Looking Back on Summer

“To say it was a beautiful day would not begin to explain it. It was that day when the end of summer intersects perfectly with the start of fall.”  – Ann Patchett

It's officially fall.  As summer came in I felt this strong urge to grasp it and make it last as long as possible.  At points it seemed to be just slipping through my fingers like trying to hold onto a handful of sand.  Now, looking back I see that it was full and deep.  There were many shows, new songs written, gardens tended, and some lovely time with family and friends.

I kicked it off with children's workshops at Nelsonville Music Festival and at the local libraries.  I continue to cherish these opportunities to share music with kids in unique settings...

 

 

Then there were a string of regional Ohio shows including a highlight at the Port Clinton Listening Room opening for Vance Gilbert...

 

 

 

 

In between some family visited, I got on a few bodies of water, and spent some nights sleeping outside...

 

In August my pal Molly Jo came out for the Windswept Women Tour from Ohio to Colorado.  It was so fun to collaborate and travel together.  What started as a joke became a tradition for every show of the tour as we sang "Summer Breeze" by Seals & Croft and Molly Jo performed the solo riff on kazoo... 

 

 

A stop at the Yellow Springs before leaving Ohio... 

 

We stopped at Cahokia State Historic Site in Illinois.  This is the largest historic settlement of the Mississippian Culture.  There are over 100 mounds in the area and the largest mound is over 100 feet high.  From the top you can see the Saint Louis skyline...

 

 

 

Our tour was a lovely mix of breweries, coffeeshops, and house concerts.  Below we are in Missouri playing indoors after getting rained out of our outdoor location.  The evening turned into a very intimate and memorable concert as all of the rain soaked folks crammed into the cozy living room.  Also, that sheet behind us is covering up a birdcage of a pet cockatiel who was very excited and loving trying to sing along...


 

After our run of shows Molly Jo flew home to California and I spent a few days off in Colorado visiting friends and resting.  I got to spend time with my friend Missy who just moved from Ohio to Fort Collins, CO to start a hemp farm with her family...

 

Then I headed to Lyons, CO where I attended Rocky Mountain Song School for my fourth year.  The whole experience is deep, overwhelming, enriching, and beautiful.  Camping with 200 songwriters along the shores of the Saint Vrain River along the back drop of red sandstone cliffs we dive deep into all aspects of songwriting.  This year I took classes like writing from a title with Pat Pattison, character writing with Patty Larkin, writing from trauma with Mia Bloomfield, and a ton of other courses...  

 

 

 

 

My last concert in Colorado was in Fort Collins at Paths of Heart, a unique house concert venue.  I had the privilage of sharing the evening with Our Mothers' Daughters, a female a cappella group from the 80s that was having a reunion.  It was so fun to collaborate with them on a couple tunes... 

 

Back home my vegetable garden was overflowing and my pollinator garden was full of monarch caterpillars...

 

 

Once I got back to Ohio I turned right around and took off on the Ohio Guys Tour with Bruce and Gay Dalzell.  Here is a picture of a rare moment when I got to ride in the backseat while someone else was driving... (thank goodness!)

 

 

Here's the Dalzell family at a sweet backyard concert in Fredericksburg, VA...

 

Now my schedule is settling down for the season.  I've got some local shows coming up in Ohio and am just beginning to plan for next years adventures.  I'll leave you with two videos I recorded this summer before my gig in Bellefontaine, OH and one photo from the first foggy days of fall here in southeast Ohio...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California in 3 Parts

I spent this past month touring through California.  Originally the trip was planned as a full tour with another songwriter, but they dropped off due to personal issues.  I was disappointed, concerned, and left with a big change in logistics of going it alone.  But, I had a plane ticket, a couple of booked shows, and many loving friends in the west.  The trip was a process of letting go of expectations and opening myself up to what might come from the beauty of the unknown and the unplanned.  Here is an overview in 3 parts...

Part 1: The Ranch


I flew into LA on February 12th.  I continue to find a home and landing place at The Ranch in Lancaster, CA.  My friend Timbo owns this special place up in the Antelope Valley.  He sells firewood...

 



There is a revolving cast of characters who come through The Ranch for a day, a week, or a couple of months.  We all pitch in to help sell, stack, and throw the firewood.  There is a quiet camaraderie when a wood truck arrives at 7AM.  We're in the kitchen sipping tea and coffee as the sun is rising and the semi can be heard coming down 20th avenue.  We climb up on top of the truck where we can watch the sunrise, look out at the sepia toned chalky greens of the desert, and see how far the snow has come down the mountains overnight.  Then we begin to throw all of the wood off of the truck with the rhythmic sound of wood hitting wood.  It's pretty meditative...  

