May 1, 2016We're finished! The music video to Lost Lover's Waltz was completed last weekend in Vancouver, BC. It's now in post-production and should be posted in a few weeks.
An extra thank-you going out to actress Lauren Donnelly, who stepped in 72 hours prior to the first camera call to rescue me when some last-minute scheduling issues looked like they might derail the whole project. She was absolutely wonderful for the part!
March 15, 2016Some big events coming down the pike soon. First and foremost, I am extremely pleased that filming for the new music video, Lost Lover's Waltz, is scheduled for April 24th and 25th in Vancouver, BC. Like last time, we're working with the really remarkable Mike Southworth at Collide Entertainment.
Secondly, I've been saving my pennies for quite some time now and have finally ordered a custom carbon-fiber guitar from Thomas Strieker's Leviora Guitars in Germany. Thomas is a wonderfully talented luthier and sent me some pictures of the instrument under development. I'm hoping it reaches Alaska in time for the filming and I'm so very much looking forward to bringing it out to meet all of you on tour.
January 29, 20162016 is shaping up to be quite the year, and we're off to a wonderful start. Many thanks to Lori Neufeldt of KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska for a live radio broadcast on Wednesday the 19th; the film should be out on Alaskan television in early March. A midnight flight to Calgary, AB brought a new photo shoot with Neville Palmer, followed by two wonderful evenings of house concerts - one out at Bodeaux Farms in Strathmore, and the other at Gallery House Concerts in Calgary. As an added bonus, a really delightful young singer-songwriter, Natalie Inga Gautier, played an opening set at the Gallery and then joined me later for a few tunes.
Many thanks to Andy Stanislav for the photos!!
I've got severa large projects lining up for the year; as I know more, I'll post it. I hope to see lots of you folks this year!!
Sept. 9, 2015I am the Queen of Elfland, Thomas... seven years you shall serve me...
August 18, 2015We're done! The music video, The Queen of Elfland, with Natasha Quirke as the Queen, is finished! Natasha was in The Tudors as well as having just completed a feature film with the Game of Thrones villain Iwan Rheon, and I was thrilled to have her on the project. The behind-the-scenes footage about making the video and about the role of myth in modern music and stories, is also finished! Twelve new recordings, both new songs and some of my favorites, are finished! The masters are being bundled up and mailed off to the manufacturers today and the CD / DVD will be headed off to Kickstarter backers as well as a number of radio stations within a few weeks. I am very proud indeed of all the work everyone has put into this project, and I am hoping everyone else enjoys it as well. The songs will be available on the new and improved website (I'm coding as fast as I can!) within a few weeks.
Now it's time to get back to booking shows for 2016 - I've been completely behind in the email department!
Here is the cover of the CD / DVD, designed by the very talented and remarkable Estella Lum of Vancouver, British Columbia.
April 3, 2015We're making a music video!! For quite a while now I have wanted to start telling my stories through video as well as song, so I have jumped in with both feet on the first effort. I am working with Collide Entertainment in Vancouver, British Columbia to film a video to The Queen of Elfland. A general casting call led to almost 100 applications from a number of remarkable people to play the role of the Queen, and I cast a delightful actor from Ireland, Natasha Quirke. Filming will be in one rather busy weekend (coming right up, actually - April 10 - 12) and I've decided at the very last minute to run a fast amd furious Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project so I can do it justice. The KS campaign can be found here- KICKSTARTER: The Queen of Elfland - and we'll trust that it all succeeds. Once filming has finished, we'll spend a few weeks in post-production and special effects and such. Although I normally do not record CDs and give everything away over this site, the core of the Kickstarter campaign will be a dual CD / DVD package with songs on the CD and the video and extra footage on the DVD!
January 7, 2015Seattle, Portland and Eugene were a great way to begin 2015! I won't be on the road too much before September - I've got a number of big projects on the table - so it was very nice to make some new friends, meet up with some old buddies from high school, and play some new songs. The room was a wee bit dark, but this is a new song, The Machineries of Joy, from O'Connor's in Portland, Oregon.
