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.

November 14th, 2004.

PLOJ XXX was a success much greater than 29. Good musicians, really very good food. It ended a bit early, but no complaints there, as I truly was ready for a night OFF. We got started right at 6.30 (people were on time!!?) but ended pretty early.

Dan Zimmerman playing keyboard and Alex Colvin experimenting with his new resonator guitar.
Dan Zimmerman playing keyboard and Alex Colvin experimenting with his new resonator guitar.
Janet Griffin's partner Stuart watching awestruck as our friend Ali belts forth into PLOJ XXX. He WAS showing me his photography portfolio (lots of frogs!) but then pretty much all attention flipped to Ali.
Janet Griffin’s partner Stuart watching awestruck as our friend Ali belts forth into PLOJ XXX. He WAS showing me his photography portfolio (lots of frogs!) but then pretty much all attention flipped to Ali.

By 11pm, it was pretty much me, Sharif, Brennan and Alex Colvin. It sort of stuck that way for a couple of hours, but I finally retired at around 1.30am, but I heard Alex through the floor till around 3.

Amy, caught in the act. She just LOOKS guilty. Or cute. Not sure which. You can never be too sure with her.
Amy, caught in the act. She just LOOKS guilty. Or cute. Not sure which. You can never be too sure with her.
Amy singing with Dan Sheer.I think that this may have been in the midst of the 4-5 part harmony version of "Summertime".
Amy singing with Dan Sheer.I think that this may have been in the midst of the 4-5 part harmony version of “Summertime”.

Highlights of PLOJ XXX? Well, in keeping with the triple-X theme, some how there were three strings broken, and they were ALL G-strings. Heather and I showed off our new Firedean knowledge by playing “Tell the Truth”. I think we played it at about double speed, and there was a lot of “hrm hrm hrm”s where we couldn’t remember the words. Rowan and Sharif doing “Count the Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the Wardrums”, the amazing dumplings that I didn’t get any of (but heard SO much about), Mara’s chocolate chip cake… it was an awesome night.

All in all, I’m back and forth on whether or not I’m a huge fan of continuing PLOJ at College Perk. It was the first PLOJ with school in session, and I felt the massive pressure of having some forty people in the coffee house that really didn’t give a fuck that music was occuring, and perhaps even really wanted to know why it was going on and when it will stop. We caught a couple of people, but I think that generally the PLOJ is a little unstructured for your random passerby.

Heather singing with Antonio. He had a beautiful voice. He, another friend (Tori) and Heather all sang Boyz 2 Men songs.
Heather singing with Antonio. He had a beautiful voice. He, another friend (Tori) and Heather all sang Boyz 2 Men songs.
Heather singin at PLOJ XXX.
Heather singin at PLOJ XXX.
Phil the crazy grinning percussionist. I was very worried about the djembes, but when used by good percussionists (and Phil and Rowan are both REALLY good) - they don't drown out the rest of the world. I was very happy with our little percussion group. Alex Colvin also brought some bongos.
Phil the crazy grinning percussionist. I was very worried about the djembes, but when used by good percussionists (and Phil and Rowan are both REALLY good) – they don’t drown out the rest of the world. I was very happy with our little percussion group. Alex Colvin also brought some bongos.
Look at them go. Percussionist party. Again, so happy to have professionals in the room. In the past we've certainly had trouble with the whole boomy djembe not being played entirely on the beat problem.
Look at them go. Percussionist party. Again, so happy to have professionals in the room. In the past we’ve certainly had trouble with the whole boomy djembe not being played entirely on the beat problem.
Sarah, Sharif's cousin finally brought her violin out to a PLOJ. She added an awful lot to LooseN, Push, a bunch of other tunes. We'd been talking about playing together for quite some time, and it was cool to have her show up and add her beautiful two cents to the music.
Sarah, Sharif’s cousin finally brought her violin out to a PLOJ. She added an awful lot to LooseN, Push, a bunch of other tunes. We’d been talking about playing together for quite some time, and it was cool to have her show up and add her beautiful two cents to the music.
Taccara and Heather singing all sorts of good stuff to one another. I don't remember exactly what they were playing here, but I Love watching them lay eyes on one another, and lock their voices back together as if it were an everyday occurence. I know that Heather misses singing with fine, fine female voices. PLOJ must be a blast of fresh air for her.
Taccara and Heather singing all sorts of good stuff to one another. I don’t remember exactly what they were playing here, but I Love watching them lay eyes on one another, and lock their voices back together as if it were an everyday occurence. I know that Heather misses singing with fine, fine female voices. PLOJ must be a blast of fresh air for her.
By the end of the night, Ray, Sharif and Sarah and I were in the centre of the Perk, sort of cornered by the rest of the denizens. Brennan was talking about moving PLOJ again after XXXI. He's found a new place that he thinks is likely. Unfortunately, it's another venue, but not College Park, which... well, we'll see.
By the end of the night, Ray, Sharif and Sarah and I were in the centre of the Perk, sort of cornered by the rest of the denizens. Brennan was talking about moving PLOJ again after XXXI. He’s found a new place that he thinks is likely. Unfortunately, it’s another venue, but not College Park, which… well, we’ll see.

