December 31st, 2017.

Well, tis the last day of the year and I don’t plan to add anything of incredible depth to the Journal on this day. Kristen’s making jambalaya, my friend Sue is coming to the realization that even 42 years in, there are a number of words that I simply seem unable to spell, and the Cat That Is Not Ours is assisting in the observation of the finest of ways to oust 2017 : the Game of Thrones Marathon.

Chuck has a very, very good habit of taking selfies with other artists. I'm proud to be nabbed for his camera.
Chuck has a very, very good habit of taking selfies with other artists. I’m proud to be nabbed for his camera.

I THINK HBO has timed it so that the year ends as the re-air of Season 7 ends, but I’m not interested enough to check. In about 4 and a half hours we’ll get to see whose clocks are fast and whose clocks are slow as explosions and whooping fill the Catonsville streets. We’re a relatively sleepy place though, so the noise will hit and pass relatively swiftly. We’ll probably see a couple of paranoid posts about “how can you tell fireworks from gunshots!?!?” and we’ll hear some sirens… and then 2018 will be here.

Chuck has long ago declared Kristen a "Foxy OX Chick".
Chuck has long ago declared Kristen a “Foxy OX Chick”.

Last night Kristen and I joined up with Dave Benham, Chuck the Madd Ox and QueenEarth to play one last show at Teavolve. Having Christmas fall on a Monday kind of sucks because that means New Year’s Day falls on a Monday which means we take two weeks off from the open mic. On the one hand it’s a well-deserved and very welcome break from running Monday nights – on the other hand, one of my favourite things is getting to watch my friends play and every once in a while getting to sit in with them – setting up last night so that I could jam with my friends while NOT being responsible for hosting an open mic night was really wonderful.


The music was great, but the audience was sparse – and that was really disappointing. I mean – it hammers home that what I’ve “built” is a bunch of people who will gather to play, but they won’t gather to support others.

I’m looking forward to checking out the recordings, seeing what was caught. Hoping to share…. but that’s the thing about today. “Sharing” is enough, isn’t it? No-one feels any sadness about missing a happening… cause they can have it spoon-fed to them on their own time.

Ahem. Sorry – that got a little bit bitter. I’m actually really enjoying my New Year’s Eve in Westeros, so I shouldn’t gripe too much. Especially cause Heather just got word that she’s a finalist in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest! Huzzah!

Whelp... if the neighbour is wondering where her cat is, it's not like we're being too stealthy about it.
Whelp… if the neighbour is wondering where her cat is, it’s not like we’re being too stealthy about it.
Winter is here. Let us fend it off together.
Winter is here. Let us fend it off together.

January 29th, 2018.

This is how every home coming ought to be.
This is how every home coming ought to be.

I’m tired tonight. Friday night we had a band practice, Saturday night we had a pretty massive gig. Sunday night I was at a showcase for hours and tonight was my open mic. I think my ears are tired.

In school we’d have “rest periods” where we’d sit and stare at a white wall, just to cleanse the palette of your eyes. In hindsight I realize this is sort of an art pun – but truly, there were just times when your perception was so saturated that you needed to clear it out. You start by seeing after images on the white and then they slowly fade out and you can see just the blankness of it all, and then you start hyper-observing and you start noting the tint of the light and the gradation of the white, the blues in the shadows and the myriad hues on this supposedly blank surface. Eventually you realize you’ve cleared out your buffer and you can see clearly again…but it takes some time.

I feel like I need to do that with my ears. I’ll probably sleep with earplugs in tonight, which isn’t always the best thing… and then THAT makes you hyper-aware of the sounds your body makes, every breath and gurgle and beat.

But yeah, I feel I need some silence. We Live in a noisy world. Even the white noise of the humidifier is painful right now. Too much texture. It’s like manila paper. Just too coarse. And so I shut that off. And now the computer’s fan is present, whirring and humming. I can hear the drives. At least the keyboard doesn’t really bother me. It’s immediate, it’s an answer to my body, but that ingratiatingly grating little tune the machine plays when I plug in a new card – that is just like broken glass along my skin.

