A friend from Eastern Washington (who goes by the nickname “Puck”) recently sent me a touching post, thanking me for a certain song that lifted his spirits, and sharing one of his own, thusly inspired.
Whenever I perform at Hogan’s Pub in Clarkston, (usually w/ Scott Cargill & 7 Devils) Puck requests my 12-year old break-up song “Better Off Without You.” I wrote it a dozen years ago — a paradox of anger & levity — and it got me through a difficult time. (It was cheekily deemed “the greatest break-up song ever” by a Eugene Weekly writer.) Here is a version from my former “Alternative Rock” incarnation (from Pollyanna Loves Cassandra):
The song seems to have helped my friend see the hard times through. That is the best news a songwriter can get. And, even better, Puck paid it forward by writing a similarly-themed tune “Better Off.” He graciously allows me to repost his video here:
As much as we performing/recording artists strive to get good reviews from the press, nothing gratifies like finding out that a fellow human being has been emotionally affected by the work we do. And even better, that someone would be inspired to put their own creativity to work and keep the collective torch burning.
Artists work for real human beings, not just Entertainment Biz entities.
Thank you, Puck. Keep up the good work. See you in April to celebrate happier times.
Here is the live acoustic version from the 2001 A Stealthy Portion, featuring Elisabeth Babcock on cello. (It was selected for Michelle Malone’s compilation of independent artists):
I’m glad I still qualify as a Northwest Musician, so I could be reviewed by a young man named Andrew Fickes of Northwest Indie Music.
Andrew says: “Villain” is hands down among the top 10 releases of 2011.”
Villain has been reviewed more than any I’ve released so far. Most of the reviews are kind, some glowing. None, so far, are blanket pannings. But I am truly glad that Andrew likes it, because he’s one of the few critics who pays deep attention to the story-writing. Most critics talk about the “sound.” They refer to content only in passing. And this, in some way, tips off the lack of time and attention lent to the material. Read more »
Last Saturday, I had a slot on the main stage at the Bend Roots Revival. I was looking forward to bringing the songs from my upcoming CD to a big Central Oregon stage.
A roots fest in Bend is a good idea. A high-desert block away from the Sisters Folk Festival, Bend is cultural enclave, teeming with outstanding musicians who’ve broken away from anxious stream of wannabeing that contaminates the larger music Biz. To name a few: Dennis McGregor, who’d give Leon Redbone a run for his money, and the whole virtuosic lineup of Empty Space Orchestra.
Mark Ransom (The Mostest), who masterminds the Festival, has the right idea, recruiting from Great Northwest, filling in the gaps with locals. Three main stages, and three side stages where smaller acts play while the main stage acts load in. So there is music going everywhere all the time.
And that turned out to be a problem. The space was too small for several stages with large sound systems and full bands. While I was performing, friends of mine Blaze & Kelly were rocking out in full funky-folk-rock glory soaring out over the festival. I could hear every lyric and savor every note. I could have played along on my stage. I don’t know if this was just an exuberant sound tech who cranked it up, or if nobody anticipated this problem in the first place.
As a professional, I rolled up my sleeves and pushed my music out with all my might. It’s part my job to enjoy myself regardless of the circumstances. (What performer doesn’t have stories about lousy venues, inhospitable stages, bad sound systems, and cold audiences?) I plainly asked the audience, “Can you hear me?” And they said yes. So I kept going.