First of all, a sincere word of gratitude to those of you who listen and read what I write! I do not take it for granted, and I am privileged, so THANK YOU!
Also, thank you to everyone who participated in the Largo fundraiser. This year, we raised over $1,350 for the Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute in memory of Bill Rieflin.
2021 was a remarkable year for me. It saw the release of THE BIRTHDAY POEMS, which was the realization of two years of research for what I wanted to be a book originally, but organically and alchemically and spiritually became an album, which was written and recorded during lockdown of 2020. Being able to work remotely in isolation but so closely with CHRIS BRUCE and MONICA QUEEN proved that indeed, distance was just a number (and a bit of a time difference) yet we were so connected. THE BIRTHDAY POEMS is work I am proud of, the “if I pop my clogs today, I am satisfied” kind of proud (though I want to stay around!!). The videos created by MATT WALKER & DERICK SMITH (Tae the Poets), IAIN MUTCH (My Father Took Me Everywhere), and KIMBERLY BLESSING (Let Us Be Hushed) were amazing, beautiful, and humorous foils to the album, as was GILLIAN WHISKER’s evocative photography of Edinburgh.
In June, I played three nights at the GMAN TAVERN in Chicago, highlighting THE BIRTHDAY POEMS and my recent book, THE HEART HAS TO ACHE BEFORE IT LEARNS TO BEAT. It was a wonderful experience before an appreciative audience; it felt amazing to play live again, to share stories, sing and read aloud that which I had written, again, a privilege.
The year also brought AMERICAN PARASITE by THE JOY THIEVES, for which I provided all the vocals. Born out of political frustration, humanitarian panic and anger, I could not censor myself or “nice up” the vitriol against the wave of enraged and powerful music I was given to sing on whilst soaking up CNN to a soundtrack of CRASS. The album was born screaming and fighting, and I am very bloody proud of that, too.
In September, I teamed up again with PAUL BARKER, this time to mine the LUXA/PAN treasures of the earlier WaxTrax days. As a duo, we played COLD WAVES in Chicago and LA as well as playing Brooklyn with our old pals FRONT 242. It was nostalgic and a lot of fun.
I feel fortunate to be able to move forward creatively and still be able to acknowledge what I did decades ago. I am looking forward to 2022 as I busy myself with SONS OF THE SILENT AGE, as well as a number of writing projects. Keep an eye on Bandcamp — there is new music on the way as well as some reissues/resurrections from the past.
(…and here is my top 10 for the year!!)
1: CIRCUIT DES YEUX “-io”
2: LINGUA IGNOTA “SINNER GET READY”
3: NICK CAVE & WARREN ELLIS “CARNAGE”
4: AROOJ AFTAB “VULTURE PRINCE”
5: L’RAIN “FATIGUE”
6: PASTOR T.L. BARRETT “I SHALL WEAR A CROWN” (REISSUE)
7: ADAM GEOFFREY COLE “FALLOWING”
8: JESSICA GALLO “WALK TO THE SUN”
9: ABBA “VOYAGE”
10: NICO “DRAMA OF EXILE” (REISSUE)