March 8th, 2018.

The last two nights we’ve spent with my old, old friend Jason Cox. And by “old” I mean “younger than me” but we’ve known one another since third grade or so. He plays games. Has a PhD in the world of role playing games. Like many people with doctorates, even in subjects that I think of myself as fairly well-versed in, I find myself quickly lost in conversations with him, listening and nodding and smiling and realizing that knowledge in all things can get so specialized, so deep, that it leaves me in the dark dust of ignorance.


The host kicks things off at Oz’ Music in Ann Arbor, MI.
Snowing in Ann Arbor, MI outside Oz’ Music where we played a singer/songwriter open mic. We were outside their usual comfort zone, playing as a trio, but we squoze and everyone had a good time. Oz’ turned out to be another place where you can get sitars and banjos and balalaikas – though not on the scale that we’ve got at HMT.
Kristen nabs some cat time.

It’s a sad thing. But it’s marvelous to see what he does. Tuesday night we dodged up to Michigan and hit an open mic just to meet some people and to say we did – because that makes the very first time ever hitting the state.

Oz’ Music Store in Ann Arbor, MI is like a teeny little House of Musical Traditions. If someone says “where can I find a sitar, a guitar, Irish bones, a balalaika and get my electric bass worked on” I would first point them to HMT. But then if they said “but, I Live in MICHIGAN” I would then say “well, you want the land of Oz!” They have a nice singer/songwriter-based open mic coupled with a local cable broadcast. We met some nice people, heard some fun songs – I met fellow FAWMers in the flesh which was ALSO kind of awesome… because though I enjoy the process of February Album Writing Month I think it’s also kind of nice to meet other people who’ve shared the angst of trying to write these 14 songs in 28 days. (I did great a couple of years, only wrote three this year). Talking to some other people about that mindset and about then ever trying to go back and LEARN what you hath wrought – I think that if this was local to me it’d be a fun group of people to hang out with.

Wednesday was a day off and we spent much of it at the Toledo Museum of Art emptying our ears and filling our eyes. They have a magnificent, generally pretty traditional collection and I really, really enjoy it. And there’s plenty of stuff to think about it….
Chuck Close. This man is an amazing portrait artist and has been an important figure on the American art scene for as long as I’ve existed. Huge faces made of paint swatches or thumbprints or whatever else – his work is intense and intimate and powerful. And the National Gallery canceled his show there because of allegations of sexual misconduct. Allegations, not firm accusations. “Misconduct” is such a broad term… there’s just so little known about it and I don’t know how I feel about all of this. Living artist vs dead artist – artist vs the art – context and belief. There’s a lot to figure out there – and I’m not up to the task today.
“Brook by Moonlight” by Ralph Albery Blakelock… Oil on cavas, “before 1891”. “Plagued by poverty, Blakelock was devastated when he received only half of his asking price for this painting in 1891. By… 15 years later, Blakelock had been largely confined to mental asylums for more than a decade.” A stunning, moody piece – probably one of my favourite paintings in the museum. It’s a shame the artist wasn’t appreciated in his own time. The luminous moodiness of the piece matches well with the backstory though.
One of my people commemorated in sculpture outside the Toledo Museum of Art.

The next day we decided to NOT hit an open mic (I explored about 4 of them, and then decided that since Spring Break had wiped two of them for the week, another turned out to be a comedy night and the fourth was at a hookah lounge) – we went to the Toledo Museum of Art and then came home and played board games and drank wine. This is something I’d only ever do in very trusted company, and it was a really relaxing night of letting all of our collective locks down.

I won one. Kristen won another. I have the suspicion that Jason and his wife LET us win things though. A night was thusly wiled away with friends and their games and their cat and their kitten – and we’re in good form to drive about five hours, circumvent the orbit of Chicago, and play in Illinois this evening.

Rollin, rollin, rollin.

In Illinois they don’t have “truck stops”, they have these over-the-highway plazas… welcome to the view from the Travel Oasis!
Because the Travel Oasis MUST have a sea turtle!
Sunset at the site of our house concert – Thursday night we played this beautiful home in Rockford, IL to a bunch of enthusiastic engineers – including a guy named Ray who had actually played Rifts this past weekend… making my VICIOUSLY feel like I’m sometimes in the wrong place.

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