January 6th, 2004.

I’m sitting at the College Perk, worrying about little things and big things, and watching the cat sleep on a pretty woman’s knee. Stubby tailed and contrary, I don’t remember the beast’s name off the top of my head – but it’s something like “Poopsy” or something equally painful.

Anywho, chatting with Shane on IM, our friend from Philadelphia. He’s a spectacularly connected creature, and is working on getting us a local TV spot of some sort. I know not to get TOO excited about that sort of thing, as local TV generally doesn’t translate into TOO much publicity or anything, and really – the most I’ve gotten out of past TV spots are video cassettes that I have to hide from friends, years later.

Sigh.

Damned Dirty Black Diamonds.

DCF 1.0

Recently we’ve been working on the Trio format. More mobile and cheaper to feed than the full band – more punch and more versatility than Heather and I alone. I’m very happy with the balance. Heather goes back and forth between percussion and guitar and is surprisingly enough, having little if any trouble with the singing while drumming, and Sharif is swapping between keyboard and bass.

Only I get stuck still playing the same thing.

Sigh. Maybe I’LL get a tambourine? No.

Anywho, I Love this sound, and at the moment, I think it’s my favourite ilyAIMY format.

A lot of good musical stuff at the moment: I’m really looking forward to this Saturday at the Music Junction. We just dropped off the posters and I always enjoy seeing Simon – he’s just – a very friendly man, and I like watching his face as he talks. There’s also an Iota show coming up, and I’ve been talking to Firedean about playing with him… the Trio is wonderful, and STUFF – and of course, there was also…

PLOJ XXVIII!!!

The beginning of PLOJ XXVIII was much like many other: me worrying that no-one would show up. These fears were quickly dashed.
The beginning of PLOJ XXVIII was much like many other: me worrying that no-one would show up. These fears were quickly dashed.
Nikki Rouse here has three WAMMIE nominations for 2003. Huge congratulations go out to her.
Nikki Rouse here has three WAMMIE nominations for 2003. Huge congratulations go out to her.
Percussion toys courtesy of Debbie (I think?)
Percussion toys courtesy of Debbie (I think?)
Joe Isaacs and co-host, Brennan Kuhns. Joe has truly a spectacular capacity for projection, and warm songs about his budding family.
Joe Isaacs and co-host, Brennan Kuhns. Joe has truly a spectacular capacity for projection, and warm songs about his budding family.
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
Sitting at College Perk at the moment - someone just put Myxomatosis Failed in over the stereo. It ALSO makes me happy... as with most PLOJes, we had mostly guitars and whatnot, but above you can see some of the more exotic stuff - a mandolin, acoustic 5-string bass, a lute-lookin something and a banjo courtesy of the one and only Banjer Dan, as well as harmonicas and an upright bass. And above THIS... Heather and Firedean did a wonderful duet version of Caramel.
Sitting at College Perk at the moment – someone just put Myxomatosis Failed in over the stereo. It ALSO makes me happy… as with most PLOJes, we had mostly guitars and whatnot, but above you can see some of the more exotic stuff – a mandolin, acoustic 5-string bass, a lute-lookin something and a banjo courtesy of the one and only Banjer Dan, as well as harmonicas and an upright bass. And above THIS… Heather and Firedean did a wonderful duet version of Caramel.
DCF 1.0
The finest instrumentalist known to me - JR Robusto. As I sit here at College Perk, I think he's up next - and I always sit in awe, staring at what he can do, hoping that someday I'll grow into that sort of skill. Hell, I've already got the flannel.
The finest instrumentalist known to me – JR Robusto. As I sit here at College Perk, I think he’s up next – and I always sit in awe, staring at what he can do, hoping that someday I’ll grow into that sort of skill. Hell, I’ve already got the flannel.
DCF 1.0
Prize for furthest travelled - Evan of Sensei (we opened for them at the Cricket in Colorado!)
Prize for furthest travelled – Evan of Sensei (we opened for them at the Cricket in Colorado!)
Caged at PLOJ.
Caged at PLOJ.
The spread. We had potatoes au gratin (Amy), taboule (me), hamburger cassarole, fruit, fruit dip and some chicken thingies (Janna), KFC and pizza, lots of bread (Richard), some pies and some brownies (Justin), some chili and some tomato soup (Debbie?), some vegetables and lots and lots of other stuff... oh god - so much food... so much wonderful fooood.
The spread. We had potatoes au gratin (Amy), taboule (me), hamburger cassarole, fruit, fruit dip and some chicken thingies (Janna), KFC and pizza, lots of bread (Richard), some pies and some brownies (Justin), some chili and some tomato soup (Debbie?), some vegetables and lots and lots of other stuff… oh god – so much food… so much wonderful fooood.

