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My last post was about visiting family in Idaho. I had two reasons to go there, and the second one was music.

Alana Davis knocks us flat with her amazing voice.

Alana Davis knocks us flat with her amazing voice.

Marcus Eaton at the Sapphire Room at the Boise Riverside Hotel.

Marcus Eaton at the Sapphire Room at the Boise Riverside Hotel.

A few of us die-hard Marcus Eaton fans know a little about each other. So when we heard that Marcus would be in Idaho visiting family and putting on a show with newly-Idahoan Alana Davis, I got some pressure along the lines of, “You should go to Idaho, visit your dad, and catch the show while you’re there.” Thank you for pushing me guys, it was the best one yet!

I’m a fan of Alan Davis too! Years ago I found out that Ani DiFranco’s song was actually a cover of Alana Davis’ 32 Flavors, so I bought her album Blame It On Me, and became a fan on the spot. Turns out she lives in Idaho now, and was able to participate in the Idaho Songwriters Association December concert. When Alana played 32 Flavors, she brought Marcus onto the stage with her and we got to hear their guitars together. I go weak in the knees for acoustic guitar.

My brother joined Tara and me at The Sapphire Room. My brother was the manager at The Big Easy (before it became the Knitting Factory) and had seen Marcus play a dozen times, but this was mostly new music for him. The delicious surprise was that there was a lot of new music for me too! While I have seen songs like Smile, and Sunrise Lets You Down on YouTube, this was my first time hearing them live.

Marcus also treated us to a song or two from the new album, one he co-wrote with David Crosby, and a couple brand, brand new songs too! I have been *starving* for new music, and it was the medicine I needed. He played song after song, covering a Bob Marley tune with Alana, and playing a song with his dad Steve Eaton, also an accomplished musician. Marcus joked about the drawback of many harmonica players, but pointed out that “My dad can actually play the harmonica.” And he could. Steve sang one of his own songs called Asleep at the Wheel that made lots of Idaho references, making a fun song even more enjoyable.

Marcus and Alana share the stage.

Marcus and Alana share the stage.

Most of my shots were from behind the stage, since that is where our seats were.

Most of my shots were from behind the stage, since that is where our seats were.

DSC_0182

We had been there nearly three hours when the show ended. I introduced my brother to Marcus and Tara was finally able to say Hi (she is prohibited from attending all his 21+ shows). Those two wanted to go home and sleep, but I was soaring on adrenalin and wanted to stay. My brother gave me the number for a local cab and I handed him my keys.

After the show I was approached by Melissa, who had noticed my camera and asked if I would take photos, since their usual photographer was not there. I happily acquiesced, and the after-show shots of all the folks involved with the concert and the Idaho Songwriters Association turned out great. Turns out that Steve Eaton founded the Idaho Songwriters Association, and remains active and supportive in it. While waiting for others to come together for the photos, I was able to meet and talk with Steve. His enthusiasm for his son’s career, and his love for his son, was evident.

After photos Marcus was swarmed by fans, friends, and family (and those categories totally overlapped). It was a brilliant thing for me to see: the musician at home. Something I feel honored to have witnessed. The love and admiration was palpable. I stood to the side, waiting for my turn. I had the chance to talk with his brother, and his sister, and his mom. The whole family is warm, wonderful, generous, the way I’ve come to expect of the Idahoans I’ve known. Everyone was buying up the gorgeous concert posters his brother made, then getting autographs all over them. It was a frenzy of favors and silver ink and laughs.

Steve Eaton, Alana Davis, Marcus Eaton.

Steve Eaton, Alana Davis, Marcus Eaton.

When most of the people were gone, a few of us fans followed him to another room where he packed up his gear. Marcus’ sister begged him for the use of his phone charger. His mom came in with a friend and we all sat around a large round table and told stories and got to know each other a little. Marcus is a born storyteller, periodically having to get up and act out the tale, once even enlisting the help of the Ohio fan to play a part of “ordinary guy” to his “obnoxious L.A. native.”

When it was time to go, Marcus overheard me calling a cab. He told me to call them back and cancel, and I got a ride home with him and his sister, while his mom drove. Now THAT was the pinnacle of a great evening for me. I couldn’t sleep for another two hours, just lay awake and grinned.

