Friday, December 4, 2009

Mountain Biking The Amish Way

I just finished an epic mountain bike ride.

Five clear Portland December days in a row are about as rare as an old British guy with all his teeth. Like, actually still in his mouth. I knew I had to take advantage of the dry singletrack for perhaps the last time in '09.
As a result of the clear skies, though, it's been ridiculously cold the last week or so. As I write, the temperature outside is 37 degrees Fahrenheit. All of my fans in South Dakota and Saskatchewan are laughing as they read this.

However, once you factor in the wind chill, and the east wind blowing in from the Columbia Gorge, and Oregon's extremely high barometric Berscheid factor...

OK, I'm just a wuss. There's no such thing as the Berscheid factor. Yet.

In any case, I knew it was best to bundle up before heading out to face such bleak conditions. I glanced at myself in the mirror before walking out the door.

Brown North Face fleece. Black snowboarding gloves. The svelte fuzzy grey beanie-under-red-bike-helmet combo.

Khaki shorts. White tube socks. Blue thermal underwear. Long johns, if you please.

Anytime I can write 'long' and 'john' in the same phrase, I will.

I was a walking (well, riding) fashion faux pas. For a guy who refuses to brush his teeth with a toothbrush that doesn't match his shirt, this outfit was the Titanic on a collision course with the iceberg of Goodwill. I was tempted to ride there and literally donate everything I was wearing. However, naked bike rides aren't even that much fun during the summer, and we all know what cold weather does to the male anatomy. No more long john.

However, as pneumonia also isn't on my bucket list, I wasn't too concerned with how I looked as I rode the trails of Powell Butte. It was a great ride, by the way. I only saw one other foolhardy biker on the trail, and he looked even more ridiculous than I did. So, of course, I laughed at him.

I will gladly sacrifice style anyday for the sake of something I love. So will most people, I think. Did those businessmen I was watching the Oregon-Oregon State game with last night really, firmly believe that those Beavers neckties were the perfect match for their light blue Oxford shirts?

Actually, sadly, they probably did.

As I was pedaling down 174th St. to get to the trailhead, I passed an Amish man in a horse and buggy. Well, more of a pony and buggy. This would've been a commonplace sight in Indiana where I grew up, but I'm pretty sure this guy was a long way from home. Still, he waved and smiled as I blew past him on my Trek 8700 carbon-fiber 27-speed mountain bike.

I could take him head-to-head anyday.

All you strapping young Amish lads can take that as a direct challenge. Ponies only, though, please.

Do you know the reason why Amish men shave their mustaches? Contrary to popular belief, it's not because they are enamored with Abraham Lincoln. On the contrary, it's because the mustache is, in their minds, an emblem of war and the military, involvement in which they are morally opposed to. Personally, I think that beards without mustaches look pretty weird. They look even weirder if the wearer also has a unibrow, but that's a whole different story.

At least the Amish can compensate for their emasculating lack of a flavor saver with those uber-pimp top hats.

And by knowing that tourism brings in a cool $30,000 annually, per capita, to many Amish towns.

The Amish have actually had a long history of sacrifice for the sake of what they love and believe. The Amish people originated in 16th century Switzerland out of the Anabaptist movement. Anabaptists believed that everyone should be able to choose what they believe for themselves. Although they had all been baptized as infants, they practiced rebaptism as adults, once the individual was old enough to make his or her own decisions. For this, they were oppressed and sometimes killed, yet they clung to their beliefs.

While I certainly don't champion all of Amish ideology, they must be doing something right. Their simple, hardworking lifestyle, free from most of the pressures and strictures of modern American society, attracts many new converts every year, and their numbers continue to grow across North America.

Due in large part, I trust, to those uber-pimp top hats.

This really could be the first blog ever written that encompasses both mountain biking and Amish. I'm not sure how I got here. I guess, though, that it all comes full circle: the Amish can and do indeed ride bikes. They've even developed a line of uber-pimp top hat bike helmets.

I have no idea if this is true.

I do, however, think it would be fun to be Amish for a day. Hopefully not on a day where a lot of manual labor was getting done. My management contract contains a strict anti-barn-building clause.

It's crazy to me how much of society views the Amish culture in a negative light. People have taken to pelting Amish carriages with rocks. This ended tragically in the case of one six-month-old North Carolina Amish girl who was struck in the head by a rock and died from her injuries. Another Canadian Amish woman also required thousands of dollars of reconstructive surgery after being hit in the face by a beer bottle from a passing car.

Just because we as a society view another culture or group as weird doesn't give us the right to trample on their rights. Amish people are among the most peaceful, most family-oriented, most hardworking people in existence. And they certainly aren't the backwards, ignorant individuals that Hollywood and TV often portray them as. They don't view all technology as evil, but simply look at each new technological advance in an objective light to see if it will bring their families and community together, or drag them further apart.

I'm not sure how I ended up on this pro-Amish soapbox. I honestly can't say that I even know any Amish people. However, I admire their commitment to what they believe, and admire their sense of community and harmony. I admire the fact that they've willingly sacrificed many of the so-called 'comforts' that we enjoy in order to preserve the things that are most important to them.

Would I want to be Amish? No way. Is there something to be learned from their way of life? Most definitely.

Would even a polite young Amish girl laugh at what I'm still wearing as I write this? By all means.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Here's A Tip, Oprah

By now, if you're in the service industry, you've heard about Oprah's recession-busting advice.

No, it has nothing to do with wise investment, or passing on that 52" plasma. Or cooking up your own crack rather than going out and buying that high-grade coke.

Her advice? It's simple. Don't tip.

Continue to go out to eat as often as you'd like, and spend as much as you'd like. But tipping? So 2007.

When in doubt, ask yourself: what would Oprah tip? WWOT?

Never mind that servers in many states make well below minimum wage from their employers. Somewhere around $2.13 an hour, last I checked. Never mind that servers are taxed by the IRS on their total sales, whether they make tips on those sales or not. Never mind that servers must also tip out bartenders and hosts, and sometimes bussers and cooks, out of what they make on a given evening.

Never mind that if the US decided to legislate a mandated minimum wage for the service industry, restaurants would be forced to raise food and beverage prices dramatically to compensate for all the additional payroll costs.

I think it's great that someone has finally spoken up and said "enough is enough." Servers should make less money, and Oprah should make more. Nothing does one's heart more good than to take money from the working poor simply because Oprah said so.

It's almost the holiday season! Homeless servers can still have Christmas trees; they just have to leave them where they found them, in the city park. Oh, and they can't decorate them, either. Presents? Well, finding that half-eaten donut in the trash is kind of like a present from a stranger. Wrap it up in Big Mac paper, and you've got yourself a regular Christmas!

What's that? You celebrate Hanukkah? You're going to have a harder time finding latkes, those traditional potato pancakes, in the dumpster. Would french fries count?

Look what you've done, Oprah.

There was a time when Oprah worked for a living. A time when she brushed her own teeth, wiped her own butt.

Now, there are people for that.

That's why her advice, to me, seems so paradoxical. Once upon a time, Oprah was pregnant at age 14. Once upon a time, Oprah was a local news co-anchor in Baltimore. Once upon a time, her last name was Winfrey. Oprah singlehandedly created the overarching media empire she presides over today. It seems that private jets, the highest-rated show in history, and gracing the cover of your eponymous magazine every month have a way of smashing those early memories into a Million Little Pieces.

I've heard it said: Every time you don't tip, God kills a kitten.

Oprah HATES kittens. When was the last time you saw one on the cover of her magazine?

She also owns at least nine houses, including a 42-acre oceanview estate in California, purchased solely with all the money she's saved on gratuity over the years.

It's so simple! Don't tip. Buy a mansion. Gain 400 pounds.

Let me clarify two things: First, this blog is not meant to be an exercise in Oprah-bashing. While her statement on tipping showed incredible ignorance and callousness, she has done a lot of philanthropic good with the wealth she has amassed. Oprah's Angel Network has raised over $51 million for underprivileged individuals. She personally donates more of her own money to charity than any other show-business celebrity in America. Fact.

Second, I'm not suggesting that you tip 30 percent across the board whether you felt you were adequately serviced or not. Without getting into specific numbers and percentages, though, I do believe that a good tip is always appropriate, unless the server gave you herpes during the course of dinner.

Listen to Oprah. She has a lot of good things to say.

But ignore, if you will, her advice on tipping. Not to mention her advice on weight loss.

People in the service industry work hard for a living, and few outside of the industry really understand the ins and outs of sub-$3 hourly wages, tipping out, and overtaxation. Servers and bartenders survive on tips. Just the tip. Just for a second..just to see how it feels.

Here's a tip, Oprah: I'd advise you to stay silent on issues you don't fully understand. And furthermore, I wouldn't eat out for awhile, unless you genuinely enjoy the taste of spit.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Loss

I lost my microphone.

It's an Audix OM7. Nothing special, but it's a pretty good mic. It's Absolut, but not quite Belvedere. Pippen, but not quite Jordan. Dog, but not quite cat. Nonetheless, it's my mic, and I love the way it sounds.

