Rabbits and Humanity Rise Like The Phoenix

I wrote this fictionalized tale of rescue after watching the inspiring video account yesterday of a man pulling off the highway to save a rabbit, in the middle of southern California’s hellish wildfires. If you have not already seen it on the news or social media, click on the link below this story and watch the video. You’ll feel human again. – Mark.

Rabbit and Fire

I am known for my big back feet. They even call me thumper because of them. My back feet are powerful and unwieldy at times, but the cool, tall grass beneath them makes it worth the ribbing. I was dreaming about running through the cool, tall grass when a whoosh of hot air shot down the burrow like dragon’s breath.

I awoke to see the shadows of my mother and father racing up through the tunnel ahead of me. My older brother was already gone. I imagine the rabbits in the rest of the warren, had long heeded the warning, but I have always been a heavy sleeper, not the best attribute when you’re an animal in the wild. As fast as my kind is, I’ve always been a slow starter. I catch up quick, but I am perpetually last in line.

My nose had barely breached the surface when I felt myself tumble backward. Light, heat, and smoke, like that from a thousand suns, slapped me hard across the face. Fire. I had heard about forest fires; every animal grows up hearing the stories of that particular killer. But I don’t think I had ever seen one before. No, I’m sure I would have remembered it, especially if I had experienced it this close to home.

My mind began to race as I felt my body try to catch up to my thoughts. I darted straight out the burrow’s opening. Fire! I ran to the left. Fire! I ran to the right and back again. Fire. It was everywhere, like a molten steel cage, all too easily entered, and impossible to exit.  I had never felt fire before. But I had on two occasions felt the kind of fear that burns white-hot through your heart and brain. Once, from a young boy’s near-lucky shot, peppering the ground around me with bullets, and once from the shadow of a red-tailed hawk that overtook me like a storm. I thought I might well die then. It was frightening. And it was doubly frightening because I thought I might die completely alone. I felt that way in the fire too, but in the fire, my death felt probable instead of merely possible.

Our warren was large. It was nearly ten feet deep and fifty yards wide. The entrance to our particular burrow faced the busy highway. My parents passed down to me, long-held knowledge and advice about the highway; it’s a dangerous place to be, and I should never daydream while crossing it. Then, in an instant, everything changed, and all I wanted to do was stand in the middle of it and close my eyes. In the glow of the inferno, I could see the white stripes floating across heat waves like a lifeboat. Fire raged on the other side as much as did on mine, but in the middle, there was no fire, just human beings in their cars and trucks desperately racing to escape the flames. At that moment, the trade-off of being run over versus burned to death seemed a no-brainer. I ran through the flames and reached the hot asphalt having only the tips of my fur singed.

Just when I felt as though I had saved my life, I ran right into this crazy young man who had abandoned his car and began chasing me along the side of the road. He scared me as that little boy had a year ago with a Henry Classic-Lever .22 rifle. I am supposed to be afraid of humans, as I am, hawks, coyotes, and when I was younger, even snakes. So I turned back into the flames, no longer running from just the fire. I thought about going back underground, but there was no ground left to go beneath, only an alien molten sea. I am known as the slowest rabbit in the entire warren, but once again, my mind seemed to race at dizzying speed. I ran back to the road, then back into the flames, and then once again back to the road toward the human who’s arms were flailing about like hawk’s wings. To wild animals, the unknown has always been a greater threat than the known. No longer. I was exhausted and ready to take whatever the road or the human had in store for me, but I refused to be turned to ash just feet from where my home used to stand.

Human hands met me on the other side of the flame, just as I entered the road. The young man scooped me up and held me beneath his jacket, his face and hands blistered from outward exposure. Well, now here I am beneath his jacket, and it’s as crisp as a fall afternoon. I feel safe for the first time since emerging into the wildfire. I don’t know where we are heading, and I don’t much care as long as it’s far from here.

Somewhere there is a field of cool, dewy grass awaiting my unwieldy thumping feet. I hope my parents are there. I hope my brother is there. I hope my rescuer finds his people there too. I am afforded one last glimpse of flame and ash as he gently passes me from the crook of his right arm to his left. My one thought? Rabbits and humanity rise like the Phoenix. Hmm. It’s a healing thought, and it almost makes the destruction of the fire, and that of humankind, bearable.





