This last week I...
...finished two good books, Richard Wright's Native Son (a long time catching up with that one!) and Etgar Keret's The Seven Good Years.
...attended a memorial service for my grandfather in the godforsaken middle of Pennsylvania.
...left Chicago out of one airport, parking my van in long-term, and returned absentmindedly to another.
...started in earnest on the music for a play that should be done as soon as about this time next year.
...began participation in a brief series of clinical experiments in the audiology research department of Beltone in Glenview IL.
...got to hang a little bit in Wilco's recording loft on Kedzie Ave. in a Chicago neighborhood that I firmly believe is called Old Irving Park. Attention criminals: there are objects of unbelievable value in this room!
...mixed, with John Abbey, a tune I recorded with the always resplendent vibraphonist Jason Adasciewicz for an anthology of musicalized Carl Sandburg poetry, produced by the always recherche David Nagler.
...played some hot shows with the always scintillating Redd Volkaert.
...dined at Maxine's in Bastrop, TX with the always coruscating Dallas Wayne and his always smoking-hot wife Jo.
...and finished mixing my next record! Now it's in the expert hands of masterer Jim DeMain, and definitively out of mine. The thing will be called Upland Stories, in reference to the "upland South," the setting of most of the album's songs. Don't want to crush all eager anticipation with humdrum data, but here's a little about it. The group of songs stresses words more than any previous album of mine, possibly excepting Couples in Trouble. The music style is a little hard for me to pin down, but at the soft end it's folk-blues and at the most lushly orchestrated end it's, I guess, folk-pop. Otherwise, I think much of the record, maybe one-third of it, is very continuous with Gone Away Backward, both in music and lyrics -- it's focused pretty hard on poverty and other deficits in modern American life. Playing and singing along with me are Shad Cobb, Robbie Gjersoe, Jenny Scheinman, Wayne Horvitz, Alex Hall, Todd Phillips, and Fats Kaplin. A heck of a cast, and I think they all brought my work to life with almost incredible intelligence and sensitivity -- I'm honored. More later.
I play with Don Stiernberg.
I'm playing with Steve Dawson. We're doing songs by women, who, while slightly more than half of humanity, compose but a smallish fraction of the writers and singers of popular music.
This week it's the Scavengers. Robbie Gjersoe, K.C. McDonough, Gerald Dowd and I play a set of music, in all the styles that middle-aged guys seem to like.
If you live in the Pittsburgh area -- say, within 100 miles in any direction except west -- and want to host me and a great bunch of acoustic players on Saturday October 10, please write to me here. As usual, my preference is that you have some experience hosting house concerts for audiences of 60-80 people.
With my boy Preston leaving for college next month, we're giving him a sendoff with a Monday night show starring himself. Musically, he and I are sort of co-curating. Preston picked the material and will be drumming and singing most of it, and I picked the players. So 100 lucky people will get to witness a bunch of doddering journeymen hacking their way through LCD Soundsystem, etc. There will also be guest appearances, a bake sale, a yard sale (X-boxes, Pokemon cards, mint-condition volumes of Mexican poetry), an ad hoc game show, and weeping.