March 9th, 2004.

Just a quick note about staying with Damian, my old office-mate from Glovia.  Here is one of those people who frequently mentions “Sometimes I wish I could be doing what YOU’RE doing” – he is a contradiction, in a way – one of my most “grown-up” peers.  Perhaps a sign of where I’m SUPPOSED to be.  I always feel nervous around him for the moments of our meeting, because he’s just gone so much further in Life than I have, and without the drastic measures.

Heehee - art in the front lawn of some Takoma Parklings.
Heehee – art in the front lawn of some Takoma Parklings.

He Lives comfortable in a nice house with a beautiful wife – he hangs his photography on the walls, a journal of travels made easier by a steady job that he takes satisfaction in – something that he’s very good at.  He has a natural ease and confidence and charisma that would make HIM an ideal on-stage musician if he ever put his mind to it (Plus or minus that whole tone-deaf predilection towards didjeridoo and 80’s pop)

A beautiful home in Takoma Park. Audrey has found a very Audrey-esque neighbourhood in which to plant herself.
A beautiful home in Takoma Park. Audrey has found a very Audrey-esque neighbourhood in which to plant herself.

He has that almost everyday Life of careful adventure and suburban joy that I sometimes find very, very attractive.  I miss the ease of my Life back when I had a steady paycheck, and I admire how he just – deals with the world.

Whether or not touring and wandering and writing is an attack on the world – a full-frontal foray into meeting and greeting the U.S. face by face – or a tail-turned scampering run, escaping the realities of rent and utilities and a daily schedule…. I change my mind every day, but in truth, I guess it’s a combination of the two.  It’s the only way I could make Living in this kind of world attractive.  It is, perhaps, very much an act of desparation.

Today, we’re spending the day back with Chelsea and Beau, back in Richmond, getting ourselves ready for another show with the spectacular and intimidating Ember Swift – Beau has been sick, with a pretty nasty fever – sick enough that he remembered nothing of our arrival, just that we came in while a really hideous band was playing on Conan O’Brian.

And he’s right… they were horrible.  We stood dumbstruck with how bad they were.

We’ve GOT to be able to get on that show.

Hrm.

Anywho, we were looking forward to playing outside today, but it’s just too damned cold.  Last night we played an open mic and explored Charlottesville – and were somewhat confused by the prevalance of Lewis Carroll imagery – a mushroom themed pizza parlour, Jabberwocky Pizza, Brillig Books… just strange.  Met a couple of other musicians, including a scrawny long-haired white boy who played the blues with a voice that was being channeled from a 300 lbs black man somewhere buried deep in the mud of the Lousiana delta (I told him to please excuse the homoerotic imagery, but that he had just slathered my body in thick warm chocolate and to please do it again), and Curt, who introduced me to yet ANOTHER method of looping one’s own music and being more band than any one man has any right to be.

Oh, and don’t let me forget Julie and April, the two unworldly blondes with angellic voices who “have never done this before” but who’s beauty (both vocal and facial) kept Heather and I in the back of the Baja Bean, chatting with them, long after we should’ve gone home.

A good night.  I soo have to update my open mic list, but it’s so weird and unwieldy now… sigh.

September 13th, 2004.

The Traditional Music Songcircle at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. From left to right - Rachel Cross, Brooke Parkhurst (of Tinsmith) and Zoe Mulford.
The Traditional Music Songcircle at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. From left to right – Rachel Cross, Brooke Parkhurst (of Tinsmith) and Zoe Mulford.

Today has been a torture of allergens. My eyes are reddened and tired, and my head is full of the cushioning, gurgling feeling of mucus, and my voice is nasal and pathetic. Benadryl, my Lovely saviour, replaces the off-balance feeling I get from having my ears stuffed up with drug-induced drowsiness. It’s a bad day to be my nose. I have a penis joke I was sort of thinking of putting here, but my internal censor is working for the moment.

The striding Tinsmith strut.
The striding Tinsmith strut.

We’ve done so much over the past weekend, starting with going to see Sense of Wonder. Saturday we got up early and headed over to the Takoma Park Folk Festival.

Takoma Park is such a strange place – fantastic houses with surprising sprays of ivy and heavily leaded glass, and a very Green Party kind of population. A place where I can take an evil glee by turning on Rush Limbaugh, turning up the radio, and driving through with my windows down, just to see the whole place erupt in riotous chaos. However, I would not dare slow for stoplights. The place is open-minded to a fault… about open-mindedness, the ideal place for a folk festival – and at 28 years, one of the longest-running ones there is.

