Faith & Fear

“St Roch Cemetery and Miracle Chapel Winter in New Orleans 1912” from Wikimedia Commons

Faith studies neurology at Tulane. She says that one of the theories of dreams is that they are the result of the unconscious working through hypothetical situations in which fear may be present. She says this theory has been confirmed by the experts at Wikipedia.

Charity sleeps upstairs in the top half of a duplex after staying out until 4:47 AM. We danced to rockabilly and climbed trees. I showed her how to East Coast swing; she showed me some of New Orleans.

Faith tells ghost stories in the back yard in a lawn chair by the light of twin tiki torches. Hope hangs on to every word. I try to listen as Louisiana mosquitoes sink their needles in my skin and stick an itch below the surface. I dig to find the itch later while I dream of doing somersaults in my Corolla.

Hope asks Faith for more about the collapsed quarry and other stories of paranormal activity in Pennsylvania. Yesterday, Hope asked how many women I had slept wtih. She was drunk. I didn’t answer. She got distracted.

Charity wakes up. We all take turns getting ready.
We are leaving.
Wait! One more…
Seven people shuffle back and forth between couches and bedrooms–bedrooms strung together like a long and sleepy hallway. I decide it’s time to leave.

I dream of falling asleep at the wheel. I dream of car crashes. I wake up in the passenger seat of my parked car at 5:24 AM. The truckers in the gas station parking lot are still asleep in their semis. I drive until 10:13 AM and slap myself awake every ten minutes. The pain assures me that I am no longer dreaming.



I’m sorry for the long break this past week. I’ve been in Jacksonville, FL for the past few days, and I’ve had a couple of days without shows to regroup. My booker coincidentally lined up time off with Florida shows, so I’ve been enjoying time at the ocean. An old friend gave me the keys to his beach house, which is only about two blocks away from the house where I grew up.

I can’t tell you much more about what has happened at the Beach. This has by far been one of the most personal parts of my trip. Having grown up here for ten years and then abruptly moved to the Inland Northwest, I am still sorting through all that went on as a result of the dramatic changes. What I can tell you is that being at the beach and swimming in the ocean and spending time with old friends has been therapeutic and given me a sense of resolve.

The weather here has been less than agreeable. There is a tropical storm coming up from the Gulf Coast, so we’ve had a substantial amount of rain. One of my friends here told me that the road to Pensacola has been closed, so I’m holding out hope that I can still get to New Orleans in time for the show.

Writing more soon. Bedtime now.

Apples and Insomniacs

I should be sleeping right now, but I’m in workaholic overdrive mode and have to write before I can let myself go to sleep.

I love the New England area. It’s so rich with history, and the and the architecture is so intricate. I have been staying with a good friend who has been living in New York and studying art for quite sometime, so she took me to the Met today. To see Renoir, Degas, Pollock, Warhol, and so many other famous artists’ work in person was invigorating. The main complaint I have is that I felt my experience was interrupted by the tourists who were taking pictures. I mentioned this complaint to my friend, and she agreed. To go to a museum and see famous pictures that you’ve seen before and then take pictures of them is meaningless. As fleeting as the moment is, it seems more valuable to me that a viewer experience the piece of art by viewing it from all angles and different distances so as to come to a greater understanding of what the artist is trying to communicate.

Besides the thoughts about art, all I have to say is that tonight’s show was awesome and that I have survived NY driving so far. For this reason I am quite proud of myself. Take care. I’m falling asleep now. Goodnight.

Ohio is for Hipsters

This post is a rant from midnight last night.

I had a few minutes of silence before the show tonight in Pennsylvania to get all introspective, and the quiet made me realize that I haven’t written many introspective or personal things in my previous posts.

Let me begin by saying that I loved Toledo. As predicted, the show was great. I had the pleasure of getting to know Kellen of Kellen & Me and the members of River Whyless before the show, and it was one of those times when you know a show is going to be good before you hear the bands. I know that’s dangerous to say because it sounds like I prejudged the music based on how much I liked the people. That’s basically what I did because I am shallow and illogical and base judgements on unrelated things, but a broken clock is right twice a day…unless it’s one of those military clocks. In that case it’s only right once a day.

What I’m trying to say is that everyone was awesome, and the music was too.

Ottowa Tavern was one of my favorite shows so far. In a lot of ways, it felt like home. At one point, I was talking to a cute lesbian in a retro thrift store skirt and she told me “this is where all the the hipsters congregate.” I like that. I think it’s high time we hipsters embrace the label. Let us free ourselves to enjoy the ephemeral nature of the trends we currently love. Let us admit to ourselves that we are following masses. Let us do so while we are still young and attractive. Yes, we will indubitably look back at our old photos and hate our styles, but this is all part of life, and we need to accept it. One day we will all be old and boring parents (except for maybe the lesbian with whom I spoke and those of us who are too cool to have children). For now we are the cool kids. For now we know everything. For now we have all the answers. Let us be stubborn and young.

While I was driving today, it occurred to me that next time I tour, it will probably be nothing like this. Hopefully it will still be fun, but it’s never going to be the same as this time around. This time I am in love with everything, and I don’t even care that it turns me sappy and stupid. I normally hate people who love everything, but I am a self-proclaimed self-righteous cynic by nature. Allow me to justify myself: I have to enjoy this moment as the child inside finally shuts the hell up for a few seconds and stops asking “why” so that I can enjoy my life.

Week Two

I put up a new post, but then I decided that the things I wanted to write weren’t ready to be written yet. It’s been so many days since my last post that I should just catch you all up to now. I apologize for the lack of creative description here.

Most of the shows so far have been pretty small. In Utah I played in the corner of a small Texas style barbecue restaurant. An older woman requested that I play some Willie Nelson. I told her I didn’t know and Willie Nelson and that I focus mainly on original work, but I offered to play Johny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” instead. As the woman was leaving she handed me a five, gave me a pat on the shoulder, and said, “You’re pretty good, but think about Willie.”

I told her I would think about Willie. I promised nothing more than that.

Colorado venues seemed to like me. In Pueblo I talked for a while with a bar tender who had Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson tattooed on his right arm and Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski tattooed on the other. One of the patrons tipped me in Pall Malls.

After my set, I fell in love with a very witty and intelligent black-haired girl who drank only water and told me she used to model lingerie. For better or worse, she was too smart for both of us. Throughout the talk, she seemed to be mistaking me for a pick-up artist, so even though our conversation went well, it ended at the bar.

Meh. It only takes me a couple of minutes to fall in love anyway.

In Colorado Springs I got to see my great aunt and she bought me lunch at a French sandwich shop. It’s been about two years since the death of my grandfather, and I was fascinated to see so many of his facial expressions and mannerisms in my aunt. There were no dangerous brunettes to speak of at this venue; only a friendly male barista who loved the skull on my merch table and gave me a hug after the set. (Just to clarify, by friendly, I mean friendly and nothing more. It’s hard to be clear sometimes when you’re writing in a hurry.) I drove after and slept at a rest stop between Colorado and Omaha.

There is too much to talk about in Omaha, and in Winona there is basically nothing to talk about, so I’ll save the good stuff for later and fast forward past the boring stuff, leaving you with a mediocre story.

After spending the night swatting mosquitoes in my back seat at a rest stop, Chicago driving was a pain in the ass. Upon arriving, I had plenty of unjustified road rage. After getting some rest, I quickly adapted. I stayed at a hostel, and there were tons of twenty-somethings from all over Europe staying there. I had roommates from Sweden, France, Spain, and I think Australia.

At Monday’s gig, I was pleasantly surprised when my old songwriting teacher showed up and sat through my whole show. He lives in Chicago over the summer and gives bike tours, so after the gig we went for a drive and he showed me around. We had a good time drinking Belgian beer on tap at Hopleaf, and then met up with some of his friends at a diner.

Monday was my first real day off, so it was pretty boring because I was taking care of all the stuff I hadn’t had time to do. On Monday night I spent about an hour drinking beer and talking with a group of Germans who were making a movie about their friend. They were going at the pace of about 120 miles per day, and their friend was biking at the same pace. The film crew of about 4 or 5 were sleeping in parking lots in a van, and the biker was sleeping outside at every stop. The biker was the only non-smoking, non-drinking vegan. The other guys seemed to be having a good time.

Left Chicago yesterday. Besides getting bedbugs and leaving with what looked like chicken pox, my stay was awesome.

Last night’s show was small, but I sold a couple t-shirts, and the venue owner, was really cool. I enjoyed hearing his stories about having hung out with various musical personalities. He told me Alanis Morissette once squeezed his ass, and I immediately knew he was a man worthy of my respect. He also told me that James Dean was buried nearby, so this morning I smoked the Colorado Pall Malls next to Dean’s headstone before making my way to the venue.

