Our West Coast Musical Debut!

Happy New Year, friends!

The big news that I'm e-mailing you about specifically: Brian and I just made our West Coast musical debut at the Sherry Theater in Los Angeles on January 4.

(Art by Amara Leipzig)

The video recording of the gig can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube here.

If you click "show more" under the description, you'll see time stamps for all the different songs and interstitial chatter. The hyperlinks there will take you directly to that specific location in the video if you'd like to skip around rather than watching the entire thing sequentially.

(Photo by Jeanette Elaine DuBois)

Whenever we would mention the show to casual acquaintances in Chicago in the weeks leading up to it, they would get sort of hilariously flummoxed, with this weird edge in their voices when they asked, "so...how did you get that gig??" As if we had somehow bilked someone into booking us at the Hollywood Bowl or something similarly outside their estimation of our pay grade. Folks, we set it up ourselves! A high school friend of mine manages a group of small black box theaters in NoHo and said yes when we asked him if we could use a space on a night when it otherwise would be dark. That's it! No special magic required.

And truthfully, it was an expensive gig to play, all told, between buying plane tickets and a new portable amp for Brian's guitar and whatnot. But, it was all abundantly worth it to be more directly in control of our creative destiny. Begging indifferent promoters here in Chicago to book us into late-night midweek gigs at a rock club is uncool and boring and demoralizing. Especially considering that we're not trying to "make it" as musicians in any kind of mainstream sense of the term. Even friends of friends we met after the gig in L.A. couldn't resist trying to encourage us to wrangle a slot playing live on the air at our local NPR affiliate or somesuch. It's like, thanks for the thought, but no. We literally do this for the love, because it's creatively fulfilling. It's partly why Brian and I both maintain steady day jobs--in order to fund but also protect our own creative freedom.

(As Elizabeth Gilbert wisely counsels in her book Big Magic: "The reason I always maintained other streams of income was because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the task of providing for me in the material world....I made a promise to my writing life when I was about 15 years old. I said to writing: 'I will never ask you to provide for me financially; I will always provide for YOU.' I was willing to work hard, in other words, so that Creativity could play lightly.")

We feel like it's one of the best and most exciting gigs we've ever played. Just the sheer amount of weirdness we were able to squeeze in was creatively exhilarating. Who even knows what it was--a rock show, a cabaret performance, borderline experimental theater, a summoning of spirits? Whatever it was, we're addicted. We want to do more of it. So, if you know of any oddball small spaces that would welcome a guy and a gal and a guitar to play sad songs and tell strange stories, we want to know where they are! Click reply or otherwise message me and let's set something up.

In the meantime, though, here's my Best of 2018 mix and accompanying liner notes. It's the first thing of any substance I've written since I went on my little hiatus from blogging last summer. I definitely needed the break and am still not quite ready to come back yet. But you'll be the first to know when I am.

With love,