Open mics are my absolute favourite way to pass the time. Like this wonderful buffet table of music. The PLOJes are even better, with so many changes so swiftly – never get bored. Pling. Tonight, the star of the show for me is Dan Zimmerman. Just a spectacular lyricist – tonight he’s got something that reminds me of an old poem of Heather’s… something about “underground snakes posing as trains consuming commuters” – How can you NOT Love a man who writes like THAT?

January 30th, 2004.

Last night was incredible. For many reasons. There was the swirl of late night snow, and the swirl of people, and beautiful people at that. There was Nefrit El-Or, who’s band is the first creation since Underfoot to really stir me in person. There was an almost perfect show, there was a beautiful dream.

Nefrit El-Or at Iota in Arlington, VA
Nefrit at Iota. Such a Lovely woman. I need to figure out how to write bizarre rhythms like she does.

Last night’s show at Iota’s was exquisite. For all the stress about time and drumkits and setlists and last minute saxophonists, it all went off pretty much without a hitch. I’d used up all of our shit luck the night before, it seems. We played under the Christmas lights for an audience of many new faces.

Dave's kit for the Iota's gig. Alfred hates playing anything but his own kit, but it was a lot of fun having the sheer power that comes out of a traditional set up like this one.
Dave’s kit for the Iota’s gig. Alfred hates playing anything but his own kit, but it was a lot of fun having the sheer power that comes out of a traditional set up like this one.

The night was 9 short of sold out, and the club was pleased. We made a LOT of new fans last night. I re-encountered (distracted by yelling from downstairs) – I re-encountered a friend from college – well… an acquaintance from college. We got to talk for a little while about how the art college graduates were surviving in their chosen fields. She was beautiful. Much more so than I remembered. The vibrancy of doing what you Love, perhaps.

The band at Iota's, with Junior guesting on saxophone.
The band at Iota’s, with Junior guesting on saxophone.

In which case I must’ve been radiating last night.

Which I may well have been, since I’ve not had THAT much verification from previously unknown females that I was worth something since Living in Annapolis. It felt really good.

Nefrit’s band was incredible. For those of you who didn’t know Underfoot, and most of you would never have had the chance – Underfoot was about the coolest thing ever to come out of Maryland. Unfortunately, with the “discovery” of Jimmie’s Chicken Shack and Good Charlotte, Brian Wagoner’s Underfoot sort of fell through the cracks. I heard that Brian got bitter and discouraged and vanished off to California.

Possibly one of the most frustrating things in my Life.

Anywho, Underfoot was a spectaculr trio, with mystical, sensual lyrics, a driven and passionate lead singer/guitarist, a great bass player, and one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. A power trio that innovated on everything from how they used their instruments, to the bizarre rhythms they choose… to everything.

It’s a point of pride that I got to see their last couple of shows.

Nefrit El-Or has massed together a similar creature. A very similar aesthetic, but with female vocals. A similar middle-Eastern vibe – but her bass player is just – he’s the lead player by far. With a monstrous pedal board (semi-similar to the one that Brian had for his guitar) and the mad bassin skillz… good lord. He’s just a monster.  And elegant, and beautiful.

The same can be said for both Nefrit, and their drummer Dave. Nefrit’s voice, and Dave’s percussion – I’m always jealous of three-pieces, as they create a synergy and tightness that anything larger just… by definition and sprawl can never really acheive.

Oh – and then I had a dream about a blonde.

It was a good night all round.

I’m still sort of worn out from last night. Maybe I’ll rant more later, but Heather and I are going to go record now.


Listening to Heather warm up in the “studio”. It’s inhuman what her voice can do – precision and beauty. The “studio” is actually the Lloyd’s glassed in back porch, and passing traffic is a constant risk – but to see her bundled in a sweater and wool socks, running through scales with a back of white snow and blackened tree limbs.

Ok – the notes she’s hitting now are a bit absurd – I’d best go remind that she’s surrounded by glass. Brittle… sound sensitive… glass.

