Friday, November 02, 2018

I'm approaching my 6th year of working at Missoula's Community Cinema AKA The Roxy Theater which I, along with a talented staff headed by Director Mike Steinberg, have poured our creativity into since it's inception in 2013. A filmmaker from New York named Tara Young, who works for the Criterion Collection, just made an informative short documentary about it which features a Missoula-themed musical intro by Yours Truly. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Tumbleweeds . . .

Tumbleeds are blowin' through my website these days. It's like I've devoloped an intolerance to opening up my MacBook, let alone to blogging and promoting shows. My ego's ravaged carcass lies rotting on the lone prairie.

Nevertheless, I'm still doing my thing. Here's a glimpse of a unique gig from a few months back at Burgdorf Hot Springs. My pal Miranda Laber recorded me here singing "Bull":

December 30th I hosted a dynamic multi-media hootenanny which featured many Missoula buddies:


Two weeks ago I played for almost three hours at the Beer Parlor Barber Shop in Hot Springs, MT, to a hoppin', howlin' crowd on the Chinese New Year. Believe it or not, they take this holiday very seriously in Hot Springs and even have a exuberant parade featuring a dragon!

Hot Springs, MT, Chinese New Year Parade
Tonight (March 4th) I'll be singing as part of a Roxy Theater fundraiser / 76th birthday celebration for my friend Bonnie Tarses at The Roxy @ 9:30pm. Come at 7pm to watch GALAXY QUEST!

I'll be playing another Roxy Theater show on March 18th with Mirah, La Louma & Hermina Jean! Here's the Facebook event page for that:

As seen at Five On Black in downtown Missoula, USA.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tractor Pull

The Radio8Ball Show's song of the day today is a live 2004 version of my dirge "Tractor Pull." Growing up in rural Montana I had the privilege of driving an old Massey Ferguson tractor, and nothing made me happier than ploughing earth with seagulls and crows spinning overhead, the Mission Mountains looming to the east and a warm wind blowing through my snap-down shirt. I could be "working" and daydreaming at the same time.

"Tractor pull me from my house / Tractor pull me from my room / Tractor pull me from my spouse / Tractor pull me to my tomb."

Monday, September 04, 2017

Sand Land Report - Late Summer 2017

Where to begin . . .

Well, my daughter, Stevie, just finished up her first week of kindergarten. That's a milestone for sure. She's even taking the bus to school now! She and I spent the last ten days of her summer vacation camping and traveling around the NW, and it was a true American Road Trip. By Day Five we'd escaped the mid-'90s heat by swimming in four different states: Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington. We attended an Idaho panhandle pow wow, rode a roller coaster in a small county fair in southern Washington, camped in a rustic cabin with close friends in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, danced at a rollicking Jewish wedding in Olympia, WA, made a juicy blackberry crisp from scratch, in Stevenson, WA, and in Seattle we witnessed the solar eclipse, visited the bustling Woodland Park Zoo, saw large fish being thrown around Pike Place Market, and treated ourselves to a few spins on the Seattle Great Wheel.

And, of course, we ate a LOT of ice cream.

My connection to Stevie has grown, and I'm so proud to see her becoming a big, loving and powerful girl. Another huge perk to the trip was visiting old friends, some who now have powerful children of their own.

Except for the above-mentioned father-daughter adventure, my last five months have been overly busy with a remodel project. My folks needed to put their Missoula house up for sale, and I wanted to help them finish it as quickly as possible. It took longer than expected, which ate up most of my summer plans, but it's on the market now and looks fantastic! Pictures here:

On August 1st I moved into a bohemian collective apartment in downtown Missoula called The Atlantic Hotel. Seventeen fellow denizens share the space and they're all very easy to get along with. My room is small, which forces me to simplify my life (for the better), and rent is only $300/month!

The Roxy Theater, 4.5 years later, still employs me. I gave up my 2016 custodial nightshift there to become Concessionnaire. My new position gives me more hours and I enjoy the socializing. The Roxy's 80th Anniversary is in exactly three weeks, so 2017 has been a giant year of fundraising. We recently received a big grant from the state and installed a vintage, 1937-era marquee which will be lit up with dedadent neon by month's end. Pictures here:

What about my music career, you ask? Um, well, er, it's been rough. Scant free time plus debts from last year's Kickstarter defeat took me out of the touring arena for a stretch. I did play a fun children's show this summer in Charlo, MT; a poetic house concert at the farmstead I grew up at in The Mission Valley last spring; a rockin' Billings, MT, show at The Garage Pub (article HERE) last month; and in a week I'll be playing another show opening for my longtime pal Calvin Johnson at The ZACC Below. More on that in my next blog. At least I'm still writing plenty of songs, though I've not been able to complete many of them. I have about 50 of what I call "song seeds." This is where I have the tune and first verse or two of lyrics captured onto my iPhone, but not the full composition. I pray that my next few months can be conducive to revisiting these little guys and nourishing them into fruition. If not, perhaps I'll just record an album of lyrical seedlings and let somebody in the future finish 'em.

Meanwhile, I'm not too impressed with the state of the Union this year. Feels like greed and fear are trying to stake a claim. I think it's time to jump back into the ring soon and put in my two cents. As Woody said: Watch out you fascists. You're bound to lose. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Show on July 31st in Billings, MT! Click pic for details.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Revolution You Can Dance To

See you this weekend in Tacoma, perhaps!
$12 Adults / $8 Students, Seniors (60+), Military
FREE – Washington State Historical Society Members; Ages 5 and younger
(Check out the sponsors!)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How to Escape the Horror Without Leaving

Hey, World! Here's my article that Mask Magazine published last week:

In the Post-Truth world, truth still might, if we’re lucky, set us free. So might dharma, death, and Donald Glover. The only thing that definitely won’t free us anymore is freedom. Freedom is a bison in the Bronx Zoo sitting on an eagle egg. Nothing good’s gonna hatch here. Not soon, at least. Democracy served us up a doozy last year, and on January 20th we’re gonna smell a rancid dingleberry omelet, from St. Petersburg to St. Paul, whether we like it or not.

The past is destiny. We adapt. We search for elegance and meaning in life like it’s an increasingly complex and stimulating video game. As formerly innocent words like truth and freedom (and "great") become their own antonyms, I can’t help but ponder the legacy of that silver-tongued harbinger of The Donald – The Ronald. For those born after the ‘80s, Ronald Reagan was a celebrity President who thrilled angry whites with “welfare queen” putdowns and a racist drug war. He illegally sold weapons to Iran, massively defunded mental health institutions, and “schlonged” the poor again and again. He ramped up the military and, with true Orwellian steeze, named nuclear missiles “Peacekeepers.” It was during Reagan’s second term, just after his landslide reelection in 1984, when reality got really nasty for inner cities and the people in them. Tracy Chapman, in her eponymous 1988 album, sang: “Love is hate / War is peace / No is Yes / And we’re all free.”  Kindness was retrograding in the USA in the ‘80s, and every rebel girl and b-boy knew it. I was young. I was waking up. It was time to break the chrysalis . . . and fly.

Escape #1

In 1989 I graduated from Ronan High School on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. A century earlier, my Irish and Croatian great-grandparents had homesteaded (OK, colonized) a couple quarters of rocky reservation land there and set up shop as hardscrabble ranchers. In due time I inherited this lifestyle, and it mostly aggravated me. In 1992 I extricated myself from scenic Big Sky Country and cruised, in a green van, 500 miles west to the artistic mecca of Olympia, WA. I was still in the USA, of course, but it didn’t feel like it.

With newfound zest and creativity, I started a DIY record label in Olympia and cranked out cassettes and compact discs for years. Olympia was a paradise for my kind of no-limits music. My stage name was Sandman the Rappin’ Cowboy: folk singer, rapper, farm boy refugee, prankster, and libertine. There was a niche for my weird political style, and by touring regularly and living simply I squeezed out a career. As soon as I became comfortable in my role as a neo-Woody Guthrie-esque troubadour, however, the two elections of George W. Bush, in 2000 and 2004, sent me reeling.

Seriously, though, the bald-faced TREASON. How could this Midland oilman – who’d so recently punked the government into starting an unnecessary, costly, and illegal war, get – re-elected? Many of my West Coast friends blamed the Republican rural states populated with sexist cattlemen and racist “hillbillies.” I didn’t want to buy the scapegoating. Liberals seemed to be crapping the futon, too. Besides, I was a rural kid with Plains States roots. I knew we were as good as anybody, albeit misinformed on some issues. As the nation became increasingly macabre, I became increasingly morose. D’Angelo songs, Naomi Klein essays, and Jon Stewart jokes helped ease my worries some; but it was Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s inspirational address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention that seemed like the first national miracle of the new century. Here was poetry, personality, and politics all in one person. He’d been against the Iraq war. He defended immigrants. His memoir, Dreams of My Father, built on the wisdom of Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass. He had both Kenyan and Kansan roots. Unconsciously, Senator Obama was my de facto moral leader now. Fuck Bush. Fuck Cheney. I wanted salvation.

Sure I was naive, but the rhetorical vibration Barack was peddling in his 2004 speech truly did give me hope for my country. I plotted my getaway from the bohemian, self-absorbed petri dish of West Coast Washington. (No offense, Olympia – I was buggin’.) Six months later I would become a bona fide undercover red-state sociologist and live amongst actual Bohemian-American immigrants who tilled the soil, Norwegian-American ranchers who still ate lutefisk, and Indigenous Americans who cradled the dreams of their children like the prairie cradles wild crocus bulbs in early spring.