 




The tag line of The Ranch is "Wood with Personality".  The outhouse is just one example of  the unique "personality" of this place...



At an elevation of around 2,350 feet above sea level, the Antelope Valley is considered high desert.  The landscape is dominated by Joshua Trees, Creosote Bushes, and Rabbitbrush.  Ravens and Jackrabbits have a run of the place...
 

 

 

I spent the first part of my time here nursing a head cold.  Sometimes your body just tells you when you need to slow down.  I'd throw some wood, hike in the desert, cook up lavish dinners with other ranch-hands, and nestle in by the wood stove.  I felt more relaxed then I had in a while.  I had to skip out on original plans to do some wilderness camping.  Again, letting go of expectations.  I was thankful for the coziness this place...

 

I did recover from my cold and squeezed in a few local shows.  The highlight was a house concert at Nay and Julie's.  They are both artists and their house is a living museum of their evolving creativity.  The evening was a beautiful celebration of friends, food, art, and music... 

 

 

 


The Antelope Valley is famous for it's poppy preserve.  Before I left the poppies were just beginning to show themselves...

 

 

 

Part 2: The Lincoln Town Car Sessions

 



With deep gratitude to my friend Timbo, I borrowed his 1995 Lincoln Town Car to execute the second part of my tour.  I put some firewood in the trunk and headed down south to the stark region of the Salton Sea where I landed in Slab City for 5 days.  There are a plethora of opinions and experiences to be had in Slab City.  My experience has always been of a community that has time and space to make art, music, and conversation.
 

They call it "The Last Free Place."  It's an old abandoned army base squatted by a myriad of artists, snowbirds, homeless, and travellers.  There are no grid-services and the summers get brutally hot.  It's rough, real, and beautiful in an edgy kind of way.  This year my friend John loaded his truck with all of his art supplies (blacksmith forge, pottery wheel and kiln, drill press, painting easel, etc.) and built an art camp.  I parked the Lincoln and set up a tent in the corner...

 

 



John was doing some sign painting and also teaching a knife-making workshop while I was there.  In the background here there is a mural he painted a few years ago on the side of our friend David's trailer...

 




I played music every day in Slab City from breakfast at Bubba's, the VIPer Lounge, the Oasis Club, and some sweet campfires in John's art camp...
 

Breakfast at Bubba's

 

VIPer Lounge

 


Campfire at Art Camp




The low desert was really blooming this year.  Walking the back trails and washes of Slab City left your shoes speckled with yellow pollen.  Here's a unique view of Slab City's most popular art instillation Salvation Mountain as seen on a wildflower walk...


This visit to Slab City was marked with reconnecting with old friends, making some new friends, slowing down to smell the wildflowers and have long roving converstions, and playing music in that raw spontaneous space around a campfire.  From Slab City I headed through the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.  The area south of the park was full of purple lupine...

 

 Lupine

Joshua Trees

 

Classic Joshua Tree Rocks


In the town of Joshua Tree I played a show to a packed saloon.  The place was so packed that I invited people who didn't have a seat to sit on the stage.  The whole evening had a very summer camp vibe of excitement and a little rambunctiousness.  I had all of my new stage friends get up and sing the last song with me.  Fun...

 

 

Desert Friends at Joshua Tree Saloon

 


My gracious and beautiful host Bead Louise with me and Margarita Nancy in Pioneertown, CA.




The low desert region of California is famous for their date production.  About 13 years ago when I was first traveling and working on organic farms I volunteered with The Date People in Niland, CA.  We continue to stay connected and have an ongoing trade of music for dates.  They continue to grow the best I've ever had...

 


 

Part 3: The Bay


I returned the Lincoln to it's home and hopped a train to Emeryville, CA.  I believe the train is still a romantic way to travel.  While the airport makes you strip down and sit down, the train station encourages relaxation and leg stretching.  On a plane folks are putting on their headphones or pulling out their laptops.  On the train folks are still talking to each other.  They are sharing tables in the dining car and playing card games with strangers.  The inflight movie is to watch the scenery passing out the window.  I went right up the middle of the state on the San Joaquins train through vineyards, orchards, and Central Valley towns...

