I’ve been in the mood to simplify things in my life lately. My website was one of the things that’s been under-construction for far too long. I needed something that would be easy to access and update, so I choose this blog format. I’ve imported old posts from my last website. This new site will encompass all the things I am currently involved in musically, including my solo project, Head Like A Kite, Animals At Night, and a few non-musical updates as well. In this age of Twitter and Facebook, it is difficult to tell where to draw the line between personal stuff and music stuff…but at the end of the day it all comes out in the songs anyhow.
I am in the deep, dark process of trying to write songs for the follow-up to Birds And Bullets Fly. As you will read below I’ve had lots of inspiration lately. I hope some good songs come of it all.
My father passed away. He was 61 years old. I had my flight booked to Boston to visit him in the hospital, and he died the day before I was scheduled to leave. I never got to say farewell to him in person. Instead I got to go to his wake, his funeral, and to his small room to sort through all the belongings he left behind.
I thought the hardest part of my trip, aside from flying (which I hate), would be seeing his body in the open casket. That was hard, but not the hardest part. It took all the strength I had to walk into the funeral home. The first thing I noticed, after his pale, painted lips were the rosary beads draped in his hands. My father was not a religious man. A great friend of his suggested I put a pair of drum sticks in his hands. That was exactly what was missing. The next day she brought me a set of sticks and I placed them under his hands. He would have loved that.
My father was a drummer. He also had a deep, soulful singing voice. All these years I’ve been playing music and I never gave him much credit for influencing me musically, but he did. He always had music gear around the house, and I loved plugging his microphones into his amplifier and making up songs or putting on radio shows with my friend. He took me to my first concert when I was about 7 or 8. We saw one of his favorites, Willie Nelson. My father never “made it” as a musician. He never really made much of his life. He got heavily involved in drugs and sadly that consumed him.
The hardest part of the trip was going through his belongings. What a strange thing to have to do. I felt like I was invading his space, snooping through things I shouldn’t be looking at. I kept waiting for him to walk in and ask what I was doing. It felt wrong to try to decide what I wanted to keep and what should be discarded. I packed two boxes filled with his journals, photos, drawings, a painting, hats, a shirt, and legal documents. Reading through his journals has proven to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. If that doesn’t conjure up the need to call someone and clarify things, I don’t know what would.
It’s been over a month now since he’s passed. The urge to call him is slowly fading. For the first few weeks after he died it seemed I thought of a reason to call him every other minute. A few times I actually dialed his cell phone number and listened to his still-active voicemail message. He had been sick for years, but didn’t suffer many symptoms until the very end. I guess, in a way, I am thankful the end came as suddenly as it did.
The Crumbling Stags (my father, Eddie, back row/center)
Rest In Peace.
The Carpenter from Birds And Bullets Fly. Written by: Zera Marvel
I’ve been reporting more on the fun I’ve been having with Head Like A Kite lately than I have on my own project. Truth be told Head Like A Kite *is* more fun. I don’t have to book the shows, write the songs or do any of the hard work. I simply pick out a fun outfit, jump up on stage, sing some back up vocals, interact with the usually sold-out crowds…you can’t beat that.
My band has started to question whether or not I will ever play again, and I secretly wonder that myself sometimes. I feel like I’ve been too overwhelmed lately to write anything new.
On the evening of the last Head Like A Kite show I was at home getting ready, standing in front of the mirror in my black, sequined hot-pants when my phone rang. My father had been admitted to the hospital and was told he would probably not be leaving alive. I cried all my makeup off. Then I reapplied all my makeup and went to the show. I wondered all night if it was the wrong thing to do, but the show must go on.
I’ve had a troubled relationship with my father. He is a troubled man…listen to the song I wrote called “The Carpenter”. Since I moved to Seattle over 10 years ago I’ve developed a nice phone relationship with him. Our phone calls have given me the opportunity to get to know and understand him better than I ever did when we were face to face. It is a strange feeling to think of him not being here anymore, not being able to talk to him. I have a lot to process. I’ve booked a flight to visit him on the East coast. I’m hoping he makes it till I get there so I can say farewell.
I have a strange feeling this might be the start of some new songs. He has always been an inspiration in my writing…that is his gift to me, as painful as it’s been sometimes. He was not the worlds best father, but he taught me exactly how I should *not* live my life, and for that I am very thankful.
Photos from Head Like A Kite at Neumos…collaborating with Fresh Espresso, Truckasauras w/ special guests Tilson, Zera Marvel, Graig Markel, etc…
Busy, busy, busy…bought a house, building a new recording studio, creating a new website. 2009 was filled with new adventures, new loss, new found friends, new struggles, new sadness and new beginnings. I hope 2010 brings as much adventure, less sadness, and much creativity.
The Recovery Room Studio is growing! Check out the progress and transformation of our late-landlords wood shop into a beautiful, new recording studio.
Recovery Room Studio – formerly housed in the half-basement of the rental Graig and I occupied for the last 10 years. We were able to purchase the property from our late-landlords estate. We gained access to the out-building on the property which we’d never been able to use. We are in the process of renovating and are very excited about this new space! Check out the photo gallery below.
Joe and Graig imagine what the new space could be.
Tearing it all out.
Bringing in supplies.
Building it back up.
Lots of mudding and sanding.
Contemplating what the drywall dust is doing to my lungs.
The walls are painted in the live room. Control room is next. More to come!
The Seattle Weekly Reverb Festival turned out to be a lot of fun. Admittedly I was a nervous, sad wreck because we had gotten some horrible news the day before the show. Luckily the sold-out-crowd at Conor Byrne was very attentive and appreciative. Thanks to all who made it a very special and cathartic evening!
Thanks to the person that gave me the Mike McGinn For Mayor sticker (on my leg) – it was nice to meet Mr. McGinn after the show and I hope he wins!
I am excited to be performing at this years Seattle Weekly Reverb Music Festival on Saturday, October 3rd. One evening, ten venues in Ballard with over 60 bands including: Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground, The Maldives, Fences, Brent Amaker & The Rodeo, Star Anna, Barton Carroll, Rusty Willoughby, Visqueen, and more!
Also, to add some political excitement to this rock n’ roll filled evening: the two men running for Seattle Mayor, Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan, will be appearing at Conor Byrne at 8:30 p.m. to verbally berate each other and (hopefully) enlighten us all as to what they actually plan on doing about our city’s myriad of problems. This debate will be moderated by John Roderick of The Long Winters.
My band and I will follow the Mayoral face-off. We play the Conor Byrne stage at 9:30 p.m.
5140 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle WA 98107
The line-up for the Conor Byrne stage:
7:30 Kaylee Cole
8:30 Mayoral Debate
9:30 Zera Marvel
10:30 Barton Carroll
11:30 Star Anna
For the complete schedule and ticket information visit