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“What’s in Store” Behind the song

Track 1: What’s In Store

Behind the songs on The Green L.E.D.s debut album—Track 1

I decided pretty early on that “What’s In Store” was going to be the opening track of the album. That peppy guitar riff in the chorus had the right mix of upbeat energy and a little bit of snark that I thought was a great way to kick off the set of songs. But the pep wasn’t yet there when the idea of the song was first coming together.

The first part of “What’s in Store” I wrote was the chord progression for the verse, which I initially played a little slower and with a sort of strutting mersey beat, kind of like 45 Grave’s cover of Riboflavin. I even nicknamed the chord progression “Chicago Goth Skank” on the audio note on my phone, which is the second time I used “Chicago” to name one of my works in progress, the other being “Chicago Bar Chords” which turned out to be “Start Over Again.”  Apparently going back to my non-comedy musical roots took me back to my days in Chicago when I was often going to see shows, hitting record stores, and hanging out in pre-gentrified bars.

I worked out the melodies of the verse and chorus at the slower tempo but on April 14 I wrote myself a note to “try at 176 bpm for an upbeat song, not all songs should be so plodding and pensive.” I think the song was dying for a chance to break out because once I upped the tempo it really came together. The lyrics and the basic tracks for recording flowed easily and it was clear the song would be a great way to open the album, especially with a name like “what’s in store.”


The title of the song can be looked at two ways. The first is of course talking about what’s coming up, what lies ahead. But the “store” in the title is also about record and music stores, and even more specifically the bulletin boards in those stores where local bands post flyers, musicians post notices looking for bandmates, or people post music related job listings and such. 

In my early years of touring for shows, long before we had social media or the internet on our phones, I would always stop in at record and guitar stores as my first step in navigating a new town. There I could usually pick up the local music and arts indie paper to flip through and see what kind of music venues and performance spaces were around. I loved seeing the designs of the different band logos and venues—severe old English typefaces for metal bands, organic and crunchy type for hippiesh 90s bands, the inventive spelling of hip hop acts. 

And back in high school record stores had a similar function, they were access points to art and music scenes that you had to go out and find. Record stores weren’t themselves the place you went to find yourself but they were places where you could find the music, bands, and shows that helped you find your place in the world. Or at least let you know there were other people out there that understood, or at least accepted you.

That quest to find your place, that hope that it’s out there, and the thrill of finding those clues as to where it might be, are all intertwined throughout this album. “It’s the hope that we’re all here for…”

The Green L.E.D.s new album is here!

It’s here! The debut album from my non-comedy music project The Green L.E.D.s is out! It’s available to download, stream, and there’s even a limited run of 50 signed and numbered CDs pressed by Vandalay Records! I’m really proud of this record and can’t wait for you to hear it.

The idea for the album came to me at the beginning of the year, in the depths of the pandemic’s winter wave just before the year anniversary of lockdown. I had been doing Cover Tuesday, my weekly live stream comedy show, for about 9 months and was really enjoying just playing music. I was having musical ideas of my own but with the state of the world as it was (and still is) I wasn’t super inspired to write comedy songs. Like a lot of people I was taking a step back to look at my career and life, and I started to write some of the things I was feeling.

Musically I wanted to explore and expand on a sound I had first experimented with for my friend Dan’s “Back in Time” compilation album, where he had people write 80s style pop songs. I really liked the way my song, I Can Feel It (Can You?) (which I reworked and remixed for this album) turned out; it had the mood I was going for, the angst in the lyrics, the sound that nailed it to certain place in my soul, and I wanted to see if I could write more songs like that.

I originally hoped to put together an 8-song EP with five or six originals and a couple of covers but as I started writing new ideas started pouring out and I ended up with ten originals and one cover, Into the Groove, originally by Madonna, which took on a new life when lowered an octave and gender swapped.

I worked intensely on this project for most of this year and it’s quite honestly what kept me sane during this ongoing pandemic and everything else that’s going on in the world. I would turn off the news, tune out the stress caused by a stalled comedy industry, and dive into recording, arranging, and writing this album. I looked forward to my walks through Prospect Park during which I’d listen to rough mixes to come up with arrangement ideas and jot mix notes.

