Entertainment tonight: the eclectic and beautiful Erica Smith playing a conveniently early 7pm show with her fine and talented band at Mo Pittkin's. I'm reading Shakespeare - Macbeth, a play I've managed to miss until now. I thought the language would be good for me, maybe stimulate some interesting turns of phrase for song writing, and sure alliteration, alternative spellings and superstitious medievalisms abound, but I'm reminded of the truth that plays and poetry and song lyrics are sound mediums, best conveyed in performance, although it did feel romantic to curl up with Shakespeare at the darling house I stayed in up in Massachusetts. (Can anyone who hasn't lived there spell that word? I have to check it every time.) I stayed with fellow songstress Laurece West, the ethereal bluesy piano woman (if Laura Nyro lived in the woods, and practiced intuitive bodywork) who teaches voice and is updating her 20+ years of music making to get ready for the big screen-focused thing that is posting on the Internet. We worked on that together a bit, and I showed her the behind-the-scenes access page through which I update this site, and we talked a lot as women do about relationships and the course of our lives and what we feel about the way things are. Friends, oh how they make my world go 'round. The Songwriters in Mixed Company experience was weird for me, but I think very good in general. The artistic point of playing this show for me was to do something different, and thinking back I do detect a sick desire for a discomforting stage experience to activate me for fall action after all the kisses and triumphs in England etc. this summer. And playing this show was disorienting, like the moment that I sat in the driver's seat of our UK rental car: first off I played solo - no band, and acoustic - light, fragile, pretty Takamine replacing the rocking slab of my electric G&L. Secondly there was an in-the-round factor that I didn't anticipate having never played in that format before. I enjoyed the music of the other three performers (more on them in a minute), but the lag in between each time I performed meant I was shifting in between listening and performing, and that my songs were separated by completely different material changing the usual build of a set to a collaborative, spontaneous shared energy in the room... yes it was different. I played: Dead Man Talking (AND THE WONDERWHEELS) Eddie Come Down (MEET THE ANIMAL) Take Us to the Stars (UNRELEASED) *** (intermission) Meet the Animal (MEET THE ANIMAL) We Are the Media (MEET THE ANIMAL) No Exceptions (UNRELEASED) The Mixed Company theatre is a sweet little house - about 60 seats - dedicated primarily to staging the work of co-founder and playwright Joan Ackerman. Situated right by the train tracks (which provided the well-timed erie train whistle near the end of Take Us to the Stars) the building used to be the granary for station stop Great Barrington. Since 1981 Joan has been staging her original work and making it on ticket sales alone. A very impressive achievement, and a warm, welcoming woman who donated an excessive amount of free bottled water and cookies for performers and audience alike, then took off to go write. We also enjoyed a professional sound man who was kind enough to take some great photos (now part of the great photo back log). Massachusetts*-based songwriter Robert Oakes has been organizing Songwriters in Mixed Company evenings at the theatre for about the past year. The monthly events have attracted a range of musicians from up and down the east coast (in July he featured four Falcon Ridge Folk Festival performers). For our evening, he performed with me and Laurece and an up-and-coming 17-year-old songwriter Justin Hillman . * I cut & pasted that.