October 22, 2003.

Heather throwing leaves in Providence, RI.
Heather throwing leaves in Providence, RI.

Tonight was an excellent night – last night we’d played the Skellig in Waltham – and the host, Hugh McGowan, invited us to come play his OTHER open mic – the Burren? Or something, tonight – The host himself was fantastic. Amazing music, amazing guitarist, amazing player. An amazing person. Very kind. Tonight he even played percussion for us. He understood all of the little glances and quirks, got all the stops in Hands, the jaunts and quirks of Deep in the AM. I was amazed. Rob from Providence was right – songwriters make the absolute best percussionists.

Beautiful blondes, great gingerale with free refills (in a bar?!!?) and a couple of other musicians who just made my Life complete. We sold a good number of CDs (we’ve been at or above our quota for the last couple of days).

Mary's like a laid-back, Asian Fonz. I like the fact that of all the people I've described to Heather, I knew that Mary wouldn't look ANYTHING like what she expected. I am tricky.
Mary’s like a laid-back, Asian Fonz. I like the fact that of all the people I’ve described to Heather, I knew that Mary wouldn’t look ANYTHING like what she expected. I am tricky.

Returning home in gentle cold weather, New England fall looked like it was going to go after our throats with frost everywhich where and ice forming on the trees – but tonight it was gentle, cold and Lovely. Walking home with a gentle mist of rain – even the subway was easy. I think I’m very happy with Boston.

We relax back into Whitney’s apartment, the cat is affectionately appreciative of attention – the window is letting in the correct temperature of air, the light is gentle, and I’ve got organic Spaghettios (by Amy!)… Life’s good.

She and I spent many a late night playing Monopoly during grave shifts. I learned to appreciate her laid-back demeanour – she exerted calm on me – and it was good to get to Providence and realize that she hadn’t changed at all (I keep saying that, eventually I’ll track down someone who’s just inverted their personality somehow… people don’t change, they just sort of mellow).

The infamous Fallsway - Will sings of him in song and verse - Fallsway is a superhero.... or something. Really, he's just a big ass cat. He Lives with Mary at her place in Providence with 71, the vast fluffy black cat. Mary is a quiet goddess of silence and serenity, with beautifully intense art and bright orange walls. I was describing her to Heather before we arrived.

The infamous Fallsway – Will sings of him in song and verse – Fallsway is a superhero…. or something. Really, he’s just a big ass cat. He Lives with Mary at her place in Providence with 71, the vast fluffy black cat. Mary is a quiet goddess of silence and serenity, with beautifully intense art and bright orange walls. I was describing her to Heather before we arrived.

“Heey rahhb.”

Greg Decoteau built this guitar and played it at the Muse at the Grey Goose... Celtic symbols hand inlaid on the fret-board...
Greg Decoteau built this guitar and played it at the Muse at the Grey Goose… Celtic symbols hand inlaid on the fret-board…
When I get famous, I'm coming back with a huge wad of cash and getting Greg to make ME one.
When I get famous, I’m coming back with a huge wad of cash and getting Greg to make ME one.

I like the mornings at Whitney’s apartment. She’s a med student at Harvard, and tends to be up till 3am every morning computing vectors and gravitational pulls (I didn’t know you had to go through physics to study medicine… is that why they’re called “physicians”?). The apartment itself is in a small alcove on the side of her building, with ground level windows and much ado about ivy, so there’s very little sunlight that filters in.

Every “morning” (noonish), Whitney goes through a waking up ritual of cereal and shower. I enjoy tapping at my laptop as she checks the news. Heather tends to stay horizontal a little bit longer, and curls up against me as I type. I feel bad because my elbow sometimes hits her nose.

All in all, Boston has been beautifully calm.

Whitney herself – well, I’ve met a LOT of preachy vegetarians, a lot of Greenpeacers, a lot of save the world types. It was a common creature to inhabit the halls of art school.

