Entry No.62; October 2014
A Taste of Summer Slideshow
It was a great summer for live music. Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival was subdued by the absence of its founders Pete and Toshi Seeger. Everywhere you went you heard stories about them and it was obvious they left everyone huge gifts including this amazing festival. I dedicated my set to Pete and Toshi, as many did, and Fred Gillen Jr. and Ilana Donna joined me. It was a great experience for us and there was a lot of tenderness and wonderful memories filled with heart. I remember just a few years ago, Pete singing along with us in that very place!
Just about a week later I got the gig as the roving troubadour at Caramoor's Roots Festival. Folks who found me and heard me were psyched, while others wondered, where is he now? That was the mystery and fun of it. I got to set up in places in between stages and pick a little mandolin, banjo and guitar, sing some of my tunes as well as play whatever fit the mood. I got to sit in with Spuyten Duyvil. During the Social Music Hour, Kim and Reggie Harris led us all in a powerful a cappella version of "We Shall Overcome" honoring Pete and Toshi. I also got to sit in with Michael Daves and Bruce Molsky for a solo. That was something! I ran into a bunch of friends including Joe Crookston. Nice to see him doing so well! And I got to hang a delightful bit with the ever lovely and down to earth Rosanne Cash.
Take Me to The River was a blast. Adam Roberts, Ilana Donna and Deni Bonet joined me for the band and we played a bunch of new stuff from Cold Revival on an absolutely beautiful day. I got to meet a couple of my heroes Tony Trischka and Duke Robillard. Both of these guys are super nice and killer musicians. It was great running into Tom Staudter. Check out his writing in Downbeat sometime.
Part of the reason for serving as President of Tribes Hill was to make room for others and embolden progress. The Tribes Hill Music Festival was exactly what needed to grow. At the beginning of September at John Jay Homestead in Katonah, a few hundred folks gathered to make music, listen to the likes of Red Molly on a gorgeous day. I joined in a set of the Presidents of Tribes Hill. I'm proud to have served and now witness the progress under the current administration!
I'm really looking forward to October 30th's Cold Revival CD Release party at The Bitter End in NYC at 8pm. Come hang!
Entry No.61; July 2014
G&T DownEasTour Slideshow
Fred Gillen Jr. is an artist's artist. He's also a great friend. I am grateful to have him as a friend and band mate. Our duo is a special little thing that keeps on ticking along with everything else we do. We just spent a couple of weeks touring together in Maine for the G&T Down EasTour. In our organic collaboration, we get together only when it feels right and is relevant for us. Fortunate to receive support from Angus Webster and Unearthed Productions, and drawing tunes from an expansive repertoire, we played 3 sets a night in Portland, Booth Bay Harbor, Woolwich, Sabattus and Jackson, New Hampshire.
There were so many highlights of the tour, including meeting Yummy from the History Channel's hit show "Down East Dickering" at a 4th of July shindig in rural Maine. The soiree was filled with families, farmers, veterans, and Yummy. There was even an Elvis impersonator who performed a set! Elvis is still in the building!
On our day off, we were invited to Rob Morrow's place for a lobster fest. Rob is a great actor (Northern Exposure, Numb3rs) who is also quite taken with the craft of songwriting and performing and has a music career as well. Touring with our buddy Carlos Calvo and working with Angus, ten of us connoitered for music and lobster. Uncle Ralph had the biggest appetite and you had to keep your hands away from him or he might eat them too!
Ilana Donna joined us for a little singing and performing, testing her toes in the cold Maine water. She did real well. In Booth Bay, there was a delicious couple who danced to many of our tunes. Very much in love and very much alive, they really lit up the place! It's those kinds of moments that make performing precious.
Fred turned me on to Firefly, a one season sci-fi series with cult status that I started to enjoy during some free time. I read "The Real Frank Zappa" by Frank and Peter Occhiogrosso... amazing! and... Reid National Park and Sewell Pond were the gems of our free time. We discovered them during several afternoons before gigs, exploring, swimming, rope swinging and sleeping on the beach. 'Twas a fabulous time!
Entry No.60; May 2014
A DAY IN THE LIFE
In preparation for several upcoming gigs at the Capt. Lawrence Brewery, Garcia's and more... Deni Bonet, Adam Roberts and I spent 4 hours running through numerous original songs, including many off my upcoming record, Irish and Appalachian fiddle tunes, old country blues, Old & In the Way, and even a little jazz. We played about 50 tunes in all, finishing around 5pm, at which time we all trucked into the Big Apple where I met my mandolin teacher and mentor, Barry Mitterhoff.
Barry's the virtuoso multi-instrumentalist that's been playing alongside Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna) for um-teen years or more. He's a great teacher and often turns me on to a bigger, more satisfying world of American music. He also loaned me a tenor banjo (a 4-string like Ayodele plays) and turned me on to an old R. Crumb/Jerry Zolten album called "Chimpin' The Blues".
Later, I met Deni again at Coogan's, an atmospheric Irish Pub on 169th and Broadway. We had dinner with the owner, Peter Walsh, who's also an amazing singer. We talked about doing some live music at Coogan's sometime soon with Fred Gillen Jr., Deni and I. I'll keep you posted on that.
I strummed that 4-string banjo all the way back to Hastings-on-Hudson to the rhythm of the rails and the wheels and the train.
What a great day! Gracias a la vida!
Entry No.59; March 2014
Remembering Pete YouTube
When I first heard about about Pete Seeger I was 6 or 7 years old. I listened to a record called "Pete Seeger Sings Folk Music of the World." As a child, to me he was a magical person who pushed air and came to me through vinyl. It was the first time I heard "Kisses Sweeter than Wine"...WOW!
The first time I met Pete I was in college at NYU and in a band called The Hour. We were playing at a small music festival in Beacon, NY. I was about 19 and he was with his wife Toshi. We went on before him and when he took the stage we said hello to each other and I introduced myself. His performance blew me away. His storytelling was so compelling and his ability to get everyone singing was gripping and incredibly moving. I felt like I had stepped into living history. I met him again a couple of years later when my mother introduced me to him. She had photographed him. Pete and Toshi both liked her pictures. For years, Pete always asked about my mom!
The first time I worked with Pete, he invited me to join a chorus called the New York Street Singers. We met once a week for 18-ish months. I sat at his knee, learning as much as I could, including how to lead a song and sing together. We would concertize together and sometimes I would drive. We went to Philadelphia together, and to Lincoln Center, Central Park, Avenue C & 5th Street, Union Square, St. Marks Church, schools, parks, and many more.
The day we lost Pete Seeger I woke up with a melody in my head. I walked into my studio to lay it down and turned on my recorder. Because it's on my phone I saw a bunch of texts that Pete had passed. I laid down the tune and then had to go and tell my wife and just sit still for a while.
Pete loved children and when we put homeless kids from Westchester together with him, he was oh so very happy. Singing with people, especially kids, really lifted his heart. That made me very happy and I want to keep Pete's legacy alive through that tradition. I loved him and his wife Toshi dearly and will carry on!
Entry No.58; December 2013
Midwest Halloween Tour Fall 2013 Slideshow
I hit the road just about Halloween to play in 7 cities in 7 states in 10 days all over the Midwest. The weather was very cooperative, which was very fortunate for me.
Traveling solo in a one-way rental car, the tour kicked off in Wheeling, WV at the Grindhouse. The proprietor, AJ Zambito, comes from a legendary local family known as a magnetic hub of gathering and activity in the area. AJ has created a fabulous place deep in the heart of coal country.
Tom Breiding, a great musician and friend joined me on the double bill. Tom recently helped Patriot Coal and the United Mine Workers settle a contentious pension conflict by contributing his outstanding social protest songs to the cause.
Folks in Cleveland Heights call Cleveland "My Paris". After visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Case Western University Campus, I have to agree.
In the evening I returned to one of my favorite live music venues called The Barking Spider. It's a fantastic venue that loves live music. With a grand piano in-house, I had the rare opportunity to perform songs on guitar, mandolin and piano, during a 90 minute set that was very satisfying.
Guy Wright approached me with Deepak Sarma, an old NYU buddy, now a Professor of Religious Studies at Case Western, and a big moe. fan. We used to enjoy the live music scene together in Greenwich Village back in the day. I'm currently enjoying his book Indian Philosophy.
Guy is a super chill woodworker from Hawaii that makes Heart Strings Ukeleles. In an act of selfless giving he presented me with a beautiful soprano ukelele made from fine, recycled wood, only suggesting that I "teach kids and share the joy" and "don't think you own it, because we own nothing in this life". Wow!
After riding on the track and savoring the museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I was fortunate to play on a great bill organized by Segment of Society. Acclaimed to be the last stage Elvis Presley ever performed on, I joined Tonos Triad and the Midwest Rhythm Exchange at the Irving Theatre. MRE's mandolinist Kris Potts is amazing. Tonos plays great gypsy jazz in the style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. It was a cool bill to be part of and a fun show. I ran in to my friend Bryce Taylor who is currently cutting a new record with Fred Gillen Jr. at Woody's House that I can't wait to hear.
Chicago's Uncommon Ground (on Clark) is an outstanding listening room. It was a real joy performing in this venue. On a cold, quiet Sunday night, big cities can be warm places.
Entry No.57; October 2013(Un)Complicated Reality
'Twas a great trip to Israel and her West Bank with my buddy Matt Gewirtz and his flock from TBJ out of Maplewood, NJ. It was a journey in which hope springs eternal and the threads of non-violence weave like a soft whisper. Reality is complicated and she is uncomplicated. My old friend Tomer Tzur and I got together to play music at Hebrew Union College. Tomer founded The Sway Machinery in Brooklyn years back, is a monster drummer/percussionist and a super groovy dude. He brought his very pregnant beautiful wife Danna. Singing at the Jerusalem Folk Club with my friend James Durst was awesome. One time per month, folks gather to enjoy an evening of music put together by Phillipa Bacal. This concert welcomed an opener who just walked in off the street and asked to do a few songs, followed by a country blues picker named Michael Greengard playing Reverend Gary Davis tunes, then a super sweet a cappella women's choir called Barberina, my set, Carli and Yosi and James Durst. I sat in with James on Mark Dvorak's tune "The Middle Years".
Visiting community centers, schools, farms, parks, mosques, churches, synagogues, clubs, pubs and homes in Nazareth, Bethlehem, Tiberius and Jerusalem brought inspiration, challenges and encounter. It's like being in between...in between history, in between culture, in between peace and war, love and hate... something like that...In the North, purely by chance, we witnessed Syrian shelling about a half a mile from our UN/Israeli lookout. Mortar has an unsettling low rumble kind of like John Entwistle's bass in a small club (I only know that because I once opened for John in Woodstock, NY's Joyous Lake)... it can be more than a lot!
The Bethlehem Wall gets its graffiti from foreigners. It's a formidable structure and being near it is overwhelming emotionally. There is no comparing what happens there to what happens here. It's just about being human. Suffering, fear and pain are obstacles and allies for those of us wishing for reconciliation. Some of the peace activists are investing in understanding the other's suffering and fear. There are too many walls in this world from Cape Town to Bethlehem, no matter where you turn, too many walls that are too long and wide.
Entry No.56; August 2013
Matt Turk & Friends Pay Tribute to Old & In The Way at Garcia's in Port Chester, NY
I can't remember the circumstances of horse trading that landed a cassette copy of Old and in the Way in my hands. The cassette I still have (and still listen to in my car for about a decade now) dates back before I had my current wheels and lived up here on the river. It was in heavy rotation in Hells Kitchen in the flat I shared with Curtis Becraft.
Music lovers far and wide know the legend of the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. There were dozens of amazing shows there and Jerry Garcia loved it in particular. He said it was one of his two favorite places to play, the other being the Fillmore in San Francisco. The Cap recently reopened and has already hosted some of the biggest bands in the business. And with the connected bar auspiciously named, "Garcia's", it has brought a lot of joy to our little live music scene in Westchester County. Garcia's was even blessed by Jerry's daughter Trixie, and the walls are festooned with wonderful pictures of Jerry, some live Old and in the Way shots and even Jerry's banjo! I love this place!
We always want to do something fun and were tossing around some ideas one day and came up with the idea to celebrate Jerry's acoustic music and revisit Old and in the Way with a residency every Tuesday in August 2013. The core band is Matt Turk mandolin/vocals, Deni Bonet fiddle/vocals, Adam Roberts/bass, Ayodele Maakheru/banjo, Howard Cohen guitar/vocals, Curtis Schmidt guitar/vocals and in the spirit of things we invited our friends to join us. Our special guests this month were Noah Solomon Chase, James Dean Conklin, Lisa Gutkin and Gary Schreiner; all amazing musicians.
We did our best to get enough tunes together with everyone to fill a couple of long sets each night. We changed up the set lists a bit every week, covering a lot of bluegrass, pulling out some traditional stuff like Bill Monroe as well as a few classics. Add to that several tracks from the Pizza Tapes, a handful of Grateful Dead songs and it was a real fun mix. We threw in some Dylan, The Band, JJ Cale and anything we could that we knew Jerry had covered... and he did more than a lot! We honored the high lonesome sound and his love of it as best we could. The audiences were very enthusiastic and kept coming back for more.
My mandolin teacher, Hot Tuna's Barry Mitterhoff, played with Peter Rowan for a couple of years and helped me to raise my mandolin chops to a new level and I'm super grateful for that. I love learning from him.
It looks like we'll get another chance to revisit Old and in the Way at Garcia's on September 28th after the Railroad Earth/Martin Sexton show in the Cap and perhaps do another residency in the late fall or early winter. I hope to see you there!
Entry No.55; July 2013The Last Waltz Live at Club Helsinki
It has definitely been a great pleasure participating in a couple of Last Waltz Live shows. Rev Tor Krautter is the band leader and with Daniel Broad, his longtime friend on bass, the two lead a tight ship navigating the waters of recreating the Last Waltz Live. I knew of Tor many years going back as far as Berkfest. We never got to work together or even meet so I was delighted when he called to bring me on board to perform Van Morrison's "Caravan" at the Irvington Town Hall and "Mystery Train" at Club Helsinki, in Hudson NY. Tor's production partner, and a performer, Todd Mack and I met years ago at WKZE. Todd liked my record What Gives and had me on the radio a bunch as well as getting me an opener for my hero David Bromberg. That gig was at Club Helsinki when it was in Great Barrington. Now, Todd is piloting Music in Common about an arts program that brings kids on opposite sides together. These concerts are benefits for "Music in Common" and it's a worthy cause. The concerts are a great gathering of musicians coming out to recreate the Last Waltz Live. The Irvington concert was like a who's who in the lower Hudson Valley music scene with friends Fred Gillen Jr., KJ Denhert, Tink, Joziah, Sharkey and Eric from Slambovia, Monty Delaney and so many more. It was great running into Kathleen Pembell in Hudson. She's so talented! Here's a video of the performance of "Caravan".Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival
Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival 2013, on the banks of the muddy Hudson River, father's day weekend, was AMAZING! I managed the jam tent, which was basically facilitating a song/jam circle without getting in the way or letting anybody know I was there doing that. It was really fun and all kinds of people came out to jam. It's especially sweet for the outstanding Clearwater volunteers. Our set on Saturday on the Sloop Stage was refreshing. I'm working with a different rhythm section, Adam Roberts on bass and Rich Stein on percussion, and these guys really turn me on. We played 14 songs in a one hour set, including a bunch from a new record I'm getting ready to release. The crowd was great and I was really moved how many folks came out and shared their love, considering Judy Collins (who I had recently opened for) was singing nearby. Later, I revisited Circle of Song with Adam and we performed a set of Joyful Songs. Comparing that to last year's Occupy set, Circle of Song is a great venue for bringing folks together singing something specific and Rick and Donna Nestler do an amazing job programming that fun circus. I also joined Hope Machine on Sunday, alongside Solar Punch's James Dean Conklin and Alan Bigelow. What a hoot! In between, I checked out Acoustic Hot Tuna, with Larry Campbell and Steve Kimock, Mavis Staples, Son Volt, Kris Kristofferson, Buffy Saint Marie and the Klezmatics...Clearwater! Who'd've thunk the alliance of Pete Seeger and Richard Nixon would create the Clean Air & Water Act that is doing so much for our world!Celebrating Acoustic Jerry at Garcia's
I am thrilled to be celebrating the acoustic music of Jerry Garcia with a great group of friends at Garcia's at the Capitol Theatre, on Tuesdays in August. Deni Bonet will join in on fiddle & vocals, with Adam Roberts on bass, Ayodele Maakheru on banjo, and Howard Cohen and Curtis Becraft handling guitars. I'll be playing mandolin. Special friends and surprise guests will be sitting in for the celebration of this incredible catalogue. For tickets and more information, please visit thecapitoltheatre.com
Entry No.54; Remembering Jaik Miller
Jaik Miller's 2/17/13 memorial at Brooklyn Bowl was really moving.
