Dirt Life / Lovers of Love.
Dirt Life / Fruits of Labor / Life & Death.
Dirt Life / Simplicity / King of Soil.
“I can’t even say goodbye,” Emma muttered as we pulled up to the Salt Lake City International Airport. The day had arrived for a plane to fly her and a group of other local doctors and nurses to Lima, Peru for an effort to help aid in hygiene and wellness. We knew the day had been close at hand for the past week, but now that it had arrived the emotions were running high.
“Goodbye, Ollie, I’m gonna miss you.” I could tell that it was one of the hardest things she’s had to do for quite sometime. I mean, to be frank, I don’t think I have ever seen her get as worked up as this when I take off (and I take off a lot). You could almost see the connection of mother / son take form as Ollie clung his arms around her neck. No, he didn’t understand that his Mama was leaving, but he could tell that she was upset. With a kiss and an embrace she was off. She slipped through the automatic doors, leading into the terminal, and I sat. It was Ollie and me. In the 8 (almost 9 now, good heavens.) years that I have been married to Emma I have never been left at home, alone. I have been the “leaver” the “taker-offer” the one to abandon the nest in search of food, but I have never been on the other side of it. There is a lonesome air to it that I partially enjoy. But mostly anxiety. I get filled with dread, thinking that something might go wrong, that something might happen that can’t be undone. But then again, that’s just life, and to live it in fear is to NOT live it at all.
Last week, about this time I got a call from my brother.
“Joshua, this is kind of an emergency.” He said on the other side of the line.
“Well WHAT!?? What is going on?”
“I am at the hospital…I came to insta care because I poured some gasoline over that pile of wood in my front yard, I am sure you know which pile I am talking about. Well, anyways, I lit it, after pouring WAY too much gas on it, and it blew up in my face. Half of my body is burned and I am just making sure that the burns aren’t 3rd degree, so I came here.”
I sat on the other side of the line, speechless.
“Are you OK..?” was all I was able to muster up.
“Yes, I think that I am fine, I just wanted to double check, and so I came here. Would you mind driving me up to the University burn clinic to get some ointments for it? I don’t think it will take too long?” He replied.
“Of course, I will be right over.” I left the recording session that I was in and raced over to my brother’s place in Pleasant Grove. The burns had blistered up all and down his arm and shoulder, but fortunately hadn’t gotten his face too bad. We drove to the burn clinic in Salt Lake City and they proceeded to inform him that he would need to have the burn “scraped”. Now, when it comes to skin, the last thing that I would ever want a professional to tell me is that I needed to have mine “scraped”. They then told him that usually the patients that come in take some pain medicine before the procedure because of how painful it is. My brother, being the man, the muscular specimen that he is explained that he didn’t have the time to come back to SLC and that he would rather just do it right then. I winced in the thought and as they prepared his room of torture and tearing I tried to keep his mind calm by talking to him about ANYTHING other than what was about to happen.
“Colby James?” the slightly overweight, middle aged woman said, looking around the waiting room, even though we were the only two in the place.
“Yeah, right here…” He seemed calm, collected, and ready. I waited in anticipation that left my palms sweaty and heart rate high. He came out with a mummy’s arm, wrapped thick with gauze and protective ointments. As we got into the car he explained that it was an extremely painful process and that he should have opted for the meds. We headed back to the valley and spent the day in the shade.
The next day Emma, Ollie and I headed to the mountains to give a go at camping. The whole day was spectacular filled with hikes, cooking and setting up camp. Finding a sense of solace in the woods. At around 9 o clock Ollie laid down. We weren’t sure if the pack n play in the back of my tour van would work but he was soon asleep after laying him down. Soon there after some good friends joined us around the fire. As we discussed the grand mystery the clock turned 12, and from the deep corner of the van I heard a baby cry. It was an irregular sound, one that I had never heard Ollie make. He sounded scared. Both Emma and I went into the back of the van and tried to comfort him, as soon as he would stop crying and appeared ready to be laid back down he would start to scream again. So I sat in the back captain’s chair and had him fall asleep in my arms. The hours passed as I sat in that chair, holding something/someone that means more to me than death. At 3 o clock I was able to lay him down next to his Mama and we slept until 6am, when the sun gave us a dose of light and heat. I made an extremely large pot of coffee over the campfire and the first camping experience was well under our belt.
