Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mountains and Meadows Winter Western Tour 2010

The sun is setting (earlier each day), sending streamers of rose and tangerine across the marshmallow sky. Said sun sitting somewhere in that small window between the clouds and the ocean - that wee line of blood orange that stretches as far as the buildings will allow a view. Rain sprinkled here and there on and off for the afternoon, but it wasn't enough to dampen much. The waves still rolled against the sand. The cars still rolled along the freeways. And the traffic lights were all changing to red.

I can taste the salt.

Which feels good. My throat and sinuses have been in less than good health for the last week. The direct result of nearly 2 months without adequate sleep (and by adequate I mean 2 days in a row with more than 4 hours of sleep). Thanksgiving filled my belly and luckily my throat lasted through the 2 shows I had that weekend, giving out in a little Chinese restaurant in Dayton, and finally returning 2 days ago.

But it's the holidays. And I am thankful for many things.

I am not in Ohio right now. For one.

I am in the 70 degree ocean sunshine of southern California.

My little reprise from the real winter, which I will be experiencing in the extreme in 8 days as I venture up to Salt Lake City and Wyoming.

So every minute here is well-appreciated!

Getting into LA in time to do a short house concert, tasking my voice, I was able to rest a day and fully regain a good 65 percent of my vocal cords. I spent the day working on Peace Project and other musical endeavours, including planning another totally new Love Initiative set at the civic Theater in early Oct! (It will BLOW your mind... you will need to be there... i mean it).

My friend I am staying a few days with had the television on as I was waking up and gearing up for my big house concert in Pasadena. There was a show on about a father that pushed his very disabled son on 100's of marathons, placing 1st or 2nd in his age group in most of the events. His son was able to use a device that helped him communicate, where he could type out messages with his head. Despite his many disabilities, he communicated very well, and was a deeply compassionate person. He even graduated Boston University as the first nonverbal disabled person in the school's history, and he lives basically on his own, though he has no ability to move anything other than his head. Such a moving story. And the fact that his father is now 70 and still doing full marathons, triathlons, etc, is quite inspiring. And the pair has inspired other families to do the same thing. The capacity of the human heart is so great. It is so much bigger than the simple bodies that we see. The compassion we hold defies all odds, and cant be contained in just flesh and bone.

And from there it went on to a show about people who've won the lottery. I was only partially paying attention here. It seemed like mostly inspiring stories of folks who truly needed the money and used it or saved it wisely. And then it went on and on about a doctor who won it, and blew some $600,000 grand on home renovations and such.


The green God of America.

I revere and respect all spiritual paths, as they all rise toward a similar god of compassion.

But I will not bow to that paper god.

However, I would like to interject right here that I do have 3 CDs currently available (What I Meant to Say, Lost + Found, and Mountains & Meadows) along with comfy hoodies, t-shirts, buttons, and stickers that all make such wonderful gifts for the holidays! AND that January is the PERFECT time to host a house concert, because what else is there to do in January but have wonderful music and friends fill your home with joy and laughter and Love! (Email me... we'll make it happen!)

The house concert was in beautiful Pasadena. In the historic section of town.

This show was one of the main highlights of coming out to the West Coast this winter. My friend Randi Driscoll, who is amazing (I recommend going online and buying her new live CD - it really highlights what she does best, i think!), was headlining the event. Also there was Lisa Sanders, a great writer and heavyweight in the San Diego music scene. I had done a show with both of them in the legendary Java Joes in San Diego this past summer.

We divied up the show so that i played 4 songs, then Lisa played 4 songs, then Randi (and her percussionist extraordinaire, Noah) played a good 45 minutes, and then we repeated the process.

I loaded up on some marinated tofu cubes prepared by Whole Foods, and totally delicious, and then kicked off the show. The space was tight, as tends to happen in house concerts (especially with 60 attendees), and we had a beautiful fireplace as a backdrop. This always makes me slightly nervous, as on the mantelpiece sat several clay bowls and dishes from deep in the ocean and incredibly irreplaceable. That and there were candles. Lit candles directly behind me.

But I made it without damaging anything! And I still got to dance in the little aisle way.

The crowd were wonderful and utterly brilliant scientists from Caltech. I must say, i was deeply inspired to be in a room with such huge brainpower (folks there had species named after them!).

Something in the ether of the room really aided my guitar work. Some of my best guitar playing at a show, in a long time. I love when the bar gets raised!

Randi and Noah joined me for their favourite song, Distracted. And it rocked. Noah is amazing with a djembe, a pair of bongos, and a hi hat. And Randi sang lovely harmonies, taking the song to another place, which is always the best place for a song to go!

A major highlight: (and having nothing to do with me) they passed a hat and had everyone write some sort of scientific term down, and then Randi would pick the terms out of the hat and incorporate them into a song! She is pretty adept at improv, and pulled together this amazing, ridiculous and spectacular version of Blue Christmas (involving Love Waves - yes there is such a term -and ironically it referrers to an aftershock of an earthquake... - Bob Dylan, and several words none of us could pronounce!

That and her version of Dont Stop Believing ("even scientists studying the bottom of the ocean - or the moon - know this song") in which she vocally did the famous speedy guitar riff in the intro.


The night ended with a rousing version of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" which brought back me, Lisa Sanders, her singing partner "Brown Sugar", and Randi's husband "The Whistler." We got a rhythmically-challenged Pips-style backing dance together - showing off our true talent (or lack thereof)!

If anyone reading this is in southern California, I highly highly recommend you coming out to our show on the 12th in Escondido "Randi's Jingle Bell Ball!" It features all 3 of us again, and will be so much craziness and fun, you wont know what to do with yourself!

I hope to bring Randi and Noah out to Ohio sometime this year, quite possibly during Peace Week (she has written a major theme song for the Matthew Shepherd Foundation and does a lot of work with this great organization). So if you see me posting that she's coming to Ohio, or anywhere else, you should go. You will enjoy.

Well, so it happens. My time is about up here in the cafe. My tea is out, and my car meter is nearly over. I'll check in again soon.

Until then, be the change you wish to see!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thoughts on a Tuesday (pt 2)

Peace Week.

Back in February or so, my friend Bekey Hewit came to me and said she wanted to do a concert at Musica on Oct. 2nd to celebrate Gandhi's birthday. She asked me if I'd like to be involved, and if I'd like to help. Of course i did! So in our little organizing session, we wondered if we could get the city to declare that day Akron Peace Day. Which then turned into Akron Peace Week as we discussed things we could do.

And then the city loved the idea!

And named Sept 25- Oct 2nd as - officially - Akron Peace Week!

As we began putting the week events together, we decided we wanted to do more than just this to cultivate nonviolence in the community, so we came up the Akron Peace Project.

I've been studying nonviolence for the last 3-4 years quite intensely. Spirituality has always intrigued me, and every religion honestly says the same thing - if you strip it down to the basic levels. It all boils down to 1 thing: Love. Love is the Ultimate. With Love as the Ultimate commandment, we cannot condone violence ever. I was turned onto Tolstoys brilliant writings on the subject of Christianity. His "Gospel in Brief" where he strips the Gospels down to their most basic, and "Confessions and other Religious Writings" both were deeply changing for me. One of the great things about Tolstoy is that he gave away his wealth and estate and lived as a poor farmer - practicing what he preached. Something very hard for anyone to do. From there i jumped deeper into Buddhism, the Gospels, Hinduism, and Native American wisdom. With each, I found that Love is the only goal, and that divisiveness, hate, and violence are unacceptable, and uncondonable.

This is where I came into reading Gandhi. Gandhi was never taught, nor even mentioned my entire school career (including college). So it was like opening up this amazing door of truth. And as I got more ingrained in his life and principles, our society was growing more and more divisive. As I step back and look at adults in this country who harbor secret hatreds, us and them / for-us-or-against us mentalities, absolute right and wrong mentalities, I see this epidemic as inherently needing understanding, needing a new Gandhi to step forth to remind us that together we are brilliant and able to achieve anything, that we are all of us the entire universe, that we are all one.

