The Power of Images, and Words 

April 16, 2024
This day 17 years ago dawned beautiful in Houston, the day after my final show of the weekend ready to start my four-day self scheduled/imposed writer's retreat out on the bluebonnet-carpeted meadows of central Texas. I was desperate to finish a few more songs before heading into the studio the next month to record Something Worth Standing For.

And of course, I got in the van and turned on the radio and heard about the horrors that had just unfolded back home in Virginia. I spent most of the…

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Bridges and Symbols 

Long ago I was a young environmental engineer working for a big consulting firm, and one of my first leadership roles was a summer wastewater sampling program at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point Plant on the Patapsco River. There was a lot I remember and a lot I blocked out, but I won’t ever forget the first view of that sprawling 6-square mile industrial city was from the high part of the Francis Scott Key bridge. We shuttled back and forth between the mills and our hotel in Glen Burnie, sometimes getting…

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Through the Turning of Another Year 

The calendar again. Our Western way of marking our arrival at the same point in our annual trek around the sun, complete with rituals poignant and frivolous. Goals and resolutions are made and broken nearly as soon as our solar positioning has changed. Some reflect on accomplishments and others on failures; a self-graded report card for the past year. Perhaps it is natural for us to one to regularly take stock of ourselves and our earthly journey, but that feels like an unfair burden when connected with a…

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Artist Statement 

December 1, 2023.
A recent songwriting fellowship application required a statement of artistic principles, which seemed worth keeping handy after putting the work into it!

I have been blessed with a life and a livelihood derived from imagination and creativity, even in these challenging times in the performing and recording world.

I write these songs, and walk them out on stage night after night because I can't NOT do it. The organic cycle of energy of performance and audience; it's different every night - no…

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An Anniversary Worth Revisiting 

Sunday November 26, 2023

I was thrilled to share my "In Thanks, for Giving" special music service this morning for my friends at the UU Church in Gettysburg PA. This historic American touchstone is only 70 miles from home, despite two state border crossings en route. As I often do when I come to UUG, I entered town via Baltimore Avenue, the main drag on the southeast side of the battlefield. As you climb Cemetery Ridge just before reaching town, the monuments against the skyline on the hilltop always command…

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Reflections on Our Obligations for the Service and Sacrifice of Others 

One hundred and five years ago, at the 11th minute of the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns went silent in a devastated landscape far from home. The Great War, the "War to end All Wars", was over; to be replaced in a scant 20 years by a "greater" war that would eliminate another estimated 50 million people around the world.

The history of our young nation is inextricably linked with conflict in nearly every corner of the globe. Which means that each generation of…

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The Demise of, What Exactly? 

October 17, 2023

I was away from the grid and the world last week, and I missed a lot. I'm still processing the horrific acts happening half a world away, but I also learned that Bandcamp, the folks who've provided my website music store for the last eight years, had recently been sold to an "entertainment company" who promised no changes other than newer and better unicorns. Yesterday came news that they'd laid off 50% of Bandcamp's staff. This tweet from fellow musician James Toth yesterday got my…

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It Has Begun 

September 10, 2023

Autumn Tour Kickoff

It has begun, in short bursts punctuated by chunks of time at home. This is the reality for a lot of "independent" musicians in this "post-pandemic" content-streaming world. I'm not going to waste much energy lamenting what has been lost, or what I wish for in terms of returning to the old days - several shows in a row separated by big drives, to process wonderful time with friends old and new and sights seen and yet to come.

This autumn is my busiest schedule in four…

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Some Family Swing from Out of the Past 

May 12, 2023; From the family music treasure chest

Over these past few years I've shared bits about my grand aunt Margaret the opera singer, and thanks to my work on Ancestry, finding and connecting for the first time with her family back in 2016. My musical second cousins and I have had amazing experiences together, but our musical lives have all been very different.

Aunt Margaret had three daughters, and the youngest one Jane gravitated towards the west coast jazz scene in the 60s. She took the stage name…

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I'm Back, Crooked Finger and All 

May 8, 2023

My finger and I are ready to roll the cameras and sets back into the "Make-a-Living Room"! I'm thinking it will be a bit easier to make a D chord again in another week or two, and I'm feeling my oats from a handful of really lovely shows last month. I don't have a lot of shows on the books for the rest of the year, but I'm absolutely committed to singing for you in real time wherever in the world you might be.