Don’t get me wrong. Practice on Friday was wonderful. Good bonding, good playing. The gig on Saturday was marvelous right up until it wasn’t and even THAT was kind of fun – the sound system died and since it wasn’t my gear I wasn’t overwhelmed by the need to fix it or the worry of how to replace it, we could just play acoustic – and then when the sound engineer got the monitors back but not the mains – we could just slapdash flip the monitors around and not WORRY about it. Sunday was Lovely. Met some new songwriters and felt good about myself in their midst knowing I’m doing what I Love to do and even though they’re great I’m a different KIND of great. And the open mic tonight – it was sparse, but the featured artist, Conor Brendan, was stunning and there was a lot of great talent and I had a good time…

A fantastic crowd at New Deal Cafe on Saturday night – huzzah!

But yeah.


I’m ready for some quiet.

February 13th, 2018.

Let the Takoma Park Folk Festival angst begin. The applications are up, which means shit’s about to go down. Last year was the first year I’d been promoted to the Chair of the Program committee and as such was the first year that I didn’t get to SELECT artists, I just go to tell people who WASN’T selected, organize the whole affair, do battle with various other elements of the board… you know… all of the angst and not nearly as much of the fun.

Ha – not particularly related – but it’s time to celebrate rob day. TO kick things off Kristen took me to get one of my favourite guilty pleasures! Dunkin Donuts’ CHOCOLATE FROSTED DONUTS!!!

But the day of the festival – everything was clearly worth it. All of my griping, all of my rage – the day of music was spectacular and so I’ve signed up for another year of it DETERMINED to remember that moment when it became clear that it was all worth the roadblocks thrown in my way…

For birthday dinner me and a couple of friends gathered at La Palapa’s in Ellicott City. Sharif demonstrated sucking the marrow from the bones of his meal and Artem is a quick learner…

And now the sarcastic emails start coming in. Last year I got hate mail for selecting “not folk” artists over “folk” artists. A couple of messages that angrily point out how amazing the sender was and how obviously we weren’t looking for serious musicians. Plenty of grumpy posts about how artists that were selected didn’t realize that the “we don’t pay anyone” thing applied to THEM… my Takoma Park email address was spammed, added to mailing lists, added to porn accounts… it was all that Gamergate Trollism writ small (“small” because there was only ONE person who was actively threatening) and perhaps all the more insulting because it was so petty.

My sweet wife wearing my birthday sombrero.

I’m trying to let it go, remember my mom’s words about ducks and letting it roll off my back. I just wish that I could dish out real consequences. When a “professional” is UNprofessional there’s not much I can do about it other than be unprofessional right on back – other than insist they’re not booked through TPFF now or in the future – I mean, in theory I can also block them from four local institutions and several venues… and don’t forget that bookers TALK to one another…

rob DAY!!!!




But going on about that is ALSO unprofessional. I tend to just roll with it and not engage as opposed to writing back “Thank you for taking the time to dump your feelings on a volunteer. I’ve made your comments available to the following local festivals, venues and booking organizations – so you’ll probably not need to waste your time contacting any of them in the future – thanks!”

And that would be unprofessional too.


Wanderlight performing at Gettysburg Rocks on Saturday the 10th in… you guessed it, Gettysburg, PA!
ilyAIMY about to do the same – gearing up at Mason Dixon Distillery in Gettysburg PA. Though of COURSE we were up there to fight cancer, it was a rough drive through Cthulish mists, dodging ghostly deer and racing the clock… and part of what we wanted to do was reconnect with this wonderful venue because they’d talked about having music on their patio. Unfortunately, after playing our little hearts and driving a two hour round trip for a 1 hour slot, it’s revealed to us that “yeah, we talked about having music, but no.”
February 12th at Teavolve – Nicky Stacy is an old, old friend. Like – an inspiration at the rock clubs kind of old friend – and it was flattering to have her in the house as my featured artist at Teavolve.
I’ve not been a good FAWMer this year. Better than last year (I didn’t do February Album Writing Month at ALL in 2017) but in 2016 I managed to complete the 14 songs in 28 days challenge and wrote the majority of cicada in that time span… 2018 – I’m just not focused and by February 13th I’ve only just begun…

February 19th, 2018.

Saturday the 17th found us making a quick jaunt to York, PA for a house concert. We weren’t sure about whether or not the snow would effect attendance… it totally did.
A tiny audience, but a fun one. We had a good time in York… time to dig out and go HOME!