Marcus and me last month in Portland

Marcus and me July 10, 2013 in Portland

When someone is in love they want everyone else to share that love. Indulge me while I rave about some extraordinary music that I am crazy about, and the story of how I met the man who makes it.

When I heard Marcus Eaton’s music for the first time, I became instantly and forever devoted. Yes, I confess. It’s not a relationship with a person I’m talking about, but a love affair with sound.

In 2006 Marcus Eaton had been making a profound impact on audiences for several years, but I had never heard of him. While I visited my Pa at his oasis on the Snake River in southern Idaho, the nearby Ste. Chapelle Winery had cleverly invited father and son, Steve and Marcus Eaton, to play their Father’s Day concert.

It was a splendid day with my family. We picnicked, drank wine, and danced in the shade. Steve Eaton’s music was a perfect choice for the event. His son played a few solo tunes and KNOCKED ME FLAT. With a studio perfect voice, flashing his guitar as his pass into my soul , Marcus Eaton’s melodies spiraled together world beat, singer songwriter, Latin rhythms, jazz and rock. After the show I stared at this young guy hanging around the stage, and he saw me. I’ll never forget his face at that moment. Looking expectantly at me through his glasses. I was dumbstruck with pure fan paralysis, and eventually ducked behind something and escaped.

At the Father's Day concert at Ste. Chapelle winery in Caldwell, Idaho in 2006

The Father’s Day concert at Ste. Chapelle winery in Caldwell, Idaho June 28, 2006. That’s Steve Eaton on stage. I didn’t take any photos of Marcus that day. How could I have known?

I scratched his name onto a napkin and carried it home to Massachusetts, and eventually bought The Day the World Awoke by Marcus Eaton and the Lobby. I played the CD till my 10 year old daughter had it memorized.  That CD has the brilliant Fiona, which never fails to win converts.  In fact, l want you to hear Fiona. The following video begins with a short intro in the midst of an interview, so if you’re bored with my blog post already, please just skip to 5:40 and maybe you’ll decide to read more.

In 2008 I was compelled to write a review of the CD on Amazon. It was an amateur review I grant you, but borne of genuine admiration. That was the best thing I could have done!

I got a friend request on facebook shortly after; from a person I didn’t know. I checked her page and couldn’t find a single thing in common except that her page mentioned Marcus Eaton. I asked Kitty, prior to accepting the friend request, “Why did you friend me? Is it because I adore Marcus Eaton?” The answer was yes, and that is how I became friends with Marcus’ manager at that time. When I tried to purchase The Story of Now, it had been sold out, so Kitty sent me a personal copy instead, plus the CDs Live at the Gorge, and Live at Larkspur 2007.

In the meantime, I had seen him at a couple of concerts. Marcus is one of those artists who – live on stage – can explode your expectations. Here you were, expecting to be musically entertained, and instead your aural world is turned inside out for two hours. At one show he said, “I’ve been playing around with loops…” and he was not kidding. These days, incorporated into every show as though looping his own background tracks at a live show is as natural as announcing the next song, Marcus almost effortlessly builds in a whole percussion and vocal ensemble behind himself in solo performances.

Wanna see him looping?

I was always the bumbling fool after his shows, trying to make words come out of my mouth that would give him the impression that I loved the music. I wasn’t new to music: I was authentically impressed. My dad plays guitar, and I grew up with summertime bands (in the basement to hide from the heat), whiskey-laden, smoke-infused strains of mandolin, drums, bass, and my dad playing slide on his pedal steel guitar drifting upstairs to the rest of the house. I played guitar in a bar in Tamarack, Idaho for a few months when I was  10 years old, my timid voice attempting Kenny Roger’s hits while bearded loggers  shouted at me, “Louder!” I have always been drawn to stunning fingerwork, and was drooling in front of Michael Hedges in little theatres in Boulder, CO and Burlington, VT when I had barely hit my twenties. In retrospect, I imagine the deer-in-headlights look must have given Marcus a clue that I was an incorrigible fan. Or, in need of sympathy, heh.

