As the days get shorter, I am reminded just how much of our daylight this year has been spent in a strange kind of 2020 darkness. COVID-19 has disrupted much about our lives, our livelihoods, and our holiday traditions. In normal times, you might be planning family gatherings with grandparents and grandkids, caroling around a piano, or watching your kids eat all the chocolate from their advent calendar. For some, you may find yourself quite relieved and equipped with a solid CDC excuse of why you won’t be seeing your in-laws or won’t be hearing drunk Dave say something vulgar by the eggnog at this year’s holiday party.
For me, the holidays were always a time of tension in my home when I was growing up. The season can be hard on those suffering from addiction or in a family with a loved one who is. It can be a stressful season of feeling financially strapped as many of us are right now.
Much like 2020, the holidays are heavy and often sticky. However, I believe it is the darkness that gives the candles in the window their flickering contrast.
When I was a little kid, I collected as much magic from the holiday season as I could to contrast the stress in my home. As I look out at an uncertain world full of tension the child in me feels the urge to try and bottle up some of the magic from this season and share it with you. I also can’t help feeling that the world is in need of some magic right now.
Not the magic of illusion or trickery. We have enough of that.
I’m talking about the hope that allows us to see what is seemingly invisible and the flame that melts the myth of our separateness even as we still remain so distant from each other.
On December 19th, I’m excited to share with you my first HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR Livestream. The show will include music, jokes, dancing, and will featuring some of my good friends. Even Jesus Christ will be there!
I didn’t want to create a pay wall since so many of us are feeling uncertain about our financial futures. This show will be FREE on Facebook LIVE and YouTube. If you do have the means to support, I ask that you become a patron and join me in there.
I invite you to bring your imagination and share some magic with me on December 19th at 8pm.
I’m getting tired of emails beginning with “I hope this finds you well,” so instead I hope this finds you as you are, learning to love the place you are in and heal from the loss you’re feeling. I also hope you are continuing to find ways of being useful during this time of change. Like you, much of my life has been adapted to online experiences since Massachusetts’s social distancing practices began. During this time I’ve been chatting with other creatives and promoters across the country and doing a lot of thinking about the cracks that were already in the foundation of the wider touring industry at large long before this pandemic came to our world. We relied on cheap fossil fuel to drive long distances, fly, and sail to our audience. As music festivals got larger and larger, they often undercut the local musicians that made the region a “scene” in the first place (like Katy Perry headlining New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival in 2019). In many fields, I believe our solutions are going to be local ones for the considerable future so I’m excited to unveil “POP-UP PANDEMIC PARTIES.” A Pop-Up Pandemic Party is a personal micro-concert experience. These would be 30-minute outdoor pop-up performances where I’d bring a small PA system to set up & play while maintaining social distancing practices and keeping equipment sanitized.
How Does It Work?
We’d need a private outdoor space for your family or group to watch from and a space for me to set up such as a driveway, front yard, or backyard. If anyone other than the people you cohabitate with are going to be there, I’d like to know about it. If other people want to watch from their own yards with people they live with, that is more than welcomed and a wonderful way of bringing community together.
I will not setup on porches or decks and will not go into homes under any circumstances.
I will be 15-20 ft away from any guests while singing.
We’d keep these pop-up performance to no more than 10 guests total in one space.
I would ask for your respect by keep your distance during setup and tear down and maintaining social distancing practices during the event. I love talking and hugging you after shows but given the circumstances we can’t do that here. I envision this as a great way of celebrating a loved one, a birthday, a special occasion or sharing the uplifting energy of music with your neighbors & community.
Safety is paramount and I will absolutely not proceed with a show if all of these conditions cannot be met. As of now these pop-up events will only be available within a 50 mile radius of Northampton, MA. For those in other parts of the country I’m still doing my weekly “Pandemic Party” webstream if you would like to stay connected to live music on my Patreon page.
Thank you PopMatters for premiering the song “Til Further Notice” I wrote in response to our collective uncertainty. The song is available for purchase exclusively on Noisetrade with proceeds benefiting the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund for COVID-19.
I’m excited to resume my Pandemic Party concert series online this Saturday night at 8pm and I’ve decided the night will be dedicated to songs of comfort as I think comfort is something we can all use a bit of right now.
These Pandemic Parties are happening on my Patreon page and I hope you’ll join me over there if you haven’t already signed up. You’ve heard me talk about Patreon from the stage and in these emails. You may be asking yourself “yeah, what the hell is that exactly?” Well, Patreon is a subscription service like Netflix where by joining for $5 a month, not only will you get access to the past year of content that I’ve released exclusively on the platform (collaborations, cover songs, musings, videos, writings), but you’ll also be a part of new creations that I share with this community. Your money goes directly to me and helps create a sustainable monthly income and more art for you. As months of touring have been canceled due to COVID-19, I can use your support now more than ever in navigating these strange waters.
