On My Way – Liner Notes

Liner Notes from On My Way

For about three years, I regularly played at the now defunct Westside CafĂ© in Petaluma. Most of the material on this album was written during this time, and it was a great place to try it all out in the real world. Thank you David and Katie, and all of you (you know who you are…) who came to hear me play Friday nights at the Westside!

As the newest of this collection of tunes, this one finally came together just days before it was recorded. Inspired by Peter Finger, it uses his signature tuning.

This one is for my sister Maja. Since she grew up with our mom in Germany, and I had lived in California for most of her life, we had never spend more than a few afternoons together. This changed one day when she called to say that she was going to come to San Francisco to stay with me for three weeks. After the initial nervousness (“What if we don’t get along?”), it turned out to be a wonderful time filled with donuts, shopping in the Haight, and nights of soul-searching.

Several years ago I bought a collection of four LPs of African acoustic guitar music produced by John Storm Roberts in the ’60s. My favorite turned out to be The Nairobi Sound, and I spent hours trying to transcribe some of the tunes. Anyone who calls this amazing music primitive ought to try and play some of it…. In the end, I gave up and wrote my own, stealing a few licks here and there. I think I managed to capture the essential feeling of this great music.

Written for Heather around the time we passed our seven-year mark. I thought it was a good occasion to write a tune that pulls out all the stops. Tim Sparks inspired the middle-section in 5/4 time.

Written on a busy summer day in New Hampshire. I had simultaneous duties as musician and best man, and somehow this melody popped in my head.

A neat thing happens sometimes when you’re going from one guitar tuning to another. One day I was tuning from DGDGDD (which I use on The Westside) to DGDGBbD (Her Red Hair) when I decided to see what would happen if I stopped in the middle. The foundation of this tune followed shortly after.

In the fall of ’96, Heather and I spent three days in this pulsating city. Thanks to Jonas (who I knew as a toddler and re-connected with 20-some years later), we got to listen to some great music in the coolest clubs and cafes in town. This was the first tune written for this album, and the minute that I played it on the (borrowed)12-string, I knew that this was how it was supposed to sound.

This was recorded live at the Berkeley club in August ’97. I used a Lexicon JamMan looper and some delay to create my own backup and took off from there. I later tried to record a similar piece in the studio, but I could never make it sound as fresh as that particular night.

An Irish traditional that I learned from Duck Baker (who recorded it on American Traditional). Duck claims that this is the prettiest song he knows, and I think I might have to agree with him. Plus, how could you not like a title like this?

HER RED HAIR (Live version)
This is the tune that peope always seem to comment on, so I thought I’d include it twice. This version was recorded during a show I opened for Peppino D’Agostino and Mike Marshall in February ’99 at the Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco.