There’s been a lot of 2016 bashing going on, and I can’t entirely disagree. It had its shitty moments.
We lost Prince, Bowie, Princess Leia, Merle Haggard and Guy Clark. To name a few. A lot of people I know and love had a tough go this year. I can’t say if it was more than usual, but it sure felt that way.
We had an embarrassment of an election, leading to who knows what the hell will come next. And life continued to serve up interesting, weirder and more frustrating challenges.
That said, this tweet grabbed my attention yesterday morning as perhaps a good way to go out.
2016 may have been a dumpster fire at a freak show, but tonight let's douse ourselves in champagne & love in honor of magic that persisted
I have a steady job that I don’t loathe and allows me some time to do music as well.
And there’s plenty more of the good.
If, however, you need a bit of venting, I would not blame you for wanting to clean out the psychic plumbing. I’ve been feeling that too.
So in that spirit, I’ll leave you to your new year with this (NOTE: don’t click this link if you are somewhere that people will hear this song in a way that may be embarrassing to you- it’s definitely NSFW). For the record, I threw this together a week or two ago. It is hardly ready for prime time, but it was cathartic to write the song and record it, even in this rather half-assed form.
If you feel like doing something more substantial, try giving some money to organizations that do good in the world. I made a commitment with my family this year to donate regularly to the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. You could also take a shot at getting involved in your own community. You could even make it to a live show and support your local artists!
Kinda powered through the last month there didn’t we?
Ready to rock the Merc
Fall is always busy, which can be a bummer, since it’s also my favorite time of year. I had a couple of great shows at The Rock Inn and The Jamestown Mercantile in October. Two of my favorite places to play here in Colorado. The Merc knocked out a wall and made the place a lot bigger since the last time I was there. Wow is that a great space now. I’m looking forward to heading back there in 2017.
Holy crap, did I just say 2017!
I guess I did. Time is just screaming by these days. I’ve been working some new songs into my sets this fall, some newly written, some that I just haven’t played out in a while, or ever. I’m always trying to throw something interesting (mostly to me) into what I do. But that means a lot of time in the Woodshed working out songs. I really enjoy that part of this. It feels good to be doing the work. Though I haven’t been writing a whole lot recently, so I’m hoping this winter (which is almost here!) I’ll carve out a bit of time to do some writing.
In the meantime, I’m back at The Rock Inn in Estes Park on November 12. Then I’m headed to Atlanta, Georgia, where I’m going to a conference for my day job. But while I’m there I’ll be playing a Friday night gig at JavaMonkey in Decatur on November 18. If you’re in GA somewhere I’d love to see you there. In December I’m back at The Rock Inn on the 6th, then I’ll be playing at CHUBurger in Longmont on the 30th.
I posted a new video on YouTube the other day. A song I wrote three or four years ago when I was pondering something happening in other parts of the world. It’s one of the songs I’ve been playing more recently. Hope you like it. Subscribe to my youtube channel for more- I’m hoping to pay more attention to that in the next few months.
As always, check out the Shows page to keep track of what I’m doing, and/or follow me on the social media of your preference. But if you really want to keep in touch, get on the email list. It’s the big red box to your right.
Man that went quick, didn’t it? I guess it always does.
Did some traveling this summer. Did some music. Did some fun summer stuff. Now the weather is getting chilly. Really, this morning was downright cool.
We were out east for the first half of July, and while staying in Provincetown, at the very Eastern end of Cape Cod, I tried my hand at a little busking. P-town is known for it’s street performing scene, and you have to get a permit to perform on the street. Getting a permit involves ID, and about six minutes at the local police station. It really is a system so if there is a problem, and you have a permit, you cannot say you didn’t know the rules.
My sister, Anne Stott, played on the streets in P-town for years and is a pro, so she offered some advice on where to go in town and how performers work out who goes where. It was pretty cool to be able to just find a spot, open up the case, and start playing. I found that I have a 360 degree awareness which was new and different (normally I’m just looking out in one direction at an audience). And while the average bar crowd is hardly static, I found tracking everything that was going on in the street in front of me was a whole new feeling while playing. Not sure I can describe it, but it was cool.
I borrowed my sisters super-portable amp/PA combo the first time, and I can see the value of kicking out a bit of volume on the street, but I really enjoyed just standing on the sidewalk playing. It was a very freeing experience.
