Studio Journal 4-20-10

dulcimer , hands, hammer

Associated Videos
All videos reproduced in a smaller format in the "Instrumental Demonstrations" Playlist of my You Tube Channel

dulcimer demo video link "Rhythm Styles for Ballads"

dulcimer demo video linkJam session: "Syncopated Rhythms"

dulcimer demo video link"Blues Rhythms"spacerdulcimer demo video link"Folk and Rock Rhythms"

dulcimer demo video link"A Gypsy Tune"spacerdulcimer demo video linkReggae Jam

dulcimer demo video link"Darksound"spacerdulcimer demo video link"Sailor's Daughter" and "So Fine"

dulcimer demo video link"Beautiful To Me", 4-6-10spacerdulcimer demo video link"Beautiful To Me", 4-8-10

dulcimer demo video link"Playing Through White Felt"spacerdulcimer demo video linkBlack Felt: "Beautiful To Me"

dulcimer demo video linkBlack Felt: Em-D Jamspacerdulcimer demo video link"Full Metal Dulcimer"

Spring Flowers

It is again a time of crazy pressure. I wrote all this mostly about mid-month, but am nearing the end of the month when I am finally able to post. It also just takes a lot of time, especially with a load fof videos like this, fourteen that need individual entries and well, and mirroring posts to my You Tube channel. I’ve been at this process for a couple days now. But this is a major addition to the video collection, a big area addressed.

I can't begin to express my frustration these days that I am still here in Virginia. I run through emotional roller coasters of frustration and rage to discouragement and resignation. I tell myself over and over that this is only a test, and turn back into a being of steel and fire and keep driving myself forward, despite everything and anything, dwell in the immovable rock of my inner being and watch the storm and wind above me, the waves crashing over me, and abide. Its amazing sometimes to me how easy it is, but I suppose that is why I have survived. I can thank years of training, certainly, for that, and lucky I was to have it. I have such storms of emotions within me, but they are only my emotions, not me. In a moment I can withdraw from them and step into that calm, powerful eye within the storm, and ponder the sound and fury that signify nothing, admire its beauty and power, but know it has none over me except what I give it. It is a ride, and real enough, but I can step away whenever I want, if I want to enough, and the quiet rock is always there for me.

It was good that I was fielding some philosophical questions, and talking about the relationship between my Way and Zen Buddhism and Indian philosophy, as well as the connections to other mystic western traditions and American Indian spirituality-philosophy. It helped get my mind out of the moment, and get away from the present problems and frustrations and dwell in the larger and deeper threads of my life, more significant and more interesting than auto mechanics. I usually have more regular retreats to the wilderness to pull back and reflect on life, get some perspective, get a grip. I have been caught up in the moment for a while, tumbling in the white water rush of events, in the endless lists of things to do, of working every day from when I wake till I can't stay awake, day after day, night after night. not the best way to maintain equilibrium. Especially when I have still big questions, and some things only make sense in terms of a "bigger picture" that I can't keep in view day to day. I need those times to reflect, perhaps adjust course, perhaps even make major changes to priorities. It is easy to delay for a few days, or a week, but as it added up weeks and months and the basic plans I made unravelled, from getting the recording done last year to being in Florida according to my regular schedule, I get uncertain and worried. Perhaps I shouldn't. If I know I am securely on course and making progress, and nothing is slipping, I can stay confident. But otherwise, I worry I have lost my grip, that my life is getting away from me, overpowered by circumstances, and I am dropping pins instead of juggling.

It continues to be a maddening continuation of circumstances beyond my control, though instead of one huge delay, it is endless delays, and things that could go quick and easy becoming long and hard. It is worse because I keep thinking I'll leave in a few days, a week at most, I think so now, then something new comes up, and I am delayed. The end result is that though I keep working all day and into the night as always, I am puttering on small and mostly insignificant chores, because I have never thought I had time to start on anything major. While time slips away.

Spring Flowers

I also do some good things, and have some good moments. I suppose I should start with that before you get bored listening to me gripe.

