In December, I set out on the road in my newly purchased VW Westfalia with a few shows booked and filled with the desire to work hard and do anything possible to build a sustainable business through music without having to sell my soul to a major corporation.
I worked a normal job for a while as I made records and practiced and tinkered with sonics and such. I admired fellow artist Oliver Jeffers and collaborated with him on some childrens audio books and watched his career blossom as he traveled the world. I admired Mac Premo as he defiantly built a career for himself in NY and purchased a home with his wife Adrianna. I was seeing friends in the Invisible Dog studio bldg build nice sustainable careers for themselves. Everyday they'd get up with a smile on their faces blessed with work and vision and opportunities came. Invisible Dog Studio is run by Lucien Zayan.
I got to travel a lot with Aaron Ruff of Digby & Iona and rummage through vintage items at Round Top in Texas and in Brimfield, MA all while he was slowly building his business.
All this reminded me of my dad when he was working as a machinist. He loved it so much that when we'd be on vacation he'd go looking for tools. It's no secret why he had success. It required hard work but the passion and interest in the subject was there. This is what I think is missing in the world today. Perhaps another Crafts movement is happening now as people grasp for some sense of authenticity. Hell even authenticity is wrapped up for us in a bow to purchase nowadays. A little beard oil and you're good to go.
I felt like I was being wrapped in a bow on a big label but now everyday I'm involved in the whole process. Yesterday on my day off in Austin I laughed when I pulled into the Goodwill to look for more women's shirts for indigo dyeing. I was my like my dad and the Invisible Dog crew.
I've always admired and envied farmers who had their crop to tend to everyday and in the off season they maintained their tractors and equipment. When I'm not on tour now, my brother Donovan and I work on the van. This is sustainability to me. It's more than just staying in the black financially. It's loving every bit of the process even when you don't understand it and you have to study and learn. I've learned that obstacles are necessary and help you achieve your greatest work.
One day I was driving to work over Lake Pontchartrain and the sun was rising and this guitar is playing on WWOZ. I immediately called "The Problem Child" who was hosting the show and she said it was Nels Cline. I've always loved the Fender Jazzmaster guitar and here was one of the masters of it. At the time I had just begun recording "Campo Santo" and had no idea that I'd end up recording with him.
I read an article once about Nels and he said he almost quit and before we played our show in Brooklyn I asked him backstage about it. "Why did you almost quit?" He said that he had so many interest in what kinds of music he wanted to play and didn't want to have to pick one genre. Man it made me feel like I was on the right track. I think this is why I've done 3 records since "So Long" and haven't released one of them. "Louque The Drifter" is a mix of old country, reggae, Fellini, freak folk and then immediately we made "For The King's Court" with The Royal Vagabonds". I guess the feeling was like being on the side of the interstate and you just can't find an on ramp and everything is speeding by. It's so nice to have finally merged in amongst the noise and set the cruise at 63mph as I achieve sustenance. Thanks Nels, and the whole Invisible Dog crew.