My sister plays musical backup for a drag show in P-town, so she roped me into joining the show the week I was there. The performer, Elle Ememope, does a variety show called ‘What the Elle.’ That was a super cool experience. We played a few classic tunes (Layla, When Doves Cry) and some hilarity ensued. Also, I got to wear a pink feather boa on stage. So there’s that.
Dig my pink feather boa. That’s my sister playing the black LP- she’s a badass.
I played a bunch of shows at some of my favorite local spots in August- The Rock Inn in Estes Park being top of that list. I got to play on the patio at Swing Station in LaPorte, North of Ft. Collins as well (that’s the new banner photo at the top of the page), and I just played another duo show at Oskar Blues in Lyons with the awesome Chris Ramey on pedal steel (first time we’ve played together- we’re gonna have to do that again).
August was also Song School and Folks Festival time. It’s an awesome recharge, and a great musical party. Here’s me doing my thing on the Wildflower Stage at Song School. MD, Ingrid and JJ were great to help me out and make that song sound so good!
As I said, September is cool, in both senses of the word, I love the fall, so I’m not complaining. I had a total fanboy night this last week. I saw Jason Isbell at Red Rocks. Really all I can say is that it was church for me. My favorite songwriter and guitar slinger in the best venue there is. He puts on one hell of a show. One of those nights that makes you want to go home and play until your fingers bleed (except I had to get up and go to work the next day and play a show that night- I slept in this morning!)
Next week I’m playing a few songs at the Tom Petty Tribute night at Oskar Blues in Lyons- a great event with a ton of cool local people playing, and I’ll be at the Jamestown Mercantile in October as well as doing a string of shows at The Rock Inn over the fall/early winter. Check the Shows page for updates, or even better, put your name on the email list (Red Box to your right).
Southbound I-35, a Texas music news and reviews podcast, was kind enough to give me a shoutout in their ‘Texas Loves You Anyway’ section this month. You can hear the show at the link, and thanks David for the kind words! I am doing some intros for Red Dirt Roots Radio, so listen in to hear my voice, and they have the record so maybe they’ll give me a few spins as well. Thanks Texas for all the love. And Jayson at Wreckingball Radio really digs ‘The River Don’t Care.’ Thanks man, and glad you like the song.
Branching out a bit, I’m headed to Georgia and Florida in November, and working on booking some dates down there while I’m passing through. Stay tuned for more. If you are reading this and are from there or know the area, and have suggestions for venues for a solo Americana singer/songwriter, hit me up. I’m open to anything- house concerts, coffee shops, church basements, whatever.
And, of course, if you don’t have a copy of Dirt & Heartache, I can help solve that problem for you! Try here, for an actual CD, or bandcamp and iTunes for downloads (you get something extra if you download from bandcamp).
Arthur Lee Land, Brian McRae, Jay Stott and Brian Schey at Oskar Blues in Lyons, Colorado.
And here we go…
Now that Memorial Day is past it must be summer, right!?
There’s a pretty full slate of shows coming at ya. Including the first (of I hope many) shows outside of Colorado. This week I’ll be playing a Sunday afternoon show at Taste Buds Cafe in Red Hook NY. Looks like a pretty cool place. If you happen to be in the Hudson Valley area, or even Western Connecticut or Massachusetts, come on out. And if you’re in those areas and can’t make it, please pass the word to others. I put up an event on the book of face, so you can share it in your neighborhood there.
Then I’ll be back in Colorado at some of my normal haunts and a few new ones. What we used to call The Outlaw here in Lyons is now The Axe and Oar, but the patio is still awesome- I’ll be playing there in July. And in August I’m headed to LaPort, North of Ft. Collins, to play a Sunday afternoon show at The Swing Station. I’m really looking forward to playing some dates in new places.
And, I’ll be at the Rock Inn in Estes a bunch (6/18, 7/16 and 8/27), as well as Oskar Blues in Lyons (6/23) and Chuburger in Longmont (6/24). Check out the full schedule here, and keep checking because I still have a few things in the works.
In the little time that’s left I’ll be working on playing with some new folks with an eye to maybe throwing another full band show in the fall sometime. Stay tuned for more on that.
Have a happy rockin’ summer and I hope to see you out there!
