those sorts of things die hard. He’s got to be 10 years older than my Father, butis energetic, wired… he retired from teaching elementary school years ago, and now teached motorcycle safety at Prince George’s Community College. He was wearing bright image and flooded my head with rapid-fire words and memories. I wish I’d more conscious. You know – don’t want to run across your grade-school science teacher, at least not the one you REALLY REALLY Loved – and appear to be a dirty musician. Sigh – I wanted to be pretty.
Heather and Amy grinning at each other during Illinois is Overflowing at College Perk on April Fool’s Day.
Heather and I are tapping and typing to the sound of falling water. There’s a fountain in the corner of Jozarts Studio, and that, along with the cavernous interior and numerous plants, creates the illusion of being in a tiny jungle. Passing cars occassionally spoil the aesthetic, but they’re frequency is fading as night pushes on.
Heh. Strange – for someone who calls Baltimore home. I just jumped at the sound of a siren. I fall back in Love with California, PA very quickly.
It’s been a slow day. Almost idyllic. There has been tragedy, but I don’t own it, and can pretend the real world is on pause for a moment.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day to drive. Bright sunshine, setting in the west while driving almost but not quite into the sun. A little bit of squinting here and there, but mostly merely preening in the sunshine. My hair is being extra glossy.
I think we might stay an extra night, just to enjoy the drive back in sunshine too.
As we neared California, traffic slows onto smaller roads. There’s a moment of real contentment as I’m watching such Rockwellian scenes – a little blonde kid (in my more cynical moments, I’d have called her an Aryan child), maybe 11, grabbing a big sack-like cat and hauling him with both arms across the lawn. Children doing cartwheels. My mood is cemented as Richard Shindell sings of orange canaries. It’s a good day.
The new sound system at Jozarts is exquisite. The people are always Lovely. There was a moment that made things tense in my mind, ruined some of the beauty of it, but again, I can shut it out of my mind and relax into the sound of the fountain…
It’s a shame. I knew it was a mistake as soon as it was out of my mouth. I should’ve simply mentioned we were playing the Underground Cafe tomorrow – not “the Rainbow Festival”. That way I could’ve pretended about people’s attitudes. There’s nothing like hearing “that’s for queers and faggots” floating out of the audience to make me just want to shut down. Or shout. Chalk Pit feelings.
The next morning has me almost feeling stressed, almost worrying about my choice of words. I wonder if I’m too offensive, too obnoxious, and I worry slightly about the things we visibly support. Rainbow Festival’s make us unpopular with the majority of America, and my denouncement of people who think those thoughts make me even less popular sometimes. But what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to be? I’m so tired of businessmen who might fund a cause but publicly speak out against it… politicians who are trying to please everyone… and in my more vulnerable moods I feel like my job; as a musician who’s fighting to not DROWN at the very bottom of the heap, falling between the cracks of genre and belief – I feel like my job combines a lot of the kiss-assery aspects of both of those professions.
And I hate it.
So, I offend some people because we have gay and lesbian friends? Or hate certain (huge) sides of the current administration, or APPROVE of certain (not quite as huge) aspects. Oh well, I suppose. I actually do edit myself heavily in here. My songs, we pick and choose sometimes, what’s appropriate and what’s not. But I don’t see why I’d want to be in a room where I’d have to lie about my beliefs. Downplay, perhaps. Not mention, if neccessary. But nod and smile in the context of conversation? I don’t think so. Sorry, but you’ve invited me into a dialogue. Hell, my music invites people into a dialogue. It’s personal, and it’s me. I can’t let the concern of whether or not I’ll make money off of it overwhelm me.
It’s funny, Ani writes about this sort of thing, but almost from the opposite perspective. She writes songs about how people just Love her because she screams “fuck” (Hell, I write songs about how people just Love her for yelling “fuck”) and she writes about how she knows how she plays up to it, and writes about fans her accuse her of having sold out for either dating a man, or wearing something that’s not offensive enough. Erf. Persevere, persevere… I Love my job but I hate working i
Waking up at Jozarts is a process of slowly being roused by clanking mechanical noises, the passage of trucks. People are quieter but the working day is louder. My paranoia never leaves me, and I get up to look at the car from our overhead vantage point, looking down to make sure everything’s okay. I sometimes fear I’m simply not relaxed enough to do this. Sometimes I worry I’m too relaxed. Hopefully, teetering in the middle means I’ve got it just right.
