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December 2008
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February 2009

Everybody Dreams Under Big Trees

Come out to see 100 Year Picnic's first show of 2009.  We are the opening act for Chicago songwriter Matt Robinson and his band at NV Lounge in Normal IL on Saturday, January 31. Festivities start around 9.  

Last summer I had the opportunity to sing background vocals and play drums on Matt's vibey LP, Everybody Dreams Under Big Trees. The record features a nice mix of country-tinged, folky, blues rock with big themes, lonely highways, blue skies, and haunted dreams. There's plenty here that rev-up, but the chilled-out ballads are my favorites.  

Matt conveys his unique perspectives in plain yet descriptive language with a sincere vocal delivery.  In the Neil Youngish Sing Me Do, "A young couple's love spills out onto the fire escape." The happiest sad song on the album is Sad Song Honey, where Matt laments, "And in this city, I'm never alone. It crawls through my closed window and I just want to be alone."  

My favorite tune on the record is Time Will Only Tell.  You will believe Matt when he delicately sings, "Yes time will only tell, if I will find you well. The moon lit our path, it turned red, and now it's black. I hope we can be, become friends."  It's an understated and beautifully arranged track, with violin, vibraphone, moog, percussion, and acoustic guitar.  If you're like me, and I know I am, this one will sneak up on you.

My friend Tony SanFilippo produced the album at his Oxide Lounge studio where he recorded and co-produced the last several Backyard Tire Fire albums.  Anyway, it was a blast working with Matt and Tony, plus some other music friends, including my lovely wifey who lent her sweet lullaby voice on Into A Dream.  To check out the music, visit Matt's website and CDBaby page.  And come out to the show!

A good friend of mine is a generous and giving soul.  To me he is someone who gives freely from his heart and I'd like to be more like that.  He's also a gifted musician and you would know his brilliant cello arrangements and performances on Looks Are For Free and Come On

He's also a goofball who writes some of the wackiest yet somehow sincere tunes.  Like, he has a new one called Sputnik, which is an earnest dedication to his beloved vacuum cleaner from the 60s.  Then there's the wild and psychedelic round of golf in "Fear In The Heart Of A Sportsman."  And how could we forget that summer beach classic "Conch Shell" about blowing loudly into a conch shell just to annoy your lover?  Well, you get the picture.  You need to hear these songs!  He's planning to put together a website later this year to share these fun little tunes.

But for now, he has given me permission to share one with you here on our website.  The song is called "Mother Lode," and it's by Kurt E Hoffman.  Right click to download it:  Mother Lode  

Here's what Kurt says in the song:

In my life, I have loved, then there's all those things that I was born with
And I was lucky as we all know, to have known the Mother Lode.
And I was lucky to have found, a love that would last and last, 
And I was fortunate to have a family with a future and a past,
Guess I got me here the Mother Lode, Yes I got me here the Mother Lode.

As I look back on this crazy year, this song puts everything in perspective for me.  Despite all the ups and downs, I am so very thankful for the love in my life, my beautiful wife, awesome kids, great parents, friends (and neighbors), and so much music.  

I think it's interesting that he chose the Mother Lode as the metaphor for Love, because the term came from the mining industry and usually it implies hitting the paydirt or finding the main source of gold or silver.  A life of love is indeed a rich life.  

Kurt then goes on to say:

And if we're all just as lucky to have found the Mother Lode, then maybe we can all return the favor.
I believe the Mother Lode is a treasure that we all, can share upon.
So I will put my best foot forward in an effort to lighten up the store, 
And we give this all to the Mother Lode, including all those things that we adore.

Yes, it is not enough to be gracious and grateful for this gift, but we must also give it back.

So here now in 2009, I will put my best foot forward in an effort to lighten up the store.  Kurt, thank you for this gift of a song, and here's to the new year brother.  Cheers!  

Well, I know next to nothing about numerology, but I do know that this year goes to eleven (2 + 0 + 0 + 9 = 11).  And that can't be a bad thing.

So long 2008.  It was nice while it lasted.  Well, bits of it.  Somewhere around this time last year, I posted my highest Yahtzee! score ever (549) and subsequently predicted a GREAT year.  

There were some great moments in 2008, one of which was the release of Tales Of A Modern Splash.  A songwriter friend of mine recently told me the album sounded like a realized dream.  What a nice compliment but also a wonderful insight, because that is what each record is, the realization of a dream.  And this is one we are really happy with. 

Despite ridiculous gas prices and a crashing stock market, we managed to have lots of fun with friends and family, with some great parties and also a jump on some brand new music we can't wait for you to hear.

Am I glad to move on to 2009?  Sure.  It seems like 08 was a tricky year for just about everyone in one way or another.  Besides the rickety economy, we personally had an interesting medical year and a trying year as parents.  Nothing disastrous though, and we are pulling through the storm.  Jr. High is just a wicked age. Basically, I think the kids are discovering that it sucks to grow up.  The other day my wife so eloquently pointed out that we spent too much time in 2008 feeling sorry for ourselves.  That won't happen this year.  

I recently ran across the blog of a successful singer-songwriter, Christine Kane, who also leads creative retreats for women.  She started doing this "Word Of The Year" thing as an alternative to the soon-to-be broken New Year's Resolution.  I like this idea.  My word for 2009 is GIVE.