We camped out at Amy’s this weekend and did nothing but work on the tour materials. I enjoy Amy’s house in the spring. Her artwork is everywhere and there are these linen-like billowy curtains dancing in open windows and intermingling with the tails of the three cats who claim domain here. It’s a house that makes you want to make stuff, to be creative and artistic. That’s probably why we decided to get out of the house and come here to do our work. We went through 25 states worth of an indexed singer/songwriter database. It took hours. I was amused and surprised at how many male acoustic musicians were described as “the male Ani DiFranco.” I told rob that he will always be MY male Ani DiFranco.
Sweet mother of God. That was a whole lot of stuff to go through. Heather likes to make lists. We slowly make our way through Heather’s lists, and check things off. We eliminate all responsibilities piece-meal. Oif.
I like to terrorize cats. Oh yes. Sigh. Long day. Tonight I sleep. Been eating artichokes and pine nuts. I believe they shall inspire strange dreams.
Long time, no mention – nothing really to mention today, either. I think I’m just going to post a bunch of pictures and narrate a bit to make up for it. We’ve begun to get responses from the summer festivals, and we’re beginning to plan around such things as Pagan festivals in Ohio, and Singer/Songwriter barcrawls in Illinois.
I’ve been really sick for the past couple of days, caught something from Alfred last Tuesday. I helped him carry his drums into the gig that night, and he had something really nasty, and he shared.
So, I brought it home to Mara. And I think we shared it with Janna. The world’s been sick. Mitzi’s had food poisoning, Tyler’s been feeling poorly, Sharif threw up and Jon’s been depressed. Didn’t want to write about THAT… see?
Anywho, many things, including my 29th birthday, which was a whole lot of fun, one of my best ever. A WHOLE lot of Magic – almost nothing better to do when you’re feeling really poorly. Nothing to do but play Diablo and Magic… which, of course, is how Janna probably caught it. Sigh… Pestilence alll over. I sit here writing – Heather’s dad is running around with many a household chore – cleaning and replacing batteries, to the accompaniment of the Beatles. He keeps trying to give me fuzzy hats and camel hair coats – I try to explain…. it’s just not flannel. Sigh.
It turned out the open mic we were playing was actually run by a guy we knew from before – we’d met Rick at the Coffee Club (in Media? I think).
We sold a couple of CDs, and met some cool people – specifically – Dave – the Johnny Cash impersonator. Great Man in Black Covers. Very pleased.
The sound here was gorgeous, but other than that, I was kind of distracted by all the hockey.
Philadelphia didn’t treat us as well this time around, but I think a lot of that was attitude. We, of course, Loved hanging around with Shane, and he hooked me up with a new copy of Diablo II, which made my Life pretty complete, but – we hung around in Maryland because of my father’s cancer surgery, and that was kind of difficult. I’m just so glad that that’s over with. All that’s left is recovery…
“All that’s left” – I know it’s not that simple, but I have to think of it that way lest I just go crazy.
We didn’t get much out of the night – the crowd just couldn’t be distracted from their sporting events, but Soul Plane made up for everything. They were spectacular.
And JUST as both Heather and I were thinking “they could do awwwesome Led Zepplin covers” – they did. Not many bands can pull that off. They’re guitarist, specifically, would be capable of making Jimmy Page look up from his diabolist dabblings and say “whut?”
We came home for my birthday, the night after the gig with Soul Plane… I gloss over the whole me getting the address of the gig wrong, so we advertised the wrong address the whole week we were in Philly – and ended up at the wrong place ourselves… and God – it was a disaster.
But I got the coolest toy that ever existed for my birthday.
A Matrix Sentinal.
Now, the coolest gift EVER was what my Father gave me – successful cancer surgery while at the same time paying off the last of my school debt. It’s taken me 7 years, but it’s finally gone, and it’s an incredible feeling – but it’s harder to photograph.
It has been such a weird month. Back to the Dad in the hospital rambling – I went and visited while he was there, I was lucky enough to have Audrey come with me – and the hospital was dismal.
I don’t expect hospital patients to be cheerful and leaping and throwing back their sheets and jumping from bed to bed or anything – but I expect the damned hospital to be clean, and to be able to really understand the English of the nurses, and for the faucets to work, and for them to clean the spilled Jell-o off the floor. GW Hospital was just a multi-tiered lump of dinge. I was pretty disappointed with its existence in its entirety. Pretty fucking disgusted, to be truthful.
Later that night, we went back to Amy’s house and watched zombie movies and ate ravioli. It was probably my best birthday ever.
This year’s Thanksgiving, sooo much better than last year’s Thanksgiving. Though I miss the mountains and the huge skies of Colorado, I certainly don’t miss trying to make do with a Thanksgiving dinner from a family restaurant rather than through a family. Family/friends.