Today, walking through the neighborhood I listened to the full album streaming directly from Spotify and it was an amazing feeling. I’m proud of the work I did, I’m really happy with the way the album sounds, and I’m relieved that I got the levels right so it sounds decent next to label-produced stuff with infinitely higher budgets. Like literally infinitely higher, since my budget was basically zero 😛

And now that it’s out I can’t wait for you all to hear it. As I’ve said my inspirations were early 80s post-punk and new wave mixed with some 21st Century rock revival, but I’m curious what you hear in there. Is it more 80s to you? More contemporary? 90s Alternative? Let me know (but please be kind)!

Here are all the places you can find the album:

Or heck, just stream it in one of these players



The Odd Rock Comedy Hour Returns to Q.E.D.!!

The Odd Rock Comedy Hour is back!

After a loooong hiatus—thank you Covid-19—my comedy music variety show will be returning LIVE to the QED stage (or back yard, weather permitting) and I couldn’t be more excited!

I also couldn’t be more grateful to Kambri and Q.E.D. for the hard work and determination they put in to get through the absolute hardest year+ I’ve witnessed in my entertainment career. We all went a little crazy I think, and I hope you’re as ready as I am to experience live entertainment again!

Q.E.D. will be very safe: audience members and all performers and staff are required to be vaccinated and tickets will be sold through the Eventbrite service to facilitate contact tracing should there ever be an issue (get your advance tix for our return show here).

I’m putting the lineup together for the first show now, already confirmed is the very funny comedian Christina Walkinshaw, who was booked on our March 2020 show waaay back when.

A Project Full of “Real” Songs

There’s a weird and very annoying question people have asked me after shows. I’ll have just performed from 10-45 minutes—playing comedy songs of mine that are well-known, new, or somewhere in between, singing said songs and playing guitar—and people will ask “do you ever write any real songs?”

THEY’RE ALL REAL! I’m playing them! Can you hear them? The air molecules are vibrating and moving your eardrums! They’re real!

But I get it: they mean non-comedy songs. They don’t mean any offense by implying by contrast that comedy songs aren’t real They’re only unwittingly negating my entire life’s work!

Well post-pandemic life is gonna be a lot easier because I’ll be able to just say “yes” and point them to the new non-comedy album of 100% real songs I will be releasing this year under the name The Green L.E.D.s.

Why the name? To differentiate it from my comedy music stuff!

Don’t like it? Come on, it’s better than “Childish Gambino!”

I’ve been enjoying working on it and I’m really happy with the way the songs are shaping up. I’ve been inspired by early 80s post-punk and some Aughts rock but those were just the starting points and I’m going to wait until it’s done before I characterize it more. It‘s been hugely helpful for my mental state to have a creative outlet. Writing comedy during the pandemic has been really difficult for me because there were no live shows to test out the material, and with a global pandemic, a nationwide reckoning on systemic racism, and a dangerously contentious election year (that didn’t end at the election), I haven’t been super inspired to be funny. So what does a comedian/songwriter do when he doesn’t feel funny?

I guess he writes some “real” songs 😜

Look for the first single in July and the full album this fall!

Cover Tuesday Greatest Hits Vol 4!

More Faves, Including Song #500!

Watch Song #500: Buena by Morphine!

Song #500: Buena by Morphine!

I hit the 500th cover on Jan 12, 2021 in the 39th episode of Cover Tuesday which was our Pills, Meds, & Drug themed show in honor of National Pharmacist Day! Thanks to RickyRae for the suggestion of Buena by the pharmaceutically named band Morphine!

Pusherman by Curtis Mayfield

Another track from our Pills, Meds, & Drugs theme on National Pharmacist Day was the Curtis Mayfield classic “Pusherman!” Broke out the looper and the wah wah pedal for this one!

Watch Curtis Mayfield’s Pusherman, complete with wah-wah guitar!
Watch Gold Digger by Kanye West

Gold Digger by Kanye West

Back before he was a certifiably crazy presidential candidate the obviously crazy Kanye West released really good hip hop tracks. Here’s my attempt at covering one of them, from our Gold-theme show!

I definitely crashed Red Barchetta by Rush

The 2nd of 4 color-themed shows during the holidays was the red theme, which gave me the perfect opportunity to ruin this Rush classic Red Barchetta! If you like vocal percussion and guitar harmonics this is the track for you!

