So, I’m going to tell you a sad little story about me as a kid. Don’t get too sad, though, it has a happy ending, I love literally everything about my life and I have this probably-dumb-but-what-the-hell mystical sense that if even one small detail of my life had been changed, then everything would be different now, and who’s to say that the things most dear to me wouldn’t have to be traded away in the bargain? I call this conviction “The JD Doesn’t Really ‘Get’ Physics Effect,” though if I were in an instrumental prog-metal band, I might instead call it the Phalse Phenomenology Ephect. Then everybody would cry, except for me, because I would be too busy in the Locrian mode laying down the sickest two-part solos you’re ever gonna hear in this town, bud.
Anyway. Kids in junior high used to wait until after school to fuck with me, but I guess they didn’t mind waiting, because I walked home by myself, and some of the kids most eager to fuck with me lived on the same block as me, which, I probably don’t have to point this out, really sucked. It got worse every day; I was a scrawny dude with no illusions of toughness or any desire to sharpen my combat skills. I liked to hang out with girls and read science fiction books. Eventually it became clear to me that even if I ratted these dudes out to the school, any relief was going to be temporary; it was fight them or avoid them, and they moved in packs of three. So one day instead of walking home (south, down Mountain Avenue, past the little league diamonds and through a vacant lot, which was usually where the beatdown occurred), I cut left at Harrison Avenue and hoofed it all the way downtown; my tormentors followed me most of the way there, but I was bold enough to look behind me and see that the further out of the neighborhood they got, the less comfortable they looked. It was cool to feel a sort of power in flight: they weren’t sure where I was going; that made them uneasy.
A few things happened as a result of me being too terrified of my bullies to face them. One, I ended up volunteering for work at the library. I filed books and microfiche, and cleaned vinyl LPs with water and a cloth. It felt weird not telling my supervisor “I’m here because the people who want to kick my ass won’t follow me in,” but that passed. Two, I ended up spending more time downtown, because that’s where the library is. Downtown in Claremont there’s a place called the Folk Music Center, it’s been there forever; they have a lot of guitars. I only knew piano, but I used to go in and look at the chord charts and teach myself one chord at a time. D. D. D. D. Half an hour of what was probably the worst-sounding D ever. G. G. G. G. Really had to stretch that little left hand to make the G. I pity the people who worked the counter at the Folk Music Center when I’d come in.
If there’s any point to this story, and I’m not sure there is but, it’s that the songs I sing, which are often about finding ways to call a dark dungeon a glittering castle & really mean it, have some of their genesis in me being a fearful young kid with just enough presence of mind to turn to music as an escape. The fact that I’m able to play them on guitar certainly owes much to my finding a path home that other kids on the block didn’t want to take. All this stuff occurs to me because I’m finally getting around to doing a West coast solo tour, whose dates are off to the right on the yellow post-it note, and which dates conclude with me playing a show at, where else, the Folk Music Center. Most dates (not that last one, though) I have the pleasure of Dustin Wong as my opening act. Dustin’s music is so awesome, you guys. I am really excited to hear him every night, and to finally, after years of wondering when I was going to get around to it, be embarking on a solo West Coast run.
Please note, in case you hadn’t, that these rooms are a good deal smaller than the ones we usually play out west, so, you know, not to be blunt and presumptuous or whatever but in towns where we sometimes sell out a room, these rooms may sell out faster, so act accordingly and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Because I did warn you! Just now! OK this update has gotta be like 3,000 words nobody asked you to write the whole history of the world JD c’mon. See you soon!