Amy made us a turkey. The creature took all day, stewing in the oven, basting and boiling, broiling and tossing and turning in her Catonsville oven. I chopped apples and stirred stuffing, Alli made key lime pie that I was almost unworthy to consume, but Amy was the star of the day… sticking her hands into all of those unknown turkey crevices with no thought of Life, limb, or how she was going to get the giblets back out from under her nails.
Dinner was amazing.
Heather popped over later and we all lounged and digested and didn’t move very much while watching Shrek 2.
The next day was Heather’s solo show at Caribou Coffee… but I think I’ll force HER to tell you about that. Let me just mention that I’m working my way through the recordings of the night and there are incredible moments of real magic hidden in there. And not so hidden magic – Amy, despite her nervousness, came out strong with her low, sultry voice. Then her high, not so sultry but more fluting voice. Heather got to play with her highs as well.
Vicious ant attack! Death from above! I was working, innocently enough, sitting and making things happen as I am wont to do, when I gigantic black ant dropped from the ceiling fan and landed on my laptop.
I blew on him till he scampered away, but we eyeballed one another for the rest of the night as he explored all aspects of the kitchen. He was easy to keep track of – he was big and black and the kitchen’s new and white. I went and watched him clean his antennae, and redirected him where neccessary.
This morning I find him sitting on the top surface of the freezer drawer,moving verrrry verrrry slowly.
He’s biding his time. Oh… no longer. My mom got him. She is shaking her fist and saying “I HAVE ENDED HIS LIFE OF WANDERING!!!” Go mom.
So – my big background project right now is the movement of the tour Journal from the hand-coded behemoth that it’s been for the past 14 years over to WordPress. I THINK it’s a good idea? It’s not as beautiful, but it’s a LOT more flexible, and means that as people’s screens get bigger and bigger the Journal won’t have to go through massive revisions every couple of years… it’s searchable this way, I can upload larger photographs… whatever. There’s any number of reasons why I hope it’s a good idea.
But it’s not a book anymore. It’s a blog. And part of me is sad about that. Of course, the “book” format is modeled after something I haven’t done in a long, long, long time. After a horrible incident where someone literally destroyed my previous 10 years of physical Journals, the actual Little Black Books on which the Journal had been based just lost all momentum. I look at the two I have left (the other dozen or so gone forever) and they’re such wonderful OBJECTS, and I do sort of wish I could go back to them, but all the stutter stop of writing in physical books just goes nowhere…
And so the archetype, the reason for the tradition of the Journal is gone. The Journal itself has become physically unwieldy, and as it was coming up to the time for me to make another massive template change (because the fonts just aren’t lining up anymore, no, I don’t know why) I’m simply sick of relearning how to do this THING every couple of years… only to know the next changeup will only be a couple more years away.
And so I’ve embarked on transferring it. It’s over 4000 pages and who knows how many entries. I’ve committed myself to transferring at least five entries a day and I’ve reached December 28th, 2003 [some things that I don’t understand about WordPress… why for art thou a motherfucking SUBSCRIPT not SUPERSCRIPT? I’m not figuring out how to fix these right now… but what the Hell??!?!] (Today is Heather’s brother’s birthday!!!). I’m not really reading (though an editorial pass wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, adding keywords and stuff like that as well… but it’s just so MUCH) but the pictures are strong enough. Pictures in which everyone now is dead. Pictures of people that are gone and married or vanished or … who knows… Celebrating Justin’s 17th birthday. It’s a slap in the face as the passage of time is pressed hard into me and combined with catching fragments of news, moments of time that step outside of my tiny little world that I was writing about (especially in the early years, there’s not much other than “we went here and met this person”) compared to the headlines of today… it all just makes me feel brutally old.
Well, tis the last day of the year and I don’t plan to add anything of incredible depth to the Journal on this day. Kristen’s making jambalaya, my friend Sue is coming to the realization that even 42 years in, there are a number of words that I simply seem unable to spell, and the Cat That Is Not Ours is assisting in the observation of the finest of ways to oust 2017 : the Game of Thrones Marathon.
I THINK HBO has timed it so that the year ends as the re-air of Season 7 ends, but I’m not interested enough to check. In about 4 and a half hours we’ll get to see whose clocks are fast and whose clocks are slow as explosions and whooping fill the Catonsville streets. We’re a relatively sleepy place though, so the noise will hit and pass relatively swiftly. We’ll probably see a couple of paranoid posts about “how can you tell fireworks from gunshots!?!?” and we’ll hear some sirens… and then 2018 will be here.
