New Album Available Now!

In an age when “tracks” have overtaken the art of the album, Garrin Benfield announces the release of “The Wave Organ Song”, a hauntingly honest song cycle that captures an artist who has tapped into a wellspring of inspiration. “The Wave Organ Song” is a perfectly paced musical journey that might best be accompanied by candlelight and a bottle of Pinot Noir. Lovingly recorded to capture every breathy nuance, this collection of in-studio solo performances is an unadorned and chillingly intimate emotional travelogue.  more...

Shows

  • Oct 27
    Cyber Cafe West,  Binghamton NY
     
  • Mar 24
    House Concert,  Minneapolis MN
     

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ARCHIVED JOURNAL ENTRIES 2003-2006

3/28/06 Our new Miniature Schnauzer puppy, Scraps, all of three months, a salt and peppery grey coat, learning as he goes, everything is fascinating, maybe chewable. He doesn't much like the wet pavement on his pads, and is still adjusting to his leash. Runs like mad out of nowhere, then stops suddenly and tugs in the opposite direction. Pretends he's much bigger than he is when conversing and negotiating with other dogs. Rolls around in bed, sometimes lets you rub his belly while he's on his back for a while, then falls asleep. Loves his stuffed rabbit, "Baby Jesus" and his stuffed dog, "Puggles". He came up with those names himself. Already he's been exposed to so much: four or five backstage scenes, house parties, a "cute dog" contest with about 50 other Castro neighborhood pups (in which he took second place...he lost to a dancing dog...Scraps did his one trick at the time: SIT)....one night while playing on stage with the Ritual I looked out on the dance floor and a hippie chick was waving him around, which at first seemed cute to me, but then I reconsidered. Scraps...he's in his cage now, which is like his little house, after returning from a nice healthy walk around the hood in the brisk but relatively dry late March evening. Love G

6/17/05 Hey there, it's been a while. I just got back from a nice vacation to SC and FL. Sure, it rained the whole time, but it felt great to get away from San Fran and the urban craziness for a while. We narrowly escaped Hurricane Arlene while driving to a show in Clearwater (the only one of three shows I had planned as part of a working vacation that survived). I've been pretty active musically, which is keeping me limber, playing my usual batch of solo, duo and band gigs, plus playing with Mostly Dylan, a band dedicated to reinterpreting Bob's music. That's a cool gig for me. I love the tunes and I can sit back and play my role as guitarist without having to front the band. Also sitting in with the Ritual, Everyone Orchestra and doing session work with my old pal and phenomenal drummer Rickie Fattar. Summer is around the corner and I can feel that vibe creeping in, I'm gonna celebrate and go see Lucinda Williams at Stern Grove, a gorgeous outdoor natural ampitheater here in SF and then play a season kickoff show at the Elbo Room on 6/20. I don't think I mentioned that I moved off of Bernal Hill and into the Castro area. It's quite a change, like coming down from the country into the big, bad city...the loudest thing up on Bernal was the birds screeching in the morning (at least, that's how it sounded to me sometimes). Well down here we live above a bar at the intersection of two rail lines and about six bus lines...let's just say a lot of activity. But I love it. You walk out your door right into the heart of it. Talk to you soon. Love G.

3/31/05 Well, where am I at? A night of bizarre vivid dreams has jump started my day. I always feel like dreams that are strong enough to remember portend good things. Nervous, too, about the upcoming show at the Independent...I'm at the tail end of a rehearsal cycle that I hope means we'll be tight and kick ass. Our last show there gives me confidence, though. Great room to play. Somewhat obsessed with organization, lately, both physical and mental, like eliminating the household clutter that once was like a trademark for me will clear my mind. Met some cool folks recently, just out and about at bars and parties, that reaffirmed my joy in new energy coming in. Worked with a new keyboardist recently who fit in real nice and will hopefully be playing with us on 4/8. He seems comfy in all the styles we do. I've yet to meet Phil Lesh and if a booksigning is my next opportunity, that's where I'll be in April when he appears on Haight Street. Love that guy....That's all for now. Love G

3/3/05, San Francisco, CA: The show at the Independent last month was a blast...quite an eclectic night of music! We just posted that show on the AV page. I moved last week (still within SF) so I'm feeling a bit unsettled, but things are slowly coming together. For the time being we've decided to concentrate on booking shows in California instead of doing our usual East Coast Spring tour, but we do have a few out of state shows on the horizon...look out Florida! I'm working on "Shelter from the Storm" right now...what a great tune. Love to y'all.

1/23/05, San Francisco, CA: The difference in my state of mind right now as compared to a week ago is really dramatic...I know I owe it all to these last few shows I played. It really focused me, got me practicing, and gave me back some of the adrenalin I've been missing since we got back from tour. Not that I slept much last week. I was all nerves, no confidence in myself at all, felt like I couldn't play at all, I suck, etc...but then I turned a corner on Thursday morning, before my show at the Park, where I suddenly slipped back into my powers and could do my thing. That show was cool, great sound...I discovered for sure that I really like the little womb of sound that's created when I have my California Blonde amp behind me pushing out nice low end, then my two front wedges kicking back my vocals and more guitar. It's so important to whether I can really give it up on stage. Amplified acoustic guitar usually occupies one of two extremes, sonically -- shrill, sterile, thin, and totally uncharacteristic of what the guitar sounds like unplugged, or nice, round, fat, organic, wooden...it was cool to play a little gig like on Thursday and actually have great sound. Last night I opened for Rickie Lee Jones in Paradise, outside of Chico, CA and was reminded how fun it is to play a legit gig with good food provided, an attentive 1,000 person house, great sound, and merch sales that'll keep us fed this week! Thanks folks.

