I’m very excited to release today a performance video of my rendition of “For What It’s Worth.” I first performed this classic one year ago in Oklahoma, and given our current political climate, the words seem to ring truer than ever before. Check it out premiering on The Boot here and please share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
After two years of writing, five months of recording, and many many meditations, I’m so excited to finally say that my new album Birds is available now for pre-order and officially due out on August 25th.
To explain what’s behind this record, I must first explain the environment it was created in.
Fall in New England is like watching the most brilliant death. The air is honest. There is a sacred sound when the sky is full of geese. There is a bright gorgeousness deeply woven into the dying of all things.
I started looking at fall this way about two autumns ago. It was around the time my brother passed away. I wanted some sort of meaning to come from my loss of him. I started looking for signs and signals of his transformation, so much so that I began to have conversations with the birds who sat on my window sill during the day.
As I’d play piano by the window and work out the shape of each melody, I would frequently stop and ask the birds how they thought it was going so far. My heart wanted more than anything to hear a reply back. I’m still waiting for their reply but make a point of talking to them regularly.
It was Ernest Hemingway who said, “Sometimes following your heart means losing your mind.”
Over time, the grief of my brother leaving this world transformed to grieving the very world I wanted him so desperately to return to. Perhaps the transformation I was looking for was actually a transformation in myself.
This record is not so much about grief as it is about growth. The decision to record this album from home and play almost all of the instruments was about giving the songs the kind of protection and insularity they desired, the kind I had growing up in a small New England town. These songs didn’t want to venture far from origin. Instead, they desired staying close to the windows.
With the help of co-producer Steve Lunt and mixing engineer David Darlington, I couldn’t be more proud of what we came up with.
The song “I’m Still Looking” is out today here with a video premiering on Glide Magazine. I hope you’ll come along with me for the journey by pre-ordering Birds here: http://pledgemusic.com/projects/birds
I’ve heard people say there are three sides to every story: the side you’re on, the “other” side, and the truth. The challenge in our age is that there are so many conversations happening simultaneously it’s difficult to decipher what is information and what is merely entertainment.
One of my favorite David Byrne quotes is, “Everything is intentional. It’s just filling in the dots.” Perhaps a benefit of this dialogue happening all at once is that we begin to make connections by looking backwards at history, the battles we’ve won, and the battles we’re still fighting.
In my job, I get to see the best of people, the vulnerability in people, and a commitment to compassion across generations. I see a different world than the one that is portrayed on the news. However, like many, I feel a deep disconnection between where we are and what I’d like our values to be. Hidden inside this dissonance is my own accountability.
I decided to record the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth” because I believe we are in a time of connecting the dots again in our culture and in ourselves. In my travels, I see people in both red and blue states beginning to say, “There is something happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear.”
“For What It’s Worth” premiered yesterday in Blurt Magazine and is available today on your favorite digital outlets through MPress Records. I hope you enjoy it.
Throughout the past month I’ve read many Facebook posts and comments saying things like, “The world has gone mad,” “What’s happened to common sense,” and “People are sick and senseless.”
I have been driving around a good part of the the United States the last two weeks and the story I see is different than the one that’s told on the 24-hour media loop. In Dallas, Texas I had the pleasure of having a conversation with both police officers and Black Lives Matter activists. Believe it or not, they were in the same room, at the same concert, and even sat next to each other during the second set. In an Oklahoma parking lot, I saw the Confederate flag on the back of a pickup truck cease to wave in the wind as its owner stopped to help jump start the car of a gay couple. In Jackson, Michigan, the birthplace of the Republican Party, I spoke to a pastor about his drive to instill compassion back in his community and how he’s trying to be more compassionate to himself.
My point is that I don’t see a world that is coming undone at the seams. I see our anger as a shorthand for pain and wanting more from our country, its leaders, our communities, and ourselves. The world is not broken. We are.
The Dalai Lama said, “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” I believe that there is a compassionate fire in each of us. Mine has been burning a bit brighter in response to so many grave injustices. I wrote this new song, “Before The Fire Fades,” to remind myself that some fires are not meant to go out. You can choose to pay whatever you want for the song and you are of course welcome to download it for free if you’d like. All the proceeds collected will go to the GLBT Center in Orlando. Please feel free to share on social media and with your community.