Hikers Union / Workers Due
Baseball Diamond Blues
Both the camping trip and my brother’s horrific mishap with gasoline and flame happened three days before Emma’s departure. Due to the extremity of the burns that Colby endured my brother has not been able to return to work, which leaves him ample time to relax and collect thought. It (and heaven knows I am NOT wishing this upon him) came at the right time, opening him up to experiences outside of his regular schedule. It has been a beautiful time to spend time with both my boy’s (Oliver and Colby). The time together since the Mama left has been some of the best time that I have spent with my little man. We have been planting, gardening, fixing, painting, shopping, swimming, biking, hiking, blueberries in the park and overall creating a good pool of memory to draw from in the future (mostly for me).
Take it Easy / Take It Slow / Ollie in the Swing o’things.
Sister & Cayo / Ladies Makin’ Babies / Babies Makin’ Mothers
Baby Brother / Uncle Coco / Swimming and No Swimming.
Swimming Sin (without) Ropa.
Cousins in Concert / Provo / Rooftops.
Now, I know that it sounds hokey, and it is (hokey). But I enjoy drawing parallels between life events. It helps me make sense out of the nonsensical situation of life and love. I AM A SELFISH MAN/PERSON/HUMAN. I am focused on what it is that “I” must get done, what “I” am doing, on the songs that “I” have written, and the like (the list goes on and on). The burning of my brother’s arm had a direct influence on me / my brain. When Ollie was born over a year ago, and though it might sound terrible, I felt that my whole body / mind was reworked / burned / changed. The “scraping” has been a longer process for me than it was for my brother in that burn clinic that fateful day. The departure of Ollie’s Mama has helped me come to the realization of the beautiful possibilities of life and the “post-scraping”. Everything moves slower but better. The simple joy, the smile, the raw communication of a “non-talker”, as Ollie is, has helped me let go of the pre-conceived, selfish motives to further the “I” in me.
While Emma is in Peru I will be starting a record with Virginian singer-songwriter Luke Mitchem. He flies in tomorrow and I am in the process of a true juggling circus act. But the lion has yet to eat me, and if I have anything to say about it, I will be the perpetual ringmaster. And “CRACK” goes the whip. And with the blink of an eye we are 16, then 30, then 60, then dead. Every day is our last. Every day a gift. It is hard, and maybe impossible, to live with such a feeling (always). But by golly, I will die tryin’
Oh, the beauty that life gives. LOVE,
Hands of the Future
As I sink further into the activities that accompany a post tour lifestyle I find that there is little to very little moments in which I am able to feel un-repressed from the constant building pressures albeit self-imposed. I shouldn’t/mustn’t complain, and it ISN’T “complaining”, I have found a beautiful way in which I am able to “cope” with said responsibilities. It is of no surprise that the greatest of interactions often occur in the greatest of places, the outdoors. After returning back from a trip that would carry us around the globe to sing for people I was tired. I couldn’t muster as much energy to focus on THE TASKS AT HAND as I had previously done. My hands and heart took quickly to spending more time in the dirt. The garden season has finally arrived (UTAHN) and much of the day’s most joyous happenings are found in the solace of the soil. Most recently, during our musical wanderings, I read a book by Novella Carpenter called “The Essential Urban Farmer”. The book is at its capacity with topics of digging and planting, cooking and keeping, raising and killing, I absolutely loved it. There is a section that talks about compostable weed barrier, which helps with your soils level of healthy organic matter. The process that I believe they called “sheet mulching” consists of placing cardboard boxes down over a site in which you would like to enrich the soil or destroy weeds and you cover the cardboard with a layer of compost and/or mulch. The cardboard is completely compostable and eventually will make its way back into the soil. I took the said sheet mulching/cardboard challenge and visited my local retailers in search of unwanted cardboard boxes. After multiple visits to various Customer Service desks and trash bin adventures I found out (from a watchful eye), much to my happiness, that Target is VERY willing to supply you with about as much cardboard as you could/may want to use.
Side Note: If interested in getting cardboard at the said establishment they will give you “boat loads” at 8am, Monday / Wednesday / Friday. Just talk to Customer Service, they even go as far as saving it for you if you put in a request. I AM SOLD (a buyer).