Kitty invited me to a backyard party prior to the annual Gorge show in George, Washington in September 2009. By then I was living in Portland, so my daughter and I made the drive up to Seattle suburb and joined the party. Stopped in my tracks, I spotted Marcus at the food table. “Hi, it’s great to see you!” he said, and came toward me with a big smile and arms out for a hug. “You can’t possibly know me,” I said doubtfully. “Of course I do. I recognize you from the shows,” he insisted. I told him my name, and we chatted a little. I told him about the Father’s Day concert at the winery. He said it was almost an annual event for him and his dad.

Marcus at a backyard show outside of Seattle, September 3, 2009

Marcus at a backyard show outside of Seattle, September 3, 2009

This is how intimate it was. So many of these people turned into friends that night.

This is how intimate it was. So many of these people turned into friends that night. They now make up my ME family.

It adds to the beauty of the music that he’s a beautiful person. Listen to the stuff he writes; it’s all about finding peace in this world, finding the best ways to love, recover from pain or judgement, and to value what’s important. He sings about growth and about childlike joy. Listen, just listen to him!

The rest, as they say…

Marcus met my mother at Jimmy Mak’s in Portland one December night in 2008. He sent me a facebook message the next day, “Nice to meet tu madre.” Our girls’ night out, when I finally got to share with her such a Crystal-ly favourite part of my life, is a truly precious memory. When I think of Marcus, he keeps her alive for me in a special tiny way, because he reminds me of that night. My mother died in December 2010.

I was at The Roxy in Kennewick the night somebody brought in a case of his newly released CD, and cut it open right there. I bought two copies of As If You Had Wings: one for me and one for another friend of mine with a guitar in the family.

Miss Tara (right) finally gets to see a real Marcus Eaton show!

Miss Tara (right) finally gets to see a real Marcus Eaton show!

When it was my daughter’s turn to catch a show at Jimmy Mak’s in February 2012, she embarrassed me by knowing the words to the songs better than I did. Marcus’s hug for her was as huge as for his other friends.  Last month I caught him at the White Eagle in Portland, and Marcus asked about her. “Is your daughter old enough to get into shows yet?” He commiserated with Tara, who couldn’t come because she is still too young to get into bars, talking about the time when he drove like a mad man to get to a Tim Reynolds show only to be turned away for being under age.

My love affair with the music continues, and I want more all the time. Lucky for me, he’s making new songs like crazy. He’s played a couple of music festivals in Italy, and I can HEAR it in his new music. He’s been collaborating on an album with David Crosby (Yes. THAT David Crosby.) and the experience of working with such a respected and experienced musician has polished up Marcus too. Now that his project with David Crosby is wrapping up, Marcus is dying to make his next album.

And I want your help!

Drummer Kevin Rogers, me, Marcus at the

Drummer Kevin Rogers, me, Marcus at the Aladdin Theatre with Tim Reynolds April 9, 2010

More to the point, Marcus wants your help. His next batch of astonishing finger acrobatics and vocal rollercoaster rides are hidden from me until he gets funding for his next album. Marcus Eaton has put together a great little video to advertise his Kickstarter campaign to earn enough to be able to begin recording.  You should watch it.

He has invented 20 creative ways to pay you back for any donation. For only $5, you can back him. For the price of a grande double caramel soy latte, you can get new music and give a handsome guy a chance to fulfill a dream. If you can give more, there are so many awesome incentives available. Would you want to visit the studio during production, have help guitar shopping, get a copy of a personalized recording, or have an original painting by the artist? Do you like David Crosby? Want him to play a concert with Marcus at your house? Just asking…

There are 10 days left to make it happen. I’ve already pledged and I WANT that money to be pulled out of my account, but Marcus doesn’t get a penny unless he meets his goal. You have to help him reach the goal so that I get this chance to pay Marcus back for all the memories, and for his beautiful beautiful music. Watch the video, please. For me?

If you are willing to watch the 3 minute video, please CLICK HERE.

Andre, me, Marcus, and Tara at Jimmy Mak's

After our full morning with the Mt. Hood Cherokees, Tara and I then had an awesome evening when we took Arno to see my favourite musician, Marcus Eaton. ME also plays with Ben Burleigh on bass and Kevin Rogers on drums, but often I catch him in Portland when he’s solo. This was one of those times.