1/11/05, San Francisco, CA: Spent a week in Mexico with friends absorbing the beauty all around me, and I think it was well timed...it hasn't stopped raining in SF for a month. I've been back two days and trying not to sink back into the same old winter patterns. It's good to have a show on the horizon to keep me focused. Tonight I'll be playing Steve Murray's Viva Variety at ODC Theatre...I've decided to take some risks with my ten minutes of fame and jam a bit. Then next week I'll be playing solo again at a new venue in town, the Park, near the Baseball field. I might have to move soon, which is a bit of a bummer. Feels like I just got settled here in Bernal Heights, with all the road time I've had. I've been listening to a lot of stuff, trying to recharge my batteries and think about what I want to do next. I finally figured out the tuning and most of the chords to Joni's "Black Crow" which I've always thought would be a great band tune, last night checked in with Neil, The Smiths "How Soon is Now", the Cure's "A Forest", and the Dead's "Standing on the Moon" to see if there were any details to their performance that I maybe wanted to cop (there weren't, really)...I've been slowly learning the words to that one. Our next big focus is gonna be the show at the Independent on 2/10 with Spencer Day and JP Cutler. Should be cool...

Fall Tour 2004

11/21/04, San Francisco, CA: Just a short note to say thank you sincerely to everyone who came to my shows, on both coasts, over the last two months. Jason and I made it back to SF after finishing up SoCal last night in LA. San Diego and LA were truly special shows for me for the presence of good friends in unfamiliar surroundings. Thanks, guys! Unbelievably, we get on a plane at 6 this am to fly to South Carolina for some Thanksgiving relaxation...wow. I'll write more as it comes to me, and when I've restored some energy. 'Til then, love Garrin. 11/16/04, Santa Barbara, CA: Well well well -- san fran has come and gone, we just finished our show in santa barbara, nice town, as i remembered, good people, interesting venue, a restaurant setting, Earl's expanding polka funk experience played after me...nice connect with the crowd, pretty good fish at dinner. SF kicked my assÉ funny...after all this touring, when we come home, the party was intense enough to bury me for a day or so. Good weather down here that always makes me feel like, why don't I live in SoCal? Day off tomorrow, gonna spend some time getting people out to our more Southern shows...know people in LA/San Diego? Please tell 'em...'til then, love G

11/3/04, Portland, OR: Where to begin? I believe more than ever that George W. Bush's election depended on social conservatives...the base that Rove et al identified as having "underperformed" in the last election. So, as our leader wages a war against islamic fundementalists abroad, he's elected by christian fundementalists at home. This is emerging, in my mind at least, as the principal obsatcle that free thinking people are up against in this country -- the intrusion and increased influence of the GOD people....no!!!! Oh boy, it's all sinking in...I think I said I strangely resigned last night, well today I'm angry. I feel NO urge to reconcile with this President who so readily looks to take our rights away...brace yourselves...Garrin

11/3/04, Seattle, WA: Early morning, still watching election returns and feeling fearful, anxious...but also strangely resigned...played our last show with Dan Bern last night...high energy room, Jim Page sat in for a couple tunes, had my first exposure to Chris Chandler's spoken word free form thought stanzas over guitar strumming, then I sat in with him and Dan for a good half of the show...fun, but I was beat by the end...J and I are both feeling a little sick now, maybe bad chinese food, maybe election heartburn, not sure. Tomorrow we start our return trip to SF, with 5 shows in between. Rainy here but it's been a nice break to stay in one place for a couple days, at a decent hotel right downtown...anyone else out there? Garrin

10/30/04, Seattle, WA: We made it here today after show in Miami last night..it couldn't seem farther away now. It's brisk here, nicely autumnal, after the intense heat in Miami which they call their Winter. Said goodbye to Adrienne and Cheryl last night, after Bamboo room gig, the best part of which I think may have been the opening jam and The Loop...wasn't crazy about the sound on stage...those plastic Mackie monitors...fun meeting and hearing Vince, he was in good form...also cool to see old family friends Richie and Sue. I said to Susan, "the last time I saw Vince Welnick was at a stadium with 60,000 people.." her response, "In other words, don't let it go to your head"?...Yep, pretty much.

