Saturday, February 18, 2012


New blog post over at my new home:

Apparently there is no adding Google Friend Connect from Blogger to sites (only the self-hosted . org ones) - sorry about that, if anyone cares! I still haven't settled all the way in over there but I'm trying.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Still Working On It

Hi there, I finally managed to get a new post on my new blog location. I still haven't figured out how to move the Yahoo followers from here to WordPress - but meanwhile hope you'll follow me over there. thanks, Amy

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Some Other Place Already

I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress two days ago. It's been a little complicated and there's still a few things I need to figure out (like how to redirect followers from this blog over to the new one) but it seemed like everything was going okay. Then around midnight - I don't know what I did wrong, but all these black bars started appearing over everything.

Then Wikipedia stopped working.

"Oh my God, what have I done wrong?" I wondered. "I've broken the Internet."

But today everything was pretty much back to normal.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I didn't mean to open this design can of worms! Went over to WordPress, started working on a blog there, then realized I'd have to have the concentration to learn a new dashboard etc. Which I sadly don't right now. Then started looking at the (limited) blogger templates and next thing I knew I'd lost my old one. So...under construction. But here's a photo from yesterday in Catskill.

Friday, January 6, 2012

When The Tree Comes Down

I searched our old address in France on Google and looked at the satellite image - it was like a trip back in time to just over a year ago when we came back from touring determined to fix the place up and sell it so we could move to the US. In the photo the shutters are off and yet to be painted, the front door is the dark green we decided against eventually, the massive barn door is scraped and only partially undercoated.

The satellite photo is dated December 2010. A year later, we're living on another continent. Maybe that explains why I feel tired and disoriented a lot of the time. When I'm not ecstatic.

Had some of my family here for Christmas. Managed to cook dinner for everyone even though we ran out of propane in the middle of the preparations, and Eric and my brother Riley had to drive all over Greene County trying to refill the tank (the 24-hour Home Depot kiosk chose Christmas Eve to break down). Riley's girlfriend Natalie used her iphone to locate a propane dealer, Nick's Gas.

"Nick, do you have gas?"
"Excuse me, what do you want?"
"We need gas Nick, we need gas! To cook with, for our Christmas dinner!"
"I am closing in three minutes. Also, I am not Nick."
"Please, uh - sir. They are coming now! Please stay open, please stay open."

How many times did we run out of cooking gas in the French countryside just as the juices started to flow from a high-priced chicken? Maybe the problem wasn't France after all.

But the festivities were festive and everybody loved the new house. Then we made it to the city and figured out how to make money down there: if you avoid getting a parking ticket, look at that $75 you don't end up owing as income! Better yet, go to Hoboken for the last Yo La Tengo Hanukkah show, don't get booted by the Hoboken parking police, and bam - that $150 we didn't end up having to pay (as some of the audience members and even one of the performers did) is now surplus lining our pockets.

That way of thinking made me feel good for a day or two, now it's back to reality and lining up/looking for work.

And trying to update my website/blog etc. I've started to find the white type on black harder and harder to read. Anyone else? I wish I could integrate my music site with the blog - it's all looking a bit disjointed to me.Out of date. But just like everything else after a major relocation, it seems like you can't do one thing without first doing three other things. Aesthetics, technology, culture...yes it's all accessible from everywhere but I feel a little left behind. So I just have to watch every episode of Breaking Bad - then I'll know what to do, right?

In the meanwhile, these ornaments have to go back in the box and the tree has to go...where? Do they pick it up here? Or can I take it to the dump. At least I know where that is - just out past Nick's Gas...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not Fade Away

It had all gone so well. A couple weeks of shows, traversing England, up to Scotland and back down again with no major mishaps. Even a quick trip to Sweden where Eric gave a talk about punk at the university of Malmo and I played my first-ever show in Scandinavia. No illness, no bloodshed. Nothing broken or stolen (except the Harmony guitar, on the flight over, and that had been brought back to life, better than ever without even a visible scar). The tour felt like a success: we'd played well, had decent turnouts and some fun, ending up with money left over to take home.

