Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Oh Tour! Oh Tour! So i think there is a weird bunch of emotions that one goes through while traveling for a long period of time. It can be exciting and awe-inspiring but it can also rattle your nerves and tolerances. Especially those tolerances for other people. But then when you come home you are faced with a whole new set of emotions. In a weird way it is sort of depressing to return back to all your routines and for us our very busy and stressful "lives" we live when not touring. As I glance over my schedule for the next month I think to myself "Jeez how am I gonna fit it all in?" And I haven't even started thinking about music yet.

Though I could do without a long drive anyplace for awhile, it is weird to go from spending almost every night witnessing some kind of art, as well as meeting new people, and now back to barely having time for it. Sometimes when you step away from the norms of your life for a little while you start to see how far away your reality has become from the way you actually want to live. The House always looks weird to me when we return from a long trip. I see my own Ruts. This time upon return we spent the whole first day back just cleaning and moving furniture and rearranging. As if we needed to keep in motion. Save momentum. Move on from our patterns of living over the summer so as not be sucked back into the same old thing. The same old thing seems broken somehow. When I see it I wonder how these routines were working for me before because they don't seem to be now. I wonder how they ever worked for me. It is hard for me to figure out where I am actually most comfortable. Home or The Road?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


“Some days are diamonds,” and of others I am reminded of a friend’s slogan “I got a rock,” quoted from the Peanuts Christmas Special.

The existence of that small business – whether cafe, art gallery, lounge or cycle shop – is similar to that of the artist within the larger scope of towns and cities as they stand today: bottom feeders in the desert.

In each, the valuable stories of past and recent heroes haunt the streets and scurry through the backroom conversations and anti-climactic constructivist dialogue.
We are all living in filth up to our necks, alongside vermin with the bugs, looking up at vultures who wait for us to drop. And to think those crafty marketeers romanticize this lifestyle and hand it back revamped and fashionable – at a price no more or less perverted in our expedient economic doldrums.

It can be so because we let it be. Is all good? Is all free?

The artist makes good works, not without refinement. Who dictates this refinement – the artist himself, or is it through the audiences’ unbridled want? Does the audience want art or does the audience want what it wants? The less amount of physiological noise, to belong, to be handed the script, to not dig – OR – to be excited by unknowns, to have doubts, to dream uncensored, to be happily lost.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Hey there! Writing to you from Milledgeville, GA. It is a warm and lovely day. We are back to the east coast again on the home stretch of our tour. In respect to our situation we have been feeling like most of this tour has been just a reconnaissance mission for future tours. Though sometimes that means we find this out by visiting the "wrong" places first and finding out where we should have gone. Or people sharing with us more spaces to look into. All of it encouragement for our future. Which we are already working on. Planning for a late feb/march tour and then a second walking tour in late spring/early summer and then another Fall tour. Now is a good time for requests if any of you have some places you would like us to go so you can see us. And of course if you are friends or family we will be visiting as many of you as we can. It is apparent that without such support we would not have made it this far. Our feeling is that we are building some sort of momentum... Snowballin' if you will. And that feeling makes it all worth doing. However as Mark and I grow very tired from long drives in the car and late nights, we happily anticipate recording something new this winter. And the idea that we may be able to bring a band with us next time. And finding a new vehicle to travel with like maybe a conversion van. We have had many long hours to dream about this exciting future ahead. And many long hours to reflect on our experiences thus far and the hospitality and support we have received. And the gratitude we feel. If you are ever feeling down about people not showing enough kindness toward each other than I encourage you take a road trip, "give it up to the universe" (as a friend of ours said once) and see what you find. This country is amazing and full of amazing people.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


As we move along from state to state, a conversation is continued among those we meet; the theme is one of perspective and another of perseverance. I am reminded of a lyric left on my chest back home – “from where I’m standin’ you all seem like you’re waiting for your love to return.” In Illinois, I was told that making others believe that you are, indeed, an artist or important supersedes the act of creating. Hence, it doesn’t matter what you make as long as people perceive that what you’re making is grand. This trickery involves imagery, slogan making, branding, and the conquering of social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Although undoubtedly powerful tools in the game of garnering support, I believe that these mechanisms are doing nothing more than creating “fans,” a term now rebranded as, I guess, “likers.” The trouble with this is “how much thought goes into liking something?”

