Tentative Armor Album and Book



I’m excited to announce that I am going to be recording music from Tentative Armor starting late next month. The tentative (hehe) plan is to record piano, strings, oboe and voice at Benny’s Wash and Dry in late June and I’ll spend the summer mixing the album. I’ll release the song “Invocation” as a single late in the summer and then release the album itself in October (ish) with a big ol’ album release concert someplace magical.

The extra special news about this is that my friend and frequent collaborator luke kurtis will be designing a full-color art book to accompany the album! I am so excited about this, and luke has already send me a first draft of the book. It’s really stunning and captures the spirit of the show perfectly.

I launched a kickstarter campaign yesterday (click here to check it out) to help fund the project. you can preorder lots of coolness at different levels. I’d really love your support in the form of a pre-order or even just your help in spreading the word. Just 29 days remain!

Thank you!

SandyLand Tour Diary #4: New England

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these tour diaries, but this last weekend with Sandra Bernhard was so extra-especially fantastic that I just have to write about it.

Sandra, Henya (our road manager), and I met early Friday morning to start the journey up to Plymouth, New Hampshire for our first show at  The Silver Center for the Arts. It was about a 5 hour drive, but it actually felt pretty quick. We were well stocked with snacks so we made the whole drive with just one quick stop, checked into our markedly rustic rooms at The Common Man Inn and made our way over to the theater for sound check.

This time around I noticed that I almost always have a sense of apprehension heading to these new venues. We are always well briefed on what to expect at each place, but you can never really tell exactly how the piano and sound will be until you are in the space, and we’ve encountered some less than desirable situations. In the case of The Silver Center, though, everything was spot on. The piano was a spectacular 9′ Steinway and the sound was perfect. We were greeted by the director of the center and a team of students who would be our crew for the show.

As is often the case, Sandra had some new ideas for the show which required me to track some chord charts and music down on my iPad. Tech director Bob Bruemmer and house manager Ginny Fisher were perfectly accommodating with my requests for printing out music and I got all the new changes ready to go in plenty of time to have a relaxed dinner before the show.

The great thing about this gig with Sandra (though it’s often a stressful thing about this gig) is that I am pushed out of my comfort zone and thereby discovering that I am capable of more than I realized. With many singers I play for, the goal is a sort of on-stage perfection, so the process of creating and planning happens well before the performance. With Sandra, I’m beginning to see that the process is continual. While this means a bit of a scramble before a show now and then, it also brings a sense of excitement and discovery to each show as well.

The show that night went off perfectly, we wrapped up merch table and signing pretty quickly and made it back to the hotel  and to bed before it was too incredibly late.

The dreary road to Ogunquit.

The dreary road to Ogunquit.

At around noon on Saturday we checked out of the hotel and headed up to Ogunquit, Maine for the next show at Johnathan’s. It was a pretty easy drive, but we were all ready for lunch an hour or so into the drive. A mile or two after we verbalized the desire to find a cute organic market or something, we came upon an oasis in the middle of this seemingly endless stretch of highway – Susty’s Cafe. All organic, all vegan, all amazing. I can’t tell you how hard it is to find good vegan food on the road, so I was thrilled. We were served by the owner, Norma, who was perfectly delightful and steered us through the fantastic menu with ease.

I loved this mantra on the bathroom wall at Susty's Cafe

I loved this mantra on the bathroom wall at Susty’s Cafe

We made it to Jonathan’s soon after that, checked into our hotel room and headed to the performance space for sound check. This place was much smaller, but I was really happy with the piano and the sound was surprisingly good, too. Honestly, though, the whole set-up seemed a little make-shift at first.  We were sequestered in a small dining doom that was to serve as our dressing room, green room and dining room connected to an icy-cold stairway that led up to the performance space which Sandra aptly compared to a rec room.

When the time came for the show, though, I could tell that it was going to be a good one. The room was packed and the audience went WILD when Sandra was announced. She made her way to the stage through the packed house and instead of starting the opening tune, she riffed and interacted with the crowd as I vamped underneath. That opening song is usually 3-4 minutes at most, but on that Sunday night, it must have gone on for 10-15 minutes. No joke. Sandy  ad-libbed her way through it, adding bits of other songs, observations about the weird space and there were some bizarre audience participation moments that only served to bring the perfect Bernhard insanity to its zenith. A brilliant show ensued.

