Sample page spread from "Ridgerunner".

Sample page spread from "Ridgerunner'


Under the Stars, Behind the VFW 

 We leaned back against the bumpers of a couple cars, half in , half out of the garage green room of the venue, a warehouse behind the VFW. Railroad tracks, a dozen junked Subarus, mist rising from river to city roof tops to inky stars.

“Is it raining?” Bran said, “ I unloaded 3 bags of stucco and left them by the front door when I left. Shit.”

Teddy leaned over and gently filled my plastic cup again. Damp concrete echoed the shuffle of feet, and music from the opening act spilled out the other end of the…

Read more

Floating Stones 

 It was a sweltering summer’s night, and I found myself sitting under Antonio’s accordion in the dimly lit Cantina, sweaty arms and legs stuck to the padded booth cushion, about to be serenaded.  I had asked for the ‘cheapest red wine you have’ and gotten it and I ‘d done my best not to attract his attention but Mercedes got a notion to stare at him and now we were reaping the consequences.

“Here’s a song you’ll never hear outside the North End of Boston - I learned it from an old man who was a butcher!”…

Read more

Owl Medicine 

Just south of the Chateauguay wilderness there is a hayfield long and narrow in the summer night - a full moon hangs to the south while the dipper shines north. I’m standing on an empty festival stage coiling microphone cables, looking up at a magnificent starry dome. The crowd has left trodden carpets of grass and a silence worth waiting for .

The hollow beyond has swallowed everything. Flaps of canvas ripple on concession tents under the all night glare of strung up light bulbs. A lone worker idly wipes…

Read more

The Last Drop 

After the rock and roll spectacle is over, a caravan of cars heads single file out of town and turns right up the Maple Hill road, red taillights disappearing and reappearing in the blowing snow. Not far from here in the craggy, hawk-haunted hills, my friend Cindy is probably burning the midnight oil with her chocolate brown fiddle, flying through the night on ancient Cape Breton tunes. How many winter nights like this one had I had joined her, settling in next to the wood stove with my guitar, her big…

Read more

Mom Comes Along in the Ford 

I’m in the Ford truck with my mother, having steadied her up into the cab earlier with promises of a typical landscaper’s adventure. We’re idling in a construction zone ten miles into the rural outback, sitting immobilized on one of the few paved roads around. It's time to turn off the engine. We've been aiming south and are just past Wank’s Garage. I’m glad to see he still waves to me, even as he’s made enemies with most folks in town.

Normally I'd be eager to share some gems of village politics with…

Read more

Bringing It Home 

The view from the porch of the Smith’s settled over Jimmy like a song as he puffed at his cigarette, squinting into the late afternoon sun. Here just a few miles east of Crow Peak in Vermont’s northeast Kingdom, autumn was coming early and the threat of frost was stimulating food production in the Smith’s kitchen. After two days of non-stop eating and recording, Jimmy was ready to attempt the guitar solo of his lifetime. Croissants, vegetarian chili, fresh baked bread, potato salad, dilly beans, tomato…

Read more

Raven, Raven 

The thousands of miles I’ve just traversed in my worn out Subaru seem as vast as they are. My drive across Ontario last week, from International Falls to Cornwall, was a whim made up around Bemidji, Minnesota, predicated on my weakness for the allure of lonely, secondary highways going north. The sign said “71” and not only do I like the number seven, but I like going the back way home. The wheel seemed to turn itself to the left, as I left US Route 2 and headed into the Pine Island state forestland. The…

Read more

Riding High on the Dash 

Our current piece of real estate, a polished parquetry floor, is covered: a vast array of  blinking & humming electronics with a heaping side of fine acoustic instruments. Not un-typically, I’m crawling on my hands and knees just about half hidden behind a velvet side curtain, sweaty hands fumbling for guitar picks as elusive as car keys.

So when finally the last pocket yields up my treasure trove and those ten backup .58 mm dusty pink Dunlop flat picks are stuffed safely into my pockets where they’ll…

Read more

The Day Was Still Young 

He hadn’t returned our phone calls, but that sometimes happened when his computer was using the phone line so we decided to just drive over. After 40 minutes navigating the familiar hills and valleys, we turned at the old bridge and wound our way up twisting roads into Tweedville. The whole town seemed perched under a bower of ancient fir trees, just barely holding on to the sides of the raging winter river. But with the addition of colored lights on the trailers and camps, the mood was festive…

Read more

A Night at the Orpheum 

We crossed the Boston Common and got to the Orpheum early enough to stand in line with a sense of ease, enjoying the hum of the city, the balmy evening air and the sociability of the pre-concert crowd. The letter, tucked away in my bag, was quietly giving me a sense of mission. I was different from all the other concertgoers, connected by secret wiring to the heart of the crowds' flesh and blood center.

At our leisure we would go to the front of the line to find complimentary tickets set aside for us. Our…

Read more