Two bonus items of the night, in addition to the awesomeness of catching ME live: our good friend Andre came out from the Tri Cities, and Intervision was the headliner show. Damn. Just can’t go wrong with the whole combination.

When you make dinner reservations, you can bring minors, so we were able to have Tara there in Jimmy Mak’s with us. Jimmy Mak’s is an excellent little jazz club that offers the perfect atmosphere, surprisingly stellar food, great drinks, quick service, and the best size for keeping things intimate with the musicians.

The venue didn't provide enough intimacy for Andre, apparently, who took matters into his own hands

Arno, Tara, and I arrived early and before ordering dinner I asked a server whether any of the musicians were around. She pointed to the bar, where Marcus sat with Andre having dinner. Yay! We went over to say hello, and big smiles, introductions, and hugs were passed all around. Tara thinks Marcus is a big-time famous personality (and of course she would… since she’s been listening to his music in our home for as long as she can remember), so she was beaming light rays in all directions. I was so excited to see both Marcus and Andre I totally forgot to include Arno in the conversation (luckily he was able to pick right up with Andre when I turned to talk to Marcus). Sorry Arno!! I get a bad case of Fan Idiocy whenever I’m around Marcus. Blerrg.

gourmet burger!

We settled in and were soon eating the establishment’s delicious food and imbibing their drinks.

Marcus opened, and, I was a little disappointed with the sound quality. His guitar, which is the firepower that carries the whole thing, just sort of faded into the background. On pieces where I got ready for lighting fingerwork and ka-blam percussion dropped on top of heart-rending melodies… well… it was too fuzzy. I had to listen carefully to pick out the guitar from the rest of the sound. Ok, this is probably exaggeration. I have this stuff memorized. Maybe it was a factor of us sitting on the side of the stage, so perhaps there wasn’t a problem with the equipment at all. But …this guy is my musician hero. I want his stuff to always sound PERFECT, not just really good.

Marcus engaged

His vocals knocked us out, as always. And refreshing: ME had a bunch of fans in the audience this time! I am more familiar with two groups of people when Marcus opens for someone else: 1) those so focused on wishing he would hurry up so their fave band can come on stage that they don’t hear him, and 2) those having their world rocked because they have just heard him for the first time. My suspicions were confirmed later when a woman said her husband recognized me from another concert, and wondered if I was related to Marcus. “Nope,” I answered, “Just a big fan.”

But, don’t let me disparage the concert! Just because I noticed an imperfection in the sound equipment quality is not a reflection on the always-inspiring Marcus Eaton. He doesn’t stop with talented guitar playing. He turns his instrument into a machine for his creativity. His fretwork has no boundaries except on the neck itself, he uses his pick, his voice, the heel of his palm, to thwack and thump and twang and knock and ting! ME will pop all that stuff into loops until the playback sounds like he’s got 8 people on stage with him, then he casually segues into words with a voice so compelling it makes people in the audience  turn and look.

Leanin' in for the win

Paul belts it out

Over all too soon, Intervision took the stage. My feelings of disappointment for not having ME on stage lasted about 3 seconds until I was reminded of why I *LOVE* catching Intervision in concert. Cripey, that is one groovin’ croonin’ happy jazz band. Love it, love it. One of my favourite things about Intervision is the obvious individual personalities I see on stage. Though I don’t know them, I get the sense that these guys might not have anything else at all in common except that when you put them together they make magically moving jazz. I don’t even consider myself a jazz fan, and this stuff is irresistible. In no time I was wiggling in my seat as much as I had done with my favourite ME songs. Who can resist great music?

It was a night I’ll use in the future to explain to myself why I love Portland so much.

Friends reunited

My girl playing a guitar

Awwww, how beautiful is this? What was even more wonderful to me is that she was plucking out a melody from Beethoven’s 9th symphony. So lovely.

black nail polish

She brought home straight A’s on her report card Friday. She demanded ice cream AND poppy seed muffins as a reward. …and got them.

🙂

I wouldn’t even know what more to ask for if I was able to choose my perfect daughter. I think I have her already.

Oh, and, notice the black fingernail polish. Awesome!

One of my many guises

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