I was a “proto-blogger.” That is to say that I started publishing “Notes From the Road” on my web site back in way 1997, laboriously chiseling them into my stone pda with a woolly mammoth tusk. Coincidentally, my first blog was published a few weeks before the word “weblog” ever appeared in print.
These are some of the earliest of those, from Thanksgiving 1997 to the end of 1999. There were a few before that, back when my web site was hosted by a company called Hidden Water, but they were lost when the company folded. If you need some help procrastinating (which we all know is the true purpose of the internet), glad I can help.
David (January 19, 2011)
|Austin, TX November 22, 1999 Two days after the last time I wrote one of these updates, a month ago, my van turned over fifty thousand miles on the way to a show in California. I just got my oil changed this afternoon, and I think I’m at fifty-five or so now, thirteen hundred of which have been on this trip. It’s really been a great tour, and I’m still looking forward to the last five shows in Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee, but I have to say it will be good to see those North Carolina mountains rise up on the horizon. I’ll be playing at the Grey Eagle December 10, and I imagine after that I’ll feel like I’m really home. Home for three weeks, anyway. 🙂 I’ve written quite a bit on this tour and am playing some new songs, which feels good, not to mention a new instrument I picked up in Santa Cruz. I missed a turn and was pulling around a building to turn around when I noticed I was in the parking lot of a music store. Seemed providential to me, so I went in, and an hour later left with a new mandolin. It’s a pretty little Gibson Epiphone, and I’m putting all three of the chords I know to use on stage at most shows. A week later I stopped by the Taylor Guitar factory in El Cajon, CA to take a tour and meet some of the folks there that I had talked with on the phone. Pretty amazing facility, and mighty nice folks, not to mention gorgeous instruments. In fact… Rick Fagen, who handles artist relations, showed me a couple of 514s and before I knew it I was shipping one home. The first step is admitting I have a problem, right? Hmmm. Anyway, it’s a beautiful instrument, and I’m looking forward to getting to know it better. Speaking of Taylor, they have a new section on the site called Discover the Indies, which features independent artists who play Taylor guitars. Keep an eye on it, as it looks like I’ll be added sometime fairly soon, not to mention that there are a bunch of great independent artists feature there that you might want to check out. Sure was great to be in Phoenix, Arizona, too. Not only was it my first show in Arizona, I got to have lunch with one of my closest friends from childhood, then known as Lisa Silverstein, now as Rabbi Tzur. We went by the childcare place and woke up her daughter from naptime so I could meet her, too. Pretty great… Texas has been great. Not only have I had to opportunity to see a bunch of friends and do some cool shows, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have my wonderful friend Kristin deWitt travel with me to all of them and sing some harmonies. Kristin is a much sought after harmony singer, having graced stages with David Wilcox, Tom Prasada-Rao and touring quite a bit with Sara Hickman. In fact, her photo is on Sara’s site. Kristin is also doing some performing as the lead vocalist these days with a back-up guitarist from Austin. Yummy. Also while in TX I got to catch up with Beth Wood, who was doing a CD release party in Austin. It was a great show, of course, and she surprised me by showing up at mine in Dallas a few days later. Beth sang on This Soul Man on the S.S. Bathtub, and just put out a great new record called Late Night Radio. To get a copy you can go to www.bethwoodmusic.com. Texas also brought a few other adventures, including three more days of shooting for the very silly independent film I’ve been working on with my friends Paul Dowler and Joe Lunne, entitled Unknown the Great: The Life and Times of Buddy Schmcghee. Look for a page about it on the site in a couple of months. This weekend we shot some in Dallas and then went to Archer City, TX to shoot there and spend some time with Larry McMurtry (author of Lonesome Dove, Terms of Edearment, Last Picture Show, etc.), who is a friend of Joe’s. We couldn’t quite talk him into being in the film, as he hates cameras and has already agreed to do an interview with Dan Rather in the Spring, but we had a whole lot of fun going out to dinner and staying at his mansion, which used to be the Archer City country club. Life sure is an adventure… Plans are on schedule to record in Seattle in early January, and I’m excited about that. Evan just lined up Keith Lowe to play most of the bass on the record (the rest being played by Michael Manring). You may have seen Keith on Jay Leno a couple of nights ago. He’s been Fiona Apple’s touring bass player for the last couple of years. I’m really excited about the record, and will keep you posted as that develops. I guess that’s about all the news that fits. Thanks, as always, for your kindness and support. Three months is a long time to be on the road, but there’s nothing like a smiling face to make it feel like it was worth the trip. Wishing you peace, David
Lincoln City, OR (45th parallel) Friday, Oct. 22, 1999 I have a new favorite national park… Bryce Canyon held the title until I spent a day in Glacier National Park in Montana last week. As I drove through the park I found myself listening to Bruce Cockburn singing “I’ve been cut by the beauty of jagged mountains and cut by the love that flows like a fountain from God / So I carry the scar as precious and rare…” I hit repeat a few times. There are beautiful trails there, and I spent a little time in the woods, but mostly put it high on my list of places I’d like to spend more time. Here’s one picture of it, anyway – just makes you want to do a jigsaw puzzle, huh? Only in the picture, I promise. That wasn’t the overwhelming emotion as I took it. An eighty-something-year-old friend of mine in Gillette Wyoming recently showed me a gadget she had just ordered by mail. It sits beside the bed and generates sounds of various environments. I think it had five or six options, including the beach, a forest or a babbling brook. I don’t remember all the settings, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t one for Glacier. I suppose they could put “Glacier” where “Off” usually goes. It is among the most silent places I’ve been. My friend was chuckling as she showed me her machine, but has been having trouble sleeping, and the idea is that those soothing sounds will help one sleep. I haven’t checked with her to see how it’s going, but the “ocean” didn’t sound much like ocean to me… more like I-40 with seagulls. I guess nothing sounds quite like the ocean, except maybe itself. I left my deck door cracked last night so I could hear it from my hotel room bed here in Lincoln City OR, where I’m spending a night off. There was a little green road sign on the way into town that said “Forty-fifth parallel, half-way between