a song from the road


Looking through Facebook posts this evening, I noticed my friend Christopher Williams is playing at Club Passim in Harvard Square, one of my favorite places to listen to music. When we lived in Charlestown, I volunteered there and help run the sound from time to time. Thanks t the luck of the schedule, I got to run sound for Dave Mallet, Steve Forbert, and Patty Griffin, among others. From time to time, I would volunteer for someone I had never heard of just to, well, hear them and it seemed somewhere in the set of every young folk singer was a song about how hard it was to be out on the road singing your songs and trying to make a living. I did my best to empathize and I thought to myself, “Yes, and you get to go out on the road singing your songs and try to make a living.”

Over the past week and a half, as I have reflected on the first leg of my Keeping the FeastBook Tour (which was made possible by many folks