I hope you’ll join me this Saturday and I hope you and the ones close to you are healthy and safe.
One evening I was scrolling through the depths of YouTube when I came across a video of Malala Yousafzai. She was being interviewed shortly after accepting her Noble Peace Prize and the reporter asked, “If you saw them again, what would you say to the two members of the Taliban who tried to kill you?”
She paused and thought for a moment before her reply. “I would thank them, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I certainly wouldn’t have the platform I do now to talk about female education and youth empowerment.” I thought this was such an exquisite example of blaming responsibly. Every act has a relational impact on one’s self, and if we are to blame someone for something terrible, we must also give them credit for the awkward and beautiful flowers that grow from that garden. I wanted to write a song that was a letter directly to one’s perpetrator but could also be scanned down as a love song — as they all are.
Early on in the music production with Ryan Hommel (Amos Lee, Heather Maloney), I kept seeing a Roller Derby team skating around in my head. It was an emotional anchor to keep the track fun and playful but also violent and physical, elements that all felt true to Malala’s transformation of trauma to gratitude. I’m so happy to say that no one is skating around in my head anymore. In fact, the fine members of the Albany All-Stars Roller Derby team generously skated on camera for us and we made a dope-ass music video!
Grief, love, transformation, obsession, creation. These are not fixed places I pass through. They are as temporary & cyclical as the seasons. Time in these stages is not something counted as it is guided. Like the burnt ember of maple leaves falling to the pavement each year. I too let myself go in pieces.
I wrote “Stages” shortly after getting married. Perhaps it was the power of ritual or the power of our community, but we felt lifted up to a new place after the ceremony. For weeks after I had a difficult time relating to anyone other than my wife. Everything had changed. I remember standing in the grocery store buying milk and suddenly what was once a chore had the nobility of companionship attached to it. A year and a half in, I’m not always floating high in the clouds of the dairy section, but I know how to get there and having been there before, I know it’s a real place. A stage of love that is limitless and without ego or circumstance. Getting there is now a daily practice of trying to give myself away first.
I wrote this song to remind myself that no matter the country, the climate, the terrain or incline, perhaps the best medicine for your heart is a long journey.
Spring is finally here! A wonderful reminder that we are seeds in the ground reaching towards the sun. This past year has been filled with many new adaptations, learning, and growth. Some days I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for being able to travel & make music (while having others appreciate it) and other days I’m overwhelmed by this music industry and my place in it. One thing I know for certain is that sharing my art with you makes me feel useful and I want to do more of that.
This leads me to the introduction of a new format I’m very excited about and hoping you’ll join me.
Patreon is a model similar to your local CSA. Just like farmer, artists need ongoing, reliable support “akin to a salary” to “make it” in the real world. Since the beginning of time, artists have always needed to have patrons to support their work. The internet and micropayments are making the future of sustainable art possible.
By becoming my patron, you become a part of my ongoing artistic process. There are many things I make that don’t get released commercially and many ideas that either get left on the cutting room floor or evolve into bolder and braver songs. I want to hear what you think of new ideas as they happen. I want to create a sustainable community with you where we listen, feel, laugh, and evolve together. I value my $1 patrons just as much as my $150 patrons. Every dollar goes back into creating & putting out the best work I can and every damn dollar counts. I look forward to you joining me here & communicating with you more frequently & intimately.
Last weekend, I was driving through the white mountains of New Hampshire when the falling flurries began to turn into a blizzard. My knuckles whitened on the steering wheel as I realized I needed to stop for gas. I refilled at the top of the mountain and noticed how the sideways light made the snow look like stars. Continuing, it felt like I was driving the Millennium Falcon, but at 10 MPH. The snow swooshing over my car’s airstream. Even in pockets of whiteout, I could feel my wheels lock into the pattern of someone else’s path along the road like a trail of ghosts guiding me to the valley. It was a blissful hour of very slow driving. I hope you are finding a bit of winter’s magic & of course taking care of yourself.
I am currently prairie bound. Back out on the road today and en route to Tulsa, Oklahoma to kick off this tour at the Woody Guthrie Center on Friday. We’ve got a show in Norman, Oklahoma (just outside of OKC) this Sunday, two shows in Kansas and then a week of dates throughout Colorado (Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, & Pueblo). I can’t wait to see you there!
Thanks to The Independent Music Awards for three more awards for Birds! Best singer-songwriter album, best song (“Like I Do”), and best production (Seth Glier & Steve Lunt). Congrats to all the nominees.