Jim Harrison passed away somewhat unexpectedly two weeks ago, and I started this post but didn’t finish, and I’m just getting back to it now. Harrison has long been one of my favorite writers, but I didn’t come to him through the novella that made him famous. Back in the nineties, before the internet had decimated many subcategories of journalism they way it has since, there were a whole bunch of magazines for outdoorsmen (loosely called ‘hook and bullet’ magazines- Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield). There magazines are still limping along, but most of them have changed with the rise of the internet. Sports Afield was far and away to most literary of them, at least for the mass market magazines, and I was an avid reader of them all.
Sports Afield reprinted the introduction to a book by a french writer, Guy de la Valdene, called For A Handful of Feathers. It’s a beautiful little book about quail hunting. Valdene has written a bunch of other books, both fiction and non, but the intro, reprinted in Sports Afield, really grabbed me. In a short span of words it captured everything I understood about hunting, love of the land, eating, and the friendships that are predicated on those things. The byline read Jim Harrison. I had not heard of Harrison at that point, though the movie came out in 1994 and the titular collection of novellas had been published in 1978.
I couldn’t tell you which of his books I read first, but I have read most of what he has written over the years, often twice. His memoir, Off To The Side, is rambling, funny, and fantastic, with great vignettes from his foray into screenwriting, which paid for the the hunting, the eating, and the ranch in the Southwest. It includes the oft-repeated story in which a movie executive tells Harrison, “you’re just the writer,” and Harrison writes that on a little sign and pins it above his desk as a reminder of what he’s really up to.
Harrison was also a fantastic poet, as well as an essayist and a great food writer, though I think he will be remembered best as a master of the novella. He wrote with a sense of clarity, unflinching honesty (even about himself), and joy that I have not found in too many other writers. In his fans, I find that if you’ve heard of Jim Harrison, there’s a very high likelihood that you are like me, and have read everything you could get your hands on. He just published a new book, which I haven’t read yet, and I have no doubt that his passing will color my reading. Though not nearly as famous as some other Wester writers, say Wallace Stegner, Anne Proulx, or Cormac McCarthy, his take on landscape and the people in it was unique and powerful, and while I have one more book to go, and will probably re-read some of my favorites, the silencing of his prolific voice is a loss for us all.
First- I’m still riding the high from the release show last week. Thanks you all again for coming- that felt pretty good. And a ton of people have taken the time to tell me they enjoyed the show or really liked a particular song. That means a lot. The whole reason to make a record is because you feel this compulsion to put something out there in the world, so when people tell you they noticed, well, it’s appreciated. Just for fun, here’s a clip from the release show- it’s The Ballad of Kentucky Slim. I’ll be posting other clips from the show on youtube, so check in there if you want to see more. That’s Arthur Lee Land and Brian Eyster killing it with the twangy guitar and dobro at the end.
And now on to other things- Well, as I posted a while back, Couch by Couchwest is no more. But that’s really no reason to quit at all. So I did a video anyway. The song is off the record (the record version is louder). Many others have done videos, follow the hashtag #cxcw2016 to join in the fun. Couch by Couchwest has been really influential to me. Connecting with a broader community of people who did the same sort of music I do, and are working at it the same way I am, really helped me dive into the recording project. Plus, I ‘met’ so many cool people through CXCW. Even if it is mostly on twitter. some of those people are real, right? Right? Here’s the video. Thanks to the couch nation. I know you are still out there eating tacos with no regard for the day of the week, taking bad cat pictures, playing crazy songs, and slathering everything with mustard. Goooood mustard.
Booking shows for the spring and summer. Check the Shows page for updates and directions. You can still order the record from iTunes, Amazon or Right Here.
The record is also now available on Bandcamp– check it out (if you order from Bandcamp you get a little something extra).
So it’s release day. If you didn’t know about this before landing on this post, all I can say is you are remarkably free of the disease of social media, because I did my best to get the word out. We’re doing a show tonight at Oskar Blues in Lyons. I’m hoping to see a bunch of friendly faces there. It should be a great time.
In the in between I want to pause a minute and say a thank-you to the people who made this happen in a thousand different ways. There is no way for a guy like me to do a project like this without a ton of help. So here, in place of long liner notes (hey, those cost money!), are the people who made this happen.
Brian Schey- bassman extraordinaire!
