Songs Are Like Children

Songs are like children. Sometimes they’re like twins. When I’m on a spree, writing a bunch of songs all at the same time, I notice that perhaps two of them are (in my head) the same damn song. It’s completely accidental, but for instance, right now I have two 12/8 waltzes going. No, they’re not in the same key. No, they’re not even the same tempo. But I was shaving and humming one of them and then when I wasn’t paying attention, I had switched and I noticed I was humming the other one. I’d never thought of them as even remotely similar until then.

Now, the twin thing is interesting. Sometimes one of the songs will eat the other one and there’s only one song left (two songs enter; one song leaves). The stronger one consumes the weaker sibling, uses it for parts, and maybe grabs a couple of lyrics from the weaker one, maybe a bridge or something too.

Other times, I end up with two songs. And maybe I’m the only one who thinks they’re the same, maybe not. But then I play them very far apart during a show so (in my head) nobody will notice that they’re the same damn song. When I was preparing songs for TABLE 10, I played a bunch for my producer Jon Nolan and I told him I was going to play two songs that are the same damn song. He didn’t hear it. He did not hear them as the same song at all. They didn’t both end up on the CD (actually, did either of them end up on the CD?) and I do play them both live. And, based on his ear, I no longer think of them as the same damn song. He wouldn’t lie to me or be wrong.

This leads me to a confession. “Broken Wheels” is an example of a stronger twin. The two memorable hooks in that song came from another song that I now can’t bother to finish because I’ve already used those two memorable hooks in “Broken Wheels.” So, “Average Love Song” will remain on the scrapheap. It’s kinda too bad. I had higher hopes for that one than “Broken Wheels.” Oh well.

Upper Valley Music Festival

So, I’ve tricked the powers that be into getting me in on this. This is an all-day fest all over town in Turners Falls, MA. Saturday, July 21. All day.

Lots of great music to see and hear. Me? I’m looking forward to seeing Heather Maloney, if we’re not playing at the same time. Addison Rice will be hosting and wrangling us at the Burrito Rojo Emerging Artists’ Stage. According to the schedule below, I’m on at 4:30. I know some of these folks, and they’re all worth a listen. I’ll probably hang out and listen and learn about the folks I don’t know.

Upper Valley Music Fest Emerging Artists’ Stage Schedule
12:00-1:00) Addison Rice
1:00-1:30) James McSheffrey
1:30-2:00) Alec Hutson
2:00-2:30) Hannah Hoffman
2:30-3:00) Cyndi Cain Fitzgerald
3:00-3:30) Larry Allen Brown
3:30-4:00) Zachary Wallenius-Duda
4:00-4:30) Emma Murray
4:30-5:00) Tom Woodbury
5:00-5:30) Bill Baer
5:30-6:00) Paula Marie
6:00-7:30) John Salzman
7:30-8:00) Alexa Renaud-Clark
8:00-8:30) Addison Rice
8:30-9:00) Mariam Massaro and the Gaea Star Band
9:00-10:00) Open Mic!

No Diggity

Okay, so who besides me cannot believe that we played No Diggity not once, but twice…? I mean, seriously. How much fun was that? Anita FTW!

This is from the Double Hockey Sticks show at Metropolis with Anita Kinney last Saturday night. Great fun. I do, however weep for the future. If I can manage this, what’s next? Shoop? Seriously?

No Diggity v1The first time through, early that night.

No Diggity v2The second time through, later that same night.

The Tom & Anita (SLAKFAC) Show: Guitars & Ukes!

Anita Kinney and I are gonna be on the radio at 4:30pm Friday, May 4. Jim Maxwell has kindly offered to spend some time with us on his afternoon WVEW 107.7 FM show.

Anita and I are gonna rock the double hockey sticks out of Metropolis on Monday, May 7 from 8pm – Midnight. Some Anita time, some Tom time, some double-barreled Anita & Tom time. You’ll hear familiar Anita stuff and familiar Tom stuff. And you’ll hear new stuff from both of us. The real treat will be hearing us together. We tried some stuff out at that open mic last month (such a treat) and we’ve worked on some more stuff since then.

I’ll probably have a longer post pretty soon about what I’ve learned from playing and singing with Anita. This isn’t it.

Anita will bring her lovely voice and a guitar and some ukes. She’ll make you laugh and make you cry, all at the same time with her wonderful original songs as well as beautiful renditions of some classics. Think Patsy Cline meets Nancy Sinatra, but with more sass.