There are tons of photos here.
Seeing his dad Marty, who I first met with Jaik when were about 9 or 10, was a sweet, tear filled moment. Marty has that same sweetness Jaik carried. He's always been in my life too. Jaik and I were kids into guitars and we met and became immediate friends playing them every chance we could. We showed each other stuff and learned how to play together. I remember there was a little Led Zep and there was Harry Chapin and Joni Mitchell...really basic good stuff like "All My Life's a Circle" and "Circle Game". We tried to play it and eventually could. Jaik and I hung some through high school, though we were in different towns and when I was in the Hour, Jaik would come to shows with his sister Polly, mostly at Wetlands and the Rhinecliff Hotel. Polly was into The Hour. It was really sad when Polly passed away. Many know she had inspired the name of one of Jaik's bands: Xanax 25. I was happy Jaik did so well on the downtown scene with Blues Traveler and John Popper and was signed to Hard Head Management. He was like a little cousin. I loved seeing him at CBGB. For years we would always love to hang when we saw each other. We would get booked on certain festivals together. One time I asked what he was up to he showed me a picture of his smiling self in Amsterdam and said, "Look Matt, who's that happy guy?" Cause Jaik wasn't always happy. Who is? Even rainbow guy...Jaik was funny, he claimed I taught him how to play guitar. He claimed Jeff Buckley stole musical ideas from me. I never agreed, but appreciated his love. Jaik was a super special dude. I was completely shocked to hear Jaik had a massive heart attack in February of 2011. The feelings I subsequently had really informed some of the songs I was writing at the time. I thought a lot about Polly and Jaik this last year. It's true, what The Beatles sang, "And in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take." Well, Jaik Miller, many love you, including me. We miss you down here today and feel your groove and see your light! Shine on!
In October 2012 I was invited to travel to Israel with the Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace. I have worked with its founder, Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz before, and this trip would be significantly different. We would be traveling as a multifaith group. Rabbi Gewirtz came together with Imam W. Deen Shareef and Bishop Mark M. Beckwith to deal with violence in Newark. The trip had 33 members: Christian, Muslim and Jewish. There were many professional clergy and several artists as well leaders of the Newark, New Jersey community.
WE TURNED HEADS EVERYWHERE. It seemed very few had ever seen a group of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Blacks and Whites, Men and Women traveling together, praying together, learning together...
The trip brought me to places I had never been as well those I had not been to for a long time due to violence. Overall the intention was to clarify: "What is justice?... and what justice isn't! What is reconciliation?... and what reconciliation isn't!" There were many African-American Christian leaders who had served in the civil rights movement with Dr. King who said... "We've seen white people before who came to help, only to disappear to the suburbs." There was wisdom and trepidation. There were some African-American muslims who converted to Islam holding on to the bitterness of American racism and slavery. In a region engulfed in violence (nearby Syria especially) we encountered barriers to building trust. It was only after visiting the Mifta Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Museum) that our group emerged in unified understanding that no victim has the moral high ground. Even more sobering appeared the realization that our world has changed little regarding the fate of victims and refugees. Little if any nation cares for the victim refugee. Today, if you are a Syrian victim refugee, or a Sudanese victim refugee... you are in dire straits... just as it was for those before...
We met with a Jewish father and a Muslim wife who are part of a national network of Jews and Muslims called The Parents Circle for those who have had a family member murdered by someone from a different faith. They each told their tragic story and recounted how support and faith led them through bitterness to a deep commitment to reconciliation.
Sami Awad is the executive director of the Holy Land Trust, which connects women leaders and works for non-violence. He took us to the Mifta Refugee Camp in Bethlehem where children are visibly traumatized. Sami's view is that non-violence is the way spiritually and holistically. Sami is a Palestinian refugee who journeyed to Auschwitz and now leads other Palestinian leaders to do the same, so that they can attempt to understand the complicated narrative of their neighbors on the other side of the Security Wall.
Sheikh Ghassan Manasra, Director Light of Peace Society is a Sufi mystic devoted to dialogue within Islam and with other faith and community groups. Based in Nazareth, Sheikh Manasra is one of the most genuinely joyful and kind people I've ever met. I was profoundly moved by him.
Upon our return, I met Rabbi Gewirtz at the Bethel Church in the heart of Newark. Home to an incredible couple, Reginald and Marianne Osborne, I led singing for many dealing with addiction and violence. The church is neutral ground for the Latin Kings, Bloods and Crips.
Further... because I love you... so much... always... at the beginning...
Please check out the Slideshow
I flew into Paris and met Ilana at Gare de Lyon train station, in Paris. We headed to Nimes and ultimately Suave where hung out for a while, did a show and played music with Eden and John's East River String Band, Robert Crumb and Menage Trois. To my great surprise I found John Heneghan and I were both in Greenwich Village in the same downtown scene 20ish years ago, but strangely, we never met. He was roommates at the New School with guys I knew: Blues Traveler's Brendan Hill and The Authority's Rene Lopez, who's now drumming with Joseph Arthur. Robert and John are into a lot of old-timey music and know a lot about it. We spent hours spinning old records and talking about borrowing melodies versus stealing them. I was amazed to hear tunes that became the melodies Woody, Pete, Jorma, Bruce and others sing. Music and songs are like tree roots. There is a lineage. Pete Seeger's dad called it the folk process. Today it's sometimes alternately called copyright infringement or fair use. Slambovia's Joziah says, "A good thief always tips his hat." It's music. Let's enjoy and share it.
After several shows in Belgium we took a detour and stopped in Brugge, one of my favorite places in the world. It was the center of Europe a long time ago. The old city of Brugge is filled with canals and everywhere you look it's old and just cool. Good food and great chocolate.
Then on to the North Sea through Germany to the Aero Island for a three night stint at the Irish Pub in Marstal, Mick Foley's place. Mick was in New York, at Tramps and other places years ago. He is quite a music lover and connoisseur and a great guy. He turned me on to some incredible stuff including Nicolai Gogol, Venice and Elbow. After the shows, we would stay up all night listening to music and talking about it. During the day I would tour the island which is incredibly beautiful and reminded me of where Pete Seeger's family might have come from before they got on the Mayflower. Sailors from Germany and Denmark visited the island and the pub, where I entertained them. My favorite spot was Voderup Klint. It is an undisturbed coastline and when I went there I was lost in time. There is no reference to anything other than what is natural and untouched by humanity. It looks the same it did a hundred-thousand years ago.
After the three-day gig I checked out the charming northern German city of Lubeck. Next, onto Lake Plon for a Walden Pond-like experience where I spent a few hours watching the sunset. It was well worth it. I had to dip into Hamburg and see the Beatles stomping grounds in their early days. The Reeperbahn has changed a lot since then and it's quite intense and mostly just about money. I found this amazing Asian restaurant where you give the chef the ingredients and they cook it up, right in front of you. That was real fun and yummy.
The piθce-de-rιsistance for me was Berlin and Friedrichshain. My friend Gary Schreiner introduced me to some of his very close friends in Berlin and we had an incredible time. Tour books describe Friedrichshain as an area for artists and outcasts. I loved it. I hit clubs every night and even saw a psychedelic band play to silent movies. Techno, and Drum and Bass are hugely popular there. It's a real walking city and there is a lot of space. There is an open container law, just don't litter. I happened upon one art event after another. It is a real city for conversation, contemplation and living in the moment. Maybe all that's happened there has reset the counter, though it's a little depressing because you will run into horrific memories everywhere. Still, it reminded me of NYC's East Village in the 70s. I met a wonderful composer, Tobias Wagner, who brought me back to my conversations with John in Sauve regarding stealing and borrowing with Coldplay and Joe Satriani.
Enjoy the slideshow and thanks for checking this out.
Entry No.51; June 2012: Tribes Hill, Russ Irwin, WDFH, Clearwater & Caramoor
Tribes Hill Singers: The Levins, Wool and Grant, Hope Machine, Curtis Becraft, Scott Urgola, Kayin Rock and I got together on June 3rd, 2012 to perform at the Rob Morsberger Benefit Concert with Crash Test Dummies' Brad Roberts at the Tarrytown Music Hall. We opened the show with Rich Deans' "You Can Count on Me", a Tribes Hill standard that communicates the sentiments of this special concert for our friend. Rob played a set with his band. I sat in, which was a ton of fun. Rob also debuted a most impressive new work, "Midnight Garden", an early 20th century Stephen Foster type song cycle. The concert was was filmed by Dave Davidson for an upcoming documentary. Tribes Hill raised money for Rob and his family to put towards their medical costs and supported him in presenting outstanding new work. The love and art that occurred that night is priceless. And again... for all the folks that came out and sent your love... thank you!
Congratulations to Russ Irwin on his new release Get Me Home. It's on iTunes... check it out, it's really wonderful. Russ is on tour with Aerosmith now, where he plays keyboards and sings with Steven Tyler! If you're in NYC you can catch him at the Bitter End on June 23rd at 9pm.
Last year on tour in Maine, way up north near Canada, I met a woman who volunteers at WDFH, a local FM station. Recently I had the opportunity to perform live on the air. You can hear the session in the archives, along with a lot of other great stuff. If you are local in Westchester, WDFH is actively seeking new volunteers to join its staff. It is the only local public radio station in the lower Hudson Valley. Volunteers do nearly everything at WDFH, including on-air music hosting, producing progressively-oriented news and public affairs shows, fundraising and promotion, social networking, writing and shooting photos and video for the web site, and representing the station at public events. More information is available at http://wdfh.org/join.htm.
Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival was a great success this year and our Hobo Caravan set was outstanding fun with Mike Visceglia on bass joining Julie Corbalis, Gary Schreiner, Kevin Hupp and I. Other highlights included a tribute to Woody Guthrie with Hope Machine, Rik Palieri and Rick Nestler. Pete & Toshi Seeger came by to sing along which was delicious. A great personal highlight for me was seeing Pete introduced to Chris Thile by Bela Fleck! Pete's the best. Bela played Bach! Show off... :)
Finally, my cousin Howard Cohen, a great musician in his own right, joined me at the Caramoor Roots Festival for a great time highlighted by a chill hang with our heroes Barry, Jorma and Jack! And wow... they sounded amazing!
Entry No.50; June 2012: Midnight Garden & New Venues
I met Rob Morsberger through the Hudson Valley Music Scene. We became friends and worked together on many projects including "The Fog of War" which he produced for me. As President of Tribes Hill, I'm collaborating with our community to help our friend in need. Rob Morsberger is battling malignant brain cancer. He is quite accomplished in music, including having just worked with Patti Smith on her new recording. On the evening of June 3rd at 7PM Tribes Hill will present, at the Tarrytown Music Hall, the world premiere of "Midnight Garden", a contemporary song cycle written and performed by Rob Morsberger and Crash Test Dummies' Brad Roberts. Please come out and witness an extraordinary artistic happening. Put the U in Community and celebrate life and art with us.
If you're not familiar with Rob's work, do yourself a favor and please visit his webpage.
Watch "The Fog of War", which was produced by Rob.
Birdsall House in Peekskill, NY and Keegan Ales in Kingston, NY are two of the new venues I'm excited to be working at these days. I love meeting new people and both places have amazing food and beer! The Birdsall has a beet burger that will blow your mind and they curate beer as good as anywhere (and I've toured in both Belgium and Ireland). Keegans brews their own fantastic beer and ales and their Portabella mushroom sandwich is super yummy. I get to mix some of my favorite covers with my original songs and people really seem to dig it. Make it a point to join me and visit the Birdsall House and Keegan Ales if you're in the neighborhood.
Entry No.49; April 2012: Reflections of Winter
It was a mild winter here on the Hudson and after touring Israel, I managed to get to Florida for some gigs. There was a regional gathering in Lake Worth that showcased local talent through the guise of a Phil Ochs Tribute at the Playhouse. Phil passed at his own tragic hand many years ago when he was 35. His sister Sonny narrated and a two-act show honored Phil's music. For some it's a bit of a clichι now to say that it's too bad Phil's songs are still relevant. One way they would not be is if the world were obliterated (no, no, no) or we were in a state resolution where our society's problems were solved according to the left of the late 60's (wow!). Are either of those options realistic? I'm missing something :)
One thing new I took from it is "When I'm Gone" and how important it is to continue to care because in life there is nothing to cross over to. It's a powerful song and I really enjoyed the community that came together at the Lake Worth Playhouse to celebrate the music of Phil Ochs. I sang "Santo Domingo" and there wasn't a word Phil didn't like. It was interesting hanging with Mel and Vinnie and talking with Rod MacDonald about his early days in the South and the music class he's teaching now regarding the origins of boogie woogie. The cafe-con-leche was killer from the local Cuban kiosk on the side of the tracks and when I went back for another after the show, it was gone. I also enjoyed a tasty show in Miami at the Luna Star Cafι which got a sweet write up (the cafι) recently in the Washington Post. My dad came out with my step-mom and their entourage which was really special for me. I sang a bunch of civil rights tunes cause it was around Dr. King's birthday. "Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around"! And I feel that way. Live and let live! Then, I took the drive down to Key West. What a delight! You bicycle. You eat. You bicycle. You drink. You play music. You bicycle. People are friendly.
Wintertime was filled with writing tunes for a new record. It's all just forming of its own design. Most of the tunes I've been writing won't be a part of the new record and that's ok. It's just about writing and exercising that muscle. I'm okay with it. It's just about doing it and if I'm doing it, that's what I do. I got to lay down mandolin, guitar and vocal tracks in the studio for friends Julie Corbalis, Elza, Jeff Haynes, C Lanzbom, Pete Seeger, David Bernz and a few others who are working on their projects.
It was a mild winter here on the Hudson.
Mel & Vinnie
Entry No.48; December 2011: Inspiration, Move Me Brightly
After seeing the outstanding Larry Campbell along with his effervescent wife, Teresa Williams performing the Rev. Gary Davis' classic "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning" twice, (once with Furthur at the Garden and again with Hot Tuna at the Beacon) I just had to add it to my repertoire. Last year a great friend gifted me Larry's instructional DVD (part of Happy Traum's Homespun Video collection) making it easy for me to learn. I'll be breaking it out at some of my upcoming gigs.
