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August 2004

95 to 295 to the New Jersey Turnpike, heading back towards Morristown on these roads that Mapquest so succinctly describes as (some portions toll). Elizabeth's vacation is over, and I drop her at BWI on my way north to tape for "Horses Sing None Of It", a folk cable TV show distributed in Jersey, NY, PA and California.

About as full a month as I could have wished for, 2500 miles so far, most with Elizabeth, from Falcon Ridge to The Minstrel Coffeehouse, with a nice three day open mic swing that saw us at Eddie's Attic, The Grey Eagle, and The Evening Muse.

At The Minstrel Coffeehouse I fought my own awe and over-preparations. Headlining at a venue that has hosted Richard Shindell, Michael Smith, Lucy Kaplansky and Gamble Rogers had me so gnawing and nitpicking the set list that I forgot how that list is but a guide made for an imagined audience. Exchanging that imaginary group for the real people in front of you is the art form of connection.

There's this old saw about how to paint a perfect picture. Step one, make yourself perfect. Step two, paint naturally. If it's not live and real, it might just as well be a recording.

Three songs into the set we adjust and play "When I Go". The stragglers hanging at the edges come in closer. We're in Carter country, and I with as fine a fiddler as I could wish for at my side. The imaginary group is gone, replaced, set list face down by my feet.

A producer for the "Horses" show was in the Minstrel crowd and offered the spot, so six days later I'm in a studio that has taped Jack Williams, Christine Lavin and Eric Schwartz.

Okay, it has also taped C.T. Tucker and his obedience prize-winning pig. But it's a rare show that does not spawn another gig or show a needed lesson. The BOT at Falcon Ridge leads to a Nov. house concert. An open mic at Jammin Java where we meet Chris Chandler. The Heart's Desire final concert woven from the stranded threads of a song swap three years ago.

I can't tell whether these internal ramblings are a result of the touring or if the places and folks visited are but a reflection of some inner mileage, a movement on some spiritual odometer. Some currency of awareness is being gathered, and as always, (some portions toll).