Escape #2

In the first years of the new millennium, North Dakota was the least visited state in the Union. I moved there, in 2005, for two reasons. One, to discern why rural folks were voting against their proverbial own-best-interests. And, two, to be near my parents (who had recently relocated there from Montana) and grandparents (who were approaching their 90s). For pay, I curated a small historical museum stocked with old saddles, tractors, and arrowheads. At night, I would blog and write songs.

Before the Bakken oil boom hit in 2007, young people were fleeing the North Dakota prairie in search of jobs in bigger cities like Denver and Minneapolis. Housing was remarkably cheap back then, and in the summer of 2006 I bought a 574-square-foot cottage for only $1000. It was a fixer-upper, no doubt, but a shelter that I could move into immediately, and I did. The years between 2007 and 2011 – during the heart of the oil boom – flew by like hell-bent Bakken tanker trucks. With my dad’s help I overhauled my house, inside and out. I quit the museum job. I acquired my Commercial Driver’s License and drove my buddy’s Kenworth tractor-trailer across the northern states and Canada’s southern provinces, hauling live tilapia and buffalo carp for several years. I had the awkward privilege of becoming the subject of the feature-length, award-winning documentary ROLL OUT, COWBOY. I even found time to wed and conceive a daughter with a lovely Florida gal.

Unfortunately, North Dakota and its shady oil patch culture soon lost its allure for my bride. In late 2011 we decided to pull up stakes and migrate west to Missoula, Montana. In 2012 our daughter was born. In 2015 Ms. Florida and I divorced.

So here I am, back in western Montana, 50 miles south of where I grew up, learning how to parent both my real and inner child. For affordable therapy I regularly trade listening time with friends. Meditation, exercise, and eating healthily are priorities. My daughter’s preschool fee, combined with the monthly house rent, is kept under $700.

Nevertheless, we live paycheck-to-paycheck. In North Dakota, earning $25,000 a year driving truck part-time was easy. Now, as theater custodian, it’s a challenge to clear $15,000. My career as a musician has floundered, too. Regular touring once wrangled $8,000 a year in merch sales. Now, without the ability to sing for energizing audiences in Oklahoma City and Albuquerque, my souvenirs collect dust. Digital download sales from Spotify and Amazon – seemingly no matter how many hundreds of times the songs are played – rarely net me more than $2 a month.

So, yes, I’m poor. And lonely. I tried Tinder in December for a week, but it made me even lonelier. Internet porn? Can’t touch it. Too . . . Trumpian. Woody Guthrie, who coincidentally had a beef with the President-elect’s dad, famously sang: “It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.” Well, these days, I’m definitely that guy. Besides the poverty and heartache, a Russian serial killer appears to be my country’s new co-leader. Music career, inamorata, and collective national sanity all missing all at once! What gives, America?

Escape #3

Early last September my dad and I delivered a load of firewood, water, and two bottles of chokecherry syrup to the Sacred Stone Camp on the Standing Rock Reservation. His friends Miles and Ladonna Brave Bull Allard lived there and ran the outfit. After unloading the wood, Dad and I assembled our canvas tent and joined the kitchen activities. Around the campfire that night, hopeful stories were told and tears were shed. The gifts of weeping, laughing, and healing were everywhere, it seemed. A transformation was happening along Lake Oahe and it was extraordinary to witness. Hard ice was melting in old veins, and clarity was rising like fragrant sweet grass smoke in the starry summer sky. Native folks were saying no to genocide and internalized racism and yes to unity and dignity. Water was life, clearly. Oceti Sakowin youth – freed from the isolating elements of school and screens – were playing together as a giant tribe for the first time in over a century. Canoers from the great western coastal tribes paddled the Missouri to ask permission to come ashore onto Sioux lands to join the Gathering of the Tribes Camp. Maori people from the other side of the globe were expressing solidarity in haka videos. Native Peruvians had flown in to join the resistance on the Standing Rock front lines.
A swarm of monarchs.

Perhaps in the absence of freedom, freedom can sometimes finally bloom. When no one’s left to save us, we have to save ourselves. Bison leap fences, or break them down. Eaglets, in the right environment, hatch. And sometimes just to stand in the face of oppression, together, united, it becomes possible to transcend time and place altogether. When Thelma & Louise’s screenwriter, Callie Khouri, soars her heroines off the edge of the Grand Canyon, it’s not a fatalistic act of suicide. She’s giving her protagonists permission to live buoyantly and passionately, on their own terms, lifespan be damned.

Hillary Rodham Clinton won’t be inaugurated President on January 20th, 2017. Donald J. Trump will be. And though he seemingly disqualified himself, time and again, from being hired as even a Pentagon page, he’s still the winner. A lurking, smirking Elf on the Shelf POTUS.

