November 15, 2016
Standing Rock Reservation, Cannonball, ND
I was nervous driving here, not knowing what to expect. I'd been told it's a peaceful demonstration which is what attracted me to come. I had no interest in being a part of an angry mob.
I arrived at the Oceti Sakowin camp and found 2,500 other people just like me. Concerned for human rights, but showing up in a peaceful, prayerful display of solidarity. An incredible experience. We marched for several miles then made a video. A professional videographer was there with a camera on a drone. Several hundred of us formed a human white board, spelling out "Water is Life" around the image of a medicine wheel with the camera videoing from above.
What really struck me was the international scope of this dispute between the Standing Rock Tribe and the oil companies trying to put a pipeline underneath the Missiouri River, the main water supply for the reservation. I met people from all over the globe. I'm quite sure all 50 states were represented, too.
At the Sacred Fire, I had a one on one 45 minute conversation with the great, great grandson of Sitting Bull. He taught me a lot about the Lakota traditions. He thanked me for caring enough to be there.
Truly an amazing experience - walking step in step with such a large mass of people united for a common global concern - humanity vs. profit. And let me say again, these are peaceful and prayerful people. I have nothing but respect for these courageous people who are unarmed but willing to stare down those dressed with guns and other war weapons.
Beads on One String and my entire career has been dedicated to peaceful resolution to conflict. I'm confident that can happen here.
Declaration at Standing Rock
Update - Including Thanksgiving message 11-23-2016
October 12, 2016
Friday Harbor, Washington
It's a beautiful day in the San Juan Islands. I came out a day early on my pacific northwest tour, opting for a little R&R in this little bit of paradise. There's a storm brewing they say, with potential hurricane force winds arriving in 48 hours. I helped a 50 foot sailboat get tied up at the marina before heading off for an ice cream cone, waiting on my ferry boat back to Anacortes. I've toured a lot out here throughout my career. Great to be back!
September 21, 2016
Oh what I night! Too bad that song has already been written.
Last night, hoping to be inspired to write another tune for the upcoming album, I anchored the Hummingbird (my Catalina sailboat) behind Twin Island on Lake Mille Lacs, the second largest lake in Minnesota encompassing 207 square miles. As I spread the Nutella on my whole wheat/flax seed bun, Mother Nature put on an amazing show with a gorgeous sunset. Both the water and my soul were as calm as could be.
Before anchoring, I had conferred with three different weather reports and two of the three agreed it would be a quiet evening. I should've paid more attention to the third report that indicated strong winds would be coming in from the east-northeast. I would've been fine had they actually been from that direction as I was sheltered on the southwest side of the island.
Fast forward a couple of hours later and the wind is screaming at me, maybe 20-25 miles per hour, from the east-southeast! The tiny island was not sheltering me and the waves were building. Rolling around in my bunk, I wasn't sleeping. The good news was that the anchor was holding and I was confident I could ride this out if necessary.
But the third forecast, the one I was dismissing at first, was now updated to indicate the wind would stay strong for the next 24-36 hours. The other two forecasts were still indicating my current condition at 0-2 mph winds. Ha!
The #1 rule for sailors and Boy Scouts, always be prepared for anything.
I laid out a plan to ditch the anchorage (I wasn't sleeping anyway) and to head back to the marina. I'm an old school sailor with no onboard GPS or other fancy navigational tools. I have a depth finder, a compass and good map. A nighttime ride in these conditions would take a little thinking.
The stars and moon both appeared shortly after I was underway. Heat lightening flashed all around the lake, creating an eery setting. Decked out in my rain suit, I stayed dry as the spray from the four foot waves came lashing at me over the starboard side of the dancing Hummingbird. Up and down she rode as if on the end of a bungy cord attached to the constellation Cassiopeia, now straight above us.
Trying to make headway against the elements took a lot of patience. For several hours I bobbed and weaved like Muhammed Ali. I was tired but somewhat enjoying the experience with the awesome night sky guiding me home. Somewhere in the there the winds did shift to the east-northeast, causing an even more uncertain wave pattern to navigate through. Exhausted, at 4:15am I tied up at the marina. I'm pretty sure I was asleep by 4:30.
In the morning the sheriff's boat pulled in so I crawled out of the cabin and talked with him for a bit. He said the waves were now at five feet and still building. He congratulated me on my sailing and nighttime navigational skills, pulling off my little adventure in a safe manner.
Needless to say, I didn't get that song written.
August 30, 2016
Falcon Heights, MN
Today was a media day for me at the Minnesota State Fair, one of the largest fairs in the country. Almost two million people show up every year to enjoy the most unhealthy food imaginable. It's pretty awesome!
AMPERES is a public radio network here in the midwest and I was thrilled to be invited to their booth for a performance/interview and thirty minute feature. I'm a big fan of public radio. Danny joined me for this and had a terrific time.
On my way to the AMPERES performance I ran into John Williams from WCCO radio, one of the huge powerhouse stations that still remain in the U.S., broadcasting into several states at 830 AM. John hosts the drive time show and we met a couple of years ago at Sid Hartman's garage sale. Sid is a 96 year old sports reporter from Minneapolis who still writes a newspaper column, appears daily on the radio and once a week on his television show. An amazing man.
Anyway, I ran into John near the AMPERES booth and he invited me on his show that afternoon, also broadcasting live from the Minnesota State Fair. He even offered me a cookie if I would write a jingle for his show.
It was a good cookie!
So I wrote a little song , which he loved. He asked me to autograph the mustard stained napkin it was written on and I obliged. I ended our segment by lightening the mood with my incredibly romantic song, "If I My Nose Were Full of Nickels, I'd Blow it all on You".
All in all, a very fun day. My only regret is that I never found the food booth with the deep fried olives.