Any time spent advertising is time away from creating and of course one may argue that the marketing process is and can be part of the creation, but I disagree. A few years ago the buzz word was “artfully” or “artfulness,” so then each task aside from the actual creation of art could be managed “artfully” therefore cleansing one’s conscience of that dreadful sensation which corresponds with selling oneself.

Many artists continue these conversations ad infinitum for a lack of understanding - reaching out as if within the plethora of social networks and among countless “friends” they remain answerless. Where is the community, where is the support – if the questions are still being asked and some still feel hopeless?
Maybe the community was never there, maybe the support has been stolen, maybe the infrastructure is corrupt and maybe the route is wrong.

Unless it is your route.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tour Day 9

We have spent the last few days traveling around the Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. We made some new friends but we also got to spend a good amount time with some dear old friends. People who live in this part of the US and the way people live out here feels much different than back home in Massachusetts. Our friend John commented that he frequently misses turns because many intersections lack any sort of character to distinguish them from other because they all look the same. Which is true. Corporate chains have invaded much of this landscape but in contrast to where we are from it is not in replacement of small town main streets, the chain stores are everywhere because there was not anything at all around before they came in. It is a strange concept for us to grasp because Massachusetts has such an old and rich heritage but much of the land in the Midwest was not settled until much later. There are not many houses or buildings older than 100 years at the most. It is also strange (compared to New England) to see a landscape so flat and expansive where you can see for miles and miles but this land is all cultivated. It is all being used to feed America. The other day we drove through a section of Indiana where hundreds of acres of farm land also hosted hundreds of wind turbines all turning away slowly. A doubly industrious use of the same land. I feel a strange sort of energy here. Part of me is proud and awestruck by the immense expanse of cultivated land but another part of me wonders how necessary all this corn is. Not to mention all this land that has been altered to serve that purpose. Was this all trees before?? Where are all the animals?? What was this land like before the farms??

A Few Special Places…(cont.)

In the stockade neighborhood of Schenectady, NY, amidst structures that have stood since the late 1600’s, there is a wonderful cafĂ© called the Moon and River. Part coffee house, part restaurant, part bookstore and part market the Moon and River nurtures it’s patrons body, mind and soul. Delicious food, great ambiance, live music, local art and healthy items to stock your pantry with all contribute to the warm welcome of this space that owner/operator Richard strives for. This is one of the few shows we were able to set up over the phone because Richard does not own a computer nor does he use the internet. The town of Schenectady itself seemed to support our art as well through media. We were featured in The Daily Gazette thanks to avid music writer Brian Mcelhiney who seemed genuinely interested in our current method of touring to more small towns than cities to achieve more intimate and memorable performances. Also we are able to phone in an interview with Gary Goldberg on his weekly radio program called “In the Spirit” which features many local musicians, artists and healers who are doing interesting things in the Schenectady area.. Gary gave us a wonderful interview and as promised he came to our performance because he so enjoyed our records and interview and then even gave us a further shout out in his weekly newsletter the week after our performance just to try and reach those who were unable to come out to the Moon and River. We met some very nice folks mostly due to our new friend Brian Alvarado who shared the bill with us that night. Schenectady had a lot to offer but Moon and River is what made it really great.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Few Special Places…

In an attempt to recap from our inability to keep up and in accordance with the themes of some earlier blog posts I would like to recognize a few special rooms we have had the pleasure of performing in during the last two months. The first one Elysium Arts in Rollingsford, NH is a place that stands out in our memories of our recent regional tour in September. Joe Simes, owner, operator and music lover has a wonderful Folk club that is contributing to preserving and continuing the legacy of an old mill building in Rollingsford, NH. This is not our first experience with these types of places where enough motivated individuals decided to enrich their community by converting an old mill building into a once again useful space full of boutiques, artisan shops, art studios and galleries as well as Folk clubs or (in this case the Public Library as well) rather than allow the building to be reclaimed by its natural surroundings until it must be torn down. Elysium Arts Folk Club offers a truly authentic listening experience and intimacy that artists and listeners alike seek out and covet. Elysium Arts has had many great and widely known performers grace the stage and many unknown but still great performers grace the stage as well. Aside from the wonderfully unobtrusive listening environment the room itself contains so much vitality from its rich historical industriousness and the lifeblood of the river still flowing just outside the back windows. Joe Simes, owner/operator is a true music appreciator and he has created an ideal environment to listen as well as share.
Photo Credit: Ron St. Jean --

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Frank Inability To Keep Up With The Internet

It's really quite natural to want to live unfettered by the constant cataloging events, like taking loads of pictures while sight-seeing.
In summary, we have had great performances, superb camping, quality time with friends, and not enough to eat. We are working on that last one.
There will be pictures posted shortly - as soon as we have time to stalk a CVS for about an hour. Tonight, we look forward to performing a house concert for a bunch of college students, and then off to Doylestown to see some good friends.
This leg of the tour is being viewed as a preliminary practice run - as Raianne and I are trying different methods of hobo-ship. As October approaches, we should be ready to navigate the country with minimal discomfort.
Today, as we folded our campsite, I noticed that we have attained the schedule of retired people. My uncle is envious of our travels - I don't know what keeps him stapled in place. Routines perhaps.

Leftover Thoughts from Last Friday

This morning, I came to think of reading Frankenstein as maybe through it some light could be shed on this feeling I’ve had that my art is growing evermore able to extinguish me. There are so many projects that I wish to start, cultivate, and finish, well. But like anything else, expediency only proves that acts may be done, and does not attempt to flirt with reason. “Be responsible children,” is what came to mind, and in reference to a cartoon that I had once followed, I drew a bee above “Responsible Children.”

Monday, August 30, 2010

Burnt Norton Abbey

To the lonesome harmonica’s introduction to Wright’s “Prodigal Hope”, we drove away from another visit to Burnt Norton Abbey. On this second year – and despite schedules which would curl your feet under themselves – we managed to make time. “You make time for what you put first,” would be that mother’s statement forged of guilt. The great responsibility is then to “put first” that which is most important; in belief and faith synonymous with the passing of one’s days and doings, Aaron would quote this as “human being.”

He also used the term “business.” It is my understanding that dialogue must begin with a mutual agreement in language; it is also my understanding that this activity is a trick by method and most often prolongs discourse ad infinitum.

However, when he said “business,” in regards to faith, community, and “good (as referring to a common good or truth),” it was as if I suddenly looked down at my hand to reveal a splinter which had long skinned over, a microscopic chuck of wood which at the time could not be easily removed by tweezers or pins, of that my wonder imagines other wooden masses like the remaining rotted planks of a boat which had been long stranded. The wood is moist and flakes off to the touch exposing mold, cob-webbery, and beetle bugs – an infestation of infinitesimal organisms breaking down the integrity of the structure long after the vessel’s purpose lost proper function.

I would claw at the shard, but I am resigned to recall its place notwithstanding its lingering hazard – and to scratch and dig it out in plain view would surely repel my neighbors, distracting them from the simple introductions taking place.

But I think to myself, “He cannot mean business.”

Referencing Thoreau and Tolstoy, the latter seeming a more appropriate source, I would pose the pieces of this question: is it business to clothe the world, or rather to clothe only those involved in the business of clothing the world? When I think of the word business, I see busy-ness – you see now that which Aaron and assumedly Tolstoy would refer to as our universal lack of labor. Our work, of which has the utmost impact on our individual well being, has been long disenfranchised. We are most certainly busy, but what are we busy with? What are we busy doing, daily? And as an effect, what are we busy being?

The negative connotation of “business” would then be the latter end of the initial question. The effect of business would be singular gain, reducing community to a fuel. I have become highly sensitive to this term in regards to art and tend to be the most defensive, sprung to action, and ultimately, scared.

“I put down my sword and shield, down by the riverside.”

The final piece of Burnt Norton this year was a conversation I had late last night with a friend who now resides in Santa Fe New Mexico. “Divine,” must be we, in motive, practice, and thought. In our doings, we must be responsible for those in our community – through our being, we must not mistake one word for another, because in doing so is the significant difference between us, as artists, as human beings.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Celebration of Life

Every year for the last four or five we have gone to a Celebration of Life in Barre, MA. It is a free event hosted by our friend Dylan Clark and his family on their farm that includes live music, vegan potlucking and camping with some of the greatest people you might ever meet. We asked Dylan once why he wanted to host such an event and he replied it was because he wanted for all his friends to hang out together long enough to become friends and want to help each other. This kind of camaraderie between musicians is usually only present when among those who consider or have gone touring. Most years the ratio of bands to music listeners leans heavily towards bands. Some bands come all the way from Georgia just to play in a basement filled with excited listeners who may or may not give them the "Barre-O".

Every year the CoL consistently improves mostly due to the Clark Family. Aside from being gracious hosts they tend to improve something each year esthetically or with furniture or various other things to share that they came across throughout the year. This year for example more space and seating for the show was provided by reorganizing an enormous wood supply and by building simple benches out of pine boards and cinder blocks. Also the stage was surrounded by flowing curtains with irises on them to disguise the basement walls behind. The field has always been hayed to make way for an impromptu wiffle ball game or campers. The grass is always mowed. The fire is always ready.

Every year at CoL I hear new music that I probably would not have otherwise heard!! I am so grateful that this festival has a consistent delivery of new music and performance. Not all festivals can boast this same legacy.This years show included an on stage engagement!

The renewal this event provides for many of it's participants is unmatched.

Gratefulness for the sharing, the beauty and good company washes over me and coats my mind. I will carry this feeling for the next year until we all can celebrate again.
shown from left to right Mark Mandeville, Raianne Richards, Hannah Peckham and her Mack
Photo: Paul Gandy

Monday, July 5, 2010

Simplicity Vs. Life

The idea of simple living. I believe I may have tasted this. I believe that this may have been created at a tiny cabin in Maine. Untouched beauty, simplistic pleasures and aspirations. However to remain too far outside the world we all share, together, for too long is just irresponsible. Unfair to the rest of your fellow man.
As soon as you cross that border, that beloved bridge, technology has already grappled you in it's talons. You are getting the dish, you are being inspired, you are making plans and you are consoling a friend who seems troubled though it just is because they are simply stumbling on to something and are afraid to realize it. The farther away from this place, the more you digress. The more weight you feel. Anxious weight. Not the kind that makes you stronger and maybe better looking but that kind of weight that will draw away years of your life. You know.. The REALLY heavy stuff. whew.
So you wanna live simple? It seems so far away and so hard. Maybe you need to escape and get far enough away to really relax.. But you somehow want one foot in the game. One foot that hasn't turned it's back on it's friends just yet. You want to add to their life. You haven't given up. You realize your inner power and you now understand that you must share this knowledge with the rest of the world. Sorry if that was culty sounding. I am not trying to be culty. I am trying to make you see that giving up on the world is not the answer. Honestly it takes so much more power to stay in the world than it does to live outside of it. This is so draining that you need to recharge. Or simply seek some help that you are proud enough to accept. Come over that bridge with vengeance! Ready or not? Wow was I really doing all these things when I left? Here I come. It's is not too much or too many things it is simply never enough. Simple living? Want a simple idea? tackle your demons!! Sounds simple right?

Monday, June 28, 2010

NXNE vs. G20

For those of you who have asked about Toronto and our experience at NXNE, here is a brief retelling.