Last night Kristen and I joined up with Dave Benham, Chuck the Madd Ox and QueenEarth to play one last show at Teavolve. Having Christmas fall on a Monday kind of sucks because that means New Year’s Day falls on a Monday which means we take two weeks off from the open mic. On the one hand it’s a well-deserved and very welcome break from running Monday nights – on the other hand, one of my favourite things is getting to watch my friends play and every once in a while getting to sit in with them – setting up last night so that I could jam with my friends while NOT being responsible for hosting an open mic night was really wonderful.
The music was great, but the audience was sparse – and that was really disappointing. I mean – it hammers home that what I’ve “built” is a bunch of people who will gather to play, but they won’t gather to support others.
I’m looking forward to checking out the recordings, seeing what was caught. Hoping to share…. but that’s the thing about today. “Sharing” is enough, isn’t it? No-one feels any sadness about missing a happening… cause they can have it spoon-fed to them on their own time.
Ahem. Sorry – that got a little bit bitter. I’m actually really enjoying my New Year’s Eve in Westeros, so I shouldn’t gripe too much. Especially cause Heather just got word that she’s a finalist in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest! Huzzah!
Oh woe is me. Christmas is dead. We took out the tree. The last week or so has been remarkably lack-lustre, plus or minus having a really fun band practice – but other than that – I mean, open mic got canceled after already being on a two week hiatus… Hell, I haven’t even started my car yet in the new year, so I have vague concerns about that. Tomorrow morning I better go and poke it just to make sure it still GOES.
We’ve finally got a gig coming up this weekend, but so far 2018 has been a whole lot of NOTHING. I’ve been feeling it, too… just malaise. Part of it is the insane cold – it’s spent a LOT of time below freezing, and even today and tomorrow as we broach the 40s it’s grey and forboding.
So taking the Christmas tree down today and dragging it out to the sad Dead Christmas pile on the corner was kind of the most out-of-the-houseness I’ve been up to recently.
Oh wait – I totally went to the post office a couple of days ago, but other than that… yeah, Kristen, Heather or Brennan drove. Gotta poke my car!
We returned to the Old Bowie Town Grille last night and though onstage I was happy with myself, offstage I was displeased. I was funny and charming and played guitar like a motherfuckin’ FIRE (or does he say riot? I’ve never looked it up) – off stage I was VERY aware of having just screwed up a bunch of lyrics (like my old self) and even lost my place in a couple of songs (once cause I was misdirected, twice cause I lost count and thrice cause I WAS RIGHT but everyone else did something else!) and was bitter and tired and potentially snappish.
I hope I wasn’t snappish.
We were filming, and there’s a WHOLE additional level of angst when you’re trying to not only make your hands go and your mouth go and breathe appropriately and run sound and think “what’s next?” and not trip over anything and then ADD looking cool and make sure you’re emotive and how’s my hair?!?!
Yeah, it’s a lot. And for many, many years I’ve generally thought I’m a fun stage performer, but when you’ve got to actually THINK about it? Good lord – it can ALL go to Hell.
No, really… go to HELL!
I think that though it probably wasn’t a great show, we PUT ON a great show – which is a weird distinction, perhaps – but what I mean by that is that I think the audience had a great time, and we did very well financially – and the venue was very happy and wants us back as soon as we’re able – but I don’t know how much of the video’s going to be a great application piece and I was heartily aware of every missed lyric, sloppy chord and missed note.
And of course the sad part about having put a lot of energy into filming it – that means you can’t help but heartily critique. THAT’S going to be interesting.
So – in any case, I’ve got a couple of other things that I kind of want to gripe about, but I shouldn’t because I’m genuinely trying to project less negativity.
So what I REALLY should say is I had a funny interaction at Safeway with a sidling woman who commiserated with me about our collective lack of interest in the Sports Ball and our distress over how it seems to impair the faculties of those around us.
Oh, hey snow! I’d been wondering when you were gonna get here. Now I wonder how long you’ll stay. My car’s in the shop, I’ve got no place to be, the only entity in the house that seems really iffy about your presence is the neighbour’s cat, and I sort of think that some of HIS angst is over the fact that a fresh snowfall provides ample tracking evidence of where he spends his time.
Our house is snug and warm and we’ve got billable hours to occupy our time. Tomorrow the temperature climbs back well-above freezing, so I don’t know how worried I am about shoveling…
The cat romped for about five minutes and just reappeared, scampering into the house and scattering snow on the Living room floor. Kristen’s chasing him with a towel and breakfast goes on.
Tomorrow I’ll be running a session down at Asparagus Media – the first time I’ll be doing that solo. With any luck I’ll have my car back before then, but I’ve got a backup plan. Since Monday night I’ve been kind of obsessed with backup plans.
But in the meantime, I’ll get some work done, periodically let the cat see that there’s still snow, and get ready for a wee winter walk of my own. Can’t let the snow go to waste!