I hope this note finds you all very well. It’s Spring in Tennessee at the moment and I feel like I had totally surrendered to winter. In the past I have dreaded winter, but this year I truly enjoyed being a bit of a shut-in. I made many pots of lentil soup, I wrote many songs, I drank a healthy amount of whiskey and sang country songs with Joe, and felt quite creative…until now. Now, like a bear grown thin after a season of hibernation, my creativity is depleted and I am famished for new experiences. I am actually quite shocked that the weather has had such a profound effect on my spirit and my body. It’s as though every cell in my body is straining, urging me to hit the road and find what awaits.
Life as a performer is a very curious thing. I spend so much time cultivating my craft and the result is that I do not feel entirely myself unless I am performing regularly. It was really nice to rekindle my connection to the idea of “home” being a physical place, but I am excited that soon my home will again be a state of being. I know I sound like a caricature of a hippie. All well. I love the openness and freedom I feel living on the road. Townes Van Zandt’s words sure do resonate with me, “Living on the road my friend, is gonna keep you free and clean. When you wear your skin like iron and your breath’s as hard as kerosene.”
2014 is going to be a good one. We have so many awesome festivals booked (Merlefest, Grey Fox, Strawberry Park, to name a few) and we’re returning to some of our favorite cities and venues. Also, I am really excited about the people with whom I will be making music and traveling this year. From the original Party Line I still have Drew Lawhorn (drums) and Joe Overton (banjo, fiddle, steel guitar) and we are adding some new full time members too. The first of whom is Josh Vana from Harrisonburg, VA, a dear old friend and former bandmate of Joe’s. Josh will be primarily playing telecaster with us. He’s an incredibly versatile and well rooted player. Josh also is pretty handy with a harmonica and a glass slide on his acoustic Gibson box. We will be adding a full time bass player too, but we’ve not got that wonderful human lined-up yet. Patience is good and necessary.
My new songs mark a creative departure for me, away from the story song, from clear narrative and into what I’d like to try and describe, without pretension, as autobiographical poetry. The addition of electric guitar to our sound was informed by the new songs, just as the addition of Josh to our band was informed by our (me and Joe and Drew) desire to work with truly wonderful human beings. Josh starts with us full time on June 1st so hopefully you’ll get to hear the new sound in person this summer or fall at the latest.
Our live shows are moving in a new direction too – I am really focusing on cultivating a high energy exchange between the band and the audience. This means more standing shows, more rock-club type venues, more drum solos, more two-stepping, more hippie dancing! Don’t worry though, Cowgirl Yodel # 3 is still in the set!
Go-To Road Tunes:
Jason Isbell – post gig haul
Hayes Carll – middle of the tour road weary
Lake Street Dive – afternoon happy time
Robby Hecht – mellow morning
Tedeshi Trucks Band – pre-show amp up
Guy Clark – food for the soul anytime
The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin
My Lentil Soup Recipe:
brown bacon (optional)
chop and sauté a bunch of garlic and onions and carrots in olive oil
add generous amounts of cumin and coriander
add modest amounts of salt, fresh ground pepper, nutmeg
add canned chopped tomatoes and tomato paste
add chicken stock and bring to a boil
add lentils and simmer until cooked – about 20 min
ENJOY with cornbread and butter
additional yummy things to throw in the pot:
-sautéd baby bella mushrooms
-raw kale or other dark greens
All for now y’all. Hope to see you soon.