10/29/04, Miami, FL: Wow...i felt so good tonite, so right about it all...after a day of bathing in the lovely miami waters, singing and playing, truly inspired, raucous cool folks, political rants, no monitors on stage which lends this echoey, nice, old-school room sound, I felt...free to explore in the improv sections which I probably won't tommorow at the bamboo room...then adrienne and i had a beatles sing along with tambourine...don't let me down, etc. Good way to wind down this long tour...a taper showed up, doug, i think his name was...nice sense of support. love Garrin

10/20/04, Charlottesville, VA: I had fun tonite, great room, the gravity lounge, good hearted people, opened for an artist that, if I wrote her name here, this message board for some reason would change it to "pregnant dog"... for real...I know this makes no sense but that's the way it is...this board is set to correct swear words or something...good to finally be playing again after 3 days off, next on to chapel hill. Checked out two shows last night for promoing...phenomenal guitarist whose name of course i'm spacing on right now, and Dark Star Orchestra, J and I drank a bit too much, hungover today...looking for sleep now. Lots more thoughts but too sleepy...love G

10/18/04, Charlottesville, VA: No show tonite and i feel lost, in a cacoon of endless drives through strip malls, with cloudy skies enclosing our repetetive activities. The food is uninspiring, the air thick with parliaments and kools and virginia slims...sat in the bathroom and played guitar tonight and went over some tunes i want to bring back: Tonight i know, we don't dance, what you're hiding, jack a roe...then i gotta get back to my version of standing on the moon. just tired, i think, maybe best not to dwell on it or overthink it. love G

10/17/04, Washington, DC: Three hours sleep in Bingamton so I could get up and drive us to DC in order to catch a radio appearance at American U. in DC...no DJ ever showed, no program director reteurned my calls, we sat outside the station for an hour...finally we went to the food court to eat...WOW, college food has really gotten better since my day! We thought it was radical to have vegetarian options...this put that to shame. SO, good lunch, and it's time to get to the venue. We arrive to find a group of 15-17 year olds playing earnestly (making a beautiful mess of "Sunshine of My Love" and "Crazy Train")...I actually liked it, it reminded me of those days, but it was weird to walk into one of our only all ages shows! I was on next, the 8-9 pm slot. Adrienne and I sang up on the big bloated rock stage, we did a very uptempo, sort of greatest hits set with some good playing on my part (if I don't say so myself), lots of jams, a great version of the Loop, and Give Peace...but y'know, I could become bitter putting so much energy into these shows when no one shows up! We really give everything we have, every time, basically blowing most of the other bands out of the water with one guitar and two vocals, and still have to argue with the bartender about drink tabs, etc. Actually, that didn't happen last night but it could've...then a celebratory drive to dinner blaring the beatles and screaming...dinner at sushio place. mmmm. a couple days off here in DC...I'd like to return to the modern art museum. Love G

10/15/04, Binghamton, NY: I was struck once again by the vibe of this place...I'm not sure what to chalk it up to...I know Jeff, the owner, likes things loud, which is generally good when your playing solo/duo, but it's more than that, like a fault line of inspiration runs through that block of Main St here in upstate NY...Jeff's a head, maybe that's it...a common reference point. Speaking of, after my two sets, I got up and played with Bad Weather Blues on Not Fade Away>Mountain Jam. That was a blast, fitting in between 3 other guitarists, me on acoustic. On to DC tomorrow at 6 am. It is now 1:40 am. I'm driving first. I can almost taste the coffee. Happy tonight, though. Good singin, good vibes...sorry that Jason and Cheryl were so tired from their heroic drive last night. Love Garrin

10/14/04, Nelsonville, OH: What a room! Cool, creepy, filled with ghosts of opera singers and vaudevillians past, musty dressing rooms, old light fixtures, immaculate main venue...good to see Dan again and play on his powerful tunes....the last time we saw him was in Boston with a really chatty crowd...tonight you could hear a pin drop. During "Another Hour" Adrienne's mic went out, which was replaced while I vamped solo...then my voice gave out at the opening of "To Know"...I stopped, apologized, coughed, and continued. Pretty funny. Responsive crowd, mixture of hippies, folkies, lefties, and some mainstream Ohio-an's..."The Loop" continues to develop into a great live jam. So, we got back from the gig at 1:30 am, and left our hotel to drive to Bingamton NY at 3:30 am...which is where we are now, one radio station performance and interview and one in-store appearance later. Now, we leave for the gig at Cyber Cafe...a cool room! Love Garrin

10/12/04, Columbus, OH: Hey there, well, I'm in better spirits now...predictably, after the gig. Cute room, with a little bit of atmosphere, which we appreciate immensely. Good sound on stage...tried out a couple we haven't done in a bit: Will, Lonely Journey, and Leg. Some good jams, nice vibe, met the local cats, as usual, towards the end of the night. Greg, the owner -- good guy. Second set, after the debate, which the entire OHIO crowd watched intently, I might add, in a bar atmosphere...so, we did the pre-debate set, unlike the Dan Bern show in Boston where we did the immediate post debate enetertainment. Tomorrow: the opera house in Nelsonville, also in OHIO. then a real pregnant dog of a drive BACK to NY!! see you there? Love G