August 14th, 2005.

I’m staying with Rowan tonight, perhaps in danger of giving meat to all those rumours. I’m glad I’m here. He’s off with his lady but will come back in time to do some hanging out before it’s time for unconsciousness. Well… officially time… it was time to be unconscious hours ago, but I persevere for the sake of cartoons and silliness.

The horror of 50's wallpaper uncovered and discovered while gutting the kitchen at my mom's house.
The horror of 50’s wallpaper uncovered and discovered while gutting the kitchen at my mom’s house.
My mom's kitchen. In the driveway.
My mom’s kitchen. In the driveway.

I really miss Living with Rowan – and one of the biggest reasons was that we discovered the absurdity that is Adult Swim together – and it’s somehow just not the same, watching it with out his huge laughs or his “ohhhoho”s of horror.

In any case, I’m just barely staying awake, no matter how eager.

It’s been a long couple of days. And the kitchen has just been the start of it. I’ve been doing a lot of painting of kitchen ceilings and walls. I’ve been avoiding flooring. I’ve done a lot of hauling of kitchen parts into and out of my Mom’s house. And I feel bad, because I’ve made my escape, but my uncle is still hanging in there.

Yesterday was the infamous College Perk 8.13 Festival. It’s a long story about the name . It doesn’t actually involve my hamster. That was a lie. Let’s just say that 8.13 is a number of great significance, and has been for a long, long time. Vast occult significance it has. I fear though, that Brennan’s useage of it could make the gods angry and he might be struck with lankyness…. oh. Yeah, well, it’s MEANT to be FUNNY.

I have no record of wtf – I think this is Heather in a ballpit at Ikea?
A weird side-effect of working in my mom's house, of course - is that I'm running across reminders of my father and remiders of things from so, so long ago. Lightning hir the tree across the yard when I was 9 - zapped along the clothesline, disintegrating it, and into the house. My Dad had had a couple of weird lightning experiences, including one with ball lightning that came down the chimney at his mom's place, and then hovered there in front of them, shedding sparks.
A weird side-effect of working in my mom’s house, of course – is that I’m running across reminders of my father and remiders of things from so, so long ago. Lightning hir the tree across the yard when I was 9 – zapped along the clothesline, disintegrating it, and into the house. My Dad had had a couple of weird lightning experiences, including one with ball lightning that came down the chimney at his mom’s place, and then hovered there in front of them, shedding sparks.
One of the first acts of 8.13 - the Making. God they rock my world. Dave just has an exquisite voice. They'd come with a full band, but the heat pushed them indoors, which was a little difficult volume-wise, but everything worked out just fine. They just dripped alot. But then again, so did we. S'all good.
One of the first acts of 8.13 – the Making. God they rock my world. Dave just has an exquisite voice. They’d come with a full band, but the heat pushed them indoors, which was a little difficult volume-wise, but everything worked out just fine. They just dripped alot. But then again, so did we. S’all good.

