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"Guitars and Getaways" (Aug. 2011)

The link between the places we go and the work we create.

I realized the other day that my friends who've seen pictures of our various family escapades this summer might think we've been on vacation the whole time. It is true that we have been many places - after all, Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive are but an hour away and a great place for half day hikes and all day trips. It's been a Blue Ridge-themed summer for sure.

The reality is that a lot of work was stuffed into the places between visiting places. And really, in my line of work, working for oneself, does one ever truly stop working?

My take on this might surprise you; I hope that I am always working. I certainly enjoy most aspects of my work. But travel is an essential part of my work in so many ways. Obviously one must go places to do shows. But the bigger work is really to find and process the inspiration, the images and the stories that are always crashing around my brain, much like the surf on the rocks during our recent visit to Maine's Acadia National Park.

Indeed, inspiration and perspiration are the twin pillars of my work. As a new school year begins and autumn approaches, I realize that I've spent this  summer gathering inspiration and information. I've studied my main instrument a lot, listened to several great guitarists of different styles and learned some new things. I've been learning a new instrument (mandolin). I've listened to great songs I've never heard and sought out great songs I haven't heard in way too long. I've taken a ton of pictures and even a bit of video.

Of course, all this work makes more work! It is the way of things in the creative professions. One is constantly refining the existing work while dreaming and envisioning the next few projects. I could be a fulltime video editor for the next several weeks and still not finish all of those projects. I might finish some of the hundred-odd songs in various stages of creation.

And of course, there are things still in progress and things that are murky dreams, all competing for time and neural energy. This beautiful cool late summer morning I am enjoying taking a break from the doing of these things to write about them instead. After all, there is no magic formula or ratio to allocate the inspiration from the perspiration.

Ahh yes - so where HAVE I been? In addition to visiting the aforementioned national parks, two different sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, East Beach and Ninigret Pond in Rhode Island, the fishing village of Stonington, Maine, the mountains of nearby West Virginia and countless other sites traveling to and from. Plenty of inspiration and stories to process.

Let the work resume.


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