It’s Gonna’ be a Long Night for a Long Time

Kayak Lightening 4

You know it’s gonna’ be a long night when the darkness doesn’t end with the morning. When the clear light of day gets choked by a thick fog. And when monsters and malevolence no longer lurk in the shadows but walk shamelessly in the noonday sun.

You know it’s gonna’ be a long night when the questions that so earnestly demanded answers are no longer asked. When tolls rise far above what you thought you could ever endure, and your once, worst fears, now seem like a good deal no longer on the table. And when the bright light of a hero is snuffed out in his sleep, and you realize you have to be your own light now. And you can’t back down.

But long nights have not always been so fraught. There was a time when you knew it was gonna’ be a long night chewing on unlit cigars outside the hospital delivery room, waiting to see if you should return the blue paint or the pink paint you bought for the nursery. When the friend you hadn’t seen in years showed up at your front door with a bottle of single malt scotch eager to finish the conversation you started as kids. Or that baseball game you waited your whole life to witness, kept you on the edge of your seat past the bottom of the ninth, into the tenth, the eleventh and beyond.

A mad gunman killed 59 people and wounded another 527 in Las Vegas. Tom Petty stopped breathing forever. And so did countless others, unnamed across our country and its territories. I’m a hopeful man, and I know tomorrow will be a better day, but I believe it’s going to be a long night for a long time.

Irish Stones and a Friend of My Father’s

Irish stones stretch for hundreds of miles from Crookhaven to Ballycastle, and from Claddaghduf to Dublin. Jagged blue limestone cuts across the impossibly green landscape of Ireland like veins. The dry-stacked walls, fragile as they are, have parceled out the countryside in beautiful geometric shapes dating back four-thousand years before Christ.

Irish stones are foundation stones, the first to be laid, giving rise to great houses of civilization. They are the first to bear the weight of castles and blacksmith forges, parliament buildings, and peasant homes. They mark the beginning of century-old houses of worship like St. Finbarr’s in the village of Inchigeelagh. Irish stones are stalwart sentinels of wars and weddings, funerals, and great acts of cruelty and forgiveness.

Irish stones are lucky stones. Kiss the Blarney Stone and walk away with the oratorical equivalent of raising the dead. Off the tongue rolls ten-thousand words of unparalleled eloquence, flattery, and love. And behind those; ten-thousand more.

Michael Creedon was an Irish stone, a dry-stack wall. He connected people across lines of politics and religion, across oceans and continents, and most especially, across generations. He sought out common bonds, facilitating delicate and meaningful compromise. And he purveyed joy and laughter through a brogue as thick as a smoke-filled pub and as melodious as the penny whistles that still lift the roof in the front parlor of the Creedon Hotel in County Cork. He was a lover of art and literature, and a tireless champion of musicians. Michael’s blue limestone, making up his dry-stack wall, was humor, high-minded and low-browed. Michael’s blue limestone, making up his dry-stack wall, consisted of a spiritually deep dissatisfaction for injustice and boundless enthusiasm for the marrow of everything.

Michael was an Irish Stone; a foundation stone for marriages, first breaths and last gasps. And along with his office mate at The Catholic University of America, a foundation for students to build a life of meaningful service, reaching heights far beyond the building blocks their professors laid.

Michael was an Irish Stone; most certainly the Cloch na Blarnan. His words tenderly healed, excitedly uplifted, and ferociously advocated. Whether in English or in Gaelic, he was full-throated in his words, and never at a loss.

Yes, Michael Creedon was an Irish stone. But more importantly, to me, he was a friend of my father’s.

Creedon Hotel Inchigeelagh Sign_edited-1

And still…all we need is love.

I sat behind Paul Gardner in my eighth grade Language Arts class at Longfellow Middle School. Paul was bigger than the rest of us, lanky and tall as a beech tree. But what made him larger than life, was his musicianship. He was an outstanding drummer, and not just for an eighth grader. He was a full-grown hippie rock star to most of us, with a tough-ass biker vibe. And I only once, saw him cry.

It was Tuesday, December 9th, 1980. The morning announcements crackled through the single wooden box speaker mounted on the front wall of the classroom, right above the all-important clock. At first, the mono-toned administrative assistant, turned DJ, doled out benign messages about a Safety Patrol meeting, band booster fruit sales, and Presidential Physical Fitness testing, lulling us back into our near-drool state of first-period consciousness. Then she cleared her throat, and with uncharacteristic frailty, said it.