 




From the train my friend whisked me away to an Ecstatic Dance in Oakland, CA on a Wednesday evening.  The crowded busyness of cities is always  a little uncomfortable for me.  People I love live there though so I'm compelled to go.  So while I'm there I try to appreciate the unique opportunities and environment.  We don't have big dances like this in rural Ohio on a Wednesday night...

 

 

 

My friend Emma runs an outdoor preschool in the east bay.  I went in one day while they were at the Berkeley Marina and played music with the kids.  All of the kids had great suggestions for what to sing about and how to change the words...

 

Emerging Sprouts Forest School

 

Berkeley Marina

 

I have cousins that live on the south end of San Fransisco so I took public transportation down to see them one day.  Every time I travel through the city I get just a little more comfortable and familiar with the transit system... 

 

 

Towards the end of my stay my friends hosted a lovely intimate house concert complete with a big potluck dinner and some silly songs afterwards... 

 

 

 

 
On my last day my friend Steve took me for a picnic up at Mount Diablo State Park where you can see the Sierras and the bay far away and below you...

 

 

 

As the sun rose on March 12th I said goodbye to my bay friends and took off from the Oakland Airport...

 

 

 

Thank you to all of the folks along my journey who hosted me, fed me, shared time and conversation, booked me, listened, and welcomed me.  To fall into the unknown is a trust of faith.  A friend of mine likes to say, "Jump and the net will appear."  I trust you all.  Thanks for being my net, for affirming my creativity, and encouraging my journey.  Now I'm back in Ohio refreshed and inspired.  The spring peepers are beginning their chorus and we are just starting to pull on the edge of a new season of growth.

 

 

On Writing

At the end of a recent interview on our local Athens station I was asked what my future hope was for my music.  The interviewer mentioned that I have had some success with touring and recording, and he asked if this was the big goal.

 

I said, "I just want to keep writing, I want to be a better writer, I love writing.”

 

In an interview things just come out when you don't have time to think about what you're going to say.  Afterwards it got me thinking about all the things I could have said such as I want to collaborate more, lead more songwriting workshops with kids, play music in the other 31 states I didn’t play last year, record a new album...

 

But really, at the heart of it all, I want to write.

 

 

I was 7 when I got my first journal, and I have kept a journal ever since.  There is this box of about 60 journals that my parents kindly allow me to store in the corner of their garage.  Everything else I own fits in my van, but I have hung on to these books.
 
My friend Joe recently asked me if I'm always writing.  We were out on a hike when he asked me this and I compared my writing process to hiking.

 

Sometimes you hike a new trail and there are surprises around every corner.  The sun is perfectly reflecting on a rushing waterfall sending those shadows of light dancing on the sandstone overhang.  You see your first Spring Beauties of the year. A Hooded Warbler lands on a branch just feet away from you. A Fence Lizard is laying eggs in the middle of the trail.  You are full of life and wonder for days after your hike. Everything seems alive and possible.

 

Then sometimes it's raining and cold.  Sometimes you don't want to hike at all.  But just maybe you go anyways. You see one lone Crow ducking away in a Spuce tree.  Your shoes get soaked to the sock while crossing a creek.

 

Sometimes the hike is hard going.  The trail is steep and muddy. Sometimes it's too easy and there is no challenge.
 
Sometimes you get to the top of a hill and can see for miles and miles.  Sometimes you get to the top of a hill and can't see anything except a thick overgrowth of underbrush.

 

If you love to hike then none of the outcome matters.  You cherish your time outside. You know that you'll be better off for going hiking than staying on the couch all day.  You may not see a new bird or take in a heart-racing view, but you will feel calmer. You'll feel fulfilled. You'll be thankful for the peaks of excitement, and you won't be regretful for the hike that was just a simple hike.  In fact you'll learn something from every hike.

 

That's how I feel about writing.  I write every day. Sometimes I just can't seem to stop writing.  Sometimes I can't seem to start, but I'll try to write something down.  Sometimes it's a quote, a song, a detailed description of some daily observation, or a rant to help me let go of something .  Sometimes ideas strike me when I'm out and I scribble in my pocket journal or in the notes section of my phone. Sometimes I write long letters to friends in other states.  Sometimes I write lists of what I'm thankful for. Sometimes I write a blog.

 

I love to write and the outcome is not as important as the process.  Just going to the page is a reward in itself. I always learn something.