I've also been learning to play a bunch of great songs with my brilliant mandolin teacher, Barry Mitterhoff of Hot Tuna, including a fiddle piece he learned from Jay Ungar called "Muddy Roads", as well as "Goodnight Tessa" and "Julia Delaney". The fiddle patterns are mind-blowing and learning these tunes on the mandolin is a challenge for me. Certainly not as easy as the guitar.
Some of the fantastic recordings I enjoy listening to lately include the Yo Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan collaboration, "The Goat Rodeo", Margot Leverett and The Klezmer Mountain Boys eponymous 2003 release and the incomparable David Bromberg's latest collection, "Use Me". Check 'em out.
Entry No.47; August 2011: Yigit Yazici Painted Topsail on the Sloop Woody Guthrie
It all came to me in like a waking dream. A couple years ago I was wandering around an Istanbul neighborhood where fisherman sell their daily catch to the fish-mongers who in turn sell it to restaurants. After riding ferries and boats from one section of the city to the other for almost two weeks, as I gazed out at the Istanbul Harbor that morning, I imagined my home on the majestic Hudson River which also once over-flowed with a flotilla of great sloops. I was reminded of my friends at the Beacon Sloop Club who have welcomed me into their fold many times over the years. I wanted to give something back, something other than volunteering my music or my time.
H. Yigit Yazici is a wonderful artist I met in Turkey who's beautiful hand-painted sails grace many of the ships in the Istanbul Harbor. He and his lovely wife Idil and I made a wonderful connection and when I returned to the states I spoke with Pete Seeger about the possibility of having Yigit paint a sail. Pete loved the idea and generously suggested the Sloop Woody Guthrie.
Yigit did an incredible job painting the topsail for the Sloop Woody Guthrie. It was hoisted for the first time on July 22, 2011 at it's home in Beacon, NY and according to Captain Ben, "performed beautifully in light wind and looked very colorful against the blue sky and tanbark mainsail."
Entry No.46; March 2011: Dallas International Film Festival
I love Dallas and the 2011 International Film Festival was really exciting. At the world-famous Gilley's in celebration of the release of the new documentary "OK Buckaroos", I opened for none-other than the legendary Mr. Jerry Jeff Walker (Mr. Bojangles) in the same room where "Urban Cowboy" was filmed, singing for an audience of 500 happy music lovers throwing back complimentary McCallan 12 & 18 and Stella Artois.
I was invited to sit in with the band, a huge country-rock compliment, and led them on several tracks from American Preservation including "You Don't Mess Around with Jim", "Mama Don't Allow" and "The City of New Orleans". I played through BG's rig and had a ton of fun, especially wtih the pedal steel player, who was awesome.
Meeting Jerry Jeff was a real treat. We spoke briefly about the Austin music scene and its influence on his life. We also talked about the great David Bromberg, a seminal influence on both of us and great guy. Like everyone else, I was most impressed with Jerry's journey and like Jorma Kaukonen and Pete Seeger, Jerry is a maverick, who despite his great success, remains a very down to earth dude.
Matt Turk, Jerry Jeff Walker and Michael Cain (Chairman of the Board of the Dallas International Film Festival 2011)
Photo by Philip Mangone
Entry No.45; March 2011: Folk Alliance
Matt performing at The 2011 Folk Alliance
Photo: Susan Black
Futurist and technologist Jac Holzman was the keynote speaker at the 2011 Folk Alliance in Memphis, Tennessee. He told an amazing story about working with Josh White in the earliest days of Elektra.
The next day I took the tour at Sun Studio, a stirring experience I recommend you check out. Anthony DaCosta, Over the Rhine and others were recording there. After the tour I was looking at the amazing collection of music on vinyl. Next I caught a cab to Shangri-la Records. My driver was from Tunisia, in the U.S. for 10 years with his family. We got so immersed talking about Tunisia then and Memphis now that we drove right past Shangri-La, and to my surprise and pleasure, discovered Ardent Studios. So we quickly wheeled around. I picked up some vinyl there, including an original mono copy of "I'm Jimmy Reed", and the very same "Josh White sings John Henry" that Jac Holzman had spoke of in his keynote speech! I'm currently reading Keith Richards new autobiography, "Life" where he talks about Jimmy Reed quite a bit. I also picked up Over the Rhine's new album produced by Joe Henry on vinyl.
On to the legendary Ardent Studios where I got a MIND BLOWING tour with Curry Weber who was hanging out with Josh from the band Star and Micey http://starandmicey.com. After the tour we cruised around in the van with Geoff, Nick and a few other friends and took in an eyefull of the great city of Memphis. We listened to David Cousar and went over to the Lorraine Motel to pay our respect to Dr. King. It was hard to witness. Memphis was in my rear view mirror by the time Star & Micey's played their set closing FAI. I'm sure they killed it.
I saw some some great live sets here by the incomparable David Bromberg, Dayna Kurtz, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Eliza Gilkyson, Amy Speace, Jonathan Byrd & Chris Koshesh, Eilidh Patterson, Spring Creek, Lara Herscovitch. I liked the blues room more than a lot. There was incredible bluegrass, old timey and traditional music. Great to see James Durst, Marc Black, The YaYas too. Tribes Hill was together as always.
In Memphis meeting other artists, talking with locals and feeling the pain at the Lorraine Motel, the word of the week was COMPASSION.
My good friend's Hope Machine won a slot on the FAI compilation "War and Politics Vol. 1." Check out track 2. "Peace Rant".
Matt sits in with Marc Black
Photo: Susan Black
Ofakim - Photo: Linda Levi
Traveling again with my dear friend Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz and his community through the holy land. Among other things he led a group of adults to the top of Masada for B'nai Mitzvot (a group bar mitzvah for the adults that never had one.) Masada overlooks the diminishing Dead Sea and surrounding desert. It's a high experience, both spiritually and physically. Full grown men and women shared their most intimate perspectives like: "When I was a little girl, they told me it was important to be Jewish, but not important to be a girl." And, "I lost my husband last year. God is many things, but not merciful." One gentlemen had lost his 103 year old mother recently and it was her dream to donate an ambulance to Hatzalah, the only free ambulance service you can get in Israel. At her passing, the siblings (all in their 70s) pooled their savings and with a little extra help raised $118,000 to pay for the ambulance. There was a beautiful ceremony on the Tayellet - my favorite promenade overlooking Jerusalem. I heard the Muslim call to prayer as Christian Church bells careened over Mt. Scopus and Jerusulem hillsides while Jews made ready for the sabbath. Peace is in Jerusalem. Harmony too. What a place!
And on to Belgium... View Slide Show
In Belgium, home to Crusaders and Knights Templar, I tasted outstanding beer (bier), made with fruit like apples, raspberries and blackberries, sweet beer, strong beer, 10% alcohol beer. I ate outstanding chocolate too. With hazelnuts, cocoa, caramel, dark and milk chocolate. It is said that during World War I, American generals observed the French speaking Belgian officers eating fried potato strips and coined the name "French Fries". Here you find them as Belgian Frites and they're covered in fresh mayonaisse.
I've not yet been to the chandelier draped Moscow train station (which apparently is a big deal in Antwerp), but the Antwerp train station is incredible. Word on the street is Tom Cruise wanted to film a crash 'em, smash 'em, shoot 'em-up film here and they said "No. Thank you". He couldn't guarantee keeping it in pristine, delicate, delightful and elegant condition. Arriving into Antwerp is sublime.
During a couple of days off, I camped in the old city of Bruges and what a good choice that was. Walking, strolling, relaxing, eating, drinking, meeting folks, jamming, and soaking in a beautiful, almost thousand year old city where oil portrait painting was mastered and European wealth aggrandized in the old port that is no more - was perfect. In Brussels I had the greatest pleasure of meeting my cousin who grew up on the same block as my mother. She shared her memories of her childhood with me, gave me some amazing old pictures, and took me around the city that currently houses NATO. Meeting my cousin put my heart at home.
Entry No.43 American Preservation: The New Recording June 2010
I recorded "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" for David Dobkin and Warner Brothers at Matter Music with Dan Pinnella several years ago for the soundtrack to the film "Fred Claus." We all had fun recording together. Later, David approached me about an idea he had for a record of classics and traditionals with Dan and I. I was really excited about it from the start & felt it a good choice. I love and play so many tunes by others and wanted to cut a record like this and do it live. So, we reconnoitered for a long weekend to hang more and make some music. A band was put together, which included some folks I'd worked with before on "Fred Claus," including David Wagner and Gaby Moreno. Dean Butterworth took the throne with Chris Joyner on keys and I focused on my performance as we all worked out David's arrangements together. There were no expectations. I'd check in with the band before each tune and we'd cut it a few times, usually going with the first or third cut. It was more than a lot of fun to make and I think you hear it when you listen.
Entry No.42 Take Me to the River: Children's Community Chorus March 2010
View slideshow | Meta Vie blogs on the concert.
Pete Seeger's new songbook "Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Singalong Memoir" has recently been published by Sing Out! Check out the slide show of our rehearsal and concert Pete, Jenny Murphy, 12MN, Westhab and others put together December 10, 2009. Pete's new book is our songbook for the concert and chorus. I joined Jenny, Pete and children from Hastings-on-Hudson and Coachmen Family Center in White Plains. It was big fun on a big birthday.
I'm continuing to use Pete's songbook with the kids at Westhab's Coachmen Family Center.
Thanks to photographers Jim Metzger, Susan Ruttman, W.L. Jackson and Ellen Fisher Turk.
Entry No.41 Ireland December 2009
I always dreamed of visiting Ireland. Starting with the central west coast, I discovered folk music and experienced traditional music sessions, instrumentals and ballads. Halloween was spent on the ancient island of Inish Meian and so the journey was born. My traveling companion was my good friend Curtis, a fine musician whom I met 20 years ago singing in Washington Square Park. Walking through the terminal at JFK, resigning myself to the fact that I would be missing the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame concerts at the Garden, Curtis realized he would miss most of the World Series. At that moment, probably arriving for rehearsals at SIR, David Crosby walked by. I greeted him and with typical Crosby charm, 'blessed' our trip and declared we would truly love the music and people and to play mandolin! We had met our first leprechaun!
We arrived on the Emerald Isle to drive on the left and look to the right and find the Guinness not pasteurized and served a little warmer. Delightful! We found our way to much outstanding music in Galway, Doolin, Inish Meian, Killarney and Ennis. Pubs with no televisions or jukebox invite conversation and music. We jumped into several all night sessions singing for hours and were appreciated and highly appreciative. Sometimes we were given the stage, other times we joined in the circle that went around and around til dawn. Still other moments, we listened. There always seemed to be a guitar or mandolin nearby.
The nature was truly inspiring with incredible beauty as seen in the mountains of Dingle, lakes of Killarney and lonely windswept Aran islands. Upon leaving, we met the hurdy gurdy man, who blessed our departure from this magical emerald isle with the revelation that there is nothing traditional - only remnants of what we think might have been. There is no sound like two fiddles and a flute, nor great balladeers like Paul Brady, Liam Clancy, Mike Scott and many more...
Entry No.40 Istanbul October 2009
After a super groovy and grueling week on an acoustic solo tour in Israel playing the folk club circuit, I popped over to Istanbul to experience one of the worlds greatest cities. I had wow! moment after wow! moment, and everyday was filled with miracles. I was especially drawn to Byzantium's energy and legacy, and Istanbul is fun! Clubs, cafe's, garden terraces, ferries on the Bosphorous, Anadolu Kavagi and a Byzantine castle overlooking the Black Sea, the Princes Islands (Adalar) , Buyuk Ada , the Flower and Fish market passages with hundreds of roof top bars many of which also have live music - the coolest being Peyote, Ortakoy , Uskudar, Kadikoy and Moda, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, the Covered Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, underground Cisterns with Medusa, Sultan Ahmet and my favorite, Aya Sofia!
My friend Nadia Arditti, an outstanding mellifluous sculptor, had an exhibit and opening I attended and participated in the celebration of her work. At her opening I met the Turkish painter Yigit Yazici. With other friends and partners we would spend several days together, eating, conversing and hanging out. I ran into Brooklyn's Raquy Danziger, who was en route from a concert at the Cairo Opera House. She took me around and showed some music studios and a bit of the scene on Taksim. Please check out the slide show for some imagery.
Matt Turk and the Hobo Caravan: Gathering of the Vibes July 2009
My friend and webmaster Kenny gave me Blair Jackson's biography of Jerry Garcia many moons ago. It was in line, as happens with books and cds. I got into it this summer and was peaking around Jerry's birthday and The Gathering of the Vibes, a music festival dedicated and inspired in large part by Jer Bear. We were booked this year to perform at the Vibes and I enjoyed a hearty dose of Jerry inspiration. I performed "High Time" during our set and have been digging into the Garcia/Hunter catalogue. A live version of "Stella Blue" from the Orpheum in 1976 was bringing me to tears as I rolled into Bridgeport's Seaside Park with the Hobo Caravan to play our music. Working with old friends, the quintet of Fred Gillen Jr. on bass, Kevin Hupp on drums, Gary Schreiner on keys and Bill Harris on horns, we assembled backstage as Simon Feldman and Jackson arrived to video the show. I really enjoyed and was satisfied with our set as it captured new material from my upcoming release (like "Sweet Virginia") and work from my last two decades and beyond. The Vibes crowd was a treat and afterwards I met kind folks from Mississippi, Marin, Minneapolis and Montana! I wandered into the merch tent and fell into a wonderful chance meeting with the great psychedelic artist Stanley Mouse. Mouse smiled deeply as we shared a memorable moment together. Crosby, Stills and Nash were in great vocal and performance form which was very inspiring. And to my great surprise, Bobby Weir joined Levon Helm for an outstanding version of the Grateful Dead's "Tennessee Jed." Running into King for a Day's Randy Funke (who worked on What Gives) was a hoot to boot.
Entry No.39 Pete's 90th Birthday Party at Madison Square Garden June 2009
A little more than twenty years ago, I met Pete Seeger performing at a Rivertown festival that is common here in the Hudson Valley. I wondered, who is this Redwood of a man, singing and chopping wood? My fantastic mother was friendly with Rande Harris and had introduced me to Rande who was doing a bunch of concerts with Pete and I got invited, involved and included. My mom took some great photographs of Pete and to this day one of the first things Pete asks me is, "How is your mom?" and always adds, "She loves you very much." To complete the circle, I brought my mom to Pete's 90th birthday bash at the Garden. It was awesome! At the end of the concert, as the garden emptied, I sat in my chair, every molecule in my body reformed and reorganized from the gravitas of what I had witnessed. I was silent and still thinking, it's like "Turn Turn Turn" says, now is "a time for love." Pete's birthday bash was the renewal and vindication of a great American patriot, one filled with love and common sense, dedicated to liberty and justice for all, through the power of song and singing together.
The concert itself was phenomenal. Pete was tremendous, especially leading the garden in an a capella version of "Amazing Grace." Norman Mailer read a letter from President Obama. Tao Rodriguez-Seeger did an amazing job leading many songs, musicians and the band. Rufus Wainright and the McGarrigle's sang beautifully, their material was my favorite moment of the concert. Taj Mahal killed everything. Warren Haynes is such a tasty player and with grace and joy lifts the music with a gospel/electric soul. There were so many great artists that contributed: John Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson, Ani DiFranco, Mike and Ruthy, Michael Franti, Bruce Cockburn, Joan Baez, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Dave Matthews, Steve Earle, Keller Williams, Billy Bragg, Ben Harper and Toshi Reagon and many more..... Bruce Springsteen and Tommy Morello did a version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" that made my skin crawl. Bruce gave a poignant speech in praise of Pete. It was epic.