Brian Schey– I ran into Brian at an open mic about two years ago and we started talking about doing something. Something like an EP, all acoustic, really simple and quick. That’s all. So, it didn’t work out simple, but that’s not Brian’s fault. He played bass, produced, and was a sometimes ‘artistic therapist’ throughout this project. His fingerprints are on pretty much every aspect of the record.
Brian McRae- awesome drummer!
Brian McRae– I didn’t know Brian (notice how EVERYONE is named Brian? Yeah, that caused some problems) before doing this. We recorded in his space, he played drums, was the lead engineer, and, really, one of the nicest, most gracious guys I have ever met. And an unbelievably good drummer. Getting to know him was one of the unexpected joys of doing this.
Arthur Lee Land- guitar hero.
Arthur Lee Land– I met Arthur at Song School in Lyons about four years ago. Then he moved to Lyons and started walking his dog across the street from the house we used to live in. So when Schey suggested getting him to play guitar on this I was all in, and Arthur is awesome. You should check out his music, it’s great. And, he has been so supportive, even texting me last night with some thoughts for the show tonight (advice I’m taking, BTW). Having him in Lyons is part of what makes this town really special.
Junior Burke does not like to be photographed.
Junior Burke– Well, Junior played harmonica on two tracks on this record. But saying that doesn’t really cover what a supporter he has been. Our daughters have been friends for about eight years, and so we hung out together from time to time, and as people like us do we talked about writing and music and we ended up playing some songs together. Junior really encouraged me with songwriting. Frankly, had I known at the time what his resume really was, I’d never have been brave enough to play him a song, so I’m glad I got to know him as a friend first.
Brian Eyster and his dobro.
Brian Eyster- Brian and his wife lived across the street from us for ten years before we moved to the other side of town. We played songs on the front porch a fair bit and talked music. He has also played side guy, with his dobro, at a fair number of gigs with me in the past two or three years. So when we needed another instrument on two songs, I knew I had to get him on this record some how. Brian is classic Lyons character- He will hate that I said this, but he’s one of the best players I’ve had the pleasure of hanging with, ever. And he’s one of the kindest souls I know. Having him on this really made the project for me.
John Macy played steel guitar on three songs. Getting to see him play was a mind blowing experience. And he’s an awesome guy. If you’re in Colorado, check out Casey James Prestwood and the Burning angels next time they pass your way. You won’t be disappointed.
Ash Ganley, Jesse Garland, Cherie Taylor- All three of these people are amazing singers and performers in their own right. Getting to know them was awesome and they helped make the record sound as good as it does. Again, to live in a place where talent like this is around every corner is a privilege.
Emilyn Inglis– every time you hear me sing, you’re hearing Emilyn. If it weren’t for her, this would be really great musicians and a guy doing bad karioke. Plus, she gets all my Monty Python jokes, which really helped when she was coaching me through the vocal recording sessions.
Terry Kishiyama, Josh Elioseff– Josh is a fixture in the Colorado Front Range music scene, as a photographer and as a musician himself. He is a generous warmhearted spirit who can be seen dancing in the pit at most of the festivals in this state. He did all of the album and PR photography on this project. Terry, a killer guitar slinger in his own right with the band Interstate Stash Express, is also an amazing graphic designer and immediately got the vibe we were going for on the record and turned it into a fantastic design.
Lori & Marin- I’m doing this one last because it’s so hard to come up with words to express my gratitude to my wife, Lori, and my daughter, Marin. Lori has been putting up with me for eighteen years now. That, in and of itself, is justification for some sort of medal or commendation. She’s been a really great partner and support while doing this thing that took a lot longer and was way more involved than the impression I may have given at the start. Marin, who listened to every singe mix and tweak of this record as we drove to school in the morning has been incredibly patient and very incisive in offering suggestions and opinions. A wonderfully creative young person in her own right, I can’t wait to see what she ends up working on herself! My undying love and gratitude to you both.
And to the town of Lyons itself. I played some open mics at the Barking Dog in its original location on main street some twelve years ago now. That got me playing guitar regularly again. From all the wonderful people, musicians and non, to venues like The Stone Cup, Oskar Blues, The Fork, Spirit Hound, and Planet Bluegreass, this has been a place to be supported as an artist and given some room to grow. Thanks!
Just for fun, I put together a video with some of the folks listed above. Hope you enjoy!