I lost it at a festival in Portland ten days ago. Taken by another band? Perhaps. Why a singer would would want to make out with a black piece of
man-plastic that has been all up on another dude's lips is beyond me. To me, my microphone is like my earwax: meant for my mouth, and my mouth only.

Just for the record, I don't actually eat my earwax. I broke that habit six weeks ago.

In any case, I've been forced to use my backup EV microphone at my last three shows. Making the switch has been like switching from wearing underwear to wearing bubble wrap: it still works, but it's kind of noisy at inopportune times.

I've sent out emails to every staff member at the festival, every sound person, every other band. I've even put up "Missing" signs on area telephone poles, and I roam the streets at night calling its name.

I have a sinking feeling it's not coming home.

My devastating loss, coupled with some other pressing matters involving aspects of my career that are beyond my control, was weighing on my mind as I checked my email yesterday afternoon. I was bombarded with the news of a second, 6.8 magnitude earthquake that had just occurred in Padang, in the wake of yesterday's first quake. 467 people are dead, and thousands are trapped beyond fallen buildings. Come on, world, I'm trying to have a pity party here. Who invited Indonesia?

I have to be honest: nothing puts a missing microphone on the back burner like the tale of a mother desperately searching for her missing 12-year-old daughter, using her bare hands to pull apart the wreckage. The woman told TVOne that her daughter's face and voice kept appearing in her mind constantly throughout the night.

A couple months ago, I wrote a song called "Sound Of Your Voice" for my next album. I've lost way too many people that I love, including an uncle to cancer a couple years ago and a college friend to suicide last year. My fondest memories of the loved ones I've lost often involve the sound of their voices: they way they laughed, the way they said their trademark jokes and phrases.

A line from the song's first verse: "Silence is waiting, reiterating that life and loss are one."

Somewhere in between the story of the earthquakes and that of Tuesday's killer tsunami, I stopped thinking about my microphone. Sure, I'm bummed about it. But in the grand scheme, it's a pretty nominal thing to lose.

It's as if the server forgot the artichokes on my pizza. Do I love artichokes? You bet. Will I stand up on a table in the middle of the restaurant, rip my shirt, and fling soup spoons at the server? Definitely. Will I drench a hapless onlooker at a nearby table with Cabernet because THEY got artichokes? Of course!

Did that really happen? I probably shouldn't say.

But in the end, artichokes or no artichokes, I can still sleep at night. Even if it's in jail.

Everyone I know has misplaced something at least once. I have a friend who lost a shoe in Vegas somehow, and another who to this day doesn't know where two of her teeth are. I realized recently that I've been keeping the spare set of keys for my car in my car. Not my best work.

And let's not even get into those parents who keep their otherwise healthy children on leashes.

It's tempting to regard trivial loss as more than it is. Microphones can be replaced. Children cannot.

Some questions don't have easy answers.

Reach out to someone who has lost someone or something important. Spend some time with them. Say a prayer, give a hug. Ask them what you can do to help them make it through.

In the midst of loss, help someone gain a lasting friendship.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Rubik's Cube That Could Change The World

I've never written a blog entry from an airplane before. I failed to bring any reading material whatsoever to Vancouver, BC with me. The copy of the Horizon Airlines magazine in the seat in front of me has a soggy, crumb-filled bottom.

Not unlike my great aunt Betty.

So, here I sit, joining some sort of epistolary version of the Mile High Club.

I'm sitting in seat 8D, directly adjacent to the right wing's propellor. Those things are louder than a baby getting circumcised, which could actually be happening somewhere else on the plane for all I know. Fortunately, the props are blocking out the sound of the greasy chick's iPod from across the aisle. The screen says she's rocking out to some Paris Hilton.

The 8-year old kid sitting next to me just finished a Rubik's Cube competition in Vancouver. He got a nineteen-second solve time on a regular cube, and I just watched him solve a 5x5 cube in about three minutes. Pretty amazing. As you might guess, he sports a pocket protector, is a total dork, will die a virgin, and will probably end up making some incredible technological or scientific discovery that will change the world.

Ah, Horizon Airlines. Free Jones Soda and Oktoberfest. Why must your flights be so short?

On my flight up to BC yesterday, I sat next to James Curley, the former CEO of Salomon Sporting Goods and the current president of Portland-based Keen Shoes. He's a super chill guy, and a closet musician himself. He invited me up to his brother's downtown penthouse last night, but unfortunately we were mixing my new single, "Easier Said Than Done," in the studio until after 1 am.

I also almost got invited to party with Taylor Swift. Unfortunately, Kanye ran up and grabbed her phone right as she was about to give me a call.

What is it about the spotlight that people crave? Attention is a good thing; everyone wants to be noticed, and everyone wants to be heard. It's a basic human trait that we all share.

Not all of us are cut out to be the Voice Of Our Generation, though. Not JT. And certainly not Taylor Swift. Who wanted to listen to her genuine, heartfelt acceptance speech at the VMA's anyway?

What is it about celebrities that makes our culture hold their every word, their every viewpoint, in such high regard?

Any idea what the top story on Yahoo.com three days ago was?

Yeah, that's right. 9/11 was three days ago. Probably some tribute to brave Americans, right?

Wrong. This is much bigger than remembrance, much bigger than a couple of silly towers and some dead people.

Paris Hilton's wisdom has been immortalized in the renowned Oxford Book Of Quotations! Her quote? "Dress cute wherever you go, life is too short to blend in."

Don't think for a minute, though, that Paris doesn't know what it's like to suffer, much like the victims of 9/11. In the words of her mega-hit "Jailhouse Baby," there's a crazy world at war, right outside of her front door...like a public enemy...all those lonely nights of terror...

What did Paris have to say about being featured in such a distinguished book alongside the likes of Confucius, Martin Luther King Jr., and Stephen Hawking? "So cool that I have a quote in the dictionary," she wrote. ZOMG, girl, that is, like, so cool, LMFAO!

What's next, Paris for President? At the Palms chilling with a martini. Paris For President. Your commander in bikini!

Fittingly, Oxford opted to print her epic quotation with incorrect punctuation. You guessed it--that should be a semicolon, not a comma, in between clauses.

Why do we as a culture care so much about what pop icons do and say, even pop icons who have reduced themselves to laughingstocks, much like Kanye and Paris? Why do we care so little about people who are doing things that really matter? If it isn't entertainment-related, it gets filtered directly into the Spam folder of our brains.

Someone just auctioned off Paris Hilton's boarding pass from a flight to Fiji for $205.00. What is that lucky buyer going to do with it? Pay their mortgage? Feed their kids? "Put a little more ketchup on it, little Jimmy. No dessert till you're finished!"

Have you heard of Daniel Nocera? Me neither. He's the MIT chemist at the forefront of developing a new method for making hydrogen fuel from water. Within a few years, we could be meeting global energy needs from a few smaller bodies of water.

What about Somaly Mam? She's a Cambodian who escaped from a horrific decade of sexual slavery and torture in a brothel in Phnom Penh. She has started a nonprofit organization that works with police to raid brothels and liberate women from a terrible and unspeakable existence. She has already helped more than 4000 women escape and find their lives again. She's had to endure the kidnap and rape of her own 14-year old daughter by brothel owners bent on
deterring her work.

I'd like to give TIME Magazine mad super-fly props for their issue featuring the 100 most influential people in the world. Rather than filling the pages with Paris and Kanye, they've brought to light the stories of people around the globe who are doing things that truly matter, things that make a tangible difference in the lives of real people. Think those 4,000 former sex slaves would find the words to Kanye's "Therapy" or Paris' "Human Sacrifice" touching?

You know a celebrity or two. You know a hero. That teacher who inspired you to learn. That parent who loves you unconditionally no matter how many times you screamed and slammed your door growing up. That friend who brought you over that mint chocolate chip ice cream when the love of your life broke your heart and let you cry all the tears that you had. People doing things to better our environment, our society, our health, our souls.

Maybe we should listen to what these people have to say.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Falling In Love

I'm falling in love.

But first, some shameless promotion.

I’ll be playing TomFest this Friday. TomFest, in its 14th year, is one of the Northwest’s premier music festivals, and this year’s roster features artists such as As I Lay Dying, Haste The Day, Brian “HEAD” Welch from Korn, and many more. I’m playing on the Flatbed Stage at 3:30 sharp. The Festival is located at the Lacamas Conference Center in Camas, WA.

I’m also playing the following festivals within the next couple months:

Reality Rocks Music Festival (Hillsboro, OR) August 29
Huckleberry Festival (Mt. Hood Village, OR) August 30
Portland VegFest (Portland, OR) September 19
Ellensburg Film Festival (Ellensburg, WA) October 3
Orion Music Festival (Park City, UT) January 14

Visit my MySpace page for a complete tour schedule.

Back to the reason you're reading. I am, indeed, falling in love. Not with a person, not with avocado ice cream (which IS delicious, I might add). No, I'm falling in love with a country. A promised land flowing with poutine and maple syrup. Tim Hortons on every corner. The Great Canadian Oil Change. Extreme Pita. Some of the best mountains on earth. Giggle Creek Mini Golf in Chilliwack. Chilliwackos. Loonies. Toonies. Boonies. What's not to love about Canada, eh?

