Hi Friends!

THURSDAY, January 6, 2011, 6:30pm-9:30pm SONGWRITERS AT PLAY, Santa Margarita, CA with Peter Andrews
I will be playing a set of songs starting around 7:45pm at Steve Key’s popular songwriter series in the central coast. The fabulous Peter Andrews will be accompanying me. I loved playing here last fall as one of the opening artists and I am excited to come back as the featured artist. Come early and hear some outstanding local songwriters, and enjoy a beverage and fine food!
Porch Café, 22322 El Camino Real, Santa Margarita, CA
SUNDAY, January 16, 2011, 5pm MINER HOUSE CONCERT & DINNER, Portland, OR with Chris Kokesh
Matt Miner and Sasha Kaplan have been putting on superb house concerts and buffet dinners for six years. I had the pleasure of hearing my good friend Halelupe play at one of their house concerts a year ago. I was struck by the warm setting, the exquisite music…and the incredible food!  And I will be sharing the stage with the fabulous Chris Kokesh so the music should fit right into place. As many of you know, Chris’s solo CD debuted at No. 20, nationally, on the Folk DJ charts earlier this year. She has toured with Misty River, BrokenTop, and is developing a national reputation as a solo artist.
Magic happens when Chris and I play together. As one intuitive told us; “You two were brother and sister in a former life.” We can’t guarantee that, but people often do tell us that they feel a special energy when we sing and play together. If you are anywhere in the area, be sure to catch this show.
The price for the show and a wonderful seasonal buffet is $35 per person. You can send a check to Matt Miner, 2335 N.E. 41st Ave., Portland, OR 97212, or PayPal to mminer@hevanet.com.
SUNDAY, January 23, 2011, 7pm to 9pm LINNAEA’S CAFÉ, San Luis Obispo, CA with Peter Andrews
Peter Andrews and I will be back at this cozy café in the charming downtown area of San Luis Obispo.
1110 Garden Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

FRIDAY, January 28, 2011,  8pm to 11pm, FIRST STREET CAFÉ, BENICIA, CA 
Back to one of my favorite venues in historic Benicia! Some of the usual suspects will be joining me (Bob Hahn and/or Paul Fifield)….and Peter Andrews may be joining as well.
440 First Street, Benicia, CA
January Story...
It is time to put away the holiday ornaments and decorations. And it is time to put away the Christmas music I love playing so much—some of my favorite songs are the holiday songs from decades ago: Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’,  Mel Torme’s ‘The Christmas (Chestnuts) Song’, ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. In 2011, I would like to add some Hanukkah songs to my repertoire—if you have a favorite Hanukkah song or two, particularly lesser known songs, please send me a note.
One thing that strikes me about the songs I mentioned above is how sparse the lyrics are, and yet how those songs are still incredibly evocative and compelling. There isn’t anything missing, but there isn’t a wasted word either. As a songwriter, it is always a challenge to find the simple word or phrase that contains more power than size. It seems to me that words, like so many other things, contain stored energy—energy that has been instilled by our heritage, our early experiences, from our literature and our cultural story-telling—but also from the human spirit that we share. That is not to say that each word or phrase carries the same meaning for everyone. In fact, often those different meanings create conflicts and misunderstandings. But the best lyrics and music seem to come from the humanness of the artist, and, in turn, resonate with the common humanness in the listener. Those are the words that seem least likely to be misinterpreted.
When Peter Andrews and I were on tour, we ran into a singer-songwriter who was clearly drained from the struggles of trying to make it on the road. She said nothing negative to us, but when she left, Peter said “What a bad vibe.” I had to laugh because I had exactly the same impression, but thought maybe I was reading too much into it. Somehow, without saying a word, the struggling singer’s energy came through, telling her story before she had a chance to say anything. The music lost its power, because her energy clashed with what she was singing. I don’t mean to pick on her—I know when I am stressed, feeling drained, I do exactly the same thing. No one hears my words because my stuck energy is yelling too loud. It was just that seeing this in another, reminded me that my underlying intent and how I say things is far more impactful than the words themselves.
Peace and joy,
Steve Meckfessel  •  Alameda, CA