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As some of you know, I’ve been working up a bunch of new music lately, which ought to be making its way to you soon. This is one small piece from that pile, a song called “Break,” which my friend Max filmed me playing in his very cold studio one afternoon last month:

The new songs are all linked together, and the whole set is inspired by landscapes that shift and change abruptly and unpredictably: ice roads, estuaries, earthquake zones, floodplains, wandering rivers, and places like that. I’ve found that in situations where everything is upended and you find yourself desperately looking around for anything solid on which to plant your feet, it can be important to remember that the ground moves too. “Break” in particular is supposed to feel a little bit like having the floor pulled out from under you.

Again, I’ll have more about all this soon — I look forward to letting you hear the rest of this music and rambling about impermanent landscapes with you — but until then, please enjoy this first song.

While I’ve got you, here are some upcoming shows:

2/25 BRANDON, VT - Brandon Music, 7:30pm (tickets here)
2/28 COLEBROOK, NH - Tillotson Center, 7pm (tickets here)
3/1 CANAAN, VT - Canaan School, 12pm
3/10 BURLINGTON, VT - Radio Bean, 8pm
3/17 TAMWORTH, NH - Tamworth Lyceum, 7pm (tickets here)
3/18 FITZWILLIAM, NH - Fitzwilliam Inn, 7pm
3/23 MORRISTOWN, VT - River Arts, 6pm
3/24 WORCESTER, MA - House Concert
3/26 NEW YORK, NY - Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1 (with Stephanie Jenkins), 8pm
3/29 CAMBRIDGE, MA – Lilypad, 7:30pm
4/6 NASHUA, NH - Riverwalk Cafe & Music Bar, 8pm (supporting Ian Ethan Case // tickets here)
4/8 BURLINGTON, VT - Light Club Lamp Shop, 8pm

Hope you’re all doing okay out there. See you soon.

RLR Review & Ocean Music

Brian Carroll, who edits the Boston folk blog Red Line Roots, happened to be in the audience when I played in Burlington, VT the other night. He wrote a nice review of the show here:

Red Line Roots — Show Review: Ben Cosgrove at Light Club Lamp Shop (Burlington, VT)

Also: I wrote the piece in the video below when I was working as the artist-at-sea last month with Schmidt Ocean Institute on board R/V Falkor (see the previous entry on this page for more about that). The ship constantly monitored its speed through water and its speed over ground, and because trillions of gallons of water lay between us and the sea floor, the two speeds were never quite the same. I built a piano piece around the variance between those two changing rates of movement (each of the pianist’s hands is mapped to one of the two speeds), in the hope that by doing so I could highlight the profound influence of this incomprehensibly huge layer of liquid on both our forward motion and our relationship to the ground.

I’m generally obsessed with place and with motion — they have been behind almost all of my music for the last several years — but until I found myself in the middle of the ocean, I’d never been anywhere where those two things were so hard to understand or reconcile with each other.

For more about the kinds of things I was thinking about as I wrote this, you can check out the blog posts I wrote for SOI while on board their ship: they’re here, here, here, and here. And if you click through to the YouTube page where that video is hosted, there’s a slightly longer essay there that talks a bit more about what went into the piece.

All that stuff aside, I like how this thing came out, and I hope you like listening to it. And I’m enormously grateful to SOI for giving me the opportunity to make it.

Upcoming shows:
10/30 MONTPELIER, VT – The Skinny Pancake
11/4 COLEBROOK, NH – Tillotson Center
11/10 SOMERVILLE, MA – Arts at the Armory (with 90-Mile Portage)
11/11 BURLINGTON, VT – Radio Bean
11/12 STOCKBRIDGE, MA – Six Depot
11/13 MANCHESTER, NH – The Currier Museum – Opening Event: “Mount Washington: Crown of New England”
11/16 YARMOUTH, ME – Gather
11/17 SALEM, MA – The Gulu Gulu Cafe (with 90-Mile Portage)
11/22 PORTLAND, ME – Blue (with Max García Conover, Griffin Sherry, & Rattlesnake Arm)
11/23 SOMERVILLE, MA – PA’s Lounge
11/27 MONTPELIER, VT – The Skinny Pancake


All At Sea

Hi everyone,

I’m writing to you from on board R/V Falkor, a research ship currently traveling from southeastern Vietnam to northern Australia. This whole experience is, admittedly, a little outside of my wheelhouse: my normal life, as you know, generally centers around writing music about landscape and playing the piano, and it’s very weird to suddenly find myself someplace where there’s neither piano nor land.

The Schmidt Ocean Institute, which owns and manages Falkor, is a pretty remarkable organization. It was founded to encourage and enable new advances in oceanography, and places a special focus on making the field more visible. Scientists who successfully apply to perform their research on the ship all have to agree to a list of requirements designed to increase public interest in the ocean and in marine science: for instance, all the data collected on board must quickly be made publicly available. There’s also lots of public outreach and PR that occurs during each journey: they bring along videographers and social media experts and so forth. And — most importantly –for several trips, SOI goes out of its way to find an artist with a history of making stuff in response to environmental science, then flies that person halfway around the world so he or she can spend time on the ship and make some relevant artwork that reflects both the experience and the data collected on board.

So that’s me: I’ve been here for the last week or two, traveling across a place utterly unlike any that I’ve ever been to before, hanging out with a talented and impressive crew assembled from a bewildering array of different countries, and learning way more than I ever expected to about the ocean, how it is studied, and how people move through it. If you’re interested in what I’ve been up to out here, they’ve had me write a couple of blog posts here, here, and here. I’ve been posting a few photos here, as usual, when the internet allows for it. I’ll also probably be raving about this whole experience for months after I get back, so if you’d like we can just talk about it then.

Before long, however, I’ll be rejoining the real world with plenty of days left to enjoy the best time of year in New England. Here are some shows that I’ll be playing in October and November right after I get back:

10/9 EAST CHATHAM, NY – New Concord Meeting House
10/14 PRINCETON, NJ – Princeton University – (I’ll be presenting a new piece about the Quabbin Reservoir as part of a conference about water and place in North America)
10/19 PROVIDENCE, RI – AS220
10/21 BURLINGTON, VT – Light Club Lamp Shop
10/22 BOSTON, MA – [private event] (with 90-Mile Portage)
10/23 MONTPELIER, VT – The Skinny Pancake
10/30 MONTPELIER, VT – The Skinny Pancake
11/4 COLEBROOK, NH – Tillotson Center
11/10 SOMERVILLE, MA – Arts at the Armory (with 90-Mile Portage)
11/11 BURLINGTON, VT – Radio Bean
11/12 STOCKBRIDGE, MA – Six Depot
11/13 MANCHESTER, NH – The Currier Museum – Opening Event: “Mount Washington: Crown of New England”
11/16 YARMOUTH, ME – Gather
11/17 SALEM, MA – The Gulu Gulu Cafe (with 90-Mile Portage)
11/27 MONTPELIER, VT – The Skinny Pancake
(More details for all performances here)

I’m looking forward to all of those. But in the meantime, this isn’t too bad at all. As I write this — and I’m not kidding about any of this — I’m staring through a porthole at a pod (pod?) of dolphins dancing around about a half mile away, and a zillion flying fish all skittering away from the wake of the ship as we cruise past them. In the hazy distance is a massive volcanic island. Please understand that around this time last year, my car’s engine was catastrophically exploding in the desert outside of Albuquerque, so I feel like I’ve earned the right to relish this whole situation a little bit.

Best wishes from farther away than usual, but I hope to see you all soon.