People are just rude. I knew that. Awful too. I guess we could’ve guessed how people would be with the anonymity of the internet by extension of how they treat one another from the anonymity of their cars. I feel like I’ve got to disconnect because you can’t go anywhere online without seeing horrible people being horrible to other people while doing horrible things. Person a) just KNOWS the problems of the world are caused by people not whipping their children enough (THANKS liberals!) and raising a generation of “pussies”. Kid b) thinks nothing of SWATting someone and Lives are lost and still doesn’t grasp his part in what happened. Somehow the biggest proof of EVIL in the world for me right now is people circulating stories of white people being beaten by black people at Black Panther, posting photos of real abuse victims to falsely back their claim.

The only thing that brings me joy is catching the typo “white people being eaten by black people”… because I’ve still GOT to laugh. The only alternative….

I’m early for Teavolve, having forgotten that the post office is closed for Presidents’ Day (or is it a day for the President? Singular? President’s Day? Or is it just a day ABOUT presidents, non-possessive? Presidents Day? I’m too lazy to look it up) and the drizzle and the grey of the day is NOT what’s getting me down – I find the velvet softness of the world around me very, very beautiful – the drive is relaxing in its mutedness – the kitten tones of Baltimore in mist calms so much of what’s seething in me that I want to fill a glass cube with it. Live in it. Inhale it. Cold pinpricks of fog settling on my skin, beading my hair. Let people think the silver’s just the fog.

A literal silver lining I guess. Ag on the Me.

Also cat.
Brennan Kuhns has landed a new open mic up in Towson – and though it was off to a very slow start Thursday night it was a lot of fun, and was a wonderful room. Who knew curved concrete sounded SO warm and beautiful??!?!
Wanderlight performing at Brennan’s new open mic (Third Thursdays except when it’s not) at the Towson Library in Towson, MD.
I found a new friend… Kristen, THIS is why I was thinking of stegosauruses!!! (at the Towson Library).
Performing at the new Towson Library open mic. I was dubbed “the jam master”… and also told “I’m not calling you old… but….”

February 21st, 2018.

Tonight’s open mic was a little weird. Thankfully, after three slow weeks it was once again PACKED but there was a little weirdness. Above – Drum Dr. Dot was marvelous and did a really powerful piece about Freddie Gray – but shortly after her another performer did a questionable slave song full of “massa”s and … I flinched at the delivery during Black History Month because… I’m cynical.
My featured artists at Teavolve for February 19th – Juliette Bell playing lead guitar and Ara Casey on vocals.
The local church is advertising The Upside Down on Sunday…. weird.
A murky night in Baltimore. Time to go home.

Oh right, I’ve pretty much always been this cynical.

I’m watching two new trailers for shows coming up soon – Netflix’ new take on “Lost in Space” and Amazon Prime’s interpretation of “Dangerous Books for Boys” and I can’t just sit back and enjoy these sci-fi fantasy romps… I’m distracted by what seems like the dated all-white casts. And I’m not saying that to be “woke”. I’m not saying that to show you how aware I am of privilege or anything like that, I’m saying it because it seems so tone deaf and backwards for these two ultimate players in new media to focus on white suburbia and white escapism in the midst of all the progress that’s being made.

Of course, it would be kind of amazing if the new Lost in Space (replete with token possibly-adopted one-of-these-things-doesn’t-look-like-the-other daughter) actually played with this cynical outlook… here’s the white family escaping from Earth and maybe it’s not the rising seas? I mean, who’s going to get off the planet first as the planet dies out from under us?

White flight escaping from those urban centers suddenly deemed to simply be too replete with dangerous dark men writ species-wide – if Netflix tackled THAT (“Danger Will Robinson, Danger! That man is wearing a hoodie!”) that would be kind of stunning. The undermining of that bastion of what people are thinking about when they’re wearing their MAGA hats : late 50s early 60s wholesome white America… that would be kind of especially delicious. A kind of updated Pleasantville with a spaceship.

But having just completed Altered Carbon (so pretty – but so much a product of the exact themes it’s pretending to tackle in a meta kind of way) I don’t really have any faith that Netflix is that deep.

March 26th, 2018.

So I’m tired of fighting. I haven’t posted anything political on Facebook for quite some time, I’ve been unfollowing and blocking freely. I am simply exhausted, and I don’t think it’s realistic to win hearts and minds on social media today. I’m tired.

Happy dog in Fredericksburg, VA!

And so I’ll rant on my little Journal because I know no-one pays attention. Okay… like three of you. But realistically… sigh.