Pete's 90th at the Garden was historic. The garden was filled with friends old and new. We raised a lot of money for Clearwater and honored one of our greatest living elders. I am still moved by the enormity of the event and will always remember singing "We Shall Overcome" with my mom and 22,000 believers in the tribe. I'm still taking it all in.Dream Away Lodge with Milton and Chris Merenda
The night at Becket's Dream Away Lodge was like a page from Kerouac. The old bordello that attracted Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review was alive under a late Berkshire Spring sky. Milton leads with talent, soul, wit and warmth. Chris Merenda's swagger and grit made for a great double bill and jam. Filled with folks running from cozy couches to porch swings to fireside benches, we played unplugged for almost four hours, alternating sets, while the tip jar overflowed. Julia Josephs sings like a wise gentle angel. Gleeful banjos, mandolins and guitars colored our songs of love, loss, adventure and hope for a world where folks treat each other better. I could dream away again. I could dream away with you.Tribes Hill Songbook
Steve Kirkman prepared his rig as Curtis tested the keys. KJ Denhert was hanging cool while Anthony DaCosta and Fred Gillen Jr. quipped like two school boys from Wedekind's "Springs Awakening." I looked at Jon Mann, the voice of the people, with reassurance. We all would have a great night and after the show, when we sold out the venue, all returned an easy smile. The stage, under the painting of liberty, in front of the bank vault, was where we presented and launched the Tribes Hill Songbook as if to say, this music and community is what is of value. Our Hudson Valley Music Collective Tribes Hill listened to Rik Palieri, Rick Nestler and Pete Seeger's advice and started singing each others songs. When Kirkman sang Gandalf Murphy's "Never Fit," Me and others felt vindicated for years of being....off. On the eve of his 90th birthday, I was thrilled to sing Pete Seeger's "Take it from Dr. King." I got the audience singing and there was applause for the lyrics, "You too can learn to sing, drop the gun." WFUV's John Platt went as far as to say, "it's spun out of Westchester and has created this ripple effect throughout the metropolitan area."Entry No.38 California: Winter 2009 March 2009
Sunday morning, musicians and folks gather with host Sleepy John Sandidge and KPIG staff and volunteers to present live music over the radio and internet in Freedom, California! I was there with Fred Gillen Jr. for a recent sunday morning of music we got to participate in. After our set, I stayed on and listened. I caught this ditty to KPIG, Slaid Cleaves, Marcia Ball et al...live music by BeeEaters.
Woody Guthrie says you won't make it in California, "If you aint got the do-re-mi..." Wow, is he still right. Grapes, artichokes, strawberries, lettuce, almonds, onions, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts grow here . What doesn't grow in California? And all those folks working in the fields. Ghosts of words and songs of Guthrie and Steinbeck sing on still.
Traveling up the California coast, on tour with Gillen we stopped in to one of my favorite spots, the Henry Miller Library. Went behind and was disturbed at the condition of the trees and forest. The recent fire had been there and left a spooky silence. The fire was gnarly. Animals charged out of the forest onto highway 1. Heard two monks held the fire off Tasajara for days. With all the natural, climate and environmental challenges we have, our plates are more than full. Behind the library are steel webs engineers build to keep cascading burning forest from destroying everything in its path. Standing amidst, feel the trees falling on top of you, much like the feeling you get when a whirling train arrives in the subway. When you're a kid you can play with wire and rings and when you grow up you are the engineer that builds the rig controlling the fire.
Went for a hike down by Pfeiffer Beach and stayed with earth, water, rock and sand as they all mix.
Hung with snails and starfish and thought about my exoskeleton a little as the sun burned it.
Point Reyes and the road up is a lesson in the a, b, c's of farming. Government farms that seem sold off to private owners now, but keep their original alphabetical name. I don't know. Farm Z, that'd be a cool one. Green fields and mud and cows crossing the road. Occasionally a cow would look at me and say, "What are you doing? or Hey. or Hay." That cow is right. 'Twas quite a hike down to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is made by Berbier and Fenestre from Paris, 1867. Kids and folks were whale watching.Costa Rica: Winter 2009
I went to Limon and Alta Talamanca with my friend Rabbi Tom Weiner and his flock of 30 teenagers on a mission to learn about green living and the impact unconscious consumption has. Eco-school-tourism-fun. We didn't take anybody's job and we didn't send money for someone to steal. Nope. These kids went to learn about how Americans "really" live. We were painting and doing light construction fixing up two or ten room schools. In Alta Talamanca, there was a point where the river had taken out the road. We left our vehicle and were inland from the Caribbean on the Panamanian border in Costa Rica. We walked two football fields past the Caterpillar and crew that were fixing the road. I was so hungry because we had been working and I had a few cookies. I shared some with the crew. I was far away. Sleeping under a mosquito net, in wood thatched river lodge and it didn't take long to strip away any armor. When I got back, the reentry was shocking. Like Vonnegut says, "so it goes." Three days later the road was fixed. When you're a kid, you might play with trucks. When you grow up, you work the Cat that rebuilds the road.Cool aid/Klebinoff moment
When I was 8, I played soccer as we call it here in the states and was on a team with kids 8 - 12. I was one of the youngest on the team and scored a couple goals and we won. One of the older kids, Bobby Klebinoff was so happy. He invited me over for a cool aid! I remember him mixing it, saying, "Turk, you did it! and this is for you!" It was bright red and sweet and I felt like a million bucks because I had never heard of cool aid or been treated that way. Well, this week, I had another cool aid/Klebinoff moment, but this time on a different team, one we're all on. It was announced to great enthusiasm that May 3, 2009 , Pete Seeger's 90th birthday, there will be a concert to celebrate him at New York's Madison Square Garden and most importantly the celebration will be a benefit for Clearwater.
Hooray for Bruce Springsteen for stepping up and taking the lead at this benefit because there are a lot of seats in Madison Square Garden. Pete told me about Bruce calling him and their talking about "The Seeger Sessions." There was a lot of talk about the recording too. I heard what some at Bruce's label thought. I heard what folkies thought. and on and on.... Then we saw Bruce with Pete and Tao at President Obama's inauguration. They all sang Woody Guthrie's "This Land is your Land," and the lyrics that had been banned. Like the great song "Turn, Turn, Turn" says, it is now a time for love. Love for Pete. Love for our planet. Love for our future. We all hope this concert has tremendous success and raises a g'zillion dollars for Clearwater and influences folks everywhere to sing locally, act locally, and think globally. For Bruce Springsteen, have a Bobby Klebinoff cool aid. Thank you Bruce for reaching out to Pete and the world and for helping to bring Clearwater and Pete Seeger's message through MSG on May, 3 2009. Michael Franti, Ani DiFranco, Ben Harper and many other great artists will be there by your side. We'll all be singing along. Thank you and congratulations to all the volunteers, members and staff at Clearwater too!Entry No.37 Happy New Year January 2009
I popped down to the Living Room to check out Julia Joseph. She was singing with KK on percussion, Milton on guitar and Jeff Eyrich on bass. They were fabulous and the second set was mostly Milton leading great reggae covers. Legalize it.
I had to dance a lot so I caught Buckwheat Zydeco at the Bayou with my friend Barb. What a blast! I told BZ he's an American treasure. His smile was extraordinary.
My friends Russ, Ro and I hooked up to see Chris Botti at the Blue Note. It was a tremendous show. There are so many good things to say about Chris and his music. His tone is outstanding and reminded me of the Miles Davis/BB King show I caught at the Beacon years ago. Irwin jammed with Chris and his band and Bb was never funkier.
Hope Machine's CD Release for Big Green was a fantastic success at the Peekskill Coffeehouse. Wow! Abbie Gardner, Anthony DaCosta, Steve Kirkman, Julie Corbalis among others made it a romp. Steve Kirkman's got that honky tonk thing that makes you feel invincible, which works cause Hope Machine's message is you're everything but invisible. I really enjoyed sitting in on mandolin and being a part of the show.
The Klezmer Mt. Boys with Margot Leverett also released a new recording, 2nd Avenue Square Dance. Jorma Kaukonen and Tony Trischka are guests on the recording as well as at the show I checked out. It was just phenomenal. 2nd Avenue Square Dance is in high rotation over here. I have been learning mandolin with Barry Mitterhoff and took a guitar workshop with Jorma Kaukonen at Omega. I am getting off this journal writing to practice. Indeed!
Late last summer over a weekend, I went to LA and cut a new record. It's produced by David Dobkin and Dan Pinella. In two days we recorded 11 songs at Matter Studios. The band was fantastic- Matter's Wag on bass, Danny on guitars, Chris Joiner on keys, Dean Butterworth on drums and Gaby Moreno on vocals. We cut everything live and it was more than a hoot. The record is being mixed and will be done in a little bit and coming your way- it was so much fun to make.
Fred Gillen Jr. & I are heading to California to continue our Purple States Tour starting in LA at Genghis Cohen this Jan. 22.
I caught the Acoustic Ramble at Levon Helm's place in Woodstock with Larry Campbell, John Sebastian, Jimmy Vivino, Amy Helm and others. It was amazing.
Happy New Year.
Entry No.36 A Reliable Angst August 2008
I recently have been taken by the "Orchestra of the Damned, " a series of paintings by Allen M. Hart. With much Chaim Soutine, Chagall color, Kirchner, "Guernica" influence and more, Hart is moving and masterful with paint and feelings.
After Gillen & Turk's mid-west tour, we stopped in at Antoinette's, our favorite place with some of our favorite people, before heading out to California.
We came into Los Angeles, not with a couple of keys, just our guitars. We found 'em left on the curb, unattended after hearing my name paged. I never quite heard the page but figured it was something like, "Turk, have a little angst, we're leaving your and Gillen's guitars." We rescued the guitars and left our angst on the curb. We'd acquire more shortly.
Once we landed, our friend Russ Irwin told us about mountain lions in the hills of Laurel Canyon. Man, the music business has really changed hasn't it?
David Garber blogs "Notes on a Napkin," about our gig in LA at Genghis Kahn. Randy Newman was right, "I Love LA."
We next made our way to Malibu Creek Canyon to test our ability to handle a mountain lion should we encounter one. Do you remember the most fun you ever had towards your opponent at Wrigley, Shea or your hometown park? It was powered by Heineken. That's how you take 'em on, sort of, and you can throw stones! It didn't happen. The angst remains.
We hit Oxnard and points north. Wide Open Wednesday's is a cool scene and Judy Valencerina is the hostess with the mostess. The venue is a converted Woolworths, with all the funk still in it. It's a very progressive scene with great ice cream to boot. We've been covering Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man", a carry-over from Hope Machine. Now in the heart of California farm country where Woody wrote some of his greatest songs, those fields still look much the same. We sing for today's workers and for Woody G., we honor thee.
The sight of elephant seals slumbering below Hearst Castle has a certain irony to it. I like the seal's attitude. They seem to handle their angst well. We were getting somewhere. It was a perfect intro to the magic of Big Sur. The fire in the flowers would soon be usurped by real and gnarly California wildfires. Animals would come out of the woods in droves seeking safety. Danger and horror mix with joy and produce a reliable angst!
Our coffee buzz allowed us to ride the crest of this wave as we were on the KUSP airwaves shortly after the fires began. Fred did a great live vocal for "Killing Machine." His whisper-sing is compelling. Look for it on the KUSP archives.
Tracy Chesebrough ably sat in with us at Henry Miller Library on cello adding a rich, indigo tone to our sound and an amazing vibe. Soquel is mellow. We always have fun playing in the stage window, but sometimes I wonder if I'm going to lose my dance and bounce and crash through the window onto the street. Maybe someday we'll make a film to that effect.
Back from the coast, we hit our favorite festival, Clearwater's Hudson River Revival. We opened the festival and there is video of "It Really Matters" on The Hudson Valley Music Channel. We may even release the whole set on DVD. They pulled the plug late Sunday afternoon due to major lightning storms. An hour later it was gorgeous. Major angst. Though some may remember it as the year the fest was cut short, I'll always remember it as the year nobody was hurt and there's no angst in that.
Entry No.35 Midwest Tour Notes June 2008
On tour recently in the midwest, we stopped in the Andy Warhol Museum for fun and inspiration. Thanks to Russ for the tip. We sang with Tom Breiding and Bill Toms at Cefalo's. They're both amazing. Case Western taught us there's no ambiguity about what a Barking Spider is. Nandita is the future. The girls gave us fresh chicken eggs and we journeyed through Madison, Wisconsin: part 1950's, part Obama and went north to Duluth towards the outer boundary. Like a page with omens from The Alchemist, a bald eagle flew right over and a black bear came out of the woods to look us in the eye. Fred pointing exclaimed, "A bear!" It seemed to pause, then hop, skip and back up, signaling 'later for all this highway' and returned to the wilderness. St. Francis of Assisi moment. Sweet Jamming in Duluth with Lookdown Moon. They have a great sound and thanks to Rachel for helping us name the bear Hudson!
In the morning while checking out the rocks on Lake Superior, our third visitor from the animal kingdom came: a playful and curious prairie dog. It happened on Highway 61.
Even though it was the end of May, the temperature dipped into the mid-30's with a Cubs victory over Joe Torre's Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Check out the video below of the brass band at Wrigley. The error at short started a chain reaction and yes, Wrigley is amazing! You're lucky walking in and out of the park in the center of the city.
Harp Chick Ellen Miller popped in to jam with G&T at Hops and Barley, where Stolie was hosting her open mic. Especially enjoyed "Hobo Boy" and when we played a Chicago Blues version of Woody's "Vigilante Man."
The Rocks at Lake Superior
Out on Highway 61
G&T with Ellen Miller & Stolie
Entry No.34 Backs to the Wall May 2008
On the eve of a road trip that takes us through the midwest with our new recording Backs to the Wall, it seems this album started a year ago when we auditioned for Music Under New York, the MTA's arts in transit program. We found ourselves playing music in a completely new, exciting and challenging environment. Playing in the subway for the straphangers is a hot experience; endorphins take off. Check out the video of "Broadway" in the 125th St. and 8th Ave. station. The tune's originally off What Gives, & gets a different treatment here from Fred and I - washboard and funky acoustic guitar, groove and boogy - love the dancing generations.
We meet all kinds of folks in the subway, homeless folks too. Some come & say hi. We meet a lot of cops in the subway too. They like to check in. Some are looking for our papers, our documents, our permit, one asked me if I had the goods. Others want to say hi. I like that. Once, an officer told us to shut it down because it was interfering with her checking bags. I understand where she's coming from. We are singing "We Shall Overcome." We all have a little of Marlon Brando from "Apocalypse Now" in our soundtrack now.....repeating over and over.... "The Horror."
In the subway at a MUNY gig, Ryan Daniels, a graduate student took black and white photos that are edgy & vibey. It was at Union Square, where my grandmother Bette, Pete Seeger and many others would go in the 30's. Union Square has great history. Workers rights. Jeffry Braun, Backs to the Wall's designer used Ryan's pics in his creation. The plastic that holds the CD is even made from recycled bottles.
About Backs to the Wall, Acoustic Live's Richard Cuccaro says, "from acoustic folk to blistering rock, love songs, rants, empathy for soldiers, virtuoso musical commentary. I'd say this one nails it."
