June 2010
Bob Rivers, Love Bugs, Lowe's

Spike O'Neill, Bob Rivers and me.


Boy were these guys fun. It was just yesterday morning, but I miss them already. We talked about Miley Cyrus's sudden uber skankiness and whether moms should forbid their twelve year olds from viewing her pole dancing capers. We talked about "push gifts" WHAT? We beat Al Gore's predicament to death....I think I should sing on more talk radio shows. Thank you Bob Rivers!  (you can see the performance at their link)


Yesterday was a beautiful but LONG drive from Seattle to Roseburg. Thank goodness we had the night off. Ummm, and just in case you didn't know? KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS. I mean for goodness sake, there were a lot of really frustrating left lane hoggers. Sheesh.


We stopped for pizza somewhere along the way...


And thank god we still had some of those ridiculously melt-in-your-mouth good truffles to keep us moving.


We saw totally green gas stations with "living roofs" and solar panels.


Carousel horses trying to escape from candy trucks


And when we finally got to our hotel? The coolest lovingest hippies ever were just arriving too. We had to take pictures with their love bug. They said it took them 12 hours from sacramento because they had to stop so often for photo opps! They disappeared, exhausted, to their room before I could bother them again!

Gail decided right then and there, that's what she wants to do. Just get in a love bug and go.


Later last night, we ended up at Lowe's. Always a great after dinner option. We asked "Dara" if there were any cute things.... she showed us the tool belt aisle. Now you're talking.


Stewart Park here we come. I'll be on KQEN around noon, and then later we will bring all the love in our hearts and the songs in our spirits to Roseburg, OREGON.


See you there. 

Right Pants in Portland, if you were there, you know what I mean!

It was truly a gorgeous drive from Bend to Portland. No complaints, PROMISE! No closed passes, no nasty road harshers. And, sadly, no tight panted bicycle men.

It's like there's more AIR in the air here. What the hell? The Oregon high?


I wish this tour were a little longer... we're just getting into our groove!



Last night, Rhiannon, the super lighting master at the Aladdin rocked up a fluttering beating heart for "Love is a Battlefield."


We saw old buddies

PDX Kevin!!


And new...

Jessa from Happy Knits - the most beautiful knitting store I have EVER seen. GO NOW!


I met Jessa and Sarah (the Happy Knits impressario) at the SQUAM ARTS WORKSHOPS. 'Nuff said, we bonded because  were the only ones one night still looking for a party in the woods. I now have a new project for the rest of the long journeys of June! Thanks you guys.

My friend Sara showed up with a perfect little winged creature for me. She reminds me of Jo Ballerina, the little action figure that used to trip around back and forth at the top of the web site. I've been meaning to resurrect her.



LOVE the hair.  (photos Sara Hertel)




So Seattle, you've got competition, you'd better bring it tonight. I know we will!! And we've still got a little chocolate left from the Bend extravaganza. If you're really good, we'll share.

BEND, they don't bite, THEY BIKE!

At Thump coffee, in Bend, Oregon, a local artist did an exhibit a while ago. People were invited to create wish shingles, that were then hung like mobiles from the ceiling of the cafe. When the exhibit was over, apparently people were so upset that they put the shingles back up. Even now, you can sit at the bar and make one while you're having an exquisite quadruple dry cappucino.


I took pix of a few of my fave wishes:

I do feel like I'm in a dreamland, and I don't want to get back into the real world!!



 I think that says "bored" ?


This one broke my heart.


Ummm. I hope that worked out.


I wish everyone loved music as much as I do TOO!


Anyway, BEND was hopping! The local barbershop was having a birdhouse sale


Mrs. Marcelle's school of dance was having their big event.

The National cycling championship was in town. WOWEE! I've never seen so many men in tight pants.


I got to visit with one of my fave deejays, Dori Donaho at Clear 101.7!!

Basically, Bend Oregon is the dreamiest place. Every time I am here it feels like home. The people, the landscape, the pace, the attention to the things that MATTER. My shoulders sink down to where they should be, I walk a little slower, I breathe a little deeper.

Lucky lucky us. We got to play the funnest Hullabulloooo event! Everyone came down. Kids were dancing like there was no tomorrow. Grownups were hanging and just having fun.

Our favorite promoter in the whole world, Cameron Clark rocked us up with the biggest best basket of chocolate and fine wine EVER! His crew is so wonderful, kind, helpful, generous. THANK YOU!

I got MY wish!! US, all of us. Doing what we love most.

Hurricanes, Nasty Airports, Closed Mountain Passes, and one lovely, perfect Alaska Airlines Pilot.

Yesterday, Goffrey and Rich and I left New York City... oh, about an hour and a half late. We were on Delta, not an airline I fly too often. It was one of those 3 and 3 planes. Nowhere to go, nowhere to stretch your legs, no extra room for the flight attendants to chill. So, of course everyone started out cranky. Oh yeah, and the baggage alone cost another $370, and that's with us hauling three guitars along with us to try to get them on the plane for free.


When we got to our first plane, Jessica ("just going by the rules") wouldn't let us bring the guitars on, insisting that they be checked at the gate. Cool, except that our connection in Portland? Looking more and more impossible the later we got. Without guitars in hand? No gig.


The good news is, (we found out later) that somehow we dodged a freak hurricane and an almost tornado in New York City. It did look like a front was a comin' as we labored to get off the ground. At least we DID get off the ground.


Jessica assured us that the pilot himself would run down and grab the guitars so we could run to our next plane to Eugene once we landed in Portland. You see where this is heading. And of course, no one on the plane listened to Jessica when she asked that they might wait for the people with close connections to get off first. We were, of course in the back of the plane.


It was one of those OJ moments that I swear I will never ever go through again each time it happens. We arrived in Portland 10 minutes before our next flight was to leave. The captain did bring one of my guitars up quickly so I just started booking. As you can guess, the connection gate could not have been farther. And my guitar case is a heavy road case. I was cursing, sweating, my wrists aching, fingers numb.


When I got to the gate, the agent told me NO, she had shut the door, she was not going to make the plane late. I started begging, cursing, shrieking, begging again, telling her my guys were right behind me, they were right there, we were HERE. We had a GIG!!!!!!


Somehow Paul, who had flown more leisurely from LA was already on the plane and heard me on the intercom crying to the gate girl. The captain must have heard me too, as he stepped out of the cockpit. Paul told him he couldn't leave without his band. Somehow, he didn't get arrested and we got the coolest captain in history. He told the agent to get a life and let us on. They reopened the hold to put our guitars in... he even made them wait for our other luggage to get on, as we still had a 2 1/2 hour drive to Bend once we hit Eugene. No way would our stuff get here for the gig if it wasn't with us when we landed.


All good, right? But no! It gets BETTER.


We've got two rental cars. It's getting dark, so we drive. Our GPS (I call her Jacqueline, because she speaks french to me) insists that we take this road, rte 242. Google maps has it that way too. Of course the only caveat:

Turn right at OR-242 E/Old Mc Kenzie Hwy

Continue to follow OR-242 E


It's June. Doesn't seem like that should be a problem. Well, after oh, 25 miles or so, maybe 30. Winding switchbacks, tiny curving deathtraps....mostly 20 to 25 mph,  it's midnight... it's 12:30, (3:30 am for our internal NY clocks) our ears are popping, we see the elevation elevating.... 2000 ft. 3000 ft. 4000..... we get to the top, and:

You are #$%^&* kidding me.



We were stunned. Exhausted, PISSED. And then it got very funny. We sat there for a good ten minutes in disbelief, just staring at the sign. All the way back down, Jacqueline insisted that we make a u-turn every half mile or so. She just would not entertain the idea of an alternate route until we made it back to the 126. And then had 70 some odd more deathly miles to go. Must have been almost 2 when we finally pulled in.