Music is medicine for the soul, and sometimes we're lucky enough to get it when we need…

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Taking the Final 

May 7, 2023

It's the quiet of Sunday morning at another one of Music Therapy of the Rockies songwriting with wounded warriors retreat, my first time on staff again in nearly 4 years. I have talked about this work on stage often since I started working with my friend Mack Bailey's amazing program, and how in some ways it resembles cramming a college course into a weekend.

Yesterday I met yet another amazing human who stood in harm's way on my behalf, and bears many invisible scars from her service. On Saturday…

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Why We Ask, and Why I'm Asking Now 

Note: To go straight to the campaign page to learn more,

When I started out on this crazy journey in the last millennium, I still worked as an Environmental Engineer; my paycheck was how I funded my first two albums - both on CD and cassette. In those days, once those production costs were recouped, album sales routinely made up a quarter of my annual income.

It was the golden age of digital and the birth of a whole new "do-it-yourself" industry, where the…

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Remembering Ian Thomas Parks 

I stayed up as late as I could last night watching the livestream memorial concert and celebration of life for my cousin Ian Thomas Parks, hosted and attended by a ton of his Bay Area friends and family.

That Ian was in my life at all was a bit of a miracle and a testimony to persistence in genealogical detective work. That he was also a singer/songwriter and guitarist was a bond that connected us strongly these past few years, right up until his untimely death in Mexico in August.

Ian's grandmother (whom…

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Signposts Towards a Murky Future 

FRIDAY FIGURINGS (9/16/22): I've been off the road because of the pandemic pretty much 2 1/2 years now, with brief outbursts of joyful travel to actually play music in living 3D with other people. Life as an "independent" artist in the Before Times was hard enough without adding another complex layer of uncertainty to the planning. And especially when there are a ton of eager artists wanting the same opportunities, and there's a whole lot of venues - and people - that haven't survived. I'm cautiously…

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It's Really Here, and It's Really Permanent 

August 18th, 2022 - read Jan Mercker's interview and article here.

I keep thinking that I'm going to wake up, and it will all have been a dream. A really cool, and amazingly thrilling, yet sad and poignant dream. But it really happened, the then and the now. And the Nor'easter album is here in my hand, and the amazing thing is that people are discovering this music we made long ago, and even more amazing that they can do so - from anywhere in the world. 

It's hard to describe the intimacy of playing music…

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Fifteen to Fifty & Change, and Back Again 

I met a version of 15-year old me on vacation last week. 

When I hit that age in 1979, music was everything to me. School was an opportunity to be with my friends and talk about music. That summer before my sophomore year, my "playlist" included some of the following acquisitions from the record bins - Van Halen II, Reggatta de Blanc by The Police, and Pink Floyd's The Wall for sure. I know I was still deeply absorbed into Steely Dan's Aja and the bootleg of the Beatles live show at a club in Hamburg…

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At Long Last, a Legacy Fulfilled 

One of my best and dearest friends Matt Bouley passed away nearly 20 years ago. Matt and I did our first show together when we were 12, the beginning of a long, deep and dear musical bond that ran right up through him coming to Virginia to drum on my first solo CD Traveler in 1995. The linchpin of that bond was the three years in the mid-80s we spent together in Nor'easter, creating our own intricate hard rock songs and playing them for lots of friends at wild parties. In 1989, two years after the band…

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Light From the Past Illuminates the Future 

July 14, 2022

I have seen into the past and it is breathtaking.

The astonishing images we've seen this week from the James Webb Space Telescope, tucked safely into an empty gravitational parking lot four times farther away than our moon, are already changing the universe and our understanding of physics in ways we might hardly imagine. And of course, some of the things we are seeing are so far away that it has taken 13 BILLION years for that light to arrive at Webb to be captured by our instruments and…

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Are You Troubled by the Economics of Streaming? 

March 25, 2022

I've seen the posts go viral in my social media feed. Music listeners are discovering the travesty of royalties paid to artists from various streaming services, and many are rightly appalled by it. My personal business philosophy has been to view streaming services as ways for people to discover my music, while continuing to create and present directly to you art that you'll want to own outright - the music, the artwork, lyrics and liner notes. I have been extremely grateful to my supporters…

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The Best Gift of the Season 

I've been waiting to see it, because the family wanted to see it. But with The Beatles, I didn't rush it because I knew it would hit pretty close to home. We moved to the new house we built in time for Christmas 1969, and dad's band started rehearsing in our new basement some of the time. And of course, they were picking apart the intricacies of these very songs in Get Back!, from the Let it Be album. While I learned tons of Beatles songs over the years, me the five year old knew that album first. The 45 -…

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