I wish I could be out in the Spring weather, or any weather, sailing or hiking, or playing, but I am not. But the flowers here are beautiful. Over the last few decades, though I have worked on the yard when I visited here, I was never here in the Spring, so never saw the flowers I planted bloom. Like I would plant the garden and then leave and not be back till it was all dead in December. It was always for me a simple reminder, the philosophical principle that much like the rest of my life, I would never see the results of my efforts, of my words and music, of consciousness raising. Well, I am seeing the flowers, and it really is surprising how many there are, and how big stuff has grown, and spread. Organic gardening works! The colors all so vivid. And the air heavy with lots of scents, strong and subtle. Flowers hang over the walkways. And the roses haven't even started yet. With luck, I will be gone by the time they bloom.

Spring Flowers
Spring Flowers

Ok, now for the main event, the new videos this time around

I got a comment on my you tube channel asking to hear better demonstrations of what the dulcimer sounds like, though that is mostly what I removed to make the shorter version of the "introducing the electric hammered dulcimer" promo video. So I made some serious extra efforts. Several times, after a regular full day, after dinner, I started again and tuned the dulcimer, set up the studio, and videoed sessions just demonstrating the sound of the dulcimer. I ended up with this series of instrumental and rhythm demonstration videos.

It was difficult. I was tired, recording from midnight till 4 am. In fact the first session, I was wondering why I seemed to be playing so slowly, then realise I am just exhausted and barely awake. The result was only two usable clips. One I kept simply because I had included an air-mike in that session, which added some acoustic sound to the mix, the slap of the hammers and clash of strings that doesn't come through the wound pick-ups. I waited a few days and slept late before the next session, and then have a better one, even though you can hear the sound of the rain dripping on the windowsills in the background. Though I am up till 4 am again, this time I am more ready. I do two more sessions. The I mix it all down into the new series of fourteen instrumental and rhythm electric hammered dulcimer demonstrations.

What follows is a complete explanation of the new series, if you are interested. If not, you can skip to the pictures of my cat where I finish the rest of the story. If it is all you are interested in, this section is repeated as a seperate page, "Instrumental Demonstrations: Sounds and Rhythms&quot, in the Electric Hammered Dulcimer category.

instrumental video titlesinstrumental video titlesinstrumental video titlesdulcimer demo video link

I put together this series of fourteen instrumental demonstrations for several reasons. People have asked to hear what the dulcimer sounds like, by itself, without the voices and other instruments of a typical mix. That was reason enough to put this together. Though I am a singer, not an instrumentalist, so I don't really have ready instrumentals to play, but I could do something to just demonstrate some of the possibilities and potentials in the instrument. So these aren't performances, but demonstrations. Another had another reason to produce the rhytm demonstrations. One of my main intentions in "doing more with the music" is to pass on what I have done to and with the instrument to other artists, leave a record of what I have figured out that others can use. I've done two things in these demonstrations. I have tried to give an idea of the sonic palette the dulcimer represents, the potentials there to be used. Like any musician, or any artist, I will only use that part of the potential in an instrument that fits what I am doing, the music I create, not all there is. As a percussion instrument, the sound of the dulcimer, its potential, is not just the sound one string makes, but the rolls of he hammers and the wall of sound it can build, the fabric it weaves. It is also what I have personally done and want to leave of a record of, a style of rhythm dulcimer playing that I apply to all types and genres of music, just like rhythm guitar. I may never get much recognition or be heard by many people, but these videos provide a standing record someone might find, be inspired by, and learn from, somewhere, someday.

There are three general sets of videos.

In one set, the rhythm demos, each video contains a series of clips, long enough to provide a clear example of how I play, but just an example, and each example might show a dozen sounds and riffs the dulcimer is capable of. I had to separate what I do into understandable chunks, so each video is defined a general style of rhythm or music. One way to describe the same distinction if I was playing rhythm guitar, the ballads I would play finger-style, maybe some slow chords, while folk-rock I'm strumming the guitar, usually with a lot of drive. "Full Metal Dulcimer" uses heavy effects, and either slow bell-tones or a wall of sound. It is actually amazing how much it sounds like thrashing power chord guitars sometimes. While the Blues demo shows various rhythm styles for the blues, the syncopated rhythms demo shows a lot of different genres of music, but they all use syncopation, from a samba to Reggae, Mo-Town to Blues and folk ballads. These videos are for a wider if simpler overview of a lot of examples.