I’m very impressed with Whitney, because she Lives it. I haven’t seen ANYTHING consumable in her apartment that isn’t recyclable (and she’s good about recycling) or organic (including the dishwashing soap) or Seventh Generation (Heather even noticed reuseable items of a more personal nature – very committed). I have never run across ANYONE who LIVES it before. Like I said, very impressed.

The preachier a vegan, the more likely he’s going to make a comment like “oh, but I’ve just ALWAYS worn leather shoes” – the more someone yells at you about recycling the more likely they forget to take out the bin and eventually just let it go out with the trash – and the more someone bitches about conservation, the more likely they own a really old, foul-smelling, oil-leaking, gaz guzzling lemon from the 70’s.

Not that I’m bitching, you understand. I’m just impressed with Whitney. She’s silent, and she leads by excellent example.

DCF 1.0\

From a letter I wrote to Hugh McGowan today:

The last two nights were really spectacular, and a huge part of that was in the meeting of you. I’m listening to your CD now, the beauty and elegance of chord changes and the sweep of a voice that I could dream of matching if I practiced every night for twenty years.
Out of arrogance, perhaps, I’m not usually terribly entranced by the people we encounter at the open mics, and it’s been a while since I was totally wrapped up in another performer – it was like the days in college when I was still fumbling over G chords and watching Dan Blakeslee wide-eyed in Baltimore city coffeehouses, learning… learning.
Anywho, thank you for that, as well as the percussion for the evening. Fantastic night. We came out of the Burren high and laughing. We got into the subway station just as our train pulled up, caught the convenience store just before it closed, and got in the door just before the rain started. It’s been a couple of days and a focused couple of hours of extremes and just caught chances. A beautiful balance.

Listening to his CD – “I’m all fucked up, but she’s making sense of it all”. Wow.

This is a picture of Hugh at the Burren in Boston, Massachusetts.
This is a picture of Hugh at the Burren in Boston, Massachusetts.
Someone else at the Burren. I was surprised by the whole selling of person to person, flesh, hitting on, et cetera that happened before this open mic. For such a friendly place, I felt like you had to really watch your back.
Someone else at the Burren. I was surprised by the whole selling of person to person, flesh, hitting on, et cetera that happened before this open mic. For such a friendly place, I felt like you had to really watch your back.
Heather's been experimenting with CD packaging - she just gives me photos to work on, I work'em up, and she makes these beautiful CD cases.
Heather’s been experimenting with CD packaging – she just gives me photos to work on, I work’em up, and she makes these beautiful CD cases.

May 1st, 2005.

Happy May Day. Amy’s mix CD is guiding us home through the rain, to a tiny house in the woods of Connecticut on family land. She is our lady of Ineffable Wisdom when it comes to the songs of other writers.

The last two nights have been damp, and cold, and exhausting and delicious. Last night’s show at the Centre Coffee Bar, reeling from the wonder of doing a two and a half hour show twice in as many days.

Hugh McGowan, Heather and I playing at the Burren in Somerville, MA.
Hugh McGowan, Heather and I playing at the Burren in Somerville, MA.

Wednesday night we played the Burren, in Somerville – and the two and a half hours of ilyAIMY almost killed us. We’re out of practice and out of breath and the two months at home doing short sets has left us unprepared for the world we’ve created for ourselves.

Hugh McGowan played with us for most of the gig, and his percussion was elegant, and passionate, and so welcome. I always worry that we’ll go away and people who Loved us and people we’ve Loved will fade from memory and that they will forget us. I was afraid that had happened with Hugh, and our meeting was distant, and cautious. But he remembered us as we played, and he grinned as Heather’s harmonies locked, and as the rhythms shifted. I wish we could pocket him and bring him home to Rowan, and let ilyAIMY have some new blood. I Love You and I Miss You was particularly applicable.

Davis Square at night in the mist.
Davis Square at night in the mist.

Friday night we came home again – to the Centre Coffee Bar in Connecticut, and played from 7.30pm to 11 with a short break in-between two sets. I didn’t feel like I did that well, but we were Loved, and I guess that’s a mark of how far we’ve come. We made a couple of really good friends that night – one of which even came out the next night….

Tonight was a Godsend. It’s in my blood – the music, the heat and the passion. I don’t know where it came from. But I want loud, clear signals. Unavoidable and unignorable.

 

We went up to Lowell, MAto go see a film about Walmart and it's effect on the American economy with Whitney's boyfriend, Freddie. It was a pretty interesting documentary, but by the end of it, I felt like it perhaps had focused on the wrong thing. It seemed like we'd just watched a lengthy flick about a dog getting into a cookie jar. There was brief mention about how there was some guy who got the cookie jar down off the fridge, and even something about how there was a rule about how you were SUPPOSED to leave the cookie jar on the floor - but that most of the film was about how bad and horrible the dog was. It IS interesting how Walmart has spread, and it's interesting learning about the effects of it's spread on American (and world) economics... but I do feel that Walmart is simply doing the American Thing and doing it really well. If there's a problem, it's a problem with the environment and the rules that allow such a creature to persist. Hell, we don't blame wolves for being wolves, but we do shoot them when they chase the local livestock.
We went up to Lowell, MAto go see a film about Walmart and it’s effect on the American economy with Whitney’s boyfriend, Freddie. It was a pretty interesting documentary, but by the end of it, I felt like it perhaps had focused on the wrong thing. It seemed like we’d just watched a lengthy flick about a dog getting into a cookie jar. There was brief mention about how there was some guy who got the cookie jar down off the fridge, and even something about how there was a rule about how you were SUPPOSED to leave the cookie jar on the floor – but that most of the film was about how bad and horrible the dog was. It IS interesting how Walmart has spread, and it’s interesting learning about the effects of it’s spread on American (and world) economics… but I do feel that Walmart is simply doing the American Thing and doing it really well. If there’s a problem, it’s a problem with the environment and the rules that allow such a creature to persist. Hell, we don’t blame wolves for being wolves, but we do shoot them when they chase the local livestock.
Rob playing Angus. Angus is the beast that Lives behind the Centre Coffee Bar in Windsor, CT. He's owned by Steve, who is also one of the owners of the Coffee Bar. A lucky man in all respects.
Rob playing Angus. Angus is the beast that Lives behind the Centre Coffee Bar in Windsor, CT. He’s owned by Steve, who is also one of the owners of the Coffee Bar. A lucky man in all respects.

I want to threaten the hearing of the masses.

Heather was worried – we got to Jitters before it opened (who knew that a coffeehouse would have a “doors opening” time?!) and sat in the car in the rain listening to music and fogging up the windows and waiting… We got inside and worried more. Though very cool the space was small – and Heather

well – you really can’t blame her. Track down Jitters’ website. You’ll see some HUGE ASS speakers in the pictures. That does indeed imply a pretty big space.

The eagle of Windsor, CT.
The eagle of Windsor, CT.
The Sour Grapes at Jitters in Southington, CT.
The Sour Grapes at Jitters in Southington, CT.

I’m glad it was exactly what it was – an eclectic coffeeshop owned by a woman who celebrates leaving her husband ever December 10th. She owns the connected consignment shop and books whatever it damn well pleases her to book. A small space packed with consignment-shop left-overs, knick-knacks, buddhas and umbrellas and ice skates and skis. And two massive speakers.

Me and Lacy being joyous.
Me and Lacy being joyous.

I Love playing coffeehouses. I Love the intimacy. And I Love being LOUD. This really was a pretty perfect combination for me. Could’ve used a slightly larger space to wiggle around in, and a larger audience to pack the tiny room – but you can’t have it all, and I was pretty happy with what I got.

And the energy was perfect. I place a lot of that at the feet of the energy there, the volume, the fact that we’d been playing the last couple days and I was back on top of my chops, and my voice was back (and I could hear it – Mike did a great job with sound, but without monitors, I was kind of struggling) – and at the feet of the performers we were guesting with – Sour Grapes.

