My first ever live album is out now! It’s 15 songs, 9 of which have never been released! It’s available for purchase exclusively on Bandcamp, as is my entire catalog from 2000 on.
Here’s the video announcement:
On June 18, 2021, we believed the dangers of the pandemic were about to definitively recede into our rear view mirrors. There were many reasons for this — high vaccine uptake, low case rates, no variants had made an impact. We gathered at a beautiful little theater in San Pedro, California for the first in-person show of an NEA funded concert series called “Roots and Rambles.” Taran Schindler of The Warner Grand Foundation put this together. We’d been talking about doing a virtual show for about a year at this point, but as it got closer to the show date, things started to open up, so we decided to it in person. Since the show was grant funded, there needed to be an educational element, so I went out there to lead a songwriting workshop about three weeks prior in a little organic garden across the street from The Grand Annex. It went really well and it was so sweet to work with live humans in person after more than a year. Afterwards, Taran, showed me the space where I’d play. And on the stage was a piano!
Seeing a grand piano on the Annex stage… well, the sun shot rays through the clouds to show me the way! Over the pandemic I had brought a short (61-key) keyboard home from my studio, and I was starting to write a little bit with it, but I probably hadn’t put my hands on a real piano for probably 4 or 5 years. I’d never played piano in a show, unless you count a couple times when I was in Middle School and High School. Touching this piano now, I thought, “This is crazy, but I’m going to use it!”
Leading up to the show, the CDC allowed capacity for the room kept increasing and my excitement built. Taran told me their audiences liked to really hear the stories behind the songs, so I tried to build a show that was a retrospective journey and also a chance to share new songs with fresh stories.
So that’s what this is. Building from “Stir it Up,” written when the Rainbow Coalition and The United Colors of Benetton were fresh, before Jesse Jackson said we should call ourselves African-American, to the arrival of “Ours to Seed,” which explores some similar themes from the grand to intimate. Both are played on piano instead of guitar, where they were written 30+ years apart. I point this out because language has changed and changed again, but what remains constant is curiosity, the willingness to stumble and engage, in service of building connections between people: people I meet, people I want to meet, and people I want you to meet.
What you have here is pretty much everything that went on in the room captured by a few mics set up for the live show, where I move from station to station to play different instruments. It was a playground! I’m elated, centered, pensive, I ramble, I ask questions and I try to direct a singalong. Luckily, the folks in the audience laugh and talk back loudly enough at times so you get a sense of what it was like in the room.
The title, “Document:Freedom:Spring,” I dunno, it’s probably pretentious. Lots of my album titles might be. This one comes from the starting point of, “It is, what it is,” a fairly rudimentarily captured moment in time.
AND, It documents half a lifetime’s worth of material. It documents a moment in our culture’s pandemic, where we were starting to feel free again. I felt extraordinarily free to have the opportunity to play again. Even more so, I felt free to be able to stretch out, play piano, my Brazilian-style nylon string guitar, my trusty dreadnought, and my Tele-styled electric, with no time constraint.
This album documents a room filled with loved ones and strangers (yet still sitting far apart, mind you). I love hearing the familiar laughs, the new voices, and the supportive energy in the singing and applause. It documents a cultural moment where hard truths had been exposed, but we hoped that awareness would bring more harmony. I still hope. And I think you do, too. That’s the “Spring” of it, as well as, the season we met.
No need to tell too much of the stories behind the songs here because I do my best in the intros. I went back and forth about how to cut the songs and ultimately decided to keep the intros separate from the rest of the song. But I hope you’ll listen to the album start to finish, maybe on a long walk, a drive. I just hope you’ll be dropped into the room with us and follow along. Ray Moore did such a good job to highlight the energy and intimacy of the room with his mastering. I’m so grateful for him! (Just a note, this will sound best if you download it and add it to your music player. There are no unintentional gaps if you play it through Apple Music or whatever you use to play your downloads.)
I’m also grateful to Jacki Moo for filming, to Larson for following me around the stations and working the sound, to Natalie Gonzales for facilitating the video, to Joselyn Wilkinson for recommending me, and to Taran Schindler for bringing me in and opening up this space! It was just an amazing experience!
Soon a new studio album will begin.
Right now, I’m so excited for you to hear songs you probably haven’t heard, and how some of your old favorites have developed over the years!
Peace and love,
And here are some cards to share on the socials, if you’re so inclined!