forty-eight hours with tom brosseau
Favorite human. This post is mostly about him, with a small taste of my feelings-du-jour on running behind -- a perpetual state I've been working hard to correct.
I have this thing happening lately where I keep thinking that if I wait for the right window, somehow, I'll have more time than I've had on other days / weeks / months. "It's sunny out. I'll work on that project when I have more inside time." And when the weather turns, there's inside things to tend to -- this year more than most, the sun's departure as we slide into an (albeit mild) fall and winter onset has not coincided with an ease to the busy time, in fact, things have stayed at the near-frantic pace of summertime. Grey or not, dreary or not, life still beckons, freelance work abounds (not complaining!), and the ever-pesky necessary-for-now dayjob demands more and more of my attention. All of this, of course, a long-story-short way of saying that, as usual, I'm super behind on posting blog updates and am just now finally starting to chip away at the queue. Someday I won't be remorseful about it.
As the holidays start to tiptoe into view, with Thanksgiving leftovers still packed into our refrigerators, I'm shot back to the post I want to put up the most: a few days this summer, and a beautiful span of time spent with my pal Tom Brosseau. Our relationship exists in the confines of tour stops and festival performances, so seeing him in the flesh for more than a passing moment is always a treat. In the eight or so years that we've known each other, only in three or four instances have we spent more than a show's worth of time in each other's immediate company -- there was the time I went skydiving that fourth of July weekend in Portland, and the weekend we met in real life for the first time in New Haven, and that time he hit Seattle and we were able to actually have dinner and for things to feel like more than a dream I woke up wanting from. How a friendship grows and flourishes in that space is beyond me, but it has.
When I heard Tom was coming to town over the summer, I sorted out taking a minute off from work so I could spend as much time with him as possible. With all the preface about time and space, the during sounds tame by measurable standards, but it was perfectly beautiful: driving down to Portland on a weeknight, coming upon the Alberta Rose Theater for the first time and being fully struck by the drop-of-a-pin-esque precision with which the soundsystem had been configured, and as soon how long it had taken for it all to begin, there it suddenly was: Tom, with Shelley and then with Sean, and the songs I'd never heard that knocked me senseless. Most are on the upcoming Grass Punks album, some were developed and perfected in tandem with Sean, like the incredible take on that old tune I can barely recall that was a series of answers to jokes that almost had me up and dancing in the aisles. The set ebbed and flowed and culminated in a heartbursty dedication, as "Today is a Bright New Day" spilled up out of Tom's chest like bells and heaven, and poured out all over the stage and into the microphones and became one with the air and our hearts in that little theater where a few hundred more people should have been there to experience it.
Summer lingered this year, our bearhugs post-show bled into cigarettes in the alley and a sidewalk bar where we sat jacketless and learned there were no rooms to be had, and since it's been so long since that night it all dissolves into a stack of Polaroids -- a platonic bed-share at the Airbnb, saying hello to the dogs and friends at the house in the morning, a gorgeously luxurious time-stretch breakfast at Broder before heading back to Seattle, the drive back and the nap after the drive and the Tractor after the nap and the book I brought Tom with a photo to save the page. And the show again, tied for the very best part, more harmonies and heartbursts, taking in all of my new favorite songs with the same fervor I devoured what I mean to say is goodbye with. It's not that the work between then and now hasn't been good -- it has, and there's been plenty of gems, but something about Grass Punks lines up with some of my soul's deepest and oldest riverbeds, a thing I can't explain but can't deny. And as quickly as it started it was gone, with Tom heading off to the show after the show and me heading home all achy and full and knowing it had to end and wishing we could all be at summer camp forever.
Exaggerated, teenaged sigh.
One of the tags for the album on Soundcloud -- I can't link it yet without permission, but I will when I'm allowed because the soundtrack really needs to be present for all of this -- is "shoegrass". I can't think of a better term, other than way back when we first met and someone told me he was alt.folk before I'd ever heard anyone referred to as alt.folk before. It's all a beautiful blur with favorite tracks standing tall, the one I mentioned, with "Love High John The Conqueror Root", "We Were Meant To Be Together", and "Running From Zombies" taking up the other lead spots. For now, just imagine joyous sorrow, clean vocals, and that vibe that is so undeniably Tom.
To be continued! In the meantime, keep abreast on all things TB here.