The other set is closer to performances, each video a single composition, though they still lack the vocals or other instruments. They are usually one song or chord progression, which shows some detail of the variations I use in my style within a song, even as I repeat the phrases. One shows the actual rhythm I am playing behind a couple songs, "Sailor's Daughter" and "So Fine", that you can watch videos of live performances of. In "A Gypsy Tune" and "She'll Always Be Beautiful To Me", I am close to performing, attempting to jam instrumental versions of pieces I usually sing with, make instrumental pieces out of them.

hands and hammers

The third set acoustic "special effect" I use, playing through a sheet of felt laid over the dulcimer to damp the natural sustain and resonance and change the tone, like dampers on a piano. In the first one I'm using a piece a white felt, clearly visible. I am not playing anything specific, but just introducing the sound. I use it again in the full metal dulcimer, to show the combination of acoustic damping and electronic effects. Then I have two showing the full effect, using a heavier black felt, which also adds a visual effect, as the dulcimer virtually disappears, especially in video, leaving just my hands and hammers playing in and on the darkness. I do two very different styles, first another rendition of "She'll Always Be Beautiful to Me" so there's the ballad style and a direct comparison. The second example is a driving em-D jam. I can play through many materials, and each creates a different sound effect. In the final video, "Full Metal Dulcimer", I show a series of examples using electronic effects. Effects are cummulative, and I show both sides by using both bell-tones, a standard single tone progression rhythm, and then the sound of a driving rhythm with many beats and notes cascading through the effects box. Sometimes it sounds like a thrashing guitar or two, other times it is, well, the sound of the electric hammered dulcimer. There are a huge array of electronic effects and combinations of those, and they can be used subtly as well as overwhelmingly. The purpose of both the felt-acoustic and electronic effects videos is just showing the ice-berg tip of the use of effects on the natural sound of the dulcimer.

Though it is difficult to hear the real sound since there is nothing, percussion, instrument, or voice to hold down the back beat, or carry the melody, help what I am doing on the dulcimer come together as a song. When I first started, I found that without something in my head to play to, the dulcimer sounded way too random. So I played to the music in my head, and well, you'll have to supply your own. But the purpose here is to isolate the sound of dulcimer itself, a demonstration, not a performance. And also, it is a demonstration of rhythm styles, not the dulcimer playing a solo instrumental performance composition. And finally, this series is hardly complete. There are other styles and genres I didn't cover, though I may get to them yet, fast bluegrass and other 2/4 times. There's a style I derived from oriental styles, using 5th harmonies and bending notes. I didn't use any examples of using harmonics. There are so many more rhythms. I could even play a couple traditional hammer dulcimer standards, though I barely remember them and only use them to demonstrate traditional styles before moving on, yet they might help people compare the sound of the electric hammered dulcimer to a standard one.

Spring Flowers

And what is “natural sound” when it is still a matter of how you record it as well. In this series I included three renditions of "She'll Always Be Beautiful To Me" because this is about comparing sounds, not songs. It also shows some of the variation I use even in playing the same song. As for specific variations, in the first session, 4-6-10, I plugged the large diaphram vocal mic into the camera along with the normal mic, so you get some of the acoustic sound. This is very obvious in the white felt demonstration recorded in that session, where you hear the thump of the hammers hitting the felt clearly. I could also do a series simply comparing the sound of the dulcimer played in acoustic mode, first using a natural resonator like a table top, then the arched back I made for it once (though seldom used, a table being easier and with a much greater surface area, better), then using a instrument mike and an amp, then a large diaphragm mike, and finally the pick-ups. Since while I built the dulcimer as an electric solid-body,the most surprising thing was its excellent sound as an acoustic instrument.