the North Pole and the Equator.” I played in Vancouver WA, just above Portland, the night before last, and wandered down here to the coast yesterday. Got to town just in time to walk down to the ocean and watch the sunset. I’ve been listening to a 36-cassette (!?!?) book on tape about Sacajawea and the Lewis & Clark expedition and I can’t help but think of their excitement when they finally reached the “Great Stinking Waters” as the plains tribes referred to the Pacific. I’ve been crossing their trail often on this trip, and though it’s an understatement to say that the obstacles I’ve faced on my journey have been mild by comparison, those travelers cross my mind even more often than I cross their path. Though their name for this body of water wasn’t terribly complimentary, I sure was glad to smell the salt in the air when I opened my door this evening. So much has happened since I wrote the last one of these letters nineteen days ago – guess I need to write them weekly when I’m on the road. Since then I’ve spent two weeks at Westwood High in Gillette WY as an Artist in Residence and played music for folks in Wyoming, Montana, British Columbia, Washington state and Oregon. I’ve also had my van searched by a couple of Sheriff’s deputies and a (disappointed) drug dog in Idaho, had to set music aside to deal with a listener having a petit mal siezure during a show in Canada, starred in a movie (titled Unknown the Great: The Life and Times of Buddy Schmcghee), watched a line of four buffalo walk unconcernedly within six feet of my van in Montana, had a front tire explode at 70 mph on I-5 in Oregon, drove through sleet on the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier Nat’l Park, and a few other adventures. Whew, now that I put it that way, it has been quite a tour so far. Half-way done… I won’t make you read through all those stories with all of their details, but do appreciate your checking in to see what’s new. There’s more, too. I also spent a couple of days in Salt Lake City hanging out with friends there. My friend Anke Summerhill , whose wonderful record I had the privilege of singing on last year, put me up for a couple of days on her futon, and I got to help a couple of other friends move into a new house. Exercise is the hardest thing to come by on tour, so it felt great to schlep some boxes and furniture and get my blood pumping. Oh yeah – it’s probably a significant detail that one of the folks I was helping to move was Evan Brubaker, who is producing my next record. After we got good and sore from moving we spent a day talking about the record and recording rough versions of the songs to make plans with. We’ve booked studio time in Seattle for January, and I’m really excited about working with Evan and the other musicians that will be in on the project. The only really scary thing for me right now is that I need to write three more songs between now and then. 🙂 Yesterday I got a package from Kathy & Josh in the office that contained cool little stickers from the Parent’s Guide to Children’s Media to put on the S.S. Bathtub CDs, announcing that it is an award winner. Big fun. I’m enjoying the feedback I’m getting from that record, from parents, kids, critics and random adults who bought it for themselves. 🙂 Thanks for the support. Six weeks down and six to go. Hope to see you somewhere along the line. I’ll check in sooner this time. I still have lots to tell you about from this batch – the movie for instance, and the residency in Wyoming. Actually, though, I think both of those things will end up with their own whole sections on this site before too long. Tomorrow I have a radio interview in Eugene, then I’ll be heading for several shows near San Francisco, so today I’ll wander down the coast on 101. For now, though, it’s check out time at the hotel, so I’ll find some lunch and get back on the road. The fog should burn off soon and I can hopefully watch the water as I go. Be good to you, David
Orem, Utah – Saturday9/18/99 There’s a song that will be on my next record called Saturday, all about how cool it is to wake up on a Saturday morning and realize you can roll back over if you want to. That’s how I’m feeling today. It’s day 10 of my three month Fall tour, and I’m relishing the fact that I only have to drive twenty minutes to my show tonight, so today will be a lazy catch-up day. Tonight I’ll play my ninth show in ten days. They’ve been spread between Florida and Utah, and most days have consisted of driving nine hours or so, setting up, playing songs for people, breaking down, driving a little more and finding a hotel. Not quite as glamorous as some images of life on the road, but I’m having a good time. I got out of Florida just before Floyd skipped up the coast, and have had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road with the Fall colors beginning to come out in this part of the world. Just plain gorgeous. I love the canyon country that lies between Evergreen CO, where I played the night before last, and Orem Utah, where I played last night. It’s early in this tour, but I’ve already had some adventures. The shows have varied from churches to house concerts to a straight-up rock and blues club, complete with women’s underwear hanging above the stage (presumably thrown there by adoring fans…). That was the night before last at the Little Bear in Evergreen, where I opened for Buddy Miles. Buddy is a pretty legendary player, having made up one third of the Band of Gypsys with Jimi Hendrix, played with Stevie Wonder and Santana, and been the lead grape on the California Raisins commercials (…no kidding). It was a lot of fun to stretch out a bit musically and see if I could win over a crowd of over two-hundred blues fans who had never heard of me (well, I did have five people there to hear me from my mailing list). It actually went really well. I played some of my more rock and guitar-oriented songs, and the crowd was amazingly enthusiastic, though they refrained from throwing underwear. After the show I helped the band schlep gear out to their tour bus, where they would catch some winks while the driver took them down the highway. Apparently the drill is that the driver goes to a hotel and sleeps while they set up do the show and tear down, then he drives through the night while they sleep. Guess he’s not much of a blues fan. At one point the lead guitar player couldn’t find his duffle bag that had been left with a bunch of sound equipment on the porch while things were getting loaded. It was sort of bizarre, but apparently it was stolen. There was a bunch of valuable PA equipment there, and someone took his clothes. The manager, the band and the sound guys tore the place up looking for it, but to no avail. I helped look for it, as I really felt for him, on tour with no clothes, but we all chuckled at the sheer strangeness of a clothes bag being stolen out of a pile of expensive equipment. Since the driver was through with his hotel room at 2 AM when they pulled out, they gave me the key to use it for the rest of the night, which was kind. When I got there, though, I had to chuckle again. Seems that when I was packing up that morning in Kansas I had