 

So go ahead.  Go for a hike, write in your journal, or do whatever it is you love.  Don't put pressure on yourself to make it perfect. Just go. Some days it will rain, snow, sleet, hail, or spill over with sunshine.  There may be something beautiful just outside that door. You won't know until you go look.

From Ohio to Iowa

This month I took a tour with my pal Joe Stevens.  He flew to Ohio from California and we did a run of 9 shows from Ohio to Iowa.  In Iowa we met up with the amazing River Glen Trio and Jes & Jakob.  I began the tour with laryngitis and could barely even talk for one show.  It tested my patience.  I did recover, but the process was slow.  Thanks to the amazing outpouring of support from friends and fans and especially Joe who had to carry the show on when I was down.  I leave you all with this video montage... 

The Great Northeast

My journey through New England was part family vacation, part farm work, part music tour, part hiking trip, part... well there were lots of parts to it.  I got to see some family and friends I hadn't seen in a while, camp in some picturesque places, and eat more fresh picked fruit then I had all year.  

The trip started with a gig at Billsboro Winery in Geneva, NY...

 

 

The Finger Lakes Region is stunning.  My parents came on the first leg of the trip to visit with my cousin Betsy and her family there.  Her and her husband both work for Cornell University.  They took us through the lab and fields where they study different fruit varieties.  We ate so many raspberries and cherries that day..

 

 

  

Geneva, NY . Seneca Lake...

 

Then my parents and I caravanned down to Binghamton, NY to visit more family.  On the way we stopped at Taughannock Falls State Park...

 

Then I went to visit my friend Jeremy who use to work at Camp Oty' Okwa.  Him and his dog live on a farm in West Winfield, NY... 

 

One day I was sitting in their yard playing guitar.  The neighbor's cows came across the field and up to the fence when they heard me playing.  I turned around at one point and there were four of them at the fence just staring at me...

 

My friend Bruce Dalzell says "They know things."  Look into those eyes.  There's a lot going in a cow.  What gentle and sweet creatures... 

 

Jeremy's aunt had just bought an island up there.  Yes, there are so many lakes and ponds in the northeast that if you look around enough you could buy yourself an island.  We took the row boat over with a guitar and some provisions and had ourselves a campout...

 

 

Then I headed out to the Adirondack Mountains for a couple nights.  This is one of the mountains I hiked.  When I got up here that rock was just humming with life and radiating soaked up sun.  There was definitely a sense of calm in this region... 

 

Then over in Burlington, VT I played a little venue uptown called Radio Bean.  Earlier that day I was looking at the map and discovered the Birds of Vermont Museum.  It tickled my curiosity so I had to go.  Wood carver and bird-lover Bob Spear (1920-2014) spent a lifetime carving the birds of Vermont.  His goal was to carve every bird that had ever been spotted in the state.  There are over 500 bird carvings in this museum.  The displays show male and female specimens in handcrafted habitats.  What a legacy.  I was really inspired by his love of nature and art and his commitment to his work... 

 

 

 

After a few nights of solo camping I was excited to pull into Rumford, ME where there were familiar faces and other musicians waiting.  My friend Pete hosts a big blueberry gathering every year called "Pete's Picking and Picking Party."  I had a shady camp spot behind the bus where acoustic jamming occurred when it was too rainy to jam around the fire... 

 

There was much picking and picking.  All the campers lended their hand at helping pick this year's crop of blueberries.  At night bands would entertain folks with their picking.  And later at night many guitars would appear around the campfire as the picking became more organic, spontaneous, and intimate...

 

 

 

From Rumford, ME you don't have to go far to find a mountain to climb, trail to hike, or lake to jump in... 

 

 

 

Here's the peak of White Cap Mountain just a couple miles from Pete's house.  It's a lovely hike with the reward of a great view and wild blueberries if you make it to the top...

 

 

From Maine I took a side trip down to New Hampshire.  I stopped at Franconia Notch State Park.  This is where the Old Man of the Mountain was.  This rock face silhouette is a famous New Hampshire icon.  It made me think about how we as humans try to personify things like mountains or animals.  We see faces in things.  

People have been trying to hold the face together for decades with chains, steel rods, and cement against the elements of weathering.  Despite their efforts, the face crumbled off in 2003.  Geology just seems to have a way of letting go and giving in to gravity with time.  We as humans seem to have a hard time letting go of things and moving on.   

