Three years ago, my friend Kris Rochelle (Listener / Red Sweater Lullaby / normal human being) suggested that we plan a Christmas tour. I thought it was genius. It was an opportunity for us, as friends, to get to spend time together, and to spend a good amount of that time with the people who've literally made our projects possible as a poet and musician who get to share our art with the world... at a Christmas party.
We captured the F|W 16 line of what will be an expanding LTP Essentials collection in the East Downtown (EDO) district of our city. EDO is a small neighborhood along Historic Route 66, just east of the railroad tracks that split Albuquerque from the South, and run North as far as Santa Fe. It's a unique spot, architecturally, in an up-and-coming part of town that boasts beauty and color like no other part of town.
I had the chance to sit down with Josh & Andy to have what turned out to be a pretty vulnerable and candid conversation about the relationships that exist between artists and fans, what it feels like to know that those relationships are directly connected to sustaining a livable income, thoughts on a person’s online persona as it relates to professionalism and the risks taken to be a genuine human being, and identity and worth as they relate to what we do and who we are.
We talk about a little bit of our history, my love for hip hop, my wholly narcissistic desire to be worshipped as a god, small business and self-employment, how – if there is such a thing as "glamour" as a touring artist – it makes up approximately 1% of the entire career, the inherent goodness of creation, what a normal, unhealthy day in the life of said "glamorous" career looks like, and how Madcap Coffee is the classiest coffee shop in the country.
As I was leaving Albuquerque to begin my last tour the morning after I said goodbye, I had the thought that driving away from my friends felt like a small death. It felt like small deaths the further east I moved. It feels like a small death when I think of going back home without them there, now. It feels like a small death when I think of my wife being home without the friends that used to be there for her when I was gone.
My heart has been heavy since I’ve been home. My tour ended the day that Alton Sterling lost his life. I had a show that night, and then a sixteen hour drive home from southeast Missouri to Albuquerque which we started right after the show ended. I drove all night long wishing I had something that could describe the kind of desperate heartache / sickness I felt – something to contribute along with the rest who felt the same way.
As I sit here and try to figure out what to say, all I can think of is the word "mercy." That you were a man who understood the need for mercy. That you would long for me to be a man full of mercy. Even in your darkest moments you were able to perceive that mercy was the thing that we lacked. It's almost laughable, how poignant that statement was, like the eye of your storm spent on a glimpse of our future.
When you work for yourself, there is no clock-in-clock-out unless you are incredibly disciplined at creating your own parameters, and most people aren't that disciplined. This is probably extra-true of artistic types who don't like any structure whatsoever. I sort of like the idea of both, so I switch back and forth between them and talk to everyone about how one is better than the other depending upon whether I'm in a season of waking up early and hitting the gym and regimenting my days, or if I'm awake until 3 a.m. because - you know - creativity only flourishes in the night or whatever.
We have begun taking inquiries for the third installment of the Dont Sink Tour which we're hoping to start just over a month from now. Over this past week of being home, I've been in cahoots with many of you who submitted yourselves as potential tour hosts for the upcoming evenings, but the offer still stands: we'd love to hear from you if you think this night of community, coffee, conversation and performance would be a good fit for your town.
Crowdsourcing these dates - an experiment that began with Chapter 02 in the Central US region this March - turned out to be a success, and we're booking Chapter 03 in the same vein.
What that means is: we're now accepting host inquiries from people in and/or around the cities listed for June and July this summer.
I am pleased to announce that I will be taking the Correspondence (a fiction) story back out on the road for the third in a series of DONT SINK tours that will be taking place around the country this year. Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrapped up Chapter 2, and was incredibly happy with the way the tour went. We were able to create a unique experience for people that was above-and-beyond a "normal show."
The wake of death is a mountain. Our ankles roll in crags that are love and loss and confusion and anger and time and memory. Cancer should have not stripped the strength away from our friends. The cold should not have come to take away our fathers. Razors should not have bled the life from our lovers. Age should not have claimed the youth in our grandparents' eyes. Death was not always a part of life. It did not always come to reap a harvest. Nor will it forever reign. Hope is not buried in a grave. Whether you have loved and lost, or feel like you are losing, death is not the bookend. Death only spilt blood that spoke a better word.