Time to go, one note at a time. We do with songs and with small amps, mostly borrowed from our friend Steve Kirkman. It was great making this record with Fred Gillen. He knows his way around the studio. Our friend Tom Staudter was really helpful in every way and I appreciate his positive influence in the making of Backs to the Wall. Green means go.Entry No.33 The Coachmen February 2008
This is my third year as a resident artist at the Coachmen Homeless Shelter in White Plains, NY.
The Story Arts Program, which includes dance, video, design and music, is provided for by the Westchester Arts Council, the Department of Social Services and the National Endowment for the Arts. I present and teach folk music to the kids of the Coachmen.
Over 15 sessions we cover the songbook of the best of the best. I have created an exciting set list for these kids, tested and true, gleaned from years of wood shedding, sitting at Pete Seeger's knee and being in the Clearwater community here in the Hudson Valley.
We sing in English, Spanish, French, Zulu, Hebrew, Arabic and more. All the songs have great history and are continually rich in their meaning. We sit in a circle and sing the tunes. We make up our own verses and build off the choruses. I briefly introduce their place in history. The kids guide the discussions. I lead the jams. Some of these kids know a lot while others very little and there are many in between. How little? I've heard, 'where is europe?' There are 7 year olds who don't yet read and yet they learn the songs just by hearing them and through call and response. Some songs are from the civll rights movement like "We Shall Overcome", "Down by the Riverside" and "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody". Others are by Ladysmith Black Mambazo's Josef Shabalala. We sing Woody Guthrie, Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It If You Really Want", Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind", John Lennon's "Imagine", "De Colores", "Aiko Aiko" and more. The kids love singing and are very responsive to the concepts. They live in an urban scene dominated with gangs, violence and drugs.
There will be an open performance at the Coachmen on April 3 at 6pm, please check the gigs page.Entry No.32 John, Mayor Bloomberg and Pharoah's Daughter October 2007
My first interaction with Mike Bloomberg came a decade ago when a college buddy of mine was working for him.
John is an especially sharp hombre. During our NYU days I had a lot of fun hanging around with him and Rosko, another esteemed pal from yesteryore.
Once, we were all thrown out of an Allman Brothers show at Madison Square Garden for...dancing in the aisle! Of all things that will get you bounced out of a concert! Gotham during the Clampdown: No dancing, no smoking, no no no. Security at the show just wanted to bust some heads and when they threw us out, we were heaved out of the side stage doors and on to the pavement like bowling balls. Just as we hit the cee-ment, the rent-a-roughs yelled, "Get the f#*k out of here!" I'll never forgot this rude mix-up and the memory of being laid out flat on the sidewalk outside the garden with John and Rosko.
While working for Bloomberg News a few years later, John was hit by a cab in New York City and suffered significant head injuries that put him in a coma. Amazingly, he made a full recovery, and when I called upon him to say hello, he told me Mike Bloomberg had called him personally. From that day on I always liked Mike Bloomberg, and my feelings haven't changed much about him.
This summer Mayor Mike Bloomberg called Basya Schechter from the renowned group Pharoah's Daughter to sing at Gracie Mansion to celebrate Jerusalem's 40th birthday, New York's Jewish community and the city's vibrant and diverse multitudes. Basya and I have been making music together for 10 years, mostly through Congregation B'nai Jeshurun on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and so when she discovered that the Mayor wanted her to sing Naomi Shemer's classic "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" (which has been covered by many acts and artists, including Phish!), Basya told the Mayor that she would need to be accompanied by the phenomenal violinist Meg Okura and none other than myself! This invitation from Basya was indeed an honor, and I'm grateful for her generosity and friendship. Best of all, Basya asked me to sing the song. In case you don't know, Basya and I have a fantastic musical relationship showcasing many things including mandolin, l'oud and wonderful harmonies. Of course, I agreed to the gig, and on a warm July afternoon, Jumbo picked me up in one of the Mayor's limousine's and delivered me to Gracie Mansion.
Awaiting in the tent were all kinds of folks. This was not the Clearwater "down to earth crowd," nor the progressives I find at The Freedom Fair and Political Rally, nor the Contra Dancing purists of Falcon Ridge. I was now stepping into "The Court," and the scene was pretty serious. Thankfully, Brooklyn Lager was there, too, to take a little of the 90 degree edge off.
Enter the Mayor and everyone was at attention. Dr. Ruth stood and waved like Queen Elizabeth. The Ambassador from Israel spoke eloquently, and other dignitaries were acknowledged as well. Suddenly, the Mayor walked up to me and asked, "Who's singing?" I said, "We are." He replied, "Well, congratulations, good for you, I am Mike Bloomberg." I introduced myself, and we shook hands. Meg, Basya, the Mayor and I had a minute together. It was very special. Then he introduced Basya as she is: "a significant artist, relevant, unique and inspiring and would she sing 'her' song 'Yerushalayim Shel Zahav?'
Like I said, I've known Basya a long time, and the one thing she would not do is take credit for Naomi Shemer's song nor disrespect Meg and me. So, she casually and gently interrupted the Mayor, saying, "With Meg Okura and Matt Turk, and Matt Turk will sing it." The Mayor, who leaned on the outside of his feet when he was speaking from prepared cards highlighted in yellow and orange stopped and turned. He looked at us and inquired "Matt Turk?" Basya looked at me, we both looked at the Mayor, and she said, "Matt Turk." He said, looking down again at the card in his hand, "I only have what they gave me..ok....Matt Turk will sing now with Basya Schechter and Meg Okura." I stood right up, in front of a crowd that seemed more excited to eat the free food and hob-nob with the Mayor, and said, "Thank you, Mr. Mayor, thank you Basya. We will now sing Naomi Shemer's 'Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.' Please join us." And they did.
After the song was finished, the Mayor stepped off stage to a swarm of attendees and folks looking to touch him. I jumped off the stage and walked right into Henry Kissinger! My adrenalin kicked in big time. Why couldn't it have been Edward Shevardnadze or Phil Rizzuto? This was Nixon's Secretary of State, a man responsible and involved in too much death, destruction and despair, all of it rationalized in self-important intellectualism. Henry looked at me, I extended my hand, and said, "Hello, I am Matt Turk." He replied, "Well done."
And I looked right at Kissinger, thought here is my moment, and asked, "Is it time for peace?" Henry the K's reply: "It is always time for peace."
Actually, it was time for Brooklyn Lager. I thanked Meg, Basya and the Mayor's staff. I congratulated Basya on her fantastic new release, Haran, and made my way to Jumbo, the limo and my exit from the Mayor's court.
The following week Basya and the Mayor ran into each other on the subway. He was going to work, and she was heading home after a long night of recording. He looked at her, and said, "Don't I know you?" She replied, "I sang for you last week at Gracie Mansion with....", and the Mayor interrupted with a smile, and said, "With Matt Turk."
The following week I bumped into the Master, Richie Havens, at Rudy's in NY. After catching up on Clearwater, he responded to my news of Gracie Mansion with these words of wisdom: "Never give up on anyone. There is always hope, and there is always time for change and reconciliation." Richie is right, you know.
For information about Basya, please visit her website, http://www.pharaohsdaughter.comEntry No.31 Reflections and New Directions June 2007
Since the release of my Washington Arms CD and subsequent collaboration last fall with Pete Seeger on "The Fog of War" (which was released as a free downloadable single), I have reshaped my live performance and begun working with new musicians. Teaming up with the fabulous Fred Gillen Jr. has been the most notable development as such, and we have been performing as Gillen & Turk at numerous venues here in the Northeast. Within the past six months a rather informal association that started with a shared gig here and there has turned into a significant partnership We met through the Hudson Valley scene about seven years ago and have worked together in the Tribes Hill folk-centric singer-songwriter collective, connecting in real through the universal grace that music often provides its practitioners...
I liked Fred from the beginning, both musically and personally. His harmonica playing first struck me, reminding me of those fine Woody Guthrie-Sonny Terry recordings I listen to often. I also fell in love with his songs: "Plane Shot Down," "Killing Machine," "Conversations on a Train"the list goes on and on. Fred has a beautiful voice and we harmonize naturally. Also, a great help to me is his fine sense of humor and the fact that he often carries a good supply of dark chocolate, which he likes to share. Armed with our original songs and lots of great tunes written by others, we are performing with mandolin, guitar, lap steel, washboard, bass and vocals. Some of our performance highlights so far have been at the Morgan Library in Manhattan at the opening of a Bob Dylan exhibition, several Peekskill Coffee House shows and a a concert on New Year's Day at the Lodge in Croton Point Park near a roaring fire. There are live tracks available on the tunes page of this site to download for free. Be sure to check out the many upcoming Gillen & Turk shows on the calendar page too.
And how many of you saw the Associated Press article and accompanying photo of Fred and me that ran after we auditioned for the select underground music sites in New York City supervised by the Metroplitan Transit Authority? Friends reported from Hong Kong (!) and Singapore (!!) that news of our duo act ran in papers there. By the way, we got the gig, and this summer we'll be serenading straphangers around Gotham. More details to follow...
Fred shines on the electric bass (as many Rain Deputies fans from the mid-1990s will recall), so our next mission was to find the right drummer to complement our sound. David Blackshire, a well-known Manhattan drummer, came to us through a mutual friend, and from the start it was obvious that he could drive the band to rhythmic heights. A fantastic drummer and singer with a great sense of musical arranging, David has turned us into a formidable trio, and when we debuted the group in January at a show in upstate New York the feedback was tremendous. We perform in both acoustic and electric settings, nailing the groove every where we have gone so far, whether it be at Nectar's in Burlington, VT, or Southpaw's in Brooklyn. I have greatly enjoyed combing my three solo CDs and even farther back into the Hour's repertoire for the right songs, while adding great covers to the 'live' mix as well. We're adding new songs and writing together: it's everything a "group" effort should be at this point, with excitement and creativity sparkling regularly. Again, check out the 'live' tracks available on the tunes page, and look for where we'll be this summer and fall on the calendar.
Entry No.30 October 2006
A friend turned me on to the documentary film The Fog of War not too long ago.
Now the phrase "fog of war" is in my head, like a bad dream I can't wake from. Will we ever have the courage to break the cycle of destruction, violence and inhumanity of war, the endless suffering, the annihilation of our future? Where are the passion, commitment and wisdom for peace?
I don't ever want to be dulled into complacency and indifference when it comes to war in this world. Why don't we all work to stop the bombs and bullets? Let's bring our world to a place where we see peace and compassion reign supreme. These intentions are what have inspired me for as long as I can remember, and it's where much of my art arises from.
I reached out to my wise friend Pete Seeger for help with this song. I played it for him, and he said, appropriately, "The good and the bad are so mixed up." We decided to record it with Rob Morsberger, a keyboardist and producer who lives in one of the rivertowns about halfway between my place and Pete's. I felt Pete's country blues banjo would add a lot to the track. Plus, he is the musical conscience of America, the truest of patriotic heroes.
In a break from the recording we were munching some apples and realized that both of our families had survived wars, which is what had made possible our wonderful friendship many years later. The fog somehow lifts, momentarily, but always returns.Entry No.29 Mandolin Caravan June 2006
On a spectacularly beautiful spring afternoon in late April - it was the type of day that reinforces your optimism in the creative goodness of our world, no matter how worn-out you may be - Mandolin Caravan, my side project, performed for about a hundred people in White Plains, NY. The show was held at the Westchester Arts Council's (relatively new) concert space, the Arts Exchange, which has been fashioned out of an old bank. Inside, the polished granite walls and large, ceiling-to-floor windows give the space a classical look, and with the sunshine pouring through the panes you could feel the renewing power of nature. It marked, for me, at least, final proof that a new season had begun.
Mandolin Caravan was born from my growing interest during the mid-1990s in the Hebrew folk melodies from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Pete Seeger had suggested that I delve into the music as much as possible, and as my research expanded the natural step was to arrange the music for performance. With Kevin Hupp, my good friend and expert drummer, signed as a musical partner and producer, we recorded the group's first album, Desert Soul, in 2003, and as our popularity has increased so has the impetus to go back into the studio to document our new material. A number of other great musicians have aided and abetted this project over the years, including bassist bassist Barry Hartglass and cellist Noah Hoffield, but the core group these days seems to feature mostly phenomenal reed and woodwind artist Bill Harris (of the famed Harris Brothers), accordion player Gary Schreiner (an award-winner composer for film and Television) and vocalist Basya Schechter, who some folks may know from Pharaoh's Daughter.
This particular model of the Caravan rolled into the Arts Exchange as a quartet, and from the start it was pure magic. The notes from Bill's clarinet soared to the ceiling, and Gary's fills kept me smiling. Kevin's wife Patti and their three children were there for the show, as were many friends from the area. By the second song several people were dancing, and for the rest of the afternoon a festive atmosphere prevailed. Passers-by kept poking their head in to see and hear what was going on, and a number of them plunked down the nominal ticket price and were soon dancing! Thanks again to Jonathan Mann of the Westchester Arts Council for booking us.
A few weeks later Kevin, Basya and I were back in the Groove Room (where Washington Arms was hatched, of course) to recording some Mandolin Caravan material for an upcoming television special on the History Channel. We'll give you the airing date as soon as it comes our way.Entry No.28 Muchucuxcah March 2006
I spent a week this February in Muchucuxcah, Mexico supporting Hombre Sobre la Tierra (Humankind of the Earth, a non-governmental organization) in their efforts to help the marginalized Mayan community there build an eco-tourism site. These Mayans live in poverty for many reasons, but the eco-tourism site they are constructing may allow them to better their economic and social future.
It was an amazing week living with these indigenous people and the courageous team of Americans who accompanied me. What a culture shock! I now know, and will remember forever, the best things in life are one cannot buy.
In Mexico we worked with Segismundo Lucidi, a very serious social justician with strong convictions and a bright smile. Earlier in his life he'd traveled around the world for fifteen years, eating mostly peanut butter, bread and bananas, he told us. Originally from the countryside outside Rome, Lucidi had fallen in love with Mexico during his peregrinations, and settled there. He has a wife and a son who is a musician. Under his leadership, Hombre Sobre la Tierra is teaching the Mayans "how to fish," as the proverb goes.
An expert in agriculture, Lucidi has a deep understanding of the destruction of the Mayan community, how their ability to farm and function has been destroyed over the years, plummeting them into great poverty. In the Yucatan, there have been eight major hurricanes in as many years. This weather brings devastation and disease; the consequences of the hurricane, in fact, are worse for the people living here than the hurricane itself. The soil has lost its fertility and the Mayans are unable to support themselves. Some have sold their land, others now work in Cancun or in factories. Meanwhile, the population has increased ten times. So, for the inhabitants of Muchucuxcah the idea is to somehow transcend the slash-and-burn system of agriculture with eco-tourism.
As part of a trip sponsored by the American Jewish World Service and supporting the liaision efforts of Rabbi Tom Weiner, six adults and ten amazing teenagers gave up their winter vacation--and their cellphones, computers, beer and chocolate--to live in the woods off the only road in Muchucuxcah, staying in palapas (simple huts) with dirt floors and sleeping in hammocks.
Mornings started early and work days were long. We moved rocks and red earth, limestone, ash and woodchips. We planted papaya trees and built terraces for them. We ate with our new friends and hosts in small groups. Our common language was Spanish. Though the Mayan children and adults smiled and laughed, their lives are far from well. They are extremely poor. For example, if a 6-year-old falls sick, there is no money to take a bus to the nearest clinic, let alone pay for medical care.
The aim of building the eco-tourism site in Muchucuxcah is to give the Mayans there a financially sustainable alternative to selling their land, working in factories and resorts.
