One year has passed since my last big tour. Up until a few days ago, I still had not finished writing about the trip. I realized on my journey that the writing was consuming too much of the experience, so I put the documenting off until later. I could lie and said I had a busy year, but the truth is I lost some interest in writing. I went back to school to chase my creative writing degree, but my first anthropology class was not very good. I liked the material, but the idea of studying for tests and doing homework was not enjoyable. Doing group projects with 19-year-old kids was frustrating as well, so I bailed. I juggle so many interests that I can’t seem to keep more than one ball in the air at a time. I write music, I build amps, I build effects pedals, I skateboard, I ride my motorcycle, and I write.
After returning from the trip, The Hornrims‘ bass player, Brian, was too busy to practice with the added responsibility of his second baby. I started up a new band with my two best friends, Tylor (drummer from the Hornrims) and Shaugn, called Plasma in the Ukraine. I played bass and even goofed around on a Theremin in the group. We played a few shows and came up with some cool material, but I left the project a few days ago to return to playing guitar. Bass is ok, but it’s not in my blood like the guitar.
I decided that this year was going to be the year of pleasing myself. How could I love somebody else if I couldn’t be at peace with who I am and what I am doing? I wanted to do more solo acoustic shows. My Taylor guitar that was cracked in four places didn’t inspire me to play, so I made plotted to find a way to get my dream axe – the Gibson J-200 maple jumbo. I had lusted after this guitar since I saw Pete Townshend play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in a video of The Secret Policemen’s Ball. I attended an event at the Gibson showroom and one of the features of the space is a guitar room loaded with incredible Gibson electrics and acoustics that you are encouraged to play. I picked up the J-200 that was resting in a stand and after playing it for what seemed like hour, I knew I had to find a way to own one. I ended up selling my reissue skateboard collection, my old bass, and the cracked Taylor. This gave me the funds to buy the guitar for cash. It is everything I expected.
The J-200 kickstarted my solo acoustic career, and after many years of only playing with bands, I started booking quite a few shows. A local promoter and I, Chris Andrews struck up a conversation at one of my favorite bars, The Ding Dong Lounge and now he books me as often as I want to play. I am happy to be out doing solo gigs again and the guitar is simply amazing.
I also realized I hate unfinished business, so this is going to be the year of finishing projects. I scored the dream guitar and I needed to start mixing some of the records I had piled up with The Hornrims. I almost have the prog inspired album Song of Dystopia in the can after nearly 3 years. I also need to mix the band version of Pericles, a show I recorded back in 2009 with the ‘rims but only mixed the cast version. I will finish that too this year.
On the relationship front, when I initially returned I tried to date, but I really needed to be totally free. I wanted to live an efficient lifestyle and responsibility seemed too much for me to handle after all of the relationship woes over the past 5 years. I did this for a while but low and behold, a girl from my past came back into my life. Her name is Nicole and we worked at Busch Gardens together. She was a singer in the show Latin Heat and I was in the marching steel drum band, Sounds of Steel. She has two kids and is going through a divorce. We started dating again after 20 years after she found my song writer page on the web.
I made the same mistake I always seem to make. I dove in headfirst and gave too much of myself. She needed help and I wanted to give all I could. But shortly into the newfound relationship my anxiety shot through the roof. I thought I needed to leave her, but after a great talk she told me we could take things slower. She actually said, “What do you need?” I was amazed at her unselfish concern for me. She didn’t need me to move in or to be the father of her kids. She also understands that I require my free time and doesn’t need to see me every weekend. I want to stay in NYC and she lives in South Orange, NJ. I love New York and I need to retain an efficient lifestyle – at least for now. I also need to keep my anxiety at bay by having few pressures. She understands these needs and our relationship is great. I love her and her kids and I am sure our relationship will grow strong and steady.
So life is good for me but what about the Brick? After my long trip I did a few more rides and right after I got back I even had a date with a girl that had a little Honda Rebel. She was a novice and we drove up to Storm King Art Center on a very cold day. She drove so slow it wasn’t very enjoyable. I realize I like to ride alone because I am in control. I can go my speed, stop when I want, and change directions on a whim. So from now on, I either ride alone, or with my newly aquired passenger Nicole.
Winter came and the Brick sat in my parking garage. The circuit my Battery Tender was plugged into shorted out and my battery died. I just left the bike through the winter unstarted and abandoned in the garage. I felt bad, but as in the Shel Silverstein’s manual for life, The Giving Tree, I knew I would return to the Brick. Spring came and with a fresh battery we were back to our upstate runs.
Nicole was the first one to brave a ride with me on the Brick since I got the bike. I had a brand new Arai passenger helmet that she has commandeered and we have been taking rides all summer. I like having her on the back. We have no communication devices so we just ride and think. She says she enjoys the peacefulness.
So what’s next? I just left my place in NYC and I am at Nicole’s house in NJ. I am doing a 3000-mile East Coast tour during the next 2 weeks. The purpose of this trip is to visit every member of my family. I am going to see my sister Ann in Boone, NC, my brother Tom in Atlanta, my brother John in Jacksonville, FL, And my sister Catherine and my Mom and Dad in St. Augustine, FL.
The purpose of my cross-country trek last year was to find myself. I don’t think I actually did that on the trip, but during this following year I have come closer to happiness. The tour was the start. This year’s journey is about family. The greatest start is spending time with my girlfriend and her two awesome kids, Duncan and Shaw.
I am finishing my projects. I have new goals and dreams. Most importantly, I am opening my heart to others but only after making sure I am taking care of my needs first. One of those needs is this road trip. I’ll be hitting some excellent roads up and down the East Coast, most notably The Tail of the Dragon. Hang on for the ride.