Stop whining…it’s annoying. Stop complaining…no one cares; they’ve all got problems of their own. Stop hating…there is enough hatred in the world. Stop arguing…start discussing. Stop rushing…what’s your hurry? Stop being fearful…that’s how they want you to be. Stop being paranoid…there really is no “they”. Stop proselytizing…yours is not better than mine. Stop watching television…create something cool instead. Stop blaming…it’s no ones fault but your own. Stop taking drugs…reality is much more interesting. Stop buying things you don’t need…start needing things you can’t buy. Stop trading time for money…start giving your time for joy. Stop hating your job…start enjoying your life. Stop building things in the desert…start hiking there instead. Stop making up excuses…start waking up your mind. Stop saying you’re too old…start living for today. Stop dragging round your baggage…start shedding needless things. Stop wasting water…plant food instead. Stop buying from the big box…that local business needs your help. Stop being critical…tell her/him that you love her/him instead. Stop obsessing over social media…go see a local band. Stop wishing…start doing. Stop hoping…search for proof. Stop saying that you can’t…find a YouTube video to show you how you can. Stop taking the escalator…use the stairs. Stop circling for a parking spot…walk that hundred feet instead. Stop tailgating…relax and wave as you go past. Stop living in the past…start living in the now. Stop listening to the radio…search for sounds you don’t yet know. Stop being prudish…say a curse word now and then. Stop swearing all the time…pick up a dictionary instead. Stop viewing animals as lower…see yourself as one of them. Stop listening to singles…play a B-side now and then. Stop listening to Green Day…start listening to X. Stop searching for life’s meaning…just pause and truly be. Stop drinking soda…appreciate water once again. Stop reading pointless magazines…models never really look that good. Stop using Photoshop…remember yourself as you truly were. Stop seeing science as the enemy…it’s the reason you’re still alive. Stop seeing science as the answer…it’s always just a theory. Stop searching for god…start finding yourself. Stop seeing… start feeling…Stop questioning everything…start questioning everything. Stop staring at the stars…start looking at the earth. Stop telling us what to do…we can now think for ourselves.
I’m sure many of you have heard my daughter Hannah’s announcement concerning her relocating to the states in October to pursue her musical dreams. This is extra exciting news for me because Hannah and I will finally have the opportunity to record, tour, and hopefully write together. We’ve done some playing together, but not really together-together if you know what I mean. It’s pretty cool to be a dad who’s kid actually wants to be seen and heard playing music with her dad, but then again, she’s a pretty cool kid! We will have a new website and Facebook page soon to explain what we have planned. Watch for details in the coming weeks. We’re going to kick off this new journey together with a 2 to 3 week tour of Ireland/UK in October. We’re still working on booking that, but will post dates soon. This leads me into the main point of todays post…
While setting up this tour I have been lucky enough to reconnect with some good friends from Ireland-some of whom I had almost completely lost touch. It’s been fun reconnecting. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of my Irish musician friends had become hugely successful on this side of the pond. A lot of these people really helped and encouraged me along my way. They gave me gigs, shared the stage, helped me make contacts and bought me more than a few pints. They loaned me stuff, covered for me when I was sick, donated studio time and most importantly they shared their talent and inspiration. In return for all this kindness I’d like to highlight some of these beautiful people and help send some love their way. So please, read this blog and then go check these people out…
I first met Foy when he came to play a gig for our class at Bangor Tech. It wasn’t really a gig; more an opportunity to try our chops at running sound and lights for a real artist. Foy opened his set with one of my favorite songs, ‘Fortress Around Your Heart’ by Sting. I’ll never forget Foy’s amazing acoustic arrangement and that incredibly powerful voice of his. We became good friends, shared some gigs, made some coffee (to be fair-he made all of the coffee), shared some great stories and a boat load of laughs. Since then Foy has toured and recorded with Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and Ed Sheeran (to name only a few). It was a delight to catch up with Foy on his current US tour with South Carolina rockers ‘needtobreathe’. Foy is currently touring the US to promote his incredibly beautiful album ‘The Joy of Nothing’ (Glassnote Records). Check out Foy’s website and absolutely go see him live. You’ll be blown away!
