Portland, Maine So Far, Yet So Close.

We met singer/songwriter Connor Garvey, one cloudy morning in Austin Texas. He came to our bus with our folkie kinfolk, The Lovebirds and Matt Nakoa to have breakfast. His bright smile and zest for life caught our attention as he shared his story of growing up an Irish kid near Portland Maine. We found out that we shared a few mutual friends and fellow muso’s, Putnam Smith and Heather Styka. So, between the rest of the breakfast crew there was much laughing and joking with reference to what we all decided to call the Maine Mofia. After breakfast we exchanged information and hoped to visit Connor when we passed through his state.

IMG_3773The weather was unusually hot when we arrived but Connor welcomed us with a cold fruit smoothy and that same bright smile. After we settled the bus, we all put on our bathing suits, hopped on our bikes and rode to the little town beach near his house.

I almost don’t want to tell people about this beach because I don’t want to spoil it for the locals but Willard Beach is a soft white sandy beach and has great views of the Casco Bay Islands, plus you get to watch the ships and boats come in and out of the harbor. The only down side was that the water was about 55f, the coldest we’ve ever felt, maybe even colder than Barton Springs in Austin, TX. None the less, it was refreshing. And, Connor, an avid surfer, jumped in no holds bar, as did our son, Banjo and swam their little hearts out.

IMG_3705Later that evening we drove an hour northeast to Durham, ME to visit our mutual friend, Putnam Smith at his log cabin in the woods. The last time we saw Putnam was five years prior in Green Bay, WI. So, we were excited to see and hear about all that had transpired in life, love, and music since our last visit.

He took us on a tour around his garden and showed us his 100-year-old antique letterpress, explaining the intricacies and process of creating his CD artwork with the press. Then he made us a lovely dinner and we shared songs late into the evening. Putnam is an accomplished banjo playing, songwriting, old-world troubadour fresh from the 19th Century and it was a delight to swap songs and be invited into his experience.

IMG_3772The next day we met up with Craig’s old band mate, Andrew and his family for dinner. These fella’s lived and played music together back in the late 90’s, in a world punk band called Ballydowse. Those were significant years in Craig’s journey and during that time his friendship with Andrew was meaningful and important. As life moved on, throughout the years, Craig would remember his friend fondly, but at times, the distance between them seemed so far away. And yet, here they were, just like yesterday, stories intertwining finding that close bond once again renewed.

The neat thing about seeing an old friend, who we haven’t seen in years and years was finding that although life looked completely different from before there was still that sweet common thread that once wove us together and that was a beautiful thing.

We spent the next few days hiking Fort Williams, sharing delicious meals, and catching up on story, enjoying the goodness of friendship and as we pulled away a little piece of our heart stayed behind.

Portland is a pretty cool city, that’s for sure, but Portland with all of these kinfolk as inhabitants is even cooler. It’s a place that feels like home and we are so grateful for our time and friendships there.

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Roadside Assistance

Flat TireWe were about 50 miles east of Portland, up near Government Camp when our tire blew. It’s one of the more common mechanical issues in owning a bus but at $600 a pop, not the best news. Craig maneuvered off of the road and assessed the situation while I made dinner. The tag axel (back passenger wheel) had blown and Craig figured he could raise it up with a jack and potentially link the chain to hold the tire off of the ground. Our hope was to continue driving down to our destination and deal with it once we were in town. However, after a several tries and tired hands he found the jack just wasn’t strong enough to hold up the rig for as long as he needed. And so, we decided to make a call to Good Sam road side assistance. We’re members and have had to use them once before with good results. They call local towing companies on their roster and the truck comes out to help us change out a tire or tow our vehicle if needed. This time around, the lady on the phone took our coordinance and said she would call us back with information on the towing company. About an hour and a half went by, during which Craig did end up managing to get the tire chained up off of the ground. The lady called back and explained that she could not find any vendors in the Portland area willing to come up the fifty miles? I chuckled lightly, thinking how silly it was that no one would come up to help us from Portland. However, I let her know it was OK, that we had a temporary solution and we were going to begin our trek down the mountain.

That’s when a whole Portlandia episode emerged in our heads. We had a good laugh about how the towing companies in Portland were probably bicycle towing companies and they only work in a 10 mile radius. Their bikes would be outfitted with large baskets and the trailer behind the bike would be more like a wheel barrow. We imagined the phone call placed to the company and the hysterical conversation that would ensue about coordinance of the broken down vehicle (or bicycle) and the process that the tow driver might take to help the wayward bicyclist.

Anyway, it was all in good jest, as we love our friends in Portland. Thank goodness for the simple solution and the hospitality we did find when we arrived at our dear friends, The Maes home. The added bonus was a Bus garage right around the corner.

