Winter Roundup

Hi everyone,

Greetings from Maine, where it's already the dead of winter. I'm busy with rehearsals up here in preparation for next weekend, when I'll be performing two very special shows with Palaver Strings and the jaw-droppingly inspiring Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, an ensemble of talented high school string players from around the greater Portland area. At each performance, Palaver and MYRO will play some music together, I'll do some songs alone, and then the combined ensemble will accompany me for five or six more of my songs to finish out the program. I'm outrageously psyched about this. You can find tickets for both shows -- one is here in Portland, Maine on 12/2 and one is at an extremely beautiful hall in Rockport, Massachusetts on 11/30 -- here. Here is a clip that’ll give a taste of what it will look and sound like.

(Relatedly: MYRO's impressively multi-talented founder and director, Kevin Oates, interviewed me from the passenger seat of my car for a recent episode of the group's podcast, Redefine Rock. It was a really fun conversation, and you can hear it for free here.)

I'm coming off a busy but very gratifying fall -- I got to perform in the middle of a fog sculpture in the historic Arnold Arboretum (here's a picture I took as I was setting up), speak at the Northern Woodlands conference in the middle of the Vermont woods, play on a rooftop in Boston, and fly to Oregon to present some of my music at the national meeting of the Partnership for the National Trails System. (I also wrote a rambling essay for Trails50 about what it's like to write music about a trail; you can read that here if that sounds interesting to you.) The fall also afforded me the chance to play at a series of venues ranging from Google offices to a club in New York to a barn in New Hampshire and from Yale University to a music store to a botanical garden in the middle of the forest. (During one stretch of this fall, I gave 30 performances in 25 days!) More recently, I spent three weeks on the road playing keys and accordion with my friends Ghost of Paul Revere for a series of co-bills with the peerlessly brilliant Charlie Parr, one of my very favorite musicians in any genre.

For details about the shows I've got coming up (in addition to the upcoming shows with MYRO and Palaver, I've got a few other things coming up in New England to round out the year), please keep checking in with my performances page, but in general I'm planning to ease up a little on my performance schedule during December and January. Come visit me here in Portland and we can slip around on these terrifyingly icy sidewalks together.

I've also been continuing to add to my gradually expanding interview series, in which I talk to people around the country about how the places they live have impacted their lives and work; it now includes conversations that I've had with people like the poet laureate of Oregon and my favorite living composer. This has been a really fun side project for me, and you can check the whole series out here. There are also a couple new installments on deck to be added in the coming weeks, as soon as I finish typing them up.

And in completely different news, I'm pleased to announce that -- unbelievably -- in March, I'll be working with Chulengo Expeditions as a visiting artist, hiking around in the mountains of Patagonia and writing about the experience. Obviously you'll hear much more from me about this later, but suffice it to say that I'm very excited about this project. In the meantime, you can read more about Chulengo and the very cool work they do over at their website.

I should probably point out that the holidays are suddenly upon us, and that if you need gift ideas, you should consider giving people CDs -- specifically, these CDs. (You can also listen to all of them on Spotify, here, if that's your thing.) But some of those earlier albums are getting to be very low in stock, and may not be available in physical form for too much longer. (Oh, and in the spirit of the season, feel free to check out my perennially updated winter album here; I add a little to it every year and it will probably grow by another couple songs in the next few weeks.)

If you're looking for other music recommendations, I can help you: my friend Steph has finally released an excellent debut solo album, on which I can be heard playing a ton of really fun piano parts; listen to that here or here. Here's a book I'm reading now and really like so far, and here’s a very Bostonian podcast that kept me pretty riveted for most of the last month.

Finally: a good friend of mine runs a biannual writers' residency on a tiny, magical island called Cuttyhunk (that name, thrillingly, means "End of Land") off the shore of Massachusetts, at which I've had a few opportunities to perform over the last few years. Their spring 2019 session will feature guided workshops led by Hernan Diaz, who wrote a book called In the Distance that I really liked. They're now accepting applications here, and if you're a writer of any kind, I hereby encourage you to apply, regardless of where you fall on the amateur-professional spectrum.

That's all for now, everybody. Thanks for your time and for your continued support of my music. Please enjoy the last few weeks of the year, wherever they may find you, and I hope to see you somewhere out there soon.

Stay warm,

Ben Cosgrove