2011 had a very strange rhythm to it. Looking back, I realize that there are several very distinct sections or phases that made up my year.
The front half of my year was driven by two different solitary endeavors: running and preparing my solo album for release. My weeks were a constant pattern of logging training miles for the Edinburgh Marathon, building websites, writing content, gathering artwork and photos, strategizing, setting up a label and trying to locate funding for the album. I didn’t travel or play very many shows and my two passions began to merge into a kind of meditative force that kept me focused and carried me through the winter. There were disruptions and various entertainments, but overall that period felt to me like a great wave of concentrated effort.
When spring arrived it was with a flourish of activity. In addition to my final long training runs, I managed to find funding for my album through the generous donations of fans and friends via a Kickstarter campaign. I launched a new website along with this blog, did a tour in the U.P. and booked a release show and summer tour dates. Then before I knew it, it was mid-May and we were on a plane to the U.K.
I’ve had trouble being able to write about our trip to England and Scotland. Part of it is the lack of spare time, but my first trip overseas was very important in my life and I’ve had trouble trying to explain what it meant to me. I’m still working it out in my head, but I will say that the Western Highlands of Scotland left a very big impression on me. It may be some deep-rooted Scottish ancestral yearning on my part, but travelling through that region was the closest I’ve ever come to being in the “perfect place”. The marathon itself in Edinburgh was an important personal feat, but strangely, after all of those months of work it seemed to take a backseat to the beauty and joy of the rest of our trip. I ran pretty well, but it was a tough slog through some ridiculous winds and I was honestly relieved when it was over and I could relax and enjoy the rest of the trip.
As soon as we arrived back in Michigan our dog Sequoia passed away. He’d been hanging on for a while, but he was an old guy and just quietly slipped away at the beginning of June. We knew it was coming, but Kristie and I were devastated just the same. He was such an impressive and wonderful animal and his absence left a great hole in our lives. It was during the first real heat of summer and it set such a strange tone for the rest of the season. We were grasping at first, but slowly we just got busy with life and from mid-June through October we made a pretty good time of it.
I released my album, played a ton of shows, did some tours, mailed out promos and worked it as hard as I could. We started taking trips in our vintage camper Danforth. We went swimming, had cookouts, made some new friends, saw old friends. I bought a kayak and Kristie bought a paddleboard. We took multiple trips up to the Leelanau and spent a week in the U.P. for Nora & Jared’s wedding. We had friends out for bonfires at the farm and even screened movies on the barn wall. In the fall I did some festival shows and got to play in NYC and Philadelphia with a new version of the band. We had a big party at my parents’ house in Brighton in mid-October and then I played a big show at The Ark in Ann Arbor the following week. Through all of this, the Tigers made a great run at the playoffs just missing another trip to the World Series. It was a whirlwind… the complete opposite of the first four months of the year.
Then just as suddenly, things got have gotten very quiet again over the last two months. I’ve spent a lot of time reorganizing my studio, doing house chores, repairs and other tasks that had been neglected over the past year. I’ve felt unable to get into a creative state of mind and attribute it to a sort of creative hangover from a very intense year. I’ve been helping Kristie with her new company Tourist Park. She has had her own big year of creative pursuits building a product line of beautiful vintage-inspired sewn goods. In terms of concentration and intensity, her last few months of sewing, creating, setting up a website and making her debut at two premier indie craft shows have been a virtual mirror to my efforts in the beginning of the year. I’m so glad to live with such an inspiring and interesting person.
I’ve recently begun practicing and recording with Great Lakes Myth Society again. Our year and half long hiatus has come to a close and we’re ready to resume work on our third album. I just told my brother how much I was looking forward to having a weekly band practice night again and working together on a project. It’s led me to think that I may be seeking more collaborations in 2012. I do plan on recording more solo work in the near future, but I’m ready to try and forge some new creative relationships so I think it will be a much different experience and result than last time around. I also think I may run another marathon. I must be insane.