Have guitar, will travel.

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

— David Bowie

It’s been a year of changes, fundamentally for the better.

Besides splitting with my partner of 12 years — amicably — and working at a job I love empowering people with mental illness, I have begun a project I hope you will join in sampling, supporting and enjoying: “Love Letters.”

The evolving compilation’s title track represents the kind of songs I write: heart-felt, real-life stories with a message and universal meaning. I am embarking on a journey to pull together select songs that celebrate love, family and spirit, record them with the help of dynamic musicians and a fine producer here in Vermont, and share them in digital downloads, a few hard copy CDs and in performances around New England.

You have fueled this adventure — with your attention as I posted rough cuts on Facebook and played out at open mics and venues around Springfield, VT, which I now call home. You and a lot of coffee, musical inspiration and encouragement from fellow artists and fans.

Many artists move me to pursue creating on a molecular and spiritual level: Janis Ian (now on her final tour, which I will see in April), Tracy Grammer — often accompanied by acoustic co-conspirator Jim Henry — who both have fabulous budding Patreon communities, and Cody Jinks, whose rendition of “Ready for the Times to Get Better” I consider my personal anthem. That song is written by Allen Reynolds and has been performed by Crystal Gayle but it exemplifies my mood and mantra.

Cody Jinks

Last September, I was given a gift — to lead a songwriter-in-the-round at Stage 33 Live in Bellows Falls, VT.

That’s where I performed “Love Letters” and told the story of my mom and dad’s courtship.

“Love Letters” at Stage 33 Live.

This version is stripped down, but I imagine it with violin or cello, brushes and a vocal that has evolved since my “shy singer” presentation here.

Why do it though? I am short on funds, so Kickstarter, Go Fund Me or Indiegogo will figure in at some point as I make a push.

Well when I play a room, and a woman at a far table, chin in hand, sits listening despite the clatter of utensils and the dim rumble of voices, and then later comes up and says she likes my voice or an original, I am moved to give more of myself. Or when a fan comes to more than one show and harps on a song he likes, and how he can hear other instrumentation in his head, I am moved to give more of myself.

“Don’t die with your music still in you” is good advice. I am to take it.

Please follow this blog and my Facebook profile for updates.

Settling In


Nomads probably make music, but it must be hard, uprooting all the time and trying to focus on creating in a changing environment.

After 12 years in one place, the longest I’ve stayed anywhere since I left home for college, it was time to move to a new place, in a new direction. This takes extra hours and energy, and even now that I’m settling in, there are chores like motor vehicle updates to attend to, a stray box or two left to sort through and unpack.

What shapes the songs that I expect will continue to emerge from my head and heart as Rhode Island becomes home are the mementos left after shedding so much stuff. A framed photograph of my teen-age mother smirking as my grandmother helps her light a cigarette, from those light hearted days when cigarette smoking was a badge of renegade coolness. Mom has a couple of songs written for her already, as does Dad, and their spiritual presence years after they passed continues to give me solace and, somehow, inform and support the space to create.

A place has yet to be found for my guitar sundries — picks, capos and that silly but essential tool needed to unwind strings when restringing the guitar. But the music stand has found its place in front of a living room window. The signed Janis Ian poster from her Garde Arts Center performance and the Sinner’s Circle flier from my New London, Conn., days adorn one wall, flanking a metal sculpture of a guitar that I picked up with my partner, Lee, in Chester, Vt.

And the other night, quietly, I lifted my Ovation from its stand and plucked out a few tunes. Just because I could.

My new home is smaller than the Rogers St. house. Crammed with the most pertinent leftover effects of my life. A space awaiting inspiration and transformation. A space in which this blog, started in January of 2011, will continue to be crafted.

Please follow me here when you can. More songs, reviews, and links to amazing songwriters, events and places will follow!


Admiring Adele

“Set Fire to the Rain” is a song title that oozes panache, angst and yes, poetry.

So unlike an artist of Adele’s caliber to leave out the lyrics of this and other gems on “Adele21”. Plenty of pleasant pix in the CD jacket but one has to troll the web for the words to her songs. Or just listen intently, as I’ve been doing lately.

Even Adele’s official web site has no lyrics tab. And that’s a shame because her words are powerful, thought-provoking and worth remembering. No doubt, they’ll be included there eventually as her reputation continues to expand and anchor her in the global music scene.

So, what’s to like about the lyrics? They’re somewhat repetitive and uncomplicated. But then you have the imagery, the apostrophe to a lover, the hurt, all-knowing and real.

“I set fire to the rain,” she sings, wails, intimating strength and desperation in the same six syllables.

Her voice ravages the words, like water gushing over stone pebbles in a brook.

There are moments in time when you discover a singer/songwriter and true artist, and become a student of the work, and can barely remember not knowing the music before. So it was when I discovered Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Janis Ian, Lui Collins, Gordon Lightfoot. And so many years later, feeling dated not at all, since music is timeless, I have joined the rest of the planet in discovering Adele. She is transforming my feelings about music, making the deeply personal universal.

The words and notes are memorable, so worth anchoring in that old medium, print. Maybe next time around, Adele?