She’s just written a new song – beautiful, but so so sad. It made me cry the first time I heard it.

04.04.04

We went to Polly Esther's open mic to test out the new guitar. Though there were more people there than the photograph implies, it wasn't by much. Peewee's Big Adventure was in the DVD player, and it looped three times before we'd left. The night started off with Uncle Chunky, and I gloried in their lead guitarist's skills. It's cool to watch a man who can just take his electric and a distortion pedal, and get all the effects that it takes us mortals a wah and a volume pedal and this and that and the other to pull off. And then the soundguy broke his subwoofer, and we waited for an hour for things to get going. Brennan nearly killed someone, and I nearly slit my wrists.
We went to Polly Esther’s open mic to test out the new guitar. Though there were more people there than the photograph implies, it wasn’t by much. Peewee’s Big Adventure was in the DVD player, and it looped three times before we’d left. The night started off with Uncle Chunky, and I gloried in their lead guitarist’s skills. It’s cool to watch a man who can just take his electric and a distortion pedal, and get all the effects that it takes us mortals a wah and a volume pedal and this and that and the other to pull off. And then the soundguy broke his subwoofer, and we waited for an hour for things to get going. Brennan nearly killed someone, and I nearly slit my wrists.

The storm hit us at around 5.30 this morning, ripping trees apart and marching raindrops down upon us. The damned things didn’t queue up, they fought to get to us. Raindrop fistfights broke out hundreds of feet above our head as they argued who would get down to us first. The roof sang with it.

And the day shows little of the fury of last night. The air has cleared, if not the sky, and the wind has grown more capricious, if less malicious. Yesterday we attended a JP Folks meeting, and the night before that, we had a pretty taxing gig, so today, we relax do some catching up. Offload photographs, update webpages, watch James Bond. For all the crap that “Spike TV” usually plays, they have decent, and more importantly, frequent James Bond marathons.

I got a new guitar this past week, a baritone Tacoma. It's pretty much the most fantastic guitar I've ever owned. The case looks like something used to carry light anti-tank weapons (1d4x100 sdc)
I got a new guitar this past week, a baritone Tacoma. It’s pretty much the most fantastic guitar I’ve ever owned. The case looks like something used to carry light anti-tank weapons (1d4x100 sdc)

I am, however in a mutual relationship, so soon James will be replaced by a Sex in the City marathon instead. I guess that’s ok. Afterall, we’re just in the Sean Connery fan, and when it comes down to it… I’ve really Loved Pierce Brosnan… (bring on the hate mail from my mom… sigh).