“I am sorry to report that John Lennon was shot and killed last night, outside his home in New York City.”

She didn’t say, “John Lennon of the Beatles.”

She didn’t have to. We all knew who the Beatles were. She didn’t even have to tell us that Lennon had died. We already knew that too. Howard Cosell had broken the shocking news to most of the country, during the final minute of the Monday Night Football Patriots-Dolphins game.

Paul turned around in that creaky old wooden desk and looked right at me.

“I can’t believe he’s gone, man. He’s really gone!”

Paul had tears in his eyes, the kind of tears that only fall when heroes fall. At that moment, on that day, I became a Beatles fan. It would be well into my teen years, though, after learning to play “Blackbird” with Paul in a high school country band, before I would understand the musical impact of John Lennon and the Beatles. And it would be into my college years, when peace and justice issues took hold of my heart, that I would finally, fully grasp his true legacy.

The rattling poets and disruptive troubadours that filled my parent’s record collection, as well as the family ethos of protest and change, already reverberated in my soul. But “Let It Be,”Give Peace A Chance,” and “Imagine,” bound the harsher tones of civil disobedience and youthful angst with a prayer-like soundtrack, that to me, has never gone out of style.

The previous generation’s challenges; Vietnam, the War on Poverty, and Watergate, had given way to mine. Apartheid, homelessness, and an era of self-centeredness were my generation’s struggles to own. And now, our children, Generation Z, the post-millennials, must contend with a not so new laundry list of burdens to overcome and wrongs to right.

War, racial and economic tension, and climate change, all desperately beg for a young person’s attention and care. Thankfully, they have their music to lean on, and to replenish the wells of passion they will undoubtedly need to do their part. And in our children’s inevitable times of doubt, when hope and compassion wane, let them turn to the wisdom of their parent’s (and uncle’s) record collections. The same vinyl stacks handed down two generations before. The answer is still there.

“… all we need is love.”

Love & Peace,


Continue reading “And still…all we need is love.”

Orange Sun from Canadian Fires

I guided my fourteen foot Pisgah kayak across the large back bay of Brush Creek, winding my way around the narrow, Blue Heron-laden outlet towards the Cumberland River. I’m used to the late evening light there, as I frequent that paddle most weeks. But on this evening, I noticed a beautiful earth-toned hue leaking through the trees and painting the eastern banks a Mars-like reddish brown. The creek passage out to the main river took on a breath-taking aura, almost otherworldly.

It only took another few minutes to reach the opening inlet at the Cumberland River. A few hard paddle strokes and I glided out into the middle barge lanes, and that’s when I saw it. It was a perfectly round sun, brilliantly orange, but still quite easy to stare at without the associated melting of the corneas. I remember thinking to myself how lucky I was to see that particular sunset.  I have seen a lifetime’s worth of memorable setting suns around the globe, but this one I remember thinking was special. It was so striking that I felt it must be a harbinger of good luck or a reflection of mankind’s better than expected karma.

Sometimes things aren’t what they seem. We’re all taught or have at least incidentally learned that harsh lesson. Love, passion, pain, and the concepts of right and wrong are at times obfuscated by the intricacies of what is shadowed behind what we so desperately want to be obvious. Even the most sentinel of objects in our orbit, like the stars, the moon and the planets, may not always appear as they truly are.

In this case, the stunning sunset was the result of massive southern Saskatchewan wildfires shooting white ash 10,000 feet into the air and acting like a photographer’s dream filter. Well, there you go – forest destruction and air pollution never looked so inspiring. This moment was not my first, and most likely will not be my last lesson in the world not being what I need it to be. Simplicity is often a more complicated art than first recognized. In music and life, that which appears as uniformly beautiful may be built on the backs of far more dubious precipitants. A heart touching ballad, with inspired signature licks and vocals, often springs forth from great loss or sadness. And so it goes. Sometimes the resulting beauty balances out the hurtful and the ugly, but other times, it merely makes palatable what should not be.

