My mother, Chris Mulford, died on August 23 of a stroke suffered on a hiking trip with my dad in Wyoming. She was 69.
Since 2007, she has toured with me in the US as my road manager. She did most of the driving, ran CD sales, schlepped gear, made sandwiches, and reminded me to do my vocal warm-ups. More importantly, she was great company. She enjoyed spending time with the many people – family, friends, and folk volunteers – who welcomed us in their homes. If we stayed in a house with children and left while they were at school, she would write a thank-you note to each child, often with pictures.
My mother was a trained and accomplished musician. Her musical life included professional orchestral music (double bass in the Oakland Symphony in California), social singing with family , friends, and the Girl Scouts, community theater (accompanying many musicals at the Players Club of Swarthmore) and countless hours playing the piano and the concertina for her own enjoyment.
How did I wind up hooking up a milking machine to the udder of a styrofoam cow in Montgomery County, Maryland? It’s a long story, actually.
It started sometime around 1998, when a comment from B and an inaccurately-learned guitar lick turned into a song called “Party Cows”. For a while it became my signature piece. My co-workers at the print shop decorated my desk with Gary Larson cartoons. “Party Cows” was the working title of my first studio album until just before it went to the manufacturer. (“Don’t call it that,” a friend advised. “People will think it’s a novelty album.”) I changed the title to “Traveling Moon” – but I’d already drawn the dancing cows for the album art, and B had announced at a fund-raising concert that major sponsors of the project would have a cow named after them. The cows stayed.
And a good thing too. “Party Cows” is still one of my favorite tracks on the album. [...]
This week - or possibly next week - is alleged by the British press to contain the most miserable day of the year. (A cursory search brings up articles on the subject in the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Daily Mail.) I've been neglecting the blog recently, so I'm posting this as a belated follow-up to six weeks of US touring in the fall of 2010.
It was an excellent tour overall and as such required the writing of a lot of heartfelt thank-you notes. In the way of thank-you notes, they felt inadequate in both quantity and quality. While I was writing, I caught myself repeatedly using the word “delight” - a word I regard with mixed feelings. I think it is much misused. “Delight” conjures up images of dubious food products which for one reason or another cannot be labelled with an honest term like “casserole” or “pudding”. Particularly when paired with ominous words like “low fat”, it translates as “we just made this up and [...]
When B and I moved to England, we made much of how easy it would be to get to Continental Europe - but in four years, neither of us has been there except for work. This had to change, so we took an actual vacation and went to Brussels on the Eurostar train, by way of London.Thursday morning in London, we went to the Borough Market, which we discovered by accident on an earlier trip. Both of us love street markets, and the Borough Market is a very fine one.
They open at two in the morning to sell wholesale to the restaurant trade. Later on they’re ready for the civilians. One can graze from stall to stall, sampling cheeses and daubing cubes of bread with olive oil, rose harissa, or unpasteurized butter with sea salt. Open-air roasteries serve up ostrich-burgers and wild boar to the lunch crowd, garnished with red-stemmed baby greens. The air is filled with amazing smells.Running a market stall must be the grocer’s equivalent of busking: uncomfortable, chancy, really hard to [...]