March 10th, 2004.

Another night playing with Ember Swift. It’s amazing how repetition breeds comfort– and tonight it was smiles and familiar faces. A decidedly tragic turn-out, but the Gravity Lounge itself was such a cool room that I hardly had time to take notice. Part book store, part high-end feeding trough, part really nice music venue. It was Lovely.

The show itself was quiet and gentle with high-points of neccessary energy and angst, but all in all, very relaxed, very calm. Ember, of course, was spectacular – I ended up having to go to the bathroom towards the end of her set, but I don’t know that I’ve ever had better bathrooming music. It was just a great time – though I avoided using the hand-dryer for fear that that would be distracting to the 15 audience members. (YES I flushed) My poor pants were just abused.

Anywho, the real magic was afterwards. Ember was much more outgoing than she was at Jammin Java, much more approachable – or maybe I was just less NERVOUS AS HELL – I fear I was suffering from a bit of fan-boy syndrome, shaking and slightly wishing to be worshipful. Traded smiles and a shared appreciation of the waiter, stories of our Love for On-Demand programming… I felt guilty steering the conversation away from politics. I felt REALLY guilty for eating a roast-beef sandwich during her “Politics of Food” song – I felt like her eyes were watching, and I thought I saw her wince with one of my bites.

But we talked of roads and wandering and venue owners and I was so glad to find out that – here was a woman who’s been doing this for eight years (!) and who still Loved it, and who still enjoyed going back to places where she was known and Loved. Places, perhaps, that weren’t “strategic”, but that she just wanted to be. I can see myself doing that, Loving that, for a long, long time. Nothing I’d rather be doing.

Ember Swift. An amazing performer.
Ember Swift. An amazing performer.
Her bass player... and fiddle player, and guitarist (though she just whacks it with a bow, and plays it like a cello), Lyndell Montgomery.
Her bass player… and fiddle player, and guitarist (though she just whacks it with a bow, and plays it like a cello), Lyndell Montgomery.
The beautiful Gravity Lounge down in Charlottesville, VA. A large stage and lots and lots of books. Lots of distracting books. I could've sat there for hours. Sigh.
The beautiful Gravity Lounge down in Charlottesville, VA. A large stage and lots and lots of books. Lots of distracting books. I could’ve sat there for hours. Sigh.
The Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville, VA. Unfortunately, the Virginia University was in the midst of Spring Break, giving the Gravity Lounge this horrifically abandoned appearance. A beautiful sound-system replicating our voices and chords for about five pairs of ears. Ten hungry ear-holes... we plugged'em.
The Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville, VA. Unfortunately, the Virginia University was in the midst of Spring Break, giving the Gravity Lounge this horrifically abandoned appearance. A beautiful sound-system replicating our voices and chords for about five pairs of ears. Ten hungry ear-holes… we plugged’em.

Oh – and one last note. Upon our departure, we all hugged, and she SMELLED nice!!! Musicians NEVER smell nice! She said we did too, but I fear she may have just been being nice.

Oh – and one OTHER last night – you can’t tell from the website (www.emberswift.com if I’ve not mentioned it) but up close and in person, Lyndell is spectacularly beautiful. It’s just something that should be said.

So, with those thoughts in my head – good smells and good music and beautiful women in memory and in the car, we disappear down the road, wending our way to Washington on the way to Baltimore, with whispers of “happy birthday” to Heather’s Dad. We’re coming home.


Ok, tired of driving – wondering how Ember and Lyndell get along musically. I mean, between Heather and I, we have lots of problems. I mean, I have very sensible musical tastes – between my Led Zeppelin and Cypress Hill and Metallica and Indigo Girls and Mountain Goats and Spice Girls and disco, I’ve got all the variety anyone could ever want, not to mention all the good taste. How Heather can be frustrated by that, I can’t imagine… and why she insists on listening to Ludikris, or however his name is spelled, is waaay beyond me. Sigh.

May 21st, 2004. 3.12am

SO sleepy. And of course, sleep eludes me. My brain is too whirly-full of fur and fuzz and thoughts. Dressing up as Marilyn Monroe, cicadas, a woman from tonight’s show, Nefrit’s rhythms, Keith’s banter… Keith’s hair, plans and schedules and the spectacular complexity of Life.

Nefrit El-Or at Jammin Java.
Nefrit El-Or at Jammin Java.

Life. Don’t talk to me about Life.

Tonight’s gig at Jammin Java was scrumptious. It left Heather and I in a lot of pain, but it was worth it. We got a decent response to our performance (and I saw a couple of faces that I wasn’t expecting, but was really glad to see – Ari: thanks for your table-full of creatures… and Cox? Thanks for your heads.

Brennan was filling my skull with dreams and possibilities, and now my inner gears won’t stop mulling and churning and burning the mindnight oil.

Sara brought us cicadas, and Keith cut his hair. And Nefrit El-Or continues to make my interior rhythms whirl to different dances. I can never sleep after her shows, and I have no place to retreat to and play guitar till the sun comes up. No place to let it out.

My head is full and pounding and I never know how to just
shut
it
down.

Also, I am CONVINCED that when they fixed my laptop, they installed an upgraded, and more difficult, version of Solitaire. I haven’t won a game since I got it back. CURSE the insomnia that has allowed me to discover this treachery!

May 29th, 2004.

Hehe – just something worth mentioning – went to see Aoutar, which I may or may not be spelling correctly, at the College Perk. Decent enough show – they need a bass player desperately, methinks. A very cool, middle-eastern type sound.

ilyAIMY performing at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA
ilyAIMY performing at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA

Anywho – I stepped outside to call my parents, and on the way back in, two guys were standing in the doorway. I nodded to one of them, paused, said “Excuse me” at which point they apologized and stepped out of the way.

Just a favourite picture of Heather.
Just a favourite picture of Heather.
Heather and I performing at the Year of the Rabbit in Bowie, MD.
Heather and I performing at the Year of the Rabbit in Bowie, MD.
Sharif and I performing at the Year of the Rabbit in Bowie, MD.
Sharif and I performing at the Year of the Rabbit in Bowie, MD.

And on my way into the crowded room, I heard something that made me grin:

“Dude, you know who that IS?”
“Uh, no?”
“That’s the lead singer from ilyAIMY!!!”
“Oh shit. Really? I feel so stupid!”

Hee.

In other randomness – my Father has this inventor friend named, unpretentiously, John Smith. I don’t know precisely what he does, but I’ve always gotten the impression that he’s paid to sit around and think… to fiddle and tinker… to create. I’ve mostly known his work to deal with stereoscopic images, and every once in a while my Dad gets a phone call. I haven’t heard it in years, but I’d recognize John’s thin, wispy voice in an instant.

So today’s random phone call could’ve included a dirty joke, or he could be calling my Dad’s attention to some article in some obscure magazine – but today he’s asking if anyone knows what that page is called at the beginning of a book, where there sits nothing but a quote, or perhaps a piece of poetry… not a dedication – but some sort of artistic introductory summing up…

No idea – John goes on to tell my dad about how he’s linked up two computer monitors, showing and running the same application, but with a slight offset to create a stereo (3D) image… and that’s not enough, so he’s hooked up ANOTHER keyboard so someone else can manipulate the same thing. He can now view 3D images, and even DRAW in three dimensions.

The world’s just so damned COOL.

August 24th, 2004.

Heather’s back from NewSong, and has shown me what she learned. A whole lot of it is in the form of confidence.

Patti Witten at Jammin Java
Patti Witten at Jammin Java

Last night we headed out to Jammin Java to play one of the best open mics in the area. Jammin Java’s open mic (though “open” is perhaps not the best term for a stage that requires more than a month ahead for sign-up) has slowly become one of the premier networking spots for travelling artists in the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area. Last night we encountered a woman from Chicago (Sandy Andina on her way home from playing Wilmington, NC), and Patti Witten of Ithaca, New York (one of the clearest, most beautiful voices and cleanest guitar styles, not to mention a beautiful guitar). We encountered a guy who’d wandered here from California, but was on his way to Georgia, and Daniel Lee showed us as well. An amazing night.

Sigh - took the Saturn in for maintenance the other day. Overheating, check - taken care of. Weird whistly scary noise when I turn left? Check - it was the brakes... replaced.
Sigh – took the Saturn in for maintenance the other day. Overheating, check – taken care of. Weird whistly scary noise when I turn left? Check – it was the brakes… replaced. ..
Blood coming off my friendly mechanic's hands? Check - you should replace that tire with the metal poking out of it. Replace homicidal tire... check. Sigh. (I was told that the metal makes the tire go, and when it gets out, that's BAD.) Guess health insurance will be going on the credit card this month AFTER all.
Blood coming off my friendly mechanic’s hands? Check – you should replace that tire with the metal poking out of it. Replace homicidal tire… check. Sigh. (I was told that the metal makes the tire go, and when it gets out, that’s BAD.) Guess health insurance will be going on the credit card this month AFTER all.