Recording at Greenhouse has been great. Jeff Johnson and Chris Holmes have been out of their minds so far. Can't wait for you (and myself) to hear the finished product. It's gonna be gelato. Everything up till now will seem like lightly freezer-burned sorbet.

On an interesting sidenote, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, after a dinner of seal meat, misspelled Iqaluit, the capital of the province Nunavut, adding an extra 'u'. Unfortunately, this new spelling means an 'unwiped butt' in the Inuktitut language.

Way to make an ass out of an entire city, sir.

But it doesn't make me love your country any less.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Taylor Swift, Why Are You Stalking Me?

Taylor Swift, why are you stalking me?

I'm playing in Cheyenne this Thursday night. 7 PM. So are you.

I'm playing in Rapid City this Friday night. So are you.

Coincidence? I doubt it.

I had my shows booked first.

So what if I'm the reason for the teardrops on your guitar? Get over it. I'm sorry, but I already have plans for after the show. Don't make this awkward.

For those of you who already have tickets to see Taylor, go have fun. And don't bring me up in conversation with her.

For those of you who don't, I'd love to see you at one of my free shows. Synergy Cafe in Cheyenne, 445 Lounge and Borders Books & Music in Rapid City.
I'll also be making on-air appearances at KIGN 101.9 in Cheyenne and KXMZ 102.7 in Rapid City.

In other news, I went to King Soopers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to buy some shampoo, some conditioner, and some body wash. Yeah, occasionally
I have to stay in some motels that lack amenities. (I won't name any names, but they'll leave the light on for ya. But you probably have to pay extra.) Unless you count a stale bar of soap as an amenity.

In any case, I hit the jackpot: Suave 3 in 1! Bam! It's a shampoo, a conditioner, and a body wash, all in one inexpensive milky blue fluid. Apparently, it also doubles as a motor oil and a baby food.

Disclaimers: I've never made Taylor Swift cry. And, I'm pretty sure she's not actually stalking me. Also, please don't feed Suave 3 in 1 or any other bath products to your infant.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dear Dad..

I can't actually address this blog post to my dad, because I'm pretty sure he never checks my blog.

Also, he's in Romania for a month. This is good and bad news: Bad because I don't actually get to talk to him on Father's Day, but good because I have a little extra time to send something to his home in Michigan and still have him think the gift was on time. I think he's still waiting for last year's Father's Day gift too, but I'm not sure.

I refuse to buy ties for Father's Day. I think the tie industry is being kept afloat year after year by countless thousands of unimaginative American drones who are convinced that their dad wants, even needs, yet another garish American flag tie. You know you're guilty. (It's also kept afloat by cheap slave labor overseas, but I'll save that for another blog post.)

Now, Father's Day ties come with a personal touch. Several online retailers are offering ties with the photo of your choice printed on them. Your picture, his picture, a picture of Ron Jeremy..the choice is yours. Whatever you do, don't send him a tie with a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad on it.

In all seriousness, I've been blessed with a world-class dad. He's one of the most patient, intelligent, funny, wise, faith-filled, well-balanced people I've ever met. We've climbed at least one mountain together every year since I was old enough to carry a backpack (which, in my family, was around the age of fourteen months).

The best thing about my dad is that he never tried to make my decisions for me. He taught me right and wrong through the way he lived.

I admire the way he's always been so real, so transparent.

I've seen him cry when one of our pets died.

I've seen him scream when our brand-new Ping-Pong table flew off the top of our van and smashed onto the pavement of I-80.

I've been demolished by him on the tennis court. He'll still be kicking my butt from a wheelchair in 30 years.

I've seen him, year after year, simply love my mom, my sister, and me in a remarkable way.

Good dads are hard to come by. If you are fortunate enough to have one, make sure he knows it this Father's Day. Do something meaningful for him, something more than buying that necktie.

If there's someone in your life who has been a father figure, who has ably filled in for the dad who wasn't there, I encourage you to do the same for him and let him know that he's made a difference in your life.

In the words of that timeless commercial:

Dad, you're my dad, and I love you man! This blog's for you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spellbound

Why is it that I can't go to a single restaurant without finding some kind of spelling error on the menu?

Tonight, at a fine establishment in Vancouver, WA, I was pleased to find a "Pomagranite Martini" for only $7. Yup, it's made with real bits of igneous rocks, so you know it's good.

There's a well-known and well-liked music venue in Portland named The Guffalo Bap (names have been changed to protect the ignorant) that has a sign on its wall that reads "LIVE MUISIC."

All I'm saying is that if you're a music venue, master the spelling of the word 'music.' No one asked you to spell "didgeridoo."

The inability to spell is widespread. But say 'nay' to the naysayers who would have you believe that it's a phenomenon being propagated by texting and pop culture.

It's long been a scourge blighting our country, right up there with poverty, war, and Texas.

Even the venerable U.S. Constitution contains a few misspelled words. Pennsylvania, for instance, is spelled Pensylvania. You can't just take n's out of words arbitrarily and expect to be viewed as a credible source. I don't want to live in Orego. Sounds like an herb. Would you listen to my music if my name were Jo? What if the second track on my CD were called "It Won't Be Log"? What does that even mean? A prediction of loose stool?

Of course, not everyone is a great speller. That's why God created spell-checking software. If you can't spell, no problem. Find a faceless machine who can. Even Bill Gates himself is famously quoted as saying: "I'm a terrible speller. Fortunately, my musk and good looks have gotten me everywhere."

(Bill Gates never actually said this.)

It's interesting to live in a society where the average schmuck can't spell 'intelligence', but can spell 'Kardashian'.

By the way, do you know what 'schmuck' means in Yiddish? Google it.

Just for the record, I don't judge people for misspelled words in text messages, considering the message was probably sent while driving, going to the bathroom, and reading my blog simultaneously. But when I read a book or magazine that's riddled with mistakes, it tends to lose credibility in my mind. Kind of like when former Vice Presidents insist that torturing people is a good idea. (Yeah, I had to slip at least one political line in this otherwise inane blog post somewhere.)

I think the real problem lies in the name 'spelling bee.' Kids quickly associate these with a cute, fuzzy, yellow-and-black insect. Think Honey Nut Cheerios. Childish. Thus, they lose interest. Why not the 'spelling wasp'? Faster. More dangerous.

It's 4 AM. I climbed Mt. Hood this morning, and I've been up for almost 40 hours straight. I wish I had a really witty closing line. I don't. Deal with it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ignorance: Not Always Bliss.

Swine flu.

It's everywhere.

At least it won't be in Egypt anytime soon. As you've probably heard, the Egyptian government ordered the slaughter of all 300,000 pigs in the country.

Unfortunately, they failed to Google 'swine flu.' Had they, they would've realized that swine flu is currently being transmitted from human to human. You're not gonna get it from swine at this point. Not by eating a pig, dancing with a pig, or even cuddling with a pig a little bit, provided you call them back later in the week.

Ignorance, it seems, is not always bliss, especially for these 300,000 swine, and for the farmers whose livelihood depended on them.

The World Organization for Animal Health says that "
there is no evidence of infection in pigs, nor of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs.'' This hasn't stopped China, Russia, Ukraine, and other nations from banning pork exports from Mexico. Why would you import pork (impork?) from Mexico, anyway? Unless, of course, there are illegal drugs hidden somewhere inside.

Then there's the case of mistaken mushrooms. Several years ago, a Colorado newspaper published photos of Paddy-Straw mushrooms in their Food section, encouraging people to use them in certain recipes. Several of their readers went out and found some Paddy-Straws, ate them, and died. Apparently, the newspaper had mistakenly published photos of the similar-looking, yet highly toxic, Death Cap mushroom. I'm sure the newspaper staff was encouraged, at least, to know that people still read the paper.

I thought about this as I was eating a mushroom rice bowl at Portland's newest high-rise dining establishment, Departure, the other day. These mushrooms were delicious, but the Death Caps probably were, too. At least I hope so: it would suck to have a crappy last meal right before the nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea set in
.

Ever think about the etymology of certain words? Like 'mushroom'. What does it mean? That there's room for mush inside of them? Or is it named after a mythical room to which mothers send their boisterous children to eat their mush when they've misbehaved? Then there's the word 'cockpit.' I don't think I even want to know.

I digress.

The moral of all this is simple: ignorance is not always bliss. Our global society is so quick to take action that we often fail to fully comprehend what's going on. The invasion of Iraq would be a prime example of this, as would the deadly yet FDA-approved drug Ketek from 2005. Sometimes, in a rush to make things right, we end up doing the wrong things.

Let's just hope that the next deadly influenza strain isn't dubbed 'baby flu.'

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fight Cancer. Headbang For Health.

Cancer is a capricious killer.

It holds no regard for age, gender, race, or geographical location.

Practically everyone I know has a loved one who has died of cancer.

My uncle Bob passed away a couple years ago from malignant melanoma that metastasized.

I've had precancerous moles removed from my back.

Sure, we eat our antioxidants, we wear our sunblock, we quit smoking, we even stop re-using plastic bottles, in the hopes that we don't become a statistic. But is that all that we can do?