Along with that deep exhaustion that comes from being in constant motion. Is it worse than the deep exhaustion that comes from doing the same thing every day? Probably not - just different. I read an interview with Todd Rundgren where he says that at 63 he may not be up for the rigors of touring much longer and I'd been thinking maybe if we bumped into him in a motorway Costa Coffee or Days Inn we could talk about it, because sometimes I feel the same way.

I lugged my suitcase, messenger bag and acoustic guitar in a soft case on my back onto a NJ Transit train at Newark Airport. The suitcase was over the 50 lb limit so I'd distributed the extra weight - cables, microphones, clothes and my ancient laptop, more Rosetta Stone than laptop, so big and bulky that a septuagenarian at airport security had pointed out "you know, they make those a lot smaller these days, they call them 'netbooks'" - into the guitar case and handbag so I was an efficient pack mule. Eric had stayed behind in England to visit with his daughter and granddaughter for a few extra days. It was my first time coming home to the US from a tour in years, and I marveled at how things seemed to work so much better than they used to, from the shuttle trains clearly marked and red-jacketed polite young men guiding and assisting passengers. I slung my guitar onto the overhead shelf of the train bound for Manhattan and sat studying the couple across from me - in their sixties, he in black beret and overcoat; she with short-cropped henna'ed hair and little round black framed glasses, also dressed entirely in black except for multicolored striped socks. I strained to hear what language they were speaking: Russian? German?

French. They were speaking French. I felt disoriented, trying to remember where I was going. Where do I live?

When the train reached Penn Station, I hustled to catch the 7:15 PM Amtrak train for Hudson, flowing through and against the tide of humanity who seemed to be headed in every possible direction with absolute confidence and certainty. I remembered this feeling, deep in my soul if not in my head and joined in, reading signs and following arrows as if by osmosis.

"Can I buy a ticket on the train?" I asked the dapper Amtrak agent at the track entrance.

"Use the machine right there," he pointed. The clock said 7:13. I bought the ticket and ran back to him. His face was stony. "The doors are closed - you'll have to get the next train. Change your ticket over there." He pointed to a long customer service line.

I wheeled the suitcase around and got in line, cursing and sweating. Reaching behind to pull my hair up off my neck, I felt an unusual draft back there where my guitar case usuall- SHHIIIIIITTTT!!!

Running back through the throngs to NJ Transit, I was already simultaneously a) filing a false insurance claim for a stolen guitar; b) getting the old Guild out of mothballs; or c) (maybe it's for the best?) retiring.

By the time I found the Customer Service office, I was silently thanking the stern Amtrak official who'd closed the gate and kept me from boarding the train. Otherwise wouldn't I be realizing, just as the train reached somewhere near Yonkers, that I had to turn around and go back to find my guitar? At least I was still sort of on site, able to speak to someone in person, or fill out a form or...or. Please - I don't want it to end this way. A young woman in front of me in the Transit office line, hearing the sounds of anguished hyperventilating behind her, stepped aside. "You go first," she said.

The official looked like Kenny G.

"Did anyone..." I gasped, "find a guitar on the Newark Airport train?"

He smiled. "Does it look like this?" There it was. My Gibson. "It was just brought in. You can have it, but only if you play 'Stairway To Heaven' first."

Back in a terminal bar called "Kabooze", I shared a table with the guitar and drank the best beer I ever tasted in my life. When "Brown Sugar" came on the bar stereo, a weird speaker arrangement had Keith's guitar just above my head. Mick, the band, all the other stuff, was a barroom away. But Keith played, almost like he was playing just for me. I sipped my beer and listened to every lick. "This ain't over yet, baby," it seemed like he was saying.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"You Have Reached Your Destination"

I was standing in line in a tiny guitar shop in Islington when I realized my bag was talking.

