Saturday, December 31, 2011

What an exhilarating year 2011 was!

I spent the first couple months on the road performing music and also vacationing in Texas and Arizona with Hana.  By the end of March I'd begun a busy year of driving for Goodall Trucking.  By April, Hana and I were living like rustic homesteaders in my grandparents' old cabin on Killdeer Mountain.

In May we conceived a child.  In June, we had a public North Dakota wedding reception to celebrate our private 10/22/10 marriage.

I played several shows and festivals throughout the summer, and the Roll Out, Cowboy documentary screened internationally.

A sneak preview!
In mid-August, Hana moved to Montana to start a nest for our future toddler.  I hung behind and kept working with Goodall.  Around Thanksgiving I moved to Missoula to be with Hana.

Since then, both Hana's and my maternal grandmothers passed away as did Hana's Uncle Mark.  We miss them dearly.

On a hopeful note, our baby is healthy and growing bigger every day.  S/he is expected to hatch in four weeks!

Happy New Year, everyone!!  I have a feeling 2012 is gonna be weird and good.

Yours truly,
Chris Sand

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

For my 41st birthday breakfast Hana made banana pancakes (pictured above).  And one egg.

Our kitchen faces Mount Jumbo, and on the hillside we saw a herd of elk.  

Good omens.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

A friendly game of Cut Throat Pinochle with my downstairs friend, Evie, and her son, Randy.  Randy won.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hana's sister Tala arrived three days ago for a visit / med-school vacation.  She brought along her Chorkie puppy, Bailey, so that Gilda could have a playmate this week.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hello from Olympia, WA, where Hana and I have been visiting a multitude of friends.  I spent three days in the studio with Bob Schwenkler finishing up Horse Graveyard.  It has been fun adding pedal steel, vocal harmonies, and a touch of cello to the songs.  It's going to be a great record!

In a couple hours we drive back to Missoula.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Don't You Cut Off Your Dreadlocks"

I've loved this song since I first heard it in 1976.

Monday, December 05, 2011

It's been a fun few days in Sand Land.  Hana's father, Walid, and one of her favorite cousins, Hussam, visited us.  Hussam is from Saudi Arabia, and between him, Walid, and Hana, there has been much Arabic spoken this week.  I'm starting to pick up some words.  The picture below captures the moment I learned how to say "cheese" in Arabic: جبنة (jibdnay).

We drove to Hot Springs, MT, Friday night and stayed in the Symes Hot Springs Hotel for two nights. Last night, while still in Hot Springs, we were invited to a potluck / benefit show at the Rainbow Zen Organic Cafe.  The benefit was for Jillian Recchi who recently came out of a coma after being hit by a car in New York City.  The performers were Jillian's children, Sanjaya and Shyamali Malakar, both former American Idol contestants.  It's worth watching this link of their A.I. audition if you have the time--they're both sweet people with excellent voices.  

As the party wound down, some of the Hot Springs locals requested some songs from me, and I submitted.  Don't think I've ever "shared a stage" with someone as famous as Sanjaya . . . until now.  

Kelly Clarkson--you're next.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Download individual Chris Sand / Sandman the Rappin' Cowboy songs here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Last thoughts on Grandma Vi.

She worked hard at her job and on the farm--her pinkies were gnarled from the milking she did.  She raised nine children with her loving husband Nick.  She was named Lake County Woman of the Year in 1965.  She met and was acquainted with Presidents and Popes.  She was a caring grandmother of many.  She annually rocked Vegas bingo parlors.  She was the first woman to head up a state ASCS, the program that oversaw and implemented federal farm programs in each state.  She gardened, canned, cooked, and served.  She was always on the go, and yet still somehow the center of my Montana universe.  Her heart was HUGE.

Grandma Vi didn't settle for being one thing or another.  She gave it her all.

This, I think, must be her biggest legacy.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grandma Vi Herak's obituary.  Her funeral was yesterday.  Hana's grandmother Joyce's funeral was Friday, and here's her obituary.  We miss them already.  May they both rest in peace, and may Hana and my baby inherit all of their loveliest qualities.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Here's an article about my good friend Jeff Morrow and his saddle-making business that just came out in The Missoulian:  Niarada Man Creates Art that Cowboys, Horses Wear.

Here's one about Dunn Center, ND, where I recently lived and still own a house in (as featured prominently in the doc Roll Out, Cowboy): Dunn Center Growing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My sweet Grandma Vi passed away peacefully this morning in Ronan, MT.  She was a mother-of-nine, farm gal who raised cattle and wheat with my Grandpa Herak (who died in 1987). She was a tough Irish-Catholic Democrat who got to meet John and Jackie Kennedy in '62.  She was kind, generous, and fun to be around.  Gratefully, I saw her four days ago when I was in Montana with Hana.  I lifted her hand up to touch Hana's pregnant belly and, being ever modest, Grandma giggled at the intimacy of it all.  I'll miss her so.

Julia Viola Sullivan Herak, 1920-2011. Rest in peace, sweet Grandma.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

One last trip to North Dakota for a final fish haul and then I'll be a Missoula, MT, resident.  This happens every twenty-or-so years, Missoula is my city of fresh transitions.  I lived here from 1971-1973 as a toddler and again from 1989-1992 during my first years of college.

