Excerpted from Chapter 2. of the book, "The Code"
In March of 2001 I wrote in my journal that:
Cindy and I started down
Highway One from
As we reached Rocky Point I told Cindy to look through the trees to see the Rocky Point restaurant where my dad and I had eaten a very nice meal a few years ago. She said she was hungry enough to stop for lunch so I made a "y" turn into the Palo Colorado Canyon road and drove back the half mile or so to the restaurant driveway.
After lunch we walked along
the crumbling headlands to watch the otters and cormorants playing in the kelp
beds and surf below. There we had a
conversation with woman who told us that she was observing the date of her
fiftieth wedding anniversary alone since her husband had died the previous
summer. Coincidentally, she had lived in
There was a poignancy to our leaving there, the horizon in every direction was breathtaking, and we were well into a six-week journey of renewal and reward, escaping heavy snows in the East, and visiting towns and beaches on what was to be another successful tour. We consider ourselves privileged to play the music we love for people who listen and come to hear us with a sense of history and shared consciousness. This is the life that each of us has always wanted but could never quite manage alone.
We'd visited both of my
sisters during that week. Each lives in
a different part of the Bay area, Karen in
The week before that was
The week before that, we
attended the National Folk Alliance Conference in
Most of what goes on in the folk music world is as they say, below the radar, not likely to be noticed in the mainstream media. This is true for Cindy and me as well, and yet it's still possible for us to make our way in the world as performers and creators of music. I have at times had a participation in the corporate media, but mostly as a songwriter. Although I've certainly reached for that brass ring over the years, lately I'm pretty happy just to do what we do. Cindy has a library degree, and really has no attachment to the idea of being a "star." I must admit to some ambivalence on that point.
We left home on February 3rd,
a day earlier than we had planned.
Watching the weather channel at home in
We had three pretty
uneventful days of driving until we ran into some weather in
We had taken that route last
year. Most of Rt. 80 across
Our little Mazda 626 has 437, 847 miles on it as I write this.[in 2001] We did put a new engine and clutch in it at 296,000 and we keep saying that one of these days we'll get something newer, but it's still doing very well. We joke about going for the half-million mark, but I think we'll trade it for something a little bigger with air bags and maybe a little more room in the trunk.
A CD player would be nice too. But the car has given an honest 36 plus miles per gallon, and hardly any trouble, not to mention lots of happy times. Maybe we'll have it bronzed. We also joke that at first we felt a little guilty about not buying an American car (as if there was such a thing these days) but we'd have had to buy three or four of them.
The Folk Alliance conference gave us a chance to have fun times with many of the people we most enjoy being with. Many of our fellow artists who travel a lot of the time are only available to us at the conference, and at festivals, and rare times when we organize a camping trip or make plans to get together on the road. This is made a lot easier by email. Everything is made a lot easier by email, and we have a small, by now antiquated laptop which is just adequate for sending and receiving messages from the road.
We do send out our schedule of performances and announcements of new albums to our mailing list. We have just over ten thousand names and addresses on our mailing list, but only about seventeen hundred of them have email addresses. We can't afford to send postcards to the whole list, so we limit our mailings to people in the zip codes that are near the places well play on a given tour. We can send email to the whole list for free, but we try not to abuse the privilege, and only send out our newsy announcements two or three times a year.
At the Folk Alliance conference we'll hand out our publicity materials from our table in the exhibit hall. It costs an extra hundred and fifty dollars to reserve a table, but we find that it's a good way to catch up with a large number of the attendees. We also try to sing in a couple of showcases each year and let people know that we'd like to be included if they are planning to organize a showcase. Many of these take place in banquet rooms and small meeting rooms around the hotel, and some are simply private rooms on the floors not reserved for "quiet."
There is music everywhere in
the hotel, which this year was the Vancouver Hyatt. There are also some events scheduled around
the city on a night devoted to pub crawling.
The Folk Alliance also organizes the "official" showcase, for which
people submit their music and publicity materials months in advance. The organizers try to include many different
types of music and performers from every conceivable ethnic origin. Cindy and I were chosen to do the official
showcase in 1992 for the Folk Alliance conference in
The conference costs us about a thousand dollars to participate including the hotel. We have done it for less by staying nearby in a smaller hotel, but have felt that we missed out on a lot of the comradery. Cindy will seek out the ballad singers, and the people who share her interest in the traditional songs. She's likely to be found in a stairwell with great acoustics with a small group of her idols singing far into the morning hours. It's the only time I've known her to stay up so late, and it's good to be able to take the elevator and fall into bed when you can't keep your eyes open any longer.
There is also the matter of the money we don't earn for that week of the conference while the bills still go on at home. It's hard to justify simply in terms of bookings we get out of it, but there are so many opportunities for networking and so many memorable moments, that we still feel that it is a worthwhile thing for us to do. We don't pay anybody to represent us, no agent, no manager or publicist, no one who speaks for us, so we feel it's the least we can do to keep our names and faces in front of the community.
Travel is the other way that
we keep our hand in. It is hard work,
but we are pretty well adapted to it by now.
We could probably find our way to anyplace in the country without a road
map, and do get to most places. This May
we'll play for about a dozen dates in
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