Video shoot in Copenhagen today! 

Video shoot today in my favorite European city, for the "Fade" video, coming your way in June! Then we finish out this European run with tomorrow's show on the "Geyser By The Sea" concert series, then we head home.

Three great shows in Germany; now on to Denmark! 

The shows in Germany were fantastic. It started with the sound guy at the first show casually telling me after soundcheck that a German TV station would be doing a simulcast of the show. 

Of course, this sort of thing only happens when you've spent the last week bouncing around time zones and busying yourself with logistics and everything except picking up a guitar and actually running through some things and PREPARING... 

At the third show I met some folks who had seen me last time I played in the area and bought all my albums, and now wanted to complete their collection, so they bought a copy of Sixteen Sundays. Pay attention, kids...THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT! 

Now on to Denmark! (photo by Helga Schöning)

Happy Mother's Day! 

Mom backstage at "The Egg" performing arts center in Albany, NY, getting ready to go on. In the dress she made herself. The fire extinguisher says, "In case of classy, badass lady belting out sultry vocals, break glass."

Hazy memories of the mobile drinking - er, recording studio... 

Text from a friend in midtown Manhattan this morning: “Hey, didn’t we do backing vocals in this place?” Indeed we did! It became a regular hang for our crew after we discovered it by accident. It was a MAJOR hard-partying Japanese sushi bar, the kind where all the Japanese businessmen go and drink until they fall down. No, really, I mean we would watch them fall down every time we went there.

We used to reserve the back room for our jaunts (“pay no attention to those drunken idiots behind the curtain!”). I was working on the title track of the "Come Alive" album at the time, and II decided to bring in a mobile recording setup to capture us all singing (OK, yelling) the hook line.

Good memory, Steve. Come to think of it, how did you even remember this?! And what are you doing there at 9am? For the love of God, Steve, DON’T GO IN THERE…

Happy Anniversary! 

My dad was playing a gig and some mutual friends set up a blind date. The deal was, the singer who came up to request a certain song would be the one he was supposed to ask out.
 
So he’s waiting on this song all night.  But the singer (my mom) chickens out and sends her friend up to request the song. On a break, my dad, kind of underwhelmed, says to the guys in the band, “Yeah, she’s all right, but her FRIEND – what’s SHE all about? What’s goin’ on there?”

They finally got it all straightened out and ended up getting married, a whole lot of April 14ths ago.

TWAAAAANG! 

All you guitar players will laugh at this. I'm working on some tracks here and was just trying to decide which guitar to use. I grabbed one with a Bigsby and then immediately said out loud to myself, "Man, it can't always be about the Bigsby." Then I looked down at the guitar rack and realized... um, yeah, at this point, it's apparently always about the Bigsby. TWAAAANG! Remember, the first step is always to admit you have a problem.

Good Night, Doctor…  

It was one of what seemed to be a thousand nights in a row and I was completely burned out, playing a solo show in some faraway town that I can't even recall. She wandered in about a half hour into my first set and sat down right up front.  I told the crowd that I was going to do a few more tunes and then take a break, and she loudly and provocatively exclaimed, “I think you should take a break right now and come sit down with me and let me buy you a drink.”  I paused for comedic effect and then hastily announced, “Folks, we're going to take a break RIGHT NOW…” 

She was obviously drunk already, and getting drunker.  As we talked, she mentioned that she lived close by and was going to drive home.  She was clearly in no condition to do so, and I suggested she leave her car and retrieve it the morning after, and I would drop her off at home.  It was not a pick-up line; I've lost more than a few friends and family members to drunk drivers. 

Yes, I know what you're thinking.  And you're partly right.  I didn't just drop her off.  We got to her place and she said I should come in for a drink.  We went inside and kept talking, and yes, I spent the night.  But no, we did not fuck.  We just laid in bed next to each other talking all night.  Or rather, she talked and I listened.  And boy, could she talk.  I might have gotten six words in the entire night. 

