March 5th, 2005.

Last night was a rough night. We played the College Perk, perhaps for the last time… that’s not a jibe at the Perk, that’s just an acknowledgement that they’re building a new venue in their backyard, and I’m eager to move into it. Before the gig, however, I went over to my parents to drop in and say hey.

My Dad transferred an hour plus of home videos to DVD a little while ago, and gave me a copy for Christmas. However, it was given with the disclaimer that I ought to wait and let my Dad narrate.

Well, we sat down for about an hour before I had to run over to the College Perk, and my Dad walked me through a collage of 8mm films beginning sometime in the early 70’s. I think we got about as far as 1977 or so, where my brother is still nothing but a squint-eyed lump sleeping on the floor, a puddle with a patch of hair on top that I toddle over to and poke periodically.

These dollar bills and three others like it were left in our tip jars at the New Deal Cafe. They declared “Life”, “Humility”, and “When will I be aware of your Love again?” All sorts of good stuff. A number of lines in what Heather recognized as Hebrew, as well. I’m going to have to look around and figure out whether these are specific lines or simply phrases scrawled on bills.

I must admit, looking at 30 year-old images of my parents tugs at me in a way that’s hard to explain. There’s a visceral knowledge that I’m seeing them then at the same age I am now. My mother is so beautiful, and my dad’s invisible, constantly behind the camera. Half-remembered textures swim out of the washed out colours on the tv screen and suddenly become almost tangible. Things like our old couch, or my old highchair – things that I don’t even remember that suddenly leap back into my skull…. things I haven’t seen since I was two years old.

So, I start thinking about my Life. I’m intensely thinking about where I am in my Life, if I’ve done enough, where I’m going, if my parents are proud of me, et cetera – not where I needed my head to be just before a gig. I was really upset, had to pull over on the way there.

So, arriving at the College Perk, I was trying hard to be personable, to be a happy fun rob, but it was hard enough to focus. And then I broke 6 strings.

This note was left in our tip jar at Java Mammas in Reisterstown this Saturday. I want to be banging. Sigh. I mean… not neccessarily with the Amandas – I mean as an adjective. Not as a verb. Or at least, well… now that I think about it….

Snow from last week. Heather got to romp around as it came down. I have any number of shots of this streetlight in the rain from when I was in highschool. It's one of my favourite light/tree combinations.
Snow from last week. Heather got to romp around as it came down. I have any number of shots of this streetlight in the rain from when I was in highschool. It’s one of my favourite light/tree combinations.

The Rabbit Army marches on Hyattsville. Has anyone else seen stencils like this?

Not all at once, of course – but still, it’s a record. Between that and Heather’s guitar going crazy, not to mention the fact that my new boots are slightly wider than my old boots, it was a night of chaos and discomfort. The second set was awesome, but the first set was an excercise in Hell.

Of course, what I’m forgetting to talk about was Seth Horan‘s set.

Now, I must admit, I didn’t get the chance to watch Seth’s WHOLE set. Rob the violinist popped up at the beginning of the night and I dragged him away to learn him some tunes (later, he sat in with us on Will, Molotov Swell, and Spiral).

But Seth is truly spectacular. We got to see him on Tuesday night during the open mic, and I even ended up driving him back to the Metro station – got an opportunity to really see him as a human being, as opposed to a touring singer/songwriter creature.

Coincidentally identically dressed ladies of Perk. Methinks that Rachael, Heather and Mitzi ought to form a girl band.
Coincidentally identically dressed ladies of Perk. Methinks that Rachael, Heather and Mitzi ought to form a girl band.
Russ, formerly of Milk Machine, showed up at last week's College Perk open mic. Haven't seen his unique stylings since the Java Head.
Russ, formerly of Milk Machine, showed up at last week’s College Perk open mic. Haven’t seen his unique stylings since the Java Head.
Ed Sheets on the left, and on the right, one of the most amazing bass players I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Seth Horan, our opening act from last Friday night - in mid-wail.
Ed Sheets on the left, and on the right, one of the most amazing bass players I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. Seth Horan, our opening act from last Friday night – in mid-wail.
After the gig, I had no choice but to attack miss Amy Law. You know, for the sake of my sanity after all those technical difficulties. Not to mention my general overflow of post-gig tension. Poor Amy, she should've known better than to leave so much lap space available.
After the gig, I had no choice but to attack miss Amy Law. You know, for the sake of my sanity after all those technical difficulties. Not to mention my general overflow of post-gig tension. Poor Amy, she should’ve known better than to leave so much lap space available.

