Back in the studio, working on some new songs!!
Back in the studio, working on some new songs!!
Throwback to when I got to play with Mick Fleetwood at his bar in Maui. What a great night.
The last ten books I’ve read:
1. The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity - Mark Vonnegut
The son of the well known author, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Mark Vonnegut wrote a non-fictional book about his life and his experiences with drugs. It takes place in the 60’s, when Mark was living in a commune here in BC. Without giving too much away, Mark’s exploration of drugs did not end well for him. This book offers a fascinating glance into the world of schizophrenia, from someone who has been to the other side and come back to tell of it.
2. Letters To A Young Poet - Rainer Maria Rilke
This is a great book. It’s a collection of letters that Rilke wrote to a young cadet after the soldier wrote to Rilke asking him to criticize his poetry. If you’re a writer of poetry or lyrics, or curious about the process you will probably enjoy this book.
3. The Shining - Stephen King
Before this book, I’d never read anything by Stephen King. I’d seen Kubrick’s movie of the same name, but I’d been told that it was very different from the book. I’m not really a horror junkie, but I did enjoy this book. I believe that there exists within all of us, a tension of sorts. We’re conditioned to praise the beautiful (or, good/light) and condemn the ugly (or, bad/dark). But I don’t believe life (or people) to be that black and white. I think we are far more complex - far more gray. Each one of us is comprised of many different sides. Some are light, some are dark. Denying the existence of a dark side doesn’t mean it does not exist. In the same vein, an unhealthy obsession with the darker side also has its consequences. As a writer, I feel it is my job to explore both sides of human nature so that my writing has depth and truth. I take the good with the bad, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes, the bad is far more attractive.
4. How Music Works - David Byrne
This is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read. I’ve never been a huge fan of The Talking Heads, but I figured Byrnes perspective on music and the music industry would be interesting. It turns out I was right. Each chapter is on a different subject that somehow relates to music. Whether it’s business, or the act of writing, performing, or a brief history, each chapter is like it’s own mini book. If you are interested in music in any way, I would suggest giving this a read.
5. On Writing - Stephen King
After reading “The Shining” I did a little homework on Stephen King. I was amazed at how prolific he is as a writer. I was also surprised to learn that I’d seen several movies that were adaptations of his books, without even knowing it. Simply put, the man can write, and any writer who has experienced his level of success should have a thing or two to say about the process. He has several things to say. That’s what this book is all about. I’ve read a lot of books about writing, but this is one of my favorites. His style is very easy to read and very easy to engage. It often feels as though you’re having a conversation with him. It’s good.
6. A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings: A Tale For Children - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is a short story that was given to me by my friend Carissa. I’ve read a few other things by Marquez and I wasn’t blown away, even though they were well written. I just hadn’t found a way to click with his writing. But this little story was sad and beautiful in a way that got through to me. It made me wish it wasn’t such a short story and inspired me to check out some of his other writing.
7. Where I Lived & What I Lived For - Henry David Thoreau
This little book is actually three chapters out of Thoreau’s book, Walden. It features the chapters “Economy”, “Where I Lived & What I Lived For” and “Winter Animals”. I have no idea why those three chapters were selected, or why they were sold as an individual book. The only reason I can come up with is that the writing is quite dense so it was meant to be a sample. Or perhaps it’s one big cash grab. That doesn’t really line up with who Thoreau was though, so I guess I’ll just leave it as an unanswered question and go buy Walden. In the meantime, the three chapters I have read I quite enjoyed. I don’t agree with all of his thinking, maybe because the book was first published in 1854, but every once in a while he hit me with a powerful one liner that spurred me on in my reading.
8. Why I Write - George Orwell
I really enjoyed this little book. I’d read “1984” and “Animal Farm” but I didn’t know much about Orwell himself. This book is like a little autobiography about his journey to become a writer, but it also offers four main reasons for why writers write. Definitely an interesting read.
9. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
Another glimpse into the darker side of life. Thompson was a journalist who had very strong opinions on everything, including politics, life, and drugs. He coined the term “Gonzo journalism” which is basically reporting from first hand experiences, but exaggerating some things and leaving others out. He once said that all of his writing was “basically true”. This book is a drug-induced satirical look at the American dream and the 60’s countercultural movement. It’s a pretty vulgar book and definitely not for everyone, but I enjoyed it. I’m not sure I’d read it again though.
10. Cat’s Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
I had to actually look this book up to try and explain what it’s about. It can be an awful experience, to finish a book, put it down and say, “What?”. I did not get this book. Since looking it up I’ve realized it makes all sorts of comments on science, technology, religion, the nuclear arms race, and the Cuban missile crisis. I understood the first three but didn’t have firm enough grasp of history to catch the last two. It’s an enjoyable read if you like Vonnegut, but my own educational limitations stopped me from fully enjoying it. Swing and a miss, I suppose.
As always, please feel free to comment or recommend some of your favorites. A number of people have asked to send me books/letters. If you feel so inclined, you can send mail to:
500-575 West 8th Ave, Vancouver BC, V5Z 0C4. Thanks!
Mick Fleetwood & I after our show together at his bar in Maui.