That no one holds a monopoly on truth.

Each side of a debate holds some aspect of truth.

And I couldn't sit back and do nothing. Yeah, I write happy little songs and sing them to 20 people a night, but i felt sure that there are other ways I could get the community together to celebrate all of us, to champion nonviolence.

Thus, the Peace Project begins.

The first step is to look within. This is an ongoing step. We must constantly challenge our views and opinions. We must constantly work to bring about our own inner peace. If we are violent in thought, then we will be violent in action. It is inevitable. If we can develop compassion in our minds and ourselves, than that is how we will build our relationships, and that will be the world we will build with our words and hands and hearts.

We partnered up with the Art of Living to help people gain some sort of mediation skills. They are a wonderful organization started by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. They are a major force for peace in the world, and also inside us all. Mediation is a deeply powerful state and tool. We all mediate now and again. It has many names, and we often don't realize that we are meditating. Things like singing, dancing, praying, hiking/walking/running are all forms of mediation. The goal of mediation is the simply bring the mind to the present. To fully engage in this very moment. It's not just clearing the mind. That will come with enough practice. But it's about identifying and recognizing your thoughts. And it's infinitely healing and rejuvenating.

We will be helping bring the Art of Living's Yes+ course to Akron on Oct 29-31st. We've partnered with the Center for Conflict Management to do this. You really will want to attend this event. I've done a few small mediations with this group, and they have been dramatic. And they were just small little 15 minutes sessions! (More info will be at

Love means nonviolence toward anyone. It also means recognizing that animals are sentient beings as well. They have the same nervous systems and pain receptors as we do. They have emotions and social structures. Until Constantine, Christians were vegetarians. It was inseparable from the Gospel of Love. Hindu and Buddhist traditions sanction vegetarianism as the way, since we are supposed to not harm each other. So, to be nonviolent, we must be vegetarian (at least - vegan cuts out all harm to our animal brethren). For it is like having violent thoughts and saying you are nonviolent. This basic level of violence perpetrated everyday cannot be reconciled with nonviolence.

So we tied in a dog walk event to Peace Week. It is a reminder of Gandhis sentiment "You can judge a nation by how it treats it's animals." We are also co-sponsoring a discussion with author Will Tuttle, author of the World Peace Diet, on Oct 28th at Kolbe Hall, Rm 51, in the University of Akron at 7pm. It is free. Once our hearts are opened to compassion they cannot accept the hardness of their previous state.

Most importantly, nonviolence is something we can all practice and spread. It takes a lot of strength, inner and moral strength. Far more so than violence does. But through our own lives and actions, and treatment of others, it spreads. It spreads because it works, and because it is naturally that state of humanity.

So I ask you to be a soldier in our modern satyagraha.


Thoughts on a Tuesday (pt 1)

Well it has been a summer.

I say.

Ups and downs and back again. Since returning to Ohio from the Western mountains and big sky, I have been working hard organizing "An Evening for Chuck," my benefit for pancreatic cancer research in my dad's honor, as well as "Akron Peace Week," a week of events designed to spread and cultivate nonviolence in the self, the home , and the community. I've also been writing a good deal, and working out some of the new material with the band. And I formed a little sideband, The Bodhis.

Looking back, I guess that does seem pretty busy.

Firstly, every year when I return from the Mountains, I get depressed with the hiking options in Northeast Ohio. This year was no exception. I typically hike 10-15 miles a day in Wyoming, all up into the mountains - to meadows plush with wildflowers, little glacial lakes high up in a mountain, where at least part of the trail is still snow-covered. Hikes that include seeing bear, moose, elk, bison, marmots, wolves, eagles, and other amazing critters. I've yet to find many trails in this area that are over 4 or 5 miles (except of course the Buckeye trail). Most of the trails here also have little views, though they are pretty in their own way, there aren't the kind of entrancing views (save a couple of short waterfall hikes). But  to my joy, I found a nice trail in Brecksville metro park that I really do like. It's nice and secluded, it has some elevation, and though not really many views, it is a nice little trail to hike. This discovery fueled some much needed happiness in early August.

Evening for Chuck.

We typically spend the better part of the year planning and organizing this event. We had the opportunity to bring in Isa Moskowitz, the famous vegan chef! That is until she backed out less than 30 days before the event. But we soldiered on, and had one of the most fun events we've thrown. My good friend, Brandt Evans (head chef of Blue Canyon), brought a few amazing dishes, as did Cilantro, the great new Thai place downtown. Mrs. Julie's Kitchen made some wonderful pumkin bread/rolls, and the Mustard Seed make a jolly cake. And of course Theresa's famous cookies (of which i think i seriously had 40!) But the real hero of the food day was Pita Pit. They were so kind as to donate a large batch of veggie pitas, and then came back twice to deliver more each time the wraps ran out! 

Magic Mike made some uber-festive balloon hats, and Zumba seriously got us going! Dr. Shankar gave a wonderful presentation about the need for altering our diets to fight and combat cancer and many other diseases.

And the music!

The Bodhis had their world debut, which was so much fun! I love singing with Courtney! And Cameron's beat box just takes everything to a new level! Plus, David had on his cool Bodhis/Piratey shirt. It was the first show of many to come. Actually, we may be doing some sets on Nov 18th at Northside, and for sure at First Night Akron (at the Polsky Building 9:30-11:30pm).

I was so happy to have Brian Lisik involved this year. Kristine Jackson is always great! She knocked her set out of the park! The Tofu Fighters got the crowd up and rockin! Even having Bill Hall singing along!

The Love Initiative. It was a lot of fun to put a modified version of a Love Initiative set together with my band. If you missed the Akron Civic show, I dont know what to tell you. It was beautiful. So, I decided to try something like it with the band. We did it differently and more focused on the music than the Civic show was, but it worked very well! Plus, it debuted the video for Shoulder! (If you haven't seen it yet: And it debuted several songs besides Shoulder, songs like Anyway (a duet with Maurice Martin of Winslow). And then there was the finale! Ever After and Sundown with HORNS!! Oh yeah. Oh. Yeah.

In the end, we've raised over $6,000 this year! Which brings our grand total to over $32,000! A small dent in the problem of this cancer.

In the Part 2... Peace Week!
Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Love Mountains Tour Pt. 2

Next up was Charlotte. Charlotte’s a cool town. I always feel I like it for a day or 2. I don’t think id be able to do it for longer than that. (But the tip of the Smokey Mountains with the greatest concentration of Black Bears in the entire range is only 3 hours away…) I do however, love the Evening Muse! Such a cool place.

My set was a total blast! A great crowd was there and enjoyed what I did. Which is always a very nice feeling. Lots of singing along that night too! The Meadow seemed to stick in a few heads that night.

I got to stay with my friends in Charlotte who have a sort of “Rock and Roll Motel.” They are a wonderful family! On my way there, they stopped at this new 24 hour donut shoppe. A 24 hour donut shoppe is in itself unique, but the donuts were seriously the size of an average persons head. Huge!!

On my way out of town, they took me to Manifest, which is this amazing independent record shop. It’s massive!! How could I not go to a record shop called “Manifest?” How could I not love it? I was able to pick up a few cool CDs of Indian chants/hymns. If you live anywhere around Charlotte, please support this place! I wish we had something like it in Ohio.

After passing out of North Carolina, I made my way back through Atlanta on my way west toward San Diego. I had wanted to stop at the Martin Luther King, Jr Center for Social Change and Nonviolence. It’s kind of a little Mecca for me, being hugely influence by the work and words or both Dr. King and Gandhi (who also has a prominent wing and statue at the center). The day was mild and overcast. Storm clouds were on their way in. The center is located directly across the street from the original Ebenezer Baptist Church. Standing on the street staring at this old brick building, a subtle power emanates from it. If you listened hard enough, and if the wind was blowing just right, you’d swear you could hear like whispers Dr. King giving a sermon from the other side of the stained glass.