pulled out of the parking lot with my clothes bag sitting beside the van. That’s what I get for laughing, I guess. I had a few hanging things to wear, but had to hit the first K-mart to buy a new toothbrush, deodorant, some socks and underwear. Maybe it would have been good if they had thrown some. Nah… So I pulled out the next morning in the same smoky clothes I had worn for the show the night before. When I told Kathy about it, she smirkingly suggested that I could wear a David LaMotte T-shirt, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. It’s got my picture on it, for goodness sake. Well, enough road stories, I have some really big news to share. Josh called from the office yesterday to say that he had just heard from the Parents Guide to Children’s Media, and the S.S. Bathtub, my kids record that came out in December, just won a 1999 Parents Guide Award. If you’re not familiar with it, this is a very prestigious award, and will mean some good publicity for it as well. It lends a lot of credibility to the album, and makes me feel great, too. Wahoo! I’m currently playing at the Timpanogos house concert series in Utah which has featured many of my favorite touring singer/songwriters. The show was a whole lot of fun, but the highlight of the night for me was when most folks had gone home and two daughters of the host family, Liz and Katie, broke out their fiddle and cello and started playing celtic music. I mean REALLY playing. They are twelve and thirteen. Lindy and Colby, who opened for me, a few other folks and their fifteen-year-old sister Chelsea and I sat and listened with big stupid grins on our faces. Chelsea kept reminding me to pick my jaw up so I wouldn’t lose it in the couch cushions, then I sat in on hand drum a little. They just finished mixing a CD with their family band, Fiddlesticks, which should be out in three weeks or so. Great stuff. Those times sitting around after shows are often my favorite part of the evening. Never know what’s going to happen. I like to pass my guitars around and see what other folks brought in the way of music, and you get to have whole conversations instead of sixty-second connections with people. Good livin’. While I’m here in Salt Lake I’ll be getting with my friend Evan Brubaker to formalize plans for the next record, which he’ll be producing. We’ll probably record part of it in Seattle and part in Salt Lake, and maybe part in Asheville, putting it together in the winter and early Spring and hoping to release it before next summer.. I’m really excited about it. It will be a heavier record in some ways, but I think it’s the best collection of songs I’ve come up with yet, and we’ll have some great players on it, including Michael Manring, the best fretless bass player around. Can’t wait to get to work on it! Next week I head up to Gillette Wyoming to get started on the Ropes and Writing Residency at Westwood High, where I’ll be for two weeks before hitting the road again to do the last two-thirds of the tour (if you want to read a little more about it, click on Old Notes From the Road below). Yes, it’s a really long time to be on the road by myself, but you make it worth it. That may sound trite, but it’s true. If you’re still reading, you’re pretty interested in what I’m doing, which means you must be getting something out of it, and that’s enough reason. Thanks. Keep in touch. Check out the discussion group clicker off of the home page on this site if you’re interested in talking with some other listeners around the country. Pretty cool folks. Peace on the journey, David
Valencia CA 7/4/99
It’s 11:11 in Los Angeles on the Fourth of July. I’m listening to the last bits of fireworks popping in the night and saying a little prayer that no brush fires will start. It’s dry out here on the left coast, and the local firefolks seem pretty concerned. I’ll be catching a plane home in the morning after a few days out here. Finished up a weekend of meetings this afternoon in preparation for a new school residency I’m working on with Ropes Course Instructor Troy Lake, Dolores Longhofer, who works with Arts In Schools in Gillette, Wyoming, and filmmakers Joe Lunne and Paul Dowler. What began as a casual idea during a game of racquetball with Troy last year has become a fairly detailed plan for a residency which will integrate creative writing and ropes courses and involve other students in the making of a short documentary film about the writing/ropes residency. If you don’t know what a ropes course is, it’s basically an overgrown obstacle course built out of telephone poles and steel wires, and sometimes trees, tires, etc. Many of the activities require a great deal of group processing and teamwork, and others demand quite a bit of courage. Some examples include a cat walk across a telephone pole twenty feet off the ground, and sliding down a forty-foot high zip line. Pretty intense stuff. Students are harnessed and belayed by trained instructors and facilitators, but the physical risks are pretty daunting. This kind of experience presents a fine metaphor for the experience of writing, which also requires risk and confrontation of one’s fears, though in a much different arena. I’m excited about working with all of these folks and looking forward to getting back to Westwood High in Gillette, where all of this will happen in the Fall. Surely no shortage of adventure in my life these days. Since I was coming out to the Left Coast for this meeting anyway, I came out a few days early to attend my friend Jeff Emery’s 40th birthday party in the Santa Cruz area. Along with being a concert promoter and a folk DJ at KZSC, Jeff manages to squeeze in a bit of time for his day job as a wine maker at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards. Bunches of great musicians showed up at the party, not to mention several wine makers, and fine specimens of each art flowed until dawn. A couple of days later Jeff and his wife (and my friend) Andrea took me to visit a friend in the neighboring community of Bonny Doon to see Boomeria, which is a castle, complete with catacombs, trap doors and hand-cranked portcullises, not to mention a full-sized pipe organ. P.Q. Boomer has built all of this with the aid of the many classes of high school students he has taught since the fifties. It was quite an amazing thing to see and I highly recommend that you stop by to see it if you are ever in the Santa Cruz area on a Saturday. If that’s too much of a commute, check out the web site at www.concentric.net/~leboom/tour. Big fun. Bonus of bonuses, though. I also found out at the last minute that it was going to be my friend Val’s birthday while I was in the bay area, so I got to be the surprise at her surprise party. that was especially great because I was in cahoots with another friend, Lisa, to get revenge because last Fall I was a surprise guest at Lisa’s birthday party due to scheming by Val. So it was sort of the birthday tour. This Fall I’ll be heading out on what seems to have become an annual three-month tour West, this time getting farther north than I have been before, including a couple of shows in British Columbia before heading south through Washington and Oregon, California, Arizona New Mexico, Texas, etc. Hopefully this path will connect with yours somewhere along the way. Though the tour is pretty well planned there are still holes to be filled. Feel free to check the calendar if you have a college, church or other venue where you’d like for me to play some music, and call Kathy or Josh to talk about lining up a show (800-995-6825). Looks like Spring will also be taking me down under to Australia. I’m hoping to spend a couple of weeks in March touring there. Can’t wait! In doing some record-keeping recently I realized that I’ve been spending an average of two thirds of my time on the road. That means that in the last year-and-a-half I’ve spent a year of it gone, rarely spending two weeks without leaving town. Though that means I get to see a lot of interesting people and places, it has squeezed out some other projects I’ve wanted to take on, and has left me with little writing time. I’m trying to prioritize writing lately, and that process is feeling good, but I’ve decided to wait a little longer before recording my next album. There are several reasons for that decision, but the most important is that I’d like to have a longer list of songs to choose from. Since this summer seems too soon, I’ll need to wait until January or so to get back in the studio. That was a tough call to make, but I feel like it’s the right decision. Thanks for your patience. 🙂 Thanks, as always, for checking in. Even after eight years I wake up amazed that this is actually my job, and that there are enough people interested in my music for it to remain so for now. So thanks again.
P.S. Oh yeah! Sorry it has taken so long to get another of these on the site. My laptop crashed, so I’ve been behind on everything computer-related. I just had a new computer shipped here to California on Friday. It’s a spiffy Mac G3 Powerbook. 🙂
3/1/99 (Chicago) – 3/3/99 (home [briefly])
Thanks for checking in. I’m somewhere in the air between Colorado and Tennessee on my way home from Albuquerque by way of Denver and Chicago (…?). Me and several other folks are busily typing away on our laptops, and I’m the only one not wearing a suit. I’ll be home for a couple of days, then heading out again for some more shows. I want to use my time in town tearing my kitchen apart, as I’m doing some remodeling there, so I’m glad to have this time on the plane to catch up on these Notes From the Road. Life is busy these days, but sure is good. Lots of adventures. The children’s record is doing really well, and it’s fun to hear back from people about it. I keep getting comments like “…but it’s not REALLY a children’s record” from adults who are embarassed that they are enjoying it, but seem to be getting good reviews from little ones too. Already my thoughts are turning to the next record, which we may start recording as soon as this summer. I’ve got over half of the songs I need, and I’m giving a lot of attention to writing these days, hoping to get the rest of them ready. The working project for the next title is “Lens Cap,” and it will most likely be produced by Jeff Tarayla, who produced Hard Earned Smile. Lots of fun stuff coming up on the web site, too. First of all, my long time buddy Ben Senn has started a discussion group at www.onelist.com. If you go there and search on David LaMotte you can join up. We’ll put a clicker off of this site soon, but for now you can go directly there. I spent some time in DC a couple of weeks ago with John Gallagher, who does the design work on this site. We mapped out some things we want to do. First, some backgrounds to spiff things up a bit, then we’ll be installing a photo album. Watch for this to be added gradually over the next couple of months. After that we’ll be doing pages on the site for each album that have basic information about the recording (who plays on it, where it was recorded, when it came out, etc.), a picture of the album cover, and the song list. Then when you click on the song you will be able to read the lyrics. Eventually there will also be a section with lyrics for unrecorded songs. In the midst of all that, I’m also keeping a pretty full gig schedule. Leaving tomorrow on a run that will take me through South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas, and Tennessee again before coming home. This after spending the last few days at the National Folk Alliance convention, where about two thousand people sit around hotel rooms and share music for four days or so…. and nights. Saturday night I went to bed about 6 AM and there were still people playing. That made getting up at 6:30 AM on Monday pretty tricky, but so be it. I had to catch a plane early that morning because I got stuck in Chicago overnight due to a mechanical problem. While waiting around in the airport I broke out my guitar and ended up doing a little show for some kids that were getting pretty bored waiting. They gathered around and we had a big time playing songs and learning about how guitars work. 🙂 The conference schedule was so full that sleep got squeezed out almost entirely, but I did go a day early so I could enjoy the area some before I leapt into the fray. That first day was pretty amazing. Got up early and got in a van with some other folks who were introducing themselves and trying to shake off sleep and jetlag. We all went out to a big field next to a mall where we met two other vanloads of folks, each with a hot air ballooon on the back. The sun wasn’t up yet, and the dry desert climate was pretty cold without it, so holding the balloons open while the pilots blew air into them got a little chilly on the hands, but the sense of adventure was enough to keep us smiling while we got everything set up. Then the sun edged over the Sangre de Cristo mountains and things warmed up remarkably quickly. The ballon ride itself was serene and foreign and fun, all at the same time. We floated in low over the Rio Grande and got a close-up look at a swamp that runs to one side of it for a while. The beavers must have been puzzled, but we enjoyed the view. The best part, though, was coming in for a landing. We were about a dozen feet off the ground, coming gently toward a nice big field beside a highway when the pilot changed his mind and decided to head for another field on the other side of the highway. We floated over the four-lane so low that we actually had to go back UP to clear a light pole on the far side. The motorists got a big kick out of it, and I think I got a picture from just above the traffic that was speeding under us. That was a grin. You’d think that would be enough adventure for one day, but I went home from that and caught up with my friend Kristin from Austin, TX. We headed north in a rented car past Santa Fe up to Ghost Ranch, where we spent the day hiking through the canyon country where Georgia O’Keefe made her home. There’s something in me that is deeply drawn to things that are foreign to me, and that terrain certainly is. Powerful and imposing and always changing as the light shifts through the day. So tomorrow I head out again. Who knows what comes next? Thanks, as always, for your interest in my music. Hope our paths will cross soon.