Watch Another ridiculous Rush cover: Red Barchetta!
Watch Private Eyes by Hall & Oates

Private Eyes by Hall & Oates

My sister was kind enough to give me a groovy eye projector thinking an “eyes” theme would be a fun show. And she was right! There were so many fun songs to choose from, including this 80s classic.

Tomorrow by Silverchair

For the silver-themed show there were plenty of songs with silver in the title and a few from bands with silver in their name, including this 90s grunge classic. Travel back with me to the era of flannel, long hair, and songs that are quiet then get loud then quiet then loud again!

Watch Tomorrow by Silverchair
Watch These Eyes by Hall & Oates

These Eyes by The Guess Who

Another track from the “eyes”-themed show, complete with special effects! Or at least complete with googley eyes projected in the background. This song even includes hand claps triggered by a foot pedal! So much excitement!

New EP Blindsight 2020 Out now!

Blindsight 2020 Cover

Screen cap of Blindsight 2020 on Apple MusicI’m really excited to announce that my new EP Blindsight 2020 is out right now! It’s a 5-song collection of studio tracks that I recorded over the last few years and it features a lot of songwriting and production that I’m really proud of.

In fact, that’s why I decided to release the EP in the first place. I was really happy with my arrangements on the songs “I’m Just Here for the Swag” and “Somewhere Else,” the pandemic-inspired Beach Boys sendup of “Catching Rays on the Fire Escape” captured 2020 really well, and I really like of “Booze Women, and Movies” and “I’m as Broke as Kansas” both for what they say and how they say it.

It’s my first studio release since A/B came out just over 4 years ago, in November 2016. In 2018 I recorded the live concert album Rob P. Rocks a Jazz Club which had a lot of new songs on it, but since I was focusing on getting them in shape for the live album I didn’t do as much studio recording. My goal for 2021 is to get back in the studio so I wanted to motivate myself to push ahead with new music and not “save” these favorite songs for a later release. Without these gems to fall back on I’m hoping to force myself to innovate!

Or maybe realize the pandemic has killed my artistic drive. We’ll see! [shrugging emoji]

Pando Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, mostly because there hasn’t been much to update you on. Things have been slow with all live shows in NYC still shut down, no cruise gigs to promote or report back on, and travel still being something we non-essential people really shouldn’t be doing so even if I did want to accept a show in a place where shows were showing. I’m still doing Cover Tuesdays every Tuesday at 8:15 pm NYC time, but hopefully you already knew about that.

The news about effective Covid-19 vaccines has been encouraging but unless something is done to support live music and comedy venues there won’t be many shows for the vaccinated crowds to attend. Two notable comedy venues in NYC have already closed permanently during the pandemic: The Creek & The Cave and the UCB Theater. Without help more may follow. (If you’d like to help independent venues or want to know more about the issue, check out Save Our Stages and the National Independent Venue Association. And here’s an article from September specifically about the frustrations comedy clubs in NY are facing.

These eight-plus months since the shutdowns began has been the longest I’ve gone without doing regular live performances. I’d love to make a prediction about what the future will be but would they be predictions or wishful thinking? I’d like to think that I will get back to performing regularly, hosting a show here in NYC, performing at clubs and theaters throughout the country, doing some shows in other countries like I have in the past, and yes, even getting back on a cruise ship. With Covid numbers spiking before the arrival of any kind of vaccine, all of those wished for things feel at best six to eight months away.

In the meantime there is still music, which is more easily shared in the absence of live venues. Cover Tuesdays have been fun, and I will be releasing a five song studio EP before the end of the year. It will contain some of my favorite songs from the past couple of years, from the early pandemic “Catching Rays on the Fire Escape” to the song “Somewhere Else” featured in the video I did with Victor Varnado. When I get the official release date I’ll make the official announcement, hopefully mid-December!

I hope you’re faring well wherever you are in the world. Stay safe and be excellent to each other!

Cover Tuesday’s Greatest Hits Vol. 3!

Some Faves From Mid-Aug—Mid. Nov.

Cover Tuesday is still going strong! When I started back in March the idea was to have a fun weekly online get-together to help pass the time in quarantine. Well, this heckin’ pandemic has raged all year long so Cover Tuesday has too. Here are some of my fave covers since the last greatest hits post in early August.

And I’m continuing Cover Tuesday at least through the end of 2020 so stop on by my twitch channel on Tuesday nights at 8:15 pm NYC time (5:15 Pacific, 0115 UTC now that we’re back on Standard Time). I’ll have a brand new fun set of stoopit covers for you every week!

