Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Woke up yesterday in North Hampton, drove to East Hampton and played an open mic, and spent the night in South Hampton. (Apologies to West Hampton, if there is one). Things are definitely happening but I am not having time to record it all. Soon, very soon, you'll have all the details. One thing-- Nima got mugged yesterday in Boston, but he's okay. Troy Byker got mugged in Oakland soon after I left there, too. Hmmm. And two women I stayed with along the tour (Bridget and Jessica) gave birth to babies on the day I arrived in their towns. What does it all mean??! Maybe it's just a cosmic post-post-modern snap-shot of love and war on the U.S. frontlines.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

It's a rainy day in Beantown... What's most disturbing is the dead, black cat on the sidewalk outside the gate. It's been here for the last few days and it's eyes are taking on a moony glow. Creepy. On the upside it has been a true pleasure to spend time with Nima and Amanda. I'll miss them when I leave tomorrow. Two nights ago I played at the very excellent Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge. An old Olympia buddy named Jeff Stern set it up and though, underattended, it went great. I did get a little sick beforehand from indulging in some cookie-batter ice-cream, but pulled through. Tonight is the big house concert so I better remove, or at least cover, the cat and it's cloudy, bulging, phosphorescent fish-retinas. Tomorrow I head West!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Here's a link to the flyer advertising the Northhampton show on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

My new CD, The Long Ride Home, is officially in stores across the nation today!! This is a big deal to me, because up until now I've only sold my previous releases to people I meet at shows and to friends. I'm hopeful that they will sell quickly, but nervous, none-the-less, that I'm not well-known enough yet. I guess that's what this tour's about; reviews are starting to trickle in, too. Here are a couple that I've found via the internet:

Sandman / Long Ride Home / Billed as something of a cross between rap and country, I would disagree. This is stripped down singer/songwriter music and it is haunting and beautiful. It most immediately reminds me of Lou Reed back in his bad old days. This is a really great disc that tells a story and tells it so well that you will listen to it again and again. (MK) Impact Press (http://www.impactpress.com/articles/aprmay03/musicr4503.html)

All Music Guide Review
While the release of multiple albums has made Sandman known as somewhat of a cross between hip-hop and country, don't let that fool you. Yes, there are certain hip-hop elements on this 15-song album, but anyone who is familiar with the K Records sound and their branched elements won't have one bit of trouble accepting this. That's because the urban elements are kept to a minimum and never override any one song, instead taking their place like an obedient schoolboy. No, Sandman is through and through alt-country on The Long Ride Home, with a capable croon like that of Matt Wignall of Havalina and twangy guitar reminiscent of Woody Guthrie. The big skies from which he emerged have served Sandman well, as his sound is a nice accompaniment to the atmosphere that envelops one who has been to Montana and the surrounding states. An accomplished, established album that shows a gentle artist starting to come into his own. ~ Kurt Morris

And just ten minutes ago someone from West Coast Performer called to ask me a few questions about who produced, engineered, and mastered The Long Ride Home. She told me that one of their top reviewers, Rob Thompson, really liked the CD and would love to do an interview the next time I play in the Bay area. The review will appear in the June issue.

By the way, today I'm in Boston, or more precisely-- Jamaica Plain, at my good buddy Nima Samimi's place. I arrived at midnight after getting lost for an hour. Nima and Amanda greeted me warmly and we all had a slumber party in his room. I spent yesterday mostly in Vermont recording a couple new songs with a producer named Justin Galenski who I'd met at the show. First we did "Underneath the Grief" and finished with "Thanks for the Sex". Both songs feature vocal experimentations and have multiple layers of me singing, grunting, and whistling. I plan to send these to Bret at Knw-Yr-Own for use on a new Summer compilation CD. By 6 pm I'd bid adieu to the Tomlinson family and began my drive to Boston. Tek, sent me home with a sturdy box of his Tektonic Palates Ethiopian pastes. I encourage everyone to visit his website, 'cause he knows how to make sauces and pastes.

While I'm at it, here's another link you should check out: ?!!

Monday, April 21, 2003

New England!!! I'm feeling randy in these hills of New Hampshire-- you'd have to see it to believe the beauty that surrounds this mountain farm! I showed up two nights ago (at 2 am) after my long drive from Philadelphia; Senayit and her mom, Sally, waited up. A fat, orange moon lit the dirt road to their cabin and slid me into a cozy bed. In the morning I met Senayit's Ethiopian-born father, Tekleab, who is a 70-yr.-old who looks 45. He and Sally own 240 rolling acres filled with woodpeckers, moose, beavers, and black bear. I saw a monster-sized wild turkey in a field. This is the New England people might fantasize about. (On Golden Pond was filmed forty miles away). Tek and Sally also have a family of friendly animals: two dogs, three cats, and two horses. Eventually, Senayit and I crossed the river into Bradford, Vermont and prepared for our show at The Middle Earth. By 8:45 Senayit was singing and playing on her 12-string guitar and my ears danced. I ought to mention that this venue was definitely one of the nicer places I've ever played. It was built to resemble a British pub out of Lord of the Rings. I followed Senayit and played for over an hour. The seventy or so people who came were enthralled with my unique style and I sold more CDs and received more compliments than at any other show so far. The owner, Chris, wants me to return and play an official (non-rental) show in the Fall. Most the money made at the door went to pay off the rental of The Middle Earth, but I did receive $30 after expenses. After me came the jazzy Ordinary Magic who had what it took to make the people dance and the kazoo player was rad. After them I was asked to play again and I did for another half hour.