As I walked up the stairs, they had a long memorial fountain with the tomb of Dr. King and Corretta Scott King, as well as an eternal flame. That alone was beautiful and moving. The clouds were throwing intense colours and shades on the entire scene, adding to the emotional impact. After walking around some, I crossed over to the other side of the street where the new Ebenezer church stands and where there are some rose gardens for peace and murals, etc. Around the rose garden were plaques of little poems written by Atlanta-based children ranging from 2nd grade to high school. All of the poems were wonderful, though a few of the really young children had written some pretty deep and remarkable lines, especially for their ages.



By Ella Hurworth (Grade4)

We have eyes;

Open them and look for peace.

We have mouths;

Open them and sing for peace.

We have minds;

Open them and make peace.

We have hearts;

Open them and receive peace.

Or Sofia Sarmiento’s (Grade 3) “Peace:”

Peace is the ocean waves crashing on the sand.

Peace is families walking hand in hand.

Peace is helping a friend when he is hurt.

Peace is a puppy digging in the dirt.

Peace is when your heart does not shatter.

Peace is different people

Uniting for what matters.

Near the garden was a huge wall mural depicting large events in Dr. King’s life, and across from that a wonderful Gandhi statue. I spent a good hour and a half there, and Im quite sure I could have spent much longer on those wonderful grounds. Next time I am near Atlanta, I am going back.

Standing on those grounds, it really hit me how absent in our time such a strong figure of leadership with the courage to be wholly non-violent is. Especially as we have entered into a time where violence has o’ertaken much of our society. Why must our enemies always be people? We have the power to change our own reality. Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, and Dr. King all showed the world it is best to love the person doing evil deeds, while hating the act that person is doing. It is truly only through this behavior that we will break the true bonds we have enslaved ourselves in and be free the tyranny of fear and violence.

With our own nation so divided and pushed to such troubling violent words and actions, a leader is needed now as much as ever.

The rain came as I left Atlanta, making the rolling hills of the Alabama scenery actually quite beautiful with rainbows and sunsets peeking through the clouds.

My goal of making it to Texas that first night got benched when on more than one occasion after dark a highway patrol car would follow me for several miles. They had a great way of being not welcoming and making sure that those who didn’t belong there kept moving along. I made it to Louisiana though before I had to give in to exhaustion.

That drive marked the first time I’ve been to Mississippi. AND I got to cross the Mississippi in Mississippi, which I got a lot of pleasure out of.

However; I had been mostly dreading the drive through Texas. My route was taking me the entire breadth of Texas. I crossed the boarder and got gas and peanuts at a big travel plaza, where the lady behind the counter was super nice and obviously entirely loved her job! A pretty good start to the state I thought.

12 hours later… I still had a good 18 hours to go… to get out of Texas! It was about as bad a drive as I had anticipated. Ugh. I did get to drive through a dust storm which was a first and very interesting. Being covered in a cloud of red dust on the freeway. Storms in the West and southwest are quite unbelievable. You get to see them peak above the horizon and continue watching them for miles upon miles. Lightning cracks unobstructed.

After passing flat lands and oil fields, I finally got to El Passo. I was intrigued by this area because you could see Mexico. And having never been, it was cool to at least look over the dessert and mountains and be able to say, that is Mexico. The traffic picked up considerably here. As I pulled over for gas and stood filling my tank, a man pulls up next to me and asks if I lived there. Despite the fact that I 1) have Ohio plates, and 2) was not wearing a cowboy hat, jeans, OR boots… Sadly I could not help him with his directional question.

Finally into New Mexico the drive turned around. (I actually cheered as I crossed the border into New Mexico!) It was still desserty, but some mountains had popped up, and the scenery was relatively interesting. White Sands National Monument was next on the list. Truly one of the cooler places I saw in the southwest. Huge dune fields of pure sparkly white gypsum! Plus, I got to be there when a storm was blowing by, so the cloud coloration was incredible. And it did rain for all of 3 or 4 minutes which is very rare there. It really is a sort of alien landscape. Neil and I were talking the other day about how the landscape of the East, Midwest, and even the Southeast to some extent are all very similar. Many places in this region remind us of a section of Ohio. But as you pass the Mississippi, and definitely after passing the Missouri or Rio Grande, the landscape is altogether foreign. White Sands is so different from the Midwest it’s hard to describe it, really. You start off entering a dessert, except with white sand. The early area of the park still has some grasses and plants, which gradually diminish the further in you go. A trail juts out into the sand early on where you walk around some small trees and plants. And where you see a small bush that looks like an aspen tree, and it is. The top of the tree. Yes. The rest of the tree has been buried by the sand over the days. But it can survive. And you realize how much sand is really beneath you. As you get into the true white sand dunes, you can walk around, though the only guides back to your vehicle are your own footprints. Every year several people get lost wondering around back there. A terrible place to lose your way. 1) it’s a dessert – super hot, no water. 2) it borders an air force missile testing base. Not a place you want to wander into.

I stopped into a small town on my way back from the White Sands to the freeway. A sign pointed out that a post office was there. In need of mailing a few postcards, I followed the signs around the block to a house. Yes, the post office was in a house.

You can tell what is troubling an area by the billboards along the highway. In Texas it was the Heath care plan that hasn’t even been implemented yet and abortion. In New Mexico, it was meth and drunk driving – quite a bad combo. But it made you much more aware and cautious of the other people on the road.

Compared to the never ending drive through Texas, I was out of New Mexico in a flash, and on my way to Saguaro National Park by Tucson.

I bet you can’t wait for Part 3?! I know I cant!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Love the Mountains Tour Pt. I

Somewhere back in time, I was a mountain dweller. Maybe in another life. Maybe I was really raised in the wilderness. Maybe it’s the gypsy in me.

Whatever it might be, the call of the wind and the smell of the sage speak louder to my heart than the lights of any city could ever hope to. My head is right at home under the roof of the unending sky.

As I’m guided by the trio of the bear, the bison, and the coyote, I gravitate West. The bear calls for open spaces, room to roam, lovely flowers to smell, meadows to play in, and the bounty of the mountains to support me, physically and spiritually. The bison leads me to the open spaces from the anthills of cities, calmly shows the strength to stand up to the odds and believe that whatever the goal, it can be achieved. And the coyote reminds me to sing and laugh and dance at every opportunity.

And so they are good companions, travelling with me in all my journeys.

And so it is that every year, my Western tour is a highlight of my year. And it will be, until that fateful day when the mountains swallow me up, and I will occasionally set out on a Midwest Tour. And that day will come. It’s creeping around every corner. I can feel its breath, and hear the click clack of its boots now and again.

Speaking of swallowing up – whilst in Wyoming the National Museum of Wildlife Art (which my aunt helped to start) had a wonderful exhibit of Maurice Sendack’s drawings. To see up close one of his final drawings from Where the Wild Things Are was such a moment. As with most children growing up between the 70s and 90s, that book was a huge part of my childhood. The imagination of the books really caught everything it was to be a kid. And then to standing face to face with a real final drawing from the book was pretty special.

The first part of the tour went smoothly, despite me attempting to kick a scratchy throat/ sinus infection that took hold the day I left. However, as I took every chance to sleep or rest, I watched Unmistakable Child, a documentary about a Buddhist monks search for his reincarnated teacher, a renowned Lama. Shot in brilliant colours and in the otherworldly natural scenery of the region it is visually pretty arresting and intense. The real interesting part though is that the majority of the process on how the Lamas search for a child who is the reincarnated master. And in the end, it seemed pretty compelling to me that they found the right one. This little boy rightly picks out the masters possessions and takes naturally to the priestly things they have him do. I recommend this.

