I’m playing a show this Wednesday, May 21 at Malo in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. It’s really been toooooo long since I’ve played a show and I’m super grateful to Surely Lorraine and Kondo Exurbia for including me.

I’ve been working up new songs because what happens when you don’t play is you forget ALL your lyrics and when you get on stage your brain turns off completely its ability to recall such information and since there likely won’t be a teleprompter it’s better to get it memorized!

I decided I wanted to do a cover because covers are fun for everyone especially when in my case all this material is new and I don’t know what works and what doesn’t. Some songs work live and are kinda lame on an album, and vice versa. So I thought about doing “I’m On Fire” which I’ve always played on the cello but I thought perhaps I’d think of something not done so often (Bruce’s popularity has risen yet again and to my relief his street cred is much higher than I think it used to be… I remember people would ask who my favorite musicians were and I’d say Bruce and they’d think I was joking, which is absurd! Because, well, you know, he’s the best songwriter perhaps ever.)

ANYWAYS so I was letting my mind wander and I was walking down Sunset Blvd. and I happen to live really close to where the show is Wednesday and I realized that the “Elliott Smith wall” is right next door to the venue.

Which is weird and for me kind of eerie and moving because:

• Elliott Smith influenced my life and especially my identity as a songwriter probably more than any other musician. Either/Or changed my life in so many ways. If I had to put it into words (poorly) I would say because he made me realize that beauty and melancholia are not necessarily taboo to all people. People love his music rightly so and it’s sad but not sad at all because it is just aching and oozing with so much life, and feeling FOR life. I’ve never written anything as beautiful as his, but it certainly gave me a context for where my music fit in to the world. And I don’t know if my music is especially sad, I don’t think so and I never set out to make it that way or any way, but people have often told me that in one way or another. So it makes sense, the kinship I felt, musically.

• Elliott Smith kinda really, as silly as it sounds, or naive, is the reason I moved to Portland. Again, I just figured “if music like that is being made there, I need to be there.” And so I moved there, and I walked Elliott Ave. in Ladd’s Addition many many times, often on my way to the Red & Black where I played my favorite shows in that city. And I was enveloped in the rain and the comfort Portland is and it was a beautiful, beautiful time.

• Elliott Smith moved to LA and here I am. And I don’t know where “From a Basement on the Hill” was specifically recorded, but I ended up on a hill in Los Angeles and I never, ever ever would have guessed that. And I’m still making the music I do, for what it’s worth.

• I’m still mad at Elliott Smith for dying. Yeah, I know he “killed himself” which makes me more mad at him… but there’s some doubt and I’ve always felt how if it is true that he stabbed himself in the chest with a kitchen knife there’s so much sadness around that act and everything surrounding his death that truly I can barely listen to his music anymore. Which is a shame. To be clear he wasn’t my hero. But he was a beautiful inspiration.

And so, for what it’s worth I’m going to play an Elliott Smith cover on Wednesday, by his wall, and maybe some closure will come about and maybe I’ll blow it and forget the lyrics! Who knows! It’s unknowable.

It would be nice to see you there, if you are in the neighborhood…

Alela Diane - To Be Still 

I’m heading up to Portland this weekend to play a show with Aaron Ross as a member of the Heirs Of Mystery. 

We’re opening for Alela Diane at Holocene on Sunday, February 15.

I’m looking forward to a return to Portland, hoping to see some friends there. Not looking forward to the drive, as the weather is looking questionable, and it will be 12 hours. Sometimes a long drive is what you need though.

Yes, so I would love to see some friends there, at the show, which will be great, or at the Paradox for breakfast the next morning…

Alela’s beautiful new album ‘To Be Still’ is due to be released February 17, 2009. I’m planning on playing with Aaron Ross at her cd release party in Portland, Feb 15th…

She’s been getting a lot of well deserved attention lately. Here’s a pitchfork post of her new video… I play a little cello on this track…

It’s been fast and cool and full of nostalgia and crazy weather and we are headed south again, leaving portland, and the bridges behind… again.

It’s the best city, and the rain settled in on us, and the lightning was everywhere, and so were our friends, and places to eat, and to get coffee. Now we camp our way back to Northern California… “home”…

Here I am in Powell’s books in my former city Portland. It’s not rainy, or cold, it is really really hot. People are flocked to the indoor spots, and here, books are being flipped through with indifferent non-commitment.

Such a great city, and so much happening here. Easy to deal with, comparatively, and vibrant. The energy of youth is off the charts, and the ambience registers thickly.

I miss writing music here, but it’s good to see that it is a time that has indeed passed. In other words, I’m also glad that I have moved along, done cool things… writ new stuff.

Speaking of which, keep an eye out for new material on its way, it basically is all going to arrive at once in a flood, most likely by mid-October.

Just checking in, have been out of touch. Thanks for stopping by!

rad cello dudesers

I am extremely honored to get to share the stage this October with this unbelievable lineup of the best cello based indie music in the United States! Having this incredible group of musicians all taking the stage the same night is sure to be phenomenal.

Here are the dates and locations:

October 15th–Broadway Performance Hall Seattle, WA
October 16th–The Aladdin Theater Portland, OR
October 17th–Slim’s San Francisco, CA
October 18th–The Unknown Theater Los Angeles, CA

The Lineup:

Zoe Keating

Portland Cello Project

Bonfire Madigan


Judgement Day


Luke Janela

If you are in these cities and you like the cello, you HAVE to go to these shows. You will love it because it will rule.

Much is falling into place, but slowly, more like leaves than rocks. I am very excited to have confirmed the following live performances.

July 13 – Portland, OR – Outdoor Concert – More details to follow
July 31 – San Francisco, CA – Amnesia

and for now last but not least
October 15 – 18 – Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles – The Mondo Cello Tour

Stay tuned for more details!

This is a track from way back. This is one of my first shows where I used the cello for half my set. I had my beatbox, and was playing at the Medicine Hat, this beautiful underground type spot on NE Alberta St., in Portland. It was a quiet night, like a Wednesday or so, but I remember that several of my friends were there. We probably ate at the Vita Cafe. I know that I had left my cello pickup back at my apartment on SE Hawthorne, and was frantic to make it all happen for this show.

So it was the beginnings of making the cello and beats thing work. This recording was done nicely by the sound engineer. Its an old song too, one off of “Still Dream” I believe.