Tuesday, 25 October 2022

The end of a 30 year cycle

 I've never really been one to really savor accountability so I'm not going to say anything about making it a habit to write at this time everyday. But, as it's the second day in a row I've found myself sitting here writing at about the same time let's simply say that I'm doing it again today. Tomorrow....who knows. 

It's pretty windy today and my volcano friend never really made much of an appearance. I suppose everyone needs some time to themselves now and then, right? Hell, I've taken the last few years to myself and it's only recently I've started to poke my head back out in public a little. Sure, we had a global pandemic and we all hid away by government decree for a spell but I was glad to hide. I wanted to hide. I had to hide. I'd just gotten sober which was a bit more of an undertaking than I'd expected and then my Dad died (Covid). My Mom followed suit just over a year later. I pretty much welcomed the forced seclusion of the lockdown. Anyone who knows me knows I can be aloof and a bit of a space cadet sometimes but this was different. Everything and everyone outside of my house represented a danger zone in my not so balanced head. Rather than taking a few days to return a phone call or a text, I'm still making amends with friends 3 years later for unreturned messages, missed hangouts and awkward conversations. And at $0.25 a minute, which is the current rate here in Central America,  that gets a bit pricey. So if you're one of those friends and you happen to be reading this please accept my apology or simply know the next time I see you it'll be a lot less weird. My astrologer tells me I'm rounding a corner and have just ended a 30 year cycle and this next one is going to be something for which I've been preparing my whole life. So watch the fuck out people. Here I come....

 Anyway, I digress. The volcano has been shrouded in clouds all day. At one point earlier there was hardly a separation between the water and the pink/blue outline that is Tolimon. Even now the only way to see where the water ends is by watching the paths of the lanchas and they even seem to be battling the fog as they're all using the same stretch of water near the shore regardless of which direction they happen to be going. I could have slept a little longer this morning but the dogs were barking and that dark roast coffee was calling me. I got up to brew only to find the coffee grinder didn't actually work. Thank whomever for years of having to make do I found the blender and managed to get something in between a course and not so course grind that seemed to hold the water long enough to make coffee. Most of my mornings for the last while I've spent drinking coffee, writing in my journal and listening to Olafur Arnalds: an Icelandic multi-instrumentalist I discovered last year when I Googled classical music and trance/electronic. I'd gotten into trance music after going to a trance party in the Costa Rican jungle and dropping acid after a week long silent meditation retreat and I figured someone out there must have combined trance and classical as they both evoked a similar vibe in my head. But Olafur Arnalds, check him out. 

Now, I don't want to make excuses and I don't want to apologize even though they're things at which I'm really good. I've had years of practice. In fact, I've depended on them both for survival most of my adult life but the relationship has ended. I mentioned previously this getting sober bit and to be honest I've hardly talked to anyone about it because I absolutely refuse to preach or proselytize. Talking about it has seemed self indulgent, whiny, and pretty much unnecessary. But that said, I realized that I was on fire and not in a way like I was on a hot streak and unstoppable. Quite the opposite. I was burning to the ground and had been for a some time and thanks to the grace of the universe and my wife I was able to put the flames out before being totally reduced to ash. If anyone reading this wants to talk please reach out. I'm glad to share. 

So here I am in Guatemala blessed beyond measure, learning about the culture, learning to speak Spanish and relearning how to love music. I'm also learning a lot about stray dogs and hostel kids, both of which are very abundant here. They both bark all night but sometimes the dogs are super useful and form a great barrier between us and creepy dudes down by the boat dock. The kids, they just make a lot of noise down at the Free Cerveza Hostel.









Monday, 24 October 2022

Coffee & Volcanos

 It's the 24th of October, 2022 and writing the date reminds me that it's my sister's Birthday and I need to reach out. Excuse me one second. Alright, mission accomplished. So I'm sitting in a house on the shore of Lake Atitlan in central Guatemala, it's somewhere in the 70's and the sun is still shining. I say still because if I've learned nothing else in the last couple weeks or so it's that it will rain today. The sun comes up around 5:45am and makes way for a calm morning with coffee, some journaling and a little guitar. The lake is typically calm and serene until about now, 2:15pm, when you can see the waves start to pick up a bit and the lanchas (boat taxis) start to run a little slower. The rain won't last long, just enough to cool things down and give the scenery a little drink. The volcano I have coffee with and watch appear out of the dark every morning is starting to fade into the clouds and the banana trees are starting to sway in the breeze. I read that back to see how many spelling errors I made and all I can think is man, I'm the luckiest fucker alive. 