William Mulroney and his band performing on the Folk Fest Showcase at the Takoma Park Folk Festival.
William Mulroney and his band performing on the Folk Fest Showcase at the Takoma Park Folk Festival.

Anywho, a perfect day for it – not too hot, sunny (allergy Hell) and the world came to Takoma Park to see music. We were scheduled as part of a Showcase compatition: Out of all the entrants, we and nine other acts were chosen to compete for a highlighted hour-long spot next in next year’s festival. We were in a line-up including really fantastic acts, including Bill Mulroney and his new “Second Wind Band”, Mark Sylvester (Sense of Wonder’s bass player), Richard Broadbent (a wonderful storytelling songwriter that we keep running across) and Gregory Lygon (he was the ideal artist to follow us – percussive, but relaxed, clean – a strong player, I was pretty transfixed by his first tune). It was some pretty strong competition, and I must admit, I wasn’t expecting much of a response, as I tend to have pretty strong opinions on what a panel of judges will want at a folk festival… I was pretty surprised to win! So surprised that I wasn’t even paying attention when they announced the awards. Heather had to yell for me through the PA… sigh.

Believe it or not, the two ladies in the middle count as two of my oldest fans - Wanda and Samara have followed my bands in various incarnations since Strength in Hare's first show at Phantasmagoria. I always have to remind myself that Wanda is NOT Tyler. Long story.
Believe it or not, the two ladies in the middle count as two of my oldest fans – Wanda and Samara have followed my bands in various incarnations since Strength in Hare’s first show at Phantasmagoria. I always have to remind myself that Wanda is NOT Tyler. Long story.
DCF 1.0
Greta and Rowan above... Tinsmith below - full incarnation with Henry and the beautiful Avril.
Greta and Rowan above… Tinsmith below – full incarnation with Henry and absurdly talented Avril.

I didn’t get to see as many of the other performers as I would’ve liked – after our slot I made sure to catch Tinsmith, but other than that, pretty much lost track of time. I realized that the food in the hospitality room seemed to change pretty regularly, and where once there was pizza and salad and cookies, there was then pasta and bread and brownies, and later still, wraps and baklava and blondies. It was hot outside, and I sort of lost track of time just seeing what they’d bring out next. Plus there was a pick up Irish jam, and that weird Washington Post dog… so there was entertainment enough inside.

The most incredible players of the day - Lisa Moscatiello and Dave Chappell - I don't know about the songs themselves, but Lisa had a masterful ease on stage, and Dave's guitar playing was smooth and beautiful.
The most incredible players of the day – Lisa Moscatiello and Dave Chappell – I don’t know about the songs themselves, but Lisa had a masterful ease on stage, and Dave’s guitar playing was smooth and beautiful.

Tinsmith was on form, full of tuning and bad jokes – and incredible music, of course. I really like the addition of Avril, and despite the unending sound difficulties, I still got enough out of it to assure myself that she’s still one of the best players on the planet.

Later still, I got a chance to see the unspellable Lisa Moscatiello. I’ve heard her name often enough, and I think I’ve met her a couple of times, but I’ve never seen her play – I would’ve remembered. Dave Chappell, her guitarist, was everything that I Love in an electric guitarist – subtle, with incredible tone, very Mark Knopfler… (flashback of nifflers). I sat transfixed.

So, exhausted from a sunny day of audio and visual input, we made our way out to Arlington, where Firedean had asked us to join him for a couple of songs. I don’t know that I would’ve said yes (knowing that we’d be coming from a festival) except that Austin Stahl’s “Private Eleanor” was going to be opening.

I’ve long admired Austin’s music, and would still argue that the hand-crafted “Deciduous” is one of the finest creations of the audio world – but I’ve long feared the full band, as I know Austin has a sort of pop aesthetic that I don’t get along with. And sure enough, the first couple of songs seemed to confirm my fears…

But then he fell into it – and it was amazing. So much passion, so much etheric energy… I was really impressed by the whole thing. A perfect mix – just a little bit punk… but as always – his vocals were too quiet. Sigh.

And what does this mean? And should I have chased this car?
And what does this mean? And should I have chased this car?

October 3rd, 2004.