And an amazing night for US, as well. Heather has returned from NewSong with thoughts and hints and advice, and above all, a new aura of competence and charisma and confidence. She played beautifully, worked the crowd, said funny things, and after we got off the stage, continued to work the crowd, wandering from person to person, selling CDs, flashing the mailing list around. We did very well for ourselves – and left the room in awe.

A very good night.

August 27th, 2004.

Wednesday night, we had the honour of opening for Hamell on Trial. We’d seen him open for Ani Difranco a year or so ago, and later, our friend Firedean managed to open for him up at Philly’s Tin Angel, but my impression of Hamell (Ed, apparently) was always kind of a bitter bald man who DRILLED his guitar with a flatpick.

After the Jammin Java show, I came away with a HUGE appreciation for what this man could do – both on guitar AND just as a performer/entertainer. He was one of the funniest men I’d ever seen on stage, with a smooth, almost stand-up comic delivery. The machine-gun lyrics and drill-like approach to playing guitar were the same, but – it’s like how Heather and I aren’t morose all the time, but our songs tend to be angry or depressing. The stories that go with them have to be equally intense, but in the opposite direction, so that people aren’t busily slitting their wrists out in the audience.

Well, Ed, after and between playing very intense songs, screaming about killing people and shooting himself and in general toppling the world, would then return to running jokes and … I don’t know. Heather and I could learn TONNES from him. So good.

Hamell on Trial at Jammin Java.
Hamell on Trial at Jammin Java.
Heather is a vampire….

October 31st, 2004.

From yesterday’s Los Angeles Times:

“WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service has informed the NAACP that it is investigating whether the civil rights organization improperly “intervened in a political campaign” when it posted on its website a speech by Chairman Julian Bond that condemned the Bush administration’s policies…  I think what’s at issue is our right to criticize the president of the United States,’ Bond said Thursday. ‘The IRS is saying that because I criticized the president’s education policies, his economic policies and his war policies that somehow I placed the tax exemption for the NAACP at risk.'”

Whee! I actually feel violently ill. Jammin Java is now emotionally blacklisted in my universe. Home of melodrama and bullshit, I think it’s bad for me to even cross the line into Vienna, VA.

Heather and Crystal of California University's WVCS. During our pre-gig radio interview. We felt sparkly and personality-laden. I was really impressed with the radio station itself, and the professionalism (and later, the belly-dancer costume) of our host, Crystal. She had a very loud friend who, though I think I liked him well enough, gave me the urge to pat him on the head and through him sugar-free candy from a distance.
Heather and Crystal of California University’s WVCS. During our pre-gig radio interview. We felt sparkly and personality-laden. I was really impressed with the radio station itself, and the professionalism (and later, the belly-dancer costume) of our host, Crystal. She had a very loud friend who, though I think I liked him well enough, gave me the urge to pat him on the head and through him sugar-free candy from a distance.
Rob was one of the first people we met in Pittsburgh, and his girlfriend, Brandi, was one of our first friends in California - she's dressed as a butterfly at California's Halloween Party and Costume Contest. (That's what else was going on the night of our gig)
Rob was one of the first people we met in Pittsburgh, and his girlfriend, Brandi, was one of our first friends in California – she’s dressed as a butterfly at California’s Halloween Party and Costume Contest. (That’s what else was going on the night of our gig)
Death sat in the front row for Superman's set. He just sat there and pointed. Every once in a while he'd point from Supes to his scythe and back. I personally would've been greatly distracted. The show at California University was a huge success - the night was filled with fall crispness and a pseudo-full moon, and the people were simply Lovely. Sigh, chalk California, PA up as one of my new favourite places.
Death sat in the front row for Superman’s set. He just sat there and pointed. Every once in a while he’d point from Supes to his scythe and back. I personally would’ve been greatly distracted. The show at California University was a huge success – the night was filled with fall crispness and a pseudo-full moon, and the people were simply Lovely. Sigh, chalk California, PA up as one of my new favourite places.
Death at California University's Halloween party. It was a real scythe, old enough to insure that not ONLY would you be dead, but you'd have to worry about post-mortem tetanus as well.
Death at California University’s Halloween party. It was a real scythe, old enough to insure that not ONLY would you be dead, but you’d have to worry about post-mortem tetanus as well.