I really enjoyed Athens, Georgia. Having never been there before, I was looking forward to the 2 days I got to stay and play there. Plus, I was feeling much better by then. It was nice to have a minute before I needed to get to my house concert venue that I could walk around the downtown. The shops and restaurants are all quaint and some are pretty cool. The have the famous double barrel cannon – that was never fired because it did not work. Apparently it’s impossible to have a double barreled cannon as a functional piece of weaponry. But it is a nice lawn ornament. And I feel that if we turned things of violence into lawn ornaments more often, we might begin to see the rays of peace.

Another of my favourites of Athens was the “Tree that owns itself.” A man deeded the land around this tree to the tree, so that it would never be cut down. Now, the tree is partitioned off with a nice little fence around it; its leaves are full and happy, and it is in control of its own destiny. I loved this! What if more of us would do this? Seriously, its like making our own National Parks, albeit on a much, much smaller scale. But how cool?!

Veronica and her husband Chris hosted my shows in Athens. Very cool folks, and cool musicians in their own right. They took me around the town, introducing me to the local Co Op, (which rocked!) the Junkman’s Daughter (which I’d been to in Atlanta – think Big Fun but bigger – they got me a sign that says “Vegans Welcome” from there), and the Grit.

The Grit.


Veg places are so perfectly funky and cool. They had marvelous food, and had cakes and desserts, too! I didn’t get to have any of those, but my mouth watered uncontrollably for a good day after seeing them! Go to this place. Well worth it.

Really enjoyed the house concert I did in Athens on that Saturday. It was a nice collection of folks, including this fun couple who were neighbors, heard the music and stopped by. An interesting couple, him from Germany, and her from Australia! And both wonderfully sweet to boot! There was another couple there, and I’ve been told that the next day he proposed, since they were both so inspired from the show and my music – he felt that was the right time! And I am deeply honored. Congrats Fain & Addy!

Part II: The rest of the South… Coming soon!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The only test of truth is action based on the refusal to do harm

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here in these vibrant verant groves amongst the marmots moose and bears, I do not withdrawl from the world, but into it.
winning goal. Everything adance with song. Melodies in the birds. The mumble of the stream and the swaying foliage. The air is cool and brings a familiar smile.
Sitting in the mountains. By a cold rushing stream. Willows all around. Pines stretching enthusiastically to the sky. As though the Heavens just scored the

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


"Everybody wants somebody to be their own piece of clay."

This song came on as I started writing this blog today. I've always really loved this song - it's my favourite Marvin Gaye tune (tied maybe with his version of Yesterday). It's true on every level. Especially in consideration with Marvin's rough relationship with his father, leading ultimately to Marvin's untimely death at the hands of his own father.

I like to think that instead of molding anyone, I can help them take a single step or maybe be a simple page in their diary. It's said that every breath any of us take lingers and circles the world for years. That, yes, the breath of Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gandhi, John Lennon, have been takin in by us all. That on a molecular level, we share a lot with all of our fellow man.

I also think that Gandhi was right. We need to be the change we want to see in others, in the world. This is a constant process, an evolution. A change in consciousness, which doesn't usually happen overnight.

So to everyone struggling right now, have faith in yourself. You have the breath of Saints, sages, yogis, and gods within you.

And. On that note.

I watched a show last night about how we are descendants from aliens.

It was late night, and it was the History channel.

The basic thesis being that the improbability of DNA for life coming together in a mere 6 billion years is basically impossible. So the evidence mounted.

Drawings and art from ancient peoples. Sculptures depicting leaders/ Gods in outfits strikingly similar to our spacesuits. Drawings of leaders in these images that appeared to be spacecraft.

That all people's have origin myths saying that man came from the starts. All civilizations had gods that actually came to earth from the sky. (which could undoubtedly be taken numerous different figurative and literal ways).

And then a piece of martian debris landed on earth, and carbon deposits were there, which scientists decided were left behind from microbial life.

So, then the question: did life mean to come here, or was it sent here on purpose?

Did the Martians before their planet dried up send out life to the nearest inhabitable place? Or, were all these images of space people, simply us from the future.

Yes, us from the future.

Can i remind you, this is the History channel.

The answer: wormholes. Theoretical space phenomenon. If a future us found one of these, and learned to harness it, then they could travel all over the universe, and theoretically, back in time. To apparently give us (their ancestors) our religions and myths, that would undoubtedly then lead to them and their civilization.

I believe in a lot of things. Whose to say whats possible and what isn't? It's all theoretical anyway, and none of us will probably ever really know for sure. It just seems like a lot of work for questionable results.

It would be like us travelling back in time to when there was primitive man and the birthing of civilizations, and us giving them gods and religions. The same ones that we know they had. It would be a process of simply keeping the circle turning, no?

And with that... I realize...

I've been spending way too much time thinking about this.

This is why free time is bad for me.

Sing on Marvin! I've got to go and sing too!

PS- i love spellcheck. It suggested "salespeople" for "spacepeople."


Friday, April 23, 2010

Birthdya Bonanza!

Oh its a party!
Come one, come all!

The May air will be filled with the soul and funky tunes of me and my friends all night long! Lots of special guests will be there, and it will surely be a night to remember!

While the soul is groovin, so will the appetite be! It's a vegan pot luck, so you can bring your favorite vegan dish, snack, entre, dessert!

And with admission only a smile, I think its affordable, and very worth it!

Plus, check out some of the art and photography of some of my friends (and if you like it, it'll be for sale too)!

I hope to see you there to celebrate life and laughter, friendship and music with me!


Thursday, March 25, 2010


So comes the Spring.

After a winter that seemed to have been 8 months long, the snow is melted, the buds are peeking out of their barked slumbers, the sun bathes in the blue sky, and our heavy coats are finally being hung in the back of the closet.

It's a time of renewal. Of rebirth. Of growth. Of change.

With the new year, we all look ahead at the year with wishful thinking and thin promises about how we're going to make this year better, or make us better. But it is with the Spring that we truly begin to enact the smallest of these changes.

This winter, I heard the phrase that we are all either activists, or inactivists.

And it has hit home more than ever.

Over the past 7 years or so, I have very consciously been finding ways to perform and lend my music to causes that I feel strongly about. Music is my weapon. It is my soothing balm. It is my smile. It is who I am, and how I am best equiped to help, to make a difference.

But I'm beginning to think that alone is not enough.

Which is why i started the Love Initiative.

Its still to get its feet under it, but it will. It's got a big task ahead of it: to foster and spread kindness and Love throuhgout our communities. And it's a task that will take more than one to achieve.

"I am just one man who needs you here/ I crawl out from my shelter cuz I need you here."



As in "love your neighbors as yourself."

As in "treat others as you'd like to be treated."

As in "This is my commandment, that ye love one another. [Jesus, In John 15:12]"

As in "unity."

I've been asked, and I've asked myself "what can i do?" What can we do as individuals angered by the lack of Love and kindess we see towards our fellow brothers and sisters of all species? What can i do to change this? To stop it?

I don't know.

Yelling at and hitting people over the head with the images of cruelty will not accomplish the goal. No ill words will achieve anything other than ill. No lasting revolution has or will come about by fore - be it words or actions.

I don't know.


But Im gonna die trying to light the night sky.

I know the change I want to see, and I am trying to become it.


All life is sacred.


And if I can do it, so can you.

And you can do it.

And if you can do it, then we are not alone.

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached. - Franz Kafka.

I am stepping across that line... 

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Time moves. It slides, skips, blasts on. It runs, it walks, it sulks. It slowly climbs up the slide ladder at night and swooshes down the slide in the day.

And you wake up 4 years later.