Our last night culminated in a cultural exchange where we sang each other songs and told of our affection and respect for each other. I noticed their dignity and the great interest with which they listened to us. They stood still, never chatted and applauded our songs. I'd never been treated better in my whole life.
A week filled with hard work, sun, fresh fruits and vegetables, the blessings of the earth and all its wondrous elements--I can't wait to go back next year!
The Starving Artist Cafι and Gallery is a true listening room located towards the end of the strip on City Island, NY. Elliot and Monika offer a charming potpourri of food, art and music with their family and friends buzzing throughout the place. When I drove over the causeway with the Green Man the moon had just risen like a massive orange low on the horizon. The Empire State Building was visible in the distance, tiny compared to the blackness of the water lapping on the nearby shore. As usual, the cafe was filled with romantic couples drinking wine, a number of hip teenagers, well-known photographer Susan Farley and even Tom Bitondo, a killer keyboardist from Yorktown, showed up to hear some Turk tunes with his lovely wife, family and friends.
I played two sets on guitar and mandolin while a local recording studio captured the show. Some of the 'live' tracks from the show will be available to you soon enough on the tunes page of this site. Highlights for me were "Broadway," "Amanda," "Silver Ring" (both off the forthcoming Washington Arms) and a cover of "Going to California," perhaps the most gorgeous song Led Zeppelin ever cut. Long live the Starving Artist!Entry No.27 Matt Turk Band at the Bitter End
Jan. 18, 2006 Photo: Matt Shanley
I brought my band to Manhattan, destination the Bitter End...
You know, the famous nightspot in Greenwich Village, where Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Bill Cosby and so many more had once hit the stage on the way to...somewhere else. The club is still going strong. There was a great house as I rolled in with Curtis, a fellow guitarslinger, and the Green Man -- a formidable posse. The energy in the club was buzzing as many fans, longtimers and new 'uns, came out to support our show. We debuted material that will soon be released on our upcoming recording, Washington Arms, and also broke out some oldies from What Gives. Some esteemed attendees: Newlywed Matt Shanley brought his camera and lovely wife. D-rock was on hand, as was Swavy and his pals, Beautiful Deb and Jenn Bloom, a chanteuse from upstate. And holding up the end of the bar were my old friends Rosko and Vanessa Walters. (Rosko had a #1 hit on the dance charts last summer, and is creating some bon fide mindbending music these days, blending rock and techno -- check him out on MySpace.com -- while Vanessa choreographs and dances with Fischer-Spooner.)
Our set was slamming, natch, and enjoyed by all. Electric guitar in hand, I was joined by Kevin Hupp on drums, Kevin Jenkins on bass and C.P. Roth on keyboards. We hit high boil on a number of the new tunes, like "Into Nothing," "Queen of the Set," "Sky," "All Over You" and "Silver Ring," a potential single for the summer slow-down. And we busted out a cover of Ten Years After's "I'd Love to Change the World" -- still entirely apropos over thirty years after the fact!
Keep an eye and both ears open for Washington Arms: The disc has been mastered and is now being gift-wrapped. We're gearing up to release it amidst characteristic celebratory panache.
Thanks to all who made it to the Bitter End -- you made it a great gig! Hope to see the rest of you soon.Entry No.26 The Craft July 2005
Walking inside the Hit Factory I saw John Lennon's mug staring at me. We dusted off the Hit Factory sketches and pushed play.
The winter before last (December 2003), my friend Del invited me to cut some sketches and tracks with him at New York's infamous and now defunct, Hit Factory. Derek, D-Rock, had introduced us at Lincoln Park, a fine, local Hell's Kitchen watering hole. Del is in it for the music and I knew I could trust him to do what we set out to do: cut a bunch of sketches to reflect upon and develop. In retrospect, this became the first recording step in our new record.
Walking inside the Hit Factory I saw John Lennon's mug staring at me. Lennon's face adorned a gold album hanging on the wall. There were hundreds of framed records on the wall, but John caught my attention as if to say, "Don't fuck it up Turk and have fun you bastard - that is why we got into this, remember?"
I remembered when I recorded at the Hit Factory for the first time with Russ Irwin, Phoebe Snow and Phil Ramone. It seems a lifetime ago. Russ is an extremely talented person scoring films, playing keyboards for Aerosmith, Sting and other top acts. I heard from Phil that he really liked "What Gives," which Russ plays keys on. Going into meet Del, I appreciated the days I spent with Phil when he shared with me the subtlety and meaning of great song writing through his work experience with Peter Yarrow, Paul Simon, Billy Joel and others. In the studios of the Hit Factory during the Russ Irwin sessions, Phil would give me invaluable information I had applied to my life and craft. Thank you again Phil and Russ.
Tonite with Del, we'd cut about 40 tunes over the late night hours. New Turk Sketches. What happened to those tracks?
I listened to them a little and worked on the songs, playing some out, letting others collect dust. Producer and drummer Kevin Hupp and I were speaking in the fall of 2004. He and I felt like it was a good time to make a new Matt Turk record. We dusted off the Hit Factory sketches and pushed play. We rated the sketches, separating wheat from chaff and within weeks we started recording "Into Nothing", "Without Her" and "Nowhere to Go" at the Groove Room, Kevin's studio.
We continued getting together and working on tracks. "Sky", "Amanda" and "Endurance" followed. Our team was working on the recording. Kevin Jenkins on bass, C.P. Roth and Rob Clores on keys, Jock Guthrie on guitar, Producer Kevin Hupp on drums, vocals, guitar and percussion. Saul Zonana came in and did some great background vocals. Saul has a sweet new record out called "42 days" that is produced by Adrian Belew. I showed up of course to play and record some Cuban Oud, Mandolin, 6, 12 and nylon string acoustic guitars, a Strat, Starfire, Telecaster, Les Paul, Epiphone electric guitars and to sing.
The making of this new record has been a fine process with a really good pace. We have had the time to develop the songs live with the band and actualize them in the studio. The combination of steadily recording and performing has been good for us. Playing The Bitter End and The Living Room and other smaller, fine venues and recording the shows has been really helpful in getting the new material honed.
As of mid-summer 2005, the time of this journal entry, we have ten tracks cut and a fine new set of music.
Kevin Hupp has been a treasure and pleasure to work with: a great man with a beautiful family, I respect him as a person and have thrived in the Groove Room. As a musician and producer he is amazing and has completely come through with my music. Yes, his experience of working with Eddie Van Halen, Rick Derringer, Maceo Parker, Sarah McClachlan, Rufus Wainright and others has been a good match for me. He lived with my songs and nurtured them to come to life and his vision as a producer is a beautiful one. We have believed in each other since the beginning and soon you can just push play and witness this. We look forward to finalizing this process of making this new record so it can be released and you can hear it. It's coming soon.Entry No.25 Israel 2004 February 2005 View slideshow
Music is better than a passport and there is nothing better than being on the ground. I am lucky to know Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz and through his leadership we were able to visit Israel in December.
Israel is one of the most hopeful places for the world. Hitting the crossroads I was riding into Jerusalem on Christmas Eve, ascending the hills. It brought the sounds of major religions to the ears. I heard Jews praying at the Kotel (part of the outer western wall of the Temple the Roman Herod built). I heard the Muezzin calling Muslims to pray at the Dome of the Rock. I heard bells ringing at the Church of the Gesthemane. All that was missing was the announcement that Tibet's Dalai Lama would be the newly elected mayor of Jerusalem, the international capital of the world. I am dreaming, but if I don't I will die.
With mandolin in hand we visited children in hospitals, senior centers, schools and tried to bring joy for people on the edge.
At a hotel near the alarmingly shrinking mineral rich Dead Sea I spent the early part of the evening crying. I had been watching the news of the recent Tsunami. Seeing people putting up fliers looking for lost ones touched my memories of 9/11 and my memory of loss is raw. After a quiet uneventful dinner I had my guitar with me as Matt and I walked into the lobby to chat. He was spontaneously greeted by a couple of kids, Arab Israeli's on vacation with their families from East Jerusalem. Matt and the kids started dancing and playing. They laughed together and as I watched, I was moved by their beauty and grace as they were having fun. I turned and saw the extended family. There were about 35 adults and children, sitting and watching us. A woman and man signalled to me to play guitar. I smiled and sat next to them and started playing a James Brown, New York style funk riff. This medium slow paced funk I have been playing forever. It is the hippie rock that was popular when I was in college. It is the groove Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors and The Hour were into. I still love it. It works all the time, and this moment was no different. I started jamming and everyone started clapping and dancing, hooting and hollering. The crowd swelled in the lobby as Rabbi Matt, myself and now adults and children, Arab, Jewish, American, Israeli, were getting down without much language and no premeditation. Matt led the kids in limbo. One of the Arab fathers started singing in English, "I am a crazy fool." His eyes were rolling in his head and his face was submerged by an enormous smile. I sang, "I am a crazy fool." Dancing, clapping, laughing, relating, partying, we were different cultures sharing joy. I then played a popular Israeli folk/peace movement song, "Od Yavo". People sang along. The words mean Peace will come to the entire world, and we sang peace in Hebrew "Shalom", Arabic "Salaam"and English. The song itself is melodically quite like Cat Stevens "Peace Train".
I led a call and response, I shouted peace and they responded. I taught them Aiko, Aiko, Hey Now, New Orleans style and started clapping the Bo Diddley 3/2 Clave. Everyone clapped.
After about 20 minutes, with 75 or so people gathered, things dissolved. I sighed, smiled at a couple of lingering kids and got on the elevator. I felt very uneasy. Why? This was a genuine spontaneous good exchange of joy between people from different cultures and worlds compromised by extremists. It was so easy to be pleasant and its ease suprised me. We all want peace, and regular people and families want to live regular lives and that's why when we run into each other, to dance, sing, clap and laugh and then head on our way.Entry No.24 Garden of Eden 2004 November 2004
Garden of Eden was a great beginning to an amazing fall. On my way, I stopped in Greenfield at a breakfast spot with local cheeses, sprouts, tomatoes, breads and meats. Great coffee. The rolling hills and calm weather didn't jive with news about the hurricanes that were pounding Florida. I was concerned about my dad who lives down there, so I gave him a call and like so many of us so often, he dodged a bullet and the storms missed him. I think about all the folks that got hit by the storms and realize again that without waging war, people suffer enough through natural catastrophes. If all we did was help each other recover from natural catastrophes, we would have our hands more than completely full.
The Wormtown Festival folks were moving around the grounds with Nascar and Tour de France like efficiency. It was dusty and misty and everybody was bouncing. There was an occasional wipe out. It was early morning and there was a foggy, sunny haze. It had been a night of camping, dancing and exploring time at Wormtown's annual festival. Worm people are good people. I was greeted with many hello's and warm, smiling faces.
Star Drooker is a great musician, photographer, artist and philanthropist whom I first met on the Cafι Sinι scene in New York City in the late 80's. He was with a band called Native Tongue. Years later, I found my way to the Fire and Water Cafι, Star and his wife Trish's venue/art space/vegan restaurant in Northampton, MA. We reconnected and I began a to perform there regularly.
Star and Trish founded Salmon Boy Foundation after their first son Jesse lived a painfully short 19 days with a unique heart. Star and I connected on a Jungean type super-consciousness regarding Salmon Boy. Let me explain.
About a week before I reconnected with Star I had a dream that I was a salmon spawning upstream. My dream was stark realism as I struggled to swim upstream, over rocks, past the teeth of a grizzly bear. It was an underwater dream, though there were a few moments when I jumped out of the water. As a scuba diver and a psychedelicist, this dream was and archtypal vision for me. It was like an American Indian vision quest revelation. As an artist, it has deep meaning for me.
When I saw Star again he was singing about the same thing. I breathed halleluya and was home again. My first CD is dedicated to the memory of his son Jesse.
I played the Fire and Water many times and Star would join me on stage often. As a music fan I always enjoy Ani diFranco's duet sets with her drummer. There's a crisp groove created between singer, guitarist and drummer. Without bass, lead guitar and keyboards, there's a freshness to the sound and space. Star arrived at GOE with his new cocktail kit (a small drum set) to join me on stage for two great sets.
We built a percussive sound. A lock between the strummy jangled quality of the acoustic guitar skating over the pointillism of the hi-hat, bass and snare drums. The drums act like feet that touch the ground as we walk, and the guitar, vocal and lyrics are the body's movement between steps. Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" was a high point in the set. "Fifth and Faith" and "Wind Lift Me" were well received. A special shout to my friends in Strangefolk and Max Creek and the rest of the great roster of artists that weekend.CMJ 2004
Invited by the fine folks at Relix Magazine, the CMJ jamcase at the Lion's Den on my old stomping grounds near NYU in the West Village was great fun. More than 10,000 music professionals, artists and fans converge on New York City every year for CMJ Music Marathon. In addition to keynote speakers and an exhibition area with a live performance stage, the event features dozens of panels covering topics affecting all corners of the music industry. At night, you can catch thousands of performers at clubs throughout the city, plus celebrate film and music with the CMJ FilmFest.
When CMJ was still a puppy, The Hour (my first band) was on a compilation CD along with Live and TheThe. The CD is now a collectors item. I've played in many showcases over the years but this was special because Relix fans support great music and I was honored to be invited to perform by them.
I met a fine young band from San Francisco called Ten Mile Tide, having the time of their life. Their name reminded me of the Byrds classic, Eight Miles High. My set was groove oriented. There was a lot of chugging and riffing coming from my amazing sounding Carlo Greco steel 6 string. I again discovered the powerful contrast during a solo acoustic set that can be made between a fat funky groove and fingerpicking a delicate pattern. This was the best thing that came out of this set for me artistically, realizing that a whisper can be louder than a scream and the tasteful balance of the two make for a captivating performance.Harvestfest 2004
Travelling to and from The 10th Annual New York State Harvestfest and Freedom Fair near Utica, NY the countryside was splattered with the colors and details of fall. It was a glorious foliage ride filled with the reds, coppers, bronzes, irons, greens and browns that make up the joyous palette that is the peak of autumn. I played a solo acoustic set of originals and covers, including Led Zeppelin's "Rainsong", sandwiched between King Vito and Melvin Seals on a chilly, drizzly fall afternoon while the Harvestfest party peaked in front of me.Corsica/Le Corse
Off the south of France and west of Italy is the famous island of Corsica, birthplace of Napoleon.
I recently visited the bottom of this amazing, under-developed, modern island. Originally a Medici colony, it is a fiercely independent place, very disagreeable to Paris' reaching hand over the centuries. It has its own culture and language. There are Gypsy Kings like troubadours and nylon string guitar, throat singing music throughout. It seems we are nearing the end of Corsican independence as French authorities are cracking down on the most fierce terrorist independence movement alive in Europe, including even the I.R.A. who are still yet to disarm.
Corsicans don't want Corsica developed. I imagine they feel like I do and Jim Morrison who said it well: "What have they done to the earth? Tied her up in fences and dragged her down."
Who needs another strip mall? Corsica is beautiful in its undeveloped wilderness. There are wild cattle and boars, and much wildlife. Rocks, mountains and beaches everywhere. The Corsican market is incredible. There are kegs of wine, vats of olives, piles of fresh bread and cheeses, succulent sausages and delightful amaretto cookies to mention a few of my favorites. The food is fresh and invigorating. Have I inspired you to move there? Think again, it is next to impossible to move there and set up shop. I met a man from Normandy who went there 25 years ago, built a fine house and opened a beach restaurant. His restaurant was blown up. He and his family rent their house during the summer, living in a trailer to make ends meet. Along a main road, there is a blown up disco.Entry No.23 Paris, France July 2004 Check out my pictures from Paris
About the Paris pictures: Do these pictures from Paris answer the question: Where does Matt go for inspiration? Paris. Oui? No? Is this not the answer?