September 26, 2014There is nothing like Montana in the autumn!! Plus, I swear I will never again casually assume that driving 600 miles per day between shows is easy. Salt Lake City is always fun, and this time was no exception. A house concert for first-time hosts Cody and Charlie Redmond was great, even with (or including?) the large number of ducks flying over the very cool outside stage they had built for me, landing in the pond directly behind the house. In the category of gathering yet more stories of remarkable people, Charlie's mother was the first woman coal miner in the state of Utah, dealing with the other miners and five children! I also stopped by MacNichol Guitars to play all the very fancy and wonderful carbon fiber guitars.
The Bridger Folk Society in Logan, Utah was outstanding, I will hopefully be headed back there after their required two-year spacing between shows, and Logan Canyon is always beautiful, but particularly so in September. My mother tells me I have been to Helena, MT before but I cannot recall it. Regardless, this visit was very memorable, with a very endearing audience and my friend Britt Arnesen opening for me. I love her songs, and she played wonderful mandolin on Lost Lover's Waltz with me. I used to bounce her son Canyon on my knee when he was too young to walk, and sing silly songs, but he is now approaching my height and wearing Terminator t-shirts! O time in thy flight!
August 11, 2014Seldovia and the Crazy Crow Productions House Concert Series were outstanding! Seldovia is tiny (pop. 255 by 2010 census) and beautiful off the coast of Homer. A remarkable audience - two young attorneys from Manhattan touring Alaska, the Seldovia postmaster whose mother was also the postmaster, folks from Michigan staying in the B&B upstairs, a gentleman with a story about a man who built a sailboat next to his produce stand in Oregon with plans to sail around the world but whose plans and boat building became wilder as he faded into dementia and lots of other folks, including two very polite young men in their teens who had spent the entire day building an outhouse, and one of whom was wearing a Monty Python and the Holy Grail t-shirt: my peeps! Really a wonderful evening, and I think a record for me - 2000 miles by plane, car, and boat in 48 hours for one show.
July 31, 2014Arizona and New Mexico were a whirlwind of driving (1,538 miles in 72 hours), heat (Phoenix was 110 F when I landed), odd road signs near the White Sands atomic testing area ("Warning: this road may be closed due to missile testing"), and really wonderful people. Phoenix has to be one of the nicest cities I have ever visited, with everyone cheerful and helpful, including a sign on the coffee shop: "Love all, serve all" which I found most excellent. The National Weather Service issued an alert two hours before concert time, saying a hazardous dust storm warning was in effect and for everyone to stay home, but folks still came out.
In Santa Fe, I played outside to a backdrop of heat lightning, thunder and wind that made The Shores of Wales quite fun indeed. A friend of mine I'd not seen in 20 years came with her family, and her daughter Kyla brought me pictures she had drawn even though she'd never met me. Many thanks to Coyote House Concerts for the evening and the chance to be the first one to sign their new artist signature guitar! Special thanks to my friend Dawn, who used to live here in Juneau, for taking over the driving between Albuquerque and Santa Fe before I turned into a cactus.
The folks in El Capitan had neither held nor attended a house concert before, but they were warm and attentive and all totally delightful. The little courtyard had around 20 hummingbird feeders and at least 50 birds zooming about. The host was a Navy veteran and had decorated the house in the middle of the desert with ships and fish and octopi, all of which made me feel right at home.
July 3, 2014Salt Lake City was an insanely busy and enormously fun weekend!! I flew in to compete with nine other songwriters in the 18th Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter competition, sponsored by the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association and partnered this year with the Utah Arts Festival. I was fortunate enough to win, which meant a new Rainsong guitar and the opportunity to open that night for festival headliner John McCutcheon, a long-time favorite of mine.
The next morning I was invited to sit in at the open-mic for the IAMA's songwriting workshop, taught by John and Kate MacLeod. I am always amazed at the number of really good players and writers who are (intimidatingly) all over the place! I came home with a bunch of CDs and hopefully some future shows with some of these folks! (I know I am forgetting a bunch of folks, finest kind all: Kelly Brightwell, Paul Fritzler, Bob Bland, Utah Slim, Jim Fish .) Then a radio show at KRCL 90.9 FM and a new photo shoot with the delightful Anita "Neets" Crane.
We finished the weekend with a show for Ricochet House Concerts, with the unendingly generous Ruthie Nacaratto (who also organized the workshop and the contest itself) and Jim Wilcox. Thanks so much for the stories, the room, and the endless energy!