Watch It Takes Two by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock

It Takes Two by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock

Dance tunes are a ton of tun to attempt on Cover Tuesdays, this cover of the classic track by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock was no exception. As with other dance tracks on Cover Tuesday, I employed a looper to keep the beat going, this time around adding the “hey”s and shrieks to the beat box. For some reason this song always reminds me of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and cars with neon lights under them.

Yakko’s World by Animaniacs

From The “Nerdy 30” themed Episode 30 on Nov 10, 2020, here’s the Animaniacs Classic “Yakko’s World” in which Yakko sings most of the countries in the world. I even looked up the new verse that was added to include all of the newly independent countries that arose out of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union!

Watch Yakko’s World by Animaniacs
Watch TiK ToK by Key-Dollar Sign-Ha

TiK ToK by Key-Dollar Sign-Ha

Another dance pop track that turned out surprisingly well considering it is here performed by a goofball with an acoustic guitar. It checks all of the Cover Tuesday boxes in that it’s goofy, fun, and is part of my attempt to work in songs from this millennium!

Viva Las Vegas! By Elvis

From Episode 31, “A Little Traveling Music,” a set filled with songs about places to satisfy the wanderlust itch that we can’t scratch during Pando 2020! It’s campy! It’s cheesy! It’s perfect for Cover Tuesday!

Watch Viva Las Vegas!
Watch Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Another cover from Ep 31, the travel set, but it could have just as easily been in the Nerdy 30 show the week prior because not only is it a song written in honor of the 500th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople, it was covered by They Might Be Giants, a quintessential nerdy band!

Out of the Blue by Debbie Gibson

From the October 13th “Blue” themed show comes the 1987 Debbie Gibson classic “Out of the Blue.” It turned out surprisingly well, and you gotta respect the slick key change for the bridge and guitar solo and then reverting back to the original key for the final choruses! Other blue tunes from that set included Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells, Baby Blue by Badfinger, Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue by Crystal Gale, and many more!

Watch Out of the Blue by Debbie Gibson!

Cover Tuesday’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2!

Cover Tuesday has been going strong every week on Twitch(Tuesday, 8:15 PM Eastern U.S.) and it’s been a ton of fun putting the setlists together and doing as many of your requests as I can! I posted the first selection of favorite covers back on May 13, and below are some faves from the next 11 shows!

The spotify playlist is currently (as of this writing on 6 August, 2020) is up to 224 songs, which means I’m averaging 12 songs a week. The Ridiculous Dozen!

I had to make two substitutions in the playlist: In Week 2 I had to substitute a different Mighty Lemon Drops song because “Inside Out” wasn’t available, and Little Richard’s “Scuba Party” from Catalina Caper, which I performed on June 30, was nowhere to be found so I swapped in “It Ain’t What You Do.”

So here are some recent favorites:

Wannabe by the Spice Girls

In cranking out this girl power anthem I somehow took a few detours through Howard Jones and Young MC, but it worked, trust me!

I Love It by Icona Pop

“I crashed my car into the bridge, I don’t care” seems to sum up Summer 2020 in the U.S. so I have deemed this song my summer anthem!

Ace of Spades by Motörhead, a la Johnny Cash

“Ace of Spades” was a request and in order both oblige and save my voice (singing like Lemmy hurts!) I reimagined this song as a Johnny Cash cover. Though it was born out of necessity it’s now the only way I can hear the song!

Tom Sawyer by Rush

Another song by request! This one came from a college friend via facebook and I did the best I could, even though I’ve always said I thought Rush used “too many notes.”

Trooper by Iron Maiden

Sometimes requests seem more like dares, like when my friend Jonathan requested the lyrically overflowing Hardware Store by Weird Al. Though the “heavy” and the “metal” were missing I think it still turned out OK and I should at least get an A for effort.

I Love Your Smile by Shanice

I love when a request is a song I somehow missed the first time around, and this early 90s R&B earworm was really fun to do. Even though it was stuck in my head for the whole dang week. It’s just too peppy and poppy!

Baba O’Riley by The Who

Tried to pull off an acoustic version of one of the best rock anthems ever and thanks to the Loopback plugin in MainStage I think I ended up with a decent rendition 🙂

Cover Tuesday Rocks All Summer Long (but I’m not playing that Kid Rock song)

Cover Tuesdays will be going strong throughout Pandemic Summer 2020! Every Tuesday at 8:15 pm NYC time (5:15 Pacific, 15 minutes after midnight GMT) I’ll be playing a fun set of stoopit covers live on my twitch channel! You can watch it on any twitch app or in the handy window below! Send in requests and suggestions via my twitter, instagram, or other ways if you know where to find me. Join us, it’s super fun!

Cover Tuesday’s Greatest Hits

It started with a joke about my neighbors hearing me play Monkees songs in my apartment during quarantine and a suggestion (or dare) to put it online. After using that show to troubleshoot my streaming setup I decided to do another show of cover songs the following week. Now, eight weeks later Cover Tuesday is my favorite night of the week!

With some wild suggestions and an enthusiastic crowd in the comments section I’ve done an hour of tunes every Tuesday. Here are some of my faves so far that either turned out well or failed in epic fashion!

And join us every Tuesday night on my twitch channel at 8:15 pm NYC time (5:15 PDT, 0015 GMT) for more fun sets of stoopit covers!

Freak on a Leash by Korn

Suggested by fellow comedy musician Pat Wise, this 90s hard rock song was not something that translated well to an acoustic guitar, but that makes it perfect for Cover Tuesday. I made a valiant attempt.

Eastbound and Down by Jerry Reed

This song was my choice and even though I didn’t have a banjo player I think it worked out well on one guitar. Instead of the extended finger picking jam in the middle of the song I used the time to talk about the song and the “Westbound and Down” version that shows up earlier in the film.

Anything You Want by The Muppets

You can’t combine The Muppets with one of the Flight of the Conchords and expect me NOT to cover it!

Hardware Store by Weird Al

Another challenging request, this one from comedian Jon Hudson. I had to slow it down a few bpm to get all the words out, but it was a fun one to try.

Rock the Bells by LL Cool J

My first attempt at old-school hip hop, from LL Cool J’s classic album Radio!

Bright Future in Sales by Fountains of Wayne

Great song on a great album, and with comedy and music clubs closed at the moment, I may need to hope I have a bright future in sales.


Songs from 1960s


Songs from 1970s


Songs from 1980s


Songs from 1990s

Song stats current as of May 19, 2020. Songs from 2000s=13%, songs from 2010s=11%, All other decades 2% or less.

All 50 States Day 50: Wyoming!

Devils Tower, WY

All 50 States Day 50:


Though I went through the states alphabetically, Wyoming is a pretty good closer, especially since my pictures from the state come entirely from Yellowstone and Devils Tower. I’ve only played two shows in the state, at a community college in Sheridan in the late 90s, and at the University of Wyoming in Laramie in 2007. My visit to Yellowstone was in 2003 when I was in Bozeman for a summer orientation show at Montana State. I flew in a couple of days early and the orientation director and I took a trip to Yellowstone, a weekend that included the first day of summer when it of course snowed.

My first time through the state came in ’95, before a show at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, a town so far west it’s only 12 miles shy of the Wyoming border. On my trusty Rand McNally Road Atlas I could see that Devils Tower, in the northeast corner of Wyoming, was only an hour away and that I had time before my show to make the round trip. This is the trip that included my Most Epic Roll of Film Ever, which featured prominently in my South Dakota post, and the shots from Devil’s Tower practically earn that title on their own. It was a good day to have a roll of black and white film loaded into my Pentax K-1000.

Devils Tower, the mountain where the Close Encounters alien encounter is set, is a fascinating formation that’s the remnant of an ancient volcano core. You can see it from a dozen miles away, rising out of the flat landscape like a monument to the universe. Even before you get on the grounds of the National Monument you understand why it inspired legends in several Native American cultures. When you see it up close the giant granite columns look like pipe organs, or the fossilized remnants of an ancient machine.

On the other side of the state, the Yellowstone trip was also brief, only one night. That’s  definitely not enough time to see a lot of the park, but I got to hit some of the big spots like Old Faithful and the edge of Golden Gate Canyon. I also saw a ton of wildlife like buffalo, elk, foxes, bear and more.

Both Devil’s Tower and Yellowstone are worthy bucket list entries. If you’re ever traveling through western South Dakota and think you want to stop at Mt. Rushmore outside of Rapid City, skip it and drive the extra hours to Devils Tower. It’s far more awe-inspiring than some heads carved into granite. And if you get to Yellowstone, give yourself a few days to see as much as you can.

