Friday, July 26th, 8:38AM:
I am standing in the median of a busy two-way Boston boulevard with my headphones taking me away. It’s humid and you can still hear the morning birds sing as the sun radiates off a slow rippling water across the way. In front me, cars are zipping past heading north, and behind me, cars are zipping past heading south. Through my beats I’m listening to the song “Ex-Life” by Ripe as suddenly I’m overcome in a moment that serves as the perfect analogy. The highest of high emotions going one way and the lowest of low going the other with me caught in-between; somewhere in the middle and absorbing all of both effects.
As I begin to write this with a bit of reservation, I am reminded of one the most important moments from last month. I’m sitting on a couch with Rob Thomas and our discussion naturally focuses on how he always writes songs straight from the heart, that focus on present feelings he has going on his life. We talk a lot about that outlet of expression and how vital it is for certain creators. With all due respect, it’s a method I have always subscribed to, and even on a much smaller level, I always write from this perspective. Even if it’s just one word forced into the corner of place it where it does not belong.
So, with that in mind… here we go.
The month of July for Artist Waves started a week late due to our annual two-week surf break. As we revved the engines back up, I was suddenly dealing with a family emergency back in New Jersey that would coincide with the end of our early July recharge. Returning to Boston, on the heels of what I believe can be called a tragedy, I was facing the busiest time of the Artist Waves’ year and I ran to it, jumping right in. Hard.
For you had to go and I had to remain here. But also… for I had to go and you had to remain here.
“I have grown
Chose to go
And I’m not sure what to do
With the memory of you”
A jam-packed Levitate Festival schedule that started at 11am on day one and concluded at 8pm on day three was just hours away. I began to prepare, confirmed interviews, submersed myself in the music, re-designed the layout and then prepared some more. With a Sunday dusk brushing in on both my agenda and the celebratory music and arts fest, I stood proud (finally with a Red Stripe) as Michael Franti energetically sang songs about optimism on the appropriately titled Style stage. Paralleling the Levitate vibe, everything we lined up not only came to fruition, but was accomplished with so much Joy in the Wild Unknown. Private interviews with Shovels and Rope, Robbie Wuhlfson of Ripe and Franti. Live interviews on the secret pop-up stage in VIP with The Elovaters, Rome Ramirez from Sublime and Not Today. I got to watch Ripe totally thrive and dominate their set from the side of the stage. Furthermore, new relationships and friendships were established.
It all happened. Luck? I don’t know, maybe just a little (or maybe not) but truly, it was a ton of hustle and hard work paying off. But that was just the beginning. It was now on me to write-up these interviews in a way that would perfectly capture what was discussed, while also injecting my own flare. More importantly, I had to pay respect to the artist that so cheerfully gave me their time and would result in resonating with the reader on the other side. Thanks to you (and them) I did, we did.
“I know it’s rude to ask, but
Please keep me on your mind as
I throw you in my tail lights”
(*Rob looks tiny and I look gigantic in this photo, somehow neither is true.)
Four days later, I am being walked into Rob Thomas’ dressing room to set up for our interview. We have to pass the catering tent along the way and mid-stride, about 15 yards away, I see a head-nod, smile and wave with a “hey man” as I walk by. It was Thomas sitting at a table finishing up a pre-game meal. This set the tone, because A.) he was welcoming and aware B.) courteous and C). he just didn’t have to do that. I’m all about the little things and this “go-out-of-my-way” small gesture spawned a big internal reaction from me that would serve as the foundational wave I would surf upon for the duration of this overall experience.
Man, what happened with this interview article can best be depicted as – the aforementioned cars that were darting north. Thomas’ tour photographer Jim Trocchio provided stunning shots to accompany the piece. I struggled deeply with what I would write for an intro thinking it was the most important intro I would ever lay down. I hesitated, procrastinated and steered away as long as I could until one moment sitting at home, it all came pouring out, almost subconsciously in a matter of minutes.
We heard from so many fellow Rob Thomas fans as a result of this interview, received beautiful feedback from his camp and if ever there is a time where I question why the hell I do this, the only answer is for feelings like this – where it all comes together and the entire piece strikes a chord with someone to the point where what you are feeling and creating ends up making someone else feel, too.
And then it happened again. With the great people of 311 and frontman Nick Hexum. My 5th time chatting with the NixHex the past seven years, and eighth with the group collectively. Talk about a passionate fanbase, one that is literally a movement of creatures – it’s the Exciteable Crew of 311.
“I know I don’t deserve to
Make a home in your dreams when
I’m trying to hit the pavement”
As the month began to wind down, I was feeling as high as kite. I don’t measure success in terms of numbers when it comes to this platform. Was it the highest traffic month the site has ever seen in two-and-a-half years even though it was a shortened? I would say yes, but I don’t know what the number is, and quite frankly, I don’t care. I wrote down and kept people’s responses as opposed to a graph charting metrics.
But still …. at the base, there’s this burning inside that perhaps is the weight securing this kite so it does not soar too high or fly away. There are cars still cruising south in the direction of New Jersey. That lane has not been shut down.
So, now what?
Now what…. Two of the strongest pairing words possible. Perhaps it’s the comedown period where the only way out it through – to keep driving those cars in both directions without a screeching halt. The southbound traffic is heavy and does not dissipate just because the northbound side was cooperating nicely. The thing about traffic is that is just sits there. It rolls slowly and when you’re in it, you have to just embrace it and deal with it.
“I know it’s rude to ask but
please keep me on your mind, now
I’ve got you in my headlights
I know I don’t deserve to
Make a home in your dreams now
I’m trying to take you with me”
photo by: Michael Young
And that’s it. Shinedown, The Highwomen and a new (and very heavy) “My Journey” are some of the things brewing in the AW swells. We still need help on the tech side of this thing. There are new challenges every day, but I am very grateful for what this canvas has allowed me to express – the past month especially. I’ll remain planted in the median and will pull from the wellspring of thought on both sides of the divide.
Thank you for being a part of the ride.
“All that we are
Each of us particles
Dust under the sun”