I have tons of memories of my father. Many are simple snapshots. Like a slideshow. Walking down the street at night. Standing by a horse pasture when I was teeny that he used to take me to all the time. Coaching the flag football team i was on when i was 5. Playing basketball with him in the backyard. Him sitting at the sound board, a huge smile on his face. Or a grimmace of intent as he ever-dialed in the frequencies and mix.

And I smile. The many blessings of having these great and small moments.

And i also see him, a virtual skeleton, sunken and unimaginably fraile sitting in the chair. Or lying in the hospital. Or being wheeled into an ambulance. Or doubled over in pain coming home from the radiologist.

As much Id love to have those memories vanish. They wont. And are sometimes more prevailant, more immediate.

But hard as they are, I cant say that I would really want to lose those images.

Those images, those moments have fueled a fire in me I'd never had previously. They remind me the finite strings of life are thin and can snap at any given second.

Which all really reminds me to live. Its a process, but these memories wont let me stop or turnback.


I see him sitting in the chemo chair, trying to whet his lips, trying to find some comfort. and I see all the other people sitting in that chemo room. Young, old, and all with that same fear, that same sunken skin. And I watch the nurses feed and encourage foods that only fuel their diseases. While they are being eaten alive from the inside. And I lost faith in medicine. Western medicine at least. In doctors. In hopsitals. In people who are supposed to know what wrong and how to fix us. People who very blatently dont.

But I dont greive this fallen faith.

For I've found faith in something more important.

The truth.

Our diets. And you know what, we can suddenly save ourselves. Without PhDs and millions of dollars of hospital bills. Suddenly God says in a tested but reasuring voice, "You've always had to power to change, to heal, to love. Go with it. Ive given everyone all the tools they need."

And i see the light in my father's eyes dimming.

And there was nothing I could do.

But I can do something now. I can fight so that others dont have to go through that. I can fight the pessimisim that readily flows in these streets. I can shine. Little light that it is, it can help one person. Even inadvertantly.

I can constantly try to enlighten myself to be fully awake when around friends, to not divide my time with them by distractions of cell phones, to listen, to simply bask in the blessing of the moment. It's not easy. Our minds are taught to wander as children. I wonder, though, if I would never see one of my friends again, would I feel that i have let them know how much they meant to me?

I got to tell my dad. He knew.

As for everyone else, Im working on it.

This is the Love Initiative.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love is Here!

The Love Initiative Music & Love program is underway! As y'all know I will be performing all over Akron with little impromptu short concerts from today until the 25th - the night of the debut of the Love Initiative performance.

Everyday, the location of my performace(s) will be posted on my: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Reverbnation, and official sites - as well as - 91.3 The Summit's Facebook & Twitter, The Downtown Akron Partnership's Facebook & Twitter, Buzzbin Magazines Faebook & Twitter, The Akron Civic's Facebook & Twitter, and many more!

Please feel free to repost these notices on your and your friends' sites! The whole goal here is to spread kindness, Love, and creativity throughout our communities.

So here goes. The Love Initiative will be bringing music and Love to:
Love Initiative Day 4 show:

16 - The Downtown Akron Trolley - Noon. Yes, I will be performing on the trolley! Come out and ride with me; it's free! It's a love trolley! Catch it by the Civic!

16 - The Summit County Sierra Club (at the Unitarian Universalist Church on W. Market St in Fairlawn) - 7:00pm.

Be the change.



Monday, February 1, 2010

February Newsletter!

John Muir said "I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature's loveliness." I whole-heartedly subscribe to this ideal. There is so much beauty all around us. From the mighty weed that survives the cement cities to the flocks of geese or swallows that form beautiful formations to the full majestic regalia of the Rocky Mountains.

I mention this because I am this month kicking off my show and movement called the "Love Initiative." ( It's a show and an ideal based upon Love, in the bigger meanings and concepts. It's about actually going out of your way to give kindness and Love to folks. Everyday on my facebook page, I will be posting small initiatives for us all to achieve to accomplish a broader bigger Love in our communities.

Also as part of the build up for the event of the Love Initiative at the civic Theater on Feb. 25th, I will be performing impromptu short acoustic/unplugged sets at various businesses in Akron. each set will be announced that morning on my facebook, twitter, myspace, as well as on the downtown Akron Partnership's and 91.3 The Summit's social media sites. If you'd like to help spread the word and post these events too, please feel free to do so. (I would love to know, so I can tell people where all to look for updates). There will also be several other happenings downtown and keep your eyes peeled for some Love Initiative art that will be popping up downtown as well!

The 31 days thus far of 2010 have stood on a much better path for me than most of 2009. I embarked on a southern tour called the "Looking for Warmth Tour" in which I found so much warmth in smiles, friendly fans and strangers, and even some sunshine! You can read all about my travels and the Looking for Warmth Tour at

I have been nominated for the Best Singer/songwriter in the Cleveland Scene Music Awards. This is always a nice honor, and I've been nominated many last several years. Please vote online at Some good friends of mine are also nominated. I would appreciate it if you supported them as well! Maurice Martin (of Winslow), Rachel Roberts, Kristine Jackson, Eclyptic, and Matt and Curtis (of Winslow) are up for Sax and Keyboards respectively.

Some other February news. I will be performing in Chicago on Valentine's Day at the (K)new Restaurant. It's a cool place, and I'm excited to play this event. I will be in town Saturday the 13th as well. If you'd be interested in hosting a house concert, please email me. It is easy to line up and promote! Plus, it's the best way to experience a Zach performance! The band and I will be loading up the Buffalo and heading off to Harrisburg, PA on the 19-20th for the Millennium Music Conference, which we have been asked to perform at. I'm excited to actually get to stop in Harrisburg! I've heard some nice things!

One last announcement. I have been asked to be a part of the "Dare to Dream Tour" which brings uplifting bands to schools, youth programs, campgrounds, etc for the purpose of performing and encouraging the students/etc to dream and work to accomplish those dreams. It's a wonderful message, and I am proud to participate. Visit for more info.

One thing to think about: if you, like me, do not have a Valentine this year, I think we should make it a special day to spread kindness and big "L" Love to strangers and friends alike. Maybe buy a stranger a rose. Or chocolates. Be creative.

Be Love.

Thanks! I really hope to see y'all this month! Your smiling face makes my day!


PS- I support these causes and think you should check them out:

The Lustgarten Foundation (

Veg for Life (

Sierra Club (

National Parks Conservation Association (

National Parks (

No animals were harmed in the writing, creating, or sending of this email newsletter. Also, no animal products were used in the making of this email newsletter, or in any way sustaining the musician typing it all in. (V)


2 • Happy Groundhog Day! I think we should all celebrate this day by doing something out of our ordinary routines!

5• Cabana's Island Restaurant • (8500 Station Street, Mentor, OH)• 7:00pm. Hello East Side! This should be a fun night!

6• House Concert • (Seven Hills, OH)• 3:00pm. I love house concerts! It is the very best way to see my perform! You can have me play in your house! It's easy! Email me for more info!

6• Brecksville Broadview Hts High School • (6380 Mill Rd, Brecksville, OH)• 7:00pm. I've been asked back to my Alma Mater to perform with my band to kick off their "Reeling in the Years" celebration. $15.

9• Barking Spider • (11310 Juniper, Cleveland, OH)• 10:00pm. This is a true gem and staple of the Ohio music scene, and it's always a wonderful night!

12• Tony's Speakeasy • (560 W. Tuscarawas Ave, Barberton, OH)• 8:00pm. It's been a while since I was last performing in Barberton!

13• TBA • (Chicago, IL)• 7:00pm. Stay tuned for venue info (or follow my facebook page).

14• Happy Valentine's Day! If you, like me, don't have a Valentine this year, spend this day, especially, spreading kindness to strangers!

14• (K)new Restaurant • (2556 W. Fullerton Ave - between Maplewood Ave and Rockwell St, Chicago, IL)• 5:30pm. Cool new place. They have a Valentine's special - $55 for a 4-course meal!

