I never call, I never write!
Many of you have already heard my news about moving to Spain this spring. I am getting really excited! If not, you can read all about it here in my note to friends and family.
So… I know it’s hardly an excuse for blog abandonment, but a ton has transpired since my last post in early November! And much of the Indiegogo tour has been rerouted and is taking place… well, right now! So get your post-reading cap on, because I’m about to dish my full report on all my travels… and I might just never stop!
- Providence, RI (Dec 29-30 - with Lucas Kolasa, John Walo)
- Boston, MA (Dec 30-31 - with Titus Dos Remedios, Christine Hajjar)
- Block Island, RI (Jan 1 - with Kelly Walsh)
<Giant snow storm>
- RESCHEDULED: Stratham/Dover, NH (Jan 2-3 - with Gail Rhodes, Michele Albion, John Walo)
- RESCHEDULED: Providence, RI (Jan 4 - with Keith Munslow, Sage Francis)
<Giant snow storm>
- New York, NY (Jan 5-6 - with Raul Coto-Batres)
Yesterday I arrived in Providence around 12am with 6 boxes and a duffle bag full of stuff that will be stored at my dad’s. I rode up in a decade old Prius with artist Lucas Kolasa. He and I first started talking about art at my Providence show with Sky Captains of Industry at my friend Tom’s venue, DUSK.
On the drive from Brooklyn, I think we may have solved all of the world’s problems, hypothetically. I’m kidding, of course, but the truth is: we brainstormed a dozen or so ideas on improving the world we live in. First we talked about potential uses for monorails, solar, electric and clean fuel in transport… as well as the idea of harnessing the energy from any vehicle to fuel homes and businesses. We kicked around ideas about an enclosed hybrid bike, with a wrap-around cargo hitch for maximum flexibility. We talked about the bee population decline, food production and cell frequencies. Pretty intense stuff!
Right now, I’m writing this from the MBTA commuter train heading from Providence, RI to Boston, MA. I’m amazed that one-way tickets are still just $10. On this adventure, I’ll visit two dear and amazing friends. First is Titus DosRemedios, a talented songwriter and non-profit champion. He works at Strategies for Children up in Boston, an organization that works to provide early education opportunities for kids.
Back in the day, when I was in the band, Reverser, Titus was in a band called Holiday. They had these catchy and very real songs. Titus was the songwriting brains of the whole operation, if you ask me. I still hold the belief that this music will melt the hearts of people worldwide. If it doesn’t, the world is missing out.
South station is much like a transit limbo in the interim between Christmas and New Year. A mix of students, families, business folks and station staff crisscrossed through the food court.
We met at Biddy Early’s, near South Station which is quite under construction. It’s a charming little dive. I grabbed a house red wine and Titus had some sort of ale called “Red Brick”. We spent a fair amount of time just catching up.
The aim of our rendezvous was to discuss the ins and outs of business models for modern indie bands. Mostly we talked about how to keep the fire for original music while shifting gears in one’s 30s. Life has, well, life in it. We talked about some tools and resources that make things easier, like Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Tunecore. I mentioned NARIP as a resource that had opened my eyes to the world of licensing, particularly in film and television. We lamented that gigging is a different experience these days. It was pretty great. Titus hasn’t changed much, except for in the good ways. Kudos to Providence, RI for being a cornucopia of long lasting friendships.
Now I am en route to Chateau de Christine Hajjar! This requires a transfer to the orange line on the T, Boston’s train system. For the record, it’s worth visiting Boston solely for the excellent town and street names, e.g. Stony Brook and Ruggles.
Christine is one of my oldest friends from Providence. We have lived together twice and toured together playing music. She’s a high-spirited and beautiful person, charming and full of so much love for the arts.
After the obligatory shrieks of excitement required when two female friends see each other, we decided to dish details right away over food and drink. She whisked me away to The Haven, a hearth-like pub and restaurant in Jamaica Plains with a bit of a Scottish twist. I had a vegetarian dish called Clapshot, and she had a salad. We drank mulled wine, and caught up on love, careers, time and the irony of expectations in life. The next day was New Year’s Eve… Christine had a potluck to attend, so we opted for a simple breakfast at The City Feed & Supply - a quaint sandwich shop and natural market full of farm fresh foods. Next up was a trip to Trader Joe’s for pot luck dish ingredients. Somehow, even the mundane day-to-day is a blast when set to conversation with old friends!
One of the things I wanted to learn more about was Christine’s work with teaching art. She works at the Italian Home for Children. It’s a charter school for at risk kids, and Christine does these amazing projects with her students using recycled and upcycled materials. The results are almost always strikingly beautiful. She, herself, is a talented musician and inspired painter. She went to Sarah Lawrence to study Art and has always been passionate about sculpture. It’s great to see her work with the kids manifesting in a very sculptural way. What she does is kind of magical… each project is of her own invention, and consists of the creation of some sort of replicable pattern or design which can be constructed from ordinary materials one might find at home. By creating the template for the projects, the kids get a chance to experience success with relative ease and create beautiful art. Christine then arranges the pieces in breathtaking public installations. The school has given her two awards, and I think she is a real example of how simple DIY concepts can be used to create real impact.
Well, after much deliberating about how we’d spend the evening, I chose to scoot back to PVD, and Christine would stay in Boston.
