Mother's Day seems a fitting time to share this tribute to the three mothers who most shaped and continue to shape my life. I am grateful to be old enough to be aware of how each of them shape my daughter's life. I wrote this a few days after she was born back in 2007. Happy Mother's Day to mothers everywhere, and in honor of those mothers who brought us life, wherever they are.
"A Circle of Four Women"

Wondering about the relative worth of work and capital in a land that has always had winners and losers. It still is a great country, still struggling to figure itself out.

I’ve certainly experienced a tremendous amount in this last month on the road. I’ve seen snow in New England and summer shine in Tennessee, crisscrossed the Big River and the Big Muddy, traced the footsteps of Lewis & Clark and driven America’s Main Street. I’ve stood at Amelia Earhart’s birthplace and watched bald eagles making ready to leave theirs. I feel like Johnny Cash - “I’ve been everywhere, man”...

Sometimes we are lucky enough to be present in large moments in one young person's life.

Most of us remember big moments in our early lives. Some childhood event where we did something either unexpected, beyond our perceived abilities, or in some way accomplished some thing for the first time. They are easier to mark in our early years - first day of school, first successful ride on a bike, etc. As a grownup, it is easy to forget how much of a lifelong impact some of those positive milestones will be.

I had the privilege to be witness to three different young people that I care deeply about having such a moment, all in a single day last week...

Music is life, and life is sweet. A rich tapestry of music and the soul from the pews to Panama.

This last month has brought me a whole new understanding of how deeply intertwined human existence is with the magic of rhythm, melody and occasionally lyric.

Music may have been around for as long as humans have had language. For rituals, for comfort, and for celebrations; since they first used tools man and woman have likely beat rhythms on gourds and skulls, and blown into hollow tubes...

A look at the contrast between how two big political corporate oligarchies see our national future, versus life in a real community.

It's been a rough couple of weeks in our little village. The blizzard of 2016 - dubbed Snowzilla - took shape almost exactly as predicted and lived up to 3 feet of hype. Being cooped up at home for days can bring out the worst in people, especially when compounded by health issues or other serious concerns. School was out for over a week, and as parents had to return to work, we scrambled to help one another watching kids and moving enormous amounts of snow.

It's hard on everything else too, especially for structures that aren't built to hold that load...

The recent passing of David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Pete Huttlinger has me reflecting a lot about a lot of things in life. Each was a mentor and/or an icon to me in their own way. None of them had any idea that they had been. I think about the ways that they each shaped my life, in the context that none of us live forever on this earth. When we are young, we are shaped like clay on the potter’s wheel by many hands - parents and family, friends and community, and by those who inspire us - icons from afar and mentors up close. I realize that I now still keep close touch with many mentors who’ve profoundly influenced me, but I have also long been aware that I may also play that role for many, including plenty of people about whom I may never know.

Fitting perhaps that it is on a Monday that we wake to learn of the passing of David Bowie. As someone who deeply appreciates artistic diversity, perhaps no creative spirit in my time wandered more galaxies in pursuit of his muse - music, theatre, fashion and more. Bowie was more than one of a kind, he pulled the curtains back on so many different things it makes my head spin pondering it.

Happy New Year one and all - may 2016 be an improvement on 2015, no matter what kind of year you had. May we all treat each other with a bit more humanity even when our sensibilities seem challenged...

Give yourself the gift of an expanded toolbox and the joy of knowing more than Four Pillars of Western Civilization (root, IV, V and the VI or relative minor). Some of these lovely Christmas chestnuts from the Great Songbook feature a wonderful opportunity to understand substituting chords to rotate to a different apparent tone center...

A prayer for peace seems like asking for the absurd this year, so maybe start with a hope to build a simple foundation of empathy.

We put up our Christmas tree together tonight, the three of us. In this season of Advent and high holy days for many of the world's faiths, it feels though this year the darkness draws a little closer and a little tighter. The winter's long nights are upon us, and while the days have been bright and mild here in Virginia, it still feels like the solstice and Christmas can't get here fast enough.

Some might think this day in America is a bit overdone, and that we really should practice gratitude every day. Of course, I certainly am a believer in the latter, but I also think it's a fine thing to set aside a day or two dedicated to such...

One common theme throughout the Autumn tour was the interest in my great-great-great grandfather Aretas Culver and his hard-luck Civil War story in the Connecticut 16th. I mention the book A Broken Regiment as I tell how I discovered him and his story last Christmas ('14)...

To everyone who buys music, art or some other creative work for gifts (or for yourself!) over the holidays, thank you! Please read this if you'd like to maximize your support for the artist with your hard-earned sheckels...