I first met the angelic Susan Enan when she appeared at my open mic at Belfast’s Auntie Annie’s Pub (Too many years ago to mention). She was so quiet and reserved I was afraid that people would talk over her set, but she had quite the opposite effect on a crowd. You could hear a pin drop every time she’d sing. She was quiet as a mouse, but yet somehow, incredibly powerful. Her music is beautiful and truly timeless. We shared the stage a few times before I left to follow my dreams back in the US. I’d lost touch with Susan until recently finding her on Facebook. To my delight and surprise I found that Susan had relocated to Brooklyn and was still actively pursuing her recording career. Susan’s beautiful song ‘Bring on the Wonder’ was featured on an episode of Bones and later included on the Bones soundtrack release. None other than Sarah McLachlan then recorded the tune. McLachlan’s included the tune on her 7th studio album ‘Laws of Illusion’. Susan has traveled the world playing house concerts from Ireland and UK to Europe, New Zealand, Australia and even as far as Alaska and the Arctic Circle. She has beautifully documented her journey in a short film that can be viewed on her website. Check it out at:
Ben Reel was a well known local artist when I broke into the Belfast music scene in the late 90’s. I didn’t know Ben very well, but he was instrumental in helping me get some of my first gigs in those early days. It was mostly cover songs for the two of us back then, but we developed a mutual appreciation and would often fill in for each other when we had been double booked. Sadly Ben and I lost touch after I relocated to the states in 2001. When I moved to Nashville in 2010, I was delighted to find that Ben was splitting his time between Ireland and Nashville and was doing extremely well in both lands. Ben has been busy since those early Belfast days. He has released 6 studio albums and toured with the likes of Tommy Womack, Jools Holland, Alabama 3 and The Cranberries. Ben has a great down home Americana sensibility that leans heavily towards old school country. Check him out at:
I’m pretty sure I met Nathan while doing sound for his band F.U.E.L. at Katy Daly’s bar in Belfast. I jibed him about the likelihood of future back problems from slinging his guitar so low. We later became good friends and classmates in the music program at Bangor Tech. We would often kill time teaching each other Alice in Chains songs between classes. Since then Nathan has gone on to sell over 11 million albums with Snow Patrol and has recently launched a brand new album with his own band ‘Little Matador’. I was able to reconnect with Nathan recently at a Snow Patrol show at Utah Valley University where we had a long chat over a few beers before the show. I’m delighted to say that fame and fortune hasn’t changed him a bit. He’s still that same lanky guitar slinging kid I knew back in college. One of the nicest blokes I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Good on ya’ Nathan. Can’t wait to see the new band live. I hope you’ll be around the UK in October.
Check out Nathan’s new project here:
Debut Show with New Band
We formally debuted the band last Thursday at Tempe Tavern in Tempe, Arizona and I think it went over extremely well. We had a great turnout and the crowd seemed to be digging it. To be honest, this band was set up with the express purpose of recording the album; playing shows wasn’t really in the cards. However, after just a few rehearsals, things were coming together so well and we were all having so much fun that Jim, our drummer, piped up and said “man, we should play a few shows”. I told our friend Carol Pacey (Carol Pacey and the Honeyshakers) about our plan and the next thing I knew we were booked for a show with local Americana extraordinaire D.L Marble. We all had a blast and I am certain that more full band shows will happen in the future. In the meantime each rehearsal finds us one step closer to getting in the studio. A few more rehearsals and I think we’ll be ready.
So Who’s in the Band?
Honestly, the guys in this band have taken these folky little songs of mine to places I would never dare go by myself (and couldn’t go if I tried). We’ve toyed with the idea of coming up with an actual band name; these guys certainly deserve to be referred to as more than just “The Mikael Lewis Band”. The trouble is, who knows when I’ll be able to afford to take a band on the road? Would these guys be dumb enough to quit their jobs and hit the road with me anyway? I doubt that. I don’t think the idea of living in a van with me would be too appealing? Maybe Steve would do it- he’s young and might not know any better. Steve actually came up with the idea of a rotating cast of band names such as “Mikael Lewis and the Irreplaceables” and “Mikael Lewis and the Programmers of Doom” (what-too progressive?). At least I wouldn’t have to try and build another freakn’ website (Phew!). We’ll see what happens. Anywho, this amazing band includes (in the order that they joined): the ambidextrous James Thorpe (Instant Hobo) on drums, the irreplaceable Jeff Goeslin (Funk n Chaos) on bass, Steven “the atmosphere master” Duncan (Programming Hiro) on guitar, and little ol’ me on vocals and acoustic guitar (and maybe dad’s lapsteel-once I figure out how to control the damned thing!) If these guys aren’t tired of me once the recording is through, maybe they’ll play local shows with me whenever I’m in town? I certainly hope so.
So What’s in a Name?
While compiling a list of the songs I wanted to include on the album, I’d noticed a common theme. Apparently there are lots of thoughts in my little head that deal with acquiring knowledge and seeking enlightenment or looking at things in a different light (There were a lot of camping songs too, which is fitting because how much closer can you get to divinity than when you’re out in the woods?). Coincidentally, my wonderful photographer sister, Marilyn Budge, had sent me some of her artwork that, unbeknownst to her, fit perfectly with the “Different Light” theme. She has graciously agreed to donate her artwork for this project. (I really can’t wait for you folks to see it-it’s sooo cool!). The album/songs theme will probably be mistaken for religiosity, but I think it has more to do with the search for our lost humanity (which, incidentally, can probably only be found in the woods). Anyhow, based on the ideas of this recurring theme, the album will be entitled “A Different Light”. The songs picked for inclusion are ones I’d written years ago, alongside ones I’ve just recently written. This album will cover the gamut of sounds that have influenced the band and myself. These sounds include everything from folksy tribal drones to progressive rock inflections to funky sing-alongs, with a few stops in between. Hopefully it will inspire us all to see things in a different light? (You see what I did there, right? nyuk, nyuk.)
