Flying home tonight from Chicago. Southwest. Here’s the deal:
There is at least one row of seats on these planes that I always try to avoid. On this aircraft, one of them is Row 11. Row 11 is right in front of the Exit Row, and so the seats in Row 11 don’t recline, which I hate, because it means I have to sit straight up and I can’t sleep without my head flopping around and waking me up. Some people can balance their skulls to just sit there on their neck and shoulders but I can’t. Even so, when they close the cabin doors, and they do whatever the hell it is they do to the pressure or the oxygen level or whatever they do, I don’t just fall asleep, I pass out. So if I’m sitting straight up, with the head-flopping, it’s neither this or that, because I can’t stay awake and I can’t stay asleep.
And yet, here I am, in Row 11. I chose it myself, forgetting this precious rule. How bout that.
And so now would be a good time to write to you.
The river is still torn up from the Memorial Day Flood. Going by the rings in the oldest of the shattered trees on the banks, it was the worst flood in at least 500 years. They know that because so many 500 year old trees were uprooted and snapped like matchsticks. Mangled arbor carnage for miles and miles, down along the river.
Our place was unchanged and fine, as we’re high enough to be safe. I say that, but a whole lot of the houses that were destroyed were also always thought to be safe, easily. Nobody up there had flood insurance. Why would they? We have so many friends that lost everything. Some lost their sweet lives.
The work goes on, and it’ll be a long time before things are set right, and the homeless are housed somehow. But the square, the businesses and cafes and bars are all humming along. The lakes and reservoirs are plump, the creeks and the rivers are clear and quick, everybody’s rain barrels are overflowing. That’s not nothing.
Me and Dustin are meeting John Fullbright in California in a couple of days, to play the Freight and Salvage in Berkley and the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara. Those should be good shows. If I wasn’t already playing, I’d probably pay to be there.
Woody Festival is coming up, and host of other gigs into the summer. Take a look at the tour page sometime if you’re so inclined.
The Fall Workshops this year are gonna be cool. There will be what we loosely call a Master Class, as if any of us are Masters. However, Walt Wilkens will be the guest teacher, and he’s about as close as anybody gets. Walt is one of my nearest and dearest compadres, has been for 20 years. He has a large and loyal, and growing, family of fans all over the world, and he’s one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. And if we get lucky, his wife Tina might put in an appearance. All of you Walt and Tina fans know how cool that would be.
In November, we’re gonna revisit something we tried early this year, to great success I thought. We’re going to have another Beginners Class, and I mean beginners. You could come if you don’t play or sing yet, if you haven’t written a song yet, or if you’ve been fooling with it and want to learn some stuff. And you will definitely learn, because the guest teachers for this one are Jason Eady and Courtney Patton. I’ve been working with Jason for several years now, three records and counting, and he’s one of the most focused and clear-eyed writers and performers I’ve ever known. Courtney Patton is an extraordinary singer and writer as well, as pro as they come. You can hear them together on the CD Daylight and Dark, and you can also hear Courtney’s latest release, So This Is Life.
I know this is getting long so I’ll wrap it up. The reason I was in Chicago was to watch a production of a play based on a bunch of short stories written by songwriters, which were part of an amazing book called A Guitar and a Pen, published a few years ago by my old friend and best-selling author Robert Hicks. The name of the play itself is Borderlands: Three Chords and the Truth, and it’s a musical. Marianne Philbin wrote the stage-play, weaving the characters from each story into one night where they all have gathered as usual down at their local bar and they start telling stories. It’s a brilliant way to merge it all together. She called it ‘jumping mediums’ I think. A songwriter writes a short story, she turns it into a play and writes music for it. I like that.
I learned a lot and got some good ideas from it. I actually got a lump in my throat during the near-recitation of my little story, because of my own vanity I suppose, but also, it was just good, and I was relieved.
Savannah came up and joined me for the show, because she’s an actress and takes a professional interest, and because it was Father’s Day weekend, and because she’s a good kid. It was a short weekend of old friends, new friends, new ideas.
By the way, I’m no longer on the flight from Chicago. That was last night. It turns out that if I’m tired enough, or if they suck enough oxygen out of the cabin, I actually can sleep sitting straight up with my head flopping around after all. Which is what I did right after the first paragraph up there.
Ok. All is quiet on the home-front. See you soon. kw
By the way #2: That was last week. This past week was a whole other adventure out in California with Dustin and John Fullbright. Stay tuned for that whole thing.