So that’s a wrap on 50 states in 50 days! New York City is still shut down for at least a few more days, probably longer so I guess I’ll have to find some other project to pass the time. U.S. territories? I think I’ve only hit Puerto Rico and St. Thomas so far. Canadian provinces? I’m only 6 of 10 and none of the territories. Can’t wait to get back out there and add to the list!

  • Devils Tower, close, 1995
  • Selfie in Yellowstone on a snowy first day of summer, 2003
  • Old Faithful, 2003
  • National Park sign near Golden Gate Canyon, 2003
  • Buffalo in Yellowstone, 2003
  • Elk in Yellowstone, 2003
  • Devils Tower from miles away, 1995
US Map with Wyoming highlighted

All 50 States Day 49: Wisconsin!

Polaroid of Cheese Castle Sign

All 50 States Day 49:


I grew up really close to Wisconsin, in Waukegan, Illinois. In fact, I just today learned that my childhood neighborhood is less than 10 miles from the state border (thank you google maps “measure distance” function). I always assumed it was farther because any trip to Kenosha, a town just across the border, was about 30 minutes door to door. I hit Kenosha often to visit friends and check out The Music Center, just off of Highway 50, where I got both of my Seagull acoustic guitars.

Growing up lots of people would go to Wisconsin for summer vacations or weekend getaways. People would simply describe the destination as “up north,” which could cover anything from Whitewater to Rhinelander, Door County to Superior.  All of my camping trips during my 3-year tenure as a Boy Scout were in Wisconsin, a few weekends near Kenosha, and a week-long summer trip 4 hours deep into the center of the state.

As people from Illinois enjoyed the natural beauty the state, they engendered the kind of resentment that locals always develop for outsiders who recreate in their midst. FIBs is the common pejorative, an acronym for F***ing Illinois Bastard (it’s very clever), though the more tactful will use the polite term “flatlander.” I believe it’s wrong to stereotype  and give a snide nickname to the entire population of a state but that’s Cheeseheads for ya.

As a professional comedian I did so many laps around America’s Dairyland that I lost count. I’ve done about every 2-year and 4-year campus in the UW system, except for UW in Madison, lousy Badgers!  I’ve hit UW Superior, Eu Claire, River Falls, Green Bay, La Crosse, Platteville, Whitewater, Fox River, Fond du Lac and maybe a dozen others.

I once had a show at Milwaukee School of Engineering, a noon show in the student union building, and only afterward did I learn that the building used to house the production line for Blatz Brewery. The Blatz line was used in the opening montage of Laverne & Shirley, serving as the Shotz brewery where the characters worked. I had no idea I was performing on hallowed ground!

I’ve played a couple of comedy clubs in the state, a few gigs in Milwaukee and a weekend in Appleton; and back in my rock band days we played a few different venues in Milwaukee, including our first ever club gig as a band at the Odd Rock Cafe. That club is long gone but it inspired the name of my current comedy music variety show The Odd Rock Comedy Hour.

With cheap beer, tavern style pizza, and brats everywhere Wisconsin feels a lot like home, though as a born and bred Illinoisan (and die-hard Bears & Cubs fan) they would never accept me. I’ll have to settle for visiting as an outsider and enjoying the more affordable Cubs tickets at Miller Park.

  • Color Polaroid of Marsh Cheese Castle, 2009
  • Dangerous selfie at Lambeau Field, 2007
  • Schlitz & Pizza in Fond du Lac! 2007
  • Carthage College, 2012
  • A Steppingstones gig at the Stork Club in Milwaukee, early 90s
  • Blatz Brewery, Milwaukee, 2007
  • The Bradburys rocking Kenosha with lead singer of Off Broadway sitting in, 2012
  • Selfie at UW Green Bay, 2007
  • With fellow Cubs fans at Miller Park, 2015

All 50 States Day 48: West Virginia!

West VA capitol

All 50 States Day 48:

West Virginia!

I landed my first gigs in West Virginia early in my touring career, some of the many shows I did in spring and fall of 1996 after showcasing at the Great Lakes Regional NACA Conference in October of 1995. One of my first shows in the state was at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, and the school and town had an outdoorsy, crunchy, hippie-ish vibe that I dug. The state is a haven for mountain biking, rafting, hiking, camping, and the like, and there were enclaves and colleges that attracted people looking for those things.