My Father is selling his Austin Healey, and it's a little strange to really come to grips with that. He's owned the car for some 33+ years, and I grew up with it's engine sounds. There are a lot of good memories in that car - I had hoped to learn to drive it before the end of high school, and perhaps go to prom in it. At the time I hadn't learned the beauty of big boots, and was literally too short to drive it. I went and took a spin in it the other day - had a great time, though it was like learning to drive all over again. Driving an antique British sports car just isn't much like driving a Saturn. So strange to feel the car respond to MY touch, and make the noises that I associated with Sunday drives with my Dad. Very strange to think that this is car is leaving my Life. The new owner's going to paint it. I don't approve - I don't approve at all.
My Father is selling his Austin Healey, and it’s a little strange to really come to grips with that. He’s owned the car for some 33+ years, and I grew up with it’s engine sounds. There are a lot of good memories in that car – I had hoped to learn to drive it before the end of high school, and perhaps go to prom in it. At the time I hadn’t learned the beauty of big boots, and was literally too short to drive it. I went and took a spin in it the other day – had a great time, though it was like learning to drive all over again. Driving an antique British sports car just isn’t much like driving a Saturn. So strange to feel the car respond to MY touch, and make the noises that I associated with Sunday drives with my Dad. Very strange to think that this is car is leaving my Life. The new owner’s going to paint it. I don’t approve – I don’t approve at all.

I don’t care WHAT Heather says – I’m exhausted. Tonight we played the Thai Gour Cafe for the first time in months, and played the past we’ve played in a long, long time. Just, such good energy on stage – I have so much fun with my band!!!

Whee! Anywho – we’re playing Takoma Park tomorrow morning, which means we’ve got to be out of the house by 9am…. which means waking up five hours earlier than we did today. And the gig was long and fierce – and I’m going to take a shower before bed… and collapse. In the words of C-3PO – “Oooh this oil bath is going to feel SOO good.” Except… not oil. And not a bath, really. Hrm.


Oh my God – it’s 8am. Heather’s not happy. Rowan’s not happy. I’m not happy. This is the day we really need someone driving the tourbus or something, so I can sleep in the car. My stomach is reeling from the hour, feeling a little like I’m in a rapidly decending elevator – getting worse as my body realizes I’m not ABOUT to abandon it back to unconsciousness. Oh, it’s ALL bad news.


The Takoma Park Street Festival was a lot of fun – I’m beginning to grow a little more confident in big crowd situations, where I see that people are coming from the periphery to see what the commotion is about. The double djembe thing that Rowan and Heather do is far more effective at getting attention than maybe even Heather going topless.

Anywho – great gig, gonna be on tv. Gonna get the DVD. Gonna be a big star… off to the next gig.

It’s such a beautiful day – it’s a shame about the greyness of yesterday, the New Deal Cafe Autumn Harvest Festival got greyed out – rather stupidly I felt. I don’t think Richard (McMullin) even did it voluntarily: apparently a lot the day’s artists had called him worried about the weather and cancelled on him. Pansies.


Such amazing light – the intensity of oranges and reds bright enough for even ME to see. The birds have been criss-crossing the sky with crazed migrations, and we’ve seen butterflies flitting and my parents caught a skink. I’m exhausted, ready for the drive and finally the couch collapse. A little rob oozing into the couch crevices. Yes – complete and flaccid relaxation. If I was saying this on stage, it would be about now that Heather would be telling me to stop talking. Sigh.

The other day I went awandering in the rain. and the interior of one of my favourite Ellicott City shops, the Forget Me Not Factory. Lovely place - and full of Christmas decorations. I'm eager for the lights and the snow and yes, the songs.
The other day I went awandering in the rain. and the interior of one of my favourite Ellicott City shops, the Forget Me Not Factory. Lovely place – and full of Christmas decorations. I’m eager for the lights and the snow and yes, the songs.
Above, a cat near Amy’s house…

The Takoma Park show was excellent – it made us feel like a big band, dragging heads around, and amazing the soundman, as well as the local television crews. Unfortunately, exhaustion was somewhat setting in by the time we got to the crab feast. My finger tips feel like hamburger, and my voice is coarse and tired. We’ve never played this much in one weekend. Especially the Thai Gour show – three hour gigs can be killers. — Damn – Heather’s so hot. I don’t want to go on about this – but she’s singing along with the radio – and when she vamps it up … oh God. Laptop… hurts…

What I was SAYING, however – was that I’m really tired. And now in need of a cold shower. Sheesh. Any other train of thought – completely gone.

January 22nd, 2018.

