I have a bad habit of bringing twice as many books with me as I’ll ever be able to read. Weekend trip to Vermont, where I’m driving two hours everyday and playing one or two gigs, so I don’t have to read anyway – five books. Backpacking through China and Mongolia – a constant rotation of four books (although I did read everything I brought and picked up along the way and left it where I finished it).
Tonight I need to take a break from reading as we’re mixing the last song coming out on my new (and fourth) record. Unfortunately, I don’t have samples from this record to share yet, but I did release a side-project with the cello player I work a couple of months ago.
So, I brought three books with me to the studio. I’ve just started peeking at Green Oranges on Lion Mountain, about a doctor’s year in Sierra Leone. Keeps me traveling to the different parts of the world.
1. What are you reading right now? Green Oranges on Lion Mountain
2. How many books have you read so far? 2
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Probably the one I’m reading now. That was high on the list of things I wanted to get read.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? I did have to give away an overnight shift for work. I’m probably still going to go in for a few hours though. Late at night I can usually get reading done between calls, and it will help me to not just go to bed.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Yeah, I have had to do some packing today, and now I’m in the studio, but I knew I was just going to have to read in between doing stuff.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I wish I had more time to check out and comment on other folks’s blogs.
9. Are you getting tired yet? Nope, but I was one of the lucky ones to have an 8am start time, so it’s just a normal day so far.
Although I kept out a selection of books to chose from for the read-a-thon, this is what my shelf actually looks like right now:
This has turned out to be a bad time to try to move in Portland, ME. We had two months notice that our landlady is selling the house, and didn’t find a place to stay until this week (one week before move out). And that place won’t be available until June 1st. Luckily, a friend and coworker had a small apartment that he owns open up. We’ll be cramped for the month of May, but the house we’re moving to is a dream.
Check out other folks shelves at the “Shelfie” post: http://www.thebookmonsters.com/deweys-readathon-shelfie/
I finished Karma Cola, a witty and odd collection of characters that sarcastically personify the clash of east and west in India.
Pages read total: 361
Food must be found; books must be read. I headed out to Haggarty’s a Brit-Indie take-away joint that has notoriously long wait times for a place that is take-out only. I managed to read 33 pages while waiting for my chicken jalfrezi. I’m a big fan of Gita Mehta, and her wry sense of humor regarding Indian culture and the influx of western people living there.
“They were the Port Out gentry, who struggled for one hundred years to impress upon us that the most noble muscle in the human body is the sphincter, which must be kept tightly clenched at all times. By the time they returned Starboard Home, a whole sleepy continent had been trussed up in the great Victorian Straightjacket.”
This book focuses on the giant industry that has arisen around ‘Gurus’ and people traveling to India to find enlightenment of some kind. I haven’t traveled to India, but I did live outside of Kathmandu, Nepal for a while, and many of the foreign folks I met there said they would come to Nepal to get away from the hustle and crush of India. Pages read: 203 Page in current book: 35 Update: I fell asleep quite a few time while reading this, and also had to pack up a few things as I have a giant move impending next weekend. Page 95 Pages read: 298
Colin Thubron is a classic choice for the first book in a travel inspired read-a-thon. This one is short, and the only fiction I’ve ever seen by him. It makes sense though, all those characters he’s met and observed in his life that can’t be written about in the journalistic non-fiction format in the way they can be characterized in fiction. To The Last City is the tale of a small group of people journeying to less-visited Incan ruins. A Belgian and his French wife who is half his age, an older British couple whose resentment of each other fills the air, a mis-guided and confused aspiring priest, and the doubtful guide whose job it is to keep all these folks safe and happy.
This is a really good book, but here is quote that really stuck out so far:
” The Englishman lay in his sleeping bag listening to the quick, regular breathing of his wife.
In the faint light, he could see she had placed her boots between them, with her anorak and a water bottle. “
And finally getting around, four hours late, to the introductory questions:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Portland, ME, USA
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Red Dust, I think. Maybe Grass Roof, Tin Roof.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I’m not nearly that prepared.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! A lapsed traveler, due mostly to my drive to be a musician which keeps me tied to where I’m playing, recording, and also perpetually broke.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I was so excited to realize I didn’t have a gig booked on a Saturday night so that I could participate! Although I do have to go to the studio, and also to work at some point during the 24 hours.
Pages read: 66
Page in current book: 67
Hour six update: Book finished, 168 pages read. Heading out to get some Indian food….
I’m getting a usual late start here. I’m drinking milk and contemplating the orange that has been banging around my purse in anticipation.
My plan for this read-a-thon was to tackle a small mountain of short travel books. This used to be a travel blog, and I haven’t been contributed to it much since I’ve been slow on the traveling. The traveling hasn’t really stopped. And Portland, ME is one of the most interesting places in the world to be based out of (and I don’t say that because I’m from here, I’m a very reluctant Portlander). I’m not really sure why I’m not writing more. So here’s the pile ‘o books. And I swear I’m getting started.