Corpus Christi, TX
It’s late November and I’m sitting on the balcony of my hotel room on the ninth floor of the Econo Lodge looking out over the Gulf of Mexico. There’s a rock’n’roll cover band cranking it out on the balcony of the bar across the parking lot, so I might as well drop y’all a note. Sleep is out of the question. 🙂 Actually, it’s kind of fun, if a little incongruous with the sailboats in the harbor, the palm trees and the twinkling lights across the bay. At the moment they’re playing a Queen song I listened to a lot in high school. It’s hard to imagine that the mountains of North Carolina are easing through the transition from Autumn to Winter as I sit here comfortably in shorts in the middle of the night. Probably in the mid-seventies. I was talking to someone at a show recently and they asked how my Spring was, or if I would be back in the Summer, or something like that, and it actually took me a minute to remember what season it is. I get fairly disoriented with all the climate changes. It was the end of summer when I left Black Mountain a little over two months ago, and it snowed in Wyoming a month ago when I was there, was pleasant in San Francisco, then chilly in New Mexico as I drove down from Denver. Nice to get a last fix of warm weather before I head up to Arkansas this week. Changes in my life seem to be keeping pace with the changes in the weather. I’ve hardly had time to feel the loss of the Grey Eagle, which was my musical home until it closed two weeks ago. This week, though, I have another difficult goodbye to say. Grant Andrew, who has been my booking agent for the last year and a half, called this week to say that he needs to close the agency. It’s been a great run, and it is hard for me to let go of that. Grant’s done great work for me, and in the process we’ve developed a friendship that I will always treasure. He’s not far from the birth of his third child, though, and needing to devote more time and money to his family than the demands of the agency were allowing. Those are fine priorities, and I can only respect the decision, as much as I hate to see WorkinFolk go the way of the Grey Eagle. I guess it’s a seasonal thing. It’s a truism, but this time of year does make us face the necessary death of good things to make room for more good things. Though there is nothing certain there is still hope that the Grey Eagle will find a new place to land, and I will certainly find a new way to deal with the business of booking. For now, Kathy, who has been doing my business management and publicity, will be handling my booking as well. Grant’s helping her get set up, and I have no doubt that she’ll handle it with her usual efficiency and good sense. If you need to catch up with her you can call 1-800-995-6825, or email DryadBiz@aol.com. In the birthing department, there’s the new kids’ record! The S.S. Bathtub is shipping Monday, so I’ll have some for my Thanksgiving show in Little Rock, and the orders that have come in will start being filled in a few days. That will be fun. Thanks so much for the continued support of that idea. Frankly, you’ve been bugging me to death about it, and I appreciate it! 🙂 If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to click on the S.S. Bathtub icon to go to the page we’ve created about it. Tonight I got to open for the Austin Lounge Lizards at the Executive Surf Club here in C.C. I had heard them a lot on WNCW, but this was my first time seeing them live. What a blast! They played “Shallow End of the Gene Pool” and “Put the Oak Ridge Boys in the Slammer,” among other classic Lizard tunes. Big fun. I look forward to being back here, and in Texas in general. What a great state! And humble, too. I just heard the lead singer of the bar band say “We’ll play one more,” so I guess I’ll wrap it up, brush my teeth and keep that date with my pillow. Have to get up early to make it to Dallas in time for the show there tomorrow. Ahhh, “Play That Funky Music, White Boy.” Nice closer, and certainly words to live by… Thanks, as always, for listening. I look forward to the next time our paths cross.