We caught a lancha this morning over to San Marcos, a few villages to the west, and grabbed a few groceries as well as a waffle and some hot cocao at the Circles Cafe. We can take a tuk tuk here in Santa Cruz up the hill into the main village for necessities but the selection is a lot better in San Marcos and we even have the option of buying a 50Q bag of weed off Harry at the boat dock. Harry is the name I gave him the first time we met when he said we'd have to "hurry" and I mistook him for saying his name was Harry. I think he was wanting to hurry as there was a cop on the dock. The same cop who was there today. I can only assume Harry and the cop have an arrangement worked out in order for business to be conducted right there in the open and he only wanted to hurry the first time as it was the weekend and I wasn't the only tourist he wanted to talk to. Anyway, we didn't get any smokeables but we did find some nice avocados, a ripe pineapple and a red pepper. I also scored huge with some dark roast coffee beans and a fresh loaf of German style seed bread and let me tell you in a world of tortillas, a good bread find is good. Really good. 


As for the rest of the day Jess has some prep work to do for a busy work day tomorrow. I'm going to finish writing this blog and then I'll make some ginger tea, maybe toast up some of that bread and work on a new song. Once evening rolls around we'll make some dinner, light a fire and put some music on. I've really been enjoying the new Tina Dico record, Bitte Sma Ryk, and try as I might I haven't worn it out quite yet. Thank you Mark Whitcomb for the recommendation. As for that new song part...it's been a long time. To be honest I'm not sure I've had a whole lot of interest in writing for a while. If I'm truly being honest, I'm not certain I've had much interest in playing music at all. For a long time. But, that volcano is a persuasive friend and if nothing else I have time. Lots of time. More now that I don't drink. In fact, it's been a little more than 3 years since I did and come to think of it that was probably around the time I last wrote on this blog. I've been pretty quiet about the topic and perhaps it's about time to share a little. But for now, we just caught a scorpion in the bathroom and I'm a little freaked out so I'm gonna go get loaded on pineapple. By the way, 50Q is about $7USD....





Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Not exactly a typical week.

Good morning and greetings from Marquette, MI.

Why am I in Marquette, MI you ask? Well, I just so happen to be on my honeymoon due to having gotten married last weekend to the lovely Jess Parvin, my partner and co-conspirator of the last 10 1/2 years. Why so long you ask? Well, I have no answer for that one...other than a mere oversight. But it's been officially remedied. Fixed. The knot has been tied and I couldn't be happier.
The signing of the license!

On the first leg of our trip we met up with Sims & Maggie from Harmonious Wail at their lovely cabin in the woods waaaay up in the U.P.. It's so far out there it was lucky we happened to see them parked at a local smoked trout stand on the way so we followed them. Otherwise, we'd still be looking for their place. On an important side note, Sims officiated our wedding! After that we attended a friends wedding in Copper Harbor which was beautiful. We did some hiking up rather large hills, sang songs, and paid $3.50 for a gallon of gasoline. That said I was given the opportunity to pump the gas from an old school pump with the rolling analog numbers beside two fire trucks with the lights on and a half dozen working fireman and a Sheriff's deputy. They were all there due to a gas spill that had just happened so the whole crew was out. They said a whole 2 gallons had inadvertently been spilled. Oh, the horror! 

Jess and Amy




















On the other side of life, I'm getting ready to head to NERFA in November. That's the Northeastern Regional Folk Alliance in case you didn't know. I've been wanting to attend this conference for some time and this year I have a showcase so off we go. We're also wrapping the planning for the Spring 2019 UK/EU tour which will begin in mid March. We'll be announcing more fall dates soon so keep an eye out at www.joshharty.com and I'll also be posting more here.

Alright, I'd best get to work a little bit before we head out. Hope you're all keeping well, take care.
Josh

P.S. We also bought a house. So that's pretty cool. It's a fixer upper, but it's our fixer upper.





Sunday, 5 February 2017

Random this & thats.

The Van Morrison station on Pandora kicked off with Into the Mystic so I've got that going for me....which is nice.

I was looking through some photos this morning and it occurs to me that I've left a bunch of stuff from past tours out of the previous posts. So today is for random non sequiturs and photos and such.