Dewey’s 24 hour read-a-thon: http://24hourreadathon.com/
Pages read: 0
Disappointment that wordpress has changed so drastically and for the worse since I last used it: high
After spending a week staying with good friends Grys and Juan, I’m finally back in my old hometown of Tlaquepaque. I felt welcomed back with open arms, and in some ways treated like I never left. Drank some cervezas with the hombres a la tienda. Got the scoop on the local rock band I sang with sometimes breaking up. A few stores have changed, but mostly it’s the same. Gorgeous, and warm, and delicious.
My plan was to rent an apartment from an English teacher who runs a school and rents some apartments in Tlaquepaque. When I got to the school to pick up the keys, the apartment I was hoping to rent wasn’t ready yet, and the cheaper apartments didn’t have internet. This was a problem since part of my plan was to hole up and write some gig proposals for the summer, and answer some long e-mails I’d been ignoring.
When he asked if I knew my way around at all, and I said I used to live and teach here, his eyes lit up, and I could tell he had a notion. It turned out a teacher was sick and he was in need of an emergency sub for that day and the next. He offered me a private apartment for less than the cheaper place in exchange for teaching two days of classes.
So here I am in a gorgeous private apartment, able to practice, have friends over, and write in peace in the center of a fantastic neighborhood. I even made myself a Mexican breakfast of chiliquiles, papaya, and frijoles.
Several people said they were afraid I wasn’t going to come back from Mexico, and if I didn’t have gigs lined up in Maine and Vermont, I might not. I could live here. But it would be almost impossible to play original music on a regular basis. So here’s to one more week in paradise.
One of these days I swear I’ll get this blog back to being about travel photos and tales. I have plenty of ideas to write about with getting back in the field working on an archaeology project, and having a case of poison ivy bad enough to send me to the hospital, but for now, it’s all about the music.
November Music News
In some sad news, my not-so-trusty Honda Insight that has taken me all around the country, barely big enough for a guitar and a suitcase, was hauled off on a trailer by a nice engineer from Toronto who was looking for a hybrid to fix up. The replacement gig vehicle, actually big enough for a few instruments, amps, and the handsome men that play them, is a jeep cherokee. We took the jeep on it’s first foray to a gig in Hallowell, packed to the gills with gear and people, only to be texted a few minutes down the road by my roommate that my tail lights were out. When AAA proved to be of no help, I called drummer and car lover Dave Burd for some advice. He talked us through changing a fuse, and voila, we were back on the road.
In some even sadder news, as I’m sure most people know, Nick Curran, amazing guitar player and singer, and one of the few Mainahs to make it, died of cancer this month. He was one of the youngest people to ever win a W.C. Handy, played for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and released amazing solo records. I’ve included a video of Nick along with Dave Burd (the fuse man), and my old friend Hawk Kallweit. It’s a pretty small world, and some folks don’t get to stay in it long enough.
11/1 – Dogfish Cafe, 8pm, w/ Adam Barber on bass, and my bro Kirk Underwood on electric guitar and harmonies.
11/3 – Local Sprouts – organic food and homegrown music – 7 to 9pm, with Adam Barber on Bass and Joe Bloom on harmonica.
11/10 – Local Buzz, Cape Elizabeth, 8pm – with Adam Barber on bass and TBA.
11/16 – Gutheries, Lewiston, 8pm – with Adam Barber on bass and Devon Colella on cello
Vermont bound! Please pass this newsletter on to folks you know in Vermont who are interested in original Americana music
11/17 – Purple Moon Pub in Waitsfield – 7pm
11/18 – The Skinny Pancake, Montpelier, 6pm
11/19 – Radio Bean, Burlington, 6pm
11/20 – The Bees Knees, Morrisville, 7pm
11/23 and 11/24 – Samoset Resort, Rockport, ME, 7 to 10pm – we’re very excited that the Samoset has decided to have music for the off season. Join us in the downstairs restaurant for cocktails and original music.
11/24 – Blue – the Nashville style songwriters round I host every month at Blue will still happen even though I’ll be up the coast. Guest host TBA. 6 pm
11/30 and 12/1 – Samoset Resort, 7 to 10pm, with Devon Colella on the cello.
Also in November is the 20th anniversary of a songwriters’ collective I belong to in Nashville hosted every Sunday by my good friend Kathy Hussey. Although I’m not able to fly down for the weekend to celebrate and pick some tunes with them, Dana Lowe, the resident poet famous for making up poems on the spot containing three random words provided by the crowd, wrote this for me to share with you today:
New England folks: the chance is good
For hearing Shanna Underwood
And her gang come to your town
to lay some lovely music down.
The tickets, relatively cheap;
The mode of transport is by Jeep.
Her poison ivy, some folks say,
is why she’s just itchin’ to play.
Accompanied by the Musical Lads,
her show makes Northern folk feel glad.
She tours the early part in Maine,
then Vermont, when she’s out again!
When choosing towns, Shanna has a habit
of picking names multi-syllabic.
And, if the folks are extra-nice,
she might even play in Burlington twice!
So go by plane or boat or car
to see Shanna and her Gibson Guitar.
(void where prohibited)
c 2012 Dana M Lowe
Hope to see you out and about,
Like on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShannaUnderwoodMusic/events
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shannaunderwood – buy