I'd also like to add that I did these in a rush, three sessions, forcing myself on late at night, working till 4 am after a day doing other things. This is not often the best idea, not for performance grade material. I am also trying to be slow and deliberate, trying to make each note stand out clearly and distinctly for the clear demonstration, when in a performance the music should flow, and the result is often an unatural stiffness, small hesitations. I was also, or became, dead tired, and physically stiff. I remember one session wondering why I seemed to be playing so slow, couldn't get the bounce into it, then realizing it was 4 am and I was dead on my feet. I actually did our sessions, not three, but I was so tired I turned off the wrong microphone switch and the next morning found I had a session with no sound. Too bad, because it was a good session. Initially, I just made it up as I went, but then the playing seemed unsure, unconfident and a bit weak. So I began using a song in my head, or a definite progression, so I wasn't continually wondering what to do. I can improvise easily, but I need some stucture to follow, at least a key, a chord progression, a melody to follow. This produced much better results.

So this series is in no way a complete demonstration of what the electric hammered dulcimer is capable of, or even what I am capable of doing with it. Even this short and very incomplete demonstration adds up to a lot of minutes, as video time is measured. Every relatively short minute of example really is just one variation of many I use with a single song, and one song among many with a similar rhythmic style, one specific beat and rhythmic composition among many within a general rhythmic style. Imagine trying to demonstrate all the potential sounds and styles of even rhythm guitar in so short a time. Realistically, I am only brushing the surface. I am simply giving people a clear demonstration of the sound of the dulcimer itself within those limits. And give others who might be interested in using the instrument a small but clear view of the part of the audio palette it contains, a taste of the potential in the instrument. I think I succeeded in that. Like a guitar, you start to recognise some distinctive sounds that belong to the dulcimer, its unique attributes, surfacing within all the examples, while seeing that I am just getting started showing you what I can do with it. I have only begun to explore it potential myself, even after over thirty years. Though I pioneered a new world and have covered a lot of ground, I know there is a whole universe beyond the boundries of what I have managed to do in my time.

brian the folksinger

But I hope these demonstrations will convey a bit of the sound I have created, the instrument and the style of playing. As I often tell people, one purpose I have in "doing more" with the music is to try and pass the instrument on to others, but not in the traditional view, but in my modern view, both in design and style. I have played for a living all my life, but I never was able to record much, and in real terms, haven't played for that many people all told. As I said, perhaps someday someone will find these videos and learn from them, be inspired to explore the same potential I first saw so many years ago when I encountered my first traditional hammered dulcimer, relegated to a small corner of traditional music and American musical culture. I have done a lot with it, though I doubt building and playing and electric hammered dulcimer will have the world-changing consequences of the electric guitar. Still, my point is, I am a single artist and, in truth, contained within my self, and can and will do only what I am. I want to pass on the instrument to others who will take it places I will never go, because I am who I am, and the instrument has more potential than I can ever hope or wish to realise. Like any artist and their instrument, or medium, I only realise my small bit of the potential in the instrument, or medium. Being an American musician is great because I have the influences of the world and no tradition to follow unless I choose. I actual broke with what tradition there was for my instrument in America, and was rejected by them, understandably. Still, being influenced by music from Africa, Europe, The Middle East, or Asia, is not the same as being from there. Someone with a different background and culture, and also a different experience and personality, would realise a different potential in the instrument. To put it simply, I may play a wicked samba, but I will never play the dulcimer the way someone who grew up in Rio would.


I won't last forever. I look at my cat, and though it is great to see her still enjoying life, she's in her final chapters of life. I got an email from an old friend in Arizona, telling me his cat, one of her kittens, had finally passed on at 19.5 years old, surrounded by his loving family. She's had a great one, though, traveling all over, from Alaska to Florida, a ship's cat, exploring desert islands and seedy waterfronts, wilderness mountains and deserts, and many cities and towns, true bold adventurer. Though now, at over 21, that's about 120 in people years, off the charts at the vet's office. She sits in the sun a lot, and if I don't give her a heat pad to lie on, she crawls in bed with me a night to stay warm, or my lap during a day without enough sun, or stays close to the woodstove. And wants to go out a lot as well, all night, meowing and scratching at the window or door, asking to be let out politely, at least at first. She has aquired a tremendous yowling howl she can also use as needed. After a life at sea and camping in the wild, I sleep lightly in any case. A very demanding kitty. Which is why I am so tired, some nights she wakes me once an hour. Other nights we sleep through, just getting up once.
But she has been a great companion through a couple decades, so now, I can't begrudge her some extra care. And it is great to see her still exploring, still interested, still jumping up in the van and following me about the yard to see what is up. She always knows when I am packing, and is ready to go once again, another adventure. Though she may be getting a bit frail for the rigors of the road, I can't leave her behind when the spirit is willing and disappoint her. I guess she'd rather die on the road than miss the trip.