I arrived at 6:50pm back at the sleepy Providence train station. A world of New Year’s parties, shows and social excursions were open to me, but was most looking forward to today’s journey to Block Island. I stood for a moment in the station, and it hit me… this would be the perfect time to hang out with my dad. He and I have always shared a certain irreverence about holidays in general. It’s a whole lot of pomp and circumstance usually over some sort of lost tradition, marked by heavy drinking and every single store being closed for a few days. New Year’s is no exception. I called to see if he was up to it, and we agreed that we’d ring in 2014 with a couple of movies on iTunes, pot pie and chocolates. I still had a bottle of unopened Tempranillo. It was a done deal. We watched Red2 and Before Midnight.
JAN 1, 2014
BLOCK ISLAND WAS AMAZING
This morning was rough but I woke up at 6:30 and managed to step out at a brisk 7:35am to catch the RIPTA bus 66 to Galilee. By the way, this trip is only $2 each way, and eliminates the burden of parking a vehicle. A round trip visit Providence to Block Island can be as cheap as $31 in transportation–leaves more for accommodations and food!
I’m writing from the bus, now. Providence is beautiful in the cold silence. Today will be pretty beautiful for a winter’s day. I walked through the down town to Kennedy Plaza. I remember when they were building this bus area. It’s been redesigned a few times, but I have a certain fondness for it. My bus picks up right in front of the Bank of America building. (Ghost busters?) The sunrise is just peeking over the city. Sometimes I really relish public transportation. I half expected to ride alone at this hour on a holiday, but there were another 10 or so straggling travelers that boarded with me. Somehow I managed to sit just in front of a gentleman who immediately launched into conversation with an imaginary audience. He also sang. On go the headphones. Still the ride is beautiful. The new I-195 bridge and my old job at the Ferry Building, three windmills and all the industrial warehouses flying by with a misty sunrise as the backdrop. Fields and farms of East Greenwich and Kingston. Every town sleeping in for the holiday.
I'll take the 10am ferry. The island is a piece of relatively untouched beauty. It’s populated by a handful of hardcore locals, and fills up during season with an ever rotating cast of restaurant and service industry workers to receive the steady stream of tourists. There are very few vehicles and buildings there. My friend, Kelly has been a resident of the island for a long time. Through her, I have had the pleasure of playing the Block Island Music Festival a number of times, and I even made a fairly comical attempt at working a summer there, back in 2001. It will be a new and interesting experience visiting in the colder season. This time, though, I will forego the ice cream shops, beaches and bicycle rentals for what I hope will be a warm experience catching up with an old friend!
Day 1 - TALK ON THE BLOCK
It was a gorgeous trip on the ferry. The sun was shining on the smooth water of the Atlantic. I drifted off into thought and then drifted off into a little nap by the window facing East. Kelly was there with the truck and I was greeted by Maisey, a Chocolate Lab mix in her teen years. Even though I am allergic to dogs, we became friends. We took a quick ride around the island, and then I got settled at Kelly’s apartment. Kelly has worked and lived on the island for many years. It’s unusual to have a great space like she has. Her family owns a fantastic home on the other side of the island that has so many rooms you could get lost… they rent it out to summer travelers. It’s a way of life on the island.
Kelly works some of the time at the Old Island Pub. I stopped in and shared the bar with an unseasonably robust crowd of tourists. I had a cider with rum and cinnamon, and chatted lengthily with a great girl named Elizabeth. She makes her own yarn and fiber-based art. We talked a lot about the communities and rising popularity of not only hand-knitted goods and artwork, but also the creation of the yarn itself. It was fascinating. Finally, Kelly was off for the night, and we headed back to her place. She made some amazing pizza for dinner and we watched two movies. The next morning I was supposed to head out on the mid-day ferry.
Day 2 - TRAPPED ON A BEAUTIFUL RUSTIC ISLAND, OH THE SUFFERING
So, the original plan had been that my dad and I would head north to New Hampshire and spend some time with my awesome aunt, Gail. However, mother nature had different plans.
Kelly woke me with the news that all ferries had been canceled. Well, there went the plans… but there could have been worse places to be stranded and the company was amazing. We spent the day making granola, discussing her study with an amazing spiritual master, and exploring the island.
We walked the dog in the wild snow covered fields overlooking the island’s North Light, a famous and historic lighthouse. Maisey is a bird dog. She was rummaging around in the brush like a little pup. Kelly showed me a new space she and her partner just started renting… Kelly has years of experience running small businesses and was the former owner of Juice n’ Java on the island. They are still working on this new project, but it’s in a great foot traffic spot right near the town, and next to Captain Nick’s, a lively bar where they hold the Block Island Music Fest.
The whole day was entertaining and enlightening. We bought a Bota Box of Malbec and capped the night with another movie marathon.
Day 3 - CHOPPING BLOCK
We woke up and called the ferry hotline. 10 am canceled, 4pm good to go. The sun came out around 2pm… but the wind was high. With my tendency to get queazy on the boat, I decided against the ferry. Kelly worked the pub again, so I attempted to get some work done, with some success. Another movie watching, pizza party sleep over for old friends!
Day 4 - COLD REALITY
Strangely, this terrible winter storm was in a sun sandwich. Today’s weather was bright and sunny, but bitterly cold. I caught the 8:15am ferry and connected again for the bus ride back to Providence. The city today is quiet. So cold. A couple of my favorite coffee places downtown have closed up either for the season or for good. Due to the storm and such, some meetings were postponed, so today was a bit of catch up and errand running: elance proposals, blog posting, craigslist postings, bill paying and planning for tomorrow’s journey back to NYC.
Well, that's it for now. More in a few days covering NY and what's to come. I have lots of ideas and writing stored up for 2014.