In honor of all of our veterans; those who served and returned "safe home", as well as those who gave all far from home, and in particular those who returned weighted heavy with the physical and emotional burdens of that service...

Some new perspective from a musician on being a musician, and perhaps the parent of a musician.

I've been playing guitar for nearly 40 years now. As my 8-year old embarks on her own explorations of music, I have come to realize that most every adult she knows just picks up an instrument and makes music come out of it like magic. She never witnessed all those hours when each and every one of us sucked, struggling to make even the most basic sounds and finger coordination happen.

So lately I've been trying to lead by example a bit more...

I did a songwriting residency with two 3rd-grade classes back in 2005-06 at Loudoun Country Day School. Each class wrote a song with me, then we made a date up at the recording studio to do this, and finally a visit to our local AM radio station and my friend Chris King who played the songs and interviewed the kids...

A tour brings people together and tears time apart. A hungry writer reflects on metaphors for the ties that bind.

I just finished an amazing tour. Yes, the shows were mostly good, the travel blessedly uneventful, weather and scenery from pleasant to spectacular. But there was one overarching theme that presented itself constantly from Day One til the driveway...

Today we walked our long-familiar village sidewalk up to school to begin a new adventure in 3rd grade. As we reach the blacktop at the end of our gravel road, we can see the old one-room school built by the Quakers in 1810. Walking to school in the village has probably been a ritual here for over 200 years...

On the heels of the just-ended sesquicentennial marking the end of the Civil War, history seems to have once again repeated and recast itself, as it often does. As with the two weeks 150 years ago that saw a sudden if inevitable end to an intractable Civil War and the assassination of a President, once again events in our America have jolted us like the sudden calving of an immense and seemingly motionless glacier...

Some thoughts on learning new skills versus knowing when to "hire the experts", and perhaps an insight or two into the successes of failure.

I made a movie. There, I said it. Not a quick, shoot it on the iPhone type, but a reasonably length mini-documentary. I've never done that before. I won't say I'll never do it again, or that I will. It's a big project, and a ton of work.

Of course, I didn't make a movie by myself, or even do most of the work. I have friends with mad skills in photography, videography and perhaps most important, video editing...

Long ago someone made up a lullaby or beat a hollow gourd in anger. Blew into a piece of hollow wood, or strung a gut-string tight and twanged it. Whatever its humble origins, this combination of sounds and rhythm is an essential part of being human. We create sound, we find sound, we imagine things, and within the complexity of notes and beats, we seek ways to translate our singular experiences and inspiration into something universally accessible.

Music has been part of every step of our American history too...

Reflecting on the many contradictions in our nation's history as a milestone anniversary passes, and the author ponders the influence of where we've been on how we go forward.

At 3pm today, bells will ring all across this great land to mark the sesquicentennial of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, about 3 hours south of my home here in the tranquil foothills of the Blue Ridge. The book of the American story is opened to these pages this week, for us to revisit, and reflect, and remember. And in so doing, all eyes are once again on us - the state where the most blood was spilled, the home of the rebel capital and the fertile Shenandoah Valley, the "breadbasket of the Confederacy"...

I often joke that I am a professional driver, and when I quit for the day I pull out my guitar and play for people. There's really more than a kernel of truth to that. My friends often ask for an opinion or advice about traveling, which I happily share to the best of my ability.

I've also witnessed a lot of bad behavior and less than stellar driving. I'm one of those who believes that a little education can go a long way, so I've distilled down some observations and helpful tips from over 20 years of traveling both the blue highways and the heavy truck thoroughfares...

Some thoughts on honesty and storytelling, "Deflategate" and Brian Williams, and the "Grab Their Attention" ethos in the Age of Information Overload.

I've long ago grown deep bonds with most of our local professional sports teams, most based in the nation's capital. It was easy when baseball came back to DC - we've been here since the beginning. But even as a little kid, I adopted the Washington Capitals during their first days of existence. I even tuned in a lot of their games on the staticky AM radio, over 400 miles away. We're still waiting for our first Stanley Cup, the royal hardware that goes to the champions of the sport.

One local team has never earned my allegiance.

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Tour Dates

  • 12/22/2017
    Twin Oaks Tavern Winery - Bluemont, VA
     
  • 12/31/2017
    Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling - Sterling, VA
     
  • 01/06/2018
    Redwood Run House Concerts - Philomont, VA
     
  • 01/07/2018
    Unitarian Universalist Church of the Shenandoah Valley - Stephens City, VA
     
  • 01/13/2018
    Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick - Frederick, MD
     

HAPPENINGS

SPECIAL THANKS

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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