Here's a list of things I love about Hana's and my apartment.
  1. Clawfoot bathtub.  Perfect for warming up one's bones on winter days.
  2. Spaciousness--our biggest home yet.  Hana especially likes the kitchen and multiple closets.
  3. Funky features:  plaster walls, 1940s linoleum floors, arched bedroom windows.
  4. Proximity to things we like: Mount Jumbo trailhead (2 blocks), Greenough Park (2.5 blocks), Albertsons Market (3 blocks), U of M campus (4 blocks), USPS for Hana's daily shipping of Etsy items (5 blocks), City Library (6 blocks), downtown Missoula (7 blocks)!
  5. Easy directions.  For instance, if you're leaving Boston just hop on the I-90, drive west 2,600 miles to Missoula, Exit 105, right onto Van Buren Street, first right (Poplar Street), 5th house on left, walk up stairs.  It's just as easy from Seattle.
  6. Our mailing address has the musical words "Pop" and "Soul" secretly encoded within it: 930 Poplar / Missoula, MT 59802.
  7. Big deck off back with beautiful view of surrounding mountains.
  8. I love the sound of a freight train.  Tracks are a block away.
  9. Evie, our 80-year-old downstairs neighbor, is rad.  She keeps the yard tidy.  She lets me watch football games on her big screen TV.  And she takes care of our pup Gilda.  In fact, Gilda begs to visit Evie and her dachshund Jazzy at least once a day.
  10. Deb, our lovely landlord and friend. Her rent fee is cut-rate, PLUS she keeps us stocked with bread, apples, and eggs from her free-range chickens.  She's Evie's daughter.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Just got the week off with Goodall, so I boogied straight to Missoula to be with Hana for a few days. Her/our pregnancy is coming along swimmingly. She just entered her third trimester. Baby's kickin' a-way.

She told me that her inny will soon be an outy. Tomorrow, by the way, is Hana's baby shower, which my cousin Rebekah will host at her house.

Missoula has been opening its doors to me since I arrived two days ago. The weather has been great; Hana and I saw a spirited Day of the Dead parade yesterday; we've been to two lectures at U of M on Middle Eastern issues; I'm about to attend a First Friday; and tomorrow I might drive to Jerry Johnson's Hot Springs in Idaho for a soak.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My already busy trucking schedule has become even more busy of late. I've been home only two full days this month, and I may get only three more full days here between now and Thanksgiving. That's when I'll be moving to Missoula to join my pumpkin pie bride and butterball bambino.

Today is Hana and my first wedding anniversary! I so wish we were together on this beautiful autumn evening. Godspeed ye, dark days of late November.

'Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow,
The small raine down can raine.
Cryst, if my love were in my armes
And I in my bedde again!'
-Anonymous 16th Cent. (?)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Congrats to all the cherubs being born of late: Milo, Boppy, Josiah, Zaia Mae, Maggie Rose, Lyric, Wolfie, and my newest cousin--Carley!!!
Left to right: Bailey, Dustin, Mandi with baby Carley, and Sydney Elkins

Speakin' of babies, Hana reports that she's been feeling baby hiccups lately. She says our little one is quite a mover and shaker. I have the week off from trucking, so I'm heading to Missoula for a visit.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

While digging a trench near the horse corral today, I found a perfectly knapped flint knife. I've found several scrapers this year, and a couple broken arrowheads, but this is my first knife in years.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hello from the Skyline Motel in Alexandria, MN. I'm returning from the utopic Boats & Bluegrass Festival in Winona. Friday's gig was fantastically fun. At one point there were seven or eight people on stage with me (mandolin, fiddle, beatbox, cowbells, stand-up bass, and Jes and Kendl from The Blackberry Bushes singing harmonies)!

I rejoined The Blackberry Bushes on the main stage last night and rapped over their doowop/bluegrass hoedown, "Cotton Skies." Lovely bunch, they are. I might tour with them in Europe someday.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

BBC interview for Scotland screenings of Roll Out, Cowboy: "A film that gets under the skin of life . . ."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Just back from two long drives to Toronto. Tomorrow it's back in the fish tank again! I could use more than a full day off. The steady flow of income keeps me from complaining too loud, though.

Whilst away my poor garden froze. Dozens of precious tomatoes, beans, and squash bit the dust. The root vegetables are fine. Not sure how the pumpkins will fare.

Here are two pre-frost pics:

The frost was good for the buffaloberries. They're sweet now.

I made it to church this morning with Grandma, Uncle Ken, and Aunt Christi.

What else?
1. I'm enjoying using the wood stove again in the cabin.
2. Awoke up this morning to two dozen wild turkeys outside my door.
3. I'll be performing at the Boats & Bluegrass Festival in Winona, MN, next weekend!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Here are the Scotland dates when Roll Out, Cowboy will be screening.

Tonight and tomorrow it will show on Orkney Island!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

This might be the richest summer of my life. Hana is five months pregnant. Our garden is producing king-sized beets, carrots, tomatoes, onions, and pumpkins. My trucking schedule has been heavy (off again to Toronto tonight). Hana and I had the first of two wedding receptions (next summer we'll have the second one in western Montana). I flew to Chicago and St. Louis to perform after theatrical screenings of Roll Out, Cowboy. (The ROC doc, in fact, has taken on a life of its own--in the last few months it has screened in France, Croatia, New York City, and Los Angeles, and next week it goes on a nine-city tour of Scotland!)

Things I DIDN'T get done:
1) Finish the new CD I started last December
2) Complete the new website I began two Decembers ago
3) Blog as much as I've wanted to


In the spirit of blogging regularly again, here's more . . .

