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May 6, 2015

Journal From the Road: Perrysburg, Ohio

     Out here on this troubadour circuit time gets consumed like cheap fuel. Life is either an orgy of excess or a gauntlet to be run depending on what time of day we’re talking about. Travel is mostly chaos and none of it particularly wholesome. And yet it keeps life interesting.  Read more...

April 12, 2015
Journal From the Road: New Bedford, MA

     Journeys are not in search of fulfillment, although the Travel Channel would have you believe they are. You are supposed to feel the romance of tourism from your comfortable armchair. Maybe you won’t be leaving the chair tonight but I will be squinting at the headlights, lost in the backwaters of a town that could be all towns at 1:00am: steam from the grates, a raincoat in the shadows, the blinking warnings that caution me to slow down for utility workers who are home in their beds, the empty taxis and buses, the steel gated storefronts, the odor of piss and vagrancy, a siren of a speeding police car- while the huge crustacean of civilization lies asleep deep within its shell. It all says no to romance.  Read more...

Feb 21, 2014
For K. R.

Once your slender fingers wrapped like sepals,
A calyx around the inlaid rose on the neck
Of that guitar you loved to play, and songs
Miraculously flowered from lifeless wood.

Now on this gray December day we’ve come
To sing those songs back to your ashes. We
Draw breath between our lips in unison to
Form the notes like bright rosettes of flame.

- Craig Bickhardt Dec 26, 2000

Feb 20, 2014
Fear of Ideas

     We sometimes find ourselves outraged or confused by the way another person sees the world, as if a new idea is a threat to our security. Maybe we try to contain or restrict a new point of view before it can damage “our way of thinking". Is this why dialog has disintegrated in America?

The mind is an amazing thing as long as we don't fear it. Our inner rationale is like the body's immune system. We don't have to be brilliant to fight a cold. It's extremely unlikely that a new idea will kill me, even if I experience a few days’ worth of "symptoms". And when the symptoms are gone I'm actually a stronger, healthier person.

But shouldn't I simply avoid contracting any foreign antigens at all? Isn't that the safest way to live?  Read more...

Sept 6, 2013
The Things We Leave Behind

     Time is often described as a river, but for me it is more like a dusty wind blowing at my back- dust in which nothing ever settles.

A close death sinks into us like a stone. It goes to terrible depths sometimes before we realize that we're still among the living. They call this experience grief. Grief is not sadness or despair. It's something much more profound, for in it is contained an aching joy, a celebration of each breath, a gratitude more blessed than prayerful thanks. It is the storm that comes to settle the dust for a while and allow us to see things clearly for a change.  Read more...

Aug 17, 2013
Journals from the Road: Port Clinton, Ohio

     There are blue banners hung in the windows of most of the shops and cafes in Port Clinton that say “Don’t Give Up The Ship”. The bicentennial celebration of the Battle of Lake Erie happens two weeks from now and it’s a big deal to the Chamber of Commerce as well as the citizens here. It represents not only tourist business but civic pride.

This town’s economic future is uncertain. Unlike many resorts, success here isn’t as simple as hanging an “Open” sign on your door and waiting for the weekenders to empty their wallets. Nearly a quarter of the downtown buildings are vacant. “Don’t give up the ship” has metaphorical overtones for those who are embattled in the economic hardships of  Read more...

Aug 15, 2013
Journals From The Road: The Idlewheel Tour

Read about my escapades with Jack Sundrud at the Dirt and Seeds Blog:

Day One: Madison, WI
Day Two: Zumbrota, MN
Day Three and Four: Oklee, MN
Day Five and Six: Fargo, ND

July 11, 2012
The Imagined Life

     The artistic life is a calling that is essential to sustaining us as a people. Without our mythology, we’d unravel. Our mythology shapes the religions and philosophies of the entire world and it was born in the bosom of the poets. We must have a vision of the creative life we seek. We must see ourselves in the context of the unbroken flow of creative lives since the dawn of civilization.

Whatever artistic discipline you pursue, you are the living mythology of humanity, but only if you place this high value on your efforts. The world is all about power and success, art is all about learning and teaching.  Read more...

March 10, 2012
An Excerpt From "The Song Emerging"

    One of the things I liked about Nashville was that it was a family town. Most of my songwriter and musician friends raised kids and enjoyed mixing work with domesticity, friendship and community life. Although the business strained some of the marriages and there were some that failed, I knew many happy families in the songwriting community, especially in the early days.

My wife and I raised our twins in Nashville. It was a challenge partly because my son was born with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mild autism and we had no extended family around to help us.  Read more...


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