On January 21st, the Women's March on Washington will convene on the corner of Independence Avenue and Third Street SW at 10AM. I hope the day will be as raw, luminous, and dangerous as an Audre Lorde speech or an Adrienne Rich poem. In my psychedelic dream, a kaleidoscope of monarch butterflies will descend rabidly upon the gruesome, decapitated skull of the US Capitol, its teeth like Roman pillars, and quickly, ay, hangrily, pick the bloody mess clean. Done. And done. White bones
and wisps of dyed hair, the color of marigold nectar, will remain, gently blowing in the breeze.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Strike One

My recent Kickstarter campaign didn't reach its mandatory $25,000 goal. Thus, I don't get to keep any of it.

Friends are encouraging me to run it again, but this time for only $10,000. Problem is, of course, that number isn't enough to produce the ROAD TRIP trilogy as I envisioned it. Plus, I'm ten grand in debt just from all the lost time and campaign awards I pre-purchased.

Perhaps I just need a week or two to recharge my battery and let things settle.

What would you do?

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Radical Adjustments

In the pursuit of a Kickstarter miracle (my campaign ends early Aug. 5th) I've made some radical adjustments. For a $10 pledge you'll now get an AMERICAN ROAD TRIP bumper sticker AND a full-length download card of my new 13-song album AMERICAN ROAD TRIP.
PLEDGE HERE ------->
For $27 you can now get the whole AMERICAN ROAD TRIP-tych trilogy as each succeeding record gets finished (the final two will be in download form).
Please check out my Kickstarter video and page to see all additional rewards. These include Sandman pillow cases, vinyl records, coasters, posters, and the feature-length, award-winning documentary about my travels during the 2008 election cycle, Roll Out, Cowboy - a documentary.
P.S. Kickstarter rules won't allow me to "officially" change my reward tiers at this point in the game, but you have my word that I will include the extra rewards in the lower tiers as promised.

Friday, July 15, 2016

AMERICAN ROAD TRIP-TYCH 2.0 (Last Night's Dream)

So . . . I'm 13% to the goal with only twenty days to go. The math doesn't look great, and I've been praying for insights.

Last night I had a dream. I was in an ancient temple where I asked the head priestess, "How can I reach my goal?" This was her response:

1. VALUE. "Because your project is a trilogy, supporters deserve to hear all THREE records, not just the first."

2. ENVIRONMENT. "People want less waste and plastic when they support art."

Then I woke up. I came up with the following idea: Anyone who pledges $27 or more will now receive everything already listed on the Kickstarter page PLUS free downloads of the second and third albums, AMERICAN BREAKDOWN and GIDDYUP!, as soon as they are finished.

Kickstarter doesn't allow me making changes to the rewards list once the campaign has begun, but you have my word. You will receive everything already listed, plus the additional two full-length album downloads, if you pledge $27 or more! All those who have already pledged will also receive the additional free record downloads, of course.

Here's a link to my Kickstarter page. I hope you'll take a few minutes to look at it. Remember with Kickstarter, you're only billed if I get pledges for the entire $25,000.

Thanks for your support!

Chris Sand

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Unlocking the Heart

Five days ago, on 6/6/16, I launched my first ever Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for AMERICAN ROAD TRIPTYCH: My 3-Album Adventure.

I'm not gonna lie--pledges are coming in slower than a snail climbing a greased log. On the other hand, they say the fastest way to move cattle is slowly. So, here I am, biding my time and scratchin' in the dirt like a chicken in a dung heap.

If you have a minute, PLEASE watch my dynamic Kickstarter video HERE. Marshall Granger produced it and did a great job.

On a related note, for the next eight Mondays in a row I'll be the featured musical guest on The Radio8Ball Show. This Monday's offering breaks down the question "What will it take to unlock the heart of Olympia, WA?" My song "Radio Works Fine" is used as the divination tool.

Please note that on the day this show was filmed I felt worse than a calf with slobbers and feared I'd be as worthless as a four-card flush. My larynx was locked up tighter'n the Sylvester Park gazebo (you'll understand this reference when you see the video). Fortunately for everybody, Amanda Lux, reiki energy hero, came to my rescue, and my voice not only survived, but thrived. Thank you Amanda. Props, also, to the Radio8Band who back me up!

Here's the video:

My response:

Monday, June 06, 2016

Official Launch of Chris Sand's AMERICAN ROAD TRIP-tych!

Here! It! Is! Y'all! 

After eight months of trying to figure out how to create a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for my three-new-record-set idea, it's finally airborn.

