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August 14, 2009 emblemI never only speak in lies/the sky is turning ovoid (lakes to Milwaukee)

A stiff, constricted night’s sleep in the Saturn prefaced my journey alongside Lake Michigan. My new best friend is my GPS, whom I’ve named Anthro (Ant for short). She has been helping me find libraries, rest stops, and free breakfasts lately.

That evening’s show was in the small hamlet of Lake Villa, IL, a land of privatized and bacteria-filled lakes where fish like myself are prohibited from swimming…anywhere (trust me- I tried a good few times before I gave up and headed to the venue).

Swing State is a combo hookah lounge/coffee shop/all ages venue. Initially, the vibes were awkward. The bill ended up as varied as a bill could be in the middle of nowhere- myself, followed by two Christian hardcore bands, a singer/songwriter, and a comedic, personablecabaret singer from Ohio. Hookahs, metal, positivity…! The difference in faiths and lifestyles was pretty apparent, but we all got along, though it was admittedly hilarious to see some of the Christians checking out my t-shirt (a somewhat blasphemous image of Jesus in pink)- which prompted them to return to our conversations thereafter with a little more hesitancy. If only they had read my lyrics too, we could’ve had some good discussions! Camped out behind the venue in the heat.

I can’t seem to escape the rain. Also, the time zone thing has confused me, since southeastern Indiana, unless like the rest of the state, is not in CST. According to a Terre Haute resident, “it’s cos all of thos’ Republicans!”

Detour to the wonderful (though construction-heavy) city of Madison, WI to find John Muir’s black locust tree. At one point I recharged my phone on the side of a church, and I thought, Jesus is powering my cell phone. Then to Chicago, where I snuck into cemeteries and wandered in Millennium Park and smiled incessantly at the activity. Swimming downtown is a strange, satisfying feeling (and they won’t let you get in over your chest).

Darkroom was a great venue, but the sound was off and I played a lackluster set. Pree is always a good show. TV Set was the oddity of the night, with such lyrical head-scratchers as “you can walk your dog- or eat him” and charming banter such as “Tasmanian devils are extinct, just like me!” What?

Headed to Milwaukee the next night, a city that immediately revealed itself to me as a host of many different odors- fried food, hops (?), corn, pastries…a wild assortment of options for your olfactory, however you split it. Monkey Bar had surprisingly good sound and managed to sell a good amount of CDs, although a majority of the crowd was more involved with beer pong in the other room (I guess people really liked high school- they seem to never leave it).

Learned how to tune a gu-zheng (Chinese zither) with my Couchsurfing hosts.

It is good to be in the North again, with people who are familiar with blizzards and genuine (not manmade) lakes. The clouds here seem to hang higher in the sky, like glaciers. I feel more protected by them in these latitudes, and on my drive to Minneapolis I began to spin the illusion that the middle of the sky was turning ovoid the further West I went.

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August 10, 2009 emblemOh, memory/the Blue Nothing (Lexington to Lake Michigan)

A fakeout- I turned Eastward, albeit momentarily, towards Lexington, KY. Insane traffic. Spurs fragmentary writing.

I’m “reading” a book on CD for the first time this trip, which has prompted me to yell at the barrage of passing semi-trailers and trucks while I turn my ear to try and hear the dialogue: “Dude! Can’t you see I’m reading here?”

Played an artspace called Chaosome (perhaps the greatest venue name ever) which was right behind Al’s Bar. Foosball had excited the young crowd. I played loud. Felt good. The Sidekicks played even louder (add to the ‘forgot to pack’ list: guitar stand, mic clip, aaaaannnnddd earplugs). Was excited to see Shane from Future Kings of Nowhere play a solo set because it seemed like he was on the path to a new chapter in his musical career- one that included quitting his job, breaking up with his girlfriend, and moving to NYC. Viva the fellow transients! Good luck, sir- feels good, doesn’t it?

Farmer’s market in the morning, and a sunny drive where I tried to figure out how to eat seeded grapes properly. Onto Terre Haute, IN, where I was welcomed with an interview for a local TV station. You can see the clip here. What a dork!