About a month ago I was at home getting ready to head out on the road to play a bunch of shows for a bunch of different schools in Kelowna. As usual I had some music playing on my computer in the background while I got things in order. In between songs I heard one of those beeping sounds informing me that I had mail, or a message or something (very Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan). I walked over and checked it out - a Facebook message. I love when people message me on Facebook. In this digital age, it’s the closest I get to receiving a letter. Plus, it means that someone took the time to write to me about my music. I read all the messages I’m sent and I do my best to reply to all of them as well. This time, the message was from a fellow named Eric DeVine. He told me he was getting married and that he and his fiance were fans of my music. He was wondering if I would consider playing at his wedding… in Maui.
At first I thought it must be a joke, but I couldn’t figure out the punch line. So I read it again. I called my wife over and asked her what she thought. She, being equally if not more adventures than I, thought it sounded awesome. I got in touch with my manager, messaged Eric back and things started to move forwards. We booked some dates and it was official. It turns out Eric makes absolutely BEAUTIFUL guitars and ukulele’s. Check them out at www.devineguitars.com. You might see some familiar faces.
A little while later, while I was in the midst of my shows in Kelowna, I got another message from Eric and, once again, couldn’t figure out if he was joking or not. He said that a friend of theirs had shown my music to the co-founder and drummer of Fleetwood Mac, Mr. Mick Fleetwood. He lives in Maui and has a gorgeous restaurant with a rooftop venue on Front Street. Apparently Mick had liked my stuff and was wondering if I would be interested in playing a show with him at his bar. I read it again. And again. A grin comprised of shock and disbelief etched it’s way across my face. I ran to grab my copy of “Rumours” on vinyl that I’ve had since I was fourteen. I wrote back that I would be honored to play with him.
The tour in Kelowna came to an end and I returned home. Four days later I was on a plane heading to Maui for a three day trip. Eric picked me up at the airport and we drove back to his place. He’d made a guitar for me to play at his wedding which I seriously considered stealing, several times. It was incredible. I met his lovely fiance and played a few songs for them before getting some sleep. The next day was amazing. I’ve played a lot of weddings over the years, but this one was by far the most chilled out wedding I’ve ever been a part of. After breakfast, Eric took me paddle boarding which I’d never done before. There have been a large number of shark attacks in Maui this year, which only really occured to me after Eric said, “Should I? No, I’m not going to tell you this.. but, well, the area that we’re paddling through right now is called ‘The Shark pit’, so don’t fall”. I laughed and thanked him for not waiting until we were safely back on land to tell me this. He laughed as well and thankfully, we avoided any contact with sharks. I did see a giant porpoise though, which made me emit a sound somewhere between a squeal and a gasp. One of those sounds you regret making instantly, and try to cover up by coughing or something.
The rest of the day was spent hanging out and relaxing. They were getting married by a friend of theirs on a beautiful property on the mountain. The friend who was marrying them was named Caleb and was actually a cousin of Daniel Wesley, a very talented musician who I’ve had the pleasure of touring with. If nothing else, you could tell they were family by how kind and welcoming they were. About twenty minutes before the wedding, Eric, Caleb and I did a cannonball in the pool on the property and then quickly dried off and the wedding began. I played for them while they got married and then while they ate dinner. It was really sweet and I was very honored that they’d made me a part of their special day.
The next day was when I got nervous. I’d spoken briefly on the phone a few times with Mick about the show and he’d asked if it would be cool if we had a cellist join us on stage. He’d seen a video of mine with my cello player, Joel Gorrie (@joegoring) and thought it would be cool to add that to our show. I couldn’t believe how considerate he was. He really went above and beyond to make sure I felt like it was my show and said that I should feel free to tell him which songs I wanted him to play on. He put me in touch with a very talented musician named Diane Rubio. The three of us met at his bar a little over an hour before we were supposed to start the show. Mick helped me figure out a rough structure for the evening but was still so humble about it all. We figured I’d do one song alone, then one song with the cellist, and then he would join us on stage and we would “see how things go!”. Around that time it hit me that none of us had ever played together before, and we were going to be doing a full hour long set of my songs, which the two of them had heard but never played. Mick said “Let’s just do it, and let it unfold naturally. Maybe we’ll blow it, but maybe magic will happen.” We all agreed.
The only way I can think to sum up that show is to say, in the best possible way, that I will never forget it. Magic really did happen. There were probably some bumps along the way on my end, but the vibe of the show and the quality of Mick’s drumming along with Diane’s cello was amazing. All uncertainties and insecurities were gone and we simply played, and that’s how it felt, like we were playing. We played for over an hour and I loved every second of it. When it was over, I didn’t want it to be. The crowd (around 200 people) was so amazing, they stood and cheered. Mick came around, took my arm and said, “We did it!”. Then he grabbed the mic, and said some very kind words about both Diane and myself. I couldn’t stop smiling or thanking him. It really was like a dream. I got to meet a bunch of people at the show, including some folks from BC, and I just enjoyed hanging out with everyone there. They were all so kind. There was a really positive vibe there that night. We all got a few photos together and I got to meet Mick’s mother who was incredibly sweet, and then, before I knew it, the night was over and I was back at Caleb’s for some more jamming and a night cap. I had to pinch myself several times. It’s still hard to comprehend. I’m incredibly honored to get to play music, but honored doesn’t feel like a big enough word for how I feel about Mick’s invitation to play with him. It was, and will remain, a highlight of this strange and wonderful journey.
I’m hoping to go back again next year..
Maui in December