We’re less than two weeks away from the release show at Oskar Blues (Saturday, March 12, 8pm). If you’re planning on coming we are psyched to see you. Join the FB Event so we know to look for you. Advanced tickets are not necessary, it will be $5 at the door (gotta pay the band!) We’ll start at 8pm with an acoustic set- Bryan Eyster will join me on dobro and we might drag a couple of special guests in to join us on a few songs. At about 9 we’ll crank up the volume and get the whole band rolling. We’ll play the whole record in order, and then throw down some other tunes just because we can. Of course there will be CDs for sale and stickers too. And Dale’s Pale Ale for those of you who are partial to such stuff.
What I’d really like to see is a bunch of you come up and have dinner so we can hang out and say Hi before we get to the music. That would be fun.
Of course, some of you can’t come. That’s sad. I know it’s a long way from Alaska, London or Boston. Sorry about that (If you can’t come because you’re a working musician and you’ve got a gig, well, I totally get that. If it’s ’cause you have to work on a Saturday night, quit that job, you don’t need that aggravation). But if it’s just too far, here’s a suggestion. Order a CD NOW. Right now. This second. Click this link and ORDER. I’m gonna ship all the pre-orders before the week is over. Even if you order over the weekend I’ll ship ’em on Monday. If you order in time, you’ll have the CD by next Friday.
Next, go to this link and find the nearest retailer of Dale’s Pale Ale or your favorite OB label. Lay in a supply. A six-pack minimum, but I’m gonna recommend you invite some folks over, so you might need more. Be safe, if you’re gonna really hit it hard, don’t drive.
Then Saturday night, at about 9pm MST (adjust for your locality), when all your friends are over, put the CD in your music device, put the speakers in your front windows, turn up the volume as loud as you can (preferably loud enough to break the system), and hang out on the lawn with all your friends. If you are kind of crazy, like me, and you actually own a PA system that can run a band, use that. Invite the neighbors so they don’t call the cops. Will it be exactly the same as being there? No. But it will be pretty good. And I think we made a record that sounds good loud, which is important to me. In fact, I think it sounds better louder.
You want loud, this thing is LOUD.
If you actually do something like this, even if it’s just you, your favorite beer, and the music, take a picture and tag me on facebook or instagram. I’d love to vicariously join you. And if we are both lucky, maybe somewhere down the road I’ll get to play a show near you (suggestions are always welcome, or if you’re up for hosting a house concert let me know).
Either way, we’re gonna have a really good time celebrating this thing. Any way you can join in the fun is good by me.
No idea what that is? Tiny Desk is a music series on NPR, and they have an online contest where you send in videos. It lacks the twitter fed witty banter and barroom vulgarity of CXCW, as well as the total punk-rock DIY craziness- I’m pretty sure Two Mule Blues ISN”T going to blow anything up for Tiny Desk (NPR might not be their thing)- and no taco Tuesday, but it is indy people putting up vids of original music- and unlike CXCW, there are actual prizes (not complaining mind you- I once got some stickers and a Lusty Monk t-shirt at CXCW). I miss the connection of CXCW. It was in no way a contest- mustard t-shirts aside- it was more a gathering-without-leaving-your-couch of like-minded music folks. There was an enormous conversation happening on twitter- in fact the videos were really the excuse to have the conversation. Because of CXCW I got in touch with a much larger community of people making music in really great ways. But like all good things it’s time has passed.
So people are throwing down at Tiny Desk.
The videos are searchable by zip code, so while shamelessly searching for my own vid, I realized a bunch of people I know had also done videos, so I thought I’d collect a few in a ‘Tiny Desk, North Central Colorado Edition.’ So here ya go.
Karen Finch- I’ve known Karen about as long as I’ve lived in this area. Her live shows involve hula hoops.
Ben Hannah– I run in to Ben at one of my favorite open mics from time to time. Ben writes some really awesome songs. Especially this one.
Anne Stott- She’s my sister, and she doesn’t live anywhere near here. But I’ve met her a couple of times and she’s pretty cool.
This is in no way a comprehensive list. These are just the people who came up that I’ve actually met at one point or another. You should be looking at the rest of the Tiny Desk Postings. ‘Cause it’s cool.
Here’s mine, with my friend Brian Eyster on dobro. This song is on my record Dirt & Heartache, which you can pre-order here.
By the way. I could use another Lusty Monk tshirt. If you’re listening.