Staying with our friends the Laws… Selfie w da Law!!!!

Last night, driving home from my open mic (see, I SHOULD be writing about THAT because that was a really, really marvelously good time – the open mic, not the driving) I’m tuned in to some talk show or another and they’re interviewing one of the young organizers (I think named David?) for the March for Lives group that was here protesting for “sensible gun laws” here in DC this weekend. And they take a caller who then says “you can’t tell me you’re not coming for ALL of our guns” and says “Little Davey, so what are you and all your unarmed friends going to do with when the five million gun owners from the NRA come for you”… so not only a) “I’m not listening to what you claim to be saying, but without any kind of proof, without knowing you – I’m simply going to tell you what *I* believe you’re going to do”… not only b) are we going to use the diminutive “Davey” as an insult but c) we’re going to imply “well, since you don’t have a gun and I do, I can just come around and threaten you”…

Ah, a sure sign we’re close to home. Traffic.

Like, I’m paraphrasing a LOT above because we all know how rob memory works, but this guy calls into the show, insults a KID and threatens him with a gun. And that’s supposed to make me respect this individual’s political opinion.

A better sign that we’re home! Prince was waiting on the front porch!

I just don’t really believe in free speech anymore. Not as America seems to perceive it. I think there should be a line of bullying like this that doesn’t get to be crossed. I think that when you say “what’re you going to do when we come for YOU with our guns” and display paranoid behaviour (I don’t care what YOU say, this is what I believe about you) that that call should be traced and someone should be investigating you before the night is through. And yeah, just as yelling “fire” in the basement of your house is different than yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre – saying “what’re you going to do when I come for you” is very different than saying “I own a gun. What’re you going to do when I come for you?”

NOW we’re home.
Monday night at Teavolve – James Dalton was my featured artist and he was as stunning as he ever was. Just an incredible voice and one of the best harmonica players I’ve ever met. He’s been off the road for a while so it was really, really wonderful to welcome him back to Baltimore!
Brian is an interesting player – one of my favourite irregulars. His second song had me wondering if the lyrics were UP THERE SOMEWHERE – or … well… this is generally “there’s a spider coming down from the ceiling and I don’t want to lose track of it look” OR it also seemed he was trying not to cry during his song. I’d have believed any of these explanations.

April 3rd, 2018.

I think I’m exhausted by volunteer work. I think I’m exhausted by particular connections from which almost all of my current stress comes from – and it is those things from which I see the least return that I receive the most angst. And I’m tired of it.

I really Love playing music. When it comes down to it, I really like a lot of the things that go with it – even some of the booking aspects. I like making the posters, updating the website. I like running events. I like video editing.

It’s the things where… where I didn’t really “volunteer” so much as NOT take a step backwards when people asked someone to step forward… and everyone else stepped back. And I hate this stuff. These are things that I despise – because I’m somewhere in the middle.

I’m not the performer that shows up and plays the show, and I’m not the person 100% in charge. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m in the committee. I’m dealing with meetings and being politic and dealing with the opinions of people who – haven’t done it – don’t really know what IT is – didn’t have the charisma and solely have a position because they’ve got the time to have it.

I’m appalled by how I’ve let things I hate slowly encroach upon a relatively large amount of my time. So. Gotta fix that.

I’m sorry to Vaguebook all up in my Journal – but on top of everything else, my skull is beginning to tell me I’ve been staring at a computer screen for far too long. Kristen’s watching Terminator upstairs with a big fuzzy cat – and I have the suspicion that I’d rather be doing THAT.

Saturday March 31st – off to see my wife’s band Lulu’s Fate playing at Four Hour Day Lutherie – which is also a lutherie! Here are the latest ukulele bodies hanging waiting for the next step… curing to the sounds of Kristen and Tom and Kara…
Lulu’s Fate playing at Four House Day Lutherie in Baltimore, MD.
Huh? Whuh?
Finally! Band practice! MAN Band Practice!!!!
You know what man practice entails… swabbin’ yer didge.
Monday April 2nd – my featured artist Ben DeLaurentis could give my favourite male vocalist Matt Nakoa a run for his money….



Last Night I Dreamed of the Devil….