Buffalo, NY, 10/11/04 to Columbus, OH 10/12/04: Wow, what a draining drive that was. Just now settling in to our hotel room after a really fun night in a city that I wasn't sure how excited I was to return to right now...mostly because I thought there'd be no one there...but, we had a nice house, and it's always good to see Michael Meldrum, host and Buffalo's music scenester for years, our first audience members who came because they heard "Don't Panic" on the FM, and some great jams with a local drummer who set up an improvised drum kit of a wooden box, drink mixers, pitchers and other percussive devices...nice to return and realize that in some small way we have become a "part" of the music Buffalo music scene...we see the same folks there every time we go...tomorrow our first of two Columbus, OH gigs. I'll write more in a bit. First, dinner. Love Garrin

Ithaca, NY, 10/10/04: Autumn...a mostly folky, song oriented set last night at the terminally ill-attended ABC Cafe. Ah well, we work just as hard either way...we did "Anabelle" for the first time in a while, the new acoustic version of "Don't Panic", and a cool psychedelic "The Loop". Buzzy annoying PA but nice crowd including my cousin, my ex boyfriend's family...we're staying at the Band and Breakfast out in the woods with a glass-blower and a festival organizer. Next up is Buffalo. I must say it's great to have a day off! We just finished the folllwing run with no break: SF, NYC, BROOKLYN, BURLINGTON VT, NOHO MA, BOSTON MA, ITHACA NY...just rest, change my strings...love to you all. --Garrin. In Buffalo I want to do the songs we haven't gotten to yet: "Waltz #2", "Ugly"...

10/7/04, Northhampton, MA: Back in my old grounds, pulled in today in our mini van dirty and sweaty, no shower the night before, had to hightail it out of Burlington after gig with Crazy Local (Thanks Ben and Raechel!!)...nice relaxed morning touring the grounds of the Bush's VT farm, hanging with the adoreable Ezra and chatting about Ben's RENT set design...made it to Northampton just in time for soundcheck and to learn we were opening for Dan Bern that night! Put a quick set together that went over really well to a nearly full house in a venue I've wanted to play for years...then, got to sit in with Dan on his very funny, very political set, cranking out a couple folk-punk tunes, ending the set with a chant of "Bush must be defeated!" a la "You know our love will bnot fade away!" Very cool...and very different from my last couple times in this town, with me and J busting our asses running around putting up fliers, etc...arrived to play to a receptive energetic left leaning crowd...um, I'm happy. Keep in touch, love G...on to Boston!

9/22/04 A delayed dispatch from Blue Ridge Harvest Fest, Lafayette GA, having just escaped the roughest moments of Hurricane Ivan, Jason commandeered our RV down the sloshy windy Interstate from Lexington KY (where we picked up Cheryl and Adrienne, tour manager mother and singer, repectively) all the way into Lafayette where the weather was, well, downright pleasant. Hippies make me happy, drinkin some beers, blaring the Dead, holding up strange little cardboard signs...So, we got there on time to play my first set of the fest, within a half hour, but the stage was still being reassembled...it had been taken down due to the winds...our first show was doomed, we settled into a wander here and there, heard Umphrey's McGee do their prog jam math rock thing, then Medeski launch into twisted garage jazz keyboard dissonance, and then fall asleep to the strains of Leftover Salmon...how many times have I done that now? Just cause, there always last on the bill and I fade, for there is work to be done tomorrow morn... after waking Adrienne and I retire to a sunny field for our version of rehearsal and vocal warm up, then on to the gig, "the Pickin' Pad"...oh, we had been handing out fliers all night and day, by the way, slowly settling back into that egoless rhythm of promotion...so, we had some folks there, a little muddy but beautiful natural sloping hillside with stage at bottom. Up top, a quirky tent in which to lay back on a busted up sofa, have a "Terrapin" ale, clank on the old upright piano. A speck of Burning Man energy here. The set goes well, I think, a guy rides up on his bike half way through like an earnest messenger to report that we can be heard all over the campsites...good thing we were singin' well, but maybe too much singin' the aftershow report says, not enuf jammin. Ok, ok, tomorrow, we jam. But first a nice afternoon of post show relaxation: some prime bloody mary's, fake turkey sandwiches, a nap, some wandering, a little picking...my favorite moment of the day's set -- when the port-o-let truck backed up behind me during my set to empty the tanks, beeping it's way into a slow reverse...so, these things must be done, I guess. Bob Weir's set with Ratdog starts out a beautiful mess, all missed vocals and jams that seem to function mainly as a platform for the various players to grouse about their in-ear monitor mixes, which I've always thought create another boundary between artist and musician anyway. You get the feeling they can't really hear the crowd energy as well. But it eventually congeles into a kick ass Rock and Roll show that has me grinning and everyone around me super psyched that he's still going after it, Bobby that is. And after more wandering and passing out of fliers, to sleep...for Sunday's mainstage... I close my eyes, and five minutes later I wake to the sun streaming in the sunroof and a dude pickin a strident banjo to death...shit, hungover, need to come to life NOW, gather my stuff, wake up Jason and Cheryl, Adrienne who forgoes her normal beauty routine but looks great in her little black coat...I think I smoked 10 cigarettes last night..I don't smoke, I try some high notes and their barely there but I like the way it feels...we grab a cup backstage, soundcheck, and we're on, waking up with everyone else but with that no sleep inspiration that can make good things happen...nice uptempo set with good natured crowd starting to fill the hillside...I have two major disagreements with my looping device but I don't trip about it, just continue on and try to make beautiful music. Nice jam out of Hungry Ghost, which I'm considering retiring, if only to force myself to write more!! I take an informal poll of the audience as the set is winding down if they'd rather hear "mournful and pretty" or "guitar freakout" and the answer is, sadly, overwhelming. I must freak out on guitar...and I do, setting up one of the most tweaky unsettled loops I've ever attempted, all while this dread dude creature straddles the rail (hay bails) yelling at me to "play something new" and "play something you know". Good advice. Lot's a little kids about, digging it, it seems. Sold our first copies of the new CD and then back to the RV for a little "no sleep, let's keep the vibe alive with a beer or two" mania that devolves into everyone napping spontaneously, waking for...Railroad Earth, this summer our favorite new fest act, tho today their tired, maybe of their own material...not sure. We know we need to get on the road but our little SF crew is coming together: Doug, Jason, and us...Derek Trucks Soul Serenade escorts us out, and I'm drivin' mama RV this time... Thinking about the nice folks we met and hung with, mountain of venus, banjo dude from Hobex, plenty of sweet open hipsters happy to meet us and hear our story, little babies, visions of myself at 17 when I was exploding with eternal optimism...