Best. Open Mic. Ever.

Best. Open Mic. Ever. Try out shiny new tune capoed correctly: check. Get to sing and play with Nita: check. Not suck while singing and playing with Nita: check. Get pretty much the whole place singing along to the sing-along: check. Did I mention sing and play with Nita? Best. Open Mic. Ever.

Metropolis Open Mic with Addison Rice!

C’mon by and see me grab some 15 minutes of open-mic fame at Metropolis on Monday, February 27 after 8:00. What the heck? I suspect there’s gonna be some great players there. You don’t wanna miss this. Plus, Addison’s hosting and he’s terrific! It being an open mic and all, I’ll bring my newest stuff. ‘kay? If properly motivated, I might even do a request…!

November Gallery Walk

If I may be so bold as to direct your attention to the following video

And if I may be even bolder to point out what happens 9:12 into it. Yes, it’s a cover tune. Yes, it’s the first time I played it all the way through. But that’s when KT and Kim showed up and they wouldn’t let me not play the new supersecret surprise for Johanna (that’s her smiling and singing along).

So there.

Disappointed, but impressed…

Metropolis, November 14, 2011

I was challenged in October (Friday, 10/14) to write a new song by some folks who were sitting and listening to me play at Metropolis. The gist of the song is “I’m a big wuss and I’m afraid of my wife so I have to get home.” This was long after I was scheduled to have stopped playing, but there I was, still playing because people were still listening. I made their attendance at my next Metropolis show (Monday, 11/14) for the grand unveiling of the new song a condition and they agreed. So, the challenge was on.

I thought they might expect something cute and funny. I thought I would try to write some over-the-top, gut-wrenching, heart-on-my-sleeve thing, but the song decided it wanted to be a blues. So, “Fright’nin’ Blues” (or is it “Cellphone on my Trail”) was born. I promise, it’s a blues, but it’s a completely tongue-in-cheek blues. Something Restless Legs Johnson would write.

I played at Metropolis last night. Three hours in, the folks still hadn’t shown, so I played the song to start closing the night. There was a witness to the original challenge there, so he can confirm that I held up my part of the bargain. While I was playing it, there was a woman at the bar madly operating her smartphone. When I was done, she caught on to the whole challenge thing and that I had written the song. She was disappointed, because she’d been trying to find the song online and figure out whose song it was so she could download it. But then she was impressed that it was I who had written it. Huh. That doesn’t exactly happen every day.

I had also learned a cover tune for the same group of people. They had requested it and we had discussed it and how I had trouble playing it because it had too many syllables in some of the lines, so it’s tough for me to sing. I concede that people do it all the time; it’s just me. The cover tune will have to wait for my next performance.

The upshot of all this is, “I wrote a song in a month because I do what I’m told.” Also, “I can write a song in a month when challenged.” That’s kinda cool. I also wrote another song this past week because it occurred to me and I just sat down and wrote it. So, I’ve got two new tunes to road-test and get comfortable with. Sweet!

Last Night’s Gallery Walk

So, I played for a couple of hours last night at In The Moment Records. Great fun! Byron and I were both feeling a little under the weather, so we shut down closer to 8:00 than 9:00. Still, great fun! I’m stunned that my “Angel From Montgomery” brought tears to the eyes of a real John Prine fan. Again. It’s indescribably wonderful to be a part of moments like that.

I did an experiment: I didn’t tape up my left hand with the Kinesio® tape I’ve been using for the past few years. It was a slightly less-than-epic fail. Lots of electrical nerve activity flying up and down the hand and forearm. The backstory for this is that I saw an orthopedist this week who confirmed that the problems with my left hand –and recently also with my right hand– are, in fact, my neck’s fault. So, I’m back to PT this month. He specifically recommended not getting a foraminotomy. Yet.

I took the advice of a massage therapist and iced my forearms when I got home from the gig and today, the morning after, my left hand is not hurting so bad. Interestingly, it’s my shoulders that are hurting this morning. I suspect poor posture –tossing all my Alexander Technique and PT advice right out the window– last night is to blame. For shame.

I also did the first which-version-of-Tornado-Weather-do-y’all-like-better lunchtime poll. Split decision. One enthusiastic vote for the upbeat version, two less strong votes for the mournful version. Clearly, we need more data points.