Archive for May 2008

Serving Size

May 29, 2008

Yesterday I was hanging out at a friend’s place on the Medina river…

My friend Wendy Sue from California offered me a Teddy Graham cookie, but I declined because I couldn’t be sure I could finish a whole serving of… 47 cookies?!?!

I spent part of my time there working on a new song, too. I’ve been so busy with touring, Guatemala, remodeling the house and various other adventures this year that I haven’t been writing as much. It’s good to limber those muscles again. Hope to have something to share soon.


Home On The Range

May 28, 2008



Almost every year for the last dozen or so I’ve made an annual pilgrimage to the Kerrville Folk Festival, an eighteen-day long music festival in Kerrville, Texas.  It’s holy ground for me.  Hot, dusty, chigger-ridden, sweaty, holy ground.  

There’s music on the stages each night and it’s wonderful, but the real magic happens in the middle of the night in the campground song circles.

It’s been said that New York City is less of a big city than a big pile of small towns.  It’s natural for people to create small communities within big ones, and the Kerrville campgrounds make an excellent example.

Over the years some camps have become quite established, setting up in the same place each year and welcoming back a gradually evolving but cohesive bunch of friends.  At night we sit in the centers of these camps and trade songs. Sometimes the songs are by beginners, sometimes by the performers who played on the main stage to thousands of people only a couple of hours before.

The camps have names and histories— Camp Calm, Camp Coho, Camp Cuisine, Camp Nashville. Many have horrible puns built in: Camp Bayou Love (say it out loud and listen for a Beatles song), Camp Decide, etc. My buddies Brian and Ellen have Camp Jews Don’t Camp (they’re Jewish, of course).

Our camp is called Camp SingKerrNicity.

We play music until the wee hours every night.  Sometimes we watch the sunrise then go to sleep for the few hours that remain before tents are magically converted into solar ovens and we burst out of them gasping for air and water.

It’s good just to be in the Texas Hill Country this time of year, too, living outside and feeling the evening cool off just before the sun sets, noticing every puff of breeze in the hot afternoons. The wildflowers are gorgeous and the rivers cool enough to wake up your spirit, but warm enough to stay in for a while.  The deer arc over the fences on our trips home from the river in the evenings, and the wildflowers are glorious.


And all of it is marinated in music. As I sit here in my tent writing this my friend Megan is playing a song in our camp a few feet away.  

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of teaching workshops a couple of times, sitting in as a guest on lots of main stage performances, and doing a couple of my own, most recently this past Friday night.

There are thousands of people listening during the main stage sets on the weekends, and the sound system is beautiful and beautifully piloted.  It’s pretty amazing to hit the low notes on Deadline and hear that bass kick out.  I can almost see the shock waves ripple out over the audience.  Good fun.

I try hard not to write music for critics, but for people. All the same, it’s affirming to get strong feedback from your peers, and that’s felt good these last few days.

(thanks to Neale Eckstein for this photo!)

I guess the sleep deprivation is good practice for my impending daddy-hood. I’ve been getting to spend some time with my friend Celia’s eight-month-old, too, and really enjoying that. He’s an incredibly sweet little guy, so he inspires only excitement.

I won’t get to come to Kerrville for at least the next two years, so I’m taking a long drink of it this year, staying for about ten days. This has been a nourishing and challenging community for me, both artistically and personally, and I’m deeply grateful for it. A few days of sleep-deprived song slinging remain, and I’m soaking it up for all I’m worth.

Back to Guate

May 24, 2008

I’m heading back down to Guatemala next month with Caroline Proctor, who is going to be the new director of PEG. I’ll post pictures from there.

The two cyclists who are raising money for the retaining wall and new school construction in Chacaya are doing very well. We tallied up some numbers the other day and found that they’re almost half-way to their fundraising goal of $20,000.  They’re raising that in support of a forty day unsupported cycling trip all the way across Canada.   Their web site is beautiful, and worth a few minutes of poking around on.

It’s so inspiring to me to see people doing things like this.  It’s a beautiful example of Buechner’s concept of vocation:  Where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.  These guys love to cycle, and in their first note to me they said that they couldn’t originally see the connection— how that passion could translate into service.  

I’d say they figured it out.

Yes We Cannes

May 20, 2008

My friend Stephanie Winters sent me this link as a P.S. to a note about some other stuff.  

She and Walter Parks were accompanying musical legend Richie Havens performing in Cannes at the Film Festival this year, apparently at an event honoring Sean Penn.