God bless our hotel. God bless the fake fireplace on the tv.

god bless my huge bath tub. god bless the yummy organic lotions and potions. god bless the big cozy eco-loving bed. God bless BEND. We made it. Now let them come.

Clearwater Festival Steambath

The Clearwater Festival was a beautiful steam bath. The humidity, even after the deluge, was intense. But what a vibe! Lucy Kaplansky was singing right before me on the Hudson Stage. We were literally ON THE WATER. And I begged her to let me sing background vocals on "more than this," and "ten year night" - oh, harmony.



Even the police stopped by to listen.


There were powerful small things that meant so much today. Jody Gill, who was dancing the ASL interpretations as I sang yesterday, was so graceful and lyrical. She told me later that "So Much Mine" had really gotten the better of her. Luckily, she said, the sweat mingled with the tears. Catharsis. Sometimes I get choked up on that one too.


And then there were two dads. It was father's day after all. They were there with their small daughters - no more than third or fourth grade. I had forgotten how fierce and fearless girls can be at that age. They are dreaming and un-shy, they are full of themselves in the very best way.


Kate, (6) came up to me even before I started my set and wanted me to play "Paris." Without practising it, I didn't feel comfortable that I wouldn't botch it....  But, "Paris?" what an unusual choice! So, after the show in the autograph line, I promised I would sing her her own private version. That way if I messed it up, she would understand, but the whole audience wouldn't have to suffer through! As I got to the chorus each time, I looked up and she was beaming at me, and matching me word for word. Her dad told me that Paris was an obsession for her. He had promised to take her there because he wanted her to experience it first with the one guy who would love her forever. (now I am choking back tears!)


Talia (for Italia, her dad told me) and Shae (Shae with an E) were hanging around, hanging around, asking questions, boasting about their violin and piano lessons, full of beans! Their dad finally got them a CD and they scurried over and whispered, "It's for our DAD because it's father's day. HURRY and sign it!"


Well, Shawn and Chris, you have some pretty special girls. Happy Father's day. I know you made my day. I just wish my dad could have been there too. He had that same way of making me feel strong, adored. Come to think of it, HE was the first guy who ever showed me Paris.


How depressing. A solicitation, full of links, suggestions and 'new improveds.' So you can get as much free music as you like. Where will it end?


LIMEWIRE invaded my inbox. The gall! Last time I checked, piracy was still illegal.


Musicians, real working musicians, with fanbases, and press cred, and a catalogue of work... are all reeling from the changing landscape. How will we piece things together from this new dwindling stream? Do we have to go back to waitressing, temping, teaching?....all perfectly valid things, but shouldn't it have been our choice? Jane Siberry, JANE SIBERRY sold all her earthly possessions, and does house concerts town to town. That's actually a great solution. But what if you have a family?


Try Pandora, or I-tunes. At least we'll get paid a little of what we put into our work. Just a suggestion. I imagine that most of you reading this are patrons, and so don't need to be reminded, but if you're at all interested in the cause, educate your pals, don't burn copies of records you want to share... encourage the purchase of your beloved music. 'Nuff said.


Meanwhile, here we come West Coast. Oregon LOOK OUT.... Seattle. Innit! Goffrey's back on the job this week.


And the ever profound Gail Ann Dorsey will bring her magic...(it was Linsday Wagner's birthday this week. We LOVE us some bionic woman!)

Touring is where the real deal remains. Gotta just bring it LIVE.


Shawn Pelton stopped by rehearsal to say hi....(Rich Mercurio and JB)


We're just hoping we might see Gino Vannelli in Portland. He's so dreamy.

much love, and see you there!


p.s. the song we recorded a coupla weeks ago is coming on I-tunes on June 29........I think it ROCKS.

