THE WILD // SALMON ARM // N. CAROLINA // MONTANA
I spent three weeks on the ground in Montana in July, care-taking the Castle up at Billy's, and preparing elaborate meals with the band, our families, and various old friends passing through, everyone laughing and drinking wine on the deck late into the evening as the long northern light fell away. I slept outside under a pile of quilts and watched Venus rise through the teeth of the Crazies, trailing the moon. I followed the river up into the mountains where it stays clear and cold before the ranchers take it - diverting what they need and generally more, to water crops and livestock - and I caught improbably large Cutthroat trout in small water, in gravel bends that gave way to freestone, and then wide slabs of rock cut into tall cliffs. Heywood, the only member of the band who has ever missed lobby call, managed to rise in the dark before anyone and leave on day-long rambles, summitting three peaks in the Bridgers, and coming back sunburned and happy with a handful of mountain goat wool for my daughter. There were ravens and eagles, hawks, kites, cranes and owls every day, and the silence was so massive that sometimes the wing beats would startle me before I saw anything, a sound like a bellows over my head. I drove the ranch roads and lifted one finger off the steering wheel at the passing trucks, imitating their finely calibrated greeting, the combination of nonchalance and courtliness, if not exactly approval. I tried to let the quiet build up in me, and penetrate as far as it would go.
August is going to be one of those months. I’ve been driving around in the truck, fishing a lot, working on moving slow. I'm writing this on a plane over Minnesota on my way home from Salt Lake and this week it’s British Columbia, then North Carolina a week later, and back to Montana and Wyoming before September is half gone. It was my idea so it's hard to find anyone to complain to, and anyway it's going to be a hell of a lot of fun, it’ll just require all the quiet I have. Meanwhile, there's plenty going on, so let's get to it.
THE WILD - I'm delighted to tell you that the pre-sale campaign for THE WILD, the new album from Kris Delmhorst, which I both co-produced and played on, went live on Pledge Music this morning. The fall release tour dates are announced, the publicity is in train. We’ll be out together around the country touring as a split bill, sharing my band, performing her new record and previewing my next one (Blood Brothers - 2018) in consecutive sets, with Billy on drums and Moses on bass, me on guitars, perhaps the occasional pinch-hitter sitting in.
This record moves like a classic, and goes after the marrow of life with courage and candor: elegantly written, open-handed songs for full grown humans. You’re going to want to own this album, and share the hell out of the pre-sale link. Get in on the ground floor today: hear the title cut and watch the trailer, pre-order your copy on CD, vinyl, or digital, and perhaps consider adding a few extras to the cart. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes, and a publicist. You can hear the Faces-inflected 'Rule to Games,' the first full track premiere, at The Bluegrass Situation for a limited time, right now.
SALMON ARM - This week we'll play the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, BC (8/18), on a bill that includes Frazey Ford, Stephen Fearing, and Ricky Skaggs. Billy's from Minnesota and grew up playing hockey, which makes him practically Canadian, so we won't need a translator.
NORTH CAROLINA- 8/25 I'll be in North Carolina, performing duo with Eric Heywood on steel and electric guitars on a split bill with our old friend Eilen Jewell, at a new club in Raleigh called the Stags Head. Next day we'll roll down to Asheville for the Jam in the Trees Festival (8/26), on a bill that includes Jim Lauderdale, and Peter Rowan. One wonders if the festival grounds are air-conditioned.
MONTANA - There are still a few cabins left at the E Bar L Ranch in Greenough, MT for the Beargrass Writing Retreat: Craft talks, workshops, manuscript consults, and cocktail hour with some of the best writers working, convened at the oldest guest ranch in Montana, where horse-backing, skeet-shooting, fly-fishing are not uncommon pursuits and where Billy and I will play a set of music every night. I just found out that Kevin Goodan - a truly great poet whose book ‘In the Ghost House Acquainted’ has been a companion to me for more than a decade - will be there this year, and I expect him to provide the only real competition in the Authentic Troubadour Arm-Wrestling Contest. He appears to have a few pounds on me, and fought forest fires for ten years in Idaho, but I think we all know my beard intimidates him.
On 14 September Billy and I play The Attic in Livingston, MT, a great joint in one of my favorite towns in the country. Our righteous friend Christy Hays opens the show, and if prior experience is any guide, any number of things may happen in Livingston, not the least of them dancing. (Please note the previously mentioned benefit show in Missoula has been cancelled due to scheduling conflicts).
RED GATE FARM - Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA just down the road from where I live, runs summer and day camping programs that teach kids about farming, giving them hands-on experience of the work and the joy of growing food and tending animals. I'm real proud to get to play a benefit show at their annual Farm Dinner in September (9/9), with my old friend Kevin Barry - who played lap steel on the original recording of Northbound 35 - on steel and electric guitars, and Kris Delmhorst singing.
Leave your phone home, go outside every day, and fight the bastard in the oval office at every opportunity. Remember, this isn't right or normal. This president is in a different category altogether, one beyond politics. He’s everything you were raised not to be: a bully, liar, racist, cad, whiner, and braggart; a moral cipher; an ignorant, incurious man who stands for nothing, is immune to truth and logic, and can't be accused of holding any principle beyond his own aggrandizement. He's a demagogue, and he's dangerous. Do your part.