My office for January 18th - doing some studio time at Asparagus Media in Takoma Park, MD.
My office for January 18th – doing some studio time at Asparagus Media in Takoma Park, MD. This is completely unrelated to the hate below.
Heather and I at Hershey's in Gaithersburg, MD on Janaury 19th.
Also unrelated to the hate…. Heather and I at Hershey’s in Gaithersburg, MD on January 19th.

I hate it.

I hate how my brain just rehashes, reviews, reshows things.

It’s 2.30 in the morning and my brain keeps sending tendrils of awareness through every inch of my body. I’m overly aware of the fabric on which I’m not sleeping, I’m overly conscious of the noises of the trucks on I-40, the distant police sirens, the muttering of the wind. My stomach, the weight of my skin, the soft tones of the hiss of the air… the feeling of both having a dry mouth AND a belly too full of liquid. Distant helicopter. The itch of my hair against my scalp.

I hate conflict, but I hate being taken advantage of even more, so I’m dropping out of a gig that I’m supposed to play on Wednesday night because yesterday the venue suddenly sent me two contracts of dense legalese – for a no-pay showcase “opportunity” – one that I’d totally asked for… its a Wednesday night, a showcase that plenty of friends seem to have performed at – but perhaps none of them read the contract? Oh who knows.

A rough load in - this is George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA and I've had the opportunity to run sound there for a couple of gigs recently. This is from Sunday the 21st of January - and the load in's not easy. It's up two switchbacks of handicapped ramp, up another ramp where you balance your cart while waiting for someone to buzz you in. Then open the spectacularly heavy bronze door and wait go down one ramp and up another ramp to the FAR elevator (to not interrupt the tour) and then wait for the elevator operator (this has got to be the last one in the nation!?!?) and go up two flights of stairs... down another ramp, through the construction, across the big echoey hall, up another ramp, down two more ramps and then... into the big ass room which
A rough load in – this is George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA and I’ve had the opportunity to run sound there for a couple of gigs recently. This is from Sunday the 21st of January – and the load in’s not easy. It’s up two switchbacks of handicapped ramp, up another ramp where you balance your cart while waiting for someone to buzz you in. Then open the spectacularly heavy bronze door and wait go down one ramp and up another ramp to the FAR elevator (to not interrupt the tour) and then wait for the elevator operator (this has got to be the last one in the nation!?!?) and go up two flights of stairs… down another ramp, through the construction, across the big echoey hall, up another ramp, down two more ramps and then… into the big ass room which…
Is apparently still set up for human sactifice? Meep!
Is apparently still set up for human sactifice? Meep!

Plenty of bullshit clauses that are sort of the typical “you have no-one to blame but yourself if our gear electricutes you or you fall off our stage” corporate liability clause… and then the less typical “we’re going to record you and take video of your performance and though we might give it to you if you ask and you can use that as you please* we can use it for anything and forever and for any ‘entity'” – and the venue is a hotel chain – so the hotel chain can re-edit and do whatever they please with my music? In perpetuity? And use it for any one else they see fit to hand it over to?

Running sound for House of Hamill at George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA. Great band, great presence… great sound if I do say so myself.
My friend Chris says “lo, it is good”.

No – I don’t think that’s an appropriate clause to include. They refer to it as “work-for-hire” in the contract, and that’s a pretty specific type of clause. “Work-for-hire” work, well, you’ve got to charge more because you get royalties, and you don’t “work-for-hire” for no pay.

So – yeah. And the gig’s been booked for several months and they send me the contract the Saturday night before the gig? As if this kind of language is completely normal?

And so my brain is whirring away on this, wondering what kind of person I’m coming across as because obviously I’m the ONLY PERSON EVER who’s had a problem with this contract, and I haven’t heard back from the woman who had put the date together even though I’ve now sent three emails – one raising questions about the contracts, the second saying the contracts were unacceptable and the third saying I was stepping out of the showcase… see points one and two.

I’m tired and I’m getting and angry and the latter is keeping me from falling prey to the former. I can feel my pores opening up. Sweating. Because I don’t like conflict but I feel like I’m gearing up for a fight.

Oh – and that *? THAT part of the contract is followed by two seemingly mutually exclusive clauses, the first saying that I can use the videos too as long as the company’s trademark doesn’t appear in the video, the second saying that the company’s trademark better not be removed from the video.

Sigh.

Everyone wants to fuck musicians. But not in the good way.