Today I took two long walks and a horseback ride through the trails with Senayit, Sally, Sedalla (Senayit's sister), and Dan (Sedalla's friend). Andromeda, the appaloosa mare I rode (bareback), pulls to the left just like my car. She trots good, but my groin is sore anyway. Now Tek is preparing a huge Ethiopian feast with the spongy bread and everything and I'm ready to eat it.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Still in New York. I need to get back to Philly to get my car so I can drive the seven hours to New Hampshire today. Last night I stayed at the famed graffiti writer, Shoan One's, apartment. He, I, and his Serbian friend, Petar, walked about thirty blocks for no particular reason except to maybe view beautiful, ancient Columbia University at night. Earlier in the day I lounged around Mush's East Village apartment and had lunch at a Venezuelan restaraunt. Perhaps I should rewind to my last hours in D.C. where I spent the day with Heather Jones...

...and what a tour-guide she was! By day's end I'd seen the Pentagon, White House, Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Viet Nam and Korean war memorials, a bunch of musuems, and other famous landmarks. The museums were the most amazing as they were filled with art that blew my mind-- original statues and paintings by all of the most famous artists of the last fifteen-hundred years. To gaze deeply into one of Van Gogh's self-portraits, for example, is unexpectedly chilling. Warhol still confuses me, but maybe that's his point. After a day of this, I was zoned out; plus the temperature was over 80 degrees. I drove to Philly and arrived at Jessica and James' by 11:00 pm. Jessica had given birth to her first baby that morning: a long-limbed boy named Aiden. I spent the next day doing nothing and the morning after that I walked around with my friend Jan Brottman, who also lives with Jessica along with her boyfriend, Michael. (I'm cutting corners now since I need to run catch my train soon... In fact, I better leave right now.)

Friday, April 18, 2003

I'll try to sneak in a few words, though I'm about to hit the town (I'm in Manhattan). Gotta go.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Still in D.C... spent the morning meandering the streets of the El Salvadorean district, had lunch in a Guatemalan cafe. I'd meant to see some museums and monuments, but plans with my friend, Heather Jones, who's visiting from the West Coast, fell through. We'll do it tomorrow instead, before I head North.

Yesterday was spent relaxing with Nana, who currently has a sinus infection. We ate Thai food for dinner with her friend, Ton, who is Thai. Ton is a great, light-hearted, genuine guy and I hope to stay friends with him.

Saturday Nana worked so I spent the day with her roommates and roommate's friends. We went to the Arboretum and played frisbee next to the river. The weather has been around 70 degrees for the last three days which is a relief after the cold days in North Carolina and Virginia. Nana, who is Ghanian-American (she left Ghana when she was four), took me to a Ghanian restaraunt which was a revelation as I've never been to one. The taste of my rice, fish, and plaintains was highlighted by the dance-hall reggae and Nana's presence. I was in heaven! Someday perhaps I'll go there. At midnight we met her friends, Kadd and John, for a screening of Donnie Darko. Saturday had been the night I'd planned to go to Brooklyn, but I just could not bring myself to go; I needed rest.

Friday was the day of the show. Between 80 and 100 people showed up and deposited $254.00 in the tip jar. $100 of it went to pay for the keg and I got the rest. I also made $85 in merch sales! The show itself was a challenge as it was difficult to be heard above the roar of revelry. Those who cramped themselves into the living room to listen were all smiles and gratitude, though. I was fortunate to be able to use the amp and microphones from the band that played before me-- Nude Afternoon. They were a cool jazz/rock quartet with keyboards and stand-up bass and a singer with a voice like Jeff Buckley. For those that showed up late I played a few more songs out on the porch. These D.C. women are flirtatious, lemme tell ya; one of them almost walked off with my black hat! By 4:30 a.m. I was asleep.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Now I'm in Washington, D.C., five blocks from the White House at my friend Nana's office. I've never been to this town before, so I'm kind of excited!!

