Hoppin John, Again

Last weekend the Zinc Kings played the Hoppin John Fiddler’s Convention out at Shakori Hills.  We played it last year too- and I’m glad I just posted that link, because I re-read what I wrote last year, and have to admit that I was about to write almost exactly the same thing this year. We camped again, though the weather was pretty much horrible the entire time I was there.  We hung out with Mill Town again, jammed a bunch, made the kind of food that tastes amazing when you’re cooking it over fire.  Basically, it was all different and all the same. The real difference this year was that my band turned 1.  Happy birthday Zinc Kings!  In the year of band-ness we’ve played a bunch of shows and gigs and released a CD.  Whoa.  And in the mean time my banjo playing has gotten significantly better, and I’ve started playing guitar as well.  Granted, my washboard chops are what really got my the spot in the band in the first place… And on that retrospective note, I think about all the things that have happened to me in the last year as well.  I finished a doctorate.  I moved to Asheville.  I got a job.  I started making pottery a little earlier than that, but in the last year I felt solid enough to actually call myself a potter.  So many other little things I can’t list them all come to mind as well. I’m a naturally retrospective person, but I’m also dedicated to forethought, in a way that I don’t think many people understand.  I’ve always...

Impromptu

This morning was a cat morning.  I suppose if you’re a cat owner, every morning is a cat morning, regardless of your plans.  But I am not a cat owner, though I’m the owner of a couple shiny tubas.  For what it’s worth, cat’s don’t particularly like tubas. I had a gig with one of those tubas last night in Brevard, which is only about 45 minutes away from my place.  I played the gallery walk downtown with a brass quintet, and had a good time.  Afterward I met up with a couple dear friends, and scrapped my plans to go home and sleep in favor of good company, good beer, and pumpkin pie. Somehow I missed the memo that it was the first day of autumn, which is really a shame because I just love everything about fall.  I like the smell of the air, crunching leaves under foot, the colors, the opportunity to wear sweaters again, and especially the food.  My favorite dessert in the universe used to be cheesecake, but in the past few years pumpkin pie has usurped the throne of King of Desserts.  So it’s only fitting that my small company decided to make pumpkin pie yestereve and celebrate autumn, friends, and life. I crashed there on the spare bed, and woke after only 4 hours of sleep with a mild hangover and Ok Go’s “Let it Rain” stuck in my head.  Breakfast was a glass of water and an ibuprofin, chased with a walk to the coffee shop. My lovely hosts had the good sense to sleep more than I, and I knew...

The Life and Death of Idealism

Is the fire in your belly still burning my friend? Do those words still tug at your heart and your soul? Have the years stuffed your ears is it now just pretend? Does The Music still reign or is it just rock and roll? Remember when poetry caught in your heart and ideas drew breath inside your own mind? Is the day long gone when you’d die for your art or are you still alive just less well-defined? The city on a hill still calls your name, child Live up to the challenge of what you once shouted Strength isn’t body but faith reconciled both stronger and weaker when doubted Your flame burned so bright I forgot how to breathe and tomorrow seemed caught in your sparkling eye For promises skipped I might choose to seethe My folly for thinking “You” would never die But is it so bad forgetting who we were back then All our pride and our glory tempered by pain and time To be who we are now just women and men that was the point in the start but arriving feels far from...

Discovering Wisconsin

Last weekend I did something I haven’t done in a coon’s age.  (I can say coon’s age because I live in the holler, up the mountain.  Y’all.)  I unraveled the hose at my house, backed the car out of my garage, and washed it with my hands.  I can’t say that it was spiritual experience.  After all, the sun went away and I was left cold and swampy. But something about the experience was really nice.  I got out some solvent and removed the pine sap from my car, vacuumed the trunk, went through the glove box… the works. As the sun set in the West against the mountains, I cleaned the windshield from the inside and shuffled my various registration and insurance papers into proper order.  I pulled a collection of maps and tourist guides from beneath my Camry owner’s manual and leafed through the treasure I’d found. 5 years ago, and strangely these 5 years feels like I’ve been on pause, I had a girl, and she and I went road tripping a lot.  The maps are the last dust from that passing age, but they tell such an interesting story.  For instance, the National Geographic map of the world tells of her ambition, or that she didn’t know where else to put maps other than my glove box.  The map of Eastern Kentucky recalls a camping trip where I heard The Postal Service‘s CD Such Great Heights for the first time.  So many maps, trips, memories. But a pair of maps stuck out.  She and I had road tripped to Madison, WI, and I don’t really...

Hike Asheville

On Sunday I had planned on going for a hike in the Pisgah but instead decided to take my itchy feet to town.  I figured walking up and down hills out of town would be fun, but walking up and down hills in town would be better. Like any good hiking expedition, I packed supplies and did a little map research ahead of time.  I arrived around 9:30 and started in some of the places I know well.  Nothing was open, so I walked a few miles just to get a sense of the places I don’t know.  As it turns out, I don’t know a lot. Like that’s a big surprise. But the neat thing was that as the morning went on, a lot of people were out walking, jogging, biking, and even a man riding a unicycle.  In spandex.  I checked out a couple vintage places when they opened, had a bagel at Malaprops and perused books, and settled in to a bench in a park to read. From my perch in the park I enjoyed watching people be people, and hippies be hippies.  The police were an interesting presence though.  An officer on a bicycle road through and forced a man sleeping on a bench to get up and leave, even though he was just taking advantage of the great weather.  He didn’t look like a vagrant, just like a man taking a nap in the morning sun.  I tried to not look like a vagrant either.  Apparently my camouflage was better than his: the police never talked to me.  They rode through my one strip...