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Update from Up Here: Southbound Slide

Pearson Lakes Arts Center, Okoboji IA

Hi folks,

Just a short note to let you know I’m still among the living (not that you were wondering; it was I, actually)–something about pecking out a note to you does remind me that life is moving, and fast, and that you, if you’re reading this, and I, are moving with it. Hurtling through the void, as they say over at the university. With that in mind, I just took the last little powdered-sugar donut out of the hotel pastry case, and thereby made a little boy cry; I have stoked up my in-room chemical brew with the more-like-coffee in the lobby, and have come back here to sit down a minute and talk with you. Okay, just kidding about making the kid cry. The little sugarhead was pissed off already. 

After three great shows up here, I’ve had two days off, holed up in a Coralville, Iowa hotel, catching up on much-needed rest–for some reason on this run I’ve had a really difficult time sleeping. But last night was good. Down in it. Finally. Just in time to get back into the land-sled, watch several hundred miles go by, and play a few more shows before the week’s out:

Tonight (Wednesday, 10/17) I have the pleasure of opening for my pal Robbie Fulks, and Linda Gail Lewis, down at Off Broadway in St. Louis; they’ll be joined by Telecaster Master Redd Volkaert. A not-to-miss show, for sure! I go on at 8pm. I’ll likely be heading out right after my set, so if you’re coming down and want to grab a copy of the new record, and perhaps a matching t-shirt, try to do so before or during my set (no, I don’t mind, really I don’t, ha ha). Cuz I’ll likely be tearing off into the night in short order towards Nashville, to replenish the merch box, let the dog lick my face, hand the Mrs. the money, and do some laundry in the interest of the public health. Friday, I’ll be back out, playing South Main Sounds in Memphis, from 7-9pm, a songwriters’ show with my friend Monty Russell, who has a fantastic new release out, “The Fat Man”(which I play some guitar on) as well as Erin O’Dowd and Stephanie Adlington. I’ve heard great things about this venue, and look forward to checking it out for the first time. Then on Saturday, four hours down the road from Memphis, at the ripe hour of 11:30am, somehow Mr. Russell and I will be both conscious and playing our asses off in Eldorado, Arkansas; it’s a free show, part of an all-day free music event at The Griffin, coinciding with the arts festival going on there in town. Come on out and check out the condition our conditions are in–these strange hours tend to bring out the wilder, what-the-hell-was-that-he-just-done renderings of the rock n’ roll, friends. You might want to keep your hands away from the cage, err, stage. But please do feed the animals. Afterwards, I’ll sit on the bumper, watch the wind blow for a few minutes, then head back towards home. To rest, reset, and get ready for a long-awaited return to Black Dog House Concerts, in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, on October 27. More info available on the tour page on my site; check with the venues for more info, too.

The Tilt and Shine vinyl pre-order dealio is in full swing, and the LPs are now in production! To reserve yours, click your way over to: and scroll down til you see the appropriate option.

Special thanks to my fellow troubadour pals I’ve done shows with on this swing: Chad Elliott, Andy Fleming, Jordan Messerole, and Todd Partridge. It was a real pleasure sharing the stage with y’all! And thanks to the venues: CSPS, Pearson Lakes Arts Center, and Byron’s (the center of the universe) all made it easy to get in there and get down.

See you soon–



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October Update: KG and Joe in Guitar Player! / Upcoming Shows (Iowa, St. Louis) / Mountain Stage / T and S Vinyl

Stacks and piles: the cave

Greetings pals,

I’m writing to you from “back in the back”, the man-cave, as it were. Another room in this little house where the chaos is gradually being tamed. Only to be thrown back into its prior condition, ’cause sh*t happens. I could spend all day every day being my own librarian/archivist/janitor, but hey, that’s no way to live! There are guitars to play, songs to write, records to make, books to write, and read. And don’t forget that starting fights on Facebook is always good use of one’s time . . . .

This just in: Check out Michael Ross‘s article in Guitar Player on Joe V. McMahan and me

Next week I’m back on the highway, headed to familiar ground–the great state of Iowa! With a return stop in St. Louis. Check the tour page and venue sites for details, but here’s the skinny:


Friday   10/12  CSPS   Cedar Rapids, IA   7 pm

Saturday 10/13   Pearson Lakes Arts Center   Okoboji, IA (workshop and in-the-round performance)

Sunday 10/14   Byron’s   Pomeroy, IA   5 pm (co-bill w/Todd Partridge)

Wednesday 10/17   Off Broadway   St. Louis (opening for Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis!)  

We’ve just added a few new shows to the calendar, so check ’em out.

Mountain Stage: Our Mountain Stage performance from late July just premiered at NPR last week! Here’s a photo from the show:

Brian Blauer/Mountain Stage


If you’ve missed it via your local station, you can hear the entire show (including songs cut for time from the radio broadcast) as a podcast:

Vinyl progress: Thanks to all of you who’ve pre-ordered the vinyl edition of Tilt and Shine, via your sponsorship or the recently added Bandcamp pre-order option. At last, the test pressings have been approved, and the project is in production! Look for availability around mid-November. Not in on it yet? Check it out here–just scroll down a bit, and select the vinyl pre-order option; you’ll immediately have access to a download of the album, in a variety of file formats.

Sponsors: Thank you for your continued patience, especially concerning the aforementioned vinyl, and hand-written lyrics, and book. Please know that I am getting what I can out to you as soon as possible. I don’t want to just scribble out the lyrics–I want them to be legible, and look good. So: it takes a while. Call me a perfectionist, or whatever. I’m getting there . . . .

Country music enthusiast found backstage in Austin

Thanks to all who came out and heard us last week on our southern mega-miles mini-tour, in North Little Rock, Baton Rouge, Houston, and Austin. I deeply appreciate your support! We had some good food along the way, including a visit to the famous Best Stop Supermarket in Scott, LA; Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, TX; and one of my forever favorites, Sims BBQ in Little Rock. This week’s kitchen keywords are: Kale. Brown rice. Vegetables.  The show in N. Little Rock, part of the Potluck and Poison Ivy Series at The Joint, was an interesting change from the normal plug-in-and-rock routine. In between songs, I talked about  songwriting; I read a couple of poems by James Wright, whose work is a deep and steady influence on me; I read a prose poem/journal entry of mine from many years back, that came out of a visit to north LA where I went fishing with my grandfather. I didn’t catch a single fish, but I got at least three songs out of the deal, and some great stories. He just turned 90. Quite a man.

I just finished reading Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue; her first novel. Enjoyed it. A close look at the issues facing an immigrant couple from Cameroon when the 2008 recession hit. What’s next? I haven’t decided.

VOTE: Most importantly–to my fellow Americans: Are you registered to vote? Even if you think you are, make sure, and make your vote count in November. While it seems impossible to change the minds of certain rut-stuck knuckleheads currently in power, we can at least vote them out and work for better. Because we as a nation deserve better than senseless, crazy, and corrupt.

Have a great weekend! 








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September Update: Americanafest, Atlanta, and Beyond

Top of the morning, folks. Top of the word-pile: SHOWS. Playing quite a bit here in Nashville later this week; then to Atlanta and Charlotte next. ATL peeps–please come out and support our show at Eddie’s Attic next Thursday! Ticket link HERE; your advance purchase is appreciated! Here are the dates and locations for this week and […]

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