The 8.13 Festival was a marvel of musical collection. Brennan’s a genius when it comes to dragging cool people together, and it was stupid, stupid, dumb luck that the weather conspired against him so heavily. I just don’t think that any of us were going to win against a 105 degree heat index. The bands actually ended up starting indoors to avoid the heat, and then eventually moved outside when things got a little less oppressive.

I was in a weird mood, mostly from the heat. Just …. artistic… you know, ups and downs for no apparently reason. I fear I was a bit of an asshole here and there. If I could’ve fucked the air conditioner I would’ve, but even if it was putting out, I still wouldn’t have treated it well..

But the show was awesome. We didn’t let the heat stop us, and I feel like we put on a pretty damned good show.

Same thing went for today in Richmond. The heat was INSANE. Hell, at 8pm, driving to Rowan’s, the bank thermometers were STILL reading 98 degrees, and that’s just not RIGHT. I Love watching people preparing for a boring little acoustic set and then getting their asses handed to them by strings and drum.

It’s arrogance, but I’m beginning to think it’s earned. In any case, fatigue is setting in, so I think I’m going to stop babbling, post a picture or two, and take a nap so I’ll be fresh, so fresh for Rowan.

Velvet at the 8.13 Festival at the College Perk in College Park, MD. I get the impression that they MIGHT'VE thrashed around more if the heat wasn't endangering their very souls.
Velvet at the 8.13 Festival at the College Perk in College Park, MD. I get the impression that they MIGHT’VE thrashed around more if the heat wasn’t endangering their very souls.
There was also Smash Day at the Perk on 8.13. Later, all of this was on fire, too. That's Brennan, ending the Life of something that no-one wanted at the yard sale. Unfortunately, just as I snapped this photograph, my friend Tyler remarked "oh, I was just thinking how I needed a desk". Too slow, Tyler, too slow.
There was also Smash Day at the Perk on 8.13. Later, all of this was on fire, too. That’s Brennan, ending the Life of something that no-one wanted at the yard sale. Unfortunately, just as I snapped this photograph, my friend Tyler remarked “oh, I was just thinking how I needed a desk”. Too slow, Tyler, too slow.
Daniel Lee - exquisite voice and fantastic guitar - possibly the best male vocalist I know of. Period. Soul and soul aching and with a great sense of humour. He was experimenting with playing a kit at the same time, but I fear it stole away from his standing spectacular rock star qualities. Still, the version of "Case of You" that he and Heather did was heart-breakingly beautiful.
Daniel Lee – exquisite voice and fantastic guitar – possibly the best male vocalist I know of. Period. Soul and soul aching and with a great sense of humour. He was experimenting with playing a kit at the same time, but I fear it stole away from his standing spectacular rock star qualities. Still, the version of “Case of You” that he and Heather did was heart-breakingly beautiful.
Heather's little brother playing headball. As you can see, he merely tipped a foul on this one, with the mannekin head ricocheting near his feet. After this they moved on to apples. After being sprayed with apple chunks, however, the audience forced them to move on again.
Heather’s little brother playing headball. As you can see, he merely tipped a foul on this one, with the mannekin head ricocheting near his feet. After this they moved on to apples. After being sprayed with apple chunks, however, the audience forced them to move on again.
Dan Zimmerman heads up Dr. Rocksinger and the Age of Longing. Brennan grinning cheesily. I think this was Phil's last percussive performance at the Perk, as he moves to Arizona in a couple of days. We'll miss him muchly. Go to Dan's website. It will make you laugh.
Dan Zimmerman heads up Dr. Rocksinger and the Age of Longing. Brennan grinning cheesily. I think this was Phil’s last percussive performance at the Perk, as he moves to Arizona in a couple of days. We’ll miss him muchly. Go to Dan’s website. It will make you laugh.
Hrm. There's me, still covered in the remnants of my mom's kitchen. Glaring at the 8.13 Festival at College Perk in College Park, MD.
Hrm. There’s me, still covered in the remnants of my mom’s kitchen. Glaring at the 8.13 Festival at College Perk in College Park, MD.
We're About 9 performing as We're About 6 at the 8.13 Festival at College Perk.
We’re About 9 performing as We’re About 6 at the 8.13 Festival at College Perk.

