I recently made a rare trip to the movie theater for a special showing of "They Shall Not Grow Old", the latest production from Peter Jackson of "The Lord of the Rings" fame.

I've always found it difficult to connect with the World War I era in any emotional way. I've read a lot about the senselessness of the "War to End All Wars," which was followed just over 20 years later by World War II and the Holocaust. What footage exists from that era is the silent, jerky black and white that looks like parody on the screen. And as a result, I've had a harder time pulling back the "empathy curtain" if you will; to connect with the humanity captured on the screen through the distraction of the medium.

Jan. 1 2019. May we start this year with amazement? In the summer of 2015 we were treated to the amazing experience of New Horizons flyby of Pluto, a distance of 3 billion miles over 9 1/2 years, and hitting their target within 43 seconds of plan. The photos and data that came back completely wrote the book on Pluto and opened the chapter on the mysterious Kuiper Belt, out far beyond Pluto....

Christmas night. Finally all is calm, and the moon is winter bright. The wild halflings have settled down. Our family has again done as our family has always done since we were the children, returning to our parents' tiny home to celebrate this sacred and special holiday. I am keenly aware how fortunate my sister and I are to be able to do this with our families at these stages of our lives...

So my students reward me all the time in countless ways, but especially their enthusiasm and their fearlessness about trying new things. At the holidays I like to make the last lesson of the year be something special. Mulled cider on the stove, and something fun to do work on. This year I tried something new - a student Holiday picking party...

November 4, 2018
This one is for my younger friends, those who have come into their own adulthood and all the craziness that goes with it. This Tuesday, it's again our turn as American citizens to have a say in who we are as a people, and how we want to be governed. If you're already planning to vote, thank you - you can skip the rest! But if you're on the fence, or planning on sitting it out…..

November 2, 2018
Today is All Soul's Day. It's not a tradition that I grew up with; it is only in these past few years when I've become my family's "storytender" that it has taken on a deeper meaning to me....

October 28, 2018
People who've never been to Lincoln ask me what it's like to live here. A historic village perilously close to the ever-spreading sprawl of the rest of Loudoun County - with its wealth and high-tech modernity; the brains and backbone of so much of our digital world...

October 26. 2018
When we first connected with my grandfather's sister Margaret's family, I never imagined that such a "family union" could ever take place, flung to the four breezes as we all are...

September 10, 2018
Why do I choose to be social media silent on September 11th?

August 22, 2018
I'll begin by saying I have no idea how this happened so fast. When we started our daily walks up our dead-end gravel road to the blacktop and the sidewalk that led us to kindergarten, it seemed like those 6 years would be an eternity. By the time the spring rolled around, I clung to each of those walks like a little kid hanging on to a teddy bear, knowing full well that we were counting down to the end of it.

I won't soon forget that last walk home on 5th grade graduation day, holding hands like we did when you were little. Or how much I appreciated that you understood then that it was a milestone - the end of a phase of life and the beginning of another. And that there was no going back...

August 1, 2018
A middle-aged guy who has a hard time throwing away things that still work ponders relationships in the social media age.

I'm one for getting the most out of the things I own. Maybe I'm just a throwback to when it was worth it to actually fix things and keep them going because they were built to last. My tour vans have all cleared 200,000 miles. It costs money to replace things for sure, but often now it is less than the cost of repair. It seems like most things are built cheaply to be replaced, and with a set expiration date to boot.

Mid-summer means three things here; peach season, our anniversary and my birthday. This year, my sweet wife threw a little porch picking party for my birthday with a few old friends. As I looked around while we played and sang and laughed to our heart's content, I realized that I've known all of them at least 20 or more years, and their kids since they were newborns...

June 28, 2018
A daily routine comes to an end and a new world of experience awaits.

So it came. The day I thought looked so far on the horizon back in August of 2012, and that I've been dreading for weeks now. Our daily walks to school, up our dead end gravel road to the blacktop and the sidewalk. We started out hand in hand in kindergarten, and we walked like that for part of our final journey after 5th grade graduation. Bookends of a phase of childhood that is now in the rearview mirror.

That walk over the years was filled with both wonder and routine...

May 28, 2018
We went to Antietam National Battlefield this weekend, not once, but twice. It was part family visit, to walk the steps of our ancestor Aretas Culver and the ill-fated Connecticut 16th. It was also the first visit for my 11-year old, and she wanted to go back and see more. Before and after our visits, it seemed a perfect place to observe Memorial Day.

Antietam marked a tectonic shift in the fate of millions of enslaved Americans. Lee's audacious invasion of the north followed three months of demoralizing losses by the Union Army...

