Pull My Coat.

Handsome Dan Chen hipped me to this fantastic Asian-German (!!) band called Lali Puna.

They’re from Munich. They’ve got a lovely, lonely, pulsating sound, with girl vocals.
Note to self: be hipped to more bands by Dan Chen.

The Nazarene/The Northerner.

I’ve gotten access to a couple radio formats I previously have only been able to recieve on cross-country drives.

After I did that show on The Loft, on XM Satellite Radio, they sent me a reciever. Initially I didn’t think I’d use it much–WFMU dominates my radio life–but I was overjoyed to discover there’s channels dedicated to Gospel and Norte

Michael R. Doughty, Grand Juror Number ______.

I was picked as a Grand Juror this morning. (Should that, in fact, be capitalized?)

I sat in a huge, windowless courtroom–unadorned other than a plain IN GOD WE TRUST over the flags and the judge’s chair–with a couple hundred other New Yorkers, a number of them seeming like they needed to look into their anger-management issues. In situations like this, I’m always struck, and humbled, by the diversity of New York, and New Yorkers. Believe it or not, I was actually kind of feeling good to be there.
It’s notable to me that my segment of New York, the hipsters, are in fact a tiny minority. There was one gallery-owner looking woman with a floppy hat and a sort of Diane Keaton zoot suit, and an East Village-y guy with a lip piercing and fingerless gloves. That’s it.
After a long speech and question and answer session lead by one of my favorite Comedia Dell’arte types of New Yorkers–the grandstanding, magnanimous New York civil servant–they called out a long list of names, most of whom hadn’t bothered to show up. You’d call out either “March 28″ or “April 11,” the date on which you preferred to commence your service. I called April 11, and then was immediately bummed that the vast majority of others were canny enough to have said March 28. This gave them longer odds in getting called up.
So I stood in the back of the room while they hauled out an cylindrical card-mixer-upper with a hand crank and pulled out names. IN GOD WE TRUST, indeed. Both the zoot suit woman and the fingerless gloves guy got called, too. I was immediately pissed off, in a very New Yorker kind of way, as it seemed everybody else knew how to game the system, and I was the chump who couldn’t scam my way out of serving.
But the truth is, I’m perversely stoked to be doing this. Despite that my manager, finding out that I’ll be unavailable for two weeks in the month before my album comes out, expressed a desire to stab himself in the chest with a fat pencil. I’m happy to be a citizen.
I have a strange daydream that my old drug dealer–who actually cut me off at one point, when it looked pretty clear that I was about to die–is going to be standing in front of me, on this grand jury, and I’m going to have to vote on whether he gets indicted.

Warm Up, Iron Out, Equip, Outfit, Appoint, Ready, Put Together, Groom, Rig, Appoint, Acouter.

My blogging suffers as the record looms.

I’m gearing up, and trying to breathe through some anxiety. Went and bought a Martin acoustic to play on the Small Rock tour. Went out to Jersey, and down to David Gage’s, in Tribeca, to hear some upright basses for full band touring, later in the Summer and hopefully far beyond.
I’m going to take a meditation course–a technique recommended by Mason Jennings, actually–to develop a sort of self-medication routine for road stress. I went up for a lecture at this organization’s office; I thought they were pretty hip, but I was uneasy about the veneration of their guru, whose garlanded photo is in every corner of the tiny office. I spoke my unease during the question and answer period, and the lecturer said, “He’s kind of a visual trademark, so people don’t think we’re that sex cult in Oregon.”
“So,” I blurted before I thought better of it, “he’s kind of like your Tony the Tiger?”
I’ve been called up for jury duty on Monday, which is so ill-timed and inconvenient it’s almost hilarious. Those who know of good Pho within walking distance of 111 Centre Street are cordially asked to hip me to their culinary knowledge.

Mudded in that Oozy Bed.

Does anybody know anything about electric upright basses? My bass player and I are driving into darkest New Jersey to play a bunch of ‘em at a store in Edison. Email me, any bass player with good advice.

Mo Austin.

The Austin gig was really cool.

Though I generally dread industry crowds, they were good to me at Buffalo Billiards on Wednesday night. Dan Chen sounded fantastic–I love his Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds, and his note choices are exquisite.
Also–I brought out Greeny (the green Coronado), and played most of the set with Greeny rocking through a Fender Deluxe amp. Loud! I had planned to use my Tacoma Chief acoustic on most of the show, but something went wrong with it, so I used Greeny for all songs but two. She sounded just radiant–ringing, gritty and nice. An old friend, a happy reunion. I’d forgotten just how lovely she is.
She may indeed be my guitar on the May tour, along with an acoustic and my National Resolectric.
May will just be me and Handsome Dan, which I’m psyched and slightly melancholy about–it’s likely to be my last small rock tour for a while. I’m hoping to do something kind of special with it, and pull out a bunch of tunes I don’t often play–40 Grand, Ossining, All the Dirt, Lazybones, Where Have You Gone, Sweet Francis, Maybe I’ll Come Down, Cash Cow, No Peace, Laundrytown–tunes like that, the ones that one single solitary guy in the back is yelling for. Maybe a couple/three a night or something–diversions.
I also met with my prospective drummer, Pete McNeal, a sweetheart and genius. We basked in the sunshine on the benches outside the Starbucks on Congress. Such a good dude he is. I’m sad about leaving small rock behind, but stoked to have a full band together for the Fall.

I Hate That New Wave Shit.

It was a good day for cabbies here in Austin. The guy who drove us from the airport to the hotel regaled us with tales of celebrity taxi encounters: “You haven’t lived until you’ve had a drunk Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts’ sister in your cab.”
Last night we took a cab to the Salt Lick–really extravagant–$40 each way!–but worth it. We were driven by a guy named Leroy, who’s got a musician son living in Manhattan: “He’s gotten into jazz and blues, but he used to play that new wave shit. I hate that new wave shit.”

Huddled Masses Yearning to Drink Beer.

Dan Chen and I are playing tomorrow night at Buffalo Billiards in Austin. Sadly, we’ll have neither the time nor the rental car to take to the Salt Lick. I generally have mixed feelings about SXSW–the streets crammed with half-drunk jerks from L.A. can be trying–but I intend to have fun.
I’m trying to stay away from reviews, but sometimes I can’t help myself to read the message board posts about Haughty Melodic; some adore it, some hate it (mostly Soul Coughing fans seeking that old splatter effect, which isn’t really my bag anymore). I think it’s great–it’s one of the few records that I’ve made that really conjure a kind of world within the album–Ruby and Skittish are the other ones–and I’m so proud of it.
It fills me with anxiety to put it out there. Because some old Soul Coughing fans are not gonna dig it. On the other hand, I’m getting a lot of emails that say: I love your voice, why haven’t you made music like this before? What took you so long?

The Return of Greeny?

I had the old green Fender Coronado I used to play in Soul Coughing souped up.

I got it out of a storage space in Weehawken; it was in its busted-up case, sitting in this spooky garage-like space by woods at the edge of a downtrodden suburb. I brought it home, polished the body, and restrung it. I believe instruments have a kind of spirit and need attention; I wasn’t intending to play it, really, so I tuned it to an open chord and propped it up in a corner, and, almost like stroking a pet every once in a while, I would strum the strings up near the head as I passed it, brrrring!
I plugged it in the other day and discovered the electronics were shot, so I brought it over to Susan at Ludlow, and she tinkered with it, and now it sounds great. I don’t know. I might bring it out on tour with me in May.