The Morning Star – April 2013 Edition

April 2, 2013

Musing: A Working Title

Greetings one and all and happy spring! I hope you are seeing the first blooms pop up in your hometown. Here in Nashville the weather seems to be toying with us every other day. First a sign of balmy weather, then a cold rain and return to a blue sky chill. Hey, I’ll take it… soon enough we’ll be heading into a hot summer and this is perfect weather for hermit-izing, working on new songs, cleaning out boxes of old clothes, guitar strings, electronics and dusty ideas. I’ve been writing more of late, and that feels good; well, good in the way that a cold shower hits you with an initial “HELLO!!” and then once you get out and dry it’s like breathing and you realize the air has been around you all along. It’s good as a birthday gift, you’ve just been too caught up in life’s other activities that seem to mount till their deafening roar seems to be the only important thing. But it’s not. Silence is important. Listening in the silence is important. But sometimes we put more currency and value on activity and earth moving, rather than admiring the field and the birds that discovered a new neighborhood before you did. If I’m honest with myself, I’d say there are seasons for both. For all of you writers and tellers of stories, singers of songs (and I believe that leaves no one out), if you have ever wanted to embark on a song or blog or short article, and thought you don’t have that creative gene in you, take a moment to jot one word down on paper, iPad, Waffle House napkin or laptop. Ray Bradbury (we will miss his presence dearly as of last year) used to advise writers to make a list of their childhood memories written as story titles. Then once you have titles begin to tell those stories, not as factual accounts that can be googled for accuracy, but in the way that you have experienced it. An example for me might be, “A Trip to the Bazaar” and “Peanut Child” about two of my vivid memories of my childhood in India. The first was an incident where one of my family’s servants, or helpers (we hired Indian families to help with household duties to offer employment for them, and help for my Mother) Assi, offered to take me on his shopping expedition for supplies to the “Bazaar” as we called it. This was a chaotic street in Vanyambadi where we lived that had every kind of butcher, baker, tailor, candy seller and spice merchant for the town’s needs. India is the second most populous nation on earth, so in addition to shops crammed together as far as the eye could see, you would brush elbows and bodies with thousands of other Indian families shouting, buying, bartering, and eating, while a metallic tin cone of a loudspeaker would blare shrill popular music from a tall wooden pole in some unoccupied square foot of the madness. My faithful friend, Assi, propelled me through this melee on the back of a bicycle. I can still smell the cooking food and feel the heat of the moment from that day. It was both a carnival ride thrill and a horror film for a 5-year-old with a wide-eyed imagination. The second title, “Peanut Child” would be a story that broke the calm of a still hot day on the compound where we lived. I was playing on the long dirt road drive that led up a hill from the main road to our house. I saw a farmer walk up the drive toward me carrying a small bundle. Peanut and sugar cane fields surrounded the little rise of land where we lived, so occasionally we’d have local farmers stop by. The closer he came it became clear to me that his bundle was a small child. He looked distraught, was speaking frantically. The child was quiet and was not moving. Our friends and neighbor’s father, Ernie Hahn, was there to greet the farmer. It turns out that this young child had choked on a peanut, and while Ernie tried his best to help, the child could not be revived. The grief stricken farmer finally turned and walked back down the hill to his family. Both stories recalled above were about life in India, each very different in tone, but both were formative, life changing memories for me. Whether you put your thoughts down in novels, facebook, a song, or your own newsletter, you’re relating a story, sharing what your eye, your voice, the rest of you, and the best of you have seen in a way that no one else can. In my songwriting, not every thought I have or experience is worthy of becoming a finished song; but… when I let stories surround an idea that catches my eye and draws me to it, it helps to bring the characters to life. Then my only job is to watch them, take good notes and get out of the way. Songs like Romeo’s Garage, Morningstar Café, and Michaelangelo have leaned on stories that grew up around simple ideas; “Whether in love or automobiles, everyone needs a trusted mechanic” or, “A cup of black wine could surely change my state of mind” or “The lonely woman in the art museum has found herself someone that won’t change its heart or mind by falling in love with a stone statue.” Stories give our life meaning and purpose and sometimes give us perspective on the lack of it. So put your pen to paper. Don’t let anyone tell you that writing is for the specially anointed members of the J.K. Rowlings club. This is not to say that everyone has the talent or the work ethic that makes him or her a Hemmingway or Jane Austen; but everyone has a story to tell and is changed by the telling of it. Good luck. I look forward to hearing some or your working titles.

Buffett album recorded

My corner home guitar station in Shrimpboat soundWe spent a week in Key West in February working on Jimmy Buffett’s new album, Songs from St. Somewhere. We not only got a respite from the cold in balmy Key West, but got the privilege of doing the initial album tracking with some wonderful musicians and partners in crime for these years with the Coral Reefers. Mike Utley, Mac McAnally, Jim Mayer, Roger Guth, Eric Darken, Will Kimbrough and yours truly were there for a week writing and recording. Jimmy had a batch of way cool new songs in progress when we arrived. With lots of different sonic and stylistic influences (Mark Knopfler plays several guitar solos on the record), I’ve got a feeling this is going to be an exceptional CD. Here are a few pics from the sessions.

Will Kimbrough and brother Jim both playing Kala Ukuleles, 8 string and bass uke.

Engineer Alan Schulman and Chris Stone in the control room.

Percussionist Eric Darken and Michael Utley

The layout for the recording group in Shrimpboat Sound.

Maggie Valley Weekend

We recently played Maggie Valley North Carolina at Smokey Shadows lodge. I’ve raved about this place before but… hey, if you ever have the chance, come and check out a show at Smokey Shadows lodge. It is intimate, and like no other venue. We played two nights to a full house. R. Scott Bryan, Maggie Estes, Marc Torlina and my son Brendan were there for the first night with a slightly more acoustic bent, and the second night we were joined by Chris Walters on keyboards. One of the best things about these shows is that we do two nights of songs with barely a repeat. This time there were selections we haven’t played in a while; When First We Were Lovers, Walking To The Sun and When It Rains. On top of the chance to share a beautiful mountain setting with some music and good friends, we raised over $3,000.00 for breast cancer research. Our thanks to all the friends near and far who supported this great cause.

A before show rehearsal in the ancient cabin in Maggie Valley.

Duck Room in April!

We return to the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis on April 12! We have special guests joining us that night. Along with R. Scott Bryan on percussion and vocals, and Maggie Estes on violin, we will have Miles Vandiver on drums, Zeb Briskovich on bass, Kara Baldus on piano, and my son Brendan on guitar and vocals. Brendan will also opening up the night with some of his own new songs. Check them out on YouTube and iTunes. It’ll be a killer night in old hometown St. Louis… see you all there. Tickets are available online, by clicking here!

Passages for Passages Album

I have been, over the past four years or so, working on a songs of faith follow up CD to Stirrin’ Up The Water. It is called Passages for Passages, and will be in collaboration with Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, a dear friend of mine who currently is pastor of Bethany Lutheran church in Denver, Colorado. For some years now, Ron has written a series called H2O devos. Twice a year, for both the Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas journeys, Ron has written daily reflections that use Scripture, art, and music (lyrics from my songs are often used) that are used as guides and signposts for the day. Passages for Passages will be both a collection of those writings along with a CD of new songs that I have written along the way. Stay tuned for further updates.

A Hole and A String

My first guitar, a Christmas present at 12 years old. Still in one piece.If you knew Suzi… I knew my parents loved me, but when I was 12 years old my parents did something that lifted them from the ranks, in my mind, of competently dysfunctional home-keepers, caregivers and from time to time, strict law enforcement officers. We were gathered round our living room on a cold snowy St. Louis winter Christmas Eve. The Scotch pine in the corner was loaded to the point of breaking with colored lights, ornaments, cotton batting (to simulate snow) and enough aluminum tinsel to impress even the most calloused of Christmas decorators. With eight kids in the family and our two parents, there were piles of gifts on the floor that my Dad always looked at in embarrassment. He wasn’t much for the material gift buying and giving part of our Christmas. In an hour we had made it through just about everything when Dad reached behind the tree and pulled out a triangular card board box that stood about three and a half feet high. He called me over and asked me to open it. Inside was a brand new guitar. It took my breath away. Not just for the fact that I had been stricken by guitar at 12 years old, not because it was the coolest of all guitars (I had been dreaming of a black Fender Stratocastor or Gibson Les Paul) but because these parents had actually shopped and chosen something for me that was not socks, an undershirt, underwear, or of a winter coat caliber of necessity. And this from the parents that had seen me embarrass myself out the back yard window in my air guitar gesticulations, and defame myself with a string of bad notes from the electric guitar and amp that I had borrowed from our best friend. Still they took a chance that, though I didn’t play the guitar because it guaranteed a safe and secure career path or good rock ‘n roll retirement plan, it was something that made me happy in a peculiar way. It, for me, rendered time timeless. I finally was lucky enough to get an electric guitar, and many others that fill our house and my studio closets as we speak, but that guitar, nicknamed “Suzi” (it is a Suzuki beginners’ model) sits on a stand by my desk, ready to play at a moment’s notice. Trash to some, but priceless treasure to me. P.S. I had Suzi worked on years later by my luthier friend Joe Lindner. I strung her up with steel strings, from the original nylon and used her on the album Green Eyed Radio for the guitar solo in Suzannah.
Musing: A Working Title
Buffett album recorded
Maggie Valley Weekend
Duck Room in April!
Passages for Passages Album
A Hole and A String

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April 12 Peter Mayer Group performs at Blueberry Hill; St. Louis, MO
April 27 Nashville, TN.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
April 30 Atlanta, GA.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
May 2 Austin, TX.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
May 4 Frisco, TX.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
June 22 Boston, MA.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
June 25 Camden, NJ.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
June 27 Indianapolis, IN.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
June 29 Chicago, IL.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
July 13 Virginia Beach, VA.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
July 16 Cincinnati, OH.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
July 18 Pittsburgh, PA.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
July 20 Detroit, MI.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
August 17 Bristow, VA.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
August 20 Wantagh, NY.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
August 22 Wantagh, NY.  On tour with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band
Jan 01 Anywhere, USA
November 2 Peter Mayer Group performs at the Casa Marina Beach stage, as part of the MOTM convention in Key West, FL
November 2 Peter will perform additional shows as part of the “Unplugged” Coral Reefer Band and Club Trini, at the Casa Marina Beach Stage; Key West, FL

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