There was a big push to recreate the face of the old man with some kind of replica.  Instead the Friends of the Old Man of the Mountain created this Profile Park where these small faces can be lined up with the sheer cliff and you can see the Old Man once again...

 

 

Water and wind and freezing will just keep changing the environment.  In less than one hundred years there will be no one left living who ever saw the real rock face silhouette.  It made me think about letting go...  just flowing with it... 

 

Down in Claremont, NH I played a gig at The Taverne on the Square... 

 

I stayed with some friends from Athens, OH that live there now.  Their daughters helped me uncover some dinosaurs at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science...

 

Then I made it back to Maine in time for this sunset...

 

Back in Rumford, ME my friends hosted a lovely house concert in their living room.  These are one of my favorite places to play...

 

How can you not have fun looking at this crowd!?!  I told them I was going to put this picture in the blog.  You're in! 

 

Then it was a whirlwind of travel.  My last gig of the tour was in Old Lyme, CT where Roger Tory Peterson of naturalist fame is from.  I spent time before my gig out bird watching in this wildlife area.  There were more osprey nesting platforms there then anywhere I'd ever been...

 

That was it!  It was lots of driving, lots of blueberries, lots of music.  Occasional moments of homesickness were contrasted with the pure beauty of mountains, clean lakes, and the welcome love of friends.  Thanks to everyone along the way!  Thanks for reading the blog and staying connected.  Until next time... 

 

 

Beautiful Ohio

Sometimes when I'm traveling people ask where I'm from.  When I tell them Ohio I get a variety of reactions.  My least favorite is "Oh, I'm sorry" to which I respond "Don't be, I love it."  Then there is the, "Oh, I think I drove thru there once" or "That's all flat farmland isn't it?".  Sometimes people think they know where Ohio is, but then you realize they're thinking of Idaho or Iowa.  

This whole season I've been touring around to some unique and wonderful Ohio towns.  I wanted to share some snap shots of small towns, great venues, and nature in our beautiful state.   

 

This season started out with the Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville, OH.  What a way to kick it off!   There were some amazing acts on the line-up.  The organizers are hardworking, dedicated, real folks.  It was a blast!

photo credit: Scotty Hall

photo credit: Scotty Hall

 

The first day of Nelsonville was also the last day of Camp Oty' Okwa for the school year.  I taught my last geology class and headed right to the festival.  The camp is in the Hocking Hills region where sandstone cliffs, recessed caves, and waterfalls paint landscape.  

 

Also in  that region is Logan, OH.  There is a great place to walk near the Hocking River behind the Old Dutch Restaurant.  It's a little hidden, but if you walk down to the river then along the tracks you come to a little cut in the trees.  If you look just left of center you can see a dark spot in the top of the far tree line.  There is a Bald Eagle nest out there I've been visiting for years.  

 

This year there were two eaglets.  Below is a parent and the immature eagle.  I took the photo with my phone thru my binoculars so it's a little blurry.

 

 

There are many great things to see when you look up in Ohio.  This was my view when I played on the patio at The Spot on Main in Jackson, OH.  Jackson use to be the apple hotbed of Ohio, and they still host an Apple Festival every year.  

Also, Circleville, OH has a huge Pumpkin Show yearly and their water tower is painted like a pumpkin.

 

I've been driving backroads to gigs whenever I have the time.  Of course, you have to watch out for the occasional Snapping Turtle crossing.

 

Rain has been the creator of other backroad excitement.  This is Sunday Creek covering the road in Glouster, OH.  I hadn't thought my route through after those big rains and I had to take a couple of detours that day.  

 

There are also plenty of roadside attractions to stop and see.  This is Big Muskie, a retired drag-line bucket.  It was part of the largest single-bucket digging machine ever created. It was used to mine coal from 1969 to 1991.  The bucket itself is 220 cubic yards.  They say it could hold two greyhound busses side by side.  The machine that ran it was 150 feet wide, which is equivalent to an 8-lane highway.  Coal still has a big impact and presence in southern Ohio.

 

 

Sometimes I just have to pull over and enjoy the view.  Those hills just roll out forever like the ocean.  

 

Here are a few examples of venues I've played this month:

Local Breweries such as Birdfish Brewing in Columbiana, OH... 

 

...Wineries such as Georgetown Vineyards in Cambridge, OH with it's incredible view...

 

...  some one-of-a-kind spots like Plain Folk Cafe in Pleasant Plain, OH just outside of Cincinnati.  This two-room school house built in 1913 is now a music venue and restaurant...

 

...and outdoor community events like Boogie on the Bricks in Athens, OH this past weekend.  I played with my local friends Chris Biester and Molly Jo.  It was great to be in the middle of Court Street looking out at all of the wonderful people who make up this community.  

photo credit: @klj_francis

photo credit: @klj_francis

 

Thanks so much for reading the blog, checking out the photos, and staying connected.  Feel free to comment and share what you love about Ohio!  I know this was just a brief smattering of photos.  If you've never been to Ohio, I hope you got a little taste of the small, humble beauty here.  Sometimes the little things are the big things...

 

Peace, Love, Music... 

Megan Bee

 

12 Photos

At the end of this southern tour I found myself with hundreds of photos.  I decided to narrow it down to 12 for the blog so it didn't feel like an old family vacation slide shows that your uncle use to make you sit through.  

I chose 12 from off the beaten path, backstage, and behind the scenes...

 

1. Abandoned Gas Station

This station is on the east side of the Salton Sea.  I never ran out of gas on this tour, but there were some nervous moments when the distance between gas stations was farther than estimated.  

 

 

2. Peeping in Salvation Mountain

There are tons of images of Salvation Mountain in Slab City, CA on the internet.  I was walking through one day when this couple was shooting wedding photos.  I was inside the adobe cave looking out.  

 

 

3. Around the Campfire

My favorite venue.  Campfires.  Music gets made around the campfire that might never happen anywhere else.  There's a raw, spontaneous, community that emerges from the flames.  

 

 

4. The Racetrack 

In Death Valley National Park, at 3714 feet above sea level, there is a dry lake bed full of rocks.  The rocks move around with the freezing and thawing of thin ice and leave tracks behind them.  It takes a high clearance 4WD vehicle to get up there, and this year I finally caught a ride up to see it.  I have to say, I thought the rocks would be bigger.  

 

 

5. The Journey

It's more about the journey than the destination.  The drive up to The Racetrack...  Phew!

 

 

6. The Roadrunner

My muse.  This Roadrunner is perched at a rest stop looking over Las Cruces, NM.  She's 20 feet high, 40 feet long, and made from refuse sourced in a local dump.  She's a combination of old tire tread, shoes, and computer parts.

 

 

 7.  The View

I love to find myself in the vastness of the desert.  This was on a day hike with a couple friends.

photo credit: Bobby Burgess

 

 

8.  Texas Wildflowers

The entire drive across Texas was full of wildflowers.  The west desert flowers gave way to the east Texas Bluebonnets.

 

 

 

9. The Green Room

I've played in lots of funky venues along the way.  The Old Quarter is a sweet listening room in Galveston, TX.  Here in the back room there are old show fliers from some amazing artists who have played here.  The original owner was a close friend of Townes Van Zandt.

 

 

10. Street Music

On Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA on a Monday afternoon there is music everywhere.  Every corner is full of music.  New Orleans is like no other city I know.

 

 

11. Trees

I was couchsurfing in Tallahassee, FL and my host tipped me off to this Live Oak on a preserved spot of land called Lichgate.  The tree is over 300 years old.  Before my gig I spent part of the afternoon writing in my journal while lounging under these branches.

 

 

12. Wake Up Calls

I know this picture is a little blurry, but I just had to add it to the list.  This was waking up in Savannah, GA after my last night of the tour.  I have spent so many nights camping, couchsurfing, and staying in guest rooms.  Everyday is different and new.  Sometimes I wake up in the van to some incredible view.  Sometimes I wake up wondering where I am.  Sometimes I wake up to my friends rustling around in the kitchen and their sweet animals coming in to greet the visitor.  I am so grateful to all of the friends new and old who open their houses to me.  It would be awful lonely and not worth the trip if I didn't get to see some beautiful people along the way.  I am grateful to live the life I live, to travel with music, and to know so many loving people.  Thank you!

And thank YOU for reading the blog!  

Ravens, Redwoods, and Wildfire

The new year is creeping right up on us!  Since my last blog I've made a loop around California and then flew back to Ohio.  Here's a look at the last month starting with another campfire jam in the desert with my friend Roger.  Photo credit: Michelle Hamilton

 

Around Thanksgiving I took a drive up to the lovely redwoods in the Bay Area...

 

 

I got to spend Thanksgiving day with my cousins up in Burlingame, CA.  Seeing these two cuties was refreshing.  Their mom, Meghan, is an amazing fabric artist, crafter, preschool teacher, and entrepreneur.  Check out her blog at https://meghanmakesdo.com

 

I also had a visit with my friends up in Sonoma County.  They were close to the big fires up there, but thankfully none were in the direct path.  Traveling through the area was pretty shocking.  The massive amount land burned and people affected is hard to take in. This is a vineyard in Sebastopol that was untouched by the fire.

 

Out on the Sonoma Coast we caught one of those sunsets that just wouldn't stop.  I'll go back to this evening on the beach in my mind when I need a little inspiration sometime.  

 

 

 

Here's a view from a farm I use to WWOOF on years ago.

 

I headed back to The Ranch where there was plenty of wood to stack and restack.  Being on The Ranch was a nice balance of catching up on next year's booking, doing some physical labor, and visiting with the revolving cast of characters that populate the unique place.   Timbo found this chair on the side of the road and told me it could be my queen's chair.  I asked him to put it on top of this years wood pile.

 

Inside the house, since there is no shortage of wood to burn, we burn it.  I spent plenty of time here staring at the flames.  I highly recommend this meditative activity.

 

Lancaster, CA is a high desert climate in the Antelope Valley.  I loved daily hikes around the area.  I'd see coyotes, ravens, Joshua Trees, and always Tumbleweeds.  "See them them tumbling down, pledging their love to the ground..."

 

This Creosote Bush is over 800 years old.  There's my friend Bird Bob for scale...

 

From here we could see the smoke from the L.A. fires on the horizon.  The closest one was about 30 miles away and we watched the news daily to see the developments.  It's a strange feeling to be so close to something to powerfully destructive and know that people there are having their lives threatened just over the mountain while you are cozy by a wood stove.  

 

All of the particles in the air often made for some shockingly colorful sunsets.

 

 

The ravens in the west are so vocal and social.  They rattle, call, and make percussive songs in the trees.  Sometimes on a Sunday afternoon they gather their closest 50 friends together and just ride the thermals up to the atmosphere.  Here's a little series of ravens in black and white...

 

Then I rode some of my own thermals from L.A. to Detroit.  

 

I had a visit with my family and we explored the land of ice and snow along the shores of Lake Erie.

 

Then I headed to Athens, Ohio to play some gigs, see some friends, visit Blue Eagle Music, and housesit for the holidays.

 

Concert at Casa Nueva with my friend Chris Biester.  Photo credit: Phil Lanning

Happy new year to everyone! 

 

 

Canyon Music

 

Above is a video featuring some clips from places I've hiked and camped in New Mexico, Arizona, and California.  Below are some photos of the past month.  I spent about 3 weeks straight living in my tent out in the desert.  I wrote, played my guitar, looked at the stars, hiked up canyons, and spit a little sand.  It was truly rewarding and refreshing.  This year has been so busy, and I finally allowed  myself to soak it all in.  And even though I didn't have too many "real" gigs this month, I have played more than ever at parties, jams, and around campfires...

 

My tent is in the lower left of this panorama shot... 

 

Grinding stones from tribal peoples...

 

Petroglyphs...

 

 

 

Canyon walls... 

 

 

 

A most excellent campsite...

 

Ravens' nests on the cliffs...

 

A closer look at the ravens' nests...

 

Dragonfly... 

 

Burros...

 

And then I took a trip to a friend's farm in Southern California.  There were lots of fruit trees in fruit.  Avacados, Persimmons, Kumquats, Cherimoya, Oranges, Jelly Palm, Guavas, Pomegranates... 

 

 

The fertile orchards are such a stark contrast to the desert...

 

Sunrise...

 

 

Sometimes I like to climb up on my minivan...

 

 Now I'm back at The Ranch playing catch up with emails and booking in-between stacking firewood...

 

My friend Timbo took this photo at The Ranch in the morning light...

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone this week.  I hope you are all finding some gratitude in your life!  I am thankful everyday to be here on this earth; writing songs, stacking firewood, sleeping in a van, meeting new people, sharing food, breathing, walking, singing... on and on.

Thank you for reading the blog.

 

 

3000 miles out

Greetings from the Canyon Tour!

17 days and 3000 miles on the road and all is well.  I've had some time to reconnect with some friends across the country and play some shows ranging from intimate house concerts to crowded breweries to quiet campfires.  It all started in Chicago...

 

 

 

RSS feed