Target Tyrants / Cardboard Kings
The day after my van was loaded up with cardboard boxes I bought two yards of compost at the local green waste and started in on my first mulching experiment. It was mother’s day in two days and instead of riddling my baby’s Mama with a pile of flowers that are sure to perish within days, I purchased three blueberry plants, a currant plant and a Shiitake mushroom “MOTHER” from which you can grow your own. Mother’s day arrived and it was all smiles on the face of my gal when presented with the five magnificent / growing specimens. We immediately headed to the side garden to begin the process of both planting the new plants and in turn, sheet mulching around them. It was much easier and quicker than we had initially anticipated and it gave the side garden such a beautiful landscape to grow amongst. It seems that we couldn’t stop there, we had noticed weeds popping up around the willow trees that we planted a couple years back in the goat pasture and decided that sheet mulching would be an handsome and effective way to keep the weeds out of sight / dodge. This same mind set stretched out over the next four days, we ended up mulching in the front flower beds and have now begun our journey into the actual garden plot, which is large in size and has started to haunt us after our initial knee jerk reaction to begin such a pledge.
The Beginning of Life
Mushroom Mother / Be Kind Or Die
Sheet Mulching / Blueberry Patch
Loads of Shit
As I found myself laying down sheet after sheet of cardboard along the walkway in the back garden plot it seemed fitting to do such a thing on and around day of celebration, yes even the one of MOTHERS. The concept and appreciation of such a figure in my/our lives has taken on a much different role since the arrival of our baby boy, Oliver. The cycle in which we are mortally tethered to is accompanied with a “compost-esque” journey. The birth and the growth. The birth and the raising. The latter years and the dying all feel more real when surrounded by things that carry a much shorter life span than you. The beautiful way in which the garden / plant life springs up, gives life, and then consequently withers and dies after surrendering it’s finest fruits to the temporary superintendent over the land leaves a man with a pondering mind and grateful heart (or so you would hope).
Ollie-ver Finds Truth in Dirt
And so, the days have been passing with a plethora of activity and preparation for the season of harvest. Amongst all the horticultural experiences that have been taking place inside of Willamette MTN, there have been musical endeavors / adventures that have played a part in the weeks that have past since my arrival back from the road. My brain has spent half of it’s time camping out in front of a recording desk, working on a set of songs for a locally based singer, apart from the constant writing and expressing (all the while). But singing / recording / writing aside, It’s the planting season, the greatest season of all, and my heart couldn’t be more full.
A Joy / A Red Cup Morning
The Beginning of the End / Birmingham, AL
As sure as the earth turns around the sun the time that I/we spend out amongst our feverish dreams of open roads, mountain climbs, human connections and attentive audiences always seems to come to a close. And a close is what this run around the United States is giving us. After Evan and I played in San Diego and Los Angeles we returned back to our Motherly land of Utah to see our lovers and our friends. We tasted the sweet, dry air of the Wasatch Mountains and took a time for reflection and thought. A man can NOT function solely on the sound of the instruments that surround him. There is a voice that screams for permission deep within our whisperings for a time amongst the living, a simple request of a moment’s release. The time home was as magical as I had hoped it would be. My boy and my lover spent a great deal with me, prepping garden beds and cleaning goat stalls, making dinners as the sun fell behind the mountains coupled with the most grand of conversations.
Ollie-Ver / Elemental BLISS
The morning came for us to depart to the western most coast of the US. We were to meet back up with the fine fellows of Delta Rae, for whom we were opening. Seattle called us and we responded with a triumphant “HOOOWWWLLL”. Our journey took us from Seattle into the safety of Grand Ronde, Oregon where we sang for a large crowd of hopeful gamblers, looking for the elusive “break” in life and her financial burdens that she so “JUSTLY” places upon our shoulders. Walking from one machine to the next the mesmerization and transixed looks of those that were “in it” (“it” being the spell of a gamblers heart) brought me to a state of amazement. The hopeful bets and hungry eyes were almost more than my heart could take. I took refuge (post show) watching a cover band sing a version of Bob Segers “Night Moves” where i was able to transcend time back to the very moment in which I was sitting in my parents basement, a 16 year old who knew everything about the world and her trickeries, sure as shit that life had taught me all that I was to know. It has been many/too many years since that day in the basement, but even with those years in between I am still the same boy, walking and wondering about. Trying with a semi-strong sense fervor to distinguish the truth from the false. And all of those moments in between that day and this has led me to the very sight that I was seeing. A cover band singing that old song, and the beauty of the realization was almost more than I could take.