15• Happy President's Day!

15• Wolf Creek Winery • (2637 S Cleveland - Massillon Rd, Norton)• 7:00pm.A wonderful setting with great wines and good people!

18• Fat Fish Blue • (21 Prospect Ave E, Cleveland, OH)• 9:00pm. Another lovely set with the wonderful Kristine Jackson!

19• Millennium Music Conference • (Guillifty's, 1104 Carlisle Rd, Camp Hill, PA)• 9:30pm. The band and I have been invited to perform at this prestigious conference.

20• Millennium Music Conference • (Harrisburg, PA)• 8:00pm. The band and I have been invited to perform at this prestigious conference.

25• Akron Civic Theater • (182 S. Main St, Akron, OH)• 8:00pm. I have written a show based around my music called "The Love Initiative" which being debuted here in this gorgeous setting. It is a unique multi-media presentation, and unlike my typical performances! You won't want to miss it! $25. For this price, you get an open bar, a tour of the Civic, light appetizers, and a free unique CD only given to these attendees, ever!

26• Hermes Winery • (6413 Hayes Ave, Sandusky, OH)• 8:30pm. A very nice winery with great wines and a wonderful cozy atmosphere!

27• D & D Smith Winery • (401 W. Main St, Norwalk, OH)• 8:00pm. This is a brand new winery with great wines, especially their fruit wines!

28 • Enjoy the Full Moon!

March 5• Tangier's • (532 W. Market St, Akron)• 7:00pm. The band and I are co-headlining this lovely venue with my friends the Ryan Humbert Band! This is where the party's at!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Looking for Warmth 4

The wind really picked up and pushed the rain down to the ground in torrents. It started that night. The trees whipped around the guest house all night. The racket wasn't exactly to the point of waking me up, but it floated in and about all of my dreamy subconsciousness.

Needlesstosay, my pea coat was back on that morning as I climbed into my van.

I started off at a brunch performance at Bud and Alleys before heading over to Central Square Records for a workshop featuring Nicole Witt and Shawn Mullins. The topic was songwriting. It was definitely interesting. I can't say anything was life-changing, but it affirmed a lot of the issues and fears that all writers and songwriters have, and it's always nice to heard, actually hear, that it happens to everybody.

I was standing close to the stage area, staring at a CD that was proclaimed "the best live r&b CD ever!" It was a concert from 1968 featuring Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Booker T, and more. It looked awesome. But I didnt bring any extra cash, so I just started at it for a few or twenty minutes...

We left there in order to get into the venue I was performing at. Evan was performing in the set before me, and I hadn't heard him yet. This venue was Shorty's. And it was standing room only before the first set went on at 3pm, and stayed that way until after my set. They had also cleaned up the sound since the night before.

On my set was Emily Lynch a young and talented singer/songwriter from Nashville and Effron White, a man who had been inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame! He had some amazing story songs. The audience was great - super attentive! And it was wonderful to see several of the other performers there as well. I made this set a little more introspective than the previous night's set, including Over the Road, which i dedicated to my dad, since his birthday was only a couple days away.

After my set i made my way to Stinky's Fish Camp. What a name for a place? I agree, there was some trepidation on my part, but it is a very nice place! All the staff were sweet and kind! They had me try Abita Turbo Dog beer, which was actually pretty tastey! And i am not a big beer fan at all. Dont be fooled though, their grits are made with chicken stock.

The set was cool. Carmel sounded great. Adlai Waxman had a jazzy side of Billy Joel thing going on, and Ryan Parker reminded me slightly of Ryan Adams/ Graham Parsons/ and some Tom Petty.

After a breif set of locals, John Oates and Reed Waddle came on. Reed won the NYC Songwriter's Circle contest last year. He has a very Brett Dennon/ John Mayer/Jack Johnson vibe. Good stuff though. John Oates sounded ok, though I think much of his voice was either not up to par, or simply gone. He did do a good version of She's Gone and Maneater.

So ended my last full night in Florida.

The morning woke with a brunch. A champaigne brunch. But the place, called Fire, did make me specially an Eggplant Napolean - all vegan. It was tastey and filling. Otherwise, I would have been relegated to some standard iceberg lettuce i imagine.

After the brunch we went out to see and hear the Indigo Girls, who were playing on a beach on the far end of town. The artists all got in early and got great seating (I was behind Shawn Mullins). The day was fun but really cold. The big upside was that the little cafe across the street had soy and made me a delicious and spot-hitting hot chocolate.

My friends Evan LaFloch and Carmel Mikol, who seem to be distracted.

Mr. Effron White.

The Indigo Girls.

Shawn Mullins singing with the Indigo Girls.

Why am I shivering when there are palm trees?!?!?

Beautiful dunes and inlets were all around the area.

This was the speed limit sign where I was staying. Yep, 17 MPH...
From there I rolled out to my show at Stinky's. It was crowded early. Emily Lynch was again on the set, and Ben Reno rounded it out. By the time we started, it was over-packed. And everyone was ready to be attentive. This set became much more upbeat with Upon Your Dreams, Manifest, Perfect, Ever After, etc. Manifest was the 2nd or 3rd song of 5, and it really struck a chord with a lady in the audience. She was right up front. And you could see the music rolling over her, enveloping her, and picking her up, moving her, etc. She began dancing. Somewhat tamely at first. But that didn't last too long.

Soon she was right up by me, almost hitting the microphone often. She ended up getting so into that she was disrupting much of the rest of the audience, and was eventually thrown out!

On other news, I got the whole crowd singing along to the NaNas in Perfect! What a wonderful harmony it was!

After me was most of Dread Clampitt. They had a full-time washboardist. Oh yes. They were wonderful at that barroom alt country/newgrass sort of stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed their set. Last of the night were 2 big hitter songwriters. the one, Chas Sanford, wrote "Missing You," the John Waite tune, and one of the most played radio songs of all time. He also rocked an acoustic 12-string, even to the point of blistering solos! He was quite impressive!

I sadly couldn't stay for all of their set, as I needed to get on the road to make it back to Ohio for a show. I said my goodbyes, and was soon driving out of Florida and into Alabama.

Where I crossed paths, most unfortunately, with a deer.

It did into survive the meeting. And my van's front grille and lights were trashed. However, the van still ran. So, I ducked taped the lights on and started down the backwoods 2 lane country road hoping the van would at least get me to a city.

It did more than that - it got me 14 hours down the line and home!

I can't say enough about my van! And 5 hour energy! That stuff works!

My Sunday

A day in the life.

Yesterday, my alarm didn't go off. So I woke up 10 minutes before I was needing to leave to drive to Sugarcreek for my performance.


Those mornings are the worst - those mad rush, anxiety-riddled dashes. But I got on the road in decent time, and ended up having just enough time to set up and even get a glass of blackberry wine (which was very tastey)!

Somehow, accidentally, when I changed my strings, a heavier set got put on. Which felt like I was playing the cables on the Golden Gate bridge.

And that was after the first 3 songs.

I had 3 hours to go for that show alone.


But i finished up and drove the haul to Norwalk for a show @ D&D Smith Winery. The show was great and packed with many friendly faces. I even got some dancers going!

Only a 2 1/2 hour show this time, but my fingertips were slightly numb and sore. After packing up, I knew that with a long drive ahead of me, and no lunch or dinner or enough sleep the night before, it was gonna be rough. So i stopped at the gas station and picked up an extra strength 5 hour energy shot.


It really works. I was awake the whole hour and fifteen to get home. And for unloading my stuff in. And I felt good enough to sit in my room and turn on the uber-junky casio keyboard i have had since I was 10 or so.

The ride home had me thinking of the Love Initiative show upcoming. And I had still wanted to write a few more songs for it (too many is better than not enough). And I came up with this silly idea of trying to write something on the keyboard, and then maybe I could perform it on a piano at the show!

Sweet! Right?