 

January 1st, 2006.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

New Year’s Eve.  Exciting and fun, and perhaps not cathartic but still pretty satisfying.  A night of mood swings and battle like any other, maybe, and I came out of it okay, but unsure if it’s a signal that 2006 is any better than its predecessor.

At the open mic at the College Perk a couple of nights ago, a lot of old school creatures came out of the woodwork. Ash even popped out to play the last open mic of 2005. He’s extremely good. Such a beast of rhythm.

It started off with a trip to the mall and feeling like a rock star.  I had a mission, one that has not been satisfied.  I finally got my camera back, and I’d sworn to the Gods of Sony that I would get a case to protect it.  I went to the mall, strode mightily to where I thought the camera store was, strode mightily to the Information placard, got turned around (mightily) around one of the look-alike department stores, strode around in circles thinking “I can’t go to Suncoast till AFTER I finish my mission!” and then finally arrived at my destination.  (Mightily?)

I got a case.  There was much deliberation.  I wanted something that wouldn’t come off my belt too easily, and would protect the camera without being too big.  I eventually went with the one suggested by the guy behind the counter. The thing that hadn’t occurred to me is that I also wanted something that wouldn’t look too much like a “fanny pack” and in this I unthinkingly failed.  I should’ve spent some time staring at Sharif’s loaded and stylishly adorned waist before shopping, and chosen something in leather with slimmer lines.

It’ll do for being an American in Mexico , but I think it’s just not Rock Star enough.  Unfortunately, I’m rather hit or miss with my own personal style, often giving up once I see there’s nothing leather and adorned in flames.  This is a failing.

So, task completed, I stop in at Suncoast to look for / at toys, and the guy behind the counter gives me a look of recognition and then does that thing which I Love… “Aren’t you… aren’t you the guitarist for ilyAIMY ?”

David had seen us the previous week at Java Mamma’s and Loved our music and unfortunately couldn’t make it down for New Year’s Eve, but really wanted to.  He wanted to find me a cool toy in his shop (“it’s cool that you shop here!”) but he’d sold the last plush face-hugger earlier today, and that was really all I was interested in.

He said something that made my week.  When I told him “thanks, you’ve totally made me feel like a rockstar today” he replied “you ARE a rockstar!”.

Hee.

Feed my ego.

In any case, from there I dropped in on the knit shop, said goodbye to Mara, and headed South to 2006 and whatever it might hold.

Arriving at the gig 2 hours early isn’t so strange for me, and I had a good time sitting around and sitting with the equally prematurely-timed Tim (of Might Could).  We sat around, set up, sat around, pushed some furniture around.  A nice, relaxed set-up and sound check.  I think that the night’s sound was some of the best the College Perk has ever had (if I do say so myself) – though perhaps also one of the louder nights they’ve ever had… I properly rob bed the acoustics.

The show went well – and almost without a hitch.  I talked well (with one exception which wiped out any rockstar cool that was earlier acquired) and Heather talked well and we jammed well and Dan Zimmerman played bass with us for a tune or two.  Might Could kicked us off in true Might Could style – i.e. with guitar work that stuns my fingers into show-offyness.  Dan Zimmerman ‘s set was just beautiful – with Sharif backing him up on piano, his music is doubly powerful.  He writes simply but intensely and he shoved some moodiness into me.  When he plays I think too much.