Some degree of inner peace requires that beauty be taken at face value, but to do so all the time, seems a perilous luxury. There are beautiful faces and loving hearts in the world. There are songs that serve as the soundtrack to conscience and books that perfectly reflect it. There are paintings truly worth a thousand words and millisecond moments when the cosmos allows us a glimpse at the bigger picture. But our good fortune is not uniformly free, because sometimes, a soul-stirring orange sun can come from Canadian fires.

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Song Stories: Next Year People

What defined those red dirt farmers at the moment when their crops blew away in the wind and the insidious dust settled in their cupboards, beneath their bed sheets and in the crevices between their teeth and gums?  What did they dream of after all that made them who they were, fed their families and beckoned their purposeful labor was laid to waste in a dystopian blanket of homeless soil?

This epic disaster was delivered upon them with some degree of involuntary willingness.  Moved by falling farm prices of the post-WW1 recession, they deep plowed the plains and turned their virgin topsoil endlessly over.  The grasses that once served to referee the biblical battle between wind and water were displaced by American ingenuity and machinery promising to bring capitalism’s bounty to the poor.  All the while, an unforgiving drought begged their caution.  A live-for-today attitude would ironically lead to the breaking of their agrarian souls, but then ultimately build them back up to be the penultimate optimists.

An exodus, overshadowing that of the Israelites from Egypt and the Cherokee Nations along the Trail of Tears, beckoned the desperate dust dancers.  It invited them to leave the dying ground of their vaporized farms to the new fertile, but equally unforgiving green fields of golden California.  They departed their half-buried farmhouses in twice overflowing Fords with a future as opaque as the black rollers in their rear-view.  They sought refuge, work, and second chances.  But mainly, they ached for an opportunity to breathe deeply, uninterrupted by angry earthen interlopers.  If a chance to live upon a safer ground, beneath a clear sky were to be the prize, the price would be mercilessly steep.  Stoop labor for non-whites and the poor and ladder work for the slightly more advantaged would replace the plague of the dustbowl.  Ditch camps would replace homesteads and cotton, potatoes, fruits and peas would replace the golden wheat fields of home. The brutal harshness of mother nature and her bitter harvest was supplanted by cruelties never before encountered.  The ugly side of humanity was the new reality for many vagabond midwesterners. Discrimination, manipulation, and exploitation constituted the unholy trinity of mankind.  To survive one, was miraculous.  To survive all, would be the stuff of legend.

The damned would curse the devil and pray to Jesus.  They could not have imagined that he would arrive on the back of FDR’s New Deal, and in the form of an Iowa-born, fourth-generation, Norwegian genius named Norman Borlaug.  Borlaug would bless the land with an elixir of technical agricultural innovations and common sense renewal.  The Nobel Peace Prize winner delivered this man-made salvation first to the disparaged Great Plains and then ultimately, to the world.

Some of the far away farmers returned to their skeleton fields to rebuild and replant.  Others, stayed in the refuge of more fertile ground, becoming the bloodline of a new California.  Once known as proud pioneer “Sooners,” fate would put upon them the label, “Okies.” Okies were homeless, displaced and disillusioned.  Okies became the transient poster children of the Great Depression.  But as the decades past, a new century would anoint them a most favored and regal name.  It was a uniquely American character trait defined by a persistent and relentless optimism.  They are, as well as the heart of all Americans, forever known as “Next Year People.”

Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“It’s The Music That Makes Us Smile.”

Next Year People
Mark Elliott & Cole Bruce
Here we are in a tough situation
Everything but the rain coming down
Same feeling of desperation
Waiting on our luck to come ’round
We are, next year people

Feeling just a little bit stronger
Yeah, I think that we’ve got a shot
Holding on just a little bit longer
These days we say that a lot
We are next year people

Whoa next year people been here forever
Whoa next year people they never say never
Whoa next year people will always be around
Oh, we need next year people right now

Yesterday disappears into thin air
Just to come back around today
I know it feels like we’re never gonna’ get there
But when we do we’re gonna’ say
We are next year people

Whoa next year people been here forever
Whoa next year people they never say never
Whoa next year people will always be around
Oh, we need next year people right now



Dad & Wheel Barrow















Butterfly Summer

Yesterday I was standing on my front porch looking at the hillside across from me and eyeing the natural slate rock wall that buttresses that hill.  I expected to see a black rat snake sliding cool along the edges of that hot flaky rock.  That’s the part of the hillside that cuts into the noonday sun and it is the wilderness version of the Redneck Riviera, for all the extroverted, drunk on my leftover food, wildlife here on Cub Creek.  I could hear faint rustling in the undergrowth.  I expected the snake, the chipmunk, the squirrel or even the less frequent box turtle.  But then all at once, a butterfly landed on my hand.  My perspective on the wild across the way, change immediately.