6/8/04 I'm sitting here at "Dogpatch Studios", my home away from home, thinking about how long it's been since I've written to you all...I'm asking forgiveness dear reader, for we have been "holed up", "shedding" and all those other cliches for the experience of trying to focus intensely on one project, that being my fourth full length CD...where are we at? Well, we recorded full band tracks at "Studio D" in Sausalito for four days in April, after which I was on the road solo-touring, and now we're sifting through all that material, adding electric guitars, keyboards parts, harmony vocals, mandolins, etc etc...I also worked up four new tunes that are slated for the record, so YEAH, some new surprises, too. Ah, but those new songs need some lyric fixes and final drum parts, yet to be recorded. We're at that stage, Michael my co-producer and I, where the deadlines seem impossible, but thankfully my past experiences and memories reassure me all will be OK. We will finish, I promise. How are you?

2/9/04 I think this year is off to a good start...and you? The band played our first shows of 04 with five new tunes, including a couple of covers (Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" and the ancient "Jack a Roe"), plus I finally got around to learning Elliott Smith's "Waltz #2"...a great, sad song that seems like a natural fit for me in my solo gigs so far. We seem to have a ton of projects on the table, sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by our ambition, but better to be busy, I suppose: tour planning, an official bootleg release, a new studio CD, hometown gigs and all of the promo work that goes into them...but we've been rewarded by great turnouts at the shows which makes such a difference. I'm sure you all know there were a couple lonely nights out on the road... Of course, the lack of pressure I feel on those nights seems to allow me to let go and access a deeper groove than when I'm all amped up opening for Boz or something. But that's an irony that I think haunts all musicians and one that we just come to laugh about...the best jams happen right after the tape runs out or the batteries die, the show where I most felt like one with my guitar was in Tacoma, WA in front of two parents and their 3 year old daughter...and on and on. I mean, listening to Christina Aguilera's painfully off-pitch and overrought singing at the Grammy's made me feel for her and how nervous she may have been. I've got two new songs that are promising, "Rolling my David" which is sort of like Tom Petty meets an Appalachian folk tune, and "Regret" which I started two years ago and recently revived from my ever expanding collection of unfinished minidisc bits. The other tunes that are strong contenders for the new CD at this point are: Light the Way, Another Hour to Kill, Unbound, Ugly, Dark and Cold, Unwind, and Be Love. And who knows, I might even find a place for the "long-performed but never seemed appropriate for a record" tunes: I Let You Go, and Bay Rag. Then there's Don't Give it Away, and my favorite covers: Hard Times, Gillian Welch's Anabelle, maybe even Waltz #2, but now I'm rambling. Heck, I'd love to do Joni Mitchell's Black Crow and Borderline for that matter. I think the main thing is, a new direction, a somewhat different production aesthetic, slightly looser, still song based but more intimate, darker, a chance for me to really communicate as I am, not as I think it SHOULD sound. I've been jamming more with other folks, Jesse Cutler and his band, Olive, Travis, some experimentation with loops with Russ, my drummer, a couple of session gigs here and there, and the other thing in the back of my head is a full length project comprised solely of my loops as song structures, maybe a continuous weave that has a parenthetical begining and end, with lyrics of course, 'cause I'm still drawn to writing them. OK, Talk to you soon...G