Might Could playing the College Perk's New Year's Eve party.
Might Could playing the College Perk’s New Year’s Eve party.
Dan the man ZImmerman man-handling Sharif's glowing balls.
Dan the man ZImmerman man-handling Sharif’s glowing balls.

We played with a ferocity that almost made up for our lack of Rowan.  We missed him, but we were playing to a room of friends and it was just really, really good.  DJ Killian pointed out that the room was mostly owned by us, and that we should ditch the original plan of having us quit at 11.30 or so and letting him play us into the New Year… instead… we played till we broke too many strings to continue and then I got to count us down.

At first I was really nervous being the MC, but I ended up having a really, really good time, and afterwards, when it occurred to me that I’d “dropped the ball” (in a good way) at the Perk, it actually made me feel pretty special. Like. REALLY special!

Sharif playing with Dan Zimmerman (and his glowing balls) at the College Perk on New Year's Eve.
Sharif playing with Dan Zimmerman (and his glowing balls) at the College Perk on New Year’s Eve.
Heather singing with Dan Zimmerman. Heather was having a really, really pretty night. Good hair too. In her face. Blocking the pretty. Partially. Damn. But the other shot was out of focus. Sigh.
Heather singing with Dan Zimmerman. Heather was having a really, really pretty night. Good hair too. In her face. Blocking the pretty. Partially. Damn. But the other shot was out of focus. Sigh.

From there we had a couple of good hours.  Hung out, flirted, smacked some people around.  There were some good dresses and appreciative glances, shots of something that I never DID identify (sweet and with whipped cream on top though, I was okay with that), great music.  A little too much back-slapping from people bigger than me in embraces too manly to be pleasant, and as the night progressed, maybe there were a couple of people drunker than I would’ve liked to see them.

However, Sharif falling asleep somewhere around 1.30am meant that Dan sat in on bass for much of our last set and we got to jam back and forth.  I was sloppy but we play off each other really well, and had a fucking awesome time.

Dan’s second set was a lot of fun, and he got Heather and I got our groove on behind him, dancing up a storm.

Yes.

Danced.

Heather and I going at it on New Year's Eve at the College Perk. We had a great night of really, really not adhering to the set-list in a worse fashion than normal. Heather's little brother, Justin even sat in with us during Illinois is Overflowing.
Heather and I going at it on New Year’s Eve at the College Perk. We had a great night of really, really not adhering to the set-list in a worse fashion than normal. Heather’s little brother, Justin even sat in with us during Illinois is Overflowing.
Actual moment of the coming of 2006. Yeah, the people in front didn't really... er... notice.
Actual moment of the coming of 2006. Yeah, the people in front didn’t really… er… notice.

Someone has a video, apparently.

Sigh – now if only the whole night could’ve been all about that.

First off – my moment of real embarrassment happened after I got close to one of the women I’d been teasing from the stage and realized that it wasn’t actually someone I knew.  I went up to apologize because I had been teasing her a little more than I should’ve, and then was mortified when I realized that it really was NOT the person I thought it was.  She bought a CD, but really sort of kept her distance for the rest of the night.

Eep.

Second off, I KNOW I’ll hear about how my stance on alcohol is too strict and that I’m a terrible person, but I saw some people acting like first-class idiots and beyond last night.  Nothing college-crazy – no-one lit themselves on fire or tried to navigate Route 1 with their underwear on their head.  No fights broke out or anything, but some people were simply not their normal charming selves at all, and no matter how much you say “ohhh, I’m soooo drunk” – it doesn’t make it any cuter, nor make it any more fun for the people taking care of you.

Erf.  I guess, last night I really, really saw a huge difference between people drinking and people getting drunk, and it wasn’t an atmosphere that really felt good at Perk.  A lot of spilled drinks and puddles of beer.  A lot of people muzzily apologizing to me and standing far, far too close.

