Skip to main content

Happy September! Do you like detective work? Here's an assignment, should you choose to accept it.

Happy September Do you like detective work Heres an assignment, should you choose to accept it.

First, if you will be in NYC and like to splurge on theater, "Moulin Rouge" is burning down the house everynight at the Al Hirschfeld Theater. I have a friend in the cast -- Danny Burstein -- who plays Henry Zigler, the MC. I personally hated the movie, partly because of that character -- but in true fashion, Danny finds the humanity, even in a guy like him, and leads the audience through an amazing musical and visual spectacle eight times a week. Catch it if you can, esp you songwriters. You'll be so inspired.

My segments for Folk Music Notebook are so well received that they are now being broadcast twice on before my video starts to circulate. On Thursday night was this broadcast, but the video is such a better way to experience it because Grit Laskin, the subject, is a Canadian world-class luthier and you can see his instruments, not just hear us talk about them. And his Canadian +1 has a compelling story and in my book is as good now as Joni Mitchell was in her prime:

My new album, my "Best Of" (or "Best Stuff" as I like to think of it) is coming out on Tuesday. It's 20 songs, the physical CD is $20, but you can buy it on Tuesday (or pre-order it now) for $9.99 at iTunes. Either way, you'll want the liner notes, and you can get them instantly, now, for free. They are 130 pages long and contain not only the lyrics and stories about the songs, but also updates on the more than 50 musicians who appear on this album. One of them, Marty Laster, I worked with only once in 1983 (he's a violinist) and in tracking him down I found out that he died in 2016. He will be the subject of my next "One On One +1" that will air on on Wednesday, September 11th at 9 PM and again at 2 AM on the 12th. His segment is longer than all the others -- 30 minutes -- I speak with his wife, Jackie Savage, who guides us through some of his amazing music. I'm sorry I only got to work with Marty once, but am so glad I get to introduce him to a new audience.

Here's a 5 minute video w/highlights from this new album:

The liner notes are a free download, available right now:

I spent a good part of this past summer working on them, and for those of you who've been following folk music for a long time, well, I think you'll get a lot out of these notes. I know a hundred years from now some folklorist will find them useful, but why wait?

Two more bits of news and then I must run out to buy a much better tape recorder for my "One On One" projects coming up.

In January 2018 I was contacted by a film company wanting to use a song I co-wrote with John Gorka, "Sensitive New Age Guys" in a film. At the time the film had no title, just a filmmaker: Noah Baumbach. As weeks went on names were announced as being in the film: Scarlett Johannson, Adam Driver, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta. Then Randy Newman signed on to score the film, then it got a title: MARRIAGE STORY. It opened on August 29th at the Venice Film Festival. It's scheduled to be in the Toronto Film Festival this month and then in October at the New York Film Festival. I've tried to find out if the song is actually in the film, but have had no luck. A free album to anyone who can find out if it is -- or isn't -- in the film. Normally music is the last thing to be added and the first thing to be cut. I've had so many disappointments in this business that I almost don't want to know the answer because I assume it won't be in it, and by not knowing at least I have hope.

If you or anyone you know will be going to the Toronto Film Festival, could you pass along the question? And if it IS in the film, could they film the closing credits so I will believe it?

So far it's gotten 100% positive reviews at RottenTomatoes, so I'm thrilled that the movie is so well received, even if our song is on the cutting room floor. What's that saying? They serve, even those who stand and wait. If cutting our song made the movie stronger, then we played a part. But I still hope it's in there, even if it just plays in the background, out of a transistor radio. Across an alleyway. In a building down the street.

My last bit of news -- I haven't been public about this but thought you might find it interesting -- on Tuesday I leave for a four-week residency at an artist colony. I plan to unplug from social media (though I will be doing email and reading the newspaper online). I've never had a time when I had nothing to do but write and focus on creative projects. It's in a beautiful area, in the woods, and I hope I don't miss NYC too much. There will be all kinds of artists there -- painters, writers, philosophers -- we have breakfast and dinner together, then are given a boxed lunch and no one is allowed to visit other residents between 9 AM - 4 PM -- we all have private work spaces.

I have never done anything like this before -- I applied back in November and found out in March that I was accepted. I'll let you know what it was like when my four weeks is done -- in case you've ever thought of applying for such a thing, I'll give you the skinny.

Happy Labor Day!