11/22/03 The more time that passes since we've returned from the East Coast tour, the more daunting it seems to write some kind of retrospective. Maybe just a stream of consciousness account will suffice? Meeting Pamela Means and opening my Bitter End show with my first Loop of the tour, hanging with Ed Mannix and my brother and his wife Ayella, partying the next night with NYC's finest freaks, shacking up in a friend's un-used one room apartment WAY uptown, seeing Rich Pagano at my Living Room gig (the drummer from my NYC band of a couple years back who's now playing with Roseanne Cash), hearing the sound man there play a new copy of Neil Young's "Hawks and Doves" to test the PA, hearing Jim Compilongo by chance (my favorite SF guitarist), the post show near-intense political debate with my bro Dan and Jason, then the best falafel on the planet, a stop over at the 55 Bar for jazz, then to the basement of a billiard club not far from there where an unmarked door led to a dimly lit, oriental-rugged jazz shangrila replete with an organ trio and a kick-ass guitarist... On to DC via a hellish highway ride to a not-so-inspiring show at the dingy Black Cat, then the chronology gets a bit blurry but I know we went to my old haunt Hampshire College to hang on campus a bit, check out the students, use the library for internet access, get caught up in a million memories and ghosts of about ten years ago, flier the town for the Black Sheep show, where some real folks from the woodwork showed up, up to VT to see my sister Chic and her partner and kids, play a brief show at Borders, hang posters all afternoon with the kids, leave for Albany, a sad-sack town with no discernible identity, at least for the amount of time we were there (5 hours?) -- Sorry Albany, but you let us down! Back to Burlington for the awesome sound system of the Metronome and a nice crowd, although not as big as the one downstairs at Nectar's (as in "A Picture of...") for the World Series, which followed us all over the tour... Then to hang with Michael the guy who taught Ani Difranco to play guitar in Buffalo and a nice show there, where "the guy who started 10,000 Maniacs" was at the bar, or so I was told by about 5 different people, then I think some R and R time with Jason's lovely family, then meeting up with the Geren's, our now perennial touring partners, for our first show in Canada, where we were refused entry at the border for lack of proper paperwork and I devolved into a deep cop paranoia (sorry guys but I'm just not a fan of Border Patrols), but then a couple of days later we got into Canada and played a really fun show where right off the bat I thrust Adrienne, who was singing with me, directly into the improv vibe of the show, egging her on to take more chances with singing in the jams, Sushi across the street, um... Binghamton was a really cool club owned by a sweet Deadhead guy who gave me a good loud PA and a friendly, attentive house, Pawling was a big family reunion and packed house (the show was a double bill with Richard Shindell), and a too-long night of hanging at Jeff, my bro's place, singin' and carrying on, 'cause we woke only in time to get outta there in a rush to return our rental car to NYC which we had lived in for 30 days, then think about, "oh yeah, where are we gonna stay tonight?"....turned out to be a youth hostel uptown where us and the Geren's had our own room with rickety bunk beds, but clean and friendly with gaggles of atttractive Europeans everywhere... The Cutting Room was not my favorite way to end the tour since they cut us short and gave us additude, but my bro Peter showed up as well as the usual selection of folks I would never expect to see, and afterwards we all went out to eat with Ed Mannix from OutMusic, who very nicely treated us to drinks and dinner -- we're talking a table of twenty or so...Thanks, Ed! There's lots of other memories I will cherish in the deep recesses of my mind, countless hotel rooms (some really nice ones -- thanks Cheryl and Buzz!), random meetings with folks from the past, on stage jams with co-billers, dancing for about one minute in that little Mexican Restaurant on 102nd St (Adrienne?), great conversations and hangovers, and that creeping restless feeling that one can only get when you're approaching your seventh hour in the car...

9/28/03 What a trip. I'm not even sure where to start or how much needs to be said about this last tour. We thought "Feast or Famine '03" might be a good name for it....mostly great, high energy shows, and some all-too-quiet ones with a couple folks who REALLY cared. I feel like I'm actually getting somewhere with integrating the digital loops into my set, (via the BOSS RC-20 for you gear-heads), and a couple tunes have emerged as especially graceful ones to perform, Gillian Welchs' "Anabelle" comes to mind. Touring is a bubble reality...you feel as though you're moving amongst the conventional world, but you're not one with it. You're on a mission... and you have to be so in touch with your energy level during the day so that that 30-60 minutes in the evening when your actually on stage is your peak...or if not, you gotta use whatever space you're in. I can get easily thrown by other people's energy. And some of these folks who claim to be music business professionals would really help us out by investigating other career options...it feels like anything's fair game sometimes at this level...but I don't wanna bitch. I knew that going into it and in the larger picture I've been blessed, right? We're home for one day and then off to NYC, hopefully gorgeous fall days and visits with family between shows. Speaking of family, on this last trip there were alot of old friends coming out of the woodwork. Very cool. We can't update the site very easily on the road so if you wanna check in with me go to the message board...it's easy to get in on the little chats there. See ya folks...

