I’m Pupating! And News of Nashville and Hunger Mountain

Well Friends,

Now I’ve done it. I’ve picked up and moved back to the USA. It’s a pretty big change from living in Berlin and not at all an easy thing to do but I’m glad I took this chance and I look forward to what the future here has to offer. I’m also harboring some not-so-secret hopes to return to Europe for some visiting and performing as soon as possible…

In this post I have a precious few gig announcements. Mostly I’m going to share my impressions of Nashville so far and tell you what I’ve been up to since I got back to the US.

So, Nashville…! Without going into too much detail I’ll say that Nashville is very different from Berlin, especially in terms of variety in food, music, arts in general, and types of people you’ll meet. Also public transportation, that’s a big one. But the most important things are well covered and those are nice people and great music. Everyone I’ve met in Nashville so far has been super nice, and not in a fake way, either. It makes me feel really good to be around the folks I’ve met there and to be able to look forward to meeting more people there. And great music in Nashville almost goes without saying. Although the assumption could be that it’s all about country I’ve sat in on some good swing jams and even some old time. OK, I don’t know if I’ll get to play much klezmer or Turkish music in Nashville but who knows, there is a lot of music there and the country music is the best in the world.

My first three weeks back in the US were spent recording at Brent Truitt studio with Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line for our new album. I even recorded in the same booth as Vassar Clements!! Man, I am so excited about this album. This is the band that gave me the motivation to move here and it’s now my main project and I am so proud of everyone for making such a great record. And I’m especially proud of Nora Jane for organizing everything and writing all the songs. This album is going to be so good. From what I’ve heard it will be officially released in early April but stay tuned for sneak peeks!

I spent the last few days in New York visiting with some friends and playing a couple of shows. I’ll spend a few days in NYC whenever I possibly can because I love it there. After Berlin it’s my favorite city, although Nashville could win me over, you never know. So anyway while I was there I got to sit in with Brain Cloud, which is always great (and their album which I played on is expected to come out around the same time as the Party Line’s.) And I also played a fun pickup gig with Thomas BaileyHilary Hawke (who has just finished an excellent record with Dubl Handi called Up Like The Clouds), Ross Martin and Ian Riggs. I got to visit with a bunch of good friends while I was there and ate a lot of great food. I even had breakfast at Heath Ledger’s restaurant, ooh!

And now I’m in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. I’m spending the next month or so up here recording and playing some gigs with Hunger Mountain, i.e. myself, Matt Downing and Kip Beacco. Our performances will all be in this area so anyone in the northeastern US, get in touch if you want to come out to any of these shows! More may be added so keep an eye on my calendar. Here are the gigs, so far:

– Every Sunday from Nov 18-Cec 2 or 9 we’ll play a few acoustic sets for tips at Great Barrington’s newest bar/restaurant, Bell & Anchor. We’ll start around 7pm.

– Saturday, Nov 24, Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY, with Felice Brothers

– Friday, Dec 7, Gypsy Joynt, Great Barrington, MA

– Friday, Dec 14, Castle Street Cafe, Great Barrington, MA

The following week I plan to attend and possibly perform at David Moore’s second annual Filthy Song Night at Jalopy in Brooklyn, and then I’ll make my way back to Nashville for New Year’s. In January I’ll spend my time moving in to my new place and continuing to make connections and find my way around in Nashville, and then Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line will make our debut appearance, our first show ever!

– Tuesday, Jan 22, The 5 Spot, Nashville, TN – Two Dollar Tuesdays! (That means you pay $2 to get in and all the delicious local Yazoo beers are available for only $2 as well. Plus there’s like four other bands… Not a bad deal for two bucks, I’d say.)

That’s it for the upcoming gigs, but like I said, keep an eye on my calendar and I’ll send another email in another month or so when I have more to say. Right now is a pretty quiet time and I should try to enjoy it (although I generally prefer to play a lot of shows) because starting in February of next year I will be very busy with the Party Line. More details on that to come…

So I’m spending most of my time going for long walks, playing the banjo and reading books. By the way, Ken Kesey’s Sometimes A Great Notion is fantastic, especially if you like a dense, bold and sensational style. And Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is another incredible piece of work. I’m open to book suggestions from anyone although what’s available will be what I end up reading. I just picked up Michael Chabon’s Kavalier & Clay, and so far, so good. I feel like a pupa inside a cocoon or something, taking time to clear space for new experiences in a new place, things are moving slowly and I feel relaxed and pretty okay with everything.

Keep your friends and family close and stay nice and warm as the winter approaches. And if it gets too cold for you just remember these two words: Hot. Cider.