My friends Wendy and Michelle came out to the show (and brought me a huge bag of vegan snacks for the road– thanks guys!) so it was fun seeing them out there during all of this. I dare say this was my favorite of the shows I’ve done with Sandra to date.

By Sunday, the three of us were pretty wiped out. Breakfast at the hotel, followed by a pretty uneventful drive back to NYC. Lots of napping and snacking and laughs about the Saturday night show. Really not much to tell about this day.

All in all, a pretty spectacular weekend. I love checking out new towns, staying in hotels and really enjoyed riding the wave of creativity with a sense of adventure rather than panic about adding something new at the last minute. Everything turns out great, and the energy and freshness that comes from allowing (and savoring) the unexpected  makes for a really invigorating show.

From the land of my solo work, I planning a couple of things that I am not quite ready to share yet. There will be some recording involved, but in a pretty cool way.  Sooooooooon……

Dixon Place Tickets on Sale!

I’ll be doing the fully produced, theatrical version of Tentative Armor at Dixon Place here in New York City on March 19th at 7:30 PM. Click here for ticket info! I am really excited to be performing at Dixon Place, it’s a staple in the experimental theater scene and…well, it’s a actual theater. My musicians, my gear and myself can spread out and I can move around and and and and and YAY! The wonderful Adam Fitzgerald is directing and I’ll be joined by my fabulous string trio. 

I need some studio help.

Yesterday as a (halfway) joke I posted on my FaceBook page that I needed some new studio monitors and I wanted someone to buy me some for Christmas. Lo and behold one kind soul sent me $100 towards their purchase (Thanks, Lisa!) and another joined my Inner Tribe at the monthly level (Thanks, Eban!). I decided to go ahead and see if I could raise the money for the speakers this way.

Here’s the plan:

I am sending out an end of year thank you gift to my Inner Tribe Members (you can read about what that is here) which will include some material I haven’t shared with anyone else (and may not ever) as well as a tasty treat or two. If you subscribe as a Inner Tribe member by Monday or donate at least $30 using the button on my support page, I will send you the gift as well. If you donate $120 or more, I’ll also give you a year Inner Tribe membership along with the end of year gift.


The desired new monitors. Ain’t they pretty?

The sad tale of my monitors:

It’s really not that sad, as they have lasted me a long, long time. I have had these guys since 2003, when I bought them used. They have travelled with me from Texas to Koinonia in Georgia, to the dirty Jerz and finally to Brooklyn where we reside together now. Over the past couple of years they have begun to make more and more noise (static, crackle and hum) and they are now at the point where they are entirely unusable for mixing my music.

Why do need them?

I am beginning work on my next single, “Invocation,” which I plan to mix almost entirely myself. Being able to listen to my work clearly and accurately is vital for a good mix, which I can then share with you, gentle listeners. I have rearranged my apartment so that it is now rehearsal friendly, having these monitors will make it much less expensive to have rehearsals with my string players for my next show in the Spring. Not to mention my podcast and the free work I do for fellow independent media producers like Big Fat Vegan Radio, and [a really cool one that I can’t share yet], and vital PSAs like this.

In conclusion:

I need about $350.00 more to buy these awesome Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitors. I will send you cool stuff if you help. All the buttons and links you need to send money can be found on my support page. Thanks!

“Go.” Video Shoot

Blake Drummond captures Asher, Don and me at the piano.

Blake Drummond captures Asher, Don and me at the piano. Photo by Derek Nicoletto.

Yesterday, the brilliantly talented Blake Drummond and I shot the video for my song “Go” at Judson Memorial Church. I tweeted yesterday about the amazing warmth and generosity I have found in NYC and shoot is a brilliant example. My friend Derek Nicoletto brought his son Asher to be part of the shoot and one of my piano students, Don Matteson, joined us as well. I never in a million years thought I would find a community of artists and friends as kind and supportive as I have found here in NYC.

There’s still a ton of work to be done on the video so I  hesitate to declare a release date. Inner Tribe members will get to see a rough cut and the video itself ahead of the release date. More information about that here. The song “Go.” is available for download on Bandcamp, iTunes and pretty much all other digital retailers.

While you wait for mine, check out Derek Nicoletto’s latest video: