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February 4
I caught you this delicious bass.

Driving west, US 82, through Detroit, Reno, and Paris, Texas. I saw no Paris, Texas, Hilton. Didn’t see Ry, either. That’s when the cell phone rang. It was Burt. Burt has a way of turning the world into a Rene Magritte painting. While talking to him, I drive an hour beyond Austin College (which, as one might assume, is not located in Austin, Texas) … must turn around, rush like hell to set up for the concert – turns out to be the best audience I’ve ever had at this school. Drive I-35, south to Waco, to Common Grounds. Awesome audience. I watch Napoleon Dynamite with Jill Mashburn. The most excellent Jill Mashburn. I drive through Crawford. I do not run into Ted Nugent. I do play at the Texas Tea and Coffee Company, in McGregor, to the kindest folks in all of Texas ... eat Mexican omelets - secret magical omelets, that send me into a deep slumber ... dream that every vehicle on Westheimer is a Hummer, but they’re all hybrids. I awaken in a panic - must drive to Dallas to feed Soo Soo’s kitty. Burt calls again as I drive up I-35; I miss the exit, AGAIN, winding up in Waxahachie in blinding fog. I crawl to DFW using the Helen Keller method. It’s midnight, i’m stopped in an industrial zone red light intersection, when a smoke-belching squealing-pig fan belt beat-up dark tinted glass Ford Pinto station wagon rolls up next to me. I wonder if I’ll be gunned down for looking over. I look anyway. Soap lettering on windows says “Vote for Pedro.”

 

February 13
As if …

I finally won something at the Grammy Awards: the 47th Annual Grammy Awards - it’s a lovely framed poster, featuring artwork from the official Grammy artist, Robert Sturman. He created the somewhat incongruous image of a man resembling Mississippi John Hurt in a red suit walking with a parlour guitar over his shoulder, and a Grammy award in his hand. I’m sure this happens every day on Pico Blvd. "Buried in his jammies, never won no Grammies ..." Actually, I’m perfectly happy with the framed poster, considering I didn’t even release a CD. I do, however, have a pretty amazing new album in the works - hoping to get it released by late summer / early fall 2017 … in the meantime, "Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia ..."

 

March 15
huddled outside Buntrock

Drive true north, to Minnesota, back home, across the shorn sleeping frozen fields, under the endless prairie sky, toward steaming soup, the huddling affection of wool bundled friends, the sparkling eyes that have endured yet another winter. Minnesota winter. It gives people a right to be cranky. I unload my baggage in Ytterboe. An ornery elderly woman calls in to the St. Olaf campus radio jazz show, cursing, screaming “Woody Herman was a communist! You’re agitating and aggravating my demented half-sister Myrtle. Play some Perry Como.” Smoke rises from the electric alarm clock - then it explodes. Outside the wind howls, the snow drifts and blankets entire pick-up trucks, and the setting sinking prairie sundogs whisper good night through the ice crystals. Later that evening it’s another kickass audience at the Pause, seventh year in a row. My first mid-concert evacuation from a false fire alarm, and I’m huddled outside Buntrock with five hundred of my closest buds, laughing, tears flowing, shivering, daring, mocking, and howling back at the bitter sub-zero wind. We know the earth will soon turn itself once again toward the sun. We know the blessing that is St. Olaf College. We know how to keep secret a miracle. The best kept secret in higher ed. The best kept secret in America. True love. True north. St. Olaf. My favorite place to play on planet Earth.

 

March 21
Justin, dude, you don’t have enough capos

Dinner at Larry and Annie’s. Wine, foodies, and music with Peter Lang (and Steve Carlson). Peter has the strongest hands I’ve ever seen, yet no guitarist has a more expressive touch. The front door opens. It’s Todd Lunneborg. Then it’s Justin Roth. Nothing like tripping over a dozen guitar cases in the living room. So we sit around passing guitars, taking turns, playing. Everyone in the room is a monster guitarist. No one bothers to ask what tuning we’re in. At this altitude it doesn’t matter. But Justin, let me lend you one of my partial capos because I don’t think the five capos on your guitar are enough and that song would so greatly be improved if you added a sixth one way up on your seventeenth fret. A quiet, private, unannounced night of extreme solo acoustic guitar, with some of the most gifted solo acoustic musicians anywhere. Minneapolis. Greatest city in the U S of A.

 

April 1
winking at the twinkling of the stars

Detroit, Michigan. So I have this dream, I’ve been saving every soda bottle and can from the last three years and the car is crammed full of them to the point where I can’t see squat out the back window, barrelling up Interstate 75 in the falling dark through a dragnet of speed traps up ahead but it’s worth the dare because crossing the Michigan line brings a dime for every last bottle I found, got the rig unwound and all I see are cop cars and you ain’t foolin no one in your unmarked crown victoria, beotch, with yer helicopter blade ovations and German shepherds snarling cause I’m driving through your radar field like a hot knife through Butte and little feat don’t fail me now with the neon glare of the 24-hour Meijer out on 8 Mile in sight and nobody in the produce section to suspect the sweet sound of high margin cans and bottles rattling home the instant profits, so buzz off bozo this is just a dream as I drive out under cover of the lake effect blanket with nineteen bucks back home where my thoughts escape a wretch like me out the back window, where once I was blind but now ... I see.

Thank you Trinity House Theatre and Michigan Fingerstyle Guitar Association.

 

April 14
duct tape, gravity, and faith

That 1 Guy, a.k.a. Mike Silverman, a.k.a. That 1 Guy. Memorize his name(s), find out when he’s coming to your town, mark your calendar, and go see him. You will not believe your eyes – or your ears. I drove down to Murfreesboro for an afternoon in the sun with puppies and hippies and zerbets and it turns out Mike is old friends with my dear friend Derek Jones (one of the finest bass players in the western hemisphere). No co-inkydinks in life. T.O.G. performs music from his CD, Songs in the Key of Beotch. It’s a torrent of twisted stream of consciousness lyrics in a rapid fire voice that’s a cross between Tom Waits and John Hartford, laying down techno-jazz trance-rap on a monstrous homemade swiveling seven foot tall glavanized pipe upright one-string bass thingy decked out with midi triggers and effects loops, all held together with duct tape, gravity, and faith. And the best part is how he brings it all together to produce THE most startlingly original sound - the music is unlike anything I’ve EVER heard before. This was the coolest concert I’ve been to in years. We live in a world where big media bombards us in a desperate attempt to squeeze our souls right out of us and maaaake us all the saaaaaame but That 1 Guy stands his ground - our ground - firing back with a kickass, quirky, funky, spazzed out in-yer-face attitude that it ain’t gonna happen. That 1 Guy proves there is hope for humanity after all. Do not miss the chance to see this incredible artist in concert!

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