The Low Down Review – No. 22

8 May

Maine Turnpike, Falmouth Spur
Photo by Laurence Scudder

Blinding Nemo: Remember February? I do… I woke up at dawn, cold in guitar maker, Andrew Olsen‘s basement. Drew and his family put Laurence Scudder and I up after our Friday night blizzard show in Portland, ME – we were on a quick four-day tour through the N.E., and it just so happened that it was during the Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon, or however the hell the news described it. They named the storm, Nemo. Drew and Laurence go way back, are good friends, and I wanted to take the greatest care in accepting the generous hospitality. But I was getting frustrated with the chill, and while stuck in a bleary-eyed daze, I couldn’t understand just where in the hell it was coming from. The house was new construction, and seemed solid. As I pulled the comforter closer around me, I woke a bit and realized that I heard the wind blowing, clear and crisp. Curious, I rolled over and saw that I had left the basement door open. Shit.

I hopped up from the air mattress and ran over to shut the door, plunging a bare foot down into 6 inches of snow on the cork floor. I brushed off my foot, pulled on my boots, grabbed a dust pan and shoveled the drift back out into the whipping wind and shifting snow blanket. After about 10 more minutes, I had the door shut again. I crawled back under the comforter and heard the furnace, all fired up, working hard. It was the first of many shovelling experiences over the course of the next couple of days. Nemo found us over on the Eastern sea-board, tracked our movement, and buried us in snow.

Well, we better get working…

Lucky for me, Drew and his family are not only generous, but easy going and understanding. There was a “no harm, no foul” receipt of the news, and that took a weight off my conscience. Drew said something along the lines of, “Yeah, that door doesn’t quite stick. I should take a look at it.” We spent the night before in his workshop, picking out tunes, sharing our favorite albums, and having generous doses of bourbon and scotch; it was a blizzard, and a short walk from shop to home (albeit through thigh-deep snow)… I was relieved when that warm and welcome vibe carried through my morning news. It was one of those special, memorable nights, and I hated the thought of scratchng it out with an absent-minded key-stroke.

Andrew Olsen’s AO Guitar Shop

And I’m excited to head back Andrew’s way, with Laurence, and our buddy and songwriter, Ryan Fitzsimmons in just a couple of weeks. We’ll all share the stage at Blue, a fine listening room in Portland, ME with delicious food and tasty beer. Blue is a well-thought out spot. I’m betting that we’ll be back at Drew’s shop, throwing a few beverages back, and a bunch of tunes out into the Spring night. It’s a welcome weather change, and I’m hoping to set firm some new memories on the green grass. It’ll be another Rebel Darling night, folks. More on that later, if you’re not yet taking to the shape of it.

Terry Doyle – WIOX DJ

Terry Doyle: I thought I was going to have the chance to take a better photo of Terry, but I was wrong. Terry Doyle, WIOX DJ and host of the Crackle and Imprint radio shows, passed away in February, due to lingering complications from a heart attack.

The day before he died, we shot the shit on facebook, and it was clear that his spirits were high. I thought all was well, and that I would have seen him early in March for an interview, and about a dozen of his signature Snickerdoyle cookies. The next day, I found out he died, and it was like I had been drained of my energy, and certainly a bit of my spirit. The news was sudden, and I felt a loss quick. Terry was an excited and energetic supporter of music, and songwriters in particular. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of NY bands, particularly those around the Catskill Region.

I hadn’t known Terry for too long, but he had a quirky sensibility, a slightly spastic disposition, and a genuine appreciation for music. As the saying goes, to know him is to love him, and Terry was an easy guy to get to know. He was upfront and sincere, made no bones about who he knew, who he wanted on his show, what he liked, and who he was. I liked him and his frenetic approach instantly. We recorded an interview in the front seat of my car in a coffee house parking lot in the Catskills. That’s how I met the guy. That was fun… Last I spoke with him in person, he had some very kind words for me, and neither they, nor Terry, will be forgotten. I truly miss the guy. He was a good one.

Click here for “Harvest the Heart”
Also available on iTunes

From the Low Down: It’s been a long while since I’ve reached out to you folks in this format. The better part of half a year slipped away from me. Time started to break away in pieces, at the very moment when I thought I had a grasp on how she dances. Maybe I held on too hard. Or maybe the tune changed, and the band leader hopped over to an awkward time signature, perhaps 13/8, all the while yelling, “Dance boy!” He tapped out the tempo in a shuffle, but I’m betting that before I have time to spin back around, I’ll be in an all-out sprint towards the caesura, and who knows who or what awaits on the other side of that timeless gap?

It’s been a blur, and the safe money is on that to continue through May. Throw your dollars down on the summer too. I’m hoofing a bit (with the help of a rental car), and trying to make my way through Wyoming, and looking to secure a night in fabled San Fran. Mid-point in time is Montana for some dear friends’ wedding. I’m picking for the processional. Y’all know anyone around those parts willing to host a home show, or to share some info one what’s good, real, and low down? Click on reply, if so, or if you just feel a chat stirring.

There are a few moments of sharp clarity scattered througout the whirling blur. One that stands out at this moment is meeting and hanging back-stage with human juke-box Martin Sexton. Laurence Scudder asked if I wanted to head to the show over at the Berklee College of Music’s Performing Arts Center in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Sounded like a good time. I had no idea that Martin had asked Laurence to join him on stage, or that I’d have one of those all access passes stuck to my shirt, a first for me.

Laurence Scudder sawing on the viola
with Martin Sexton

Sexton is a warm, loving, and generous man. I am not kidding you when I say that his hugs are electrified. He’s also a dedicated professional, and an amazing talent. It’s clear that Boston is firmly planted in his heart, and he sure as hell shared it throughout his performance. The pre-show Thai was pretty tasty, but the show was powerful, sincere, and prepared and executed with precision as well as passion. In short, he owned the night.

It’s pretty damn clear that I have many, many reasons to be greatful. So, and as always, folks thanks for everything. Spread the word and share the song… I truly wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you.

– Mike

A great way to spend post-show time.
This was one of my favorite nights…

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