Sometimes, I try and fixate on a moment that I am sure will be a memory. I am so aware that I am a part of something special that I try to capture it in a mental freeze frame all while reminding myself “it might not be this good again… but then again, it might”. 2019 was filled with those moments for me. This year, my annual review is really more a catalogue of my gratitude than a simple listing of my accomplishments and aspirations. Please indulge my gushing.
There was a moment in Tiny Telephone Studios while I was wrapping up my new album, Where the Heart Is. I was standing in the middle of the floor of studio A – a glowing room with shingled walls and vibrant rugs and I was waiting for the tape to rewind before we laid down the last take of the entire project. In the silence of the acoustically neutral room, it dawned on me- after 6 years I was finally finishing recording my 2nd full length album. I had done it with the help of a handful of some of the Bay Area’s most talented musicians- dare I say, friends – in a studio that had produced amazing work from other artists. I was loving the work, even after countless hours of listening for edits and additions (and I still love listening to it 3 months after it was released). At that moment, I was the only person in the studio, but I definitely did not feel alone.
There were many instances in which I took pause while performing to soak in the moment. But, stages can be funny places. You are often elevated above the audience, sometimes with a barrier that separates you from the people who are the very reason you get to be on that stage. I love the stages at the Kate Wolf Music festival – the barriers are small or non-existent, which creates an instant intimacy. The stage at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass was bigger, with a much bigger barrier, and with an enormous audience. I looked out and saw friends, new and old, who found a way to bring that same intimacy. There were smaller stages too. House concerts lended a chance to share my songs, tell stories and connect with new fans across the West Coast. Then, there was the Fillmore. I thought I knew what made that room special; it’s place in music history, the acoustics, the legends who had performed there. But upon taking the stage, I discovered that the room is more than just about what is happening on-stage. It is a room in which the audience is projected at the artist. As I danced and sang on a stage which I had only dreamed of playing, suddenly I discovered it was the entire room playing with me and again, I was not alone. Not just because I was surrounded by my friends and band mates on stage, but because the spirit of the room was upon us and we were all elevated by it.
In every step I took musically this year, I was surrounded by friends and loved ones. To my compatriots in Poor Man’s Whiskey, thank you for the last 2 years of adventures and realizing dreams. Thank you to the venues and house concert hosts who made space and time for my music. But mostly, thank you for the friends and colleagues in my music world. Collaborators, confidants and conspirators all – none of this works without you.
In the last week, my wife and I welcomed our son, Oliver, into the world. I am already excited about how he will change my music (as well as the rest of my life). You might not hear much from me in the next few weeks, but never fear; I’m coming back strong in 2020. There will be solo sets. There will be string bands. There will be rock shows. There will be lots of new music. And there will be you – the key to all of this.
Thanks again for everything. May the new year bring peace to all of us.