8/29/03 Preparing for a tour is A LOT of work...and we're in the middle of it right now. Countless phone calls, press kits, posters, emails, car rentals, CD stocking -- the list goes on and on. The Boz tour was great, but it left us very little time to get our ducks in a row for two months of road work. We'll be leaving SF this Sunday, for our first show in the Pacific Northwest. I'm looking forward to some off days in the redwoods, and maybe hooking up with my old dear friend and occasional music partner Tamar Krames, who lives in the San Juan Islands. We'll have one full band show in SF at the Red Devil on 9/20, but other than that we'll be roaming the West, hitting new venues, playing with new folks (Justin King, who's been opening for James Taylor, in Eugene), and trying to stay relaxed, healthy, centered, and hydrated...the latter being my new personal mission. I'm drinking less beer and more water, but I can't quite give up the buzzing optimism of coffee. It's an enabler. My bassist Joshua Zucker and his wife Anne are expecting a baby any week now, probably while we're in LA. While we're in town for our SF gig, we're gonna catch the Dead at Shoreline with Jesse Cutler and friends. Should be cool. What else? I don't know. I've avoided so far talking about the goings on of the outside world which maybe I'll get into a little next time. Everyday brings a shocker in the news. Like Howard Dean taking a strong lead in the presidential race. Who woulda thunk? Thank you to everyone who has made this next tour a possibility. You know who you are!

8/15/03 Saratoga is an easy drive from the Bay Area, the Mountain Winery ampitheatre. My third time playing there, opening for Boz. Way laid back atmosphere, friendly Bill Graham Presents people, great catering, and a beautiful view from the stage into the orange skies over Silicon Valley. The sound was a struggle, though...a little thin, and changing too much during our set for my taste. Some sub-woofers were going on and off the first night, so we'd get this huge fat bass sound for a minute and then it'd dissapear again. First shows with Russ went well, if a little nervous. The crowd at these shows is a real old-time Boz audience. I heard many stories (again) of "...the first time I heard "Loan me a Dime" was the Fillmore, 1972..." We debuted the full band version of "Unbound" both nights. Getting the kinks out. I was still trying to get the timing of the set just right...we kept going over by a couple minutes, so eventually I decided to slim the set down to 5 songs, giving us the time to stretch out like we wanted, and making the vibe less frantic. The first night we got to the venue and I was convinced I had lost my guitar, and Chris, being the good man he is, looked everywhere for it, thinking it had been lost off the truck on the trip from AZ. That night I went home and found the guitar in my apartment. My Alvarez-Yairi WY-1 that I played from my first year in college until three years ago or so. Woulda sucked to have lost it...

Next up was Avila beach near San Luis Obispo...we got down there with an hour to spare or so before we went onstage. We switched up the set some, playing "Light the Way" and "To Know" for the first time on the tour...cool outdoor festival grounds, good sound for me, big and echo-ey on the vocals like I like it. Josh had to take off right after the set to get back home, and Russ and Jason and I decided to make it to San Diego that night. Boz finished early, like at 6 pm or so.

San Diego is always a trip: so clean and crisp feeling, I kept humming the "Three's Company" theme to myself, passing by all the mexican-influenced apartment complexes. Humphrey's is a venue and resort in one...you really don't have to leave at all...we sat by the pool, had some mai-tais, lounged in our room which was directly behind the stage. Josh and his wife Anne both came down and met Russ, J and I. Played well both nights, I think...I had that relaxed, breezy feeling after sitting in the hot tub, etc. Second night we debuted "Ugly" and it felt great...with the Boz fan club in the first few rows helping us out...good CD sales here, too...ideal merch table location, and flyering the exiting audience helped, too. Great sound...I'm trying to keep my monitor level lower so I can rely on the sound of the house more. We have no reverb in the floor monitors so you really have to rely on the sound of the rooms for that. Boz and band seemed inspired both nights. Drank too much after the second show. Very hungover for our ten hour drive home the next day...and now here I am, coming back to earth, looking forward to a lower pressure gig in Sunol, and on to Konocti to finish up with Boz. How are you all doing?

8/04/03 I'm listening to some of the tapes (minidiscs, actually) of the first three dates of our tour opening for Boz Scaggs, reflecting on what a joy it was to sing at the ampitheatre in Tucson, which was sort of a mini-Shoreline or Concord Pavillion (for you Bay Area folks). So far it's been Josh and I doing our duo thing in these large halls, which has been nothin' but fun for me, we have so much freedom to play off one another and create our little intimate song-jam universe...Las Vegas was a little jittery but we managed to reach that one-mind space a couple of times. House of Blues in Vegas is a bar, really, so the crowd was pretty chatty. I think we reached 'em by the end. The merchandise booth was in the casino itself, much divorced from the venue, in that crazy zone of chimes, bells, bad trip-reminiscent carpeting and surly folk, which we decided to take in good humor. 

On to Tucson we went, a many-hour drive that about drove me crazy, but all was OK when we got to the aforementioned venue. Very cool outdoor setup where we could glimpse the clouds drifting by above the lawn seats. The sound has been really tremendous so far, for a couple of guys used to bars and little clubs. When I open my mouth and hear that vocal come back at me from about a mile away...Thank you Chris and Al! 