Larry and Ellen have an eclectic, high-energy sound that crosses the sound and vocal agility of Rusted Root with the good-natured JOY of… of what? I don’t really know – it’s not jam band altered-state amiability, and it’s not pre-planned and coldly executed folk fun… it was something that reminded me of my old partner, Audrey, and something that reminded me of sledding… joyriding down a hill and laughing with the sheer frenetic joy of it.

Sunday, we rerouted ourselves to return to the Lovely town of Putnam, CT.
Sunday, we rerouted ourselves to return to the Lovely town of Putnam, CT.

Sour Grapes really was anything BUT their name. Ellen is one Hell of a percussionist, one Hell of a vocalist. Larry is a great harmonica player, and they both have some rapid-fire vocal abilities and an almost Brazilian rhythmic sensibility. And add to that their REAL hook – tap dancing. I’m going to leave it there, cause I can’t do it all justice – I’m hoping we can drag them down to Maryland at some point. Y’all would enjoy them muchly.

May 3rd, 2005.

Wow, so I just heard that Conan O’Brian is going to have Ani Difranco on tonight. I think that this will be first time he’s ever had a musical act that doesn’t suck. How nice.

It’s been a rough day. Yesterday was so relaxed, full of wandering and Indian foods… today has been dumb and expensive, and we haven’t even gotten out of Massachusetts yet. I hang me head in shame. I got the car towed. No big deal, and I’m not going to go into details. Should’ve seen the sign, didn’t see the sign. Paid the towing fee, gonna pay the ticket, but again, won’t bitch too much because the same thing would’ve cost about five times more in Baltimore City. Ploo. So now we sit in traffic on our way North to go visit Dan Blakeslee. I wish we had either wings or a car plow.

Ok, so the Historic Cargo Falls Mill of Putnum CT has been transformed into something extraordinary. When we went back this Sunday, it was thankfully open, and... the interior was beyond our wildest imaginings... room after room of antique goodness. Keep watching for historiccargofalls.com, they are planning on creating a whole bizarre mall here, including a shop for antique musical instruments, a shop entirely devoted to Holland, an outdoor pavilion... I can't wait to go back and see how it comes along.
Ok, so the Historic Cargo Falls Mill of Putnum CT has been transformed into something extraordinary. When we went back this Sunday, it was thankfully open, and… the interior was beyond our wildest imaginings… room after room of antique goodness. Keep watching for historiccargofalls.com, they are planning on creating a whole bizarre mall here, including a shop for antique musical instruments, a shop entirely devoted to Holland, an outdoor pavilion… I can’t wait to go back and see how it comes along.

Heather found a bar. Heather desired the bar, and even looks good behind the bar, but at $12,000, Heather can't HAVE the bar. Poor girl.She wants to make a coffeehouse some day, and this really would be the coolest place to purchase all the coffeehouse accoutrements... sigh. We've GOT to get a lucrative record deal.
Heather found a bar. Heather desired the bar, and even looks good behind the bar, but at $12,000, Heather can’t HAVE the bar. Poor girl.She wants to make a coffeehouse some day, and this really would be the coolest place to purchase all the coffeehouse accoutrements… sigh. We’ve GOT to get a lucrative record deal.

Then I rounded a corner and found HIM and his babies. Apparently, one of the owners of the shop took a picture of the Alien to a sculptor in Thailand, and this is what came out of the viewing. If you want him, though, he's substantially more expensive than the bar. Close up, you can see that he's made of bike chains and screws, bolts and wiring. My friend Chris has decided that what we REALLY need is a couple of these guys, but remote controlled. We'd take them to the supermarket and let them hump the shopping carts and chase the other patrons. It'd be fun. You know, for the kids?
Then I rounded a corner and found HIM and his babies. Apparently, one of the owners of the shop took a picture of the Alien to a sculptor in Thailand, and this is what came out of the viewing. If you want him, though, he’s substantially more expensive than the bar. Close up, you can see that he’s made of bike chains and screws, bolts and wiring. My friend Chris has decided that what we REALLY need is a couple of these guys, but remote controlled. We’d take them to the supermarket and let them hump the shopping carts and chase the other patrons. It’d be fun. You know, for the kids?

