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October Update: A Wider Sky


It’s another busy week around the Gordon-plex, and a short week because of impending travels. Nice to feel the Fall finally settling in; I was wondering there for a while if it would actually happen. Given the year that 2017 has been, not much would surprise me. I’ve been home a lot lately, doing those things I do when not driving around a few hundred miles a day: beating on guitars, caterwauling and scribbling. Attacking the overdue 2016 1040. And cleaning windows. For a simple chore around the crib, I can’t think of anything more obviously satisfying. Our house was built around 1930; the original windows, for better or worse, depending on the room you’re in, are still in use, covered by storm windows. The seasonal light deprivation coming on is motivating—I need as much light coming in as possible! I know it negatively affects me, though when it gets cool and cloudy, as a Louisiana native that translates in my mind into “gumbo-making weather.”

But sitting outside yesterday, though the daylight’s getting shorter and changing hue, for the first time since late Spring I was able to look way up into the giant ash tree in the front yard and see a woodpecker going about his percussive business—the leaf-cover that brings so much welcome summer shade over the house (the ash, and a cherry tree in the front; a hackberry(yuck) and two large pecans in the backyard) is slowly disappearing. Shorter days, but a wider sky. And I swear that the squirrels who live in the larger pecan tree have been downright partying since my dear dog’s passing—a breeding party from the looks of it—and have taken on a new can’t-scare-me-mister attitude. One’s mind sometimes turns to the idea of a pellet gun . . . nah. I just wish the urbanite hawks and owls around here (the owls nest in a tree two yards over) would work a little harder on keeping the population down. I suppose they are, when it comes to the rodents I really don’t want around, because I don’t ever see those, though I do fear I’ve got a possum squatter under the deck.

The last-minute additions to my show schedule have been plenty this month, and it’s been fun knocking around town morphing into different versions of self—old-school honky-tonk guitar player with Jon Byrd, an upcoming special set with Paul Burch later this month, to fronting my own shows, including tonight’s “rehearsal” gig (which I was asked to play, via text, last night at 10:30), a solo set at the Family Wash, at 8:30—rehearsal for three shows I’m opening for my pal Todd Snider later this week:

Thursday, 10/19  Kent Stage    Kent, OH
Friday, 10/20  Otus Supply    Ferndale, MI
Saturday, 10/21  Bell’s    Kalamazoo, MI

If you’re planning on attending one of these shows, check with the venues for showtimes, etc. And don’t be afraid to cheer on your humble opening act! It’s a real pleasure to play shows with Todd, and his crowds have always been receptive to me. I know that Saturday’s show, at least, is sold out—hoorah!

Speaking of scribbling, I did get some good news recently, that a song Gwil Owen and I wrote, “One I Love”, was recorded a few days ago, here in Nashville, by a great artist from out of town—I’m a little superstitious about these things, so details will be revealed as they become more certain. I’m also in the revision stage with two new songs that I’m excited about.

Okay, if you’re on the email list, check the email version of this post for a special discount on selected merchandise—I’m trying to make that a regular thing, though sometimes I don’t quite get there! (I can only wear so many hats for so long . . . and the marketing hat is the most uncomfortable on the rack.) If you’re not on the list, now is a great time to change your life, ha ha—there’s a sign up form on just about every page of . Those in the know will tell ya—it’s a once-, at most twice-a-month knock at the in-box.

On a serious note, to all women out there, I applaud your courage in speaking up and out about sexual harassment and abuse. I hear you, and I believe you.  More about this soon–because it is a huge, and hugely important, subject. Please keep telling your stories. It’s my sincere hope that the clueless among us will at last somehow get one.


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I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts . . . and other thinks

Sitting in w/Jon Byrd, 10/2/17. Photo: Ward Weems

Sitting in w/Jon Byrd, 10/3/17. Photo: Ward Weems

Good morning. Happy Thursday. You know, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say, given all the terrible news of the past few days, and I still don’t have a very good answer. So, I’m just gonna piece this one together, from things I’ve written since Monday. But coming right up: 

Two shows this week–I’ll be at the new location of the Radio Cafe here on the east side tonight at 8pm, playing solo, on a bill with my pals Stuffy Shmitt and Lynn Taylor and his band the Barflies. Looking forward to playing here for the first time. Expect a new song.

This Saturday, 10/7, I’m thrilled to once again be a part of “TomFest“–it’s kinda like a private show for our NC friends and superfans Tom and Renee, and their friends, all coming in from out of town, except it’s not private. YOU can be a part of it too–the show is open to the public, at The Family Wash, starting at 7, I believe. I’ll be closing the show, in trio formation, with Ron Eoff and Megan Carchman.

American Girl: I got to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers twice–both transcendent experiences. But the first time I’ll always remember: it was early-mid 80s; they were opening for, and backing up, Dylan. I’d ridden over to Dallas from Monroe with a carload of friends, some of whom I didn’t know so well. One of those newer friends, as it turned out, was quite the marijuana enthusiast. Whether I inhaled or not, President Clinton, had very little to do with my state of mind–when your immediate airspace is 85% THC, things are gonna change on ya. We’d driven over the day before, crashed at somebody’s apartment, and went to the venue that next afternoon. By the time we got there I was pretty much already completely baked–the same atmospheric conditions being present in the car as the day before–and though I really wanted to hear the music and remember the experience, I’m afraid for Mr. Lightweight here, it was hopeless. (Though I do still have some blurry images from the show in my memory.) But I’ll never forget–walking in the outer hallway of the arena on the way to our seats, I heard someone call my name. I turned around and nearly keeled over. It was Janna Adams, the most beautiful girl from my high school; she’d graduated a year ahead of me–and I don’t think we’d ever spoken to one another before. We moved in different social universes. She was so pretty that looking at her was like staring into the sun. You just couldn’t bear it for long. And here she was, a few years later, calling my name, and talking to me–poor me, higher than Flagpole Joe and probably unable to complete a sentence! Haven’t seen her since, and I hope I made it through that conversation without anything too embarrassing happening or being said.