A2IM 2010

I got to meet, and hobnob with some great independent minds. We had round table brainstorming sessions about various pre-chosen topics. I got to gripe and argue about artist development with my table. Everyone else there was either a label/manager/distributer/web builder.....I kept wondering how they would hold up on the road, 6 gigs in a row, no good coffee, lack of broccoli, shit hotels....and conversely, how I would hold up in an office, taking crap for the records that didn't show up somewhere, or the publicist who screwed up the tour promotion....oh, that's right, I do both.


Other luminaries debated management styles, outsourcing, marketing. Considering the state of the biz, no one seemed too dour at first. Good on us?


Rich Bengloff is the tireless and lovely crusader for all things artist centric and independent and worthy.


His partner, Jim Mahoney is equally tireless.


Kidding aside, I really am honored to be a part of the dialogue, and also a voice for artists - there are rarely working musicians in the mix when it comes to the tough conversations, and Rich and Jim have always sought me out and given me a place at the table.


Then, during the board meeting, we heard briefly from all of the members that have spearheaded the independent movement around the world. Alison Wenham, who also holds the title OBE (she is in the distinguished club of 'most excellent order of the British Empire!) 

She actually started AIM in the UK, forming a coalition and source for the European Indies. A2IM was the US partner she needed and kept urging Rich to create in the US.


She's also been absolutely relentless about the pursuit of the royalties that are accruing all over the world but have not been distributed to countless independents for want of agreements that are universal.


Portia Sabin was there from "Kill Rock Stars" and she's spearheading the idea of Independent Music Awards  - 'bout time, right?

(Stephanie from PRA, Portia, JB)


She's even trying to integrate other types of artists into the excitement. One of her first cool ideas? Get a hotshit artist to create the statue, so that it in itself is a covetable piece of art. How's about Matthew Barney. I say why the hell not?

Jonathan Satterley from Roadrunner was there. Huge metal fan. Not so much into chick singer songwriters, which makes it even more fun. He was fabulously irreverent about Jeff Buckley. Very refreshing really. I know, Jeff wasn't a chick, but you get the point. We did, however agree about his version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" unless at that point,  Jonathan was just messing with me!


Dick Huey, our champion from Tool Shed Marketing

 Ira Kessler, from our Ryko days...


Jana, a new revelation, from Motema Records, and one of her staffers Gillian.


I even got a few words in with Tommy Silverman from Tommy Boy records, he's very involved and vocal in A2IM. (Liberty of London shirt dare I say?)


My favorite moment was the most sobering, I hate to say, because as usual we're all flustering and bustling around the future of our world, and talking about the "level playing field" and all the "amazing opportunities afforded by social networking" and the exquisite joys of "licensing and film and television placements."  Blah blah blah.


But reality is reality. No one can ever answer my question: "How is a new artist in this 'level playing field' ever going to be found without some kind of marketing, some kind of promotion, someone spending some money somewhere?" As far as I'm concerned the internet is really not doing real artists any favors in the long run. It's just gumming up the works. There's just too much stuff out there. Too little time. Anyone and their little sister can make a record. Therefore everyone and their little sister ARE making records. And I just don't think that's a good thing. Celebrity is far more the goal than making exciting art. And where does that get us? One more reality show closer to.....



And the real point has become, (and I know I'll get an earful for saying this,) even if you are miraculously 'discovered' in the din, how are you going to make a living when music for the bulk of consumers, is free? And don't you dare say t-shirts and coffee mugs!!


Finally, the dour lawyer from Mitchell, Silberberg and Knuff got up to talk about copyright. Man of my own 'glass is half full, YES, but it's leaking! ' mentality.'


"In the words of Woody Allen," he said, "we've come to a crossroads: 'One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other to total extinction.'"


Back to writing songs.

AFM 802

I got to hang out a little bit with Roseanne Cash and Jon Leventhal. Such a cool team. They sang three songs early. Sublime.

Jon in front of the scrim made of old fabric.


Roseanne, Laura Cantrell, JB (Laura sang late and lovely)


I never got formally introduced to this cool bass player, but I was seriously coveting his shirt

He said, "road purchase - I always gotta buy one thing." I said, "wow,  just one? You're a better man than I."