Beautiful glass. They didn't have much small stuff out "yet", they were currently focusing on the architectural...
Beautiful glass. They didn’t have much small stuff out “yet”, they were currently focusing on the architectural…
And the downright weird, apparently. I don't know that you could pay me enough to spend the night there. Not alone, anywho.
And the downright weird, apparently. I don’t know that you could pay me enough to spend the night there. Not alone, anywho.

May 4th, 2005.

You know, wandering like this has really driven home one point in particular. I was raised with psychotic pets. A dog that bit me, a cat that bit me, and indeed, multiple hamsters that often at one point or another tried to bite me, and toads, that no doubt, if they’d had more than a mere bony ridge in their wide insectivore mouths, would’ve probably bit me.

David Morreale was the surprise other guest of the night at the Burren. It was a great night of bonding with him... I mean, I thought - maybe he was like "dumb long-hair, always hangin round me..." - but I don't think so.
David Morreale was the surprise other guest of the night at the Burren. It was a great night of bonding with him… I mean, I thought – maybe he was like “dumb long-hair, always hangin round me…” – but I don’t think so.

And so, it comes as a bit of a surprise, to me at least, that one of the primary effects of the Trip has had nothing to do with my interaction with human beings… Who’d’ve tunk Iwould become the type of person to go up and randomly pet passing large dogs and harass cats until they roll over and allow themselves to be Loved.

Lawn gnome hidden in a second story planter for Shane.
Lawn gnome hidden in a second story planter for Shane.

Go fig.

Dan, Jason’s cousin. We first encountered him in Providence, RI. 
Joe Kowan. His lyrics are genius. We got around to listening to his new CD, Discohog, in New Jersey. There are some of the finest moments ever recorded by man on that album. And some of the worst. "Ignorance is Bliss" is AWESOME. Track 13.... well, heed the warnings on that puppy and DO make sure you take the survey on the back. The CD even comes packaged with the 3D glasses required to truly appreciate Joe's design prowess.
Joe Kowan. His lyrics are genius. We got around to listening to his new CD, Discohog, in New Jersey. There are some of the finest moments ever recorded by man on that album. And some of the worst. “Ignorance is Bliss” is AWESOME. Track 13…. well, heed the warnings on that puppy and DO make sure you take the survey on the back. The CD even comes packaged with the 3D glasses required to truly appreciate Joe’s design prowess.
Teresa Storch - fellow Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival competitor. After our show at the Burren, the host, Tom Bianchi sort of turned it into a friend's only open stage. Theresa was in the audience, as were Joe and Ryan Montbeau. They all ended up using Dave's guitar. It got USED. I like the fact that her website spells "Teresa's Torch". It was unfortunate. After taking numerous pics of her, it occurred to me that she MIGHT think I was shooting pictures of her crotch.
Teresa Storch – fellow Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival competitor. After our show at the Burren, the host, Tom Bianchi sort of turned it into a friend’s only open stage. Theresa was in the audience, as were Joe and Ryan Montbeau. They all ended up using Dave’s guitar. It got USED. I like the fact that her website spells “Teresa’s Torch”. It was unfortunate. After taking numerous pics of her, it occurred to me that she MIGHT think I was shooting pictures of her crotch.
Ok everybody. Listen up, pay attention. What you see above is marketing GENIUS courtesy of David Morreale. He let us share his display and sure enough, we sold more CDs that way
Ok everybody. Listen up, pay attention. What you see above is marketing GENIUS courtesy of David Morreale. He let us share his display and sure enough, we sold more CDs that way