New Hope/The Old Magic

June 7. Wedding in eleven days. Walked two miles down the canal. Moseyed down the hill into New Hope and got a mysterious blue drink from a handsome young man who was playing Kurt Vile on his sound system.

Two different bars are directly in front of me. To the right is the bar where I first played electric music. To the left is the bar where I first played acoustic music. They were my training grounds, the time of shaky beginnings, but even then, there was always a little magic.

I am writing more because I am walking more. I like to walk a couple miles and, at the halfway point, get a cup of coffee or a mysterious blue drink and do a little writing. The hot dogs which are – allegedly – for sale nearby would seem to conflict with my pre-wedding health goals.

OK. I’m back. The hot dog pairs well with the mysterious blue drink. Beefy, with all the fixin’s.

Kim walks by. The Kim that I met in the woods last year while recording wooden music with Fiddlin’ Frank Burk. We complimented one another’s photography and encouraged one another to keep on a-wanderin’.

It’s supposed to rain. I hope it catches me while I’m walking north on the canal.

Watching the scene at the outdoor bar feels like looking at New York City street scenes from the High Line or, alternately, like looking in on a past life as a ghost. Ten years ago, I played music there with friends and strangers on Monday and Tuesday nights. It was when I learned to sing and, to some extent, learned to drink. My aunt would meet up with my old girlfriend and I and attempt to find a little levity in the days following my beloved uncle’s death.

One night, Righteous Jolly and I improvised a piece of music about a woman who was murdered in the building. Ten years later, a few weeks ago, he told me it was based on a murder that really did occur there.

I remember getting to know some of the town’s older eccentrics, appreciating that they were part of the “old” New Hope that I missed and could only learn about through conversation and history books (like The Andy Warhol Diaries). That said, I’ve had dozens and dozens of nights in this town that felt profoundly magical. Some music-centric. Some romance-centric. Some just spent on my own with a book, a good pair of walking shoes, and a mysterious blue drink.

Much like those damn spotted lanternflies, there’s no doubt that the big-money real estate folks have moved in and changed things in New Hope. All those porch swings with nobody swingin’. All those backyards with nobody playin’. But I believe that the old magic lingers, too.

I love the way that people like the photographer Jack Rosen have chronicled this town. I am aware that I am creating a body of work, as well, that will outlive me. I am proud to have dedicated my life to creativity.

Walking back home on the canal, I started thinking about one of the songs in my “reject” list. I played it on the way home. It’s infectious! I realized that I want the whole world to hear this damn song! I like being old enough that I have too much past work to keep track of.

It’s a relief to finally have a big, old house with a bedroom recording studio. It’s not a very big studio, but I am inspired by its limitations. You couldn’t fix a mistake if you wanted to. I’ve been dreaming of the music I will soon make in this house, alone and with people from my personal A-team.

I am sitting out front listening to the guy across the street play banjo. He is in a contra dance band and is very talented.

New Hope. You’re great. I love you. I do need to be by that beautiful river regularly. But it’s nice waking up in a town where people are playing banjo on the front porch, the street parking is free, and the people actually use their porch swings.

Goodnight, Stimpy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s