Loved the evening, So many stellar blue grass players, banjo genius innovators, and generally cool peeps.  Makes me proud to be a musician. Danny Weiss, Eric Weissberg, Tony Trischka, Skip Ward, the Stony Creek guys, and on....


the barbecue wasn't bad either!!

And a bottle of Pearl goes a long long way in troubled times.

Which Way?

When I need to get ideas moving, (I'm working on new songs) sometimes I just start walking. This morning I found this plaque for a poor journalist who went down with the titanic.


I love that his friends made him a plaque.


and a little sentry guards his memory



It's right near the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. It's on my short list, but for now, today, I fell in love with the bricks right in front.

The Cooper-Hewitt is right across the street from the Russian Embassy. Some mornings I walk around that neighborhood because my favorite muffins and cornbread are there at Yura Bakery. There's usually a long line at the embassy. Most of the people are speaking Russian and don't look very happy. I had to go there once to get a visa to go to Moscow. Well, NOTHING is easy at that place. No wonder.

I watched for a while and then took pictures of my feet. Then I realized I wasn't really writing, so I must be procrastinating again, and I've run out of hand washing (another of my great techniques of procrastination) to distract myself with.

 I think this means go left.



I think this means go forward.



And I think this means get your damn muffins, go back to work and stop messing around.


We really are working feverishly to get art and files together to make Monday's "song in a day" an I-tunes exclusive. It will be summer fun. And may spawn more tidbits to tide me over creatively until I finish my new "record."


p.s. the new york times spelled my name right today. that was nice.


Well, the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Sound check was awesome. I love Marc Cohn. Simple as that. He's super cool, super smart, super fun. Jon Leventhal is no slouch either - he's just finished producing Marc's new record. Musical monster.

Jon, JB, Marc


Shawn Pelton, as always, stylin,' was on drums.


I was sportin' my brand new Cal Patch smock. (Cal was my pattern making/sewing  teacher at SQUAM)


We were feeling groovy


I got to see some of my favorite artists

Aimee Mann and John Roderick.


I was able to catch up with Louden Wainwritght and his daughter Lucy, Suzzy Roche (swoon, and she's a bikram yoga freak too!) Jill Sobule, the sexy Livingston Taylor, (love him so) John Forte, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, Dar Williams, Willy Nile. What a day.


My favorite moment? Walking past Art Garfunkel in my stage dress.

(photo: Sandrine Lee)


Didn't really notice him  at first, he was wearing a red philly's hat, and sitting on a trunk in the parks and recreation garage behind the stage. I thought... that looks like Art Garfunkel, but why would he be sitting in the garage? I came back, pretending to be looking for my friend Sandrine, and he stood up and told me my dress was really pretty. I said, "Really? thanks sooo much, it's the first time I've worn it." Artie: "Well, I will say, it falls very nicely on you." I must have been ten shades of crimson. I introduced myself, and said what an honor it was to finally meet him. I tried not to be self conscious walking away, swishing my new dress.



My least favorite moment? Taking a breath for the first line - "hello darkness my old friend" and inhaling a bug. Between coughing fits in between vocal lines, i somehow made it through the 1st verse, and then regrouped and rallied for the rest. It gave it a poignant something or other I'm sure! (Lizzy House, I love you)


This morning in the New York Post, they mentioned me, which is always nice, but of course, some overeager copy editor changed my name to JONATHAN: "Marc Cohn and Jonathan Brooke funked up 'sounds of silence'"


But who cares? They didn't mention the coughing fit, and Artie liked my dress.

Back to WORK, ok it's a little like PLAY

I had this idea a little while ago, to record another cover song, but as usual, to re-approach, reharmonize, and of course, make it way sadder. (in a very rocking way) The band and I have been tinkering with it on the road a bit, and finally, yesterday, had the opportunity to get it down on "tape"/digital ether.