Thanks Elmore Magazine for sharing this special acoustic version of “Scars” recorded at Northfire Recording Studio in Amherst, MA.
I’m excited to share with you one of the hardest, most terrifying things I’ve ever done. Here is the talk that I gave earlier this month at TEDxVail in Colorado about the lessons my nonverbal brother Jamie taught me about music.
In every young performer’s dreams, there are stages, theaters, and halls that seem to prod at our attention early on, rooms that come with a sort of gravity long before arrival. Stages with the kind of sanctity that demand respect as their histories and stories seep into your core. In every young performer’s education of what came before, we learn the difference between an artist who made an impact and an artist who continues to impact the world by rattling our fibers with authenticity and insight. Throughout the next four weeks, I will be joining several of these artists on some of the most sacred stages that have found a place in my early dreams.
This Saturday, I will be joining Brett Dennen and my dear friend Crystal Bowersox at The Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. Designated as the historic site of the United Nations Charter signing in 1945, the room is one of great purpose. On this day we raise awareness and funds for the Rotary Peace Foundation.
On Sunday, I fly back to the East Coast to open for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leon Russell at the famed Queen in Wilmington, DE. His body of work includes “Delta Lady” and “A Song for You” and continues to inspire me as a songwriter.
A stage that is most certainly close to my heart is the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA. As a 12-year-old kid with big dreams the Calvin was were I would go to learn how to make them a reality from the likes of BB King, James Taylor, Patty Griffin, and many more. It was my very first real classroom. On November 21st, I will finally play the stage myself opening for the incredible Martin Sexton.
Finally, I’m so F$&%ing excited to announce my very first European tour supporting none other than Ronnie Spector. We’ll be doing six shows together throughout the UK followed by two of my own headlining shows in Madrid and Bilboa, Spain. Rooms like the Barbican in London and the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow are places I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid.
I can’t believe it, but I’m beginning to see a few leaves in western Mass start to change over. I guess this is a true sign that summer is wrapping up and fall is upon us. I’ve already got my apple pie orders in with Mom and have started packing warmer clothes for the upcoming fall tour (see dates below).
What a summer it has been! Lately I’ve been reminiscing about some of my stops along the way. From delicious country biscuits and gravy in Kerrville, Texas to a beautiful summer night under the starts in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. In June I was humbled by a hometown welcoming of 300 plus faces at a concert in Greenfield to benefit a local soup kitchen and followed that up by playing alongside one of my favorite bands, Dawes, on Mountain Stage in West Virginia the very next day.
Hear our Mountain Stage session here.
July brought me to Oklahoma where I sweated my ass off in a three-piece suit on the streets of Okema for my first time at the Woody Guthrie Festival. There is magic there. Teaching songwriting to some of the most prolific and talented 15- & 16-year-olds at the Rock On Summer camp was a thrill and spending an afternoon sharing songs and talking to one of my favorite radio personalities, Rob Reinhart, on his NPR show Acoustic Café in Ann Arbor was another highlight.
Hear our Acoustic Cafe session here.
August brought Joe and I some much needed Rocky Mountain air in Beaver Creek, Colorado and last week I got to learn how to fly fish the Blackfoot River in Montana. Good friends, lots of laughs, some great wine, and music. What a summer.
Often times my life feels like it moves so fast that I can’t keep up. Then again, sometimes it doesn’t seem like it goes fast enough. I’ll always be trying to find that balance and forever be inspired, satisfied, and grateful for all that this life continues to bring me. Here to paying attention and warm apple pie to come.
P.S. Take a listen to my 2015 session at the Daytrotter studio in Rock Island, IL here.
If you’ve been to any of my shows recently, you may have sung along with me to a song about finding your ex has put your furniture up for sale on Craigslist. That song, “It’s a Bitch (Craigslist Song),” is premiering today on PopMatters! You can also buy it on iTunes here. Please listen and share!
Thanks to Glide Magazine for this great review of “If I Could Change One Thing!” “Glier has made a pop album that is full of catchy songs yet still conveys a genuine sense of emotion.” Read more here.