Please take a gander at my AMERICAN ROAD TRIP-tych video (and all the unique rewards you'll get for pledging) here:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Missoulian Article Following American Road Trip Tour

Here's the Missoulian article that followed the American Road Trip tour. Thanks, Cory Walsh, for the interview:

Chris Sand likes to think of his new album, "American Road Trip," as a mix tape that covers his career to this point. Over the course of 20 years, he's released 13 albums and seven tapes that merged plain-spoken cowboy music with early 1980s hip-hop, criss-crossing the country as a troubadour.
"It's not only about the American experience, it's also meant to be something that you put it in your CD player and you drive somewhere," he said.
There are light-hearted rap songs ("Down at Habashi"), serious folk songs ("Farmor (Father's Mother,)" about his grandmother), outlaw country ("Bull") and recitations of cowboy poetry over hip-hop beats.
The musical detours take place over a day-like time-line. Each song is accompanied by a line of text. ("4 a.m. A curious dream in a cabin on Killdeer Mountain," "Noon. Lunch in Glendive? ... Nope," "11 p.m. Pining in Deer Lodge.")
Sand recently completed a 30-show, 45-day solo tour that found him going from Leadville, Colorado, down to Missouri and through Nashville, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Texas and California and more.
He worked as a truck driver on and off for five and a half years, and isn't a stranger to long hauls. His tune "Trucker Song" is one of the many that draws on those experiences.
He likes to spend January and February on the road, where he can escape Missoula's dreary weather, visit old friends and make frequent stops at hot springs, preferably the free ones that require a hike in.
The travel, though, is a way of feeling like a citizen of the country as a whole.
"I feel like the country keeps getting more and more separated, so it's a political act for me to travel and be reminded that we're not all the same, yet we are fellow citizens. It's easy to get stuck in your own little pocket and forget about the rest of the country," he said.
Sand grew up in Ronan and graduated high school there in 1989.
"My dad's from North Dakota. I feel like a dual citizen because I went to first and second grade there, and I spent all my summers there riding horses on my grandparents' ranch," he said, out at Killdeer Mountain in the western half of the state.
His dad worked as a carpenter and his mom as a counselor at Salish Kootenai College. He liked outlaw country and she liked Cat Stevens; Sand also heard folk-related artists like Rob Quist and Greg Brown who'd play in the area.
He first began listening to hip-hop via break-dancing compilations, which included early tracks in the genre like Nucleus' "Jam On It."
"All that stuff really saturated me and helped me feel like there's more to life than Reba McEntire and Alabama," he said. That meant new names like Run-DMC, Grandmaster Flash, LL Cool J joined the older guard of Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Cash, plus politically minded folk artists Woody Guthrie and Utah Phillips.
He remembers writing a book of poetry when he was 14, one that included both poems and raps.
"My grandpa's brother was a cowboy poet, so I grew up on cowboy poetry," he said. (That relative was also named Chris Sand.)

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"I've always thought that cowboy poetry and rap have a lot in common, with the rhyming couplets and use of colloquialism, brag talk, oftentimes working class or poor. They're both folk musics in my mind," he said.
"American Road Trip" includes two performances of cowboy poems, one each from Bruce Kiskaddon ("A Cowboy's Prayer") and Badger Clark, the first poet laureate of South Dakota. ("When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall.")
Both are recited over relaxed hip-hop beats, and not an attempt to translate them into the cadences of rap.
"It felt appropriate to pay tribute to these old ramblers who influenced me," he said.
Sand began performing at age 20. Some other ideas bled in when he transferred to Evergreen State College in Olympia, where he lived for 11 years. The city had an unusually high ratio of do-it-yourself rock and punk, with celebrated labels like K Records and Kill Rock Stars. Sand at one point played a few gigs with Calvin Johnson, the K Records founder and frontman for Beat Happening.
His career caught some attention from media outlets around the country with "Roll Out, Cowboy," a 2010 documentary portrait directed by Elizabeth Lawrence.
She saw him at a gig in Chicago and reached out to him after she'd finished film school and moved to New York. Her film collected some awards on the festival circuit, while Sand continued driving trucks.
He said he wasn't able to capitalize on the buzz it generated. It created a segue, though, after he got it screened the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. When the festival's former director, Mike Steinberg, launched the Roxy Theater as an art-house community cinema, he brought Sand on board, where he's stayed through a series of different gigs.
"American Road Trip" is the first in a series of three albums.
"The reason it feels like a triptych to me is that 'American Road Trip' is the past. It tidily wraps up my career as a troubadour," he said.
It's the first album he's released since moving back to Missoula just before the birth of his daughter. Stevie, now just over 4 years old, marked a change in his lifestyle and songwriting.
After she was born, he began writing songs about her. Those and some previously unrecorded tunes from his back catalog with a "child-like quality" will make up the children's album, he said.
The other entry, "Hard Lessons," is more serious.
"'Hard Lessons' is also about the future, about how we are going to survive as a nation, given all the differences we seem to have," he said.
The first one, marks a sort of an ending and a new beginning.
"It feels like a coming-home record, in a way," he said.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Here's a brief review of the 30 shows from my 2016 winter/spring American Road Trip tour:

2/12 - Leadville, CO: The Hen House! Thank you, Anna Rebellino and gang! This was a great kickoff show, except a hound dog howled off and on during my set and throughout the night. I read Walt Whitman until 6am. Who needs sleep at the beginning of a tour!?

