24 June 2007

What kind of world do you want?

I love John Ondrasik. There is nothing musically in my mind that he could do wrong. I love his band (basically anyone who plays on his recordings), I love his songs, I own all four albums he’s released since his debut in 1997 with Message for Albert and I think he’s one of my generation’s best songwriters. His songs are topical, personal and catchy all at the same time. He’s made me cry, he’s made me think and he makes me want to be a better songwriter.

His latest release, Two Lights, (August 2006) is no exception. Starting with the above - mentioned song “World” he dives in and gives a look inside his head and what he thinks of the mess we’ve all made of this world and how we can change it. It’s an interesting and deeply existential question to pose and it reminds us that change starts at home.

As on his previous releases the topics of Two Lights vary - love, family, cops, a 65 Mustang - and have something to offer anyone who listens. If you aren’t a fan yet – you should be. While I really like Two Lights I recommend you start with my favourite CD of his, The Battle For Everything, and go from there. www.fiveforfighting.com and www.myspace.com/fiveforfighting

It’s Sunday as I write this – a nice lazy Sunday save for my gut wrenching trip to the gym to undo all the badness I ate and all the miles I didn’t run while I was back east for the last two weeks. I’ve been back for a few days and my brain is still a little fuzzy, my eating schedule is still three hours off and I’m falling asleep way too early to do anyone any good. But it’s par for the course for me when I go back for more than a weekend and at least I can handle it – though I do feel sorry for anyone around me who has to engage me for more than 5 ½ seconds in these first few days.

I had a blast! The first weekend I helped celebrate my niece’s fourth birthday by playing grill chef at her party (I don’t eat red meat but managed to cook more hamburgers in one day than I’ve probably eaten in my short lifetime), and I got up to Western Massachusetts with my sis, niece, and Fritz to see our friend Lauren and her daughter Catherine (and yes I got to drive Lauren’s new Mini – awesome!).

Last weekend my sister and I drove up to Newburyport, Massachusetts to see some other old friends/family and then on up to Maine to see one of my best friends, Amanda and her wife Rosemary at their new lake cabin. It was great to see all these folks over the course of my two weeks – people I consider to be family and people for whom I would do anything.

The many miles we traveled flew by and at the same time managed to get my feet on the ground. It felt great to be in my old haunts (I once did an archeological dig in Newburyport, and was a camp counselor in Maine one summer – to say nothing of an ex and my many shopping runs to L.L. Bean, and our lunches in Freeport) and it felt great to eat some real lobster and other seafood that simply taste better because they come from the Atlantic. In between weekends I worked on my sister’s house painting her doors and building a garden for her. It was hard work but I was justly compensated by the slab of ice cream cake left over and the time I got to spend with her and Cate.

I needed this trip as I contemplate my future and wonder where I should be and where I should go. I am very strongly pulled by my family and family of friends to head back east and start all over with a new old life. I am also very torn. I have a good life here in West Hollywood, someone I love, and a life we share that would be either enhanced by moving back or troubled. It’s so hard to say and so hard to know. Ultimately though, I know it comes down to one question: What kind of world do I want?

Thanks for tuning in…Until next Monday…CHEERS!!

Ps. In case you haven't picked up your copy of my CD, NUMB,
.......it's now available on itunes!

04 June 2007

With my stomach on the mattress and you whispering from above….

Los Angeles is a tough crowd. I’ve seen a ton of shows here at various places large and small and no matter what or who you are – it’s a rough place to lay your hat on a stage and sing your heart out. Many a famous performers have been quoted as saying that L.A. is their least favourite place to play. People pay good money to go see a show and they talk loudly all the way through the set thusly distracting the other attendees and the people on stage. But this is L.A. and these are important people so whatever they are saying is more important than whatever the person on stage is saying – and as long as you get that you’ll be ok.

Friday night we went to The Mint to see my friend Emma Hill – I had met her through myspace and she’s one of the few people who has actually been in touch and wasn’t reaching out just to hopefully gain a new fan. She did - but that’s beside the point. She was friendly, communicative, and I told her to let me know if she was ever going to play in L.A. – so we exchanged some emails, kept in touch, and there we were at The Mint. I was excited to be there – even though all I knew of her music was what I heard on her myspace page I knew it would be a good show.

The Mint is a very cool place. It’s small, intimate and the food smells amazing. I like it because you feel like you could be in a club back east with it’s long, wooden bar, low ceiling, and dark feel. Emma came to say hello before the show – or rather – I found her and she graciously hung out as we all waited for the place to fill up a little before she took the stage.

She went on around 7.45 and played for about forty-five minutes. Poor thing. I felt bad for her. And for the idiots in the audience who wouldn’t shut up and missed out on a great show. Her first gig in this town, at one of the cooler places around, and most people talked through her set. Typical. We didn’t, neither did the folks up front or Michelle Shocked who sat just to our right. I explained to her that it wasn’t a personal thing, in fact most everyone at least clapped after every song, it’s just that this is how this place is – and whether you’re Sting, Joe Jackson, or Patty Griffin – this is what you get. Hopefully she felt better.

So yeah – about that great show. I’m not lying. She has a beautiful voice, she plays well and her songs harken back to the days of Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and early Shawn Colvin. She is folk through and through. She does it well and does it with heart, soul and a dash of sad optimism. I got the feeling that this Alaskan native has seen more than she’s letting on and at the tender age of ‘I’m not old enough to drink in this bar’ she seems wise beyond her years. This is clearly evident in her music and her writing. She also happens to be a very nice person and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with her before and after the show. I offered her my couch the next time she’s in L.A. or wherever I happen to be in the future. In the meantime – check her out: http://www.myspace.com/emmamariehill

Well folks, it’s that time of year – birthday parties, divorce parties, working on a house, and heading to my favourite places. I’m going to be a bit busy this coming week and will be taking a little break from the blog. I won’t be around next Monday but I hope you’ll look for me in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out my new CD, NUMB, at

Thanks for tuning in…until the next Monday…CHEERS!!