In 2008, there were 19,230 new cancer cases reported in Oregon alone. 7,450 people in Oregon died of cancer last year. In the US, 565,000 people died from cancer in 2008. To put this in perspective, that's just higher than the population of Portland, and just less than the population of Seattle. That's an astonishing figure.

Let's say Portland gets wiped out this year. Whether through a terrorist attack, through a natural disaster, or through some other means, the entire population of America's 30th largest city is destroyed.

Think that would make the news? You bet.

However, cancer is almost taken for granted. It flies under the radar, a killer to be sure, but one that's accepted as a tragic mainstay of society. We're all immortal until it's our turn.

It's time to do something. Not just for ourselves, but for society as a whole.

The American Cancer Society has been fighting the good fight for years. I love this quote on their website:

"Eleven million cancer survivors will celebrate birthdays this year. That's a sign of progress, proof that a world with more birthdays is possible. Together we'll get well, stay well, find cures, and fight back."

I've been privileged to play at numerous Relay For Life events over the past few years, and dedicated each performance to my uncle Bob. This Wednesday, my band Silversafe and I, as well as Portland indie band Tea For Julie, will be playing a benefit show for the American Cancer Society. The show will be held at Hawthorne Theater, which is located at 3862 SE Hawthorne Blvd in Southeast Portland. Tickets are $8 at the door, and all proceeds from the door as well as from merchandise sales will benefit the American Cancer Society.

This is bigger than music, bigger than entertainment. It's about saving and improving thousands of lives. Sure, you could write a check and put in the mail. I encourage you to do this, too. But here's a chance for you to rock out in the process, to headbang for health. Yes, headbanging is perfectly non-carcinogenic, and the American Chiropractic Association thanks me for promoting it.

I'll also be playing at several other Relay For Life events around Portland this summer, including the June 27 Relay in Oregon City.

This is not an arbitrary cause that I've elected to attach myself to. Another uncle of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer. My grandma is a brain tumor survivor. My sister has already had a cancerous lesion removed from her foot.

For anyone whose lives have felt cancer's icy touch, whether upon themselves or one they love, do something about it! Get involved. Volunteer your time. Participate in events. Donate.
I urge you not to wait around for someone else to make a difference.

As for me, I'll be headbanging. For health. I hope you join me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Water Balloons Over Baghdad?

Yesterday, as I watched some kids run rampant through their lawn in search of those ubiquitous pastel candy-filled Easter eggs, I reached for a bag of Hershey's Kisses. The same candy that was inside the eggs, the same candy the kids were going crazy for. I was a grown-up, though, and I got to eat as much candy as I wanted without even having to look for it.

I got to thinking: when was the last time I hunted for Easter eggs? Was I eight? Nine?

Granted, I've had some fun hiding eggs for various kids over the years. What kid would ever think to look in the toilet? In the litter box? I was just trying to help these kids curtail their sugar intake, after all.

So why don't we adults hunt for Easter eggs anymore? Perhaps the eggs wouldn't meet any need in our life, and the hunt wouldn't fit into our schedule. "If these Easter eggs don't come with 370 HD channels, a lottery ticket, and a weight-loss pill, then I'm not gonna waste my time looking."

What is it about growing older that makes us unable to experience the joy we once found in simple things? Why does everything have to have a reason? When did childish fun lose its appeal? Why don't we adults have pillow fights? Or play freeze tag? Or 'doctor?' Okay, perhaps we still play doctor, but simply call it something else.

Instead, we adults spend our time slaving away at jobs we never wanted, saving up for the vacation that never turns out the way we hoped it would. We fight wars, we fight at home, we fight at work. What if every disagreement were settled with water guns? What if every war were waged with Super Soakers? What if these deranged individuals I can't stop hearing about on the news stormed into churches and retirement homes and schools and office buildings, twin CPS 4100s in hand, and opened fire, simply drenching hordes of innocent people? What if CNN was full of reports of American planes dropping thousands of water balloons upon unsuspecting Baghdad?

If children ruled the world..

I'm not trying to trivialize the world's problems. I'm just saying that maybe if we learned to stop once in awhile, put away our 401k's and our Blackberries, and enjoyed an Easter egg hunt, the world might be a better place.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Life: It's Way Too Short.

Yesterday afternoon, as I headed home through the last gasps of rush-hour traffic on I-84 East in Portland, I popped in a Thrice CD. Yeah, I know. CDs are so 2002, but I haven't caved in to the XM oligarchy yet.

Halfway through rocking out to "Image Of The Invisible," a semi pulled into the fast lane. Into the exact spot that my car had been occupying until I slammed on the brakes and veered onto the shoulder. I stopped on the side of the freeway for a minute to hyperventilate.

At 5:45 AM this morning, I woke up suddenly to a stabbing pain in my chest. I couldn't breathe. I checked my pulse; it was normal. I've lost two family members to heart attacks, so I knew the symptoms, and I knew I wasn't having one.

I grabbed my laptop and went to WebMD.com. 14 seemingly life-threatening conditions matched my symptoms, and I was instructed to call 911.

I didn't.

My mind was full of thoughts of my own mortality. Somehow I knew that this pain would subside, but these two incidents left me thinking about my last day of life. What if this were it? How had I spent my time? Had I made anyone else's life better, or just my own?

Whatever your religious affiliation, or lack thereof, you cannot help but agree that life is precious. At 26, I've already lost six high school and college friends. Three to car accidents, three to suicide. I've been to ten funerals in my life. I tried singing at one of them, but couldn't get through the song without breaking down in tears.

What am I doing with these days and years that I still have?

I don't want to be remembered as just another entertainer, a guy with a good voice who put on a good show.

I want to leave a legacy; to use my time wisely; to contribute to the good of mankind. To have my music make a palpable difference in people's lives. To make them happy, to make them think about what's important. I want to break the cycle of self-gratification and use my talents for other people.

Am I tangibly putting these thoughts into practice? Am I living up to these ideals? Sometimes, but not often. It's so much easier to take the other route. In the words of a song you might recognize: "I can't buy a minute; maybe you'll get it figured out on your own."

I'm determined to deny my lyrics the right to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SXSW 2009: Cliff Note Edition

I spent parts of the last seven days in Austin, Texas, for SXSW 2009. I played four shows, met hundreds of people, went to tens of concerts and parties. A comprehensive blog post would end up being about as long as Ron Jeremy's, uh, career. Instead, I'll just focus on one day: Friday.

Tyler, Mandy and I woke up early for the second day in a row. 9:30 really gets to ya after awhile. We took the bus down to the Four Seasons hotel where the BMI Breakfast was taking place. I'm not even a member of BMI; ASCAP is my PRO, but their breakfast didn't offer free mimosas. We ate with some advertising executives and a couple of pompous, obese attorneys.

I was asked to do a TV interview with ME Television's All Access Live. I was scheduled for 4:30, so I hung around the TV studios all day. ME Television not only provided free drinks, but also live, televised, intimate concerts featuring artists from Kanye West to Portland's own M. Ward. 4:30 rolled around, and suddenly Miguel, the VJ who was slated to interview me, ran out of the room to take a phone call. Metallica's management was on the phone. My interview had to be pushed back to 5:45. I can think of worse things than getting your TV interview bumped for Metallica. Maybe next year it'll be the other way around. I did have some friends offer to punk Metallica for taking my slot. Be careful, Mikey. Lars is a pretty bad dude.

In the meantime, I went out to a wine tasting bus that had pulled up, where members of the San Francisco band Scissors For Lefty, who just got off a tour with Smashing Pumpkins, were holding an impromptu jam session. I chipped in with an acoustic version of "To Forget."

Friday night found me at the Vintage Lounge, one of Austin's most upscale venues. Tyler and Simon from The Slants rounded out my band, and we rocked that classy house. After my set, we stuck around for The Massacoustics, a two-piece pop band from Boston featuring one guy playing both drums and bass simultaneously, as well as patting his head and rubbing his stomach.

All in all, my first SXSW was a memorable experience. From Sammy Hagar to Lone Star to Zone Bars to Peter, Bjorn and John, it's definitely a week neither I nor my liver will soon forget.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Tour Days 13 & 14: Spokane & Eugene

As I write this, I'm sitting in Denver International Airport, on my way to Austin to play four shows at SXSW. I'm staring out at a beautiful sunset juxtaposed with the barren landscape of eastern Colorado, and something about this view is stirring my soul. It's just a small glimpse of peace amidst these nonstop last few weeks.

DAY 13

Last Friday, I woke up early to drive to Spokane for a photoshoot. Spencer of Dummy Boy Records Dummy Boy Records set me up with Patrick Brown-Hayes, a photography and design guru, to take the pictures. I received a touch of eye makeup courtesy of Leah at Nordstrom, and we were ready to go. During the course of the shoot, I changed outfits several times, and Pat, for comedic effect or blackmail, kept shooting. If and when these pictures surface on the internet, I'd like to make it clear that I am not responsible for their content. Except for the one on the bridge over Spokane Falls.

That night, I played a show at Mootsy's downtown. The show was booked last-minute and as a result wasn't afforded a lot of promotion; nevertheless, I played for an hour and then hit the road for Portland.

