The Preposition of US 

October 31, 2020

Halloween. The Blue Moon. All Soul's Day. And the eve of an election the likes of which most of us have not experienced in our lifetimes. The gulf between ideologies has never seemed wider. Most of us are exhausted, and at best discouraged by the seeming state of affairs. It feels like compromise in service of a shared greater good has surrendered to confrontation; in lieu of debate, only demeaning. It is a depressing especially considered in the microcosm of 2020. Perhaps it has never felt…

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Pt. 3: Eddie Van Halen - An Appreciation 

Somehow it seems both ironic and fitting to close my personal appreciation for Eddie Van Halen today, on what would be John Lennon‘s 80th birthday. 

The mist of time and memory always color the lightning bolt moments of youth. Looking back on it now, Eddie‘s playing led me to seek out and study some of the great rock players that I would soon encounter – Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Eric Johnson rise to mind immediately. Each made their art in their unique intersection of virtuosity, innovation, tone…

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Pt. 2: Eddie Van Halen - An Appreciation 

After that first Van Halen album owned the radio for the summer and fall of 78, I have to admit I gotten a bit tired of hearing some of the "hits" too much. With everything else they excelled at as an ensemble, they had a gift for hooks. But in those days you could reasonably expect an album a year from successful bands, so as we flipped the calendar into 1979, I was among the millions eager to hear new music from them. As an artist, I understand the inherent challenges in a second album very well. You have…

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Pt. 1: Eddie Van Halen - An Appreciation 

Summer of 1978. The upperclassmen at the high school I'd go to that autumn were driving their souped-up cars with the windows down, the various Alpine and Blaupunkt and whatever supercharged stereos blasting the otherworldly sounds of Eddie Van Halen's guitar from that first Van Halen album. It was like nothing any of us had heard before - like everything was suddenly smashed into pieces and something incredible and exciting was on fire screaming out of the radio. 

It was impossible for a teenage kid…

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Stepping Onto the Stage Again 

Today it feels surreal, like maybe I was dreaming. I last set foot on stage in front of a "normal" audience six months ago today at Austin Acoustical Cafe in Texas. It's been little more than 6 months since our Treasures in My Chest album and book release event at Franklin Park Arts Center here in my hometown. Sunday night, I stepped in front of a small, socially-distanced and enthusiastic audience in the gallery at Franklin Park to welcome live music back. 

I'm not even sure what I'm feeling - it is hard…

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A Musical Storm Warning 

It's hard to describe what this computer image means to me. For the non-musical, the display is a basic recording studio editor, with waveforms produced by recording each individual or voice on its own track. In the studio we edit, sweeten, balance and process each of them collectively into the stereo or 5.1 recordings you're used to hearing. 

Except that these waveforms were first captured as sound on reel-to-reel tape 31 years ago, well before the invention of many of the original tools that are now…

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Seeing the Stories with a Different Lens 

Like tens of millions across America, we watched and reveled at Hamilton yesterday. As a creative, I'm always spellbound by a really well done multimedia event like a musical. But to hear one of our origin stories recast by the present with such creativity and innovation was simply dazzling. It seemed a perfect kickoff for what surely is among the more reflective and tumultuous national birthdays of my life. 

I am always grateful for this day, for it set in motion my good fortune to have even the…

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The Privilege in Retreat 

I needed today to lose myself in my thoughts. It is baldly a privilege that many others do not enjoy; to be able to retreat in these times of turmoil and civic unrest to work out my emotions and thoughts inside my head. We worked outside on a late spring day best described as spectacular and almost otherworldly in its peace and perfection. I marveled at history made in orbit far above my very busy head, accomplished by the talents of many diverse people working together towards a common purpose - a miracle…

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Things I Will Never Understand 

My heart is so sick tonight. I will never understand how we ever came to judge our standing relative to other humans based on our God-given skin pigmentation. To my fellow humans in all your beautiful shades that make you uniquely and specially you, I see you. I understand all too well that I can't even imagine your experiences because I've never walked those miles in your shoes. There's so much that I take for granted because I will not have those experiences. I'm being mostly quiet because I'm listening…

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Memorial Day 

On this Memorial Day I honor my ancestors who gave their last measure of devotion to save this country, and all those who served and never returned safe home to their families. My heart today is especially with all of those who lost loved ones to the unseen wounds of war that they brought home. #22aday #veteransuicide #MemorialDay2020

Thirteen 

Thirteen years ago we left home for another prenatal checkup for this backwards and wrongside up baby we were expecting soon. We weren't planning on making a stay at the Birthing Inn, but that's what was decided that morning. No overnight bags or toothbrushes, house unlocked, cat without food, the whole nine yards. At the end of the day, this wee person was the reward. When I met her, and she heard my voice, she clutched my finger in her tiny little hands. Those same hands that dance across the fiddle now. 

