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Letter from Taos / California shows this week

Greetings from the El Pueblo Lodge in Taos, NM. I hope this finds you all well. News of the Columbus, OH attack was the first thing I saw when I looked at my phone this morning, and it has not exactly put me in the beatific mood I should be in, when surrounded by so much beauty in this magical place. In light of this, and other recent events, I am, frankly, terrified, and fear for the future of this country. But I don’t know what to do, other than keep going, (into Arizona, maybe further, today, practically speaking) and speak my mind when I can, avoid the rampant mental pollution going around, and try to answer all this with what music I can conjure, with what hope and love for this world I have left. No matter what your views, I would hope we could at least re-learn the once living ideal of civility, and talk to each other. Person to person, in real time and space. Not banging out some hateful rant on social media, arguing with someone you’ve never met who lives hundreds of miles away so that you feel safe enough to let the devil take your tongue, and let reason be erased easy as marker scribble on a whiteboard. As you can tell, I’ve kinda had it. But I’m holding on to what I can, and to the ones I love, and I’m petitioning the Divine in my own way–because we mere human animals can’t seem to keep from wanting to blow the joint completely to hell. But let’s hope for the best, right?

(Rant concluded)

California dates this week! I’m excited for this long-overdue return to the west coast. See the tour page for details, but essentially I’m playing the L.A. area tomorrow (Tuesday) and Thursday, Del Mar on Wednesday, Santa Barbara on Friday, and San Francisco on Sunday. If you’re in the area I hope you’ll come out to one (or more!) of these shows.

Clock is ticking; check-out time is 6 minutes away, and there are miles and miles before I sleep, or more likely scroll and tap around on my phone til the wee hours in some room with a number on the door. Thanks, as ever, for your support.



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Chicago dispatch: Rebellion by reading; more Midwest dates this week!

img_2297Night off last night. Drove from Cedar Falls IA to Van and Karin’s yesterday; got in about 5:30. This place: always such a refuge. Had incredible Japanese food around the corner for dinner; the music didn’t do much for me, though: I seldom want my dining music to include sounds that resemble a digestive system in crisis. Some cool beats underneath, at least. I stayed up on the laptop til 1 am. But did sleep better, finally. And hope for same tonight. Alcohol: one beer. Hooray! Better for sleep, and sense. And I’ll take as much of those two things as I can get.

The day Boo and I voted early at a neighborhood library, I checked out a copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, “100 Years of Solitude”. I find it hard to believe that I’ve never read it, though I have studied the opening paragraph many times. About as good, IMHO, as the opening of Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”. In the wake of the chaos I feel we are all about to be plunged into (if this offends your political sensibilities or blind optimism, I’m sorry: I don’t care anymore), I’m going to rebel against that by: reading. Ferociously. Smart books. “Hard” books. I hereby refuse to be stupidized (yeah, I know that’s not a word, but it says exactly what I mean) by what seems a really weird, dark, and not so smart new “normal” in this country. And I urge you to join me. Let’s get back down to it, you know? Return to the idea: That beauty is important, is crucial, and is something you can hold in your hands, in your mind, no matter who you are or where you find yourself on this increasingly bewildering journey. Books are the quietest yet strongest fire in the mind I know. It’s usually (thankfully) a solitary activity. I would suggest that that is also a good thing, for every one of us. Of course reading aloud to your kids, others, or even yourself, is also wonderful—the sound of words floating in the air, for the ear, and the mind to take in; the experience of spoken language lifting that text right off of the page. An added bonus–this is dangerous stuff:  It can change your life.

So, though I’ve got quite the untamed bedhead going, while sitting here in the kitchen in an old t-shirt and sweatpants, working on my first hot cup, for some reason I’m feeling ambitious about this. Let’s read, people. Mary Oliver poems or Bob Dylan song lyrics (evil grin); Basho, Lewis Hyde, Gwendolyn Brooks, Natasha Trethewey. There’s plenty to go around, it seems. Read. Like maniacs. Turn off the TV. And talk to each other. Share a long-held secret with a trusted friend; get it out, get closer. Listen to music you wouldn’t normally listen to. Learn from the good, and the not-so-much, even. From the familiar, and the new. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Dance even if you don’t think you can. (All the women in south Louisiana and Texas would likely agree that for me, lessons are definitely in order.) I could go on and on, but I think you feel me: let’s stay smart, get smarter, live, create, and love like the bomb’s about to drop; keep it weird, or at least . . . really interesting.

(Deep breath. Steps off virtual soapbox now . . .)

The midwest tour continues, starting up again tonight at the fabulous venue SPACE, in Evanston, IL. The wonderful Bonnie Whitmore opens—and is not to be missed. She opens for us every show this week: in Minneapolis tomorrow night at The Warming House, Thursday in St. Louis at The Stage at KDHX; Friday at Kiki’s House of Righteous Music in Madison, and Saturday at Anodyne Coffee in Milwaukee. If you’re in the neighborhood, come on down! Or if you just feel like driving for a few hours to catch a good show, you’d be just as welcome, I assure you. As always, check the tour page or bandsintown listings for show times and other details.

Wild card: I confess that I’m having momentary anxiety attacks when thinking about my tour/travel schedule over the next month. Though I deliberately made the west coast tour a solitary endeavor, if for some reason you are able and you might want to join me and help drive out, or back, let me know. I may choose to stick with the plan and see what talking to myself for four weeks in a van does for me, ha ha—but if you’re intrigued by this idea, email me:

Gonna fetch cup #2. And a book. Then a shower. Load-in’s at 4. Doors at 6:30. Have a great week! Hope to see your beautiful selves somewhere out on the road.

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“Saint on a Chain” video from The Extended Play Sessions

Hi folks, I recently recorded an hour-long set with William Hurley, producer/director/etc of The Extended Play Sessions, which are recorded at The Fallout Shelter in Norwood, MA. This was a highlight of my two-week September tour up east; I really enjoyed doing this. This is a newer song of mine, Saint on a Chain, and though […]

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