"You have reached your destination" said Tim, our GPS man with the crisp Continental diction. I'd forgotten tucking Tim into my bag for guidance as I'd set off on foot to find a music store.

Eric is convinced Tim's a camp out of work thespian picking up pocket money on the side. Not totally British, his accent hints at all sorts of seedy possibilities. We have such a close relationship with him, I felt a sense of shame exposing him in public like that. I almost blushed remembering how just that afternoon we'd fallen about the van laughing as Eric and Tim did one of their familiar routines:

Tim: Exit ahead. Then take the motorway.
Eric (hurriedly): Tim, how can we make the chateau less damp?
Tim: Take the exit.
Eric: (insistently) But the chateau, Tim, the castle! How can we make it less damp?
Tim: Take the motorway.

I had been rushing to buy extra strings for a big show at Union Chapel in London. It's one of those places you notice people playing at and think "now that's a gig." And here we were about two hours away from playing to a sellout crowd.

Two nights before we'd been at the New Orleans Jazz Club in Louth, playing under a flourescent strip light with a picture of the queen and a Confederate flag behind us. From the ridiculous to the sublime with a live session on the Mark Riley radio show, in the gleaming new spaceship headquarters of the BBC Manchester, in between as launching ramp in our rise to stardom.

Not our stardom, really. Eric and I were special guests of Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds, who we'd loved at the Rhythm Festival 2 years ago and who cover Whole Wide World along with a well-chosen selection of other punk era songs, played in a spirited folk style. That doesn't do the experience justice, and please forgive the use of the word "spirited" - I'm no music critic.

But there's always that feeling of possibility with a big show like this, born from watching too many movies, that you'll walk out on the altar a mere artist and working musician and go back into the vestry a star. "Chapel" had me imagining a humble, chaste and dignified rectangle but Union Chapel is a soaring octagonal domed space. It lends an air of gravity and importance to whatever happens there, I guess, but trying to do our set was a challenge because of sound restrictions decreed by the local council. "Let the room do the work" the soundman said, as if through divine intervention our musical intent would flow out if we just stood on the stage, limp chalices to be emptied of our offerings through supplication.

I remembered why I stopped going to church years ago.

Ade and his band were really sweet backstage in the communal "meeting room" but it was a bit like arriving at a party when people are finishing the last bottles of beer and starting to eye half-drunk ones, cause this was the last show of a long tour for them. That weary, punchy, near-hysteria had set in so the only place to find a moment's peace was in the non-locking toilets, where at least four different touring party members burst in to find me and Eric in varying stages of undress. Not playful conjugal rights in the toilet-type action but two shabby showfolk stuffing themselves into hastily mended and ironed stage clothes and trying to sort out a setlist that wouldn't trigger the volume meter.

Had tuning troubles to start, and I flubbed the end of a song. We played okay and got a few laughs and warm applause from an audience stiffly sitting on pews in their coats. Then there was that awkward time afterwards at the merch table, with people coming up asking for Bad Shepherds t-shirts, and the occasional happy fan. We snuck out for fish and chips with friends because our rider of hot meal had never materialized and caught some of the show's finale - again, the acoustics were creating too much "atmosphere" and not enough focused sound but the rhythmic energy of the group came through.

The next night was an old working men's club in Hebden Bridge, an interestingly artsy town outside Manchester. I felt kind of low after Union Chapel. Just wished it had been - more...what? Special, fun, something. It seemed like it should've been, with the massive dome and the big crowd and arches of stone and dramatic lighting. I checked the GPS to see how long the drive would take. Tim did the calculations: London to Hebden Bridge - 63 hours. WHA- oh, right, I still had him set for walking to the guitar shop.

The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge was an unexpectedly great place to play. Maybe because I hadn't wanted so badly for it to be great. It took three hours to drive there, and no time at all to get somewhere on stage.