Wishing you peace,
Greetings from the Motel 6 in Somewhere, Colorado. No, that’s not the name of the town, but I actually don’t know where I am. I guess I could call the front desk and ask, but… Last night I was driving toward Boulder on I-76 and the van started to feel a little wobbly. This could have been explained by the high winds and rain that were rising up in my headlights out of the dark featureless pavement, but the van has handled really well in the rain so far. I turned the book on tape off and heard the irregular rhythm of a tire slowly going flat. Well, at least I didn’t have to question the van’s handling. I found myself in a bit of a spot, though. 75 mph speed limits are the norm out here and in the nasty weather I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try to change it on the shoulder, so I rode the rim to the next exit hoping there would be a gas station. No luck there, but there were a few houses spaced out in the mile north of the interstate. I brought the van limping along the shoulder to the first of these where my headlights fell on three large metal signs on the gate. The first one I read said “Stay off the porch.” I thought this might be some backwards reference to “running with the big dogs,” and I was only partially wrong. The sign to the left of that one announced that the house was protected by Big Tough Security, or some name communicating the same idea. The sign below said “Warning: patrolled by Rotweillers.” I got the message and limped to the next house where I finally got out and inspected the culprit by flashlight. Pretty far gone. I could have changed the tire and limped back on to the highway on three real tires and a doughnut, but I thought my spare might be more of a liablity than an asset on the high speed highway, so I called AAA and had them tow me to the nearest hotel where I could get to a garage in the morning, either to fix or replace the tire. AAA said it would probably be an hour, so I lay down in the van and woke up to the tow truck driver rapping on the door. He brought me to this Motel 6 and it turned out to be a brand new and cheap motel, so I’m killing another night here and catching up on some correspondence and paper work. Tonight I’m working on liner notes for the kids’ record, which I will master tomorrow with Dave Glasser at Airshow Mastering in Boulder. We’re still hoping to have it manufactured and available by mid-November. Keep checking in here for updates. I’m looking forward to working with Dave again. It’s a horrible pun, I know, but he really is a master. I also spent quite a bit of time on the phone today. There is sad news in Black Mountain and the community is trying to come to grips with a great loss. The word has just come out that Halloween night will be the last show at the Grey Eagle. Those of you who have been there will know what this means. For the folks who haven’t I’ll try to be concise by simply saying it’s my favorite place to play music. I’ve performed there many times in the last three years, and spent many other happy nights in the audience, or just sitting with friends enjoying the community that is at the heart of what I love about my little town. Some of my most fulfilling moments performing have happened on that stage, including recording my live record “Flying,” opening for Arlo Guthrie, singing Amazing Grace with friends at the recent benefit for Second Chance, the Here We Are release party, and releasing Hard Earned Smile. I’ve shed a lot of tears in that room, mostly from being powerfully moved as I sat in the audience and drank in my addiction of choice – music. This will leave a hole in the heart of Black Mountain, and of the national songwriter community. The decision is clearly made, though. The landlords are firm in their decision not to renew the lease, and have other plans for the space. Some hope exists that another space may be found, but it seems like an outside chance, so I spent a long time on the phone today with each of the owners doing some mourning and talking it through together. They are certainly sad, but are also celebrating the incredible things that have happened there. If you’ve had meaningful times at the Eagle I encourage you to drop me a line and tell me about them, as I’m collecting a few right now. If you haven’t been there and live within road trip distance I encourage you to pick a weekend and go between now and Halloween. I’ll be on tour until well after then, so my last show there has already happened, but there is a lot of good music on the books in the next few weeks. Give them a call at 828-669-0777, tell them what kind of music you like and ask what they’d recommend. I am grateful to have had such a good show for my last time there. So this time on the road is full of dichotomy for me. The joy of travelling and getting to know some parts of the country I’ve neglected until now is balanced by a real sadness of loss in my own home town. The privilege of making new friends is countered by missing friends and family at home. Life is good, though, and I’m grateful for the challenges. In two days I’ll arrive in Wyoming where I’ll be teaching for a month as an Artist in Residence at the Alternative Transition Center in Gillette. I’m really looking forward to being back there, and will update you on news from there as that adventure evolves. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to listen. See you on the road… David
September 2, 1998
I’m sitting on the floor of Hollow Reed Recording Studio in Asheville, NC where my good friend Chris Rosser and I are putting finishing touches on my kids’ record (titled The S.S. Bathtub, Songs for Kids and Their Grownups). We have two days left of studio work, and though we won’t end up with any extra time I think we’ll get it done. Projects like this that involve a lot of different people and a lot of unknown variables always seem to either fall together or fall apart. This one, I’m happy to say, looks like it’s falling together. Tomorrow John McCutcheon will record a couple of hammer dulcimer parts in Virginia and FedEx the digital tape to us to mix with the rest of the instruments on Friday. Yesterday Christine Kane recorded her vocals, today Laura Boosinger brought her banjo by. Now there’s only a few vocal parts that I need to finish up and we’re pretty much there. That’s a good thing, as I’m leaving on Tuesday for my Fall tour and won’t return from it until December 6. I’ll be dealing with some of the production of the CD from the road, but I won’t have to sing into any telephones. 🙂 After that I’ll get a tape to John Gallagher, creator of the comic book series Buzzboy, who will be doing the art for the CD booklet. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with. The art, printing and manufacturing will take a bit of time, but we hope to have the album available by mid-November. Keep an eye out here for pre-ordering deals. Then I’ll master the CD in Colorado with Dave Glasser, who just won a Grammy this year for his work on a Smithsonian Folkways project. Dave worked on my last couple of records, and it’s always a pleasure to see him again. Hey! We’ve got new T-shirts! One is a simple blue T-shirt, sort of that washed out color that makes it look like an old comfortable T even when it’s new. That one says “There’s nothing so true as the hope in a Hard Earned Smile” on the front, and “www.davidlamotte.com” on the back. The white ones have a photo collage on the front and the same quote on the back. They’re available here on the site or at 1-888-495-6575 if you want to check one out. I’m looking forward to the tour. I’ve got 5000 miles on the new van, so that should be enough to have it broken in but not broken down. I picked up a small fridge for it, and plan to build in some cabinetry before I go, so it ought to be a pretty nice road trip. The first show is in Louisville, KY and the last is in northern Georgia, and in between I’ll play in Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa, much of the west and southwest including Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, ramble around Texas for a bit and head back through Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee before dipping down to Georgia and coming home. Whew! I’ll miss my little house and my friends in NC, but I look forward to catching up with far-flung friends on the road (say THAT ten times fast). Cool things have been happening back home this summer. We had a gathering last Sunday to send Michelle off to Boston to go to grad school. Though the parting is sad, the shindig was fun, and after five years of managing the business side of my life I’m sure she’s excited about the change of pace. No more Taco Bell receipts to tally… My sister Kathy, having just moved to town, will be working at that job for a few months and getting some things set up to teach the job to someone else in the Spring. She’ll also be handling promotional things, contacting radio and printed press in the various towns where I’ll be playing and things like that. There’s good news from the other folks I work with, too. Grant Andrew, who handles my booking, just signed two new artists to his roster. One is Barbara Kessler, a dynamite singer/songwriter from New England. She’s got some cool things coming up this fall, including a show at the Bottom Line in NYC and another show with the Indigo Girls. If you want to check her out go to BarbaraKessler.com. The other artist is Pierce Pettis, who I think is getting back from Europe right now, where he’s just done a tour for Polygram. Pierce wrote the song You Move Me, which is found on the new Garth Brooks record and will soon be found on a radio near you. He’s a formative influence of mine, so I’m really honored to share an agent with him. I hope this means we’ll get to do some more shows together. I’ve enjoyed playing percussion with Pierce on a couple of stages this year. The third person who works on my career besides me is Jimmy Landry, who owns ISG Records. He’s just gotten my song Hope onto a compilation CD put out by the magazine Crossroads, which is a trade magazine that goes out to radio stations and stores that work with acoustic music. Crossroads plans to put out several of these, but this is their first, so I’m honored to be featured on it. Another compilation just came out with a song of mine on it, too. WNCW, the station I listen to when I’m in NC just did a special edition CD called Tower Tracks which consisted of songs recorded live on the air at their studio. They chose my otherwise unrecorded song Dans La Louisiane for that one. Big fun. Well that’s about all the news that fits, I guess. Thanks so much for being interested enough to read all this. Oh yeah – one more thing. This morning I sat on the edge of my bathtub and took the four stitches out of my foot that were put there a couple of weeks ago when I stepped on an oyster bed in St. Augustine FL. If you caught one of the three shows I had to do sitting on a stool you’ll know how happy I am to have that ordeal behind me. I really like to stand up when I play. Helps me to be ready to get out of the way when people come flying out of the mosh pit. I’m updating tour dates tonight and several shows will be added, so be sure to check in. I sure am grateful that there are enough people out there who are interested in my songs to allow me to make my living at this. Thanks for being one of them. I hope we can catch up somewhere on this long rambling tour.
August 19. 1998
When I see something I really want to do I usually try pretty hard to make it happen. Not today, though. I’m currently sitting at my folks’ apartment in Florida looking at the ocean. They’re packing up getting ready to move back to NC after working here for a year. It’s breezy and warm here and the clouds are puffy and sparse. All in all a perfect day to go jump in the ocean and splash around. I’m not going to, though, in spite of the fact that I normally would. It’s my nature to do such things. In fact a couple of days ago was a great example. I went down to St. Augustine to see a couple of friends. I had promised to make dinner for my friend Katie and her new roomie so we went to the grocery store to grab a few things. We had picked up everything but the peanut butter when we rounded an aisle at the front of the store and Katie got a look at the sky outside. It was late afternoon and just starting to cool off a little. She looked sort of far away and I asked what she was thinking. She smiled and said “Oh, I was just thinking this is the perfect time of day to go jump in the ocean.” I said “Great! Let’s go!” and ran off to grab the peanut butter. We drove a couple of blocks down to the ocean and walked down to the water, where I kicked my shoes off and took off my shirt and Katie and I both ran into the water – her in shorts and a shirt and me in my long pants. There’s something great about breaking rules of convention like that. It feels great to jump in the ocean in your clothes. Last time I did that I think it was in a suit at a friends’ wedding. I was elated – running in at a long stride and yelling over to Katie how good I felt. I think it went something like this: “Yeah! Man, this feels good! I just love AAAARRGH!!! OUCH!” Something like that. Right about that eighth step I took my left foot landed on some sort of piling under the water. I don’t know if it was barnacles or oysters or what, but it shredded my foot up pretty well. We spent the rest of the evening at the Emergency Room where I got four stitches and a new tetnis shot, and I didn’t start making dinner until about 11:30. We were so hungry that all three of us liked it a lot. So today I can only watch the ocean. I’m not supposed to get the sutures wet. I suppose I’ll do my next few shows sitting on a stool, which is not usually my preference. Sure glad it wasn’t a hand, though! In fact, it isn’t even my driving foot. I can elevate it while I’m driving. Speaking of which, the new van just had it’s first 3000 mile oil change. We’re getting used to each other, and I’m really looking forward to taking it out on the road for my three month tour this fall. We’ll finish recording the kids’ record in the next three weeks, and it’s scheduled to be out by mid-November. I’ll keep you posted. I suppose there are worse fates than having to sit and watch the ocean as summer fades from the Florida coastline… Thanks, as always, for checking in.