On Friday, he went ahead to demonstrate that he’s just a great performer. Everything his website claims and more. I think there’s some excellent mutual admiration going on there, and I’m really excited to play with him again. He just broadcast these rolling waves of 5 string thunder that roiled aroudn and through me. And then he threw his voice right through the middle of it. Definately someone you’ve GOT to experience.

Amy is the Imperious Leader that commanded this Centurion to bring me flowers. I can only imagine it must've been part of some vast anti-humanoid plot. Amy must be nuts. (HA!)
Amy is the Imperious Leader that commanded this Centurion to bring me flowers. I can only imagine it must’ve been part of some vast anti-humanoid plot. Amy must be nuts. (HA!)

September 18th, 2005.

Bloody Hell, is sleep simply a thing of the past? Maybe my sleep schedule is just overly skewed, screwed and abused as my brain whirls and spits its opinions on the world and on relationships and on music and on pain. It’s been days since I’ve been able to fall asleep before dawn, and that 3-4pm nap I’m in the habit of taking right now really doesn’t make up for it.

Sharif amusing himself with a couple of blondes at Java Mammas in Reisterstown, MD.
Sharif amusing himself with a couple of blondes at Java Mammas in Reisterstown, MD.

 

The audience at Java Mamma's in Reisterstown, MD.
The audience at Java Mamma’s in Reisterstown, MD.

Sorry I’m not going right into writing style questions – I’ve got more pressing things on my mind…. like the fact that it’s 3.21am, and I’ve just spent about an hour staring at the ceiling, in the dark, listening to the air conditioner’s duet with a cricket.

The last week has been full of Firedean practices, and they are as always, pretty difficult. I just don’t play other people’s music very well, and though I’m still very flattered that he asked US to accompany him, I’m amazed that he hasn’t just gotten fed up with us and thrown us out on our collective ass.

The last two nights have been full of amazing gigs – one at Java Mamma’s in Resiterstown, tonight at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt. Both in Maryland.

But I’ve just been so distracted! My brain can’t settle, and I can’t focus. Surprisingly, between that brain flightiness and the fatigue (they may or may not be linked) the gigs have still been really, really good. I must admit, I’ve gone into both of them kind of dreading the night… not in the mood to play…. but come out of them just high on strings and steel.

I don’t have much else to type right now. My brain just doesn’t have it in me to enact the proper censorship. The last week has just been so full of highs and lows from friends foes and non-Lovers and dreams – it’s got me wishing for handguns and gasoline. I’ve got to go get my baritone. I feel like writing something deep. Heh.

December 24th, 2005.

I’m sleepy. Satisfied and sleepy. My fingers are sore from playing a nice, relaxed almost-Christmas gig up at Java Mamma’s tonight. Had some surprise guests, and a number of friends from far away.

It was perhaps a little TOO relaxed, I must admit. We were sl… mostly I was sloppy – losing lyrics, losing a good number of strings… I played Joni Mitchell’s “River” for the first time and sort of wished it had been as magical as I wanted it to be. Still – had a really good time.

My friend Whitney came down from Boston and made sugar cookie tongues for Christmas.

This house is always alarmingly lit for Christmas. Around the corner from my mom's house, the rest of the street is dark in recognition of the fact that they just can't compete.
This house is always alarmingly lit for Christmas. Around the corner from my mom’s house, the rest of the street is dark in recognition of the fact that they just can’t compete.
Something amusing obviously just occured here at the New Deal Cafe. I think that might be a snigger on my part, but that's definately a full-out Rowan guffaw.
Something amusing obviously just occured here at the New Deal Cafe. I think that might be a snigger on my part, but that’s definately a full-out Rowan guffaw.

Quiet, relaxed. I’m back at my mom’s house, so that state of affairs isn’t likely to last for very long – still – it’s Christmas Eve and I’ve got the quiet, quiet house to myself. Yawwwwn. Me and those cats. Think I’ll go find one and grab it by the head and give it some Love.

December 28th, 2005.

There are nights when you come off the stage and you think to yourself … “damn”.  Those are good nights. 

At Java Mamma's, creating a ruckus. Last Saturday we even played our own special version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", except ours of course had "two redhead groupies". Mmmm.
At Java Mamma’s, creating a ruckus. Last Saturday we even played our own special version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, except ours of course had “two redhead groupies”. Mmmm.
Sharif got finger puppets for Christmas. An alarming number of them.
Sharif got finger puppets for Christmas. An alarming number of them.