Now back to previous days’ scribblings:

from Wednesday, 10/4: Good afternoon (or whatever time of day it is where you are): I woke up Monday to the horrific news of the terror attack in Las Vegas, the first thing I saw on my phone that morning, while feeling mildly ill, like I’d caught a cold. My wife and I very subtlely celebrated 23 years of marriage on Sunday, mostly with her out working, and me trying to conjure a surprise dinner without burning anything, including our humble abode, while working at various tasks domestic and professional around “the estate.” Dinner-wise, everything turned out okay; good, even! (Though it was kinda like Homer Simpson cooking for Julia Child.) Maybe a little behind schedule (note to self: big brussels sprouts take longer to roast than smaller ones. (Duh . . . ) And cut those bigger potatoes in half before you boil them.) But it was a calm, quiet evening; before we went to bed at about 10, Boo read aloud from her phone various neighbors’ reports of shots fired, this time as close as two blocks away, though I can’t say I heard anything. Hearing gunfire around here is much rarer than it used to be. Can’t remember the last time the police helicopter hovered low over our block, spotlighting alleys, backyards and decks, that particular stark blue-tinged light moving over the property, looking for somebody on the run.

Saturday evening we’d attended our neighbors’ wedding, held in their backyard. Perfect weather, friendly people, and lots of well-articulated love amidst laughter and joyful tears. I have no sage advice regarding marriage, only some feelings. That the longer you continue the journey, the deeper the bond gets, in usually unspoken ways. You hone a greater respect for one another as individuals, regardless of each other’s shortcomings, and hopefully there is a safe zone created between you, where those faults are mutually forgiven, and accomplishments and efforts are mutually celebrated, that expands as you go on caring for one another–two people who continue to change, as folks will do over time, sharing a life together, a life which in some ways may not make complete “sense” on paper. But maybe long-term unions get past that, the whole “sense” thing becoming so laughably inconsequential, as you consider just how lucky you are to love and to be loved, and to be alive. All else is secondary.

from Tuesday, 10/3: “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts”(title of a song by the band X)–I see on Facebook this morning various comments about keeping things “positive”, that some folks are just gonna up and unfriend anybody who spreads any negativity. But hey, this sure sounds like a thinly veiled excuse to not listen to folks you might not agree with. And I’m the first to admit that nobody has ever won an argument on social media–talk about a waste of time . . . . Our virtual megaphones work fine, blasting our own dearly-held profundities loud and clear, but our ears? Not so much, apparently. Seems to me that we need to be careful about this particularly contemporary luxury–that you can get your news and commentary from one source that tells you what you want to hear, instead of considering different perspectives. Paul Simon got it right: “A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”

In earlier drafts of this post I ranted and raved about certain issues surrounding the Las Vegas attack. But I realize now: why waste my time and breath? It’s still the Wild West here in this country, replete now with automatic weapons, even in our technologically advanced, 21st century mindset. What we do, if anything, to attempt to prevent or at very least hinder another attack like this, will require a lot of honesty, thought, compromise, and some of that American Exceptionalism I hear so much about. That’s all I’m going to say about it now. I’m just a guy, an observer, a student of this life–someone who makes words rhyme and tries to write songs etc. that mean something to me, and hopefully to you. In the words of my dear late friend and songwriter supreme, David Egan, a “dreamer.” In a world that makes a little less sense every day.

3:45pm, Monday 10/2

I’ve been outside this afternoon since the rumors surfaced of Tom Petty’s death. It was an automatic, unconscious reaction. I’ve been staring into space, out in the front flower bed, where this season the dahlias have decided to thrive. Long thick stems that bend and curl every which-way and big tufts of yellow flowers everywhere. In the fridge I found one remaining apple in the last bag we bought for Apollo. He’s been gone a month now, since August 29; apple slices and carrots were his treats. I just washed that apple, poured myself a bourbon, and I’m gonna sit out on the porch, taste the sweetness of that fruit and the amber burn of the whiskey mix together on my tongue, and feel the long-awaited hint of a Fall breeze. And look over what I’ve done since coming out here: in the midst of all this sadness I haven’t known what to do, but to hammer a few tall stakes into the ground around those dahlias, and tie on the tallest stems, to keep them growing up, towards open air, and not falling over from their own weight. To try to keep something beautiful up off the ground.

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Americanafest! (official or not) / Spirits, Trips, and Mentions

Dear friends, Here in Nashville this week it’s Americanafest 2017, the annual live music festival and business conference staged by the Americana Music Association, who’ve made great strides in exposing this music (though it’s a wide spread of options) to the “mainstream” public. I look forward to playing for those of you in town four […]

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Requiem for Apollo (8/31 edit)

You might be relieved, or perhaps disappointed, that this post has nothing whatsoever to do with my music, (only a significant influence on it, and on my life) and that there are no special offers on merchandise within. I’m going to tell you straight away that what follows here is, I suspect, much more for my […]

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