Exercise, Gratitude and A Little Janis Love

So you’ll never guess who also is suffering from tendonitis, actually much worse than I am: Janis Ian.

Subscribe to her newsletter on her website here for the whole story.

Suffice it to say, when I read her newsletter this morning, I took it as an sign of good luck for my upcoming gigs: how often can I justifiably say I am in sync with the likes of Janis?

Not only that, but I practiced my set after my newly instigated morning walks with my lovely neighbor, a blessing for both of us, and found that the heat generated from moving more (Yes, Katie, my Weight Watchers leader, I am moving more!) loosened up the muscles in my wrist and elbow.

Then I touched base by phone with Mike Ball, my extraordinary backup guitarist, who cracked jokes to ease my worry.

So, ice at night, exercise during the day, Mike, who’s got my back, Ian in my inbox and all’s right with the world.

Heart ‘n Soul

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I write songs from a place of inner awareness and deep-seated feeling.

But mostly, I write from a place of love.

As I said to Janis Ian when graced with her presence briefly after her concert at the Garde Arts Center in New London, her music, heart and soul somehow gave me permission to write and sing. Mostly to sing. Because I do not have a voice that justifies its own existence. I have a range. I write for it. The rest comes.

I guess, though, that in fact somewhere along the line four or five years ago I gave myself permission to write and sing. Regularly. For real.

This song seems to be asking permission. Yet it blends spiritual and earthly love in a way that is different from most of what I write.

Hope you like it. Let me know what you think.

Say You’ll Love Me

I am going down the mountain

I am finding my own way

Looking back on sudden sorrow

In the winds of yesterday

I am holding onto something

That I knew was never mine

And it makes me sad to know it

But I think that it’s a sign


Tell me why

Tell me when

Say you’ll love me

I’ll say, ‘Amen.’

God is riding in the breezes

God is hiding in your eyes

And the devil’s in the details

But it makes us sure and wise

If I knew where I was going

I would take you out that way

But it’s raining til tomorrow

So I’ll kiss you for today. (refrain)

Grieving’s part of daily passing

Gladness comes fast from behind

If you merge the two together

You never know what you will find

Giving is the spirit’s window

Claiming love imbues the soul

With a quiet mind that’s loving

And a heart both young and old (refrain)


She started singing, “Would you like to learn to sing? Would you like to sing my song? Would you like to learn to love me best of all?”

And I felt tears welling up in my eyes.

More than 30 years ago, my best friend re-introduced me to the Janis Ian I thought I knew through the classic “At Seventeen.” But no, there was a whole new repertoire that somehow radio and TV had failed to provide us.

Almost seven years ago, that same best friend listened to my first real original song and pronounced it good. She helped uncork the bottle that let the genie out, but as I told Janis waiting in line last night in New London, Connecticut, for her to sign a Garde Arts Center poster of her April 12 performance, it was Janis’ music, but more, her very person, her inner soul, as revealed in song, that somehow gave me permission to write and play.

“Have fun with it,” she said.

And so I shall.

Her poster now hangs above my armchair in the corner of my enclosed porch, right by a bookshelf filled with CDs, several of them hers.

Her presence among us remains vital, even if, as she confided to the audience last night, she forgot her Facebook password and is still trying to figure out how to get back in by identifying 10 friends’ faces out of more than 4,000! She’ll be back though, on Facebook, I predict, because she certainly remains very much with us in the real world.

A Songwriter’s Resume


City by the Sea, New England

Objective: To be listened to, and to listen, rhythmically, lyrically, to the core

Summary of Qualifications:

A classically trained acoustic guitarist

A wordsmith whose first lines drop like rain onto the desert of her worrisome soul

A performer who looks back when the audience looks at her

Experience (Gigs):

Hootenannies for an Arts Cafe,  Various locations, Jan. 28, 2010, and dates prior

Fretnoise Songwriters in the Round, Local cabaret, Jan. 22, 2010

Summer Festival Showcase, Various locations, July 2007-2010

Soulful Remedies : Three Songwriters, Local church, June 2009

Open mics, Various locations, As often as possible


Love Is Hard, Independent producer, 2010

Letting Go Independent producer, 2008


Collaborating with area musicians

Playing etudes for my father, but not getting it right; only able to play for him at his deathbed, a peaceful smile on his face

Riding on the inspiration of a crush, with too many songs to count, then writing my way out of it

Deciding in my mid-40s to perform after my high school best friend told me my song about letting go of a friend who could never be a lover was a good one

Studying poets and poetry all my life

Attending a teen center for creative youth one summer, 1977

Remote tutelage to the greats: Janis Ian, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Lui Collins, Catie Curtis, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Ian Anderson

Teasing my Mom as she made up the forgotten words to church hymns

Learning not to run from the hole in my heart, but not to fall in either

Community Activities

Prison music minister, 2007-08

Chapel guitarist with choir, 1997-2009; 1995-96, 1980-82


Shoreline group, 2007-present

Interests & Activities

Playing with my cats; working my day job only as much as I have to; cooking; finding cool chord progressions; Scrabble; finding ways to avoid shoveling or mowing the lawn