What a strange—and for many of us—perilous winter we’ve been having!
Three-layered up, one day last week I walked with Layla-the-dog around the lake near my mother’s house, and I was amazed to see it had completely frozen over. A frozen lake in Tupelo, Mississippi! The geese and ducks stood on the bank like grade school children on a field trip, staring at the ice.
Layla and I have been a little worried about our favorite duck, a strange mottled character with a slight comb-like thing on his head. He’s always alone, keeping a little distance between himself the others, and I often wonder if he is aware there are more of his mottled kind in another lake just a half mile away.
As it’s been colder here recently than it’s been in parts of Alaska and Scandinavia, Layla and I have been keeping an eye out for our boy. How do you help a freezing duck? But there he was again Monday morning, the temperature having soared into the thirties. Lord have mercy!
a. New Agrarians: Pre-release CD update.
Kate Campbell played Tupelo last week, and it was a joy to sit out in the audience and listen. It was a joy, too, when she invited me up to perform some songs with her that we recorded with Pierce Pettis as a trio called the New Agrarians.
BTW pre-release copies of our self-titled debut album are available at my website… as well as at Kate’s… and at any of our trio or solo live shows. We’re proud of the record (which is subtitled “Songs & Stories of the American South”).
I’m not sure what comes next for the New Ags—there’s a new website coming at some point… and more tour dates down the road. I’ll keep you posted.
b. Waymores CD radio report
And HERE is a very cool live Waymores performance you’ll enjoy (I hope).
A few seats remain on my July 26-August 4 tour of Counties Mayo, Galway and Clare. It’s such a gas and a deep blessing to spend time in Ireland’s wild west, and these tours are so unique: small, personal, flexible and sweet. If you’re curious, click HERE for an overview and more info. I’d love to take you along!
For pics taken on past tours, click HERE… because a picture’s worth a thousand words.
[Note: my August tour with Kenneth Robinson has sold out.]
d. Posi Music Fest & Awards report
I’m recently back from Orlando and the 9th Annual emPower Posi (e.g., “positive”) Music Awards and Totally Cool Song School, and…. I lost again(!)—this time in the Spoken Word category, for my poem “Pretty.”
To the best of my knowledge, no one else has lost 6 times without winning, so that makes me the biggest loser… which is sort of a win, don’t you think? (Gotta look for the positive.)
Truthfully, I had a lovely time down there, and it felt like a blessing just to be in the mix.
3. TK Poem of the Month
“Bubba at Twelve”
She stands like a soldier
by the bentwood chair,
staring down the camera
…which was all I could see of her story
till you took the frame
from the mantle and whispered,
What excruciating vulnerability.
4. February Food for Thought
With Valentines Day around the corner and an old dog sleeping at my feet….
“The greatest love is a mother’s; then a dog’s; then a sweetheart’s.”
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
—Anatole France, Nobel Prize winning author (1844-1924)
“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”
— A.A. Milne, author, playwright and poet (1882-1956)
5. Recommended: Kenneth Robinson’s art and soul
Kenneth Robinson has inspired me personally, professionally and artistically for a very long time. His friendship is a profound gift, and one of my joys in life is occasionally being privy to a story or poem that’s fresh off the pages of his notebook.
Kenneth’s fine first book of poems, “The Year of Lovemaking and Crying,” is again in print and available to a wide audience for the first time. I highly recommend it.
In these poems Kenneth artfully covers romance and sex, spirituality and religion and other existential conundrums with insight, grace and humor. Here’s a sample:
“Would It Be Like This?”
How would it be if these miracles were only for my amusement?
If each stray thought were watched over
By a mind so big
That nothing could stay lost for long?
If every animal knew my name, and I, theirs?
If each ambiguity contained a hundred laughing saints
And each heartbreak, a host from heaven
To carry me to safety?
If everyone who ever left,
Did so to make room for my own emerging vision?
If time’s only wish
Were to hem the fabric of my unfinished robe?
If every stranger,
With the same unbending love as my own lionhearted teacher,
Stood in his own sputtering faith,
And brought to me his very best?
Would it be like this?
(From Kenneth Robinson’s book, The Year of Lovemaking and Crying. Reprinted by permission.)
—Kenneth is a practicing psychotherapist, poet, musician and all around mischief maker. In addition to his practice and artistic pursuits, he leads unique tours in Peru with Argentinian artist-poet Ana Maria Hernando.
Note: Kenneth is also co-hosting my August Ireland tour this coming summer.
6. NEW FEATURE: Great Songs of the Month
I’m trying out a new newsletter feature this month, the idea being to feature a couple of my desert island songs—tracks that are easy to find and listen to, but are hopefully not overly familiar.
These days, most of us have access to iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon and other streaming services, so I’ll try to come up with recommendations you can stream or download without going to a lot of trouble.
BTW the ad driven version of Spotify is free on your laptop or desktop computer. Visit Spotify.com to download it. Then you can easily search for these songs… and download for a dollar or so… or stream for free.
Please note that each of these services I mention here licenses the material they feature.
OK, February’s great songs:
I got a lot of nice mail after last month’s Elvis-oriented newsletter, so I’ll follow up by urging you listen to these two great Elvis-related tracks.
Writer: Junior Parker / Artist: Elvis Presley
“Mystery Train” was the flip side to “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” (Sun Records/1955)
—Check out the remastered version that’s included on the album, The Essential Elvis Presley (BMG/2006). You can hear our 50’s culture warping on this one.
“Big Train (From Memphis)”
Writer: John Fogerty / Artist: John Fogerty
From the album: Centerfield (Warner Bros./1985)
—A dynamite, loving, fun tribute to Elvis. My favorite post-Creedence Fogerty song.