Trucks are arriving, dropping off loads of liquids to the local pizza shops and cafes. Our friend Brandy is due to meet us in a bit, so pants have been found, Heathers have been roused. But the clanking and whirring from outside sounds like the approach of a small Autobot army… or a towtruck, and again I’m peering at the window in the vague fear that age-old parking regulations are suddenly being enforced, despite everyone’s assurances. I’m a bundle of nerves this morning. Grey light filtering through the ceiling high windows – yesterday had such highs and lows, I’m still waiting to see where this one will go.
Nine weeks. That’s 63 days. Roundabouts. That’s 1/6th of a year, which sounds decidedly less impressive, I suppose.
We got Kerrville.
I’m somewhat in a state of shock, with fear and excitement mingling together. Kerrville Folk Festival, the one we were sure we couldn’t get. I just got an email listing me as one of the performers and it’s upended my view of my immediate future. It’s merged two separate trips into one massive country round-about, returning me to where I want to be.
I got the email a couple of hours ago. It’s 5.45am now, and the sun is working it’s way up over the traffic coming over the hill. This is the festival in the hills of Texas. Arlo Guthrie will be playing there. The contest was started by Peter of Peter Paul and Mary.
It is, to put it bluntly, a big fucking deal.
I’ve been lamenting recently how the Trip had almost become mundane. We come back and spend a lot of time in Maryland nowadays. There’s a lot of neccessity tied in there, of course. Between money practicalities, the recording of a new album, and my Father’s health, there have been an awful lot of advantages to being around the
native soil. But I’ve regreted the fact that we haven’t been doing what we set out to. We haven’t been exploring and rummaging and scaring ourselves shitless by being lost in new landscapes. I’ve got the nervous sleepless feeling that I had on September 1st of 2003. The awareness of what I was getting myself into. I’m looking at maps, and part of me is willing the cities to be closer together – willing the points to creep and nestle – but the rest of me is sitting back from the map and looking at the mileage. We’re not even plotting out our stops and I’m up to 4600 miles.
It’s stupid that movies should impart bad dreams. Maybe it’s just coupled with the familial stress from my current circumstances (I’ve just cancelled my first shows almost EVER). Whatever it was, I dreamt post-apocalyptic dreams, of looting and survival-oriented improvisation. There was a lot of thinking in my head about where to pull people too. The school down the street? The house? Some place further out? I met a lot of freinds while scavenging at a Best Buy/department store. I tested lots of baseball bats before I found the one that was going to be MY defensive device (till I found something better…) I ran across Audrey, and her sister. Rick survived, John didn’t. It was a frightening dream, perhaps spawned by salsa, the Sum of All Fears, and that Y2K episode of Family Guy. My brain feels battered.
I’ve often been of the opinion that people are little more than the sum of their thoughts, their sparkling personalities, their souls. They are not encapsulated by their bodies, and the names are just tags for their fleshy shells. The entity that actually exists – that is actually referenced when speaking of and to a person – THAT is defined by their opinions and emotions.
And yet those things are so malleable. In my more cynical moments, I view a human as little more than a strange collection of chemicals and drugs – and the alteration of out SELF through external mixtures of sugars and more complex molecules are therefore more than just a mere “mood-altering”, but more essentially “self-altering”. The person under the influence of a drug is perhaps not the same as the person sober… I think I might (un/justifiably?) use this as a mental justification for writing some people off.
Not that I know where to draw that line. The rob who’s eaten too many Kit Kats in one day and is forcing his friends to suffer his swooping sugar high is very different from the rob who is stoned out of his mind on fatigue toxins who is very different from the rob who is focused and thinking clearly.
The decisions that we make, though – they’re supposed to be made with a clear head, stone-cold sober, while in the grip of our own tenuous box called “sanity”. We make out our wills and swear up and down that it is US making the decisions… we make all sorts of decisions, and perhaps don’t agree with those decisions when in a different frame of mind, and what then?