And I have been packing. A much bigger job than usual as I have been here a lot longer than usual. Or maybe that is the new usual, I guess. At this point I won't get to Florida till the end of April, a couple months late, even according to my new schedule. This is not good, even if I have kept busy. Yes, I am frustrated, and seriously concerned. Most of the money I made to stay afloat and be able to focus on recording I made last Spring in Florida. Well, I won't be doing that this year. I'll have just a few weeks in Florida, as far as music goes. No time to explore new areas, maybe not enough time to pay for the trip, certainly not to get ahead significantly. A bad thing, because I barely survive as it is. I am looking at the real possibility of ending up delaying the recording once again if I focus on performing somewhere instead. Maybe I can do both, maybe, but though the street works, it takes a lot of hours and energy, and wears on my voice. Hard to say if I can do that and work in the studio at the same time. And then I may be off to Alaska pretty quick after I get back. I managed a year focused on other things than performing, but that may be all I can afford. I put off working on the vehicles, spending money, ate up stored surpluses of bulk food I had, and sold the saved gold from the years of digging in Alaska. But the reality is that I can only go on like this so long, and am reaching the end of the rope.

It isn't just money of course. I also wanted to spend time with my Dad. And my sail boat is a responsibility I have to deal with. The plan was to go down and split my time between working and living on the boats as a central base, then play on the coast nearby, and inland while visiting my Dad, too. But now I'll barely have time for a visit, basic maintenance, and try to play enough to pay for the trip down. The boat becomes an issue, has been an issue, for many years, trying to get a bigger boat, a real ocean-going cruiser. Trying to push it over the op, never quite getting there. It is such a slim margin between finally getting ahead after years of delays and damage and struggle, though not my fault, or the boat's, but I have to deal with it. I had such momentum when I put it in the yard again in 2003. Then all I've been able to do is deal with the damage other people, irresponsible people, have done to my boats, to my life. At this point, I have to consider if I just can't find time to get it back together, with all the new efforts i have taken on. If I am not even able to use it, can't even find time to maintain it, much less get ahead. I should just admit it and get rid of it, accept defeat, even if it is circumstantial.
the sea kayak, Horse I hate to lose the boat, but the music, and family, come first. It was a great dream, and I have put so much energy into it, but I have to look and see if I am being squeezed out of that dream. Or perhaps I simply need to take a long look and manifest that part of my life differently. Like years ago when I lived on the sea and sailed all winter, but all I had was my 17 foot specially rigged sailing sea kayak, Horse. Perhaps that is a better course, simple, even crude, but effective, if limited. Or perhaps when I travel to some other country, instead of spending money on hostels and trains, I can buy a small local open traditional sailboat, just a few meters, crude but effective, and live along the coast there, selling it again when I go.

I guess that is the real crux of the matter now. I have done so much in my life. I have traveled most years around the country, Alaska to Florida, and pulled it off. It wasn't always easy, but I did it. Made some extra efforts, occasionally incredible ones, but I got it done. This time I just got snowed under. And I can't help but wonder if I've lost my grip, lost control of my life, or even just don't care enough any more. That the tide of my life and energy is ebbing and the extra efforts are just not worth it any more. Though I don't see how I could have got over what happened. Perhaps it is just easier to accept getting thrown off course by my boat being rammed and sunk by an irresponsible idiot, leaving me to deal with the consequences with no help. It is harder to deal with this death of a thousand cuts. Where nothing seems individually that important, but they conspire to delay me for months, and now a third of the year has slipped away and I can't see I have much to show for it, certainly not the important things. That is part of it as well, always thinking I would be gone soon, so not starting any of the major projects, like recording, that I really want to get done. Just losing a day to this, or a few days to that, or a few weeks, doesn't seem important, but I never thought it would keep happening, on and on, till it is almost May and I am still not in Florida.


