I'm excited to announce solo shows for this September on the East Coast and in the Southwest. I'll be going to quite a few spots I've never played before. Help me spread the word! I'm thrilled to be ending the run in Tucson with a show with my old pal, and contributor to a couple of songs on So Long City, Gerald Collier. More details here.
I try not to complain much. You know the old saying, "There's always someone worse off than you." It's true.
I just came back from Portland, OR, my old hometown. The place that I lived for nearly my entire life. And, man, do those people like to complain about the weather. Too hot, too rainy, too dry, too anything. Living in the Mojave, people consider you an idiot if you complain about the heat....for obvious reasons. If you can't take it, maybe you should be somewhere else? Ken Layne, the editor and voice of The Desert Oracle magazine and radio show (which you can listen to on podcast), called summer in the Mojave "the price of admission" to live here. I think it's worth the ticket.
But I can say this....we moved here full time this past May after living here part time for a few years. And now that we were exercising our wimpy, 12 volt, off-grid solar power set up, we realized it wasn't up to snuff to make day to day living work out here (or anywhere else). That 12 volt set up wasn't powerful enough to run the most efficient standard refrigerator we could find. If I wasn't working in the studio, we could afford to run the swamp cooler for no more than 90 minutes a day. And sometimes even less than 90 minutes would cause our inverter or controller to shut the whole system down. If I was working, we couldn't use the swamp cooler at all. The studio often drew too much power causing a voltage drop, which took our power off line sometimes for the remainder of the day. I worked a string of days in June above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes only in my underwear. Thankfully, the band I was mixing is in Canada.
Susan and I lived out of a cooler that you might take with you for camping. We got ice every day or sometimes every other day if we could stretch it from early May until August. I tried not to complain about the heat....I had gotten us into this situation in the first place. And so we began the process of upgrading our solar power set up from 12 volts to 48 volts beginning in late May. We ended up calling Ameresco, a company that specializes in selling off-grid power equipment. We settled on new panels, new batteries and a device called Radian by Out Back Power, which combines controller and inverter into an all in one, wall-mounted unit. This thing is robust. It took three of us to lift it onto the wall when we mounted it. (Thank you Joe Garcia!) We ordered the parts on June 10. They arrived just before 4th of July weekend. We picked them up from the warehouse in Temecula and realized we made a mistake in the order. We forgot to order mounting brackets for attaching the panels to our roof. It took another 10 days to get those to us in Landers. Susan and I started tearing our the old panels, batteries, conduit, inverter and controller on July 20. We finished mounting everything the morning of July 22. We couldn't schedule the off-grid electrician to come and help us finish the type of work only a licensed electrician should do until August 10. By the evening of August 11, we had power.
Our refrigerator is running. It was over 100 the last few days. We ran the swamp cooler as long as we wanted. The studio is running better and quieter than before....and even the lights work better in our cabin. A summer in the Mojave, with no air-conditioning or evaporative cooling is hard. But I'm still glad we stuck it out.....but I'm so thankful to have stable power now.
If you're thinking about making a go of it out somewhere in the wilds, I have some advice you might want to take into consideration. Doing anything takes two to three times as long as it might if you live in a developed area.
Happy to announce shows on the East Coast and Southwest for September! Two shows this coming weekend in Oregon. And more shows in the Mojave too. Check here for all the details.
Well, it's been a long transition....we began with plans to leave Portland and make a town called Landers, California, our new home a couple of years ago...and we have finally completed the move and we're living full time in a small homestead cabin out in the sand and rocks with plenty of Joshua Trees, creosote bushes, jackrabbits and coyotes as our neighbors. The cabin is off the electrical grid. It runs on a small solar power system. I'm currently mixing, mastering and doing a little bit of tracking using electricity that was created with ZERO fossil fuels. It sure ain't easy running your own power plant....but it is so rewarding.
Here's a short video that Joshua James Huff and I made about why I had to leave Portland, Oregon, and why I chose this spot out in the desert to build a future. The urban footage was taken by a drone flying over my old Portland studio, PermaPress Recording. You can see that the demolition around my studio has already begun. The desert footage is our new location. The voice-over was recorded using solar power.
And if you're in the desert this July, I hope you'll come out and see me at Landers Brew....I'm doing a four show long run there and I have some amazing guests playing with me. And I have a show at the (in)famous Deer Lodge in SE Portland on July 29 with a full band. Details here.
As the cranes and wrecking crew demolish the buildings around PermaPress Recording, the video for So Long City drops. Art and life, intertwined perpetually. Read the review and watch the video in HD on Paste. #SoLongCity
I make my Morongo Basin debut opening for my pal, Joe Garcia, and his Urban Desert Cabaret, on March 5 at 5pm. Follow the link to the Facebook event to get all the details.
Spending time in Joshua Tree, CA, my FM radio dial came across the local station Z107.7 KCDZ right away. Sometimes, I have an affection for the brand of pop and youthful rock that the Z stations play and it's the only local radio station I've come across. The local Morongo Basin news and the occasional lost dog announcements are worth it alone...even if you're not into the pop. In fact, I only can pick up about 5 stations total while I'm in the area. I was amazed when we borrowed Susan's parents' car to drive from Allentown to Philadelphia for my show at The Dawson Creek Pub. There must have been more than 30 stations to pick from on the dial there.
I'm a regular KCDZ news reader of their online news and I was excited when there was an announcement about their long going local music show hosted by Pat Michaels. I hadn't stumbled across the show before and I made time to tune in that following Sunday when I was home in Landers. It was a cool show. I heard some of the local folks whose music I like; Jessica Von Rabbit and Ted Quinn. Plus a bunch of artists that I hadn't had the chance to hear yet. I wrote an email to Pat and asked him if he would consider playing my new record, So Long City. We corresponded a bit and I mailed Pat a copy of the CD the old fashioned way: US Post. Low and behold, he played nearly the entire thing (I just listened to the show. I can't even think what may have been left off). I was out playing shows on the East Coast when Susan started receiving texts from friends in the desert that they were listening to me on the radio. In the old days, those electromagnetic waves of my tunes going out the FM band would be long gone by the time I got back to the Morongo Basin. But it's 2017. Here's the link to the podcast. Go to the 1/29/2017 show:
I was on local TV this morning. Honestly, it's was a little nerve wracking. But they were giving me a chance to get across what I'm trying so hard to get across....music...and in this instance, music that is about my hometown. In some ways, despite the inherent weirdness of suddenly being inside a box, this works out well.
Music Millennium In Store, Fort George Brewery, and The White Eagle in January - Plus East Coast News
I'm kicking the new year off with an in-store performance at Music Millennium which has to be Portland's oldest record store. I've been shopping there since I was in junior high school when they still had a second location on NW 23rd Ave. Man, things sure have changed.
I'm also bringing the trio out for a couple of shows in January. The first one is at The White Eagle on January 11. Then we hit Astoria for a Sunday evening performance at Fort George Brewery on January 15.
Then I'm off to the east coast for a show in NYC....more news coming on that show very soon. Keep up with the latest here.
I'm excited to be doing this once again this year and bringing some guests along with me to join in the fun. We ask everyone who attends to bring a new, unwrapped toy which we will in turn donate to the KGW Great Toy Drive.