It was the color of the woods and blended in with my pale, freckled skin and the red hairs on my arm.  It would have stood in stark contrast had it landed on my head, so it did both of us a favor I suppose.  I have reached for the wilderness all of my life.  Snakes in the grass, granite outcroppings halfway up a backcountry cliff, minnows in the softer eddies of a fast-moving stream, and a thousand other living things.  I have grabbed at the wild with the fierce bluntness of a bear paw and in my more sanguine states, with the nimble touch of a flightless feather.  I am lucky that most of my reaching, even my over-reaching, has oft times been rewarded with at least a temporary connection.  The moment of reaching for wild, however, does not compare with those rare moments when wild reaches back.

Even after all these years of outdoor life, I still flinch when wilderness initiates the touch.  Some of that is just human nature.  I had the honor of being stung twice last week by red wasps.  Like a gluttonous carnivore, I spent the rest of the day, unceremoniously and with no ethical brakes whatsoever, killing every wasp I could find.  I used cans of poison, fly swatters, my boots, and even a pressure washer in my merciless homicidal (or, in this case, insecticidal) spree.  I suppose I surrendered any nature loving high ground that day, but it fed a more ancient primal need.  Revenge.  So, it is with the backdrop of spiritual love for wilderness, a casual moment on my front porch and an almost regrettable murderous frenzy, that the universe tapped me on the hand.  The moment caught me off guard.  I didn’t even realize that the butterfly was there right away.  I was too busy staring into the woods, trying to insert myself into the comings and goings of what I expected to see along that hillside.  Sometimes, most times even, sentinel moments come when you’re not looking, not ready, or trying too hard.  I have found this to be true of wilderness, music, art, love, and even the changing of the seasons.

The solstice, that point when the sun is farthest from the equator, heralds the beginning of summer.  In our neck of the hemisphere, that moment is technically, June 21st.   Well, for me, summer began a little early.  This year, on Cub Creek, summer arrived on the wings of a butterfly and was placed ever so gently in my hands.

Butterfly Summer

Panoramic-Americana: The List

Last week we rolled out our own, self-proclaimed genre, as well as making our first attempt at defining what it means.  Panoramic-Americana is shaping up to be as much of a life philosophy and lifestyle as it is a musical description.  This week, we endeavor to give you real life examples of what we think best describes Panoramic-Americana. Here’s the list…..so far.

  • Playing songs for an Amish family and realizing for the kids, it’s their first experience with live music
  • In return for the music, we’re taken for an Amish buggy ride and we got to drive
  • Walking in an ice-cold mountain river and almost stepping on an actual metal Beaver trap
  • Being a Jared’s Keeper – playing a part in preventing youth suicide
  • Bending over and having my belt snap and fall off on-stage – did not go unnoticed
  • Seeing a picture of an actual Seminole Indian in a museum in Florida, looking remarkably like Neil Diamond
  • Walking out of your hotel room on a Tuesday morning, right across the street from a store called, “Tuesday Morning.”
  • Realizing the duct tape on the band van window is vibrating in the same key as most of the songs on the radio
  • Advertising our next gig by writing “Runaway Home plays Amevida Coffee” in the Gulf Coast sand
  • Eating Alligator on a stick in Louisiana and thinking that it tastes a lot like chicken
  • Holding a live chicken during an album photo shoot and lying to it about me being a vegetarian
  • Playing an old pump organ in the remnants of a 19th. Century opera house
  • Rest area snowball fights
  • Finding a McDonald’s drive-in window open in the middle of nowhere, at 2am.
  • Remarking that Big Macs, like the ozone layer and our net income, is smaller than they used to be
  • Walking a random railroad track through the Adirondack Mountains
  • Discovering that anything over an 8-hour drive, is just one long, extra 5 minutes
  • Watching a black cat walk across our stage during sound check
  • Drinking with old friends in a Connecticut bar that was set on fire by the British in 1777
  • Performing in front of 100 kindergartners at 8:30 in the morning, while suffering from food poisoning
  • Wearing a pink bra while performing for a breast cancer charity
  • Drinking wine slushies
  • Reminded that bad press is better than no press
  • Eating a road lunch in Ohio and spotting the sheet music to the Steve Weisberg tune, “It’s Up To You,” hanging on the wall
  • Driving past the birthplace of the Life Saver
  • Having a 7-year-old randomly hop up on stage and clog his cowboy boots off while we burned through the fiddle tune, “Salt Creek.”
  • Getting to hold a real snake and a fake raccoon after our gig at the Wilderness Station
  • Seeing the Swiss Alps while driving through Texas in the middle of the night
  • Visiting an Amish Schoolhouse
  • Making and laughing uncontrollably at completely inappropriate jokes…….a lot
  •  Listening to John Denver…….a lot
  • Being surrounded by metal cans, hanging off of trees, collecting maple syrup
  • Life lessons and wicked concoctions from “Fanny.”
  • Funnel Cake, Beer and rides that turn you upside down
  • The metamorphosis of strangers to fans to friends to family
  • Life, Love, and the pursuit of paradise…………