At 3 AM, I had to pull over and take a nap at a rest area somewhere on I-84. At 4:30 AM, I ate an Egg McMuffin for the first time in ten years. If it weren't for ketchup, no one would order those rubbery things.

DAY 14

Ah, day 14. Saturday found me driving the last of the 5300 miles of my spring tour to Eugene to play at Luckey's. Played some pool before the show, and was reminded of why I'm not a professional pool player.

My boys in The Misery Science played after me. These guys will be playing a stripped-down acoustic set with me at Macadam's in Portland March 28. Check 'em.

My flight to Austin is boarding. I gotta cut this one short. Truncate it. Castrate it. Amputate it.

I'll write more from SXSW!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Tour Days 11 & 12: Billings and Bozeman




DAY 11

There's not a lot going on between Rapid City and Billings, Montana. There's snow, for one. You'll also find Gillette, Wyoming, or the Razor City as its seventeen residents affectionately call it. I stopped there for a quick car wash to get the mud off of my undercarriage. Chicks generally don't dig soiled undercarriages.

You'll also encounter a slew of billboards. My favorite one was for a local auto body shop. Underneath the name of the shop, which I can't remember, was the following: "24 HOUR TOE SERVICE." I can only hope that this was a misprint, although who knows what kind of freaky fetishes these northeast Wyoming residents get into to pass the time during those desolate winter months. Honestly, after weeks on the road, my toes could've used a good servicing. Don't judge me! Unfortunately, I was running behind schedule.

After an interview with KPLN 106.7 FM The Planet, Billings' top AC station, I headed to Bones Brewing, a year-old venue boasting a great stage and a dinosaur theme, including beer taps with velociraptor claws on them. I played for an hour, then ended up going out to a dive bar with some fans I'd just met. This dive, the 90 Club, had a bartender named Jesus. Unfortunately for the 90 Club's liquor costs, this Jesus wasn't able to turn water into, well, much of anything. He was a pretty nice guy, though, but the advantage still goes to my man JC.

DAY 12

Rapid City, Billings, Bozeman.

Everywhere I went, people would tell me how it had just been sixty degrees a couple days prior, and how the 12-degree weather shouldn't scare me out of coming back. In Bozeman, the thermometer finally rose above the freezing point. It's funny how on a day that's warmer than the days preceding it, people will do warm-weather stuff, even when it's still 45 degrees out. All of Bozeman's bikers, skaters, and joggers wearing those short, swishy shorts came out to play.
45 degrees is not warm enough to justify those shorts. Come to think of it, no temperature is warm enough to justify those shorts.

I stopped in at the studios of 95.1 KMMS The Moose, Bozeman's premier adult rock station, for an interview with the esteemed Kim Rossi. I ended up playing "Going Home" live on the air, and did about a fifteen-minute interview with Kim. I didn't even swear. You're welcome, FCC.

Kim was awesome. She regaled me with tales of the famous people that had graced her studio, including Hootie, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and more. Her wall was laden with autographs of famous musicians, and she offered to let me sign it. You know you've arrived when you start signing walls. We talked for a few minutes more, and I took off. Unfortunately, I forgot to sign the wall! Kim, if you're reading this, forge my signature, please! It's just a bunch of squiggles with a dot on top towards the right.

After kicking it at the Leaf & Bean and browsing a 25 cent T-shirt bin at a thrift shop, I ended up hitting up the Bozeman Mall to buy some T-shirts. Rockstars don't do laundry; they buy new shirts. Or just don't wear them at all. Anthony Kiedis, if only you could get that guy from Bowling For Soup to follow your lead.

Thursday night found me at the Filling Station, opening for hardworking local band Ten Foot Tall and 80 Proof. After discussing the relative merits of taking a mannequin on the road with you as opposed to an actual roadie with Ten Foot Tall's frontman Kris Clone, I took the stage and played my little heart out. Ten Foot Tall played an energetic set, blending country and classic rock sounds seamlessly.

I had a hotel room waiting for me in Missoula. I got to it around 4:30 AM.





Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring Tour Days 9 & 10: Winona, MN and Rapid City, SD



Why does the change in Daylight Savings Time always happen on the most inopportune evenings? I think that we should just keep on gaining an hour twice a year, and never lose one, until our noon becomes midnight and our society is plunged into a swirling cesspool of confusion, misscheduling, and ruin.

In any case, I arrived in the bustling town of Caledonia, MN, around 2 AM after a day of driving on three hours' sleep. I crashed on the couch of Amanda, a fan I'd never met. Kudos to her for opening her home to me, and for grabbing friends and driving an hour to make it to my show the following evening. No kudos to her cat, who was in heat. Her yowling woke me up at 5 am. I threw a shoe at her, and missed. Not one to miss a golden opportunity, she proceeded to hump the shoe and caterwaul even louder.

DAY 9

I woke up early on Monday morning to drive to Decorah, IA, to the studios of 100.5 KDEC to record an ArtistDirect program with Jeni Grouws. The program is slated to air March 20 at 8:15 AM CST. Not only is Jeni the station manager, but she's a DJ and a talented musician. She also took me to lunch and tricked me into letting her pay. Support KDEC, folks. Their people rock, and they might even buy you lunch. But let's keep it nice and altruistic.

I stayed to chat a little too long, and found myself running late for my next radio interview in Winona, MN. My GPS unit thought it would be funny to take me on twenty miles of dirt roads. Dirt is the new asphalt, though, so I was hitting corners at sixty MPH. There wasn't a speed limit posted. Come to think of it, there weren't any signs at all.

Coming around one particularly sharp corner, I was surprised to see none other than an Amish guy and his buggy. He was a little more surprised to see me, though; I had airbags, and he didn't. Unless he'd recently been on an episode of Pimp My Buggy and gotten that thing tricked out. Wouldn't that be pimp? Lower it down, get some spinners, put a hood ornament on your horse.. Too bad nobody in his family would have been able to watch the episode.

Thankfully, we missed each other. The horse reared up a bit, and I swerved off the road. No harm, no foul. I wasn't looking forward to picking beard out of my grill. Although from what I hear (ok, maybe from what I saw in the movie Sex Drive), the Amish are so nice that he probably would've picked it out for me before being carried by four strapping young lads to the hospital.

I arrived at the studios of KAGE 95.3 FM in Winona only about five minutes late. Did an on-air interview with DJ Steve Walker, and grabbed my guitar and played "Going Home" and "Moribund Refrain" unplugged on-air. Steve is a hilarious guy who is more knowledgeable about a wide variety of music than pretty much anyone except for perhaps Weird Al.

Monday night, I played at the Draught Haus in Winona. First, I slept on a futon in a back room for an hour, then played three hours of music for everyone's aural pleasure. Dan, a fan who had chosen to spend his birthday at my show, got sung to and later joined me on stage for an impromptu rendition of Tonic's "If You Could Only See." Met some great people, and practically sold out of my women's merchandise.

DAY 10

I'm not gonna lie: Day 10 was rough. What should've been eight hours of driving alone turned into eleven due to a freak Minnesota ice storm. I guess no amount of cold weather is 'freak' in Minnesota, but in any case, traffic on I-90 westbound slowed to a crawl. To make matters worse, I couldn't find my case of CDs, so I was forced to listen to either the sound of my own voice or old-school country stations playing their typical Tuesday afternoon "Best of Charlie Daniels Hour" shows.

I had a lot of time to think. What makes me want to drive eleven hours alone to play in Rapid City, SD? What good is it going to do me, my career, or anyone? Of course, I already knew the answer to my own question: playing music is what I love doing most, and every rose has its thorn. (Those would make great song lyrics!) The musician's lifestyle is definitely not always one big, glamourous party. That's not what I'm about, anyway. My goal is simply to write and sing music from my heart that makes people think, smile, cry, love.

I made it to the 445 Lounge in Rapid City a half hour after the show was supposed to start. After loading in my entire PA in subzero temperatures, I had to run my hands under warm water for a few before I could even play. The weather kept a lot of fans at home, but though the crowd wasn't huge, they were awesome. Arguably some of the nicest people I'd met the entire tour. Plenty of girly raspberry and peach flavored shots to go around. Tastes like estrogen! Gary, the hardworking manager/promoter, took me on a scenic late-night tour of the city after the show, and then put me up in the Radisson Hotel. I ate some carrots and called it a night around 3:30 AM.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring Tour Days 5, 6, 7 and 8: Des Moines, Chicago, and Michigan



Yes, I'm fully aware that I've been slacking on blogging. However, with all the time I've saved, I'm pleased to announce that my hair has been looking AMAZING.

Actually, I've been pretty much driving five hours a day, doing a radio interview every afternoon, and then playing a show every night. No excuses, though. It just seems that whenever I type while driving, the quality of one of the two activities tends to suffer.

Day 5 was supposed to be a driving day. Yes, Krista Herring, I play a lot of shows in the town of "Driving Day." Dinnertime found us in Des Moines, Iowa, craving some sushi. We Googled "sushi in Des Moines" and found Appare. We started talking to the Chris, the bartender, and found out that he was having a few musician friends come in for an acoustic jam later that evening. The promise of unlimited sake bombs bribed us into staying. I just happened to have a full PA in the back of my SUV. Everyone couldn't have been nicer! Ken, the manager, even broke out a couple songs of his own. It was a much-needed, low-key respite from the pressure of constant PR. We crashed at Chris' place, watched some Family Guy, slept a couple hours, and hit the road at 8 am.