Dr. Chainsaw has been my pal for the last three days--we've been clearing brush for the parents. I now have a poison ivy rash for the second time this summer.

Yesterday I took Grandma to the Dunn County Historical Museum's Annual Cream Can Supper. 'Twas a rockin', down-home affair with country music and tasty food.

BIG news: Hana moved to Missoula, MT, last week! She's setting up a nest there to have the baby. I'll continue trucking until around Thanksgiving and then join her. I grew up fifty miles north of Missoula, and my first two years of college were at UM-Missoula. So, in a way, moving to Missoula is like moving home.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Tonight ROC will be screening in New York City at the 92YTribeca Screening Room!

And next weekend it will screen for three days in St. Louis at Webster University. I'll be there for the Friday and Saturday screenings.


Tonight in Minot, ND, @ Blue Rider Bar as part of the Why Not Minot?! Festival. 7 p.m.

Tomorrow in Watford City, ND, at the Ribfest-o-Rama. 2 p.m.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Wedding Reception in North Dakota, June '11!
Note: we plan to have another reception next summer for our Montana relatives and Olympia friends!

The day before, walking with dog Gilda . . .

Practicing dance moves, cousins Kelly and Jo clapping . . .

The day of. Cake!

Hana's kin, right to left: Aunt Joan, Uncle Will, cousins Abbey & Ashley.

Singing "Love Me Tender" to Hana. That's Uncle Josh on guitar, Cousin Brad on mandolin, & Aunt Christi.

Waltz across Dakota . . .

About to throw the bouquet!

Taking off the garter . . .

P.S. This is Michael (who caught the tell-tale garter) and my lovely cousin Jenny (who took all of these fine pictures)! They make a perfect pair, Hana and I think.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Here's a snap-shot I've been meaning to share . . .

Indio Saravanja took this two months ago during his brief visit from Canada. It captures the moment when Hana and I told my parents and grandma that we were pregnant.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Just got back from an epic time in Chicago where Roll Out, Cowboy screened eight times over the weekend at Facets Multimedia. Now Hana and I are on our way to Wells, BC, for the 8th Annual ArtsWell Festival of All Things Art. Life could not be more FULL....!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Greetings from Chicago. Roll Out, Cowboy begins its theatrical release tonight, and lot's of press is coming in.

Chicago Tribune gave it 3/4 stars and this review.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


1) encountered 3' rattle snake five minutes ago

2) plucked first beets, chard, lettuce and carrots from garden

3) married my one true love and soon-to-be mother of my children whom I adore with the hotness of twenty billion suns - Miss Hana Kasm!!

I will post wedding pics when I get organized.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicago premiere of Roll Out, Cowboy this month: July 22-31!

I'll be there for the first couple nights (singing songs!), along with the doc's dynamic director Elizabeth Lawrence and fab producer Warner Boutin.

Please help spread the word! Thanks!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Yesterday I performed at Washburn Days in Washburn, ND. It was the third show in a row where I arrived from a trucking run with only minutes to spare before going on stage.

After the first set, Hana and I walked down Main Street to check out an antique car show. By chance we saw a flyer advertising a James Talley show--that very night, at a barn only five miles away!

James Talley, in case you don't know of him, is a great American songwriter. My dad often played his Tryin' Like the Devil album back in the mid-70s, and I used to perform his song, "Are They Gonna Make Us Outlaws Again?"

We made it to the show, which was terrific, and afterward we struck up a friendship with him and his wife, Janice. Wonderful people. I bought three of his new CDs (Happy Father's Day, Dad!), and received a fourth, a Woody Guthrie tribute album, in trade for one of mine.

I look forward to corresponding with Mr. Talley in the near future. I'll need a mentor if I'm gonna keep troubadouring, and he'd be a dandy one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rest in Peace, Emilie Hamilton.

Emilie passed away two weeks ago in her Spokane home. She was one of my most supportive fans, and over the years she and her husband Arnold became dear friends. Last year she loaned me $1000 to help fund a CD project, and although I insisted on paying her back I could tell she wanted me to keep it. The year before that she set up a house concert for me on my 38th birthday and baked me a cake. She used blueberries to write "38" in the white frosting. She was a good, sweet person. I will miss her.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Just fish-trucked to downtown Vancouver, BC, and back. It's a prettier drive than the eastward trek to Toronto: rhododendrons and other flowers of the NW are in bloom; Snoqualmie Pass waterfalls are gushing; Montana's big rivers are full to the banks. Saw eagles and elk and, in Post Falls, Idaho, ate real Mexican food. Which is a big deal when you reside anywhere in North Dakota.

Auspiciously, the night we got to Vancouver the Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins in Game One of the Stanley Cup. Canada, of all countries, has had an eighteen-year hockey championship dry spell, so I'm rooting for the other home team: I was born in Vancouver. Ma & Pa Sand were living in British Columbia in 1970, ranching in the Chilcotin Country and striving to avoid Nixon's toxins. After I was born, they realized they needed familial support and they also realized they wanted to part of changes happening in the U.S. So I lived in Canada for just five weeks before they moved back to Montana. I now possess a Canadian birth certificate, and I can never run for POTUS.

Upon return to Killdeer two days ago, my pal Indio Saravanja was there to greet me. He'd rolled in hours before and slept in my parents' guest bedroom. Indio drives truck off and on professionally, but most notably he's a world-class troubadour. It was a treat to show him around Killdeer Mountain with Hana.

