On running and jazz music

I have this theory about running and jazz music: no one really likes either one of them. Oh, sure, they say they do. But I think people like to be known as a person who likes jazz music, or who likes to run much more than they actually like either of them.
(I’m mostly joking about jazz music, although I’m not really a fan. If you’re a person who likes to listen to jazz music while running, leave a comment, I’d like to hear how that works).
Anyway, let me speak for myself: I don’t like to run. Even as a high school soccer player, I didn’t like it. (My coach once told me I should consider a sport with less running.)
Running doesn’t feel good. At least, in the shape I’m in currently, it doesn’t feel good. It makes my chest and and legs hurt. Plus I don’t like people watching me run, and that’s impossible to avoid on the route I take.
I don’t like running, but I like the way I feel afterwards. I like the sweaty, endorphin-filled feeling of accomplishment I get after a good run, or even a decent one. So I drag myself out of bed early in the morning, put my earbuds in and head out to the Boulevard.
I’m hoping that running is like other things in life that get easier the more you do them. That eventually, even if I don’t love it, I won’t hate running. I’ve heard of people who get a certain kind of high while running, but that seems like to much to hope for at this point.
So I’m planning to run a 5k or two this fall/winter and hoping the pressure of having a race planned will be enough motivation for me to keep getting up, putting on my running shoes and hitting the pavement.

BREAKING: Man wins award for concert footage

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Calling it a “work of art,” the Academy on Monday honored the man holding up his iPhone directly in front of you at the concert you paid good money to see with its highest honor for his footage of the show.

“It’s breath-taking,” the Academy’s director told reporters of the shaky footage featuring your favorite song from the band, as well as some of banter between songs from the lead guitarist.

Sources also confirmed Saturday the man who yelled “Free bird” is getting the Most Original Joke award.

“Is this thing on?”: My first open mic night

I’ve been playing guitar for a year or so and I got the nerve to play my first open mic night Friday. I used to sing different places with a couple of friends but it was the first time I had played the guitar in public. I’ve got a ways to go before I’m proficient on the guitar (and singing for that matter), but everyone’s gotta start somewhere. I happened to start with a song that has three chords.

I played at Unity of Kanawha Valley ‘s monthly open mic where Ron Sowell, of the Mountain Stage band, hosts. Everyone who recommended it was right –the audience was kind and encouraging and, most importantly, quiet. The bar open mic night scene is fun but it can be difficult to sing over a loud, drunk crowd, especially when you’re just starting out. Plus, at a church, people are basically obligated to be nice to you, even when you’re not that good.

Thanks to my buddy Paul for documenting it.



Dear Charleston, WV (A love letter)

I know you don’t hear this enough. Your state tops everyone’s “Worst of” lists and someone even said your people are the most unhappy. You do have your problems, but you don’t get the affection you deserve. Even I sometimes catch myself complaining about your small size and a lack of things to do. But I really do love you.
I love your local coffee shops, Taylor’s and Moxxee and the way that locals congregate in them on Saturday mornings or after Sunday services. I can walk in by myself to write and never want for company or a familiar face.

Snow falls outside the window at Taylor Books, one of Charleston’s favorite coffee shops.

I love the way I feel safe walking your streets, even late at night. Despite the occasional bad news reports, I’ve never worried about walking home from the bar after midnight. Never thought to hold my purse close to my chest or to obsess over whether the car doors were locked. No one here has ever cut my purse strap and made off with my belongings while I wasn’t paying attention.

The corner of Virginia and Capitol streets, Charleston.

I dearly love your music scene and the people who play your open mic nights and the Third Eye Cabaret. I love how there’s always live music somewhere. I love the artists that I’ve come to know after hearing them play Mountain Stage.


Singer/songwriter Mark Bates jams with the Coal River Yacht Club at the Empty Glass one Sunday night.

I love the Red Carpet, the local bar where reporters and lawmakers, hipsters and drag queens alike gather on Friday nights to unwind after a long week.  I love that I can be away for months and yet the bartenders still call me by name when I walk through the door again. I love your cat, even if she won’t go near me.

I love your historic houses on the East End and their inviting porches and yards. I dream of owning one someday.


East End porch, Summer 2013.

I love the gold dome on the state capitol. I’m convinced it’s the prettiest in the country. Even when I was living away from you, I could drive into town and know I was home when I saw the sunlight gleaming off that gold.

Dear Charleston, I don’t promise never to leave. Life has a way of making those decisions for us. But I promise to always call you home.

Songs for a roadtrip

One of my friends recently packed his car and took off for a city 9 hours away. It was the latest installment of what I call the Mass Exodus of 2013, in which all my friends move away. But that’s another blog post.

I wanted to make him a mixed CD for the road, because I am just that cheesy. But also because I think the best part of a good road trip is the music.

But alas, my MacBook STILL has that copy of Food Inc. stuck in the CD drive. It’s been, like, a year and I never even got to watch it.
I know you didn’t ask, but here’s what would have been on that CD. All of these songs are newish to me. A lot of them I discovered using iTunes Radio. (If you haven’t updated yet, iOS 7 is worth it, if only for iTunes Radio, in my opinion).

Let me know if I left something good off the list.

  1. Matt Wertz “What I know right Now”
  2. Bastille “Pompeii”
  3. Lorde “Royals”
  4. The Family Crest  “Love don’t go.”
  5. Vance Joy “Riptide”
  6. Ryan Adams “Lucky Now”
  7. One Republic “I lived”
  8. Jason Isbell “Traveling Alone”
  9. The Avett Brothers “Another is Waiting”
  10. Neulore “Shadow of a man”
  11. Ivan & Alyosha “Don’t wanna die anymore”
  12. Lee Dewyze “Like I do.”
  13. Jared and the Mill “Breathe me in”
  14. Avicii “Wake me up”
  15. Passenger “Let her go”
  16. Vienna Teng “Whatever you want”

Newbie guitarist seeks songs

Wanted: songs for a beginner guitar player to learn, master, then take on the road during (very distant future) world tour. Must be catchy and suitable for a female voice to sing along to. Acceptable chords: G, C, D, and E minor.  F-chords-heavy songs need not apply, as my hand currently hurts just thinking about forming it.  B-heavy songs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Preference will be given to happy songs and anything by Josh Ritter.

Send proposals to lorithebrave@gmail.com or comment below.


Talking to strangers

In the evenings lately, I’ve taken to practicing guitar on the front stoop of my apartment. It’s a nice change from the inside of my place, where I typically play.

I use “play” loosely. I’m learning. If I have a guitar in my hands you can usually hear rough versions of OCMS’s Wagon Wheel (Not Darius Rucker‘s version. Sorry, I still love me some Hootie, though). Josh Ritter’s Idaho or the opening notes from Falling Slowly (from the award winning movie and Broadway musical Once).

The other day in the middle of my umpteenth “Rock me, mama,” and G chord, a man in a beat-up brown Oldsmobile stopped his car in the middle of the street and parked in front of my apartment.  He got out with his two little boys (there was a baby still in the car, one of the boys told me). He wore an old wifebeater and shorts.

“Hey, can you show me how to play your guitar?” he said. He must have sensed my hesitancy. “I promise I’m not gonna run off with it.”

Sure, that’s what I would say if I were about to steal someone’s guitar. I suspended whatever fear I had of talking to strangers/getting robbed, raped or murdered. And showed him a G chord and how to hold the thing.  He was actually quite nice, despite the whole leaving a-baby-in-the-car thing.

“You know that song, ‘Hey there Delilah?'” he said. (How could I not?) “I really wanna learn to play that. I figure if I ever get a girl, I could sing her that song.”


The view from my stoop