There's a couple of shots of Matt playing in the type of music store you'd expect to see Sting or Jimmy Page hanging out. Also Matt writing down new ideas for songs along the Seine. Scribble here, scribble there, make a song. Easy as quiche.
Ahh Paris. It is truly a place to be inspired and do some writing. I needed a little pick-me-up and had to go to there to get my juices flowing. Her name is Pauline, and she's lovely. The city itself is the gray of the slate they use in the architecture, but there is nothing about the culture that is gray. Nothing finer than hitting a cafι in Le Marais late night for Steak Frites and Kronenbourg, before wandering into an ancient musical instruments store you would expect to see Sting or David Bromberg in, where I played a mandolin worth more than a lot as well as some guitars from the last century. The owner, Andre Bissonnet is a real craftsmen. He works his instruments and could play them all. He's a real Parisian Carlo Greco. I had a great time in his shop and vow to return a wealthier version of myself.
At night, every ten minutes the Eiffel Tower went of like a sparkler - a beloved leftover from the millenium change that Parisians have kept up with. We caught Johnny Clegg and Savuka in concert. Brilliant. I also enjoyed a party with Paris's art set, celebrating a new book about what inspires the best French songwriters of today. And what about those chocolate shops? Yummm!!! Indulge. I know what inspires New York songwriters of today. Paris is for lovers.Clearwater Festival: The Great Hudson River Revival 2004
Clearwater Festival is off to a great start after 35 years and it's all about community.
Everyone had commented on 2003 and the weather washout it was. We were all hit pretty hard and we all got up. I have always been inspired by Pete Seeger, who along with Sonny Ochs, Toshi Seeger and others developed this festival to be the main fundraiser for the environmental justice organization known as Clearwater.
Like Bob Marley says, "You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you're from."
So, how did I get here? Searching for justice, before I was even born, Pete visited the Highlander School in Virginia. It was there he, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Guy and Candie Carawan and Zilphia Horton first created and discovered "We Shall Overcome." Pete told me Dr. King hit them with it and how they were all sparked. A few years later Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel would march alongside Dr. King. (Heschel second from right, King fourth from right in Selma to Montgomery March 1965) Heschel's legacy is at the center of todays Jewish spiritual movement in New York and around the world. To do it Heschel's way, you have to be non-violent, get out there with your feet to make it happen and be sure to sing along the way. Hold on tight!
At Clearwater, inner-city kids and anybody from Beacon, Poughkeepsie - even New York City get on the Hudson River to learn about the inter-connectedness of all life. And this is what is important for us all to share in.Entry No.22 Havana, Cuba March 2004 Check out my slideshow from Cuba
Cuba is an amazingly beautiful country with fine people and a complicated history. If only the U.S.A. could have treated Cuba and Puerto Rico like Hawaii. We would have 52 states then. PR is practically a state, but they want to remain a protectorate, whatever that is. Tao Rodriguez-Seeger from the Mammals told me 48 percent of men drafted and sent to Vietnam were from Puerto Rico. In PR you pay US taxes, are not represented in Washington D.C. and are drafted into the US Army. Cuba could be a state very easily. I will mention it to Senator John Kerry when I see him.
In Cuba, like much of our world, many people are suffering and impoverished. The economy is in a shambles. Whether you are in NYC, Gaza or Havana, it is all about the three E's: education, employment and economy. In Havana I met mothers begging for the need of milk for their babies. There is a great lack of catalytic converters and tires. There are no building materials, no steel, concrete, bricks. Plenty of mojitos, salsa, cerveza, expresso, sugar cane juice, rhumba and bland food, especially chicken for the touring. There are no spices. The embargo makes impoverished people suffer more. Cuba has a strong colonial feel because of its history. It is also steeped in marxist leninist revolution. And to think Nixon had a chance with Castro!! It has a cold war feel and yet is very American. Che Guevara is huge cult of personality. His picture is everywhere. I thought a lot about Dr. Martin Luther King's example of non-violent demonstration.
Cuba has conquered racism. I wish we could here in America. It is so refreshing to see people of all color and ethnicity being together effortlessly.
Along with my buddy Tom and some friends, we delivered over 500 pounds of medicine on a US government sanctioned trip. Cuba has good doctors but they lack medication. We brought meds to community run pharmacy's in Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santa Clara. Across the water from Cienfuegos there's a nuclear reactor the USSR put 1.2 billion dollars into. It's incomplete. When are we going to close Indian Point? The medicines we brought will help some people, even prolong some lives. Back in the states, I noticed medical commercials during the academy awards and recognized meds we brought. When are we going to give AIDS drugs on a large scale to Africans?
I made music where we went with local musicians and on my own. I could sit in on "Chan Chan", "Cuarto de Tula", "Oigame Compay" and "Guantanamera". One night I sang "Dear Mr. President" and the refrain "could I have a dollar more" had new significance. In Cuba, the US dollar is everything as far as currency goes. How can this be? Castro's communist island uses the greenback as her currency? If you are a typical Havana man, one US dollar will get you 25 expressos. For me one. Everything cost me a buck. More or less. I went down with 300 singles. Spent them all.
Cuba is music and Havana is one hot town. Salsa, bolero, son, rhumba. Lazaro Valdes and Bambaleo are my new Michael Franti and Spearhead of Cuban salsa. Superstars!! Also the National Folkloric Center in Havana rocked a saturday afternoon of rhumba to the orishas. I danced and an old woman told me with a smile in Spanish, 'you don't dance like a green-go'. I took that as a compliment. Met Dr. R, the Alan Lomax of Cuba. Pete Seeger and Henrietta Yurchenko had told me about him. He musically oriented us somewhat. He is an expert in Cuban music and we enjoyed learning about the folkloric origins of Cuban music and her instrumentation. He will be lecturing in Brussels in May.
My absolute personsal highlight was when I went to the instrument factory near the baseball stadium. Dr. R pointed me there and I met the manager and the foreman. We toured the factory and saw how well Cuban instruments are made. I picked up a Cuban Oud, different from an Arabic one, more like a mandolin, and am learning how to play it.
Gracias a la vida.Cancun, Mexico Check out my Mexico slideshow
Cancun is gorgeous, especially the isolated beaches and cliffs. It is home to Mayan culture. They created a near perfect lunar calendar and exceptional mathematics. They cultivated meditation and prayer rooms. In their inner-Yucutan holy city, there were 30,000 people making up the priestly class. They had blow-darts and slingshots for the Spanish when they arrived with swords. The elite of the priestly class played the Mayan ball game. It was a game of 7 on 7 on a split level field. 6 on 6, and then on each sideline, a meter and a half high and wide. One man stood below a centered 4 meter high vertical hoop made of stone. Snakes and skulls are carved into the stone. They played with a rubber ball smaller than a soccer ball. They couldn't use their hands. It was like soccer with a taller vertical basketball hoop. Mayan men were 1.5 meters tall. They drilled gold and stone into their teeth. Mayan ball games lasted up to 6 or 8 months. When a point was scored, the scorer was brought to the center of the field and decapitated. It adds even more insight into my tune King Blood.
In Cancun I made new friends from as far away as Istanbul. I enjoyed playing almost every night for an interested international set. Highlights for me were covering U2's "One", Van Morrison's "The Way Young Lovers Do", and working out new originals. There was a regal heron that would come to a bay alcove near my room. Also a crocodile named Albert named after a fisherman he bit who taunted him with fish. Albert the fisherman was okay, and the croc was henceforth named Albert. San Francisco
Flying out of the Burbank Airport I ran into Scott, the drummer from San Francisco's up-and-coming band, Tea Leaf Green. How synchronistic to bump in to each other like that! We rode the train through the tube under the bay and caught up on where we'd been since last we met. Rolling into Market Street I met my friend Elizabeth. We made our way to Cafι du Nord. During prohibition it was a speak easy. Scott's friend's were playing, celebrating ten years as a band and performed a great set. The lighting was fantastic.
The following night, the members of Tea Leaf Green and girlfriends came down to the Last Day Saloon to listen and support me. I met them at Berkfest a couple of summers back and it was great to see them again on their home turf. Later we were hanging at the Elbo Room, shooting pool and listening to Afro-Cuban music, dancing and laughing the night away.Entry No.21 December 2003
A first blizzard has blanketed everything along the cliffs of the Hudson.Harvestfest 2003
Looking back through the white, dark brown, muted greens and blues to Echo Lake the site of Harvestfest. The sunshine, throughout a brilliant indian summer weekend, was the star. Iridescent green and blue shone on the lake. Concert-goers strolled as dragonflies soared through lillies and me. Magic was in the air. I rolled in as my dying Jetta "Maggie" was approaching her last stand. I miss her. Pulling in I was greeted by Damn Sam and the Evil Genius himself. The stage was like a dusty oasis. Cold beer like you crave in Texas in July quickly cooled my tempo. Freezing and in a can it goes down quick and cold. PBR, Bud, Busch, even Mickey's Big Mouth. The Evil Genius, Gregg Jarvis and I saddled up to the bar. Tequila tamed until wanderlust surged. Into adventure I landed lakeside far from the stage. Across the lake I could hear "The Wall" cranking, the sound crystal clear. Roger Waters and David Gilmour called, screamed, even whispered as the sun set over Echo Lake. Laying down on the moss I fell into dreams. My last words were, "devastating beauty in time...dancing Dionysis, oh, good Ganesh."Los Angeles
I awoke as the train pulled into LA's Central Station. En route I saw where the earth had been scorched from recent fires. When warm Santa Ana winds blew, soot, star dust and debris showed the skies to be blacker than Mordor. It appeared a tough omen for the "Governator". Alongside the oceanfront seals and surfers would gather. Captain Aubrey's ship was there, fresh from Galapagos. Art-deco Central Station and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive whispered in my ear, 'this is LA'. I was picked up by the Director, who with his muse brought me blindfolded to the banquet. We dined in glory to the chorus, "Winds of time will blow your life away, and moving faster." Then we rode in a chariot to Genghiz Cohen, a kosher chinese joint and served up great songs. Instead of an alarm, I was awakened at "4am, it was Amanda once again, and she wanted to know will her sun ever rise?" It's coming soon.San Francisco
Flying out of the Burbank Airport I ran into Scott, the drummer from SF's up-and-coming band, Tea Leaf Green. How synchronistic to bump in to each other lke that! We rode the train through the tube under the bay and caught up on where we'd been since last we met. Rolling into Market Street I met my friend Elizabeth. We made our way to Cafe du Nord. During prohibition it was a speak easy. Scott's friend's were playing, celebrating ten years as a band and performed a great set. The lighting was fantastic.
The following night, the members of Tea Leaf Green and girlfriends came down to the Last Day Saloon to listen and support me. I met them at Berkfest a couple of summers back and it was great to see them again on their home turf. Later we were hanging at the Elbo Room, shooting pool and listening to Afro-Cuban music, dancing and laughing the night away.Entry No.20 September 2003
Summer is a great season for festivals, music and travelling. I get inspired travelling and I find myself affected by what I experience. I've been writing new songs which I'll be playing out soon, so you can look forward to that.N'Orleans
At the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I played a few shows at Cafι Brasil and at Touro Synagogue's Jazz Fest with their featured artist Ellis Marsalis. In the Big Easy. I had the pleasure of meeting some of my musical heroes including Fred Wesley, Buckwheat Zydeco, Melvin Sparks and Bobby Watley (the king of Acid-Jazz). Festival highlights included performances by The Neville Brothers, Joe Cocker and Lucinda Williams. Travelling with my buddy, chef-extraordinaire, Erik Peters, food was of course an important highlight of the trip. I learned the true virtue of hot sauce and the value of cold beer.
On to Atlanta for the annual Music Midtown Festival where I played the grassroots corporate-sponsor-free stage where I felt right at home. The festival is in the heart of midtown Atlanta which results in audio chaos; Def Leppard bouncing off skyscrapers and colliding with LL Cool J. I avoided the cacaphony by making my way to the front of the stage for the Gypsy Kings, Aimee Mann, and Susan Tedeschi.Clearwater 2003
The unrelenting summer rain set a soggy tone for Clearwater's Hudson River Revival in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. None-the-less, a great weekend was had by all who braved the weather. In addition to hosting the Circle of Song stage, I performed alongside Matt Fried. I became acquainted with great artists including Jill Sobule, Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams and Jack and Daria Grace and a host of other talented artists and music lovers.The Berkshires
Up to Berkshire Mountains of Massachussetts for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival where I performed in showcase style with Acoustic Live and Tribes Hill. Musically, KJ Denhert and Fred Gillen Jr. turned me on the most. It was great to see old friends like former bandmate Carey Harmon (The Hour) and Todd Schaeffer whip up the crowd in their band Railroad Earth. They played a fantastic set of high-energy, harmony drenched jamgrass.
Arlo Guthrie's message about the world was the most meaningful to me. He said he meets folks he completely disagrees with, but because all parties care about the future they are meeting to figure it out.
Richard Thompson played a brilliant, beautiful set that included his classic tale of love and/of motorcylces, '57 Vincent. The Berkshires are one of my favorite spots on this earth, and camping atop the farm was magical. Early in the morning I (half)expected to see Gandalf riding up on Shadowfax. Next year I want to be on that bill!
At Berkshire Mountain Music Festival I performed a solo "tweener" set followed by Steve Kimock on the big stage. Beads of sweat poured off my face in the late afternoon sun, while the enthusiastic, but very hot, crowd sat beneath big shady trees on top of the slope. Berkfest united me with new fans and old friends including Dean Bowman, a unique and gifted singer with an arsenal of songs and stories to share. Dean's musical cohort, Twisted Tuesdays electronic percussionist Gregg Jarvis, joined me adding a funky groove to a wet but wonderful 4:20 set on Sunday.
My favorite band was Brooklyn's Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, who delivered that Fela Kuti infectious groove. A Berkfest treat was the humor evident in the music of Fuzz (Deep Banana Blackout) and Stephen Kellogg. I met Warren Haynes, who played to a rain-drenched crowd on Sunday and Butch Trucks, who was there looking for new bands to sign to his label Flying Frog. Hey Butch, looky here!It
Phish's "It" provided an golden opportunity for my first job in film. As assistant to a dolly-grip I saw all six sets perched in front of the soundboard. Watching Jackson, the dolly-grip I assisted, was like watching a ballet. True grace. Lots of mud. It was pretty silly to watch the few fans who tried to jump on the dolly tracks while we were filming, unaware of the delicate nature of the dolly. Phish delivered an incredible event, as always. They never disappoint me. Trey rules!Garden of Eden
Strangefolk's swan song, the 8th annual Garden of Eden, was a great opportunity to hang out and support my dear old friends Luke Patchen and Jen Phelps-Montgomery, with whom I played in The Hour. Backstage I met the infamous Mike Gordon, who performed that day with Max Creek. "Matt Turk? I've heard of you." Wow!
At the summer beach party on Fire Island hosted by Bruce and Mark Becher we all ate a lot of Max & Mina's Ice Cream! I love those folks! They really know how to put on a great show.
Finally, I went up to Poughkeepsie to see my old pals, Blues Traveler. John Popper is truly incredible. We were all really happy to see each other again at the after-show party. Memories of my younger days gigging around Manhattan with them came back in a sweet way.Entry No.19 May 2003
Spring is generous. It began two miles high in Crested Butte, Colorado.