Hana, by the way, flew to Espanola, Florida, today to visit her ailing Grandmother Joyce. Per request, Hana took Joyce some fresh rhubarb from our garden.

Tomorrow I drive to Toronto, and on Wednesday, to Calgary. I'll return in time to play some songs at Army's in Dickinson Friday night, opening for Outlaw Sippin', my friend Beni Paulson's rockin' new band. They'll then back me up on my joint "This Time," as a segue into their set.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Played two shows in the last few days. The first was in Dickinson, ND, at the Odd Fellows Hall. I barely made it, because Shawn and I were caught in a nasty traffic jam in Chicago. We pulled into Dickinson just in time for me to plug in my guitar in and play a two-hour set. Fun show, classy venue.

Yesterday afternoon I sang some western-themed songs at the 25th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Medora, ND. Congratulations to Bill and JoAnn Lowman (pictured) for hosting it all these years. This was the sixth consecutive year I've performed there.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Alert: The Prairie Puffballs have arrived on Killdeer Mountain. Hana and I are frying them up with butter.

Hana with two puffs. Shorty observes.

A view inside the cabin.

Down by the beaver dams.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Back from Toronto. In the sleeper cab I read LL Cool J's 1997 autobiography: I Make My Own Rules. Last trip--Wilco: Learning How to Die.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hana, Dad, Mom, and I made some raised garden beds out of old railroad ties yesterday. We'll be getting some sheep manure from a neighbors' ranch to mix into the soil, and then we'll plant tomatoes, beets, carrots, lettuce, squash, and whatnot.

Although our cabin on Killdeer Mountain is remote, it's beginning to feel like we're part of a robust community. We buy raw honey from one neighbor, raw milk from another, bison meat from a third, and free-range chicken eggs from a fourth. Our closest neighbors let us pick apples from their orchard in the fall. We are figuring out canning and drying methods as we go.

Soon the wild mushrooms will arrive, and then chokecherries and juneberries. I feel lucky to live so close to the land these days, and especially lucky to have someone to share it with.

I'm also happy to have a job that pays all my bills. Tomorrow night I drive to Toronto with a tanker full of "St. Peter's Fish," I'll then get one day off before heading to Beaver Fisheries in Toronto on Monday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

After nine nights on the road in a semi-truck, I find that the world has changed. Osama Bin Laden has been killed and buried at sea. Alabama got hammered by 173 tornadoes in a day. Prince William wed a lovely peasant lass.

While not as historic, Hana was stranded in our cabin without electricity or running water for a couple days, after a blizzard dumped eighteen more inches of snow on Killdeer Mountain. The yard and horse trails are littered with tangles of broken trees. The more flexible conifers are slanted sideways.

As for me, I'm ready to get physical. Being cooped up for 200 hours in any moving vehicle is not healthy. The truck's odometer rolled over the million-mile mark last Wednesday, near Sauk Centre, MN. In the blink of an eye, it went from 999999.9 to 000000.0 with no room for the "1." (Only last year I watched it roll lucky sevens.)

Roll Out, Cowboy rolls on with recent screenings in New York state and an upcoming week-long theatrical exhibition this summer in Chicago. More on this later.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'll be driving fish around for possibly eight of the next nine days. See you later.

Here is a website where you can make virtual sand art.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mostly I just want to write about nature. A friend thinks I should blog more about music, but right now I'm more jazzed about birds and frogs (which are chirping like crazy down in the draw right now).

The music business is on hold, but I am writing songs. Weird ones--as if that's new for me. For a challenge, I'm going to try writing a Nashville-worthy hit this year. If anyone has a clever song title, send it my way and I might try to make something out of it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The producer of an upcoming documentary about how technology is affecting rural Montanans has asked to use four of my songs in his film. He offered to pay, but I chose to donate them, since the film will be broadcast on Montana's public television station, which I grew up with and support.

Another piece of good news: I've been invited to perform at the 25th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering this spring. I may sing Curley Fletcher's "Strawberry Roan," which I memorized during my last trucking run.

What else? I've been burning a large pile of brush all afternoon, and I smell like wet smoke. The Killdeer Mountain wild crocuses have popped up, snow be damned. Hana is selling rare antique sewing relics on ETSY this week. Gilda is waiting patiently for supper.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The last five days of trucking were wild. From North Dakota snow to Iowa tornadoes to a Michigan heat-wave to a Calgary ice storm. We got held up at three border crossings for multiple hours and reasons. We were also fined several hundred dollars at a pernicious Ontario weigh station.

Now I'm back in snowy NoDak. Horses are pawing for grass. Beaver have returned to their lodges.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

As of today, the birds are back on Killdeer Mountain. Ducks, turkeys, goldfinches, pheasants, woodpeckers, falcons, crows, bluebirds, meadowlarks, and nuthatches are suddenly everywhere. Pelicans, hawks, and geese fly overhead. Coming soon: leaves on trees!

Friday, April 08, 2011

To illustrate yesterday's blog:

Bringing supplies down to the cabin.

The cabin.

Sledding from the cabin down to the barn.

The parent's work-in-progress house on the ridge where Hana and I now get internet.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Hana and I are permanently living on Killdeer Mountain now. We snowshoe a hundred yards to get to the cabin. The snow this week is half as deep as last week. We should be able to drive in next week, unless we get more snow.

Ponds on the mountain are thawing. I saw two big beaver yesterday. I've seen lots of turkey tracks, but no turkeys yet. A couple of chickadees have discovered the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder near the cabin. The horses are sticking to the south pasture, to commune across the fence with the Diamond C steeds.

We've yet to turn the cabin's water back on. We fill a water jug from the pump near the bunkhouse and sled it to the front door. Washing dishes takes extra time, sponge baths replace showers, and in lieu of the loo we use the outhouse.

The cabin isn't insulated, so mornings are nippy until we get the stove cranking. It's been good burning through the old birch and oak woodpile.

Hana has been creating feasts: squash, yams, chicken, steak, asparagus, lentils, black beans, rice, chocolate pudding. Eggs and oatmeal for breakfast. Tea at every meal.

Yesterday I hooked Internet into the parents' half-finished house up on the ridge, where Hana has a workspace. She's eager to resume her online Etsy business.

For once I'll mourn the passing of the cold season. It's peaceful up here.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Heading up to Killdeer Mountain for the weekend. Snowshoes, check. Extra blankets, check. Dog food, check.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Prairie dogs, open your little sleepy eyes.
Badgers, cowboy up!

Skunks, join the whiffy chorus.
Horse turds are melting and snow banks are wilting.

Mother Wolf, put on your slicker.
Let's go for a ride.

Lambs and calves, lambs and calves.
It's April 1st.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I've been a King Sunny Ade fan since 1985, when I first heard Synchro System. African music and reggae rocked my soul during those lonely teen years.

Other favorites included Half Pint, Gregory Isaacs, Marcia Griffiths, Steel Pulse, Third World, UB40, The Heptones, Toots and the Maytals, Freddie McGregor, Black Uhuru, King Tubby, Desmond Dekker, Harry Belafonte, Aswad, Eek-a-Mouse, Burning Spear, and, of course, Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Just snowshoed down to Lariat Liquors with Hana to buy Grandma two bottles of Strawberry White Zinfandel. Turns out she would've preferred the regular White Zinfandel.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three years ago I was invited to open up a show for Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans at the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. I didn't think I'd ever be invited to perform there, so it was a huge honor. I played my standard fare that night--raps, cowboy poems, and folk songs. I think my cowboy/folk songs were appreciated, but my hip-thrusting raps and avant garde poetry didn't impress the buckaroos nor the folklorists.

For the past two years I haven't been invited back. I didn't plan to apply for the 2012 gathering, but a couple days ago my pal Andy Hedges called and strongly encouraged me to try again. I'll let you know what happens.

I think I've mentioned before that Andy's one of the best young folk singers I know. He often collaborates with another Lubbock friend of mine, and stellar songwriter, Andy Wilkinson. Their release last year, Welcome to the Tribe, won the Wrangler Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Album from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Now the Andy's are working on a new collaboration. Hedges plans to include my 1996 arrangement of Curley Fletcher's "Saddle Bum" (heard on my Love's Hangover Sale CD). My contribution to the evolution of this song (originally titled "Saddle Tramp" and performed on a 1960s Harry Jackson LP) was to add harmonica and change the melody to make it more mournful.

The sentiments of "Saddle Tramp" are dear to me. They express my own feelings of being a ranch refugee and troubadour. I'm pleased that Andy will polish up this gem and carry it into the 21st Century:
Verse 2:
"I used to work, but now I shirk, and never more will hire / To mark an ear, to turn no steer, nor tend no branding fire. / The pie and cake are mine to take, the best of everything. / I'll lay my head on the softest bed, if I'll blow my harp and sing."

Verse 4:
"I stay awhile to sing and smile, but when there comes a rift / And things get cool, I ain't no fool, I fork my bronc and drift. / I ramble down to that little town when winter comes along / To little [Hana] in [Santa Ana] and sing for her my song."
Note 1: Curley Fletcher is most well known for "The Strawberry Roan" (1915).

Note 2: Andy turns 31 today--Happy birthday, Andy!

Note 3: Little Hana arrives home tomorrow to a fresh foot of powdery snow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

This is a Sandman and Camo krush groove from 1999. Calvin Johnson and Diana Arens recorded it at the Dub Narcotic Studio Big Room, Olympia, WA.

Two mics, one take.

Check out Camo's human beatbox skills. So fresh, so clean.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

While making oatmeal pancakes this morning, two songs drifted up through my subconscious: "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" and "Dire Wolf." The songs of Dylan and the Grateful Dead tap so sweetly into the roots of American musics: Blues, Jazz, Carnival, Gospel, Hillbilly, etc. Weird songs that reflect strange times.

Strange times again: Arab nations in revolt, Japan's multiple heartbreaking crises, America's ill-boding wealth discrepancy, Mexico's civil war.

But as for me, life is fairly stable. I feel like Casablanca's Rick Blaine, biding his time in his private casino, pragmatic and inscrutable.

That said, I'm starting to worry.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's Day! Two days late, 'tis true. I've been on the road for the last five days with that lorry-drivin' fishmonger, Shawn Goodall--an Irishman himself.

My lovely 90-year-old Irish Grandmother, Julia Viola Sullivan Herak, at her Montana nursing home with niece Carol.

Dunn Center had its St. Patrick's Day celebration today, so Dad and I drove over for sandwiches and pie at City Hall. Many of the D.C. lasses were there, including Ruth, LuAnne, and Martha, all of Roll Out, Cowboy fame. : )

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Thoughts of the Day

Favorite co-worker/employee: Damian Loverro (diligent bike mechanic, he managed Deschutes River Cyclery)
Favorite employer: Gary Schneider (philanthropic contractor, Sunrise Construction)
Favorite job: Montana Outdoor Program (kayak instructor & mountain guide)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Grandpa Nick Herak (pictured) passed away when I was a teenager. I never cried so hard. He was a cattle rancher and wheat farmer, and he and Grandma also had chickens, pigs, dairy cows, horses, and nine children. Grandpa loved sports, pinochle, and ice cream. He was a staunch Democrat and devout Catholic. Two weeks ago would have been his 99th birthday.

He was the sweetest guy there ever was. He would come to all my little league baseball games. Afterward he'd take me to Dairy Queen for a "Full Meal Deal"--hamburger, fries, soft drink, and a sundae. He encouraged me to believe that I could become a professional baseball player. The truth is he probably could've gone pro if he hadn't been tied to the farm.

Grandpa's parents came from Croatia. If there's one European country I truly want to visit, it's Croatia. I've even thought about calling myself "The C.R.O.A.T.: Countriest Rapper of All Time."

I'm proud that Roll Out, Cowboy's European festival debut took place last week in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. I hope that some of my distant cousins attended; I'd like to hear their reports.

I'm also pleased that Roll Out, Cowboy made its North Dakota debut at the Fargo Film Festival last week and WON top prize for Best Musical Score! Kudos to my musician cohorts--Shawn Parke, Jonah Carpenter, and Jeff Vezain--and also to director Elizabeth Lawrence and editor Elizabeth Ross for combining the music and footage so expertly.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm back hauling live fish with Goodall Trucking. We taxied 10,000 pounds of slimy buffalo carp to Calgary yesterday.

Monday we're eastbound to Toronto with tilapia. Thursday we return to Calgary.



I tried to buy this t-shirt for Hana at various truck stops last year, but the smallest they ever sell are size XL, which would fit her like a nightgown.

P.S. In related news, here's a brief, very funny video my friend Jonny "Corndawg" Fritz just made to raise funds for his upcoming CD: Down on the Bikini Line.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Yesterday wrapped up another epic tour of the American West. The Bisbee, AZ, show at the Bisbee Grand was a fitting finale. In spite of my near exhaustion due to lack of sleep in Los Angeles, I managed to have a blast. The best part about it was that Hana was there. We've been apart too much this winter.

Alas, yesterday morning we parted ways again--I flew home to North Dakota to resume trucking for Shawn Goodall, while she stayed in Mesa, AZ, with her doctor-in-training sister, Tala. I don't begrudge her staying in Arizona for a while, though. She spent this morning poolside with suntan lotion, while I spent it shoveling snow and charging the drained batteries of several ice-covered vehicles.

Dad is still on crutches from January's femur-shattering tractor incident, and Mom is overworked and computer-bound. Even so, I'm glad to be home, and I'm looking forward to trucking again. Tonight I'll visit Grandma Sand.

Pics from the Bisbee show:

(Above) Rachel De Vuono Garrett choreographed a smokin'-hot three-woman line/belly-dance to my song "Horse Graveyard." She was joined by Jennifer Luria (blue hat) and Dahlia Rose (far right). For video of their sexy number, click here.

More of the Wyld Vybe Bellydancers! The silver-faced mama in the center is the rock goddess Melissa Reaves. Melissa opened and closed the night. Her first set consisted mostly of blues-rock ambiance. She ended the night with a slew of off-the-wall techno jams that had the whole joint jumpin' with abandon. After her set wound down, I joined her on stage for some improv comedy and break dancin'.

P.S. Big ups to Bisbee party-starters Gretchen and Shawnee for being amazing in all ways Music and Art!

Monday, February 28, 2011

TONIGHT, downtown LA--ROLL OUT, COWBOY: If you have any LA friends, please let 'em know about this. We have a chance of selling out all 220 seats.


Auspiciously, an acquaintance of mine, Audrey Marrs, was in town last night for the Academy Awards. A movie she produced, Inside Job, won the Oscar for best documentary feature. To see a picture of Oprah handing her the statuette, click here. I recorded my first cassette tape--Witness the Strength of Sandman--in Audrey's second-floor Olympia apartment in 1993 ("Heartbreak was Her Name," "Sneakin' Suspicion," "Desperate Gigolo," "Premature Ejaculation," etc.). Her genius musician/robot-maker boyfriend, Matt Steinke, played drums and electric guitar on a few of those early oddities. Audrey was lovely to put up with our experiments.

Tomorrow I return to Tucson. Hana will pick me up at the airport and we'll drive to Bisbee, AZ, for my last show before I fly back to NoDak. Belly Dancers are practicing a couple of my songs and will join me on stage at the Bisbee Grand Hotel. Show starts at 7:30. My performance will be part of the curiously wacky FakeJan Festival.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weird that I arrived in Hollywood on Oscar night. Helicopters and limos are abundant. I was feeling out of place packin' my guitar around Sunset Boulevard, so I was grateful when my good old pal Bill Daniel picked me up in his orange industrial-primitive '65 Chevy sailvan. It's got a four-on-the-tree transmission that was customized by underground Louisiana cult-legend rebel songwriter Jimmy Cousins. The reverse lever is mounted to the floor under the driver's seat.

Bill Daniel is an underground Louisiana cult-legend rebel filmmaker, a fossil-fuel-worshiping mechanic, a beat-punk photographer, and a helluva a nice guy. I toured with him extensively in 2006, when he was screening his hobo-graffiti documentary, Who is Bozo Texino?. I'd play songs before and after the film.

To backtrack, Hana and I left Texas yesterday morning and drove to Arizona. Once in Tucson we got a cheap hotel where we slept for five hours and awoke to snow! Hana drove me to the airport. I spent this morning with the Roll Out, Cowboy director and producer, Elizabeth and Warner. We did a radio interview to promote tomorrow's big LA screening at Downtown Independent.

Friday, February 25, 2011

We're back from Big Bend National Park! The first day we soaked in the hot springs, and swam in the Rio Grande. The second day we hiked Santa Elena Canyon (pictured above). FYI, that's Mexico on the opposite shore of where we're standing.

Tomorrow, Arizona.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Off to Big Bend National Park for some hiking with Hana and Gilda!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

After four weeks on the road, I'm back in Marfa, TX. Two weeks ago pipes were bursting here from record low temperatures, and many beautiful cacti froze to death. Yesterday it was 80 degrees.

I performed last night at the Lost Horse Saloon, owned by a weatherbeaten cowboy/truckdriver/oiler/mechanic/actor named Ty Mitchell. Cool guy. For some reason, it was one of the most difficult shows I've played in a long time. Maybe ever. The kind of show where I hoped someone, after the show, would steal my guitar and burn it at a pig roast. I was horrible. On the bright side, I got paid $200. The highlight of my evening was when local mariachi singer Tony Licon filled in between breaks. A true entertainer, Mr. Licon had the crowd dancing and hollering by night's end.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From Montana to Texas, the highway is beautiful . . . but my ass is sore from all this sitting.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Red, Red Rose
(for my blue Valentine)

O, my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my Luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair as thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run:

And fare thee well, my only luve!
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.

-Robert Burns (1794)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roll Out, Cowboy screens tonight at 9:45 in the Wilma Theater here in balmy Missoula, MT.

This is probably the most special of all the screenings for me. For one thing, it will be ROC's Montana premiere. Missoula is the town where my parents met. I was conceived here, and we lived here during most of my infant years. While in high school sixty miles north of here, I sometimes escaped to Missoula for shots of artistic culture. My first two years of college were spent living here in a van in a U of M parking lot. I studied for my humanities courses in the library and worked for the University's Outdoor Program to pay tuition.

Here's a blog post from the Big Sky Doc Fest.

And a preview.

I'm having a great time here. Tomorrow, however, will be even sweeter, as I will be driving straight south to reunite with my Valentine, Hana.

P.S. Hana just created another Etsy website--she calls this one Hankarella. It focuses on her beautiful handmade jewelry. I find her latest necklaces Egyptian-inspired. Please check them out!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm having a relaxing time in Hot Springs, MT, today. Just swam and soaked at the historic Symes Hot Springs Hotel where I stayed last night.

My show at Fergie's Pub was a big success! Lots of locals showed up, and I didn't feel bad taking the $200 guarantee. The weird thing about this show was that my ears were clogged up the whole night. I kept asking people if they could hear me. Not being able to hear forced me to close my eyes and go inward. Unexpectedly, my guitar playing became more focused and attuned. More than one person commented on this lyrical-to-musical shift.

Jeff and Joanne Morrow were there and did much two-steppin'. By night's end the floor was filled with dancers. A major highlight for me was having the master-cellist Lee Zimmerman sit in for a few songs: "Gorilla," "End of America," "Imaginary World," "Sugar Bank Hank," and "The Hermit" have never sounded so good.

Time to visit Grandma Herak in Ronan!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I'm ready for spring. I'm ready for my fifteen minutes of fame to be over. I'm ready to finish what I started. I'm ready to draw seven lines in the dirt. I'm ready to climb the red butte. I'm ready to remember that some things aren't for sale. I'm ready to die in a snowstorm, along the interstate, in the morning.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Laryngitis has overcome me. Tonight's BIG show in Dickinson is cancelled.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Back in Dunn County for a couple days. It is lovely to see my parents after eleven weeks away.

I've had to cancel my last three shows, including Bismarck tonight, due to laryingitis. I'm praying for a miracle so I can do tomorrow's show in Dickinson.

I did manage to get through a sprinkling of songs at a Red Raven open mic in Fargo last night. Afterwards I walked down to the Hotel Donaldson where the fab Duluth bluesman Charlie Parr was rockin' the scene, and during a break I bought his latest CD. Charlie and I played a couple shows together in '03. He remembered me and intimated that we ought to play some more shows together sometime. That would be something.

I could write more about my excellent time in Fargo--the "Jell-o-Bration," for example, but I am dog beat and ready to crack in half. G'night.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The ROAD has been ROBUST.

Just played eleven shows in ten towns: Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Columbia, Champaign, Rockport, Maquoketa, Winona, Decorah, Prairie du Chien. By the last gig my voice was officially worn out. I cancelled Duluth for tonight and am burrowed in Winona, MN, with friends, drinking hot honey-water. Tomorrow I drive to my home state--North Dakota. From there I go to Montana, my other home state. I feel rich, exhausted, and ready for spring. Hopefully the durned groundhog was right.

On Valentine's Day I hope to fly back to Texas and sweet Hana.

Speaking of Hana, please take a gander at her latest offerings on Etsy: Baptuma. You may recognize some of the models.

. . . meanwhile, Egyptians revolt.
This Saturday in Dickinson, ND!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

This has been one crazy week. Next week is more of the same. It's been good, though. Report coming, if I can carve out the time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Last night in Tulsa, OK, was a GREAT time. The show was set up only two days prior, but thanks to my man Fostex, his Lunabread Cafe was jam-packed and rockin'. I sold about $200 in CDs alone. And the food at Lunabread is seriously some of the best I've ever tasted! They primarily use food from local organic farmers. No steroids or antibiotics in the meat. Free-range eggs. And Fostex makes his own butter and cream.