New CD!
2/13 - Albuquerque, NM: Mark Baker & Nancy Dowd somehow ALWAYS deliver (5 for 5). Because a water pipe burst and destroyed their kitchen that morning, they moved the show to Mark's architecture office, where they seemingly effortlessly packed it with good vibes, great people, and a vintage flashing neon "SEXY" sign. Attitude is everything, no doubt. There is magic along Route 66, and it followed me east . . .

In Albuquerque I picked up copies of my long-awaited, hot-off-the-press new CD: AMERICAN ROAD TRIP! Thanks to Bess Bird for the artwork and Allison V. Smith for the photos!

2/14 - Oklahoma City, OK: Valentine's Day at Terri Sadler's for a second year in a row--a tradition begins! Terri knows how to make a ramblin' man feel valued. She showered me with gifts and food and encouraged guests to drop $20 bills into the hat. I'm in love.

On my way to Missouri I made a pilgrimage to museums honoring two heroes, Woody Guthrie and Will Rogers (in Claremore and Tulsa, OK, respectively). Earlier I had stopped at the Roger Miller Museum in Erick, OK, but sadly it was closed.

2/16 - Columbia, MO:  A last-minute party at Cafe Berlin! Thank you Eli, Bill & Jill McKelvey, and Kelly Betz for arranging, hosting, performing, and/or boarding!

Back in the bathtub . . .
2/17 - Pesotum, IL: The Route 45 Bar is famous for its pig testicle fry, and I accidentally called this charming farming town "Pescrotum" from the stage. Big thanks to Ralph Roether, who set up the show, designed killer flyers, and drummed on several songs, and to Jamie for the adventures!

2/19 - Indianapolis, IN: Rhonda Baughman's birthday show was high on quality, low on quantity. Only two people showed up who weren't her housemates or boyfriend. Still I cleared $350 and had a blast!  Thanks, Rhonda, for your amazing generosity!  And thanks, Liz Janes & Michael Kaufmann, for the luxurious crash pad afterwards.

Rappin' w/ Camo in Nashville.
2/20 - Nashville, TN: Derek Greene & Megan Lightell must have the cutest half-acre farmstead in Nashville. Megan's band opened the show, I followed, and Jonny Fritz wrapped it up. Camo Davi joined me for several songs, a flashback to the '90s when we were #1 on the KAOS charts. I loved this show for many reasons--wish I could've stayed another month. I camped that night at Mary Arwen's house of crystals & reptiles.

2/21 - Florence, AL: Alabama is basically the holy grail for me when it comes to music states.  That's how much Hank Williams means to this fellow skinny driftin' songwriter. And Florence is directly across the Tennessee River from the venerable FAME studios of Muscle Shoals, AL! Much respect to Josh & Melissa Driskell and Rivertown Coffee Company for the love and charity.

2/22 - Little Rock, AR: House concert at the Watson's. Amy & Eric epitomize southern hospitality--they even slept on couches to give me the privacy of their bedroom! Amy cooked up a feast, made an intricate papercut cowboy-with-boombox show flyer, and gave two of her valuable handmade dolls to send to Stevie. Eric drove me around the city and educated me on various Arkansas/Southern facts.

2/23 - Amy also helped set up a second Little Rock show at Adrian Bozeman's Dogtown Sound. Adrian is a cool-as-hell dude who uses his store to support local musicians. I needed a mic stand, so he gifted me a brand new one, plus a few packs of guitar strings and picks.  
Gothic shower contraption at Buckstaff.

After the show, Jessi Perren lent me the keys to her dilapidated house, a former brothel in Hot Springs, AR (an hour west of Little Rock). She told me to drop the keys through the mail slot after exiting the next morning. In my groggy stupor, I foolishly locked my MacBook inside her house. Rather than breaking down a door or window, I drove into town and paid $30 for a relaxing spa treatment at the historic Buckstaff BathhouseRemarkably, midway through my soak, someone recognized me from the movie Roll Out, Cowboy, which had played at the 2010 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. He alerted the rest of the staff and I ended up signing several awkward autographs in the nude. I had to leave my computer behind to get to the next gig. Five days later Jessi hand-delivered it to me in Austin.Thanks again, Jessi!

2/24 - Shreveport, LA: Leadbelly's hometown! This was the first of five co-bills with my friend and hero Bill Daniel--filmmaker, photographer, author, mechanic, punk. We set up shop at David Nelson's beautifully rustic Mini-Cine venue. Dave Ortego and Dacoda Montana were part of this show, which hit all the right notes. Mr. Nelson was a fantastic host. I want to return to Shreveport soon.