Coffeeshop and a weak dinner at Mooger’s (smelled stale and they served me a whiskey when I ordered a cape cod), then played to a noisy crowd at The Verve. Though, it might look cooler to say I played with The Verve instead of at The Verve. I can say it was a typing error if anyone catches me. Meanwhile, I’ll get passive promotion and uber-cred for opening for The Verve…

Twas a fun, late-night scene- I played as loud and uninhibited as I could, but it was still very much a bar crowd who may have been more interested in the meat market aspect of the night than the music onstage (Micha Walk who played after me, and had played there before, confirmed it). Nevertheless, met some good-natured locals and actually drank until 4am (unlike me). Funness.

Rainy drive through Indiana the next day. Discovered that I lost my ATM card. Morale was low, despite having visited Traderspoint Creamery, where my favorite yogurt in the world is made in Zionsville, IN (“I come from North Carolina to taste your yogurt”). Things were flattening out- the terrain, my mood, even any music I put on. Camping seemed unlikely for the night due to the wetness falling from the sky..

Then I pulled into a full view of Lake Michigan and all was healed. Quite instantly. I stood gazing at my faux-ocean for the next week and then took a glorious swim. I miss living near a large body of water so much to the extent where it honestly hurts my soul- but it makes for wonderful reunions too.

Rice was cooked. Peace was had.

More from the Central Time Zone soon.

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August 8, 2009 emblemPurchase Journal of Retreat now!

Get your own copy of the new record by clicking here! The album is only available thru Alive and Well and at my shows until later in the month!

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August 5, 2009 emblemDriving away/DUP TO THE FUTURE

Guess it’s been a little while since I wrote. So much has happened!

To catch up, I’ve signed a deal with Alive and Well Records. They’re going to release the record officially in early 2010. Meanwhile the record is available at shows and soon online (will post links).

The show with Gray Young in Raleigh was grand. The Downtown Live show got rained out (to our delight) and all three bands killed it. Friends abound. The following day, Dan fromGray Young told me that afterwards, he had dreamt he was flying through 80s movies when a Delorean pulled up. I got out and the words DUP TO THE FUTURE appeared on the bottom of the [dream] screen. Anyone who is proficient with Photoshop: you now know what I want for Christmas.

By now I’ve started my journey out West. The Rocket Club kickoff was a success- a diverse crowd came out, and for the first time I played some of these songs with a band behind me. Truly exciting to hear them come to life! Up until now, there has been two entities to SS- the recorded side of things (bigger) and the live show (one-man). This show convinced me how much I missed having humans to play with again! You can expect a full band behind me after this tour-harmonies and all.

A rare sighting!

On Monday I drove out of the mountains to Knoxville to start my first full U.S. tour. I did a live radio performance for a full crowd through WDVX- those are always interesting because they prefer quietude to noisy effects loops. I played a new song on the keys to accommodate. Having been out to the bars the night before, I recognized a fair amount of locals, including a member of Royal Bangs. This city is much smaller than previously thought.

Proceeded to drive through a truly terrifying rainstorm into Kentucky- actually had to pull over it was so bad. Upon entering Louisville, my nerves were still a bit ramshackle, and the city itself seemed to mirror my own feelings- under a deluge, the downtown was muted. The gig at Derby City Espresso was therefore a bit sparse, but the hardwood floors and the local menagerie welcomed the songs nonetheless. Ben Traughber sounded like Crispin Glover if he was a musician (and apparently when I told him this, I found out Crispin Glover was a musician…so, I guess I gotta look into that). Played with much more confidence than the radio gig (what can I say, I like to get loud).

Louisville has a lot of bridges over its muddy river. Maybe I’m too critical of rivers being from New England, but goddammit I just want to swim in a clean, clear river. Everywhere I go in the South and Midwest has these brown rivers. And for those of you that are privy, the river I grew up on (the ‘Scroggin) is hardly an example of environmental stewardship (though it has come a ways)- but at least I can see the bottom! I digress.

Backtracking to Lexington tonight.

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