Thursday night found me at The Spot. This place lived up to its name: fine dining, an upstairs bar, pool, and live music, courtesy of me. Great crowd, great times. I had fans drive three hours to see this show. I could've pointed out that I'd driven six to get there. But hey, I was getting paid to sing, not complain. I'm still looking for a job opportunity that will pay me to complain.

Friday and Saturday, I played at Andrews University, my alma mater. Friday night, after a live interview with CM Radio, I played a few songs at Fusion in front of almost a thousand people. Crashed with my parents. They didn't even make me take out the garbage. How things have changed.

Saturday, I kicked it with my college friends Matt and Leah, who had driven down from Lansing for the show. Shared the bill with a couple of talented local musicians, Michaela Lawrence and Jaci and Andrew Perrin. Saw some old friends, made some new fans. It's still great to sing and have my parents in the audience. It's also great that they're not the only ones in the audience anymore. :)

I apologize for not providing the amount of detail you've come to expect and demand from my blog posts. My memory is hazy. It's been 5 days, 1,493 miles, and one close encounter with an Amish guy since Saturday night.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring Tour Days 3 & 4: Cheyenne & Kearney







DAY 3

Wyoming is a pretty big state. Crazy to think that its biggest city, Cheyenne, is smaller than Gresham, the suburb of Portland that I call home. No disrespect intended, though. What other state boasts Devil's Postpile, the Grand Tetons, and a one-to-one antelope-to-cowboy ratio? None, that's who.

While on the road, Mandy ate her first kumquat.

After six and a half hours of pure, unadulterated Wyoming, Mandy and I arrived in Cheyenne. I made a quick stop at the 101.9 KING FM studios downtown to say hey to Grateful Mike and Hot Rodd Todd, the DJs who had aired a Jon Davidson interview the day before. They'd also been busy spinning my record and plugging my show. I said hello to Cheyenne on-air right before they played "Sunrise" again. People of Cheyenne, listen to 101.9 KING FM or we will brawl.

I didn't know what to expect from a Monday night show in Cheyenne, but the show at Scooter's more than exceeded my expectations. It's all about the people, man. Upon arrival, I realized that my mic stand was broken. A guy in the audience, Kevin, pulled out his cell phone and started making calls. "We don't have a Guitar Center, but Wal-Mart sells everything," he explained.

Grateful Mike and Hot Rodd Todd even brought their bad selves down to the show. Those guys are hilarious.

Towards the end of the night, I was joined on stage by my first ever pool stick backing band. These two guys rocked these pool sticks harder than the world has ever seen. They swore they'd make the drive to Kearney to do it all over again tonight. I'm not trying to doubt their committment, but I'm not holding my breath.

What would a trip to Cheyenne be without the drunk guy yelling something about how his only Portland experience involved him burning his lips on a crack pipe?

Around midnight, we packed it up and headed to our hotel room in Fort Collins. Cheyenne, I'll be back. Y'all rock.

DAY 4

After five grueling hours of cow-stench, we arrived at The Roman in Kearney. Cool venue, but no mandatory toga policy. Disappointing.

I shared the stage with Ryan O'Connor, a local hip-hop artist, and his band The Beat Continuum Project. Organic, acoustic hip-hop. Great stuff. We even did an impromptu collab on a couple of Incubus covers at the end of the show. Not the biggest crowd, but a reality check: it's a Tuesday night in small-town Nebraska. Ryan put us up at his place, and went the extra mile to make sure we felt at home.

Chicago bound, baby! I'm loving this wireless nationwide web access; I'm writing this blog post from I-80 eastbound in Iowa. So much is going on: trying to get everything in line for SXSW, still setting up radio appearances as I go (Mandy just scored me one in Decorah, IA, on the return leg of the tour), and taking care of getting some stickers and download cards printed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring Tour Days 1 & 2: Boise & Pocatello


Boise has quickly become one of my favorite cities to play in. Its growing, eclectic music scene reminds me of Portland's in a lot of ways. Plus, my favorite serpent, Rose, calls Boise home.

Upon arrival at our friend Geri's house Thursday night, though, I was saddened to find that Rose had shed. Not just one big, sleek snakeskin, the kind you mount above the fireplace, but small, dangling peelings. It looked like she'd been left out in the sun for too long. Snakes and sun don't mix; don't believe what you see on that there silly Discovery Channel. This snake could've used a healthy coat of Banana Boat.

You're saying you never mounted snakeskins?

Friday, I made an in-store appearance at one of Boise's four Hastings entertainment superstores, where my CD is for sale. Store manager Don went above and beyond: helped us load and unload gear, hooked me up with a discount on some necklaces, and let me spraypaint my name and website all over the store's sign. Well, two out of three ain't bad.

That evening, I played at The Bouquet in downtown Boise. Shared the bill with a great local band, Soul Serene. My boy Brock showed up with a swarthy beard, and told me a heroic tale of how his beard had literally saved an infant's life. After a little shakin' it at Neurolux, we called it a night.

Saturday morning, Mandy and I hit the road for Pocatello. I made an in-store appearance at the locally owned Budget Tapes and Records at 4 PM. Props to a new fan, Gina, for coming out and bringing people even though she was deathly ill with the plague. Saturday night, I played at Portneuf Valley Brewery. Great crowd, great brews, great staff. A gentleman bought my CD before I even started playing. He didn't even try to get his money back after the show was over! Great success. Turns out, his name is Greg, and he's not only a fellow musician but also an aspiring guitar builder. Generally, people named Greg rock. Except for you, Greg Scott. You know what you did.

En route to Salt Lake City after the show, I found out that "Going Home" was the song of the week on the Second Shift with Alan Kabel on Portland's top country station, 99.5 The Wolf. Several fans just wrote me and said I should go the Keith Urban route. I get rock airplay on stations in 42 states, but one country station plays me and everyone thinks I should make a drastic career change. So, I'm doing it. "Beautifully Bittersweet" will now be called "Beautiful Buckwheat Pancakes," and I'll just add a "Till I Get My New Tractor" to the end of the title of "It Won't Be Long". Any other song suggestions?



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'd Be Paris Hilton.

If I had an STD for every time someone hears my name and says, "Oh yeah, you have the same name as John Davidson that I grew up watching on TV," I'd be Paris Hilton. Yes, I've heard of him. Yes, though a musician, I'm not primarily a drummer, and thus I've mustered the brain cells to deduce that even though our first names are an "H" apart, they are essentially the same name. Did I pick my own name? No. Should I adopt a stage name? Since my first choice, Circling A Rotten Corpse, has already been taken by a band in Iowa, I'm left with a bunch of second-rate options. I'll stick with what I've got, thanks. People Of The 70's, I apologize for the confusion.

There's also a kind-looking gentleman named Jon Davidson who is very concerned with your health, and you can learn more about him and spirulina at jondavidson.com.

Reminds me of when I used to be nonplussed when strangers would tell me that I look like Matt Damon. This all turned around for me one day when, blithely waiting in a checkout line at Safeway, I glanced at the cover of People. Matt Damon, it turns out, had just been crowned "Sexiest Man Alive." On that day, in that inauspicious grocery store, I learned to embrace the comparisons.

Truth be told, it's late, and I'm tired. No one is world-class sexy at 2:30 AM after staring at a computer screen for hours. I've been working pretty much day and night tying up loose ends for my upcoming tour. Two days till showtime.

I know I haven't blogged in awhile, and for those of you who use my blogs as bathroom reading material, the long wait is over. Make yourselves comfortable.

I'm really looking forward to my Boise show this Friday. Fact: Boise has become one of my favorite towns to play in, and I'm especially looking forward to seeing Rose, my favorite reptile. I'll be doing an in-store appearance at a Hastings on Boise Ave. and then playing at The Bouquet at 9 PM.

In other news, I've broken into the Country format here in Portland, OR!
The Wolf, KWJJ 99.5 FM, Portland's top country station, has recently added "Going Home" to their rotation. I've now been played on the largest hard rock, largest alternative, largest college, and largest country stations in town. I don't know of any other artists that are hitting all these formats. If you know of any others, don't tell me. I want to feel special, dang it. Thanks to Demetri at 99.
5 for making it happen.

My singles are still spinning and charting at stations in 38 states and provinces, including #1 again last week at WUMM 90.5 in Machias, ME, and #23 at WYBF 89.1 The Burn in Radnor, PA.


I've also secured four slots at SXSW and its adjacent festivals. Check my MySpace page for all the juicy details. Oh, so juicy.

I'll attempt to post blogs for each show of my upcoming tour like I did for my CD release tour in October. No promises, folks, but I'll do my best. Check my schedule.
Come to a show. Do something memorable (but not criminal). Get a mention in my blog.

Rock!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Now Playing On Stations In 37 States & Provinces!


More and more stations are jumping on the Jon Davidson bandwagon!