It is almost comical, and part of me at some point got beyond frustration to the ironic humor of the situation. At some point, it just gets to be too much, too over the top to be real, like Charlie Chaplin or the Marx Brother. It is even hard to be specific because it is so many things. A mother squirrel moves into the attic with her litter, and I spend hours and hours getting her our, crawling around in the fiberglass, trying to convince her to move along. The kits are basically fearless and come almost right up to me, fairly well grown at this point. While she runs off, leaving the kits. They all retire into places I can't get to, though hear them through the ceiling, gnawing on the rafters, wondering if they'll cut wires or cables or just make holes and destroy the insulation. I cut and nail up more wire mesh over more openings, while worrying that the kits are going to die up there without there mother, so I am putting up a water dish and food for them. Finally, just a few days ago, I got the kits where I wanted them, at a part of the attic adjoining the screen porch where the soffit is open and the wood is rotten, a spot I left open because I haven't repaired it yet. They gnaw and call, smelling the fresh air, and then mother appears and helps dig the rotten wood away, and then they are free and I watch her carry them away one at a time. Then I go out and nail wire mesh over that last opening.


I worked on the van and kept finding new problems, and have delays getting parts, or need a ride and have to wait days. I had to replace the alternator, and the belts it burnt up, but in the two local auto parts stores, they only have one belt, and the third place is closed. So a simple run down and buy a couple belts becomes an around town search. Or after finally fixing the fuel leak I start it up and run it, and then, when I start to pack things in to get ready to go, I notice a large leak in the heater, radiator fluid dripping steadily. So I pull out the core, but I have to wait a few days for a ride to get a new one, since the Toyota's starter has died. I planned to leave it till I got back, but then my sister's truck just lost its transmission, she can't afford to fix it immediately, so she needs the Toyota now. I pull the starter in the Toyota so I can fix that and after a real pain getting it unbolted, find a case of bad design, it won't just come out of the engine compartment. Stupid engineering. I remove the steering, still not enough clearance, I have to remove the exhaust pipes next. Which could easily lead to more trouble if a bolt breaks, but I have some luck and nothing does, but I need new gaskets, and another run for parts. But I do it all, and clean the van, which turned into a mouse hilton during the big snowstorm. Another couple days totally cleaning and vacuming, and more days cleaning everything that was inside.

Spring Flowers

They are running fiber-optic cable through the neighbourhood. I have to be here to oversee getting it hooked up, and it seemed like a minor delay into the beginning of the month. It turns into a bit of a job and a hassle. First, the installation is delayed till the 12th. When they get here, even though I talked to people twice about our utilities all running underground, the tech who arrives says his work orders say it is an above-ground installation along the existing phone lines, which, sorry, don't exist. So it is rescheduled till the 21st. And I still can't find out how they plan to run the underground lines, in the existing conduit, in new conduit, and do I have to dig the trenches along the house like I did for the power and cable before? And lift the paving stones of the walkway I put over the old trench to protect the buried cables from even the possibility of someone digging there? A lot of work, which I will do if I have to, but how deep, and I don't want to waste the time if they can run it through the existing conduit. I end up digging out the ditch just to make sure there is no delay when they show up, which is handy when they do because it needs to be done, though they give me the conduit, they aren't allowed to do anything next to power lines. Then the tech never shows the next day, after I am up after dark running the conduit, though I called to confirm. Well, the job was scheduled, but no tech was assigned the job. They come on the 23rd. But now I have to wait till the 28th for the old house number to be migrated to the new service. They call today and say it won't be till the 30th. Till then I have some jury-rigged lines connecting the phone to the old lines, and have routed the new lines to a second line I installed originally for a fax machine. The tech also couldn't get the wireless set up, because we have a Linux system. Today I got all everything working, and cancelled all the extra subscriptions they had set up as “opt-out” options to trap the unwary.

