The Ocean Inside

It seems like it should be easy to put together a musical group. And in some important ways it really can be. This orchestra project that is my current obsession was immediately easy because the players are so good and sing so well. I knew that I wanted to hear these particular humans and these instruments together – Phala Tracy on harp, Quillan Roe playing banjo, and Jacques Wait on bass. Something told me this mix of sound and people could be something deep and fascinating. And like a miracle, that turned out to be true. Since our first rehearsal, I’ve been walking around like a guy with a Faberge Egg in his backpack. How do not fuck this up? It seems like this band is too good, too right for me.

It turns out that getting this funny cast of characters into the same room was the easiest part. The hard part for me has been tending to an aspect of music-making that’s sort of difficult to put your finger on, an aspect that can be obscure, cloudy. To my feeble mind, the real trick in working with a musical group is to carefully watch after all the details of shepherding smart, opinionated people toward some vague sonic direction while keeping an eye on my larger purpose as musician and as a human. While I’m flipping switches and turning the cranks on the band leader machine, it can be so easy to lose track of the very soft and sentimental thread that I have tried to follow for all these years as I’ve yowled and danced around in front of you and everyone I know.

Today is our first show, the first little gig for me and my as yet unnamed orchestra. We’re playing a quick set at a home for the elderly. (I know – a gig by and for the elderly.) And I want to remember now that my purpose is to try to connect us – everyone in the room. To be un-embarrassed in exploring, touching, breaking into the place where emotion is hiding. To try to swing an axe and crack through the ice that protects us so we can enter the dangerous ocean below. Our deeper reality. That’s what I’ll be trying to do. Who knows if I’ll succeed?

This odd-ball orchestra with it’s plucky mix of sounds has some shows approaching on Feb 1 and 2 at the Dakota in Minneapolis. We would love to see you there, clinking your knife as you enjoy the excellent food, our music, and perhaps a delicious beverage.