At the moment we're in Dunedin, Florida. In past years we've spent a fair amount of time down here over the winter for the purpose of fixing up shitty houses and putting them back on the market in varying degrees of improved condition. This year we weren't able to find a house due to the market being on the mend so it's just a quick visit to work on our tan and then back to Wisconsin. Well, briefly back to Wisconsin before we head to Kansas City for the Folk Alliance International conference. We'll again be hosting the Wisconsin Room featuring a number of Wisconsin based artists along with some of our favorite non-Sconnies. Feel free to visit our website at www.wisconsinroom.org and in the event you'd like to make a donation to our room you can do that via a secure Paypal link!

Let's see, in other news, I've been recording a solo acoustic record in Milwaukee with Steve Hamilton at Making Sausage Studios. It'll be a collection of old songs that have all appeared on other records but all recorded as stripped down as possible. One guitar, one voice. Hopefully we should have that out  at the beginning of the summer but I'll keep the updates coming where that's concerned.

From the left, my J50, the Linus built OM28, Martin D28 and a Hummingbird...I think.


A while back I played a house concert in Nashville with my old pal Brooks West & Jeff Burke. Here's a photo with Jeff and Sarah Lou Richards. 

It's Super Bowl Sunday and I'm on wing duty. Better get crackin.
Thanks for checking in and we'll touch base again soon.
Josh

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Sausage in a jar.

It's BB King this morning. Live at the Regal.

There is just a week left on the Songs & Whispers Circuit and in a way, BB King brought me here. Or that's what I'll tell myself. In reality it was Iceland Air and the German train line in conjunction with Hertz.

But...almost 15 years ago one Monday morning in late October I was sitting in my apartment at 910 North 7th St. in Fargo, ND drinking coffee and celebrating a recent breakup by listening to Live at the Regal. BB King was coming to town later in the week and the show was sold out (though, I couldn't afford a ticket even if they had been available). The phone rang and it was Deb Jenkins, a local promoter and venue owner. I'd been playing duo shows with a friend at her Full Circle Cafe for a while and was expecting to book another show. We did all sorts of covers from James Taylor, Marvin Gaye to Joni Mitchell. She asked me if I had 45 minutes of original material which I didn't. I had no original songs save for a bad blues riff I'd written in the key of A and an even worse half song I'd started after the breakup commenced. So of course I lied and said, "Sure". She asked if I'd be available to play a 45 minute opening set that weekend and apologized that it would only pay $50. I agreed and spent the next 4 days holed up in my apartment writing the songs that would end up as my first solo record Three Day Notice. And then on Friday night, with the first original songs I'd ever written/played in public, I opened for BB King.




Back to the current. Yesterday was a day off and and and it mostly didn't rain. We bought day passes for the tram and just bopped around Bremen. Maybe the 4th time we've bought tickets for the tram and yet again, nobody checked to see if we had tickets. Much unlike the time transit security threatened to kick Jess of a bus and fine her for stiffing the city of Birmingham out of a nickel (£0.05) by going an extra stop. We tried to find a taco joint. I mean we really gave it the ol' college try but we were denied. Again. We ended up at a little bistro place that served nachos con carne with Käse au gratin. Or melted cheese. They were Doritos bits (maybe 6 whole chips) smothered in cheese and a bit of chili. No utensils provided so a difficult finger food. 

The night before was a duo gig with my circuit partner Pi Jacobs at Katocomben in Achim. Great venue and a wonderful crowd. I'm learning that the Germans are a very honest people. Take for example the fella who came up after the show and says, "your new album is Holding On, right?". Yes I say. "I don't like it....the show I liked, but not the record...too country." It's a bit different from my Midwest upbringing where you're taught that if someone makes lunch and it's terrible, you smile, eat, say how great it was and then complain to all your friends later...in a blog. Midwest nice. Oh, and they made us a sausage dinner. 


What we hoped for.


What we got. 





Pi Jacobs at Katocomben


Tonight I play at a church about a mile away from the flat. Best commute of the tour so far. 

Josh









Friday, 20 May 2016

Zweigelt, Käse, & Vollkornbrot. Oh my!

It's Ry Cooder for the morning soundtrack and I'm pretty pleased with this decision. 

Last night was a show at one of the best known venues in Oldenburg: Listaff. A great room with a nice stage and cabaret seating. I didn't get a photo but the huge chalk diagram on the wall depicting the proper construction of a hamburger was pretty fabulous. Ky, the owner and chef really gave me the hard sell to try one of the hamburger delights on the menu but due to the huge Greek lunch earlier, I had to decline. We've come to the conclusion that Greek food is to Germany as Mexican food is to the States...you'll find a Taverna nearly anywhere and they're often inexpensive and pretty damn good. Anyhow, the show was good but with a beer festival going on a mile away the competition for audience was a difficult one. 