Midway through the set Fostex grabbed a stand-up bass and started jamming along to my country tunes. A guy named Josh, at whose house I later stayed, supplied beatbox on my rap songs.

The show in Oklahoma City was fun enough, but I only made $35. This stung quite a bit, because a careless promoter had led me to believe I had a $200 guarantee. In the morning, however, my friend Terri gave me a grand tour of the city and treated me to a most delicious lunch. Two other highlights: seeing the Oklahoma City National Memorial and doing a drive-by of Wayne Coyne's house.

I drove through the shadowy Ozark Mountains today to get to Columbia, Missouri, where I just headlined a benefit for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. The two opening singers were both named Anna. The second Anna, Anna Duff, covered my song "Hit the Road," and did it way better than I do. Columbia always delivers.

Tomorrow: Champaign, Illinois.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I'm in Oklahoma City now at a restaurant called the Picasso Cafe. Show starts in an hour. Opening bands are Dr. Pants and Jabee (left).

Oklahoma is a good old state, home of both Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie.

Tomorrow I'll be performing at a Tulsa restaurant called Lunabread.

I forgot to mention, but my once-and-maybe-future tour pard Austin L. Jones had to back out of this tour due to lack of funds. His decision came on Thursday night, which left me three choices: 1) buy a funky old car, 2) rent a car, or 3) talk Hana into letting me drive the Subaru.

Choice number three won out. I'm happy to have the heated seats and all-wheel drive as I head to the icy north. Hana's not quite as pleased. : (

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Greetings from the Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas, TX. There was a bustling and dynamic art opening here tonight. I've got the space all to myself now.

Last night Barry and Allison V. Smith hosted a very sweet house concert at their place. Today Allison, with help from assistants Jessica and Rex, treated me to a photo shoot all around Dallas. Allison's generous and spontaneous shoots are becoming an annual Dallas tradition for me.
Here's a photo she took with her iPhone's Hipstamatic app.

I love Texas.

Tomorrow: Oklahoma. Northbound and up.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Got a theater? Know somebody who runs one? Email: and inquire about setting up a screening of Roll Out, Cowboy in your town!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The drive from Washington to Texas was cold and long.

Hana, Gilgamesh, and I thawed out at last when we arrived in New Mexico and soaked in Spence Hot Springs in the Jemez Mountains west of Albuquerque.

As we were leaving, Hana accidentally dropped the non-waterproof camera into the pool. It still works!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I've been hunkered down in Marfa booking shows for my upcoming tour, which starts this Friday in Dallas. Spending ten hours a day on the computer is NOT awesome, but the shows are rolling in, slowly and surely. So far, I have about fifteen confirmed gigs. Lookin' for ten more. I'll be touring with a young Texan named Austin L. Jones. He's a multi-instrumentalist and a fresh songwriter. I'm hoping he'll back me up (banjo, mandolin, etc.) on a few of my songs. We'll be traveling many miles in his pickup. Adventures!

It's insane to be leaving the sunny desert and sweet Hana (and Gilgamesh) for the sub-zero north country, but I've got cash to earn and movie screenings to promote. Hopefully next winter I'll relax, read some books, and get a tan.

Marfa really is magical, and tonight the moon is full. The temperature yesterday hit 76 F!

Have you heard of the Marfa Lights? Two nights ago Hana and I saw them. Odd phenomena, indeed.

Well, I still have lots to say, but it's late. Hopefully tomorrow I'll catch you up more.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hana, Gilgamesh, and I are on our way to Lubbock, TX. Tonight we're nestled down in Price, UT. Last night we stayed in Twin Falls, ID. Tomorrow night maybe Santa Fe, NM.

Hopefully, I'll soon have time to recount adventures. The four shows I just played were all memorable . . .

Update on Dad's broken leg (email from Mom): "Surgery went well, and he now has a titanium rod running the length of his left femur, right through the bone marrow, holding the femur together. The leg is still swollen and painful and will be for a while."

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Upcoming Shows (my homepage is still broken)!

Olympia, WA - Tonight! At the Loft on Cherry (508 Legion). 7:30. $5-10 sliding scale.

Corvallis, OR - Tomorrow (1/7/11) at Interzone, Inc. 7 pm.

Portland, OR - Saturday (1/8/11) at Bar Bar Apartments above Mississippi Studios. 9 pm. $7 in advance / $8 day of show.

Kennewick, WA - Sunday (1/9/11) at Richard & Kim's Garage! 7pm. $5.

Lubbock, TX - (1/14/11) House Concert at the Hedges.

Marfa, TX - (1/15/11) The Marfa Book Co. 10 pm.
Two days ago, while attempting to get his pickup out of a snowdrift, Dad got smacked from behind by a sliding tractor. The force of it hitting his leg broke his femur. He lay in the snow for half-an-hour before the ambulance came. Surgery happened yesterday, and the doctor says he'll be walking normal again by April, but he'll always have a metal rod in his leg.

This is a game-changer for me. When I get back to North Dakota I plan to step up my role in helping to finish the house he and Mom are building.

Dad and I hiking up the Lochsa River in Idaho ten days ago on our way to Jerry Johnson's Hot Springs. Photo by Hana.