Enough already! 😉
This post has ended up being twice as long as I’d intended (Oops), thank you for indulging me. Hopefully this album will be finished in just a little more than a month from now. I may post a few teaser sound clips as things progress (But then again I might just make you wait). Watch the website and Facebook page for updates.
In the meantime come catch Steve and I as as we warm up the stage for the amazing Cory Mon up in Big Water, UT next Saturday (July 26th). (Great music, great friends and the great outdoors…what else could you possible ask for?) See the calendar for details.
See ya’ll down the road…
I am delighted to announce that I will be touring Ireland/England with the immensely talented singer/songwriter Hannah Butterfield in October 2014. We will both be touring to promote new albums currently under construction. US dates to follow.
I’m also excited to announce that Hannah will be a very welcome guest on my new album and I on hers. Exciting stuff in the works. I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s the story so far:
Around July 18th or 19th I overheard my friend and colleague Mike talking to his wife on the phone about a motorcycle they were trying to sell. It seemed they weren’t having much luck. I asked Mike what the bike was? He replied that I probably wouldn’t be interested as it was just a dusty old 81 Honda. He showed me a picture and I immediately began to salivate.
I didn’t know much about this bike, I just knew that it looked similar to the cb750k that I owned a couple of years back, when I lived in Utah. Mike told me that his father had purchased the bike brand new in 81. For some reason Mikes father quit riding and parked the bike under his carport some 12 years ago. Mike said he didn’t even know if it would run; I told him I was willing to take the risk, especially for the price he was asking.
After wrangling for a couple of days with my wife, Anne, over the prospect of buying another old bike, Mike and I made the exchange of money and title. on July 21st. Mike dropped the bike off that weekend. I knew that I had gotten a really good deal. Even if the bike didn’t run, I knew I could easily part it out and make my money and then some. (but I hoped and prayed that it would run.)
Much to my delight and surprise, I changed the oil and filter, added a new battery and plugs and the old girl fired right up. I later told Mike that I had stolen the bike from him!
Since my writing seems to have been supplanted by my building this motorcycle, I’ve decided to start blogging about the motorcycle build.
A couple of months back I acquired a 1981 Honda cb900 custom. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out this bike is a bit of a rarity. Honda only made the cb900 custom for two years-81 and 82. I’m very lucky to have gotten my hands on one.
Much to the dismay of my new found friends on the cb900/cb1000 custom forum, I’ve decided to morph this bike into a sort of brat style urban scrambler. The metamorphosis is still in its early stages, but I will update periodically as the build progresses.
This is what the bike looked like when I picked it up July 30th.
This is its current state:
And this is my goal:
I really hate city parks. Though they seem like a good idea on the surface, further inspection reveals that they are the antithesis of what our species, or any species, truly needs. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the protection afforded what little is left of the natural world. However, I despise the idea that these little islands of nature be protected whilst we allow industry and “progress” to destroy the true wilderness.
I am hiking with my lab, Chianti, through South Mountain Park in the heart of Phoenix, AZ. We started early in the hope of achieving solitude and silence. It started peacefully enough. It was only once we’d begun to rise above the valley that I heard the noise. As we climbed, our peace was gradually eroded by the rising cacophony of airplanes, automobiles, barking dogs, horns, traffic, factories, whirring electrical cables, and engines clashing together in a flash of unnatural white noise; the eerie symphony of industry, progress; the sound of impending death.
Like the smog that smothers this valley, the pollutant cannot be witnessed by those within the belly of the beast. Atop these desert mountain peaks, where one would expect to hear the sound of solitude, one is instead confronted by the incessant howling of the gates of hell. I desperately need to get off of this cursed mountain, out of this valley, and into the arms of the deep mountain wilderness. Until then I will have to invest in some ear plugs to couple with these smog filtering sunglasses.
As we make our way back to the demon valley we are confronted by a well meaning but under informed park steward chastising us for cross-cutting out of bounds of the established trail. I somehow resist the urge to remove his voice-box and simply apologize for our transgression instead. I can’t blame the dog; she is only doing what comes naturally. As we walk away I consider to myself the problem of our eroding natural world. I strongly suspect that this erosion has more to do with the encroachment of housing, industry, mining, nuclear reactors, the Chamber of Commerce, the BLM, and “progress” than with my habitual cross-trail cutting.