I dreamt Satan was in the front row. He was stereotypically Satanic – big and beefy and red. I was playing “Stagger Lee” and kept screwing up the lyrics, nervous about getting to the last verse where Stag goes to Hell and beats up the devil. I started spouting bad poetry trying to keep the rhythm, trying to hedge the lyrics around something a little more acceptable to the devil, but he was obviously growing impatient with my mistakes, tapping his cloven hoof less with the rhythm and more with impatience.

April 4th – gig one – ilyAIMY playing at Montgomery College in Silver Spring, MD. Good to be surrounded by art.
Gig two : hosting a singer/songwriter showcase at Hershey’s. I’ll be honest – the turnout SUCKED – but the talent was stunning. Emma G was new to me and thunderous, Laura Baron is someone I’ve known for a very very long time and I forget just how very, very good she is. Domenic Cicala is someone I’ve brought up to Baltimore a number of times – it was good to come down to his neck of the woods. Once we got over not having many people to play to, we played to one another and in hindsight I realize this kicked off the month’s joyous showcase string that I’ve been really really enjoying all of April.

I doubt that had any effect on my mood on Monday – but my mood on Monday was not a good mood. I woke up tired, dragged as I dragged myself to Teavolve. Dreaded the drive, struggled to park, dealt with my typical difficulties with less than typical grace and, because of my mood, kicked off with “Perfect Day”. I know now to never kick off with Perfect Day. I forgot the bridge. I soloed. Circled back. Picked up the bridge. Got asked to turn the whole thing down. Pushed through the whole night being perhaps a bit manic as I struggled to not fall prey to a bad mood, and more importantly, not take that bad mood out on those around me.

Saturday night I got to record a Live album for the Silver Strings in Takoma Park, MD. Here I’m just getting things set up as Pepper checks how his butt will look to the audience. (I don’t think that’s what he’s ACTUALLY doing….)

People who knew me knew… people who didn’t maybe had a good time. It was hard to tell.

The Silver Strings soundchecking in Takoma Park, MD – Saturday night.

Last night I was Dan Magnolia’s featured artist at the Black Squirrel in Virginia. I wasn’t worried about it until the gig Heather had for the night fell through and she decided to be in the audience instead. I’ve grown to be a fairly confident solo performer, but having Heather in the AUDIENCE rather than by my side was slightly harrowing.

Dan Magnolia sets up for his open mic night where I’m the featured artist – a good night at The Black Squirrel in Vienna, VA.

But I rocked it. Despite rocking it, the vast majority of the room made it through 4/5 of my set but some how didn’t make it till the end. I would’ve been really struck if they hadn’t almost ALL come up and tipped before they headed out – but I had that horrible feeling like I’d said something wrong, or I was too loud, or SOMETHING. I mean LITERALLY all the musicians that had already played left before the end of my set.

Oh. I didn’t know it… but this is totally what I needed (to lie in some dandelions in Sterling, VA)

Still – the players who hadn’t played (with the exception of that one guy… you know the one… the one who asks you to sign him up in advance, barely makes his set, and in the process manages to miss just about everyone else and those he IS there for he talks through?) though – those people all stuck through the entire night and we hung out long after the music was done talking about production and hosting and Star Trek and the Smiths. That was kind of Lovely, close to exactly what I needed. A sense of community in a different community, an end of a night where I didn’t have to break down the gear and could just let people swirl around me, focusing on what they say rather than wrapping my cables.

Heather capturing hearts and minds at Epicure Cafe in Falls Church, VA at Ron Goad’s showcase Wednesday night.

We came back to Heather’s brother’s place and let ourselves in quietly. In darkness we found our beds and climbed into them. I didn’t sleep well but had strange dreams, indigestion, confusion and music in my head.

Today : work, orders, tech support, this, that and also the other. I should’ve order t-shirts and cook books earlier. I’m slow at too many things. But the diner was good. The sunshine was good. The garden was good. I lay in the grass in the sun and smelled the earth and Justin accidently dug through the Cicada Layer and we unearthed one, wriggling and displeased, half-baked and moist. As the garden boiled with earthworm activity, he was the sole source of jointed legs and exoskeleton, displeased to see the sun, he failed to flail himself back underground and eventually we re-interred him with a shovel-full of soil.

Tonight – another gig where rob and Heather of ilyAIMY are rob and Heather not ilyAIMY. We’ll be ilyAIMY tomorrow. But tonight – we’re individual entities. Separate but equal. I’m a little concerned about going AFTER Heather. I’ll just have to ratchet up my game a little… bit…. More….