Road / Rude Food
From Oregon we headed to Boise, Idaho where we were greeted with good weather and a happy crowd. It was an early morning the next day as to assure we would have ample time to spend with our loved ones back in UT before heading to Nebraska for the next show. It was a 14 hour drive from Salt Lake City to Lincoln which got us in to the house of my parents at 11:30 pm. My father embraced me and made small talk with the boys for a spell before joining me in the dining room for our inevitable talk of life and death. I take great joy in speaking with my Father. It is inspiring to know/learn from a man that has lived through years of trial and error, weaving his own tapestry of color, merely to use it to warm the bodies of his kin. What a man/father/human. We stayed up until 330 am at which time I suggested that he get to bed, work would come early for him, and he wasn’t as young as he once was. Time can be cruel on the body.
Our time spent in Lincoln, as it always is, was short and the tour took us to Iowa, where we played an old theatre to an attentive and kind crowd. Rarely is there a show in which I am not amazed that there are people that let us stand on a stage and sing for them, and this night was no different. The show ended around 11pm and we headed to Deveri’s house, who we had met through CouchSurfing. She was waiting up for us with a plate of bruschetta and a bottle of Cabarnet Sauvignon. We spent a good couple of hours looking at her knitting hand’s craftiwork and discussing her undying/unfettered love for horses, of which she owned three. The night became late and it was time to sleep. The morning came early and the sky was overcast with a shy sprinkle of rain. Deveri asked us if we would care to ride the horses around the property for a moment. There was no hiding my excitement and we took her up on the offer. There is a mightiness to an animal that has the power to crush you with very little effort that must be respected, and I could feel it from that girl that fine Iowian morning. It was from there that we headed to Minneapolis which chewed us up and spit us toward Chicago, where we spent Easter Sunday in shine of the mighty sphere of life.
Deveri and a DUDE / Back Hoppin’
Evil Vince is a good friend of ours and offered his place to recharge our batteries while in Chicago. We are no fools, we said “yes”.
For the next couple of days we ate like kings, we played at the park, we sang songs (innocently), and let Vince spin us two hour long DJ sets on his turntables and allowed our minds to be whisked away to the land that exists between reality and NON. Chicago was a beautiful part of the journey this time around and Vince left us with a brighter outlook on “it all”, i can’t thank him enough for that.
Chicago to Nashville was a haul. We pulled into an old friends driveway at 7pm that night with a thirst for good conversation and connection and were filled with the events of the night. Rayland is a mighty man, both in stature and in character. His kindness to host us four boys will NOT go un-noticed/appreciated. We gathered around the stereo and listened to record after record, discussing the process that Rayland is currently going through in the studio and sharing excitement for our lives as musicians. We ARE grateful (OH! So grateful!). The next night we were part of the “Cause a Scene” concert series, which consists of a show in an unknown (or atleast previously unheard of) venue that is “invite only” via their email list. It was a beautiful night shared with both friends old and new. I can’t thank Larry enough for the beautiful evening. The next morning we were off to Asheville North Carolina. We played to a crowd of thirty people and couldn’t have been happier about it. We met a man that offered us his home’s floor to sleep on, we were more than happy to take it. When we arrived he made mention to something that he had that he thought I might like. He retreated into his room and emerged with a large white gown, he went on to explain that he had purchased it an estate sale and that he had very little that he could do with it, seeing as how it didn’t fit him. I happily and gratefully accepted. The night took our eyes and in the morning we left.
Yoga Yearning / Gown Guy
We had a day off in between Asheville and Charlotte and decided that we would join our Mother (nature) in the woods and spend some time dwelling on our journey’s thus far. We stopped at the local grocer and picked up potatoes, onions, yams, and carrots along with roll of aluminum foil and headed to the woods. The barkeep from our show at The Grey Eagle had made a mention of a place called Graveyard Fields, and despite its semi-spooky name we pointed the nose of our Ford Econoline-150 in the direction and parked along the main road. We loaded up our packs with all of the “neccesary” things for a night spent under the stars and started hiking into the woods. We shortly stumbled onto a spot that had a firepit and plenty of space to lay down four sleeping bags. We looked around and noticed that it might be harder to find firewood than we had anticipated, and so to work we went. We spent the next couple of hours in our primitive state of “hunter/gatherer” and piled up the wood, neatly, next to the firepit. With a little more than an hour left of sunlight we cut up the vegetables and arranged them accordingly in the tin foil for dinner. Soon enough the sun was behind the hills and us four boys were on a level that has become easier and easier to get into. The intimacy that I am able to share with my friends is something that i keep as one of my most prized “posessions”. I feel love from them and try to reciproacate the feeling as best as I know how. I am a VERY fortunate man in this sense. As a young boy I thought that friends were something you had as a teenager and maybe into your college years but then quickly tapered into non-existence after the wedding ring came on. I am THRILLED to announce that in NO WAY does this have to be (or should be, for that matter) the case. I feel close as blood to my brothers/friends, and on this beautiful night in the North Carolina forest I was grateful for those three boys. They have a piece of me/my heart and I hope that they never return it.
