I wish I could start every month the way I started the month of May, by driving to CT for a solo concert by pianist Philip Aaberg of Montana. Phil co-produced my album Raven in 2011, and we tracked together in his studio out in Chester MT, but amazingly I had yet to see him onstage. This rare east coast concert was at the new Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, a small town (not exactly sleepy but quieter than some) and we got front row seats which made us feel like we were in Phil's living room. We went out after the show with a few of Phil's friends we hadn't met before, including classical music magazine Listen editor Ben Finane, a funny, witty entrepreneurial type from NYC, and the next day were happy when Phil decided to pop up to Vermont, finally getting to step into the physical reality of Pepperbox Studio, the other half of our “bi-coastal” recording environment for Raven.

 

Much of May in the studio has been taken up with an upgrade to Pro Tools 10, along with the installation of a new Universal Audio Apollo interface and the addition of a Manley TNT duo channel preamp. The timing of this? Partly ideal, partly not; I’d been waiting close to a year for the right kind of clearing in my brain, and a break in my schedule, and above all: the courage, to enter into the terrifying and systematic upheaval of rewiring. The only problem was a concurrent collision with the season of spring, like a dog nipping at my heels, and the beginning of my professional gardening season.

 

And so in between crouching on the floor behind my computer and shimmying myself between console and cables, I’ve been sharpening garden tools, loading compost into wheel barrows and lying in the dirt upside down with pruning gear balanced above my head … Work is backing up in the studio where I have mountains for editing and mixing and parts, to do … oh well, life could be worse!

 

On that note, we took The Holy Plow to Rockingham VT a couple nights back, to Barnaby’s Bluegrass Blowout and had the kind of fun we like to have, such as and including cavorting in barns that serve as backstage areas and playing on stages with top notch sound run by talented engineers. What a nice crew: thanks to Chris, Josh, Mike, Kim, Dougie, Jared, Gordon and other great folks whose names I forget, who have now pulled off their third year of a rural festival that is manageable in size as well as exciting and well organized. I think as a band we hit a pretty extraordinary groove, and it made us feel like partying so we did, into the wee hours. 

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