And there's more of course, but it isn't important. Though everything I did was important, and it was good to get it done and be of service, including getting these latest round of videos done. But even those I had to force myself to start, even though I thought I wouldn't have time t finish them, always thinking I'd actually be leaving in just a few more days, time after time. But I can remember when I had planned to be gone March 1st. But then, one thing after another, after another, after another, after another, and nothing going smooth and easy, or quick. I did one open mike at the beginning of the month, help them get started, but the video had audio defects in it, a bad tape or dirt on the heads, and since then I have stayed here and focused on work as a response to the frustration of being stuck here. Everyone thinks I am gone, and I supose I am a bit embarrassed I am not. But sometimes it feels like getting out is just another distraction, if I am not performing. And three songs at an open mike is fun, but not the same as doing a show. I'd rather play the street, play for hours, and make some money, too.

Spring Flowers

But it is nice to see the flowers. And we had some nice thunderstorms the last couple days. I have always liked storms. We have something in common.

Though I was thinking the other day that nature is my inspiraton, like the flowers, my comfort, and I like the simple work in the yard, or digging gold, or working on the boats. I do good work, even it is not the main purpose of my life, I have always had that balance, that release, that break from the music and the road. Just for my sanity, maybe I need to fix one of the sail boats up here, the Hurley or Horse, so I can go out on the water once in a while, get back to nature, get outside, get away from this house, get a little relief, and in a small way back to my old life. But can I afford the time for that? Not likely. Can I afford not to have some way to recharge myself, stay inspired, fight back the discouragement and depression of struggling through this jungle of delays and distractions as I try to get these music projects done. Maybe it is the lack of performing, I have hardly ever gone so long without playing. So more important is I have to find some place local to play, both for peace of mind and so I have some income now that Florida is essentially a lost cause. I still need to pay for everything from small expenses like the car repairs to big ones like publishing the new CDs. Again the hard facts. I have to count my inventory at tax time, and I am down to under 150 CDs left from the last 1000. With royalties it will cost me over $2200 for another run of "A Hobo's Dulcimer" and about $1400 or so for the first run of the new CD, and I'd like to have two new CDs, though that is a dream for sure, even if I can manage to record them.

Further in Tullum

Sometimes it just feels like more than I can do. Trying to push all this through as a man alone, and a solo indie as well. Though I have done so many big things, raising sunken Hurley, rebuilding the steel boat, rebuilding this house, climbing mountains, digging gold in the wilderness, sailing blue water single-handed in a small boat. I know I can do it if I just keep on course and keep pushing. It is really the distractions that take up the most time. And it is true that I have done the big things mostly by being totally single-minded and doing nothing else, seven days a week, wake-up till eat and sleep, till it is done. And it was difficult, beating through difficulties and doubts, and only a great accomplishment after I was well past it. Generally, at the time, it was often a pain. Maybe that is just the way getting the recording done, all these efforts to "do more with the music". If I am overwhelmed and underwater, well, I'll just have to keep on till I get done and past this period, and can look back on what I accomplished wile the pain, troubles, and frustrations fade with time.

But realistically, what probably bothers me most is that I have essentially played less and less, and have now almost stopped performing all together, caught up in these big projects, and caught between my old routine and not having found a new one for the new areas and circuit I am in now. I live to play, and all the rest of "doing more with the music" is uncertain, while every single person I play for, even on the street, is one more person I have played for. And in the simplest terms, I have had nothing in my life except the music, no partner or family, no place of my own, few friends, and without it I am left with nothing, and it is a sort of bleak landscape. Playing is also my social world, when I get to be with people and part of the life of humanity. When I have the music, it is all worth it and I have no doubts that it was worth the cost, even if I wish it had turned out different and I had found a girl, a lady-singer, or at least a woman who understood what I am and what I was doing and believed in it. So much for dreams. But in essence, and simply, I need to play to make life bearable. As I often say, as an artist, life is not about being happy, but what I need to be satisfied, not about what I might want, but about what I can not live without.

Spring Flowers
Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers
Spring Flowers

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