July 20, 1998
Well, I know it’s called “Notes From the Road,” but I thought I’d be different this time and write from home. I guess “the Road” leads here too every now and then. It sure is a fine thing to be sitting in my papasan chair in my own living room with the evening breeze rolling down off of the mountains. Lots to be grateful for. Like crickets. And ceiling fans. And windows. I haven’t left the house all day except to run by the Grey Eagle and pick up some new T-shirts that came in today. They came out well. The white ones have a big photo collage on the front with this web site URL at the bottom, the Lower Dryad Music logo on the sleeve and the words “There’s nothing so true as the hope in a Hard Earned Smile” on the back. The blue ones have the same quotation on the front and the web site URL on the back, and they’re that cool shade of faded blue that makes them look kind of like a broken in T-shirt even when they’re new. We’re shipping all of them out to Indiana for a big show I’m doing for 5000 Presbyterian youth there this Thursday, but we’ll make more right away, so feel free to call the toll-free order line at 1-888-495-6575 if you want one (or any other stuff, for that matter). I’m also grateful for my friend John Gallagher, who is doing lots of work on this web site right now. You’ve probably noticed some changes, and I’m really happy about where this is going. As we work on things I would really value your feedback. Let me know what you like and don’t like, or any creative ideas that you have. It’s for you, so your opinion matters. 🙂 John owns a company in Maryland that does this kind of stuff, but he also creates very cool comic books about a tragically hip teen super hero called Buzzboy who eats too much junk food and watches too much TV and still manages to save the world every now and then. If you want to check his comic books out, go to www.skydogpress.com. The icing on the proverbial cake is that John is going to do the album art for the children’s CD I’m working on. That should be a big grin. Yep, I really am working on it. I know I’ve been promising this kids’ record for a long time, but it’s finally actually happening. We’ve been in the studio a few days already, and we’re hoping to wrap the whole thing up in the next five weeks, and we’re still shooting for November as a release date. I’m really having fun with some of these songs. I hope you’ll enjoy them too. I won’t give you the complete list of songs yet, as it may shift a bit more, but look for that in about a month. By then, I hope we’ll have a page on the site for each of the albums I’ve already recorded and a page for the kids’ record too. I’m working with some great musicians on it, too, including Christine Kane, Beth Wood, Chris Rosser, Anne Lalley, David Cohen and Walter Parks (of the Nudes). Big fun. Stay tuned… 🙂 Let’s see… what other news. Oh yeah! Last night I went to Atlanta to do an Asheville Writer’s in the Round show at Eddie’s Attic with Chuck Brodsky, Walter Parks and Chris Rosser. I volunteered to drive everybody, since I bought a new van two weeks ago. 🙂 It’s an all-wheel-drive Chevy Astro and I’m really loving it. We turned over 1000 miles somewhere in the middle of the night last night. The Fall Tour will be a lot more comfy than previous road trips. Speaking of the Fall Tour, if you pop over to the tour dates you’ll see where I’m scheduled to play in the next few months. I hope I’ll see you somewhere along the road. And if it doesn’t look like I will, you can always set something up! I play in little bitty towns to small audiences and in big cities to big audiences and every combination in between (like, for instance, tiny crowds in moderately-sized metropoli). If you’re interested in booking me for a show at your college, church, coffeehouse, performing arts series, etc. call Grant Andrew at the WorkinFolk Agency. He’s my booking agent, and he’ll be happy to talk with you about possibilities, including creative ways to put things together so that they are affordable and fun for everyone involved. You can reach him at 1-800-296-6686, or WorkinFolk@aol.com. It’s funny how mundane domestic chores take on a certain appeal when you spend the majority of your life away from home. I’m off to do the dishes, and lovin’ it. 🙂
April 15, 1998
Nov. 25, 1997
Q: What do you call a touring guitar player with his finger in a huge bandage?
A: Most people call me David
It’s November twenty-fifth, and I’m typing slowly, as there is a big white bandage on the middle finger of my left hand. I’m thirty-one shows, one beard, three oil changes, fifteen states, two flat tires, seven weeks, two stitches and many a song into my tour. Hoping to have the bandage off and be able to play by Friday, which is my next scheduled show. Between now and then lie two days of driving and Thanksgiving. Isn’t it amazing how it takes a little adversity to make us really grateful for things we never take the time to acknowledge when things are sailing along? As soon as I realized I had cut half way through my finger I was already feeling thankful that I hadn’t cut it off. OK, well maybe I took a minute to yell at the swiss army knife, but it didn’t take long for the awareness of my close call to sink in and make me feel strangely blessed, if a little short on good judgement. My misadventure wouldn’t have been cause for a new career even if I had lost a finger, but it sure would have meant some unpredicted time off while I came up with a new way to play. I was using my pocket knife as a phillips head screwdriver, trying to install a car compass in my little van when the knife slipped. It got as far as the bone, but stopped there. When I told Grant, my agent, about it this afternoon he insightfully pointed out that the emergency room fee would have bought a mighty nice tool set… At any rate, I’m sewed up and hitting the road again tomorrow leaving Idaho for South Dakota. I’ll spend Thanksgiving driving, and that suits me fine. In three weeks I’ll be home and will get to sleep in my own bed for a few days before heading out to spend time with my family at Christmas, catching up with some college friends for New Year’s, then going out to Gillette, Wyoming for the month of January as an Artist in Residence. The Spring will have me up and down the east coast and probably out to Texas once more. Check in with the tour dates to see what’s happening. We’re trying to keep them pretty current. By the way, I got to visit with my friend Julie Meloni in California while I was there. She’s the one that runs Hidden Water, which this site calls home[sic]. She told me that this web site has had just under 30,000 hits this year! That sure is affirming. Thanks. It’s been an amazing trip so far. From walking on the beach in Florida to waving back across the Gulf of Mexico from Corpus Christi TX; picking wild edible mushrooms in the Redwoods and eating them with pasta and wine bottled in my birthyear in Santa Cruz, California; stumbling on great music on a night off in a Tahoe bar. Actually I’ve heard a whole lot of great music on this tour. But the real gems from the trip are the friendships. I’ve deepened old friendships and formed brand new ones, and I don’t know what greater gift life can offer. Happy Thanksgiving, whatever day you read this. Maybe I’ll leave this note on here for a while as a little reminder …OK, and because it takes me a little while to get around to updating it… Thanks, as always, for being interested in what I’m doing.Peace,
Down in south Louisiana the moonlight grows on trees
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