Afterwards the Perk was a quiet place, with people sleeping in various darkened nooks and crannies.  Sharif and Joanne curled together on one couch.  I’m obviously not yet USED to having my camera back, because I didn’t take a photograph of the cutest damned couple I know… sigh…

And so I’m at my mom’s house now, having a little panic attack about flying out to San Diego tomorrow.  We’ve packed, we’ve shopped for last-minute items (someone out there will someday get lucky enough to get to see my new AC/DC BOXERS!!!).  We’ve copied all of our passports and VISA card numbers and drivers licenses and have multiple copies in our luggage and in this place and that.  We’ve called to make sure I can carry my guitar on the plane, though I’m a little frustrated with that – one woman said “oh, it’ll be fine!  Just make sure that guitar fits these dimensions” (which it did) and another woman said “oh no, you HAVE to check it” which is just about unacceptable.  In the latter case, I’ll be glad to have a beater guitar, and I’ll avoid sitting near the baggage door, so I don’t have to watch it getting flung onto the conveyer.

I’m freaking out a bit about not being in control of my destiny for the next couple of weeks.  I went to bed quite early, to get a nap before the flight this morning, and woke up disoriented (I thought it was like, 1 in the morning or so, 15 minutes before my alarm was set to go off, but it turned out to be 8.58pm ) with cramping shoulders and spine and tensed legs.  I felt heavy and frightened and terrified, and I’m realizing I’m actually getting pretty panicked about even getting on the plane… it’s absurd, I mean, I used to fly from Baltimore to LAX three or four times a year, no problem.  Now I’m genuinely freaking out about it.

Richard is a fish. I wonder what Sharif got. (I didn't take this picture - this is just what happens when you let people have your camera while you're playing) - but I have a LOT of photographs with Richard's head somewhere on the edge of the frame or in the background being odd. Don't ask him to do the Jew Dance. Just... just don't.
Richard is a fish. I wonder what Sharif got. (I didn’t take this picture – this is just what happens when you let people have your camera while you’re playing) – but I have a LOT of photographs with Richard’s head somewhere on the edge of the frame or in the background being odd. Don’t ask him to do the Jew Dance. Just… just don’t.

Sean and I on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t manage to get my New Year’s kiss, much to my lament, not that there weren’t a couple of offers… but… but not Sean… he’s nice and all… but… er… no. He reminds me of my brother!

Talked to my uncle about it a bit.  He had no sympathy, but felt it necessary to point out that we’d be flying back on the 13th… which is a Friday. Sigh.

And perhaps that’s why this is a long, long entry.  If it’s my last one, I figure it better be good.

(knock on wood)

But it WOULD get me my rockstar status back.

Heather and her beau, Tyler, the bass player for Even So at the College Perk on the morning of New Years Day, 2006.

February 9th, 2006.

By the nature of my profession and my schooling, the paths I creep are almost exclusively populated by other artists and musicians.  It’s been that way for… Christ… 17 years… ever since I first stepped foot in an art school.  These creatures are beautiful and individual, firey and fey and passionately, thoroughly alive… and used to being told about it.

A little sign to make Heather happy and make Holly sad.
Recording my dirt rocker sounds in the studio for 5th Circle.

I’m not saying we get sick of our compliments – it just means that sometimes we don’t believe them, especially from other artists and musicians.  Somewhere along the line, a lot of that became far too political.  It’s like a beautiful woman being told that she’s beautiful – can she take the compliment without feeling like there’s just a penis behind it?

I try to give compliments where they’re due.  It’s easier with Heather in tow, because of course it’s less threatening (if you’re saying someone’s hot) and more convincing (when you’re telling someone they play great) perhaps because it’s always easier to take a compliment from a gorgeous woman…

Sarah showed up too – and stole my tiara. It DID fit her curly-headed self better than it fit me… but… well… it’s not the head but who you go home with, right?
Brennan showed up at the College Perk open mic for my birthday and played bass for the spectacular Dan Zimmerman.