Also, go to the Dan site to download forms for renaming your environment. Check out the blog on his site.
Also, go to the Dan site to download forms for renaming your environment. Check out the blog on his site.
Dan Zimmerman brought his new Mark II to Polly Esther's last Wednesday. Unfortunately, he didn't work up the guts to play it, but obviously, it's a vast improvement on his original model. Two strings!!! Anywho, I'm sure he'll be taking orders soon, building the Zimmy. The boy just needs a logo.
Dan Zimmerman brought his new Mark II to Polly Esther’s last Wednesday. Unfortunately, he didn’t work up the guts to play it, but obviously, it’s a vast improvement on his original model. Two strings!!! Anywho, I’m sure he’ll be taking orders soon, building the Zimmy. The boy just needs a logo.
DCF 1.0
I stayed at a friends' house with her cats. Jen has this cat attract whistle... and the infestation comes out of the walls... out of the floor... they swarm. Even the above Pika Cat. Apparently there are eleven of the damned things, and I don't have a clue which was which. Most of them were very affectionate, but there was one particularly strange S&M cat that sort of likes to be beaten. It's just not right.
I stayed at a friends’ house with her cats. Jen has this cat attract whistle… and the infestation comes out of the walls… out of the floor… they swarm. Even the above Pika Cat. Apparently there are eleven of the damned things, and I don’t have a clue which was which. Most of them were very affectionate, but there was one particularly strange S&M cat that sort of likes to be beaten. It’s just not right.
DCF 1.0
April 1st was the grand opening of the "New Rabbit" - the Folk Art Cafe. For those of you who missed it, have no fear - that was just the "soft opening". There will be a GRAND grand opening during Memorial Day weekend, at the end of May) Cathy and Kali from the Folk Art Gallery next door to the Year of the Rabbit have taken the place over, and they have truly made it the place it should've always been. Funky and artsy, it's gorgeous. Kali has been given free range all over the walls, the tables and chairs - she had been armed with brushes and sponges and fabric for almost three months creating the New Beast. Fish and mermaids and guitar parts and yarn and disembodied hands. Beautiful.
April 1st was the grand opening of the “New Rabbit” – the Folk Art Cafe. For those of you who missed it, have no fear – that was just the “soft opening”. There will be a GRAND grand opening during Memorial Day weekend, at the end of May) Cathy and Kali from the Folk Art Gallery next door to the Year of the Rabbit have taken the place over, and they have truly made it the place it should’ve always been. Funky and artsy, it’s gorgeous. Kali has been given free range all over the walls, the tables and chairs – she had been armed with brushes and sponges and fabric for almost three months creating the New Beast. Fish and mermaids and guitar parts and yarn and disembodied hands. Beautiful.
DCF 1.0
The Folk Art Cafe has a yarn shop and an Edward Gorey table. Does it get better? No, I think not. They are going to have Knit Nights and stuff. Very different feel. Live music won't be as high profile there, but they've asked me to run a song circle there, probably on Thursdays. I'm not really sure if I want to do that. I don't know that I've got the time or the patience. It'll be done sans sound system, so it'll be very different from the old YotR open mic. A totally different format.
The Folk Art Cafe has a yarn shop and an Edward Gorey table. Does it get better? No, I think not. They are going to have Knit Nights and stuff. Very different feel. Live music won’t be as high profile there, but they’ve asked me to run a song circle there, probably on Thursdays. I’m not really sure if I want to do that. I don’t know that I’ve got the time or the patience. It’ll be done sans sound system, so it’ll be very different from the old YotR open mic. A totally different format.
DCF 1.0
This is the expression I make when I'm counting the number of little tapioca balls I've slorped up.
This is the expression I make when I’m counting the number of little tapioca balls I’ve slorped up.
DCF 1.0
The Folk Art Cafe has also revamped the menu. I wandered into the kitchen and admired that supahfine hot-rod of a chromed out cappacino device. I walked around the corner and was surprised that it was standing still. Then there's the new convection oven and Cathy's mom's tuna cassarole. And her chicken soup. And Kali seems a little upset that I introduced Cathy to the concept of bubble tea - I think she's a little frightened by it.
The Folk Art Cafe has also revamped the menu. I wandered into the kitchen and admired that supahfine hot-rod of a chromed out cappacino device. I walked around the corner and was surprised that it was standing still. Then there’s the new convection oven and Cathy’s mom’s tuna cassarole. And her chicken soup. And Kali seems a little upset that I introduced Cathy to the concept of bubble tea – I think she’s a little frightened by it.

August 13th, 2004.

Heather is a stormy lady.
Heather is a stormy lady.
I don't remember them having big dinosaurs from when I was working here!
I don’t remember them having big dinosaurs from when I was working here!
Heather lying on the scientific bed of nails.
Heather lying on the scientific bed of nails.
And then I guess the next day we must've gone to the Science Center in Baltimore!
And then I guess the next day we must’ve gone to the Science Center in Baltimore!
Symbiont.
Symbiont.
Symbiont.
Symbiont.
ilyAIMY.
Ha, the audience stretching around at ye olde College Perk.
Ha, the audience stretching around at ye olde College Perk. A bunch of familiar faces… look careful, it’s definitely a SCRATCH not a PICK!!!!
ilyAIMY performing at 8.13.
ilyAIMY performing at 8.13.
Dan Zimmerman.
Dan Zimmerman.
Joe Isaacs!
Joe Isaacs!
Setting up for the 8.13 Festival.
Setting up for the 8.13 Festival.
Not sure how these got missed in the original Journal, but here are photographs from the 8.13 Festival we threw at College Perk in College Park, MD on August 13th, 2004... I bet Brennan was key in organizing it... I just couldn't pass by the photographs and NOT include them!
Not sure how these got missed in the original Journal, but here are photographs from the 8.13 Festival we threw at College Perk in College Park, MD on August 13th, 2004… I bet Brennan was key in organizing it… I just couldn’t pass by the photographs and NOT include them! (oh, and this moth)

September 2nd, 2004.