It’s good to be rolling again.

Sun Room Sessions

Our first recording sessions with David Fuller at Sun Room Studios in Portland, Oregon was quite fruitful.

It was a first for our drummer and youngest Holland. With over 200 shows this year under his belt, our eleven yr old has become quite accomplished on the cajon (box drum). However, a strong live performance doesn’t always transfer to the studio and at an early age he has come face to face with his own inadequacies. And, through much perseverance he has overcome them. In fact, we all have. When you take away the energy that we offer during a live performance and break it down to just instrument or voice and the microphone, the truth of talent really comes out. That is when we really see what we’re all made of. Oh sure, we could auto tune, cut and paste, fabricate but we’re folkies and our hope is to create something genuinely us.

The process of recording really taps into all sorts of emotion from criticalness, insecurity, joy, laughter and delight. Half of our songs have a solid base, disciplined intent and a flavor of energy that comes from the excitement and anticipation of the final product.

Now, we take three weeks to write, refine and rest. Back to the studio early January.

New Album in the Works

The life changes we have made over this past year have been so mind altering and soul stretching. It’s been a process to digest it all but over the last few weeks we have put our minds and efforts into writing songs. We hope to record these new songs this December in Portland, OR with David Fuller. Looking to have it available Spring 2013.

Crux of the Album:

There is a great love and purpose for us that is worked out in the messes, storms, blue skies, daily work, and dreams of our common lives.  This album gives narrative shape to actual people and circumstances in their dealings with God, each other and the inner workings within themselves.

Themes: Community, Common Lives, Storms, Injustice, Faithfulness, Long-Suffering, Circle, History, Pastoral, Poetry, Kingdom, Voyage.

We’ve decided to redo Old Man’s Town from our latest album, ‘Ashes to Beauty’ and feature it on this upcoming album. It’s a song that has aged well and our hope is to really allow the energy that has been building in that song to have a second chance to impact.

We’ve also been working to incorporate the unified sound that has developed in us as a family, not just a duo. Over the last two years we’ve performed as a family 355 times. There is a solidity that has developed and we are looking to incorporate that into this album. So, although we will still have room for guest appearance’s, on this recording we will feature “The Hollands!” as a band and as a family, including musical parts and songs that have been written by our children, songs like “Lanie Done Did” written by Graciana Holland.

Here is an excerpt from that song:

“Just about 26 seconds ago/Lanie done something bad/That time that time that time/Was all it took to make him mad/And the waves came down/Like an earthquake ready to rumble/Rolling round, Lanie, done did stumble”

From Here To There, Northwest

We’re absolutely amazed by the weaving together of the saints. We continue to find refuge as we make our way down the west coast. Our first stop was Seattle, WA, where we stayed with the brave Susie and Brian. I say brave, because they had the guts to allow us to park right out in the middle of their cul du sac and it was a perfect fit. Susie is the mother of our dear friend, Katie and she had that hip grandmotherly hospitality that made us feel welcomed and loved.

Once in the Seattle area, we connected with Clint McCune, a fantastic musician and the owner of Soulfood Books for a performance. Clint performs the first friday of every month and invites a guest artist to join him. We  were totally humbled by Clint, the staffs and listeners openness and encouragement. It was a delight to be in community with them all. We also found a listening ear regarding the opportunity to link up with Kabum Coffee International and Hope Africa Child Development Program.

On a side note, we were able to reconnect with the Sergotts, from Green Bay. They are in the process of moving to Seattle and Banjo was able to enjoy some time with his friend Eli. Serendipity! It was one more reminder that we are not in this alone.

The next day we had some family time at the breathtaking Snoqualmie Falls.

Later in the day we visited the Northwest Railway Museum. There was something  sensational about those old cars. The history rich and the memories are laced into the decrepit metal frames.

    

A quick stop at the local thrift store and we were on to our show at the Black Dog. This local venue is home to all of the creative types in Snoqualmie. It’s warm and straight up good vibes.

2/5/12 Sunday morning we hit a little hick up when the pin in our trailer went out. Quick stop to the auto parts store and we were on our way to La Center, WA to stay with a couple referred by another couple referred by another couple who own the Green Plow. It’s the small world and we are so thankful for open minded folks like the Marianu’s.

Monday night we played a little community show in Portland with our dear friends Destroy Nate Allen and Tues. night our gracious hosts had a few folks over for “dinner and a song.”

Today is a day of rest, school and general catching up. On Friday we head to Zigzag to play at one of our favorite Global~Local joints, The Skyway Bar and Grill and then on Sat. we will be in Lake Oswego, OR for a full family performance at the River Ridge House Concert Series. If you live in these parts come have a sing with us before we head south.

~peace~

The Hollands!