The Low Down Review – No. 23

16 Aug

Wild Mustang, Big Horn Basin, Wyoming

What’s Left Remains: About a mile off to the north of the Greybull Highway, a herd of wild mustangs kicked up dust, and grazed in the sage brush. We doubled back and headed for the gate of a dirt road near to where the horses milled about. The sign at the gate of the McCullough Peaks Road read “It is unlawful to approach wild horses.” Keeping to the dirt road, we rolled the car along wondering just what in the hell “approach” meant, and tried to reason a definition that would suit our purpose to get a closer look at the herd.

As we debated, we came up to the top of a hill and saw something of an unusual color for the terrain in the distance. After staring from behind the windshield for a while, we headed down to where it lay. At first, we thought it might be a canvas tarp held down by rocks, but as we walked closer, our imaginations settled down, and we realized what we were looking at, the remains of a palomino mustang.

The wind was soft, the sun high above the approaching storm clouds, and the body still – the vultures, coyotes, and ravens having long ago taken what life Death offered. The hooves appeared soft, their edges curved over, more like fingernails than horse hoof. The left, hind leg’s metatarsus, or cannon bone was broken and poked through the hide, which we took to be the cause of the death. Unable to walk, the horse likely bedded itself down in the low growth chaparral, and waited. Out of some unspoken respect, I didn’t touch what remained of the body. I thought we stumbled upon a scene more rare and sacred than the herd itself.

Dazed and quiet, we walked to the car and drove back towards the entrance of McCullough Peaks Road. The herd hadn’t moved much, and a pair took turns rearing up, and chasing each other. It looked like play. The dust floated up into a small cloud before the light breeze spread it thin. It was at that moment, as I took a right onto the highway towards Cody, that I realized that for both the living and the dead, what’s left remains.

From Afar, the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

Metrolanded: For those of you who know me well, my name garnering honorable mention in the Metroland, Albany NY’s Alternative Newsweekly, may be a bit of a surprise. It certainly was to me; I was notified of two separate honors this past month by text message… But upon the recommendation of local promoter, Greg Bell of Guthrie Bell Productions, and Ian White of music collective Swordpaw (I apologize for the lack of a link; the email wouldn’t send with it embedded or typed), and band Bear Grass, I read up on the writings of Josh Potter, and found him to be a sincere writer, not at all snarky in his reviews and commentary. Reading his articles refreshed me, and his insight and perspective interested me. I sent him an email, and soon thereafter, I mailed out Greenhorn and Harvest the Heart.

A few weeks later, a review of Harvest the Heart popped up. My favorite line from the review is, “…the thematic essence of what he writes is consistent with the genre’s pioneers.” That’s a satisfying sentence, judging from where I sit and write to you. It’s also quite an honor to set on the digital mantle.

And a week after that, I received a text message while in Wyoming congratulating me on my recognition as “Best Folk 2013” by the Metroland Staff. I had no idea it was a category. Another honor for the digital mantle. You can read all the the staff picks for the best of music here… I dig this quote: “His straight-from-the-gut songwriting and sterling guitar work are best heard up close and personal in a small listening room, of which M.R. makes a steady round.” I must give a very big thank you to Josh Potter, and the others over at the Metroland that took my name (and the boys’ inspired work…) into consideration.

Danny Whitecotton, in the Studio

From the Low Down: I’ve been working in the studio a little bit, on other songwriters’ projects. One day, I found myself in James Kinne’s Bennington, VT based SoundMIND Studio pushing my way onto Danny Whitecotton‘s latest album, Love, War, and Other Mistakes. Give a listen, and you’ll catch my vocals, and slide guitar on a couple of tunes, in addition to Danny’s well-written songs. I’m honored by my inclusion on his album. The guy is a multi-talented, hard-working, and steady gigging musician, so check out his schedule and head on out and enjoy.

And… Mr. fingerpicking and songwritin’ hisself, as well as long-time friend and collaborator, Matt Durfee just launched a Kickstarter! campaign for his debut solo album, Little World. All I can say about Matt’s work ethic and talent can be summarized in a clear statement: you are going to want this album. Donate and listen in. I’m also honored that Matt asked me to be on this project (vocals and electric guitar). It’s been a long time coming, buddy, and it sounds great…

I’m starting to book out the Fall months, yeah, they’re just about here. The summer was great, and mostly relaxing, which I am very grateful for. It was the first in a very long while, and I felt as though I needed it. But I’m now looking forward to setting up on the stage and playing and singing for you folks. Most of the current shows are in NY’s Capital District, but I’m starting to schedule out more MA, VT, NH, ME dates, with some others on the table. Check out the full schedule here, and, of course, let me know if you want me to look into heading your way. The short list is below…

As always, folks thank you for everything. Spread the word and share the song… Forward this email along to others you think would be interested, and definitely share the music and head on out to catch a show. I truly wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you. We’ve got some exciting events on the horizon. Thank you…

– Mike

Congratulations, many thanks, and lots of love to Matt & Kelly
for throwing a kick-ass party, and a hosting a beautiful ceremony
somewhere in the middle of Montana

Rebel Darling at Bellstock, photo by Roger Noyes

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