My separation of people’s … moods? personas? into separate entities breaks down then. It seems like then there has to be some outside decider… rob has perked up and is excited about going out (thanks to Kit Kats) or… rob is too tired to go out (thanks to staying up all night) or maybe he’s wired and jittery and rear-ends a Lexus on the Dulles Toll Road (thanks to the questionable alertness of a second-wind). Accountability needs to go that extra step, and assume that the sane rob (?!) at the Whether it’s the designated driver who holds the car keys, or the girl who’s staying over who you swear you’re not going to cross any lines with, or the friend who’s holding your wallet and is under no circumstances to allow you to buy a guitar, or the Living will you’ve put in place and asked family to carry out… no matter who the deal is with, there comes a moment when the mind changes, and whoever is “holding the keys” has to make the call if that aforementioned person has actually changed their mind, or if Y has simply occured, and that there key master is truly that person’s left-over preemptive self-control…
I’m not expressing this well.
But when the person is asking for something different, and they seem so very earnest… what do you do? You can tell them that they don’t really mean it… that the “sane” facet of them knew better, told you better… told you what they REALLY wanted…
has the mind changed? Or merely the mind-set? It’s a moot point, I know – a rhetorical question, I suppose. I wonder if a stalwart cynic can come to pray at the end, and if so, he should truly be punished for his prior persona’s lack of faith.
My father died in the sunshine at 4.35pm today. Thank you to all the friends and family who’s been propping us up for the past several months, and through his fight with cancer over the past five years. I’d prefer not to be called or emailed right now.
An exhausting week. I swear, there’s got to be a better way. During the death of a family member, the actual death should be the most stressful event. Everything else should be smooth, should be taken care of. The paperwork should be straight-forward, designed to be comprehensible to someone who’s in the midst of dealing with the loss of a Loved one.
So, very tired. The beginning of allergy season. The end of so many things.
It’s a shame that one of the things that cameras simply can not capture is that gorgeous contrast of grey and green that you get on a day like today.
We departed under the omnipresent threat of rain, and continue between concrete barriers that stretch that grey down to the ground. An impatient New York blonde is busily flashing her lights at us from her trendy mini. Presumably she hasn’t noticed the cop behind us yet.
There’s a feeling of levitation, almost. Departing Maryland, and trying to depart all that it holds, if only for a little while. The images from my dreams last night, of medical slabs and cutting, had me lying sleepless till dawn. Through no fault of his own, I think my Father’s got some haunting to do, and it has nothing to do with the way that he Lived.
Pennsylvania is throwning squalls of rain and speeders at us. Heather’s got an Amy disc that’s perfect for the weather, and I’m looking forward to collapsing into the arms of Providence.
Yeah, Pennsylvania just ABOUT drowned us in construction and traffic… on to New Jersey, which Heather introduces with a hearty “welcome to the Land of Smell”! So far so good. The only thing really negative so far has been the God awful font they use on their signs. A little bit of sunshine… unfortunately, no really exciting radio like the stuff we had when we were through last time, returning from Sleepy Hollow.
Our brains are kind of revolting against the idea of how much time has passed since we were last here. It seems like it should’ve been just a couple of weeks ago (wasn’t it JUST January?!?), but we haven’t been along this particular route since December, racing to beat the snow home.
Not going to write too much right now. Really tired, slow-starting headache looks to be steamrollering forth with the intent of obliterating my brain. Got into Providence after a ten+ hour drive, fighting traffic allllll the way from Baltimore. New York is a black hole, distorting time and distance like a foetid mound of human waste on a rubber sheet. We were trapped “going around it” and then later attempting to go through it. Don’t let me even get started on the lines for the restrooms at the first rest-stop after the traffic jam. With my distrust of public restrooms, I just kept on clenchin…
Fortunately, the Shattered Monkery Circus agreed to reschedule us later in the night, and when we FINALLY got there, we met a LOT of cool people and had a good time.
We’ve been staying with my friend Will Schaff this time around, and we’ve been having a Lovely time. He’s had time to really play tourguide this time, and we’ve been wandering Warren and PrGotta leave for Connecticut tomorrow, which is a shame.
Oh my God. The Centre Coffee Bar’s open mic is one of the most fantastic nights of music and voices and PEOPLE (and interestingly leather-worked guitar artisanry) that we’ve been to anywhere. Add this to the list of places that I wish I could ship our home-Maryland crue out to. The voices would make Amy very, very happy, the cool guitar art would make Brennan happy, and the hot highschool chicks would make Sharif happy. (I know, that sort of thing USED to be fodder for an Alfred joke, but… Sharif, you’re just moving up in the world!)
We’ve got to tease our beloved keyboardist, especially when he’s out of physical arm’s reach. FEEEL OUR VOCAL BARBS since we can’t share our BARBED BEATINGS!!!