Asheville Living / Best Boys in my Life
Charlotte North Carolina welcomed us in for the next couple of nights, where we would finish the Delta Rae shows. It had been decided that since it was our last show together that we would (The boys and I) come out during the last song and “turn up the heat” for those in attendance. As the Delta Rae went out for the encore song that we would be joining them for I slipped on white gown that that Asheville man had gifted me and joined the Delta Rae crew on stage. It was a manic expression of music and soul, and it was beautiful. The tour with Delta Rae had been absolutely amazing. Never had i met such kind and giving folks, that were willing to put up will all our strange ramblings and erratic behaviours, and so to them i say: “THANK YOU” Yes. Indeed.
Charlotte, North Carolina / Top Of The World
The next night we played a last minute show at The Evening Muse before spending the wee small hours of the morning with some of our long time friends, deep in the heart of Charlotte. How do you catch up on what is going on with you/your life in the space of a couple of hours? Well.. You don’t. You just try and CONNECT. And we did. We did. That town will always have a piece of me.
The next couple of days were spent in Atlanta with one of the greatest persons I have ever met. Matthew is the owner of “Grocery On Home”, he booked us to play a show in the middle of the afternoon to a unique and expressive crowd, done in his home that he has dubbed “The Grocery”. He then proceeded to house and protect us, keep our hearts and heads safe. I feel a strong connection with that man, he is one of the “Greats”. There are people, there are humans, and then there are “Greats” he falls into the last. The second night that we were in Atlanta we were able to meet up with Damien Jurado and see his show at Eddie’s Attic. That man has an expressive quality about him that I will die trying to emulate. His innards are good, his voice as a trumpet and his expression as sharp as a knife. We spent post show at the local sandwich shop, discussing children and the longing for our lovers while on the road. The night turned out to be wonderful.
Damien Jurado / Good Heart / Good Human.
Birmingham, Alabama / Ruffner Mountain / Family Time
The next night we played at the same venue that we had just seen Damien at, Eddie’s Attic. It was a sold out show and my heart was full for the acceptance and support. We sang and took comfort in the community of expression. The crowd was kind and we all had the grandest of times. The next morning came early and steered us to Birmingham, Alabama, where we would finish off the tour. There was a lightness in the air as we pulled into the garage of Workplay Theatre LLC. Davey, the guy that has been there for over 12 years, the madman behind the sound booth, greeted us at the gate. He seemed flustered and said that he had been trying to call us for the last couple of hours to explain what was going on with the venue. We walked inside and the left side of the stage was stockpliled with large 50 gallon buckets that were collecting water from the leaking roof. He explained that there had been a wild wind storm the night before and had damaged the roof and left it with a leak that was streaming straight onto the stage. “The show is off” he said. I looked around and “the pit” area of the club and told Davey that we were gonna set up on the ground, in the pit, and that we could place chairs around us. For the next two hours i made my way through the hallways and offices of Workplay Theatre, grabbing lamps, props, really anything that i could get my hands on to try and create a “living room” atmosphere. By the time 630 rolled around things were looking great. I waited backstage for the show to start, wanting to try and mark the day with something special. And then it hit me, THE YOGA GOWN! I should play in the yoga gown! I ran to the van 20 minutes before the boys and I were to take the stage and slipped on the gown. I was ready.
Tour Gifts / Band Boy Time
The show went well and I / we were grateful for those in attendance, and for the kindness of the club for letting us do the setup that we did. The night spit us out at a friend of a friends deep in the woods, where the conversation and connection ran real and true. We were up till 2am with our new friends before slipping off into the arms of slumber, there was no doubt in my mind that the 7:30am alarm clock would come much quicker than wanted. “BUUUUZZZZZZ” The phone by my side went off with a frustrated vibration and informed me that it was time to go. I got the boys up, we loaded the van, drank a gallon of coffee and started the long drive toward Lincoln, Nebraska, where I would be staying, and wishing the boys a safe travel from there to Utah. The drive from Birmingham to Lincoln was long and semi-torterous. I was unaware that a distance could feel so epicly long, but alas, it was. We arrived into the arms of the Nebraskan night at 1am and with the rising sun the boys were off. I now sit here, with the comfort of my parent’s home, able to rest, to think, to (just) be.