May 27, 2013Some changes going on! First off, the new website is up and running, but if you're reading this, you already knew that. I'm also experimenting with weekend tours. As I have to have a day job for now, weekends are the only consistently available time. It costs as much to get from Juneau to Seattle as it does to get from Seattle to pretty much anywhere else in the US, so once I'm there, I can go anywhere! All I need is two shows (Friday and Saturday) and I'll fly out Thursday evening, overnight in the Seattle airport, and head out first thing Friday morning. For those of you overseas, we'd need six or seven shows in a row, but it can be done!
June 27, 2012I'm back!! Well, not that I was ever gone in the first place, but the last 18 months have been rather demanding in terms of workload. But the PhD is now finished, the manuscripts are being published, and it's time for more shows! I'm jumping in with both feet while I have the time, beginning with Salt Lake City. I've been selected as a finalist in the 2012 Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Competition, which will take place on July 21st at the Gallivan Center in SLC. Then in August, I'm part of the Listening Room Festival, playing house concerts from Humboldt County down to San Diego from August 1 - 10.
A friend of mine once said I do everything the hard way, and he might be right. Certainly, living in Alaska as a single parent with no road access doesn't seem the best way to be a touring songwriter. But all this last winter while I was working, I listened to a number of interviews with musicians, actors, comedians and such, and the one thing that came through was that many, if not most, of them were successful because they were able to take what was generally viewed as a weakness or obstacle and make it their strength. I'm not quite sure how that might apply in my situation, but it's encouraging!
For those of you visting here for the first time, please feel free to come over to the Facebook page - it's a bit more dynamic than this page, with more updates and notes about when and where I'll be playing or any little tidbits that happen to come along.
January 2, 2011Happy New Year to everyone, and what a year it's been from my end of things! I've met so many kind and generous people, played some wonderful places, and had fantastic responses to my music wherever I've gone. My deepest thanks to all of you who have helped arrange concerts, given me a place to stay, and offered support, encouragement, and appreciation for my songs. I have a special place for everyone we met overseas, who were finest kind one and all.
Lastly, thank you so much to not only everyone who has been able to come to the concerts, but also to everyone all over the world who has listened to these songs, given them a home, and passed them on to someone else. I hope to see you all someday.
December 20, 2010This year finished off with two very fun shows, one in Salem, Oregon, and the last one a few days ago here in Arcata, California where I grew up. The folks in Salem were wonderful, and many thanks go to Kate Andersen for arranging everything, Justin and Christina for offering their home for the concert, and Jeff Andersen for shooting some great photos! We filled the house without any publicity other than personal emails and invitations, and everyone was very generous indeed when the hat was passed. I'm hoping to get back with some new songs before too much time passes.
It's a bit scary to play for people who have known you most of your life - they can look at you and simply say 'We knew you when you were a little kid running around in the woods wearing swords!'. (It's a long story...) But the people who came out to the Westhaven Arts Center last Saturday were all most excellent, especially because Westhaven is a bit out of the way, it was pouring rain, and Sara Bareilles was playing a show that same night. We sold out the hall nonetheless and had to put up some extra chairs! A lot of my friends whom I had not seen for twenty years were there, and I am very appreciative that so many of them took the time to come and listen.
August 25,2010I'm home now, after the marathon of plane flights back from London to Alaska. I'm still a bit disoriented, and I know that various forgotten bits and pieces will jump out for weeks to come. The one thing that stands out above all else, though, is the universal kindness and generosity shown towards us by everyone we met; it was truly remarkable.
The last place I played was at Annie Windley's singer-songwriter showcase in London. The geek in me was absolutely delighted at Jonny Berliner's brilliant and hilarious scientific tunes. "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle" is definitely going into my song roster!
After balancing my bank account and organizing the fall schedule, it looks like it will be Christmas before any more out of town shows. I have a new manuscript due in early November, and my comprehensive exams in late November. I do have a concert in Arcata, CA on December 18th, and I'll be in the Vancouver, BC area the weekend of February 18th, 2011. Beyond that, everything is fluid chaos.