p.s. For those who read my journal earlier today, I just fortified the last entry with a couple more details.
Charlottesville, Virginia was an experience to treasure! I arrived in the early afternoon yesterday and strolled through the streets that bordered the University of Virginia and then checked out the beautiful, historic campus. Eventually I made it to the Stribling house where a house full of young adults welcomed me in and took me back to campus where we all snuck into the cafeteria for a free dinner. After a tour of some of the funky places around town by my wonderful tour-guide, Heather, I went back to the house and prepared for the show. I set up both racks of shirts and then waited until 11:30 pm before beginning. 20 or 25 folks showed up and the majority of them loved it. By night's end I'd sold ten t-shirts and seven or eight CDs for a grand total of $124! It felt awesome to have a crowd that loved my eccentric, random shirts (and songs) as much as I do; God bless you Charlottesville. : ) After two hours I had to call it quits so's I could make it to the radio station for my 2:00 am interview with Ramsey and Rich. At 3:00 it was over and after liberating 175 Krispy Creme Donuts from a dumpster Heather drove me back to the Stribling house where I collapsed in my sleeping bag and slept sweet dreams. At noon I awoke and joined Heather, Sara, and Elle for a delicious breakfast at a bustling, greasy-spoon restaraunt on the outskirt of town (they treated!). Sara and Elle are both breathtakingly beautiful, Middle-Eastern women with the warmest smiles and most generous spirits one could encounter. Sara is Persian, and Elle is Lebanese/Syrian/Palestinian. We talked a little of the ways that white gentiles use racism and anti-semitism to divide Arabs and Jews and Elle expressed frustration with people who bad-mouth Israelis... Yes!! And to top it all off, they said that my songs give them hope. Sara gave me a colorfully collaged CD of her music which I can't wait to hear. As I drove away I telepathically thanked Jonny Corndawg for talking me into coming here. Speaking of J.C., he left me a care-package of a CD, tape and wood-block-printed shirt which I'm wearing as I type this. Thanks again, Corndawg.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Now I'm in Durham and I just played two shows. The first one was in a restaurant and flopped... I now realize that I don't make the best background music. When people finally catch onto my words they tend to lose their appetites. I played 4 songs and then told them I had food poisoning and had to leave (which made them lose their appetites even more I think). I made $2 in tips. My friend Laura is the waitress there. After the show I went to her house-party where I commenced to do show #2. This one started out uncomfortably with a bunch of folks wanting to jam. In all there were five instruments: accordion, banjo, mandolin, and two guitars. A picker named L.A. Fernandez, and I, swapped songs for about an hour or so, with everyone else following behind, until he and the accordion player left. Then I played another hour or so just entertaining the remaining folks. I hit it off well with Laura's boyfriend, Al, who also raps some, and gave him a sampler CD. I gave L.A. one, too, who says he might be able to help me set up another show here in the Fall. It's unlikely I'll return that soon, but would like to if I can somehow pay off my credit card debts by then.

I wake up in about five hours.
It's cold and raining outside.
Go, li'l Joe... keep on keepin' on.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Hi. I'm in Asheville, NC. Last night I was in Black Mountain, NC for a wild show at The Town Pump. All sorts of crazy characters showed up and seemed to like me just fine. They paid me $65 and I was given a place to stay by Camo's old girlfriend, Kendra, who I've been hearing about for seven years now. This morning I slept in and eventually made it to the house of Bryan, Brigit, Stephanie, Wilde, Parker, and as of yesterday morning, Wise Emmet Freeborn, who just hatched!! He's a long-limbed little mammal with a twinkle in his eye. It was good to meet his beautiful sister, Wilde, who was born two years ago, too. My old friend, Sierra, flew out from Colorado to help out as did many of Bryan and Brigit's relatives, so needless to say it is a busy household. They're all asleep now as I type this. Soon I'll head back to Kendra's. Earlier this evening Sierra and I hit up the Grey Eagle open mic which was a good time. There's a lot of talent in these hills, that's for sure.

I played two shows in Nashville that I haven't mentioned yet. They both helped to earn me some more rent money. A special treat was running into my old friend, Matt Steinke, who played at the Red Rose Cafe in Murfreesboro before my set with Baby Stout. He's married now and creates musical robots.

My stay with Camo and Asher was a gift. I love those guys. We played takraw (a Siamese wicker ball is used as a hackey-sack), watched movies, reminisced about the Workhorses of Yesteryear, and talked about various women we love. Rapping along with Camo's beatbox was a highlight, too.

I'd better be gettin' on home now. G'night.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Joe's getting maintained at the mechanic's right now so I walked to the library. Camo's probably wondering where I ran off to. Last night we played a show at Bongo Java; and Reverend Asher joined us for a couple songs. A fellow named Jonny Corndawg, opened for me. He's a seriously crazy 19-yr-old country/punk Southern-boy who drove from Charlottesville, Virginia on his motorcycle; poetry dripped off him in every way. He wore a pink headband and a Christmas-flavored sweater. In fact, the whole audience of six people came mainly to see him. I managed to sell 3 CDs. I met Calvin's girlfriend, Kristina, at the show. She was just in Olympia visiting him. Chris Davis was there, too. Tonight I play with Baby Stout in Murfreesboro!