Then again, there are drive-thru convenience stores where you literally drive your car through them! They look like car washes, but instead of soapy brushes and water jets there are bags of chips and 12-packs of beer. It is a many-faceted state.

The capital, Charleston, is right on a river with hills all around and there’s a gorgeous capitol building on the banks. I’ve played University of Charleston twice over the years, and on an early trip to the city I caught a minor league baseball game, the Charleston Alley Cats, at the time an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

Concord College, in the tiny town of Athens, has had me in for shows on three or four occasions and since the small town is without a hotel I stayed in an on-campus guest room. This particular guest room was in the main office building for the school, a building that included some classrooms, so when I would wake up the next morning, on the later side as is my wont as a musician, I would trudge blearily to my car through an active work and educational site, an embarrassing way to start a day.

One of my least favorite shows ever was at a community college outside of Wheeling, a noontime show that was the first time I refused the check afterward. The show was in a loud student cafeteria and there was no sound system, just one mic plugged into the overhead cafeteria speakers, the same speakers used to announce when lunch orders were ready. I played for about 15-20 minutes, went into my closer and ended the show.

The student activities contact, who before the show said there was no other sound equipment available and asked why mics needed to be plugged in anyway, said that I had to do more time. I declined and she said I had to talk to her boss. The faculty guy whose office I ended up in tried to manage me, looking over the contract, saying that I was contracted to do 50-60 minutes and was there any way I would go back out and do some more time because he sure would hate it if I didn’t get paid. Since he was looking at the contract I pointed to the section that mandated a sound system operated by qualified personnel. While he tried to reformulate a new argument I told him to keep the check and I was heading out.

It was a season when I would sometimes have 8 or 9 shows in a 5-6 day period with shows every night and some noon shows the same day, so I wouldn’t miss the money that much. After a few more bad noon experiences, including shows where schools had me performing in the hallway because “more people would see me that way,” I developed a thicker skin and would plow through my hour of material regardless of the audience indifference or hostility. It became a contest and I wasn’t going to let the rude crowd keep me from getting my check.

But that was only one bad show mixed in with a lot more good ones, including schools that have had me back multiple times and treated me well. So West Virginia, when this pandemic is over, call me! I’ll definitely come back and rock the mountains!

  • State Capitol, Charleston, 1997
  • Drive through convenience store that you LITERALLY DRIVE THROUGH!, 2001
  • Crossing the Ohio River on I-470

All 50 States Day 47: Washington!

Seattle Space Needle

All 50 States Day 47:


I landed in Seattle in the spring of 1997 for my first big trek through the Pacific Northwest and it was amazing. After showcasing at a NACA conference in the fall of 1996 I landed a bunch of shows, and that 3-week run in the spring of ’97 was a great introduction to the region. Not only did I see Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska, I got to see a good chunk of western Washington, from Longview to Bellingham, with stops in Everett, Olympia, Tacoma, Puyallup, and more.

In the central part of the state, where the Cascade Mountains give way to high desert, I’ve hit shows in Wenatchee, Omak, the Tri-Cities, and even a college in Moses Lake that was on the grounds of a decommissioned Air Force base. As a musician going to a gig on an Air Force base I couldn’t help but think of the movie This is Spinal Tap.

I remember driving in to Moses Lake, a small town with not much around, and despite the desolate location there was a steady stream of jumbo jets approaching, landing gear down, ready to touch down. I couldn’t figure out how such a sparsely populated area could have so much air traffic! Turns out the runways at the old Air Force base are used for touch-and-gos, a training maneuver where pilots land and immediately take off. So all of these jets were coming in for a landing and as soon as they touched down they were like “nope” and got the hell out.

I’ve also hit the eastern part of the state, playing Gonzaga U and Whitworth College in Spokane, and Eastern Washington University in Cheney. I had a fun corporate show in Spokane in 2014, but getting there was a challenge because just two days prior I performed for a Dutch public television show in Amsterdam. The day between shows I flew Amsterdam to London, London to Seattle, then Seattle to Spokane. The London to Seattle flight alone was 10 hours, but with the 8 hour time difference I made it to my hotel in Spokane (the lovely and historic Davenport Hotel, downtown) and was able to sleep for as long as I could before the show.

As for Seattle, I try to get there as often as I can. Whenever I have a stop in Vancouver I tack on a few days to hang out with friends in Seattle, and the last time I made the Vancouver to Seattle trip via bus. It was my first time crossing the border on a bus and was a good square to check off on my travel bingo card.

  • My name in lights! Centralia College, 2003
  • Olympia Beer at an outdoor bar near Seattle, 2018
  • Ready for an adventure in an IH Scout, 2017
  • Space Needle through binocular viewer, 2017
  • Rickshaw Restaurant, Seattle, 2018
  • There is sun in Seattle! 2018
  • B&W Polaroid of Seattle waterfront and ferris wheel, 2014
  • B&W Polaroid of downtown Spokane, 2014
  • Space Needle selfie, 2013

All 50 States Day 46: Virginia!

Cargo ship on the water

All 50 States Day 46:


The state’s license plates will have you believe Virginia is for lovers but it’s also for school trips to historical sites, many college and theater gigs, and for driving through to get to other places. Like many non-Virginians, my first time in the state was on a junior high trip to Washington D.C. which included stops at Colonial Williamsburg, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, and a Roy Rogers fast food establishment that called itself a “restaurant.”

I’ve been back to the state for many college gigs, including stops at the well known schools of College of William and Mary, George Mason, and University of Mary Washington. I’ve also played a bunch of smaller colleges and universities, like Radford University, Ferrum College, Bluefield College, not to mention Bluefield State College across the river in West Virginia.

I had a rollercoaster weekend in the state back in the spring of 1998 when I played University of Richmond on a Friday and Bridgewater College the following night. The show at Richmond was in a pub on campus and the event wasn’t well advertised or attended. There were a few people watching the show but there more frat boys watching the NCAA basketball tournament across the room at the bar. They were loud, drunk, and when the saw there was someone onstage trying to do a show to a tiny crowd, they were obnoxious.

I had been doing college shows for a few years by this point and I had done my fair share of noontime shows in the cafeterias of community colleges, so I was no stranger to plowing through 50 minutes of material in loud environments. I played to the group of people that were actually watching me and sent a few barbs to the back of the room while the rowdies yelled and hi-fived each other.

After the show one of the loud ones came up to me to, I don’t know, congratulate me? Tell me no hard feelings, it was all in fun, etc. Usually after shows I’m very polite and deferential but I told him to get lost. He seemed surprised and maybe even a little wounded. I was worried my saltiness might have come off as unprofessional but the student activities  board member backed me up, which was nice.

The terrible experience at Richmond was more than made up for the next night at Bridgewater College, a small school in the Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. It was a dessert themed event in which the cafeteria laid out dozens of cakes and pies while the students gathered for a show. Being a small school in a small town with not much to do, and adding the prospect of a free sugar high, the show was packed. I performed for over an hour and had a great time playing to an enthusiastic crowd.

After the show a student came up to me and asked about the work shirt I was wearing. It was the 90s, I wore work shirts. He held up a big red safety coat with a reflective stripe on it and a logo for Giant Food grocery store on the back, and asked if I liked it. I said it was cool and he offered to give it to me.

I politely declined, not wanting to take the coat off of a college students back, but he said he worked there and had three of them. I offered him and his friends some CDs in exchange and for the next several years I proudly wore a bright red Giant Foods coat in the fall and winter. People from the mid-Atlantic would regularly ask about it and if I worked there, recognizing the logo from their hometown grocery stores.

The moral of the story is Bridgewater College was awesome and restored the faith in humanity I lost the night before at University of Richmond.

I also had a stop in Virginia for a show opening for George Carlin in March, 2008. It was in Porstmouth, near Norfolk, and was the first of a 3-show weekend that took me up to Harrisburg and then Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. So much driving!

  • Biscuitville! Danville, 2010
  • Stuck in the stockade, Colonial Williamsburg, year redacted
  • Freighter in Chesapeake Bay, 2008
  • Rifleman, Colonial Williamsburg, year redacted
  • 1950s looking kitchen in Radford U’s on-campus accommodations, 2004
  • 1950s living room in Radford U’s on-campus accommodations, 2004
  • Blurb from William & Mary paper, 2004
  • The famous Giant Foods red coat! Pictured in NYC in 1998 with Ritch Duncan and Lynn Harris, 1998
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