She went through her whole childhood, education, and work history.  She had come from an upscale Boston family, which is perhaps why she introduced herself as “Kimberly” and corrected me when I called her “Kim.”  She had recently graduated with a PhD in pharmacology and had moved to the area to accept an executive position with a pharmaceutical company.  She had no connection to the area, no friends close by, and had gradually become more and more estranged from her family back home.  As the night wore on, it became abundantly clear that this was an extremely isolated and lonely human being.  She had begun “raiding the cupboard” - increasingly availing herself of the opioids to which her new position provided her access. 

I sat there and listened to her into the wee hours until we fell asleep.  When we awoke around noon, she was sober and clear-headed.  The gloom of the night before had dissipated, and she was bright and delightful, laughing at my stupid, awkward jokes.  She expressed her gratitude for me not taking advantage of the situation. “I'm glad we didn't do it,” she said.  “It was just nice to have somebody to talk to.”  She made breakfast and we talked some more and then I said I’d better get going. 

She asked if I would like to come back sometime and have her cook me dinner, and I said that would be really nice.  Then I left.  I had about a three-hour drive to the next gig.  About an hour later she called me, thanking me again, and wondering if we could nail down that dinner date.  I said sure, and before we could even get to that, she spent the next 45 minutes telling me more about her life. 

We never had that dinner.  In fact, I never heard from her again, and this was over 10 years ago.  Just today, randomly, her name came up in that weird little Facebook feed; you know, the one that makes you say, “Holy shit, I had forgotten all about” so-and-so.  I clicked on it, and apparently, her friends or family have been curating her Facebook page.  Because she died two years ago. 

My first immediate thought was wow, for all the things we've heard about the terrible toll the isolation of the pandemic has taken; all the lost souls and the proliferation of opioid addiction, here was a person who was both a lost soul AND an opioid addict long before we foolishly shut down our entire society and now seem somehow bewildered by the results.  Then I immediately felt bad for even assuming that she died that way.  However, she had been a young, otherwise healthy human being, and it's not like there's anybody to ask anyway.  Besides, I'm not sure I want to know.  What difference would it make? 

I'm not even sure what the point is in all this.  Maybe it's just a reminder that we can never underestimate the value of human connection.  Or the toll exacted by the lack of it.  Goodnight, doctor. 

-JT

A most strange and beautiful confluence... 

My dad didn't only make a living as a musician - he was an avid listener and collector of recorded music as well.  Over the course of his lifetime he amassed a collection of over 3500 records and CDs.  When he died I inherited that collection, moving it (ten van-loads in all) into my apartment where I spent the next four years gradually and painstakingly entering all of it into a master Excel file.

I was much more interested in documenting my dad’s collection than realizing any re-sale value.  So far I’ve given away about 200 of these records and CD's to musician and music lover friends who I know will give them a good home.  I think that’s ultimately what the old man would have wanted – the music to be truly appreciated rather than sold to the highest bidder.

Last week, from out of the blue, I got a message from a radio show host at WHUS, a station where I had done an in-studio interview and performance a few years back.  I brought some of my parents' vintage guitars that never leave the house and did half a dozen songs. and we had a blast just hanging out and talking about music, including my dad and his collection.

This radio show host is an old-school devotee of physical music you can hold in your hand, so his preferred medium is the CD.  He recently had a major fire in his home and his entire collection of CDs was lost.  He wanted to know if I could send him hardcopies of all my albums, and burn him a CD of our night together at WHUS as well.

I said sure - I'll get all of that to him.  I also reminded him of my dad's collection, and offered him any or all of it, since this was precisely the kind of "home" my dad would have wanted for his music.  And if it would help this radio show survive, all the better! 

Just today it suddenly dawned on me that my dad grew up on a farm about 12 miles from this radio station. 

So thank you, timeless universe, for the magic that you do and the happenstance you bring when we least expect it.   After many years, surprise - Dad will be going home again.

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