My deep thanks to everyone across the pond for their help and generosity; I would love to go back as soon as possible. Fall is here in Alaska, and the bears are chasing salmon getting ready for the snows, which are only a month or two away. I love the winter here, but I'm sure I will wake up many mornings with my heart in Ireland, or Inverness and Drumnadrochit, or Wales and southern England, running through the woods to avoid the fact that all three of us were trespassing, running home forever under the hill.
August 12, 2010One of the things that struck me when I moved to Alaska was the remarkable number of talented musicians up there, something that I have found in Ireland and the UK as well. (I suppose that shouldn't surprise me in the least.) At the Zodiac Sessions at Bruxelles in Dublin last night, I ended up sitting at a table next to the extremely talented Sue Callaghan. A music teacher and owner of a music school, she was celebrating her birthday and her new CD release, which I've been listening to ever since. At the Glor Sessions a few days prior, I heard Eoin Glackin, whose song "Hello Caroline" grabbed my attention enough to get a CD from him as well. At this rate, my backpack will be full of CDs on my return home!
Yesterday morning found me wandering the streets of Dublin. It was early, and a beautiful morning. I was lost, which wasn't so beautiful, but I didn't really mind. On a set of brick steps, two old men watched the world go by over coffee and pipes. I went up to them, apologized for the disturbance, and asked for directions. Both of them laughed, and one removed his pipe long enough to tell me I wasn't really lost, because I was in Dublin, and what more did I need?
What more indeed?
August 9, 2010Ireland has a long history of fantastic writers and wild poets. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, and Bram Stoker all arose from the green fields. Joyce himself, although he spent much of his adult life outside of Ireland, wrote almost exclusively of events in Dublin, saying that the center of Dublin was the center of every city, and therefore a microcosm of the world as a whole.
Ray Bradbury spent a number of months in Dublin and Galway, working on the screenplay for Moby Dick. He later wrote that while he was there, he disliked it intensely and could not wait to leave. Upon his return home, however, he found that the characters and geography of Ireland had worked their way inside, and over the years came proudly marching out in his stories. "The Beggar on O'Connell Bridge" is one, and I suddenly realized today that I was standing on that selfsame bridge.
The Irish word "Glor" means simply "sound", "voice", or "noise". I had an enormous amount of fun tonight at The Glor Sessions, an evening of poetry and music held in the basement of the International Bar in Dublin. The number of really talented musicians here is remarkable and, at times, rather intimidating. The sessions are run by the wonderful and tireless poet, Stephen James Smith. I gathered CDs from a number of the other songwriters, and all of us loved the passionate poems spoken by a young woman from Portugal, even if we couldn't understand what she was saying. The current love affair with instant fame and fortune, especially in the US, completely misses the intimacy and community of gatherings like these, which is a shame. Videos of the evening can be found on his Ustream page, and my set is a little ways into this video.
August 8, 2010One of the hallmarks of this tour has been the friendliness of everyone I have met, from London to Inverness. Without fail, people have been open and receptive to my questions as a fumbling American overseas. This morning, however, several folks went above and beyond the call of social duty. My daughter and I stayed last night in a Bed & Breakfast in Inverness called the Crown Hotel Guesthouse. The proprietor, Catriona, had been kind enough to give us a room at the last minute when my previous hotel had to cancel. She herself was camping out at Belladrum with her daughter that weekend, but the housekeeper Sue showed us in, allowed us to check in early, and shooed us out the door to the Belladrum.
We got up this morning to discover that we had lost the small pack containing our passports, tickets, and all other accoutrements of modern, documented existence. Catriona and Sue phoned the police, who indeed had the pack. Not only had the taxi driver in whose cab we had left the pack turned it into the police, but the police themselves had looked at the itinerary inside, determined that I was playing the Belladrum, and had made the effort to call the Belladrum organizers, 20 miles away at the festival, and have them make a general call over the loudspeakers to find me (obviously, I wasn't paying attention).
With fifteen minutes until train departure, Catriona's sister drove us to the police station, the officer behind the desk smiled when I rushed in and signed the papers she gave me, and we made it to the platform just as the conductor was pushing the button to secure the train.
The crown of Catriona's generosity was that she did not charge me for our stay. She had seen on my website that I give away my music, and she was kind enough to return the gesture.