Right now I’m in Ohio and finally starting to lose geographical track of myself. I think we’re going to have a good show. There are multiple acts playing, so that will bring more people in, and one of the locals outside told me that the people who hang out here are mostly hipsters who drink PBR. That seems to be my target demographic at this point. Who’s to say what will happen when the hipster phase goes out of style? I’ll probably just start sounding old and outdated. As long as I’m not playing casinos at age fifty, I think I’ll be okay. Did I just jinx myself by saying that?

Send Off and First Show

Well, it looks like I’m officially on tour. I’ve been putting off writing anything because I’m not really a blogger, so I’m not sure of what kind of “voice” a blog is supposed to have. As a result of my lack of direction and my rushed posts, this blog is bound to have a bit of a rough and unrefined feel. You see? My sentences are already full of redundant adjectives.

Alright, alright, alright. Enough with the boring and apologetic prefacey stuff. Down to business.

I want to thank all of my friends and family for making me feel so loved as I was sent off. They have all supported me so much both morally and financially. On Sunday morning before I left, my family and friends took me out to The Breakfast Club. When our waitress and my dear friend Rachel brought the check over and I saw the doodle she’d drawn on the back of the check I wanted to cry. It was a little dog with a speech bubble that said “We’ll miss you, Jerm!” It’s a good thing I’m so macho otherwise I might have turned into a pitiful puddle of tears and snot.

Caldwell was pretty fun. I arrived a day before my show so that I could wake up in time for a radio interview. Short radio and television spots seem to be some of the best ways to get exposure these days. I think people are getting too comfortable just sitting in their houses. They like it when entertainment is brought to them, and not the other way around. I’m not criticizing, because I am guilty of the same thing. I am just observing.

The show booked in Caldwell was a house show, so I was able to stay at the venue. On Monday morning before the radio interview, I rode bikes around Caldwell with my host, Bert. Bert is a friendly guy in his late forties or early fifties with a couple of grown kids, and he’s full of stories about being a roadie for various Christian bands from the 80s, including a band called “The Call.” His son is a semi-professional rugby player, which I think is pretty cool. I don’t know squat about rugby (or most sports for that matter), but I watched Bert’s son’s game, and I enjoyed it.

Caldwell isn’t a very interesting place right now. The downtown is halfway rebuilt. The rest is run down and looks like a ghost town, but Bert is currently in the process of securing a building in which he hopes to build an event center. He has some good ideas for boosting the local economy in Caldwell, one of them being the events center. He hopes that will bring more people into the town and encourage local business.

The radio interview was in Boise proper, so Bert and I drove down, and I had the fortune of finally meeting Eric Gilbert of Finn Riggins. He conducted the interview, he played a recording of one of my new songs, and then I played a song live. We were there for about a half hour and then went for a walk around town. We ended up eating lunch at a Vietnamese place and talking about how much we hate church politics.

In the evening, Bert and his roommates made dinner for everybody: barbecued pork, and chicken for the kosher members of Fleet Street Klezmer Band. The salad was dressed with a homemade blackberry vinaigrette, and for a side dish we had garlic mashed potatoes. The flavors of the meal were perfectly balanced between sweet and savory, and they made so much food that nobody felt guilty about going back for seconds.

Two of the opening bands (Fleet Street Klezmer Band and Bamboo Spork) had the sort of charming and folksy Eastern European flare that I find inspirational. The third opener, The Green Zoo, were more on the indie/new emo end of the spectrum. I exchanged CDs with them and really enjoyed listening to their album on the way to Huntsville, UT. It is a concept album that mixes songs and dramatic dialogue in an attempt to explore existential ideas. I thought this was a risky and ambitious undertaking for a first album, but the disk was well put together.

Well, I don’t want to give you too much to read at once. I’ll try and come back to this tomorrow and fill you in on more of what has been going on. I’ve got plenty more to say about the last couple of nights, and I’m looking forward to the show tonight. Just sitting in the coffee shop and trying to catch up on stuff right now. I’ll try to send a few postcards back home. In the mean time, keep me updated on what’s going on back home. I’m sorry to be missing so many things that are going on in all of your lives this summer: weddings, parties, people moving into newly bought homes, and all other sorts or transitions. I miss all y’all in Moscow, but I know this summer will go quickly, and I’ll be home soon.

Until next time,

P.S. Is “until next time” a tagline for the end of some 90s cartoon? I kind of feel like it is. If you know, tell me. This is going to bug me now.