The night before we were at the Syker Vorwerk Gallery in Syke. That's pronounced Zeek-a. The Gallery was built in the late 1600's and the acoustics were amazing. There was a sculpture exhibit by Louis Niebuhr on and his work is great. The crowd was amazing and I was joined for a couple songs by a local drummer. Before the show we hung out with the director, Nils, and had the usual German snack of brown bread, cheese and prosciutto. Not just brown bread but thick, heavy, seedy awesome brown bread. A few years back in France we met a fella named Jonosh from Germany who was staying with Fabrice, a French show promoter who put on a great theatre show in Changy. Janosh had had it with French baguettes and talked about how he couldn't wait to get home to have some real bread. I get it now. 
Syker Vorwerk show
The night before that was at....I have no idea. It's starting to blur. By the time this 2 month Euro tour wraps there will have been nearly 60 shows. In any case, the night before was in Germany and I know I didn't get nicked by a speed camera. That was earlier in the week on the way back from Hanover. KulturPalast Linden in Hanover was great. A bit smokey and the Pho joint next door closed during sound check leaving me on the opposite side of the venue having Greek again but in the end it was a wonderful evening. Well, until I caught the bright red side-of-the-road flash on my way out of town going about 60 as the limit went from 70 to 50. Oh well, not the first time that has happened and I'm sure it will be cheaper than last year in Amsterdam running late to the airport (traffic/construction and a BMW)....yikes. 

Oh, we bought bikes. 15 Euros a piece. You get what you pay for but it's faster than walking. At least it's faster when the tires don't blow out. Yesterday we had a wheel malfunction and the bike mechanic seemed appalled at the condition of our bikes. We politely informed him that we only paid 15 a piece and that they only need to operate for another 10 days, please just fix the tire. He said we'd paid too much, washed his hands as though the bike had some communicable disease and said he couldn't replace the tube until the following evening. Today I'll go find some tools and fix it myself. I'm immune to the bike. 
our beautiful bikes

TGIF. Not that this really applies. Even remotely. 
Josh

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Should have kept my mouth shut....

So it's 9:59am here in Bremen on Sunday the 15th of May. It's a day off and it's raining. I'm listening to Bach's Cello Suites 1-6 as performed by Ralph Kirshbaum.

When I was in middle school and into high school, like many people all around the world, I was a huge Garth Brooks fan. In retrospect that may be the beginning of my obsession with Oklahoma artists: J.J Cale, John Fullbright, John Moreland, Carter Sampson and so on. Anyhow, he had a tune on his first record called Unanswered Prayers and I assume you can deduce the gist of the song's meaning. Well, I asked for rain and it came along with a 25-30 degree temperature drop, hail and 30mph winds. Request granted and delivered in full on the day I had a show at a beach club where just the day and week before hundreds of people relaxed in the sun and enjoyed the scenery. All while getting ready for the annual kickoff for the Summer Concert Series at Sonnendeck in Dangast. While modest in numbers the crowd came and sat attentively in the near freezing semi outdoor concert area while occasionally being dripped on from the rain coming through the roof. Thanks to the venue for the blankets! Hell, we even had an amazing rainbow as a stage backdrop twice during the show.
performing at Sonnendeck ("Sundeck") Beach Club

As a side note. On the way to Dangast I recall hearing a "tone" come from the car. It was the sound the car makes when it alerts you to a falling petroleum level. In layman's terms we were running out of gas. Well, it said we had 89 km to go until we were walking. That number began dropping drastically fast and soon we were sitting in front of a closed fuel station in a really small village that was preparing for the parade commencement to celebrate Pfingstmontag. Part of the Pentecost, I believe. This was an even worse time to experience a language barrier than earlier in the day when I got a haircut and ended up with the hipster/military-style look I'm currently sporting. Thankfully though, the good people of the town realized our plight and waved down Felix, the station owner, who opened the station long enough for us to pump 30 Euros worth of Super 95 allowing us to continue north to the Baltic. 
the parade just starting

As I mentioned it's a day off and I think we're going to check out the biggest flea market in Germany. We've heard rumors that we may find bikes that have "fallen off the truck" and are available at a steal of a price.

And we're off....
Josh