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,


1 comment:

Jonny said...

I think you're doing it right. This sounds like a hell of a tour!