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Honoring Mothers 

I am son of Kathy, who is 
daughter of Hazel, 
daughter of Florence, 
daughter of Alice, 
daughter of Emma Jane, 
daughter of Parmelia, 
daughter of Pamelia, 
daughter of an unknown-to-me mother 
from a line of mothers that made 
me 
happen. 

#gratitude #happymothersday 
(Note: two of them did not reach their 30s.)

Staying Home for Those Who Can't 

As we pass 40,000 American deaths from this plague (while South Korea has barely 200 and is coming out of the tunnel), I can't even keep track of families dear to us who've lost revered elders just in the last week - including my wife's family most of all. It shows no sign of being over anytime soon. There is a lot to digest here, but if you're chomping at the bit to resume your "normal" life and chafing that your local and state government is telling you to please stay the hell home, please do a couple of…

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Supporting Each Other in a Time of Crisis 

I imagine we've all reached a place beyond our imaginings now. A world of indefinite physical isolation while being virtually connected is not the future of flying cars and teleporters that I imagined. For a lot of us, our livelihoods and security are facing existential threats, while others are so busy there's no time to even process the cultural, societal and personal trauma we're experiencing. 

As an "independent" artist, I have always been subject to the winds of the greater world affecting the people…

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A Week of Gratitude, Day 7 

All That I Have.

I am a singer/songwriter and a folk musician, which means I am acutely aware of my financial perils at most any time. I do not complain, it is the life that has chosen me. I practice gratitude all the time for my myriad riches far beyond a comfortable bank account - in love, in friendship, in community, in opportunity. I am living a life far beyond anything that Little Kid me could have imagined. 

Still, this time of plague brings home to me my privilege and good fortune. I am not being…

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A Week of Gratitude, Day 6 

Talents and Abilities

Whether you attribute it to genetics, hard work, a divine hand or something else, each of us is blessed with an array of skills and abilities, from silly stuff like rolling our tongue to classical piano virtuosity or a knack for astrophysics. 

As I look out at this vast and uncertain empty space ahead, with concerts, festivals and tours cancelled for who knows how long, I find nonetheless some elements of this time are familiar. I have experienced several of these cycles of challenge…

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A Week of Gratitude, Day 5  

Ancestors.

One can debate "nature versus nurture" about many of our human attributes and abilities, but the vast majority of what we are is the unique gift of life proportioned out from our ancestors through our parents. These days I'd think of things like my immune system, but there's much more to it. 

Of course my ancestors inspired/demanded my latest creative project over these last few years, so they have affected me in a very tangible and unusual way first and foremost. But learning of my own ancestry…

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A Week of Gratitude, Day 4. 

Spring.

I know it seems trite, but more than ever I appreciate the reminders of the natural world all around me. We have had but the faintest hint of winter, and the sun on snow that was largely absent was replaced by a lot more short gloomy days than normal. 

Of course, there's no escaping that these are dark times. The sense of fear, dread and yes, outrage, is nearly ubiquitous. These are not new events in human history. But the planet has been here much longer than we have, and its systems large and…

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A Week of Gratitude, Day 3  

Community

This little village of ours has been around a long time by American standards. Which means that we still are fortunate enough to have connections to our past here in the present (some of which I wrote about at length in the book). Today I am grateful for both that past and present - for the winding gravel roads and rolling farms around the village preserved by many, which offer welcome relief and solace as well as exercise for many of us go out walking. 

And in the village proper, where our…

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A Week of Gratitude, Day 2 

Technology.

The nearest thing to these times of plague within reasonable historical reach seems to be the flu pandemic of 1918. While there are actually many parallels between those times and ours, the one overriding thought I keep having is how grateful I am that we have widespread internet connectedness and video call/conference capability. Will our ability to stay spiritually and emotionally connected to our families and communities of choice ultimately make the Coronovirus pandemic of the 2020s less…

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