Tonight I was wired and strange and my body and my mouth only seemed marginally under my control.  They were under the control of my fingers though – tonight was a night where the rest of my just dangled from those digits like vestigial skin bags, hovering around me, quivering and jerking, and letting the fingers draw all the blood, all the impulse, all the power.

The College Perk open mic is just what I need to make me feel good about myself.  I’ve been slowly pulling my self-confidence back together, and with the whole band, as much as I Love it, it’s far too easy to forget that it’s MY creation, and that I really am the heart of it.  The harmonies are wholly dualistic, and the band would suffer greatly from the amputation of any of its parts – but it’s important for me to remember that I can stand alone and own a room. (Well, Sharif stood with me… so maybe I shouldn’t be feeling THAT high – but….)

Very good feeling indeed – and lots of attention… whether for my energy level or my fingers’ control – lots of female attention and that felt really, really good.  Maybe my arrogance is slowly coming back, and with that my confidence, and with that my strut.

Played a new song tonight too – up till then the only person to have heard it was Katy, who gave it her blessing.  It’s changed a little bit since her hearing, but tonight I think I played it finalized… just needs a title… Erica Ashley sang along a bit, I couldn’t hear her over my noise, but I Loved how it sounded, Lovely and loud and longing. It was a really, really good night.

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.

March 23rd, 2005.

Yeah, even when I’m playing, I’m still working in these bars.  I hate them.  I hate the smell and I hate the noise.  I hate watching the guy with the drink hovering over me – it’s rude to back away because you’re implying he can’t hold his liquor (literally) and it’s all a joke when they finally go ahead and spill beer all over your coat.  I leave stinking of it… not the guy’s fault.  I moved my jacket and as I do it a curvaceous woman wriggles her way up to him and jostles his arm and I get the beer all over my skin.  She’s spilled HIS beer yet offers to buy ME the drink.

Monday night we played a Beatles tribute at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA. Our speed metal version of “Paperback Writer” and our ilyAIMYtized “We Can Work It Out” were responded to really, really well. These two girls (the biggest Beatles fans) asked us to sign their… er… signs.

I don’t understand the etiquette.

Perhaps a lot of people need this lowering of inhibitions.  Perhaps their grins won’t come as easily.  It just makes me feel stupid and slow, dizzy if I have too much, wary of my footing.  Tonight there’s not enough of anything to harm me in that way, though Holly must be getting the bartender to mix every type of chocolate or sweet or cream that she thinks I might like, but the noise and the smell gets to me and I stalk off in the hopes of not seeming too ill-humoured, knowing that if I stay longer my mood will shift and I’ll be caught out angry and depressed.  Never flattering.

Java Mammas in Reisterstown – filled with the good Love.
Playing Lagerheads in Coal Center, PA. Good people, but playing there or seeing music there and having a reason to be there is so different from just being there.

Out into the darkness of western Pennsylvania.  45 minutes south of Pittsburgh and it should be a song.  It’s 22 degrees but my body is heated enough that I’m not going to notice for quite sometime.  Flannel shirt and steaming skin and a mile to walk before I turn in… the tiniest spit of snow is telling me that the world’s alright.  It IS a beautiful night, moist and cold.  Silent enough that you can hear the river as the noise of the bar fades out.

The lights fade and the sounds fade, and the time in the open air means that even the smell might fade – there are such incredible creatures in those places.  They are spirited and smiling and some are come-hither and some are fine just to be admired, but if I’m not willing to play the game then I’m just another passing face, and in this case at least, I’m very, very glad to be leaving.

The travel “home” is usually when I’ll start getting depressed, but the company of the snow keeps my spirits up.  Siwtchblade courage, fingers wrapped tightly.  Baltimore instincts die hard.  My chains are wrapped and silent.  Crossing water the only way I know how – the bridge between Coal Center and California is steel and half-seen, but the water beneath sends shivers up my spine and I cross quickly, shaking.

It’s quiet out, and I’m thinking about how, for such a small town, it’s odd that it’s almost never peaceful at night.  Heh – then it occurs to me that the bars simply haven’t closed yet.  Antje will keep me company tonight, but that’s about all I can expect.

Somewhere along the line, California decided to paint their fire hydrants. I want to meet THIS artist. I think I Love them.