Last night, my apartment erupted into a chocolate cake fight, thus I write you from the kitchen which is colorfully splotched here & there with chocolate ganache and buttermilk crumbs. Cake on my feet, and I wouldn't be surprised to find some in my hair.
This summer has been about a few things:
1. Learning to play both with and without a band--which may sound a little crazy to those of you who've seen me play solo so often in the past, but I do have a habit of nerves. Ask any of the boys onstage with me! I think I've just been searching, searching, searching for new sounds, to stretch out the ends of my ears and reacquaint myself with the unfamiliar. Very Freddy Krueger at the moment, but at one point the fear begins to settle down and then we're somewhere new? I would really hate to hear a string of records I've recorded ten years from now and come to find there was no growth between them. Sometimes I wish I could just sit down and be content with myself, but it's not so. Instead I often end up toying with the songs, twisting them around like little voodoo dolls. I wouldn't say I feel much power over them when I'm writing them, but once they're done I go through a touch-and-go period where all I want to do is turn them upside down on their heads. I change their keys, their melodies, their instrumentation. I sing them loudly or quietly, I subsitute out words. I play them more slowly or speed them up to a rakish pace that my fingers have difficulty keeping up with. At what point are they still the same song? I am not sure, only to say that I like thinking of songs as folklore, which is always being passed on and reincarnated, yet still more or less the same old thing underneath all of the embroidery. I like thinking that songs have a bigger life than the thing I intended for them--that they're not just a bunch of chords and words, waiting in a closet for me to summon them. I like thinking that all of the colors and textures and sounds are constantly moving through the air, and when I play them, all I'm doing is picking up on where they're shifting to at that very moment.
2. Brushing up on my amateur bartending skills, which are very very amateur. Right now I have this Hendrick's Gin, which is made with cucumber along with the standard juniper berries. I like to serve it with crushed mint & cucumber and soda water. Sometimes a little bit of lime. No sugar.
3. Ocean Kayaking. It has a perilous thrill, since you could be cast out to sea at any moment given a nice strong current--but the benefit is that you have plenty of time to sit back and observe how completely quiet it is out there. There's no cars or annoying people. Just water, fish, rocks, and kelp.
4. Paring down my i-pod. There was really a load of shit on it, from too many compilations I'd been picking up this year--too many things I don't listen to. Usually my gateway into newer music is personal and by word-of-mouth. The funny thing is that I get a lot of new music, and then end up playing Curtis Mayfield and Neil Young all summer long anyhow.
5. Ina Garten, who has provided me with plenty of good recipes this summer. Heirloom tomatoes with everything! A Dill & White Wine Potato Salad. Also, a crazy recipe for maple baked beans, which I think is something that the New England WASP in me craves at picnics all summer long. I'm not talking about Heinz baked beans in a can--these baked beans soak overnight before simmering the next day in ketchup, sambal, and maple syrup, and they cook in a dutch oven all day for 8 hours with a bunch of thick-cut bacon before you can dig in. The recipe is from the WASP-friendly Stonewall Kitchen--the purveyor of fancy jams & sauces that you find at Whole Foods, etc. But the the result is rich and incredible, and the whole house smells of maple syrup & bacon all day long, and I feel a little like I'm living on a cloud of pancakes. That brings us to...
6. Owning my inner New England WASP. Break out the croquet and the JCrew wardrobe. Sigh.
7. Deciphering my dreams. This isn't a new activity at all, I've been very prone to this sort of hobby since childhood. Throughout the year I go through cycles where I have vivid, lucid dreams. It is very unusual for me to have them in the summer, which is usually when I'm both the laziest and happiest I've been all year. I wake up certain that they occured--which was a real mess the other night when I dreamt I returned to my apartment in Brooklyn, where there were 8 people residing (previously the apt. was inhabited by only 2 persons). Behind my room there was a new room, an annex that could only be accessed by the closet. There were two people living in each room (including the newly found annex) and everyone was asleep when I came home. The house had three pianos, all fallen to ruin, several pedal organs that were in a similar state of disrepair, and cats everywhere, hissing at me. I woke up convinced I still lived in Brooklyn, and it took a good fifteen minutes and a cup of coffee to remember I was back at home on the coast. Silly.
Not much else to report--except a brief apology that I do not update this website very much. There are a few special shows coming up this fall, and of course the things beneath the surface that I am saving for later. How long have I been saying that now? Oh...well, patience, friends, have patience.
I'm playing this friday, 8/17 at the Lilypad in Cambridge's Inman Square. Nadav Carmel is hosting the show, and also playing will be Darren Hanlon & Don Lennon. The show starts at 8 PM sharp, and I'm first up to bat.
p.s. fall shows are rolling in--look out for a few midwestern dates in early september, and if you'd like me to play somewhere near you, you're only an e-mail