What's the etymology of the term 'bandwagon,' anyway? These days, bands have tour buses, not little red Radio Flyers. The moral of this story, I think, is that it would've sucked to be a rockstar back in the 18th century, between the band wagons, the lack of electricity, and the ridiculous man-skirts. No thanks.

I digress. As usual.

In any case, my latest CMJ radio report is in, and my singles "Beautifully Bittersweet," "Going Home," and "Hermit Crab" are now playing on radio stations in 37 US states and Canadian provinces!

I'd like to give a shout out to the stations that have really gotten behind my music.
I charted at #3 on the Radio 200 chart last week on KNWD 91.7 in Nachitoches, LA! I'm charting at #28 on WAIH 90.3 in Potsdam, NY, #28 on WLOY 1620 AM in Baltimore, MD, and #23 on WIIT 88.9 in Chicago, IL.

I'm charting at #1 on the Radio 200 chart at WUMM 90.5 in Machias, ME!

CILU 102.7, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has my music in heavy rotation, as do WKKL 90.7 in West Barnstable, MA, WUTS 91.3 in Sewanee, TN, and WSUP in Platteville, WI.

Here's a comprehensive list of stations spinning my music right now. Scroll down and find one near you, and call in and request my music! Thank you so much for your support. You are my metaphorical jockstrap.

ALASKA

KHNS 102.3 and 91.9 Haines, AK 907.766.2020

ARKANSAS

KCAC 89.5 East Camden, AR

CALIFORNIA

KCRH 89.9 Hayward, CA

KGAR 93.3 Lemoore, CA

KSSU 1580 AM Sacramento, CA

WPMD 1700 AM Norwalk, CA 562.860.2451 Ext. 2628

KYHY 92.5 Burbank, CA

COLORADO

KDNK 88.1 Carbondale, CO 970.963.0139

KOTO 105.5 Telluride, CO 970.728.4333

KURA 98.9 Ouray, CO

KVDU Denver, CO 303.871.2451

KSRX 93.9 Greeley, CO

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

WGTB 92.3 Washington, DC 202.687.WGTB

WVAU 101.7 Washington, DC

FLORIDA

WBUL 1620 AM Tampa, FL 813.974.WBUL

WKPX 88.5 Sunrise, FL

HAWAII

KKCR 92.7 Hanalei, HI 808.826.7771

IDAHO

KBSU 90.3 Boise, ID

ILLINOIS

WAUG 97.9 Rock Island, IL 309.794.7512

WIIT 88.9 Chicago, IL 312.567.3088

WLCA 89.9 Godfrey, IL

WLTL 88.1 La Grange, IL 708.482.9585

WMCR Monmouth, IL

WMXM 88.9 Lake Forest, IL

WRSE 88.7 Elmhurst, IL

WUIC Chicago, IL 312.413.2191

INDIANA

WBKE 89.5 North Manchester, IN

WCYT 91.1 Fort Wayne, IN 260.431.2911

WISU 89.7 Terre Haute, IN 812.237.FM90

IOWA

KALA 105.5 Davenport, IA 563.333.6216

KLCR Dubuque, IA

KUNI 90.9 Cedar Falls, IA

KWAR 89.9 Waverly, IA 319.352.8306

KWLC 1240 AM Decorah, IA 563.387.1240

LOUISIANA

KNSU 91.5 Thibodaux, LA 985.448.KNSU

KNWD 91.7 Natchitoches, LA 318.357.5693

KLPI 89.1 Ruston, LA 318.257.3689

KRVS 88.7 Lafayette, LA 337.482.5787

MANITOBA

CJUM 101.5 Winnipeg, MB
204.269.8636

MASSACHUSETTS

WTBU 89.3 Boston, MA 617.353.6400

WCHC 88.1 Worcester, MA 508.793.2474

WKKL 90.7 West Barnstable, MA 508.375.4030

WSCW 94.9 Worcester, MA 508.929.8512

MAINE

WHSN 89.3 Bangor, ME 207.941.7116

WMEB 91.9 Orono, ME 207.581.BEEF

WMPG 104.1 Portland, ME 207.780.4909

WUMM 90.5 Machias, ME

WUMF 100.1 Farmington, ME 207.778.7353

MARYLAND

WLOY 1620 AM Baltimore, MD 410.617.5313

MICHIGAN

WHFR 89.3 Dearborn, MI 313.845.9676

WPHS 89.1 Warren, MI

WSDP 88.1 Canton, MI

MINNESOTA

KAGE 95.3 Winona, MN 800.584.6782

KFAI 90.3 Minneapolis, MN 612.341.0980

KMSU 89.7 Mankato, MN

KFAI 106.7 St. Paul, MN 612.341.0980

MISSISSIPPI

WUSM 88.5 Hattiesburg, MS 601.266.9876

MISSOURI

KMNR 89.7 Rolla, MO 573.341.4272

MONTANA

KDWG 90.9 Dillon, MT

NEWFOUNDLAND

CHMR 93.5 St. Johns NF 709.737.7935

NEW JERSEY

WPSC 88.7 Wayne, NJ 973.720.2738

NEW YORK

WAIH 90.3 Potsdam, NY 315.267.2511

WDWN 89.1 Auburn, NY 315.253.0449

WEOS 89.7 Geneva, NY

WFNY Farmingdale, NY

WKWZ 88.5 Svosset, NY

WMVL 88.1 Purchase, NY 914.323.3204

WSIA 88.9 Staten Island, NY 718.982.3060

WSJU Jamaica, NY 718.990.6126

WDYN 100.1 Rochester, NY 585.621.6270

WNYU 89.1 New York, NY 212.998.1818

OHIO

WCBE 90.5 Columbus, OH 614.821.9223

WDUB 91.1 Granville, OH 740.587.9382

OKLAHOMA

KRSC 91.3 Claremore, OK

KXZY Stillwater, OK 405.744.8274

ONTARIO

CILU 102.7 Thunder Bay, ON 807.343.8881

OREGON

KUFO 101.1 Portland, OR 800.344.KUFO

KNRK 94.7 Portland, OR 800.777.0947

KRXF 92.7 Bend, OR

KDUP 1580 AM Portland, OR 503-943-7121

KEOL 91.7 La Grande, OR 541.962.3333

KMHC Gresham, OR

KPSU 1450 AM Portland, OR 503.725.5945

KWVA 88.1 Eugene, OR 541.346.0645

PENNSYLVANIA

WARC 90.3 Meadville, PA 814.332.5275

WCUC 91.7 Clarion, PA

WEXP 1600 AM Philadelphia, PA 215.951.1369

WMUH 91.7 Allentown, PA

WQHS 730 AM Philadelphia, PA 215.898.3500

WPPJ 670 AM Pittsburgh, PA

WRKC 88.5 Wilkes-Barre, PA

WSFX 105.5 Nanticoke, PA 570.740.0635

WSYC 88.7 Shippensburg, PA 717.477.1480

WYBF 89.1 Radnor, PA 610.902.8453

WVMM 90.7 Grantham, PA 717.796.5351

WXVU 89.1 Villanova, PA

RHODE ISLAND

WXIN 90.7 Providence, RI

SOUTH CAROLINA

WSBF 88.1 Clemson, SC 864.656.WSBF

TENNESSEE

WUTS 91.3 Sewanee, TN

TEXAS

KSAU 90.1 Nacogdoches, TX 936.468.4000

KSYM 90.1 San Antonio, TX 210.486.KSYM

KTRL 100.7 Stephenville, TX

KTSW 89.9 San Marcos, TX 512.245.3485

KUIW San Antonio, TX 210.805.KUIW

UTAH

KWCR 88.1 Ogden, UT

VIRGINIA

WMLU 91.3 Farmville, VA 434.395.2475

WASHINGTON

KSUB 89.1 Seattle, WA

KAOS 89.3 Olympia, WA 360.867.KAOS

WISCOSIN

KUWS 91.3 Superior, WI 800.300.8530

WSRI 96.7 Eau Claire, WI

WSUP Platteville, WI 608.342.1291

WFRW 88.7 River Falls, WI

WWSP Stevens Point, WI 715.346.2696


If you listen to a station that isn't playing me, and you'd like them to be, contact their music or program director and pass my name along.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Guy Fell Off The Stage (And Other Tales Of The 2009 PMAs)




I attended the 2009 Portland Music Awards last night. Held at Portland's legendary Crystal Ballroom, the PMAs, fashioned after the Grammy Awards, highlight the best in local talent.

Outside the Crystal, I did a couple interviews, even admitting that I was a PMA virgin on camera. I was assured that the first time is always the best.

While I was on camera, my friends kept grabbing at me. For a minute, I thought they were excited to be touching a local celebrity. I soon found out that I was holding all their tickets, and they were freezing. What's it take for a guy to get his ego stroked around here?

The ceremony lasted for just over two hours, and featured numerous live performances punctuated by local celebrities' presentation of the awards themselves.

Once again, I was awed at the amount of talented musicians that Portland boasts. From the arena rock of Floater to Mel Brown's legendary jazz beats and everything in between, I was reminded again of why I'm so proud to be a part of the Portland music scene.
That's a picture of Floater up there.