Blog Panoramic list_edited-1

Panoramic-Americana: A Primer

You field a ton of questions (if you’re lucky) when you play in a band.  Some of those questions are interesting and thought provoking and some just make you want to pull out the rest of your hair.  A few examples of the latter are “What kind of music do you play,” “who do you sound like,” and “are those real songs or did you make them up?”  Now I know that at least the first two are fair game.  I’ve asked my fair share of artists the same, but it’s a question that has always been failed by the answer.  I think that question’s failure is true for all music creators, because we have many more influences than our music may suggest.  I think that it’s especially true though when your solo artist career or band career comes on the heels of being a songwriter first.

Especially as a commercial songwriter, even in one obvious genre, you are required to write bucket loads of songs, in a lot of formats and covering a broad array of subject matter.  Granted, that was probably more the case in the 1990’s than it is today, but that’s an argument for another blog.  The point being, most of our songs, the good ones, in particular, fall between the cracks of static labels.  For Runaway Home, the other obstacle in quickly defining a suitable genre is the varied lives and backgrounds each of us bring to it.  Gary, Malinda and I have all wound our way through a mostly disparate musical melting pot of influences.   It seems easier for others to describe us by the standard genres than it is for us to do the same. Folk, country, bluegrass, old-time, and the burgeoning default answer of Americana, leave us unsatisfied.  It may be less a question of word choice and more of an issue with the three of us having significant authority complexes.  We don’t like being pigeonholed, not because we think we’re better than any traditional music label, but because we don’t want to be limited by just one.  We want to have the room to outgrow our musical pants, so to speak. Our response to this conundrum has been to define ourselves by a genre that doesn’t yet exist.  Basically, we didn’t like the other labels, so we made up our own.  No one said we couldn’t, and if someone had told us that, then we would have made it up earlier.

Panoramic-Americana is the kind of music we play, the style of life we lead, and the communion that we seek with others. We play acoustic music, on real instruments that go flat and sharp, that feel the difference between the temperatures, temperaments and traditions of every room in which we play.  Sometimes the sensitivity of wood and wire plays right into our hands and other times, well, it doesn’t. We sing with voices that are well rehearsed, but far from perfect.  Our genre does not allow us to hide our emotions, personality shortcomings or allergy-tinged viruses behind auto- tuners or ear-splitting stage volume.  There have been many, many times that I wish it did.  But it doesn’t.  In fact, our genre demands uncomfortable degrees of honesty in our playing, singing, and songwriting and is quite unforgiving when we stray from that which is genuine.  I both revel in and loathe that about our genre.

The lifestyle we lead and the meaningful moments and relationships that we seek through our music is in the end, more defining of the genre than the music itself.  The blue highways, mountain vistas, towns large and small, flood our band van windshield with opportunities that seem hard to come by these days.  Not only do we get to play some great rooms and beautiful old halls, we get soak up what’s special about the communities we play.  We stay in fan’s houses, eat local, and tour the lesser-known sights of an out of the way burgh.   We describe our perspective on towns we play in, and the music fans that live there, as being 360 degrees.  We seek out what is special about the places we go and the people that we meet.  And we go to great lengths to become a part of their community.  These experiences are at the heart of the burgeoning definition of our newly minted genre.