May 24, 2018
Fun bit of performer insight - when you're singing songs from your earlier discography that you've done at most every show for the last 5 to 20 years, you don't really have to think about what you're doing, which can be a good thing when it allows you to really feel the song and be in the moment and the setting. Conversely there are those times when the liberated mind wanders right into the completely inappropriate, profane and embarrassingly hilarious Facebook post from one of your friends, and an uncontrollable belly laugh wells right up ready to take the microphone while you're singing some sensitive sweet lyric.

Here, friends, is where the real work of performing lies.

Someone in our house hit the first "toe birthday" today. My now 11-year old and her grandma planted our rhododendron around Mother's Day back in 2011. Nothing there looks the same - the tree came down in a storm, and we have sun loving weed meadow always trying to overtake the rhody. Nonetheless, like the no-longer-little person, it grows and evolves in its space. 

May 7, 2018
The musician and music teacher becomes a music parent.

I've grown up around music. It was my "second language" spoken in my household as a child. And I learned it much as native-born children of immigrant families do - orally and aurally. I heard the sounds and the relationships. Sure, I learned to interpret pictures of chord shapes on the guitar, and scribbled out song lyrics and place the chord changes over them, but I never learn to transact in the written language of music. After a few years of playing guitar as a teenager, my ears told my fingers where to go faster than I could process the information visually...

April 4, 2018. Fifty years ago today.

Ten years ago I was in Memphis for the annual International Folk Alliance Conference. Even though we were largely sequestered in a fancy hotel and convention center, with a high rise sunset over the Mississippi River and the flat delta floodplain in Arkansas, one could quickly escape to some more "real" experiences despite the tourist trappings. BBQ ribs and the blues of course, but many of us also took the time to make a different pilgrimage as well.

The National Civil Rights Museum is in the old Lorraine Motel, frozen in time on the outside at the moment that Martin Luther King Jr. drew his last breath. Inside the museum is an incredibly powerful experience, confronting lynchings, boycotts, segregation and Jim Crow all up close and in your face. The end of the tour brings you to the balcony where the dreamer died...

February 2, 2018
I spent today chasing ghosts. In late 2014 I learned the story of my great-great-great grandfather (3G) Aretas Culver from Bristol Connecticut, and the tragic story of his Civil War regiment, the 16th Connecticut Infantry. Unlike other units that are celebrated for noble or heroic sacrifice and sturdiness in battle, their story was marked by epic failure at Antietam, and their eventual surrender in North Carolina and subsequent imprisonment at Andersonville...

February 1, 2018
3,000 miles without the radio on gives one plenty of time to ponder - the past, present and future.

One of my favorite things about the road is the stuff between the shows. The mortar of a tour that fills in around the bricks. The conversations, the view through the windshield, the moments that give one pause to reflect on coincidence or predestination.

My just completed week in Florida certainly checked all those boxes...

January 2, 2018
The annual turning of the calendar is always a good time to take stock of things. To evaluate and reminisce about what happened, some looking forward and planning for things to come. In our "share everything" social media world nowadays, posting my thoughts on the occasion make me but one of many tens of millions....

January 1, 2018
As I wished an as-yet unmet cousin very late last year (as in a few hours ago :), here's to good health, much love, safe harbor in all storms, and a full belly soon after hunger gnaws. And if we want to make 2018 better with our fellow humans, let it begin with me and you. Cheers, Sláinte and to all a good safe night. Here's hoping none of us are those people they talk about on the news tomorrow.

We have spent a lot of time trying to learn more of my wife's Polish family this year, without a ton of success. This lovely piece showed up in a Polish Genealogy group today, and I love the idea - the "Carol of the Absent"...

It seems only fitting that the first song I wrote on the beautiful Lowden guitar I was gifted by my Irish cousins would pay homage to our working class ancestors in County Down. I imagine the Christmas holiday was a bit more dark in their day, struggling to get by...

A novelist, a filmmaker, and a guitarist/composer collaborate on a trailer for a novel. The last of those happens to be my pal Michael DeLalla. Read Michael's notes below, then watch the five minute clip and tell me you don't want to see more or read the novel...

Happy Friday - what little thing might we do to make someone's world a little better today? Imagine what it would be like if millions of us did?

Truthfully, millions of people DO do little - and large - things each day to make someone's world better....

 

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Tour Dates

  • 02/25/2019
    ConcertWindow.com - Lincoln, VA
     
  • 03/24/2019
    Sugarloaf Congregation of Unitarian Universalists - Germantown, MD
     
  • 04/06/2019
    Riverbend Park - Great Falls, VA
     
  • 04/27/2019
    The Vanilla Bean Cafe - Pomfret, CT
     
  • 04/28/2019
    Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Storrs - Storrs, CT
     

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Andrew is a grateful Endorsing Artist for Elixir Strings and Fairbuilt Guitars, and a member of the Virginia Commission for the Arts Touring Artist Roster. He also is a member of The Standing "O" Project and Concerts in Your Home.

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