I cannot recommend the Crown Hotel Guesthouse highly enough. Not only was it easily the most comfortable and welcoming place we have stayed so far, but everyone there is charming, friendly, and, as Hawkeye Pierce describes on the final page of the novella M*A*S*H, "finest kind".
August 7, 2010Wednesday evening I was sitting on the sidewalk outside The Village in Leith, which is part of Edinburgh, tuning the 12-string and warming up. Two rather dour and quite capable-looking young gentlemen approached me, and after inquiring about my use of fingerpicks instead of a flatpick and complimenting my playing, identified me from the poster over my head, and asked if I would be traveling "uptown to play in the big Festival". They identified themselves as Louis, who was 13, and Dylan, who allowed that he was only 10, but as he was having a birthday very soon, might as well be 11. We talked for a bit longer, and with a sudden burst of truly genuine warmth and sincerity, both wished me well in my shows. Their inquiries and well-wishes done, they strolled away into the evening, quiet Kings of Edinburgh.
The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh has a well-deserved reputation as a madness, and indeed it is. For the entire month of August, hundreds, if not thousands, of musicians, artists, actors, dancers and everyone else descend upon the city for non-stop performances. As there are so many, the average attendance for any given performance is six people, and I was therefore extremely flattered and rather touched that the room in the Royal Oak in which I played on Friday evening was crowded with over 30 people. It was quite warm, but all remained through the entire concert and were absolutely delightful. My deep thanks go to Paddy of the Edinburgh Folk Society who arranged the concert, and Heather of the Royal Oak for offering such a wonderful place to play.
The country from Stirling north on the train has been absolutely my favorite in Scotland so far - many hills and forests, deer and rabbits, and the deep lochs and ruins. Inverness itself is wonderful!
The Belladrum Festival was estimated to have between 12,000 - 14,000 people in attendance today. Several stages with different musicians, combined with endless stalls and dancers and festival-goers, not to mention acres of tents and yurts for those camping out over the weekend, made for a rather frenetic atmosphere. The Potting Stage, run by the tireless Rob Ellen, was a great and fun place to play, even during the duet I had with a chainsaw that was singing immediately behind me. Being from southeast Alaska, I was delighted to find international connection with so many people there, who, like so many of us up North, find Wellingtons (X-tra Tuffs) to be universally applicable footwear for any occasion.
Tomorrow is the flight to Dublin. I'm sorry to leave Scotland so soon, but Ireland beckons just beyond the sunset.
August 5, 2010First tour update from the train, traveling from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. The first five days have been rather a whirlwind! The show with the Borderline Folk Club in New York was a lot of fun, and the people there wonderfully warm and supportive. Steve Shapiro was kind enough to open his house for the concert - house concerts are definitely catching on more and more, which is really great for singer-songwriters looking for places to play and share their work. Sol Zeller, the President of the Borderline, was extremely kind and very fun indeed!
Last night was the Aberdeen Folk Club in a fantastic old pub, The Blue Lamp, that used to be a soap factory. Grame the bartender introduced me to a wonderful whisky whose name I have already forgotten, perhaps due to the amount he placed in my glass! The room had great acoustics, and the people who came out to listen and play were wonderful. A special nod to Alan and Dawn for playing Nanci Griffith!
No trip is without adventure, however. Never have so many miles been driven in so many hours trying to reach a hotel visible from the airport in New Jersey but embodying the saying "You can't get there from here". When I get the chance, a new song is going out to the delightful tollbooth ladies on the New Jersey turnpike, those goddesses of the night, who alternately scolded me and encouraged me that I'd eventually get there, which I did, at 2:00 a.m.
In the same spirit of endurance, six miles walked through as much of Aberdeen as I could find in search of a coin-operated laundry eventually resulted in a sweet and kind lady at a dry-cleaners sympathetically informing me that such really don't exist in Scotland. Let's hope that an alternative can be found upon arrival in Edinburgh in a few hours.
I am loving the voices and accents of Scotland, not to mention the wonderful old graveyards, the ruins on the coast, and the strong coffee that has so far been my lifesaver. This is the sort of country that should have packs of wild basset hounds roaming the hills, baying over the sea at sunset. If only!