We are releasing our new record “There’s A Paradise” at World Music Nashville on June 20th.  In the weeks ahead, we will be talking more about what it means to be a Panoramic-Americana band.  We may even have some guest bloggers joining us.  If you’d like to weigh in on what you think defines Panoramic-Americana, we’d love to hear from you.  We made it up, but that doesn’t mean that we know what it is yet.  I suppose it will be revealed in the stages, friendships, and in the one-in-a-million towns that stretch out across tomorrow’s horizon.

Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“It’s the music That Makes Us Smile.”

Malinda 2

Blissfully Unsatisfied

I spent a good bit of my time as a young musician trying to prove that I had the maturity and gravitas to contribute to the river of art and creativity I was thirsting after.  I now spend a good part of my adult musician life trying to prove that I am still relevant to and can give something back to that same river from which I drank.  It seems an unfair, albeit natural turn of events that I am now far better at all aspects of my craft than I was at a time when I could most easily capitalize on those exploits.

I play my old Martin D-35 with fingers brandishing decades of calluses, more nimble and discerning than they were back when I tried too hard.  I’m able to play notes and chords with ease but have learned over the years that my most impressive notes are the ones that I leave un-played. When I’m not battling the springtime Nashville curse of allergies and some form of lung-crud, my voice is an instrument that does exactly what I want it to do.  It’s time-tested.  It’s even enhanced surgically, thanks to the Vanderbilt Voice Center where I had marble sized polyps removed a couple of decades back.  I have finally learned that just because I have the volume to do with it what I will, it’s finesse and not power that makes my voice credible.  Songwriting too is a beneficiary of the years.  Though it’s true I don’t have as many hits as some of my close Nashville friends and co-writers, I may have one better (though not necessarily a pocketbook virtue.) I have life under my belt.  I no longer have to rely on my professional empathy or more accurately, my ability to make stuff up even if I have no idea what I’m talking about.  I have loved completely and have lost completely.  I have racked up an impressive amount of personal mistakes, missteps, and purposeful blunders, which when I write about them, you will most definitely feel it in your marrow. And when you don’t, I know I just didn’t do my job very well.

So I am better at it all now.  It’s just that the characteristics that reflect a life full of living don’t seem like attributes appreciated by today’s commercial industry. I wish I had more hair and less stomach.  I wish I had less debt and more money.  I wish I had more fame and less underground bonafides.  The truth is though, I wouldn’t want to go back in time and run the risk of not writing the songs that came from the life I have been given.  But damn, I wouldn’t throw a little disproportionate success out of bed in the morning!

This blog is a band blog, and, I feel like I can speak for my beloved bandmates as I do for myself.  Thankfully, they give me significant leeway to do so. Gary and I started making music together and scheming upon a successful musical career over 24 years ago.  We’re still at it. Our first record together came out in 1993 called “Flight of Dreams.” That flight continues, if not younger, wiser.  If not wiser, than far more care-a-less for sure.  My birthday is coming up in a few short weeks, as is his.  Now let’s just say that Gary is wiser and more care-a-less than I am by a couple of years.  It’s just that he eats more vegetables than I do, and I eat more hamburgers than he does, so I wind up looking far more the sage than I should.  Malinda just had a birthday.  Even so, she has not caught up with us yet, and she is still the “baby of the band.”  That is a fact, by the way, that she does not let go unannounced whenever the calling hits her.  But her songs, her singing and the way her bow crosses her fiddle strings comes from the very river of life I speak of.

No matter our age or station in life, it can be said that Runaway Home is not a young band or an untested one.  But we are a hungry band.  We are passionate and we are hell-bent to do what we love.  All three of us bear the scars of admission to our second act and come by the moniker, “indie-band” as honestly as anyone.  We are ready to put the dues we’ve paid to work for us.  Love and loss, troubled and trialed, pained and penniless.  In terms of currency, they are all one hundred dollar bills, and we have saved up a lot of them.  And now, we’re ready to spend them all on a glutinous spree of passionate singing, laid bare-songwriting and a heartfelt playing of the instruments.  And if we ever run out of that money, we have a line of credit extending into the next life.  It’s called being blissfully unsatisfied.  And we are thankful for it!

Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“Its The Music That Makes Us Smile”