Bill Daniel's Milkcrate Microcinema!
Here's how Bill Daniel described his Milkcrate Microcinema offering: "Kooked-out western soundies from the 1930s-50s. Soundies were a precursor to music videos--3-minute music performances on 16mm reels that were played and viewed on a vending console like a juke box, but instead of playing records they projected the films on a built-in screen. Goofy, racy, black and white film!"

2/26 - Huntsville, TX: Bill and I brought our multi-media chatauqua to Jennie & Tamara's vibrant Eclectic Coffee House. Much gratitude to "Lucy Harper" for wranglin' the show, and to Michael Henderson for housing us. Huntsville is an unexpectedly groovy underworld.

2/27 - Dallas, TX: Sweet Sarah Jane & Paul Semrad are angels who've hosted multiple Sandman happenings. Because they have close, trusting relationships with so many people in their Oak Cliff community, when they send out party invites, people show up. Guess who reaps the rewards? I do! Thanks, guys!

2/28 - Austin, TX: Bill Daniel's birthday party! Bill, his glorious Milkcrate MicroCinema, and I continued to wend our way through the heart of Texas. And Austin's Carousel Lounge is one wild venue. Local luminaries Ralph E. White and John Wesley Coleman III shared the bill, many revelers attended, solid gold. Thanks, Ian Tennant, for the room!

At the Carousel in Austin.
(Bryan Parker photo)
2/29 - San Antonio, TX: Who knew San Antonio was so awesome on a danged Monday?!! Gracias to marble tycoon Justin Parr, who runs Flight Gallery. He not only curated a powerful evening of art and music, he put Bill and me up in the mystic ruins of an burnt-out 19th-century hot springs resort.

3/1 - Lubbock, TX: Andy Hedges, cowboy songster & one of America's best young folk singers, hooked me up with a gig at La Diosa. This was the only show of my life where I said something so surreal that I momentarily lost consciousness. What I said was, "I'm NOT gonna say that Donald Trump isn't a great man." And then my brain short-circuited and my legs buckled. I stumbled across the stage to catch myself on the piano. Disoriented and embarassed, I somehow got myself back to the mic. I said the same thing again, and this time I completely dissociated. I came to just before my face hit the floor. I picked myself up and launched into the song I had been trying to introduce, a new one called "Bad Signs." 

All I can say is, you try saying that without falling down! Anyway, I love Lubbock. Thanks, Andy & Alissa Hedges! Thanks, Andy Wilkinson and family!
Roy Orbison Museum in Wink, TX.

3/5 - Marfa, TX: The doors of Marfa swung wide and blessed me with a vision of West Texas regality. My good friends Buck Johnston and Camp Bosworth hired me to play an art show opening in their WRONG STORE gallery. Friends Lorna Leedy & Peter Maggio put me up in their classy airbnb for two nights for free. Virginia Lebermann & Rocky Barnett & Lorna treated me to the most opulent, theatrical, and drunken dining experience of my life at The Capri. It was the only time I drank on this tour. Marfa!

3/6 - Bisbee, AZ: When it comes to small vibrant southwestern US art towns, Bisbee is the yin to Marfa's yang. This time I was ushered in by Gretchen Baer & Shawnee Hicks to do a show for Gretchen's birthday party. I had the honor of joining rock prophet Melissa Reaves on stage to inaugurate Shawnee's new studio/theater. Gretchen, FYI, has been making waves for years with her colorful paintings and art cars, many of which celebrate Hillary Clinton.

3/7 - Tucson, AZ: Mike Dixon does it all. Besides running a rad record label, PIAPTK (I'm one of his lucky featured artists), he's a master vinyl record lathe cutter. On top of that, he arranged a cool show at The Flycatcher and housed me in his daughter's inflatable bouncy house. Jasper Ludwig & Brian Haskins treated me to a fine breakfast at their thriving new 5 Points Market & Restaurant.

3/8 - San Diego, CA: I performed an open-air show at The Sleep Bedder Art Collective, a venue like no other. Owned by Sonia Weksler & Steve Bennett, it's a mattress store / art gallery / yoga studio / camp kitchen. Sonia writes this about the kitchen: "All are welcome here where we serve complimentary organic delicacies and host monthly wellness workshops focusing on how to make bone broth, sauerkraut, kombucha, and other good for the gut staples." They fed my soul, as did Alan & Maria Conrad. Yay, San Diego!

3/10 - Long Beach, CA: I was reunited with two longtime friends, Sas Liska & Johanna Moynahan. Sas set up a rousing affair for us both at The Prospector, and Johanna & Danny put me up for the night. Sas is a true blue rocker and art car freak. Johanna runs a Long Beach vintage clothing store called Far Outfit.  