Leadbetter's is known for two things. One of them is music.
Leadbetter’s is known for two things. One of them is music.
Our friends Chris and Joylene performing at Leadbetters' open mic in Baltimore, MD.
Our friends Chris and Joylene performing at Leadbetters’ open mic in Baltimore, MD.
Getting up to NO good at College Perk.
Getting up to NO good at College Perk.
Our friend Phil playing congas at the College Perk open mic.
Our friend Phil playing congas with Dan Zimmerman at the College Perk open mic.

With My Regards to Ernie Pyle.

Wanderlust has always been one of my favorite words in the English language. It tumbles more than rolls off the tounge and sounds exactly like what it means. There is a musky dust in that word, a gentle eroticism and a sense of non-directed, ambling purpose. It’s not a beautiful word – the German roots of “wander” make it a bit harsh as words go. The perfect word for what it implies: A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.

In one year we have been to 19 states, in which we have played 72 different open mics and 98 different venues. We have been as far as 1,712 miles away from home and as far as 8,000 feet above sea level. We have seen the shores of Great Lakes Erie and Michigan, the peaks of Rockies and crossed the Mississippi River four times. We have traveled by boat, by train, by car and by foot, but we have yet to take a plane. We’ve been through one Saturn, two car stereos, one break-in, two flat tires, and have just replaced a third.

We’ve been visited by five local fans and one bandmate while performing on the road. Jason Slanga has the honor of being the only one to visit us twice. We’ve received three care packages, including the bubble-wrapped-yet-still-ill-fated pumpkin pie my mother tried to send me for my first family-less Thanksgiving in Colorado. We’ve been tipped with strings, drinks, love, jeans, places to sleep, and I still can’t decide whether my favorite is the $100 check from the guy who finally got laid while listening to our CD, or the crystal-covered rock someone tossed into my guitar case at a PHISH concert in Indiana.

We’ve handed out 2,165 ilyAIMY postcards, and the way rob and I figure it, we have played “Deep in the AM” in front of about 170 different audiences.

We’ve been through two hurricanes, one at the beginning of the year and one at the end, but the wettest we have ever been was camping just outside of Indianapolis when it rained three inches in one morning. Rob disagrees and says it was getting stuck in the storm while boating the Cape Fear River. Though we’ve suffered through numerous mosquito bites, spider bites, and bites of unidentifiable origin, the weirdest thing rob has ever been bitten by is a fiddler crab. The biggest irony we ever encountered was the illegality of smoking at the Tobacco Road bar in Hell’s Kitchen (Incidentally, I ran into their open mic host in Charles Town, WV, two weeks ago and he told me they eventually had to close. Go figure.). The biggest coincidence was either running into the “Spider Drummer” from rob’s old band in Indiana, or the frightening fact that the worst car accident we ever witnessed in our travels happened Oct. 7, 2003, exactly 7 months before our own giant wreck May 7, 2004. 777. Shiver. I’m currently rethinking the choice of 7 as my lucky number.

The smallest place we’ve ever been would probably be Paxton, NE, population about 600, which does not keep it from producing the best steak sandwich I’ve ever had (and I had four of those). The biggest misunderstanding was the time I thought a packaged wet nap on the floor of Shane’s Drexel University dorm was a condom. The scariest-but-exciting thing we’ve ever gotten to do was to tour the bowels of Omaha’s Magic Theatre by flashlight. The best clouds were in Colorado, along with the most amazing sunrise. The biggest array of furry creatures was the dog park in Providence, RI. The most famous person we ever met or stayed with was likely my good old friend from college, Jayson Blair. The most content person we met would either be the art teacher-luthier, Greg Decoteau, in Londonderry, NH, or the minister-minstrel, Kyle Knapp, in Omaha, NE. The only extrapolating I will do there is that maybe you need to have a hyphenated life to be truly content.

I’m fairly proud that the only things we’ve lost have been one ebow (which I thank Tyler for replacing), one quarter inch cable, about 15 pounds, two gas caps and a sweater. The thing I most frequently forget to pack is a towel, but other than that I’ve gotten pretty good, really.

The place I love the most and will live when I run off somewhere to settle down? Don’t even get me started on the list.

At 24,359 miles traveled, we have just completed our second trip around the world, after a fashion. And at this rate, rob says, it will take us 15 years to get to the Moon.