As many of you know, I was nominated for the Best Male Artist Of The Year award. Keegan Smith deservedly won the award. Aninside source told me that I'd finished second in the voting and given Keegan a run for his money.

I'd like to give a round of e-plause to all of this year's winners and nominees, and congratulate Portland for being "America's best-kept secret," as Mel Brown put it. I've played in 35 states and almost every major metropolitan area in the US, and never encountered a music scene quite as rich and diverse as Portland's. My apologies to those two folk singers reading this in the little town of Eau Claire, MI, where I grew up. You have angelic voices, and all six of your teeth are beautiful.

I digress. The highlight of the evening was clearly when a local TV personality fell off the stage. I mean, this guy literally just ate some floor off of stage right. It was awesome. Be sure to check out the show on Comcast On Demand when it becomes available, if only for this.

I live for that stuff.

Thanks again to everyone who voted, and to everyone who worked hard to make the second edition of the PMAs bigger and better than the first.

In non-PMA-related news, my music is being featured on this week's DarkCompass podcast. Since 2004, DarkCompass has been one of the UK's top indie music podcasts. Show them some love. Or I will fight you.


I also charted at #23 on WIIT 88.9's Radio 200 chart this week! If you're in the Chicago area, feel free to request some Jon Davidson by emailing the Music Director at md.wiit@iit.edu or by calling the station at 312.567.3088. Or by picketing outside the studio with giant cut-out Jon Davidson head signs.

I'm playing in Bellingham this Saturday night. Green Frog. 902 N State St. 9 PM. I'm also going to Temperedcast's CD release show at the Showbox Market in Seattle tonight. 7 PM.
Why? Because they rock.






Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's Business Time.

What have I been up to?

I would hate for the answers to that question to bore you. Business time, that' s what time it is. I'm down to just my socks; that's why they call them business socks. It's business time.

This blog post is strictly business-related. To keep it from getting stale, I will utilize an old fortune-cookie reading technique.

More and more radio stations are spinning my music! This week, my music was added to the rotation at WAIH 90.3 FM in Potsdam, NY. Call (315)267.2511 to request me. In bed.

My music was also added by WUMM 90.5 and 90.7 FM in Machias, Maine. I charted at #1, ahead of some artists you may have heard of, like Maroon 5. Call (207)255.1371 to request some Jon Davidson!

Two weeks ago, I signed a management and booking deal with The Show Media. Joe Gingerella, my new booking agent and manager, has worked with such artists as Blink 182 and Alien Ant Farm. In bed.

Joe has already landed me two performance slots at SXSW, one of the nation's largest music festivals, on March 20 and 21. The festival and conference is located in Austin, TX. I'll be playing solo. In bed.

Somehow, that seemed a lot funnier when I was in high school. Grow up, Davidson.

I also signed a non-exclusive contract with Future Shock Records for the release of a remix of "Hermit Crab," remixed by Spain's Iris Dee Jay. You can hear the remix on her MySpace page! Give this chick some props. She rocks!

I ALSO signed a five-song publishing deal with Dummy Boy Publishing, LLC. They chose to publish "Beautifully Bittersweet," "It Won't Be Long," "Hermit Crab," "What Can I Say," and "Sunrise."

Thanks for reading, listening, and supporting. Stay classy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm In Love With A Python, And Other Stories




I'm in love with a python named Rose.

There, I said it. I ain't skerred.

She slithers, she sheds her skin like a tube sock. What's not to love? Plus, she's the perfect accessory to many outfits. With scales of tan, black, and brown, it's easy to throw her around your neck for that finishing touch. Where do you think the name 'boa' came from, anyway?

I met Rose while on tour in Boise, ID, this last weekend. Geri Lynn, a friend/fan/hairstylist extraordinaire who graciously let us crash at her place, calls Rose her own.

I'd never really held a snake before. I think I might have pet one or two at those dumb petting zoos that your parents take you to as a child. You can stick your hand through a hole and pet a goat, but all you really want to do is grab it by the horns and take it for a wild joyride on the icy back roads of Michigan. No? You never wanted to do that? I was a weird kid.

After my show at the Terrapin Station on Friday, and after a little dancing at Tom Grainey's, it was all Rose from then on out.

I need a snake. The only deterrent, for me, is having to feed those poor little hapless mice to it. Not only do I feel bad for the mouse, but it's kind of emasculating to tell a snake that that's the biggest thing it's capable of taking on. Something bigger, like a sloth, might be more of a challenge.

Enough snake talk. This last mini-tour rocked. Wednesday found me in Spokane, WA, at Empyrean, sharing a bill with Shane Evans and Bridget Vogel, two incredible acoustic musicians.

Thursday morning, after a long, sleepless night, I headed over to the studios of 103.1 KCDA to tape a show for the Local Lounge with Matt Loi.

Damn, it sucked. Never OD on sleeping pills before going on the radio. I couldn't finish a thought to save JFK's life. Matt Loi is a patient man with a lot of editing to do.

Thursday night, I played in Richland, WA, with local hard rock band Folding In. They played a rocking acoustic set. Think Days Of The New on illegal substances.

While in Richland, I met with Spencer Andrews, president of Dummy Boy Records, who had driven three hours to watch my show. I signed a new management deal, as well as an associated booking deal with The Show Media and Joey Gingerella.

In Boise, Mandy and I both got new 'dos, and devoured some amazing vegan orange 'chicken' at Mai Thai downtown. Then we headed back to Portland.

Goodbye, Rose.

I'll be back in Boise February 27.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Too Many Voices. Not Enough Ears.

It's 2:40 AM.

Usually, I'd be catching my second wind. I think I'm getting old.

Speaking of old, I just noticed that my MySpace blog page states that I am female and 105 years old. I have no idea how to change this. (The fact that I'm an old centenarian hag, that is.)

I'm tired.

Tired in a way that transcends drowsiness. Tired of all the selling.

Everyone is selling something. Usually, it's oneself. It happens on an interpersonal level, every day, in everyone's life. We all want to be noticed, valued, loved. And so we sell ourselves. I'm not talking about selling oneself for money, although you hookers out there will identify with that. I'm talking about proving ourselves, getting people to notice, getting people to buy into what we're trying to be. It happens in the workplace. We sell ourselves, pushing our own agendas to get a raise, a promotion. A lunch break.

I do it too. In this crazy music business, it seems impossible to get ahead without selling yourself, unless you can pay the right people to sell you. All I really want to do is to write and play music, to travel, to meet people. It never turns out to be that simple. In the ever-burgeoning music scene, every artist, every band, is striving to sell themselves on what they have that's different. That's new. That will change your life. A chord, a rhyme, an image, a tattoo, a haircut, an interactive CD/DVD, a downloadable album that you can pick your price for.

There are too many voices, and not enough ears.

But the voices rarely take this into consideration. Instead, they babble on.

I wish I had a million fans, three platinum albums, and the last name "Pickler." I'd even take two out of those three. It's so easy to fall into the trap of wanting more, and to forget to be grateful for the people I know, the shows I've played, the fans who have connected with a lyric I've written. To be grateful for a show in Cave Junction, OR last week, in the middle of nowhere, in a dive bar, that by all of the standards of the industry was a worthless show, but where I met some amazing, giving, hilarious people with stories to tell.

Who am I? I'm a guy with a voice and a guitar. One of tens of thousands of such guys. Millions, maybe. How should I sell myself to separate my voice from the rest? I don't know. I wish I didn't have to figure it out.

I'm tired.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Here's Why You Should Vote For Me For Male Artist Of The Year.


I've compiled a comprehensive list of why you should vote for me for Best Male Artist Of The Year. Here it is.

1. Because I'm your father, and I said so.
2. If you don't vote for me, the terrorists win.
3. Every time you vote for me, God kills a kitten.
4. I am Spartacus.
5. If you don't vote for me, I'll take your mother, Dorothy Mantooth, out for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.
6. Because I would really appreciate it, and the award would be great exposure, a great resume piece and a boost to my career. Plus, I'm really, really ridiculously good looking.

VOTE. THANKS!

Many of you have asked me who else I voted for (and, accordingly, who else they should vote for).
Here's my ballot:

Pioneer Award: Alex Steiniger
Legends Award: Elliot Smith
Album OTY: "Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts" by The Slants
Band OTY: The Slants
Male Artist: Anyone but that Jon Davidson douche
Female Artist: Storm Large
Best New Artist: Acoustic Minds
Best Radio Station: KUFO
Best Large Venue: Roseland
Best Medium Venue: Hawthorne
Best Small Venue: Macadam's
Best Live Performance, Local: Keegan Smith

To be honest, I don't know a lot about local country, world, blues, or jazz music, so as to avoid tainting an otherwise democratic process, I abstained from voting in these categories.

By the way, if you've got some time in my hands, check out my (relatively new) profile on OurStage. "Beautifully Bittersweet" is ranked #37 on the Alt/Rock chart this month. Join my fan club, rate my music and help push me to number 1! I wouldn't mind playing Bumbershoot..

Also, check out my boys in The Slants! They're a Portland-based dance/rock band extraordinaire. Not only should you vote for them for the 2009 PMAs, but you should buy every single piece of merchandise they offer. Or I will fight you.