Old pic on a new flyer.
3/11 - Los Angeles, CA: Kay & Willie Wisely hosted me in their historic Laurel Canyon palace. I heard that James Taylor and Linda Rondstadt played house concerts there, and that Rickie Lee Jones might've lived there for a stint. Great show! Thanks, guys!

3/12 - 3/18: A much-needed spring break. I flew back to Missoula to hang with Stevie for a few days, then visited my good friend Nina Berenfeld in Hollywood en route to LA to get my car.

3/19 - San Francisco, CA: Longtime pal Nana Dawson-Andoh invited me to perform for her housewarming party. Nana has helped me in many different towns during my 20-year touring career. This was her first on the West Coast.

3/19 - Sacramento, CA: I rolled a couple hours northeast to Cali's capital city to play my second party of the day. Reva Wittenberg & Matthew Grayum hosted in their balmy, lemon-scented backyard. A highlight was Reva's opening set. Reva and I collaborated often in the 90s, but have played together only a few times since. Another highlight was when world-famous Nigerian percussionist Sunny Eselekhomhen joined me on hand drum for a few songs. The next day Reva, Matt, and their two daughters took me on a tour of Sactown's farmers markets and rose gardens.

The venue in Black Butte, CA.
3/20 - Black Butte, CA: This one was a troubadour's dream. I played in a boxcar filled with hobos and drifters, young and old. The Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture is a utilitarian marvel and, as far as I can tell, Bruce Shoe and his dog Maxx have a heckuva a lot to do with it. I slept like a child in a 1942 Santa Fe caboose.

3/21 - Ashland, OR: I played a show at Amber Tidwell's farmhouse. Lots of friendly and fun-loving  locals showed up to get down. The next morning I soaked at Jackson Wellsprings.

3/22 - Corvallis, OR: I returned to the Interzone after a five-year absence. Alex Foss and Justin Groft helped set this one up. Before the show Alex treated me to dinner at my new favorite restaurant, Nearly Normals. Caitlin Garets & Justin opened the hootenanny with a set of folk-punk classics. Cousins Kirby & Megan put me up for a great night's sleep. 

3/23 - Portland, OR: After two months of not being able to line out a Portland showcase of any kind, Amanda Stark Shur invited me--a week before the show--to play at The Old Church Concert Hall. Click on that link and you'll see why The Old Church is one of the most coveted venues in the northwest, and why I hit the jackpot! I'm more than lucky to be friends with Amanda, who is the Executive Director of Program Development there. I ended my second set with eerie, spontaneously (de)composed pipe organ music. Great reconnecting with Miranda Rinks, Doug Henderson, & so many other old friends.

The old man wants to go home.
3/25 - Olympia, WA: In the guise of a birthday party for herself, darling Rebeca Jane Potasnik threw a bash for Olympia at the Abigail Stuart House and invited me to be the headliner. What a party it was--amazing food, dynamic opening acts, community spirit & revelry, and a cause! The cause was clemency for Leonard Peltier, who's been in prison for 40 years. Rebeca helped 39 people write letters to President Obama, encouraging him to set Mr. Peltier free. 

The opening act at this show, which performed under the umbrella name of "The Pink Tree Cabaret," deserves special mention. Kendl Winter & Joe Capoccia sang magic love songs on banjo & guitar. Samantha Chandler read classical poetry. Sky Cosby and gang juggled. Katie Rains led the crowd in song. Nina Berenfeld MC'd playfully.

A First People's "Welcome Song" by Gary Wessels-Galbreath hit me like lightning and moved me to tears. It somehow answered the question underlying the American Road Trip tour: How can I reconnect with my beloved, polarized, troubled country? Every stop along the way had given me hope, but something came together for me in Gary's song--the earth beneath Indiana, the Oklahoma sky, the trees of Colorado, the Tennessee flowers, the mountains of Oregon, the Alabama rivers, the snakes and birds of Arkansas and Texas. The beauty of the people I met in each town. I realized once again that I go on tour to find this reconnection, and I never know when or how or if it will happen. 

So thank you, Gary, and thanks to everyone who was part of my 2016 American Road Trip. I simply couldn't have done it without your love, enthusiasm, and help.  

3/26 - After breakfast with Rebeca & Nina, I drove home to Missoula. The next day was Easter. Stevie and I painted eggs, enjoyed a great Easter meal with my parents and Herak relatives, and joined in the family Easter egg hunt. It was good to be home.

4/1 - I played my 30th and final show of the tour at The Roxy in Missoula on April Fool's Day. Thanks to Mike Steinberg for that, and thanks to The Missoulian for a good article. (Don't be confused by the misleading headline. I'm not bidding farewell to musician life at all. I'm planning the next chapter, which I hope will result in two new albums within the next year and take me to Europe and beyond.)

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Until next time,