After about 5 minutes, I had stumbled onto something I really liked. And found a great verse and chorus.

And then I turned on the EZ cheeze factor of the pre-sets for beats. And this one was actually perfect! Infused with even more excitement, I pounded out the bridge and a few extra ideas. By 3am I had the song done.

I still can't play it that well. But it's getting there.

This morning... my alarm didnt go off again, and I nearly missed a meeting with Maurice Martin (of Winslow), the Zou, JD Eicher, Jeff Gargas (FTF Records)and Danny of Eclyptic.

Nearly. But not. I was a whole 2 minutes late.

And that could just have been my phone.

It has gone a bit awol lately in keeping time. I thought that cell phones were supposed to be on some kind of atomic time, but not my phone.


Anyway, the meeting was great, and the socializing was a blast!

I got home in time to make some eggplant with roasted red pepper pasta sauce and lima beans before our rehearsal started.

And as for rehearsal. Let me just tell you that we've touched up and completely re-worked 2 songs with more to recieve the same fate. I'm very excited about the direction these songs have taken, and I think when we get this right, it's gonna be a fantastic show.

Just saying.

And now Im on the computer (what a surprise).

I just hope my alarm goes off in the morning. Im setting 3 this time.

(Im knocking on wood).

I'll end this on a random note: just watched Bon Iver's performance on Letterman while back doing "Skinny Love" and it still blows my mind.


Manifest video

Todd V put this together after my performance at Indie BOX in Cuyahoga Falls! It's an awesome place, and a great video!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Looking for Warmth 3

The drive from Nashville to Chattanooga is a short and pretty drive. It's a drive of foothills and small mountains. And fireworks stores. Lots of those. It's a drive that during the fall would be spectacular with colours and shades. This time of year, the trees are bare and waiting the shawl of ice and cold to bear heavily upon each branch. The occassional hawk flew over the road in search of lunch.

Much of the trip I had Native american music blaring - still hanging over from the bison sculpture experience. It fit the scenery well. The soaring flutes and chanting taking me off to another time. A place where the spirit was allowed freedom and spirituality was ever-present and ingrained in us all. I almost half expected to see a ghost bison grazing in the distance off the highway, paying no heed to the cars dashing by, oblivious.

This was the first time I got to actually drive around and see much of Chattanooga. It's a wonderful town build in the valley of a few surrounding mountains, and the town itself has its share of pittsburgh-esque hills. They have a gorgeous waterfront, that on warmer days must be fabulous. I'd heard great things about their aquarium as well. And after passing their art museum, I wanted to have time to stop in. They had a Kennedy photos exhibit that looked pretty interesting. I'd have some time in the morning for sight-seeing, so my list was growing quickly.

I found a great little local grocery store akin to Whole Foods, with a wonderful 3 Bean vegan chili and an awesome discount on huge bags of raisins! Their Wifi allowed me some need computer time before performing.

That night I made my way to Lookout Mountain. I had high hopes of seeing Rock City (American Gods) or perhaps even Ruby Falls. The snag came about that there is little cultural to do in the area for under $15. And spending $20 to walk in the cold around Rock City didnt seem like a smart investment. Alas, some other time, some warmer time, I will check it out and get to the top, where one can see 7 states.


That's been amazing me since I saw the sign claiming that fact. There's obviously Tennessee, Georgia, maybe Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina... but what else? No other states are that close. Supposedly Kentucky and Virginia fill in the void. This claim was first made by soliders in the Civil War, but has yet to be verified scientifically. Though, you'd think they'd get on that! Rock City info.

The morning came and a chill remained in the air. So after a few minutes debating my options, I pointed the car south and made my way for Atlanta. I could always spend extra time in that city.

I had enough time to wander around Little Five Points and catch a few minutes of a cool Funk/Soul band at Smiths before making my way to Java Monkey. This cafe is uber cool. It's a caffeehouse with a bar. And some food (including hummus and veggie sandwhiches). And fantastic teas.

Atlanta has a store much like Coventry's Big Fun! It seemed even bigger, but perhaps there was just more space. Junkman's Daughter. Fun place.

The next day I actually got to take off my coat outside for the first time the whole tour! It was upper 60s and sunny. AAAAAAAHHHHHH! Sunshine!

My house concert was in a nice area hosted by friends that I met in Wyoming. It was a fun night, as their guests were encouraged to bring their little kids with them. And they were dancing up a storm! One of the neighbours that came out was born and raised on the other end of Brecksville, where I live. Such a small world, indeed!

I was on my way to Florida by sunrise. It was a 5 1/2 hour trip, though I gained an hour as I moved into Central time (and Alabama).

The drive felt long and the scenery was little to excite. Plus, at least half the trip was on back roads and small little county highways.

But then suddenly the shrubs open up, and you cross over an inlet in the Bay. And it instantly felt like you were close to the ocean - it was in the achetechture and the air. The smell of fish and salt and water drifted in even through the van.

The town of Seaside (established in 1981) is very quaint and beautiful. It is a little piece of paradise. Little cottages on the beach and modest homes all around. The town center has several restaurants, a record shop, all sorts of little shops, and a nice little boardwalk by the ocean.

After checking in and getting my room assignments, which turned out to be in this lovely guest house, I made my way back to the BMI festival kick off party.

The party was held at a place called Bud & Alleys which is right on the ocean. It was obviously packed, but I made my way in. Where I nearly ran over John Oates (he is a short man). After mumbling an apology, I met up with some of the festival organizers. I've gotta say that everyone involved in this festival were amazing! They were kind and warm. I don't think i've ever felt more welcome then they made me feel. Here, I was introduced to Evan LaFloch (aka Smallfish Adventures). He's a fun personality who has been able to travel all around the world. We were immediately recruited to stand guard for the local TV station that was about to be conducting an on-air interview segment with Matthew Sweet. Shortly after, Matthew Sweet and  Suzzanna Hoffs took the intimate stage. Before the night was over, I'd met a few more great folks like Carmel Mikol.  She is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and put the International in this International Songwriter's Festival. She had an mid evening set, and mine was late, so I went to hear her at Shorty's. Shorty's in a fun upstairs venue. It was constantly packed all weekend, and they frequently were having to keep a line running outside.

The influx of people and the semi-frantic expressions of the staff, amde you wonder how much they liked having the extra business and how much was an unbearable pain.

Her set was fun, and then we all moved down the road to the Bluz Bar for my set. Augustine was wrapping up their set when we got there. Nice folks now based in Brooklyn. The Bluz Bar in a word - rocked! It was a nice-sized club - the kind of place where the band could have a good time. They had a big roomy merch table with a smiling happy volunteer to run it. They also had a ton of star-like decorations hanging from the ceiling, and best of all - 2 christmas trees still up! One set up under the Jager light (almost like a kind of demented Angel). All the sets were rounds. Meaning all acts were on stage, and they'd trade off back and forth until the alloted time was up. Usually we'd get 4-5 songs each in. This first night I had the funny Blake Guthrie and the roots-rocky Sonia Leigh (who's on Zac Brown's label).  My songs were very weel-recieved and I thoroughly enjoyed Sonia and Blake, both Atlanta folks.

After our set was a set by 18 South with Sam Bush and Jessi Alexander. Wow. It was a great set, complete with a great bluegrass version of Bob Marley's One Love.

Thus ended the first Floridian night.

Just Found These!

I just found these pics from the Hullabaloo!

My friend Courtney Cable kicked off the evening in a true hullabaloo fashion!

Then David Ullman took the stage. With this awesome Santa/Snowman hat. So festive!

Some of the crowd, the dancers/dancefloor! Whooo!

Cameron! The Hiphopopotomus himself!

Untethering myself. Getting ready to take you higher!

Looking for Warmth 2


The wonderful Lisa and Scott Horkin, hosts of the Garagemahal House Concert Series in Columbus. Taken in the Clintonville Resource Center.