As you can see from my photos, it is spectacular. The air has a distinct, dry, thin quality that can be hard to get used to when you live at sea level. Chairlifted atop the mountain, the village of Crested Butte is but a blink beneath enormous nature. Uplifting and exhilarating, I was able to detach from my east coast anxiety and emerge in the moment that is now. My visit was during the 12th annual Extreme Competitions where snowboard and ski fanatics flocked. Jamming on the sun deck was the sweetest. My good buddy Chef Erik Peters led the charge for a high picnic where many friends showed up including Carlos Castro (seen getting down singing "I Got a Woman"). Thanks to a tip from Jack Grace I visited KBUT.org community radio. They found What Gives to be "great stuff."
Back in New York, I brought the band to Tribeca and played with Jen and Luke Patchen during their April residency there. I sat in with them a few times and had a lot of fun playing with Jen and Luke. Their duo is called Patch of Eden. Luke also plays in Strangefolk, and we all played together in "The Hour" years ago. The last jam at Tribeca was with Jen, Luke, and old friends Greg Koerner and Tom Kaelin, now the rhythm section with former Grateful Dead/Tubes keyboardist Vince Welnick's band Gent Treadly. Good jams were had by all.Entry No.18 April 2003
Whatever fear and anticipation precipitated my 10 hour flight to Israel was quelled by the beautiful flight attendants of El Al Airlines and Ambien.
Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz invited me to visit schools, hospitals, military bases, political offices, centers for the elderly, colleges and the street. We met with Jews and Christians, Moslems and Druse, Arabs and Israelis of all ages.
I chose not to tell most of my family I was going to the center of the world's hot-bed of controversy as a troubadour at a time when most people would rather bomb it or stay away. We kept our fears under wraps, even with the gas masks in the hotel.
Speaking with an Arab Israeli leader returning from Mecca, I asked if other Arabs hassled him because he was an Israeli citizen. He said it was worse. In Jordan, Israeli passports are exchanged for Jordanian ones. Once in Saudi Arabia praying, this man noticed the carpet he was on. It's label read "Made in Israel".
A rare 9 inch snowfall in Jerusalem was especially brilliant. Most moving was a memorial we had for the former leader Yitzhak Rabin at the site he was slain. One evening I jammed with old friend Jon Miller and the Grinders. E. James Smith filmed the entire trip for an upcoming documentary.
Check out my Israeli road sign collection.Entry No.17 February 2003
Nothing to do except be on a Bahia beach, find some shade and enjoy a Caiperinha.
Nothing to worry about at the moment, my kind of moment. These boys on horseback have so much dignity. What happens in our world that we diminish each others dignity so? What have we done? These boys don't know, but one day they will probably be robbed of their innocence. All one can do is let go gratefully on a Bahia beach.
What the hell is a Caiperinha?Entry No.16 December 2002
Steve Earle spoke to me through the pages of Vanity Fair...
Am I really admitting I read Vanity Fair on the internet? He advised me to pick up a copy of "Warriors of God" by James Reston Jr. I was inspired to read passages aloud to my grandparents while relaxing on Del Mar Beach. And La Jolla too. This history of the Third Crusade illuminates the foundation for the clash of cultures in the Middle East and throughout the world today. Thanks Steve.Entry No.15 Late October 2002
On an utterly fantastic fall day, photographer Spencer Tunick rallied 100 beautiful people to pose nude for him at Opus 40 in Saugerties, NY.
Opus 40 is this outrageous stone earth sculpture built over 37 years by artist Harvey Fite. Named Opus 40 because the goal was to finish it in 40 years, the sculptor died in the 37th year of construction.
We were in Sao Paolo, Brazil, when Spencer invited me to play at his Opus 40 shoot. He was exhibiting work at the Biennial. We reconvened under glorious Catskill Mountain fall foliage. I chilled on a stump, gazed at the mountains, faced the models, played trance-like open tunings on guitar and mandolin, sang Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and Led Zep's "Thank You" and the Beatles "Because" honoring all these amazing people coming together making it possible for Spencer Tunick to create this amazing artwork.Entry No.14 Early October 2002
Summertime was filled with Clearwater and Berkfest. My friend Pete Seeger created the circle of song at the Hudson River Revival.
and I had the fortune to manage the stage. My bud Matt Fried helped me run it, and we had the best singing along. All about participation, every artist had to engage everyone to participate. The culmination was the circle of choruses which surrounded hundreds of folks. Gospel moves earth was proven by the Serendipity Chorale of Norwalk.
Berkfest was a blast. I love Ozomatli, Robert Randolph, and am glad my friend, and once in a while bassist Andy Hess joined up with John Scofield. Hess rocks. I did a couple sets on the smaller stages, jammed with Jen Phelps-Montgomery, and Luke Patchen of Strangefolk who used to be in The Hour with me years ago. It was fun meeting Fuzz from Deep Banana Blackout and Stephen Kellogg who are very funny. Remember what Mark Twain said about laughter:
"The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that's laughter. The moment it arises, all our our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place."
Dean Bowman was awesome too! I love outdoor festivals, and all the musicians, fans and festival organizers honored the Cathedral of the Sky.
We also finished a brand new CD entitled "What Gives" which is being released in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for release party info!
Whew!Entry No.13 June 11, 2002
It was 1994, and Peter Gabriel was sharing his world music treats with the Woodstock II kids.
On stage was a fantastic Senegalese kora player - unfortunately, for Gabriel and the kora, Green Day was on deck, and the fans were booing, shouting, "get the fuck off the stage". It was almost as stupid as hearing John Popper at 4:00 in the morning, with a bullhorn screaming, "I fucked your ... " Gross. I was so pissed off I split - I love the kora. Went last week to check out Green Day again. If there is hope for the environment it is Green Day. Down to earth, fun, and really smart: I love this band!
And now Dee Dee Ramone's dead too.Entry No.12 Apr. 18, 2002
International men of mystery are not exactly like Austin Powers, but I am in awe to have met Peter Malkin, the spy who captured Adolf Eichmann.
Eichmann killed 11 million people, 6 million Jews, 1 and a half million children. He designed the gas chamber and the rail system which sent them to their deaths. Malkin is a hero, and the reason he captured Eichmann and brought him to Jerusalem for trial was so the world would know this horror really happened.
I was in Washington DC the other day for the largest rally in support of the state of Israel, the only democracy in the middle east.
I am hoping for the non-violent messages of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi to take root in the Arab world, amongst Arabs. Non-violence is the only way. I realize that though September 11 was a horrific day of terror, and we lost thousands of loved ones, history has shown the magnitude and potential is far greater. Terror is no way.
Democracy and non-violence are the only way. Get on the bus. I will bring the guitar.Entry No.11 Feb. 21, 2002
Bachanal is Carnival and Carnival is Bachanal - this is the mantra in Trinidad for days preceding ash Wednesday.
My favorite thing to do aside from scuba dive in Tobago was to go to the Trinidad panyard, drink a cold Carib, and listen to the Steel Drum Pan Bands like Invaders and Exodus get their music together. 50 or more musicians playing drums that were created when the British Empire forbade the use of drums; it was getting in the way of oil production- Trinibagonians took the oil keg, cut it half and created a new drum when their skin drums were taken away.
Dancing in the street is a big part of the fun, especially during dirty mas(querade) which begins after 2am, runs through the next day, and involves painting your body, and purifying through excess. We do that real well.
We enjoyed a society party at Miss Universe's house. Penny is a very classy lady and it was a thrill to be in her home at such a great time. Maintain eye contact.
The West Indian culture is brilliant. Amazing food: Calliloo, Casavo, goat curry, the freshest fish and produce ever. The people are a fantastic blend of European, African, Indian and Asian. It is not uncommon to see a black person with blue eyes: mix, mix, mix, and you will create beauty.Entry No.10 Jan. 28, 2002
Live it up friend, and in that spirit I picked up a 1969 silver faced Fender pro-reverb amp.
Like my mandolin it is older than I am. As time goes by, I simplify, and gear wise this is a great triumph. Much digital gear imitates the sound this amplifier puts out. It was hand made. The tremolo, and reverb give the amp a style and warmth I have been missing. I am augmenting the amp with a tubescreamer peddle, a cry baby wah-wah, and occasionaly analog delay.
I have plans to go into the recording studio with producer Jay Newland in late February to finish my second record. It has been a process of patience. I am grateful to all of your patience.Entry No.9 Dec. 10, 2001
Like a child, relegated to the basement of the Knitting Factory to play, I was having flashbacks of the Wetlands lounge.
Friend and former Wetlands owner Peter Shapiro is filming Chick Corea and his month stint at the Blue Note. How cool!! It felt great to debut 7 new songs to an intimate audience in the bowels of downtown nyc. Outside the lights of ground zero illuminate massive cranes hauling seemingly unlimited earth. In New Haven I happened to meet Trey Gunn, touring with King Crimson and John Paul Jones. Apparently Jones plays a mandolin through a Marshall stack. What a gem.
Keep safe.Entry No.8 Nov. 15, 2001
Giving food, coffee, socks, boots and Marlboros to police, fireman, steel workers and teenage national guardsmen, I spent a night at ground zero.
The fire is still burning. Nobody can do anything but get through this. The church we were in is on the corner of Broadway and Fulton. George Washington prayed there. We were tending to feet where Washington prayed. The music fire still burns. Fantastic fall foliage during gigs in Boston, Woodstock, Northampton, and Poughkeepsie.
Psychedelic scene: Everytime the wind blows, it rains showers of gold. I climbed into channel 12 TV Westchester for Clearwater: GE clean up the Hudson River! Enjoying an ever-growing circle with writer Jim Rado (Hair), producer John Arrias (Jeff Beck's Wired, Bob Seger), and trumpeter Frank London (The Klezmatics). We are doing everything possible to deliver a new record in 2002.Entry No.7 Sept. 25, 2001
Upon reflection of the events unfolding in recent weeks, I found this poem by W. H. Auden relevant. I hope you will too.
September 1, 1939 by W. H. Auden
I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
And the international wrong.
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.
From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
I tumbled like a pebble and gave my whole body a ding unseen - ouch!!
I am getting better now, but I gave my shoulder a shocker - It didn't prevent me from having a blast in Northampton at the Pines and then the Fire and Water with D-Rock, Seeking Homer, The Samples, and Bruce Hornsby - Meeting Bruce was very cool - and I am amazed how young he seems - proving, good living (which can include a lot of bad things), and playing music can keep your energy young - stop thinking - start singing. I like that, though if you want to go work in tall buildings - ask John Hartford first - and how 'bout them Soggy Bottom Boys!! Well, Yonder Mountain String Band is on their way, and after Widespread Panic left the stage, Wetlands was ours - I am doing a little here and there, mostly letting the yin contract, as the yang expands - you can't always be hustlin' - especially this August (in New York City).Entry No.5 July 2, 2001
I was high and lonesome during this first week of summer 2002.
It began with me opening a show for The Del McCoury Band. "Old and In The Way" has always been tops for me, and Del is the king of this "high and lonesome" American sound. There is nothing quite like meeting your heroes. It was odd when JayZ was loading in behind Del and I. It was hip hop meeting bluegrass. The following night I stopped by to visit my friends The Samples, at Irving Plaza, and everyone enjoyed their uplifting, rootsy sound. I had the pleasure of playing mandolin on a tune with Sean in front of a gorgeous, sold-out crowd.
Then, it was off to the Gathering of the Vibes, where the most satisfying moment was seeing old friends Jen, Luke, and Phoebe, enjoying enormous success. Luke and Jen were both members of The Hour with me, and Luke plays with Strangefolk. Strangefolk killed!! Keep a coolie baby!Entry No.4 June 22, 2001
My buddy Russ Irwin, Aerosmith keyboardist, popped into Makor to jam with the band, as well as making it to the studio to enlighten tracks on the new record. Drummer Kevin Hupp is taking July off from the Matt Turk Band, and will be touring with Rufus Wainwright. Producer Jay Newland and Matt have been balancing finishing the new record, and giving it the joy, time, and space it needs to be the special sauce it deserves to be. Beyond Shelter volunteers, Debbie Friedman, Frank London, Adrienne Cooper, Ryan Zawel, Symphony Space, Matt Turk, and all involved raised a great chunk of money for Beyond Shelter, trying to help homeless people. Clearwater's Hudson River Revival 2002 highlights were Pete Seeger, Linda Richards, Rick Nestler, and Matt Turk songleading the spirited vibe at the circle of song, totally acoustic, for a group of Pete's friends visiting from Japan. Dan Einbender is second to none in his energy and ability as a folksinger leading the raging in the children's tent for families avoiding rain. Donna the Buffalo are pretty happening!! It was great to see Nevessa's Chris Andersen recording mobile, as he will be doing at the Gathering of the Vibes.
PCB's will be cleaned out of the Hudson River by GE. They will do the right thing. Do the right thing.Entry No.3 May 9, 2001
When I arrived in Turks Caicos I could smell Castro's cigar...
Sharkies was my beachfront sunset bar. besos del caribe- then to New Orleans. No time for trapeze, time to dance to The Funky Meters, WWOZ, Femi Kuti, and in that big bad gospel tent Carol Thomas was introduced. Another glitch in the matrix? Henry Butler was asking for still more dancers. My head was in salsa spin. merengue madness, funky butt, cajun creep, dusty feet, dizzy treat...
Now back in hell's kitchen I have a smoke with my friend the dishwasher, he says the devil is the chef. I see walking eye dogs with more responsibility than most people.
Joey Ramone's dead.Entry No.2 Winter into Spring 2001
We've started a new album...
I'm working again with producer Jay Newland. We've cut the basic tracks at ACME Studio in Mamaroneck, NY and have been working with ProTools at the The Grapes house in Stamford, CT.
Kevin Hupp, who's worked with many greats including Rufus Wainright, Joan Osborne, Maceo Parker is on drums. Mike Leslie (Rufus Wainright),> and Jack Daley (Lenny Kravitz, Everlast) on bass, and boy, are we rocking.
We are letting the special sauce simmer, and will taste it in May
Gig highlights have included a crazy 70 minute opening set for a sold out NRBQ show in NYC - and killer shows at Wetlands with Keller Williams of String Cheese Incident, and Sean Kelly of The Samples.
I enjoyed playing at Ithaca College, and knowing the Rhinecliff Hotel is still standing gives me a warm feeling all over.Entry No.1 November 2000
Approaching a full moon, been humping, stumping, running, asking...
Where have you been this September (see the seven? even though it is the ninth month) 2000..
In New Haven, Chard and I visited Louis' est. 1895, home of America's first burger - hand flopped, grilled vertically, grease dripping, white toast, no ketchup- and ole time soda's. Threatened with demolition folks moved Louis' 5 blocks to save it-5 generations of fathers, and sons have maintained it. Louis' Lunch 261-263 Crown St. New Haven, CT. Birthplace of the Burger.
I had the pleasure of being on Peter Bochan's WBAI show, Mixed Up, the best part for me was hearing an amazing unreleased Jeff Beck cut into my track Buffalohead. I played Wind Lift Me, Fifth and Faith and Jimmy live in the studio. Then Peter closed with a tasty live Jimi Hendrix track. WBAI 99.5fm is now on Wall Street. People were looking for Abbie Hoffman throwing cash. We have the show on DAT.
I also had the pleasure of singing at the Library for the Blind in Chelsea. On a rainy day I met some of the most fantastic people ever. I was asked if I can read music and how I learn music. I said, "at my best I hear it, feel it, express it, and I can read some, but not enough to hurt my playing." We laughed.