First off, many friends of ours had expressed an urgent concern for border crossing - being musicians, you are NOT allowed to "work" in Canada without proper licenses and paperwork. NXNE had provided us with a stack of documentation from festival organizers and immigration offices, all of which remained in my glove box. Aside from awkward questions as to our business in Canada and to the length of time spent in the country, there had been no issues worth the amount of worry our friends had bothered themselves with. Raianne had put it best while using her womanly charms on the first customs officer, "if we were in it for the money, we would have quit long ago."

We had been told by the soundman at our performance arrangement that Toronto, including surrounding boroughs, has a total population of roughly 6 million people. I have had a theory regarding the "degradation of systems" which attempts to explain how large populations are not adequately maintained concerning basic human needs. This trip provided me with some interesting fodder for thought.
Music festivals in Toronto are a historical matter, having dated back to the 1800's, organized by some of the cities MVP's. I was a bit surprised then to understand what sort of impact this G20 summit thing would have on June's cultural gatherings. The business owners all complained of detours established and fences erected to ward off protesters during the summit. One Canadian business owner even mentioned the trees being removed from the cities sidewalks due to some speculations that such could be torn out and used as battering rams. As one could predict, all this rigmarole served to depreciate foot traffic from central festival areas; the result was that our performance fell on few ears and I now can blame the world's leaders for poor attendance - another hash mark on a long long list.
Dear Mr. President, please consider holding the next G20 in central Montana for this will prove far safer and cost effective. You will see a hippie coming from miles away. PS. Pack your lunches.


For love of books, good music, good friends and mountains

Mark and I attempted to satisfy many wants for this weekend. First the want of a good backyard folk festival. Annual Reed- Swale folk fest in Rocky Hill, CT. Live music. A rock opera even. An army of children dancing away the day with toy instruments and tired parents. Beautiful sunshine. Check.

Next the want of captivated listening audience in an excellent book store/ Inspirational space Mindful books & Ephemera. Our friends The Pleasants , a recession rock group, I think also share our same sentiments for this lovely place. Let me just say here that firstly these folks, namely Jon and Martha, always deliver. The Blue Kat music parlor series showcases to me all the things a successful art (or any) community needs; a peaceful comfortable space open to all members of the community, a potluck, music/art appreciators, and musicians/artists all in one space. Jon and Martha provide such a great service to the community by sharing their space and the best part is they are doing this because they understand the value of it and most importantly because they value it. Please visit 29 main st. in Jaffrey, NH for a concert or to find that rare or unusual book or vinyl that you have been seeking. Or maybe just for a cup of coffee and some sincere conversation with two great people. I always leave there feeling refreshed and inspired. Check.

Next the want of seeing good friends. Mark and I were invited to crash the after party of Jocie Adams show at The Starving Artist in Keene, NH. Unfortunately we arrived too late to listen to any of the performance. This is the way things go sometimes with performers, everyone seems to be off doing their own shows and it becomes very hard to support each other. Especially when we seem to have shows on the same nights at the same times. Everyone is always working. However it seems that since the Walking Tour ended many of our friends have wanted to spend some time. Perhaps they want to hear the stories of our tour or ensure that we have not indeed lost our minds are that we may be still ok. Laina is an excellent host and with her newly outfitted double bed bunk bed she is always extending hospitality to those musicians who travel up Keene way. Since the Burnt Norton Abbey summer forum last year I have felt that visiting The Starving Artist feels like going to visit family or some of your best friends. Check.

Lastly, The want to climb a mountain. I think anyone who goes to Jaffrey or Keene should climb Mt. Monadnock. Though not an easy climb all the way up the view from the top makes it all worthwhile. We offered up our plans to Keene friends and a new transplant Chris (who attended last years forum as well) decided to come with. It was truly a gorgeous day for a climb, though I think the view can be more spectacular in the Fall months when the humidity has migrated away. The summit of a mountain has a particular effect on me (and probably most people) of how small I am. Also the power of the wind and the presence of the stone against the air. The balance. The sense of time. These things have been around for a very long time. I like to imagine what it may have looked like while most of the landscape was encased in a frozen glacier. The strange desire of humans to want to climb up these things just for a glimpse out. Check.

What a weekend.