July 12, 2016
Danny and I had a great show here last night in Central Park. These small town concerts are fun times, where the whole community comes together for an evening of music and good food. And unlike the big Central Park in New York City, this one has free parking!
This is also Tammy's home town, so we had lots of catching up to do with familiar faces.
On the way here, we stopped in Clarkfield, Minnesota at a gas station. Feeling a bit hungry, I purchased a donut for $1.75. Starbucks pricing! While this was unexpected at a small town gas station, I asked the owner if this was freshly made today (experience talking here, on my part). He said, "Of Course", but then went on to ask me which rack I took it from- the upper, middle or lower? After replying, "The middle one" he responded, "Yep, those are the fresh ones!"
Back in the van I took a bite and wondered how old the lower or upper rack donuts were...
June 20, 2016
It's been a nice tour this month. After Tuesday's concert in Glen Ellyn, I'll head home for the rest of the summer. I used be on the road most of the summer before I realized I was missing out on all that good weather in Minnesota. I'd be sweltering away at an outdoor show in Kansas or Oklahoma while my friends were enjoying the outdoors back home. Several years ago I changed directions, planning my out of state travel for September to June, leaving me a couple of summer months for sailing and swimming. A great move on my part!
I'm looking forward to the performance tomorrow at the WDCB radio studio. We'll do a concert then go on air with Lilli Kuzma and her
Folk Festival radio show. Lilli has been a tremendous supporter of my music for a lot of years. She's carrying on the tradition started by my friend George Brown at WDCB who used to play my CD's all the time and also booked me for several concerts at the Maple Street Chapel in Lombard, IL. George died a few years ago and I miss him. He always invited me into his home when I was in the area and we'd stay up most of the night talking music.
May 23, 2016
I love North Carolina. The beauty of this state has always left a positive impression on me. Unfortunately, it's also been in the news lately for the legislature and Governor passing a new law allowing discrimination against certain people. Laws like this are usually passed out of fear of the unknown, not based on facts or actual experiences. These are not horrible people, they are just afraid.
Progress takes a while sometimes. It really wasn't that long ago when blacks rode in the back of the bus around here or weren't allowed in certain restaurants. Go back a little further and women weren't allowed to vote or have a voice. Change and acceptance will come. I believe that.
I flew into Charlotte last week to attend and showcase at the Folk Alliance regional conference in Montreat, connecting concert buyers with musicians. It was great to make new friends and reconnect with old ones as well. I'll be doing one or two concert tours through the southeast in the next year, so if you live down this way make sure to keep an eye on the tour schedule or sign up on the E-List for updates. Can't wait to come back!
While here, I also journeyed to the Isaac Dickson School in Asheville where my friend Dennis McDonough and I performed for the kids. It's always a fun adventure when McDonough is around. Sometime I'll have to share the story of our late night expedition (without a flashlight) through a New Jersey woods, discovering the most amazing view of New York City.
Back to the conference: For four days I roomed with my buddy Freebo, who performed on my SEEDS CD back in 2012. I think 4am was the earliest we made it to bed after nights of music, story telling and conversation. Last night I caught up with Tom Rush and Matt Nakoa in Asheville. Such great people and musicians. Thanks to Don, Louise, Clint and Katie for making that happen and getting me the best seat in the house. I am grateful!
Now I'm waiting for the plane back to Minnesota. Good memories made.
April 6, 2016
San Diego, CA
Always nice to visit southern California. It was my first time to tour the Taylor guitar factory and I highly recommend it. These folks are amazing. You'll get a close up look at how guitars are made, from beginning to end.
It was also great to connect with Tim Godwin and Robin Staudte from Artist Relations. I have several Taylor's and these folks have really taken care of me. I look forward to a continued wonderful relationship down the road.
People often ask me for advice on buying a guitar. I tell them to play a bunch of different makes and models, including Taylor's, and buy the guitar that really stands out from the others. The one that plays the easiest and sounds the best is the guitar to buy. It's that simple.
March 21, 2016
We just finished up a great concert at Lips Atrium at the Mayo Clinic. What a beautiful set up they have! Standing room only for our show. All the D's were with me and within two minutes of ending our concert we were invited back by the booker. Can't wait!
February 14, 2016
I've had a terrific time in Omaha. Nice stage set up and the audience was fantastic. It was also sweet to share a meal and good wine with Clete and Nina Baker. Clete helped do the final mix on the Beep Beep CD last year. Tomorrow I'll be in Kansas City, being featured on Carla McClellan's "Vibrant Living" radio show. She's awesome and I know we'll have a great afternoon.
January 17, 2016
St. Paul, MN
It was a real thrill today to be at the first reading of the new musical being written about my friend Bobby Vee. Jeff and Tommy Vee along with George Maurer have spent tons of hours with playwright Bob Beverage working on the script. Bobby's musical life run 50+ years so that's a lot of ground to cover in a two hour play.
I'm excited for the family and especially for Bob, who's enduring some incredible challenges right now with Alzheimer's disease. My personal hope is that this musical will help propel Bobby into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he should be.
January 6, 2016
Happy New Year! I released a new video a couple of days ago and I'm very pleased with the positive response.
A few years ago I grabbed my video camera and joined the corn harvest at the Anhalt family farm in rural southwestern Minnesota. It was my first time in a combine and I wanted to capture the harvest for those of us who have never been a part of that before. Farming is a mystery to those of us who didn't grow up in that lifestyle. It's an amazing coordinated effort.
In the background runs my song "It's My Life", written about a four generation family farm. You may remember it from my Journey of the Soul CD quite a few years ago. Every once in a while I put the song into the concert set list and for a long time now I've thought about how to incorporate it into a video. Like a lot of my songs, it's very visual. I could not be happier about how it turned out. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Click here to watch the video.