In any case, this is about Loving other artists.  I remember first encountering it with Will Schaff, though it was sort of a different thing.  I felt like my opinion didn’t really matter at first… and then suddenly, when he invited me into I Love You And I Miss You – the original project, it was this huge glow!  I remember playing the open mic at the New Deal Cafe, and liking Richard McMullins’ music, but I don’t know that he ever took my admiration seriously, simply because you HAVE to suck up to the guy who books the venue, right?  And I WAS dating his daughter… soooo…

And then Dan tried to give me a lap dance. He couldn’t decide on the angle of approach, however, giving me a window of escape.
And speaking of head… I look dubiously at Sharif’s… gift…

Sigh.

Let’s not even discuss trying to compliment Steve Key.  Brushed off with a disbelieving glance cause you HAVE to suck up to the host of the Jammin Java open mic, right?

Sigh twice.

In any case, a friend of mine in Illinois was on the receiving end of a new song recently, and she sent me a glowing email about how she Loved being allowed into this kitchen recording session – she writes “Thank you, rob, for letting me hang in the kitchen with you today and hear you practice the new song….you have no idea, really, do you?”

Sharif is later tuckered out by all the misadventure and falls asleep on Amy, which is a pretty good spot to slumber.

I do have an idea, and it’s one of the things that I think is a shame about most of my fellow performers.  They’ve lost that sense of wonder – and sometimes I’m afraid that I’m losing it too…

I’m one of the few “fanboys” left in my profession, I think.  And as such, I think it’s sometimes hard for Brian Gundersdorf, or Steve Key, or Zoe Mulford, or whoever else, to take it seriously that I’m standing there thinking that they’re the best thing since really, really good sliced bread.

I ran across Zoe at the College Perk on my birthday, and she played me a tune off her new CD – something about keeping angels from the storm that was just stunning.  A beautiful song, and the giddiness that came from being exposed to this sneak preview is hard to express.

In any case, Susan, I really DO get it.  I really DO have some idea, because I sit in awe of my friends and peers, and I still can’t believe that they invite me into their confidences.  Sitting in the studio with Audrey and listening to the perfect crystallizations of old, old songs – I’m in Love with the things these people do.  And I send things to the people that I think can appreciate this sort of thing on the same level.  The glow of a person in the presence of our product – that means more than any tip or good press or slurred bar room compliment.  It’s close to the most important thing of all.

I try to be tidy about my songwriting. I try to confine it to my Little Black Books, but every once in a while something ends up spattered all over an innocent envelope. This is how “Speaking Louder Now” came to be.

February 15th, 2006.

Coffeehouses are such funny things. It’s the 15th by virtue of being after midnight, and Valentine’s Day has died for those of us who don’t have anything to do with a partner. For those couples out there, their efforts will no doubt prolong the Hallmark Holiday to dawn and beyond. For me, it’s just the dying reminder of a snow day, leaving ice and skid marks.

Snowman.

At the College Perk we’re pushing through the night with anyone declaring “this is a song for Valentine’s Day” getting a little bit of audience angst.

I’m constantly amazed by the talent of the people around me. Keegan is a man that I’ve known for a long, long time – and I really have no idea how he’s slipped past my attention for so long. His voice is strong and emotive and full of power. His writing is beautiful – thanks to Emilie for smacking me around the head with his lyrics. I’m getting to be a slacker when it comes to giving back what I crave.

Keegan wails his heart out at the College Perk open mic while John Cook’s amour sings along and writes stories. This one happens to include a naked Keegan.

And Dan Zimmerman? You’re new song is genius – “I’m sorry for your loss, I was going too fast”. I admire Dan’s writing so much, and I think he does a lot of what I want to do – maybe people don’t get the exact meaning, but the emotional content, the contact, the earnestness, comes through loud and clear.