We've been trying to vary the setlist every night, adding a couple new tunes every gig. At Dodge Theatre in Pheonix we debuted "Unbound" and sorta pretty much nailed it. The Dodge was this very high ceilinged, muted-grey post modern room. We were able to chill in our comfy dressing room, rehearse "Unbound" in the bathroom, and go out and play a solid show...I was thrown off by a couple of little things, the first was that the house was so quiet prior to the show. The house music was REALLY low, and the lights were on while we were introduced, creating very little atmosphere. My nerves kicked in, I forgot to lose my laminate, and it got a little tangled in my guitar strap prior to our first song... ha ha... it sounds so inconsequential but then I forgot a couple lines in the second verse of "Another Hour"... I recovered, but in my own mind it was huge, to everyone else a speck of dust that had already stuck to the bottom of their shoe. We ended up having a really responsive audience that night, and sold a PILE of CDs, which only confirms that your on stage perception often bears little resemblance to what the room is experiencing. By the way, enough about me, Boz has once again assembled a stellar group of musicians and crew. All thanks to them for being so gracious and accomodating. On to Saratoga with Russ the drummer and our big trio rock show. See y'all.

7/31/03 Well, we're off in our rented monster SUV to Vegas, for the first Boz opening gig. It brings back memories of my first tour with Boz, when we flew the whole band to the House of Blues in 2000, only to fly back to California immediately following the gig so we could make the Mondavi show the next afternoon. We were all so psyched to be treated like rock stars in Vegas when we first got there and checked out our swank dressing room. Turns out they made a mistake...we were actually supposed to be in that little trailer in the back parking lot. Then our set started late or something so we got our big final number cut off by an enormous velvet curtain closing on us...I think I was in the middle of saying goodnight to the crowd and this thing comes sweeping in. We were all pretty nervous then. I feel centered and relaxed by contrast now, and I'm looking forward to doing the duo in large halls, just to see how well it translates. I'll try to write more often if anyone out there is reading this. If you are, leave me a note in the message board. 'Til then, wish us luck...

7/11/03 Settling into Summer, finding a pace that fits the season, gearing up for some sessions of improvisation and refining unfinished song bits that I've collected on about 15 CDs...the more I collect, though, the more daunting it becomes trying to unravel it all, and possibly tie parts together... 

Played a really fun set at Sweetwater the other night with Joshua Zucker on upright (heretofore known simply as Josh)...Segued some songs together that we hadn't before, and pretty much nailed one of the new tunes, "Dark and Cold"...I was pretty sure it was gonna be rough going 'cause we hadn't rehearsed it at all but Josh got it right...It was one of those experiences where I couldn't quite tell if I was mainly getting off on the audience's surprise at the jamming, or if the jams were that cohesive...and no tape to listen back to...I really want to invest in a reliable, easily transportable recording rig for the Fall Tour... 

Handed out 300 or so live bootleg CDs of the band in the parking lot at Phish (Shoreline)...people were really cool/receptive/appreciative...the word "free" makes you an instant friend in that scene 'cause everyone's so barraged with selling and wheeling and dealing in the parking lot...But still one of my favorite crowds of people, really cooperative and idealistic, reveling in their obscurity and countercultural status...there's some darkness there, some damage done, some excess...but not nearly to the degree as seemed present at Dead shows in the 90's...But anyway, I'd be happy if that crowd took an interest in what we -- the band, and Josh and I -- were doing... 

I've been playing my 50's Harmony acoustic that I found in my friend's basement about two years ago...(along with a chello, mando, banjo)...I just put the Harmony in standard tuning only a whole step down, so the low "E" string is a "D"...the strings are loose and slippery, the tone more droning...I've wanted to put a pickup in this guitar but it's sort of a low priority for me right now...but it's a great guitar to play at home, to compose on, along with my other Harmony, a late forties era "Strat-o-Tone" electric which is all tone...a beautiful, low priced but totally unreliable guitar that I've tried to use live, but it just goes out of tune in the first song...I think the problem is the bridge, which is basically just a floating piece of thin metal...but I've never been much of a guitar tech.

6/20/03 Hey y'all. This is gonna take a little getting used to, this writing to everyone and no one in particular, but I guess that's what I do most of the time. Like the new site? I'd like to acknowledge a couple people for their help in putting it together or otherwise aiding in the effort: Tim Donovan, Jason Durant, Avi Smith, Richard Goldman, Diane Maldaver, Danny Jacobs, all the photographers (Joshua Smith, Rob Corwin, and Frank Celaya) and artists... I'll think of more later. 

That's all I really have to say now, except that Jason and I were blown away by Patti Smith at MLK park in Berkeley and at the Great American in SF. My first time. I had worked with Tony Shanahan (Patti's bassist) in NYC, so we felt like we had a bit of an inside glimpse into the band even though it was all new to me...intensely psychedelic east village poetic punk pop. And Patti the anti-star, walking through the crowd, spitting and smiling...Tony had been hit by a car on his bike in NYC the previous week so his arm was in a sling, but the tone he got from his gold hollow-body Epiphone bass was pure SF. I feel like thrashing more, droning and trancing in the overtones. Oh, Patti's mention of the Dead's '75 hiatus-ending show pretty much put it over the top. And then I got home and saw a posting from her on her site called "Thoughts on Jerry Garcia" which unfortunately I couldn't access. At the GAMH, she said "Who wouldv'e guessed...I might be standing right where Jerry was..." which got one of those hushed, murmuring reactions. About half way through their precisely art-garage "Not Fade Away", people got it. How about the fucking bizarre gig at the Page St. Library last week? No idea what I'm talking about? That's really OK.

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