We went to Grand St. Recording in Brooklyn. Besides having a true candy shop of delectable instruments to play with and explore,

Ken Rich, (above) and his assistant Tommek (in studio shot) are super tech, super sweet, and most importantly, super talented.


What a day! Ben rocked up exquisitely powerful guitar lines.


Gail, my Gail, just made the bass sing...


And Rich, whose pic is somehow missing, just laid it DOWN.


You may have heard of "book in a day" at SQUAM arts workshops? well this was "song in a day." Start to finish we gave ourselves basically 8 hours. No funny stuff, no tickets to minutiae. Just play the damn song and stop whining. And boy, what a great approach. Nothing like time and money constraints to cut out the static. And it sounds incredible. Visceral, real, exciting!


I even had a chance to explore the neighborhood while Ken was mixing the track late afternoon.

There was a turntable in an ANTIQUE STORE!!!!


And I almost brought this guy home.


Ken had a box of prompts, you just pick one or two, to kick you out of your head space in case you're stuck.... these were mine.

Seems someone's looking out for me.


Tonight I'm singing "Sounds of Silence" with Marc Cohn in Central Park.....Oh life.


(Jen Gray placing important sign)


Elizabeth Macrellish built it, and again, they came.


Squam Arts Workshops was, as usual, a creative, inspiring, incredibly fun and powerful place to be. It's very hard to describe what happens each year at the Rockywold/Deephaven retreat. But it is time I absolutely treasure and look forward to all year long.


This year I learned how to make patterns for clothes that I actually might wear, instead of the lumpy experiments that end up in the trash. (I got a sewing machine for Christmas so I figured it was time to get to work.)


my new cute skirt and cute custom t-shirt patterns. My teacher Cal Patch was AWESOME


I also took a "seamless sweater" knitting class with Jared Flood. Sarah Young, one of my fellow knitters put it perfectly. "It was like AP knitting" I thought my head would explode with the constant stream of revelatory information. I was so busy taking notes I didn't even get a picture of Jared.


In other news I made some new friends while I was there. I, the driver with the absolutely spotless record. (Except for speeding) managed to lodge my back wheel between a rock and a hard place when I was backing out of Elizabeth's driveway. It was raining, so the front wheel drive rental Camry was going NO WHERE fast. Couple hours later and a tow truck from Triple A, the car was out but a little nicked on the back bumper. Luckily the horrible looking bent part popped right back into place....


But the icky scratches needed a little tlc. The RDC crew ROCKED me UP with some fine fine sanding and a little spray paint. YOU GUYS RULE. (they even invited me and Jen to their 'black and white' party at "Deep Dorm" that night.)



I'll let some Pix speak for the rest. I can't believe I'm already going home. September Squam will be fast upon us though, so if you possibly can swing a little creative time away for YOU... do it. (I'll be teaching songwriting again too, and I swear it's not one bit scary.)


block printing treasures.


One of Jared's disciples' gorgeous lace swatch.


Jen Gray's toes.


new friend Ketra.


vendor night fun with Jen Gray and Forrest (aka Theo)


 Vendor night euphoria....


Or was it fatigue?


Just feeling grateful and replenished in the deepest of ways. Thank you all at Squam who shared your stories with me, and are out there listening. It truly means the world. 

my memorial day

I think I am reaching up in this photo to pound on the piano. Prelude of things to come? Maybe. I think I look like that baby in the E-trade commercials. And is that a whip around my neck?


My mom, it turns out, IS sentimental, and saved a hunk of hair from one of my very first haircuts. Wish it was still this red.


And this wallpaper. Some nights I still dream about it. I remember going over and over the berries' names as I was growing up. It was like a meditation as I would fall asleep. I never knew until now my mom had saved a swatch.


This was our first puppy, "Victoria" and a rare moment with my brothers and dad on the kitchen floor. My dad was a journalist and so traveled a fair amount. Once in a while, Saturday mornings were that special dad time.


Well, that's where I wandered yesterday. Happy June 1.