My friend Ron Gedrich who I went to high school with. He was the one who officially started the "Zach Fan Club" back in 1999. It was great to catch up. We talked a lot of about food (surprisingly!) as he is going to be going vegetarian (possibly vegan) for health purposes. I wish him all the best!  

This is the view from the church lot across the street from the Bison statues in Nashville. Not a grea pic, but it gives you some perspective of the scope.

There was something transcendant about this scene. With the houses and telephone poles in the background. As absurd as it is, it feels somewhat plausible. Mighty tatanka!

Here is where you see the Beautification Award. Love it!

The house concert i played in Atlanta had a few candles out. This was in a bed of wine corks, which was a very cool idea.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hello Sunshine! Looking for Wamrth Tour 2010!

Lack of sunshine does many things to us. It inhibits our focus and drive. It promotes depression. And kills sunblock sales.

So, being from Ohio, where the sun is a stranger much of the year, I've decided to go in search of warmth. Warmth from the heart and warmth from the sun.

So far I've found more of the former than the latter.

I left NE Ohio in between blizzards. We'd just been dashed with a good 4-5 inches overnight. Flurries followed me down to Columbus, dancing and taunting.

With Whole World Bakery and Restaurant still not open due to fire damage, I pulled straight up to the venue. The Clintonville Resource Center. The show itself was an extension of the Garagemahal House Concert Series run by the talented glass artists Lisa & Scott Horkin. Things started off on a good foot.

I got an email from a reporter with the Clintonville paper saying he'd seen a tweet of mine and wanted to write about the show. I was flabergasted for a bit that anything good has come from Twitter! Especially my twitter, which i think isn't even seen - i think it's really more of a fragment of my imagination than a social network... but he did see it, and he did write up a little article!

We ended up even gathering up some canned food for the center, which services the community!

The night was nice! Christmas lights around the stage, an intimate audience, and hummus! A friend of mine, and the starter of my fan club back in high school, Ron, came out to the show! Afterwords, we went to find some vegan food for dinner, as he was looking at vegetarian and possibly vegan for the health reasons. The last place we could find closed as we approached. So we went back and made food at his and his girlfriends' place. It was a wonderful meal of veggie burgers, mushrooms, asparagus, some homefries and some great wine. Dancing Bull, i think it was called - a real nice red.

Despite hearing about a book shop in German Village with 30 rooms of books, I decided to head down to Louisville. There was still some talk of snow, and I figured it best to be on the road. Which turned out to be a good decision. There was a massive wreck on 71 which allowed me to go 10 miles in over an hour.

I pulled in to Louisville with enough spare time to walk a little of Bardstown road for excersize before needing to head to 3rd Ave cafe for dinner and set up. Dinner was of course the vegan reuban w/ a side of their spicy vegetable soup. Delicious! John, my friend and Louisville networking machine, came out and joined me for dinner. The show was nice as the crowd came in, and Ricky, the manager, loved it! He bought a CD and immediately put it in the CD player for the restaurant! We left the venue in search of some other live music. We made our way to the Zanzibar somewhere near Germantown. I love that part of town, because all the places are random houses in and amongst other houses! We were jammed in as more and more folks kept arriving. The music was okay and poorly mixed, so we left and went to the Nachtbar. A very cool place, but no music that night. Not that that stopped anyone. It was more crowded than Zanzibar! We stood by the jukebox as they played halfway tastey music until it got too crowded to stay comfortably. Off then to some other bar. Again no music, but much less crowded. We met up with some other friends there.

The morning came with excitement, as I was going to be trying Ramsis Sunday Breakfast Brunch buffet! And you KNOW how excited I was about this! They had: tofu scramble, black bean sausage, vegan potsticklers, potatoes, vegan buscuits, vegan pancakes, vegan french toast w/ plantaines on top, and some vegan chocolate mousse w/ bananas (which was so sweet i could only take a bite or two)!! Much great tastiness indeed!

It was the perfect way to start my 3rd day of the Looking for Warmth tour! I had not found any sunshine yet, but many warm hearts!

Nashville was a straight easy drive. My friend, and Nashville #1 fan, hosted a house concert at her new house. I pulled in on a sunny day and loaded in in time to set up and clean up. She had made a very yummy cherry mango cake for everyone, which i had one or two (or five!) little pieces of. Her dog, Franco, who is a friend of mine of MySpace was slightly terrified of me in person. We bonded slightly right before i left.

Anyway, the show was great! Brandon McGuiness ( opened the show. His voice was cool and had good music! and he's a cool guy! He even came out to my show the next night! As with all house concerts, it was a wonderful conversation, with many new inside jokes like "Have you seen my monkey?" and "You're welcome!."

I spent the next morning wandering around Nashville, working online, and fliering/drumming up fans for the show that night. Cafe Coco had a tasteful Vegan 3 Bean Chili sipped as I worked online.

Word came round that Erik of the Speedbumps ( was in town recording his new record. My friend who hosted the house concert, Angie, was interviewing him for her column with the Nashville Examiner. So I went along meetig up with him at the studio. Erik's been a friend for a long time, and it was a great pleasure to see him so excited about his music! He said he's never felt this excited about anything he's ever done! He played us a few songs, which sounded great and mature and full.

During all this, the venue called and said they had to cancel the show that night! ?!*# WHAT?! There was a random employee paty that somehow slipped through the booking cracks. So i was forced to find another venue. Tough to do in any town, but especially in Nashville where everwhere has stages and music and they all book a decent time in advance. Plus, Rachel Pearl ( was on the bill. After some scrambling, the original venue called back and said they'd been able to get things back on at the venue. A sigh of relief indeed! However, I found out that Rachel had already told her fans not to come out! All this being said, we had a great show, with a very enthusiastic and fun crowd! And the Bongo After Hours Theater is a really cool venue! There will be some video posted sooner than later from this set. Plus, I had to throw in my nod to Jon Nicholson (Somebody tell me love is alright, love is alright here - into Ever After. It was much appreciated!

After the set we made our way to a few venues and ultimately ending up at Batter'd n Fried, a fish place, with delicious veggie rolls! It was a wonderful night with a great conversation and a very personable waiter with a great singer/songwriter joke: "how do you get a singer/songwriter off your porch? You pay for the pizza." It's funny... cuz it's true.

My last few moments in Nashville i was told I needed to see Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog. So i did. Which was funny, actually. This is when Franco the dog finally bonded with me. He'd been hiding in terror behind the couch, and finally about 15 min into the movie, came around and crawled up on the couch too! It was a moment indeed!

From there, I was told of a sightseeing opportunity in East Nashville. Right on the edge of the Ghetto. On Dickerson Pike. I wound off the highway. Waited for the traffic light, and then wound back under the highway now on Dickerson. Thinking "how far will it be... is this the right place ... did I head the right direction..." when suddenly out of the very middle of the road... a great bison appeared! It was the statue. And there were more! At least 2 more adults and one calf. In the middle of the road. In the edge of the ghetto. In Nashville? It was part of the Dickerson RD beautification project. But bison? Bison roamed the entirity of the American continant back in the day, and I, guess this was some sort of migration route for them.

I was also told not to stop for any ladies needing directions or anything, as they are hookers.

And there were 2 outside the family dollar.

Time was on my side as I could stop and take some pictures of the bison. Despite the hilarity of the situation, it was oddly magestic. these bison captured motionless against the backdrop of telephone lines and boarded up houses and businesses. The hazed Nashville skyline against their backs from one direction. It somehow captures the mystic qualities of real bison in the western wilds. And though out of place, they really somehow belonged in a weird unwordly way. They were all around. This was all theirs once. And I could see the grasses blowing in the chilled breeze with the vague hint of mountains in the background. I could hear them snort and dig. I could see them look at me. And smirk.

We were always here. We always will be.

What about all this? What about you?