Stephanie is the cellist who plays all over my most recent record, Change, and Walter has played on some of my stuff over the years, too (notably, the wah-wah guitar on This Soul Man from my kids’ record, S.S. Bathtub).  

I love me some Richie Havens, and it’s fun to see Walter and Stephanie in all their uptown finery. Click on the link below to see the video of Richie singing the song he sang to open Woodstock.

Richie Havens – Ouverture du 61eme Festival de Cannes
Uploaded by RichieHavens

On the Road Again

May 17, 2008

Coppell, Texas

I left Asheville at 3:30 in the afternoon on the day before yesterday, and last night played a house concert near Dallas with my long-time friend Beth Wood. What a treat to see and hear her again.  She’s getting married this fall, and moving to Colorado, so you Coloradans keep an ear out for her.

Beth did me the honor of recording a song of mine for a CD that’s being put together by my friend Kenny Legendre in Germany of various musicians doing my songs.  Mostly they are Europeans, but a few Americans are going to be part of it as well.  Beth recorded a version of my song Stranger, from Corners, on piano, and it’s really lovely.  I got to hear it last night for the first time.  

Having someone record your song is metaphorically kind of like having someone marry your child, I guess.  It’s beautiful to see someone else put their heart and their spirit into your intimate creation.  It also helps you to see it in a new light.  I can listen to the song when Beth sings it in a way that I really can’t hear it if I’m listening to a recording of myself.  

I’ll let you know when the record comes out, of course.  It will be a European release, but I reckon we’ll get a few copies over here. 

Chris Rosser, by the way, is going to record my song Spirit, from Spin, and I can’t wait to hear that.  

I’ll be on the road for the next two and a half weeks, culminating with a set at the Kerrville Folk Festival.  It’s an honor to play there at all, of course, but I’m blown away that they gave me one of the top slots on the schedule.  The festival is eighteen days long, but the first weekend is the biggest, being Memorial Day and all. I’m playing on Friday night of that first weekend, at nine pm on the main stage. 

Gorges (gorgeous)

May 14, 2008

For my birthday, my parents took a picnic basket to the Veranda, a wonderful soup and sandwich place in Black Mountain owned by an old friend of mine. They paid for lunch for two and let us know it was there whenever we wanted it. All we had to do was call in our lunch orders and pick it up.

This was a pretty wonderful gift — buying us a lovely lunch, but more importantly encouraging and reminding us to take a day off and go have a picnic.  Last Saturday we took our picnic out to Gorges State Park, a bit east of Brevard, and spent the day hiking, lounging and staring at the water, not to mention enjoying a great picnic.  Oh, and of course we brought our Travel Scrabble board.  

Here are a few pictures (yep, having fun with the new camera):


The biggest news

May 9, 2008

Well, here goes — might as well just spill it:

We’re going to have a baby.  😉

Deanna’s due November 20, and we couldn’t be happier. We went for our second ultrasound this week and crossed the twelve week mark, so it’s time to share the good news!


Looks just like me, huh?

Answers to most common questions upon hearing this news:

– So will the baby be born in Australia?  

Nope, we don’t go down until mid-January, so we’ll have a seven-week-old (or so) on the plane, and have a little bit of time to connect with family before we go.

– Does this change any plans for your future?

Not for Australia, or rather, not for me in Australia.  It means that Deanna probably won’t start working there too soon, as we had originally planned.

– Are you going to find out whether it’s a boy or a girl?

We’re torn.  Still trying to decide.

– Was this planned? 

We’ve struggled for years with this question.  It’s not that we didn’t care one way or the other, but that we were strongly drawn in both directions – to the freedom of not having children and to the joy of having them.  In January I had a real change of heart.  It had something to do with a book I had just read, and the confluence of some various ideas, but suddenly I found that I was very clear on this question. Deanna and I had a big talk in a parking lot in Asheville, and it turns out that she had been moving in the same direction.  Suddenly, it was abundantly clear.  

So we opened that proverbial door in late January (or at least unlocked it), and this little one must have been pushing on the other side of the door, because Deanna was pregnant by the end of February.  

And I was only home for four days in February.  It was February 26, actually.  Strangely, we know for sure.  


Deanna outside of the midwives’ office

She’s just starting to show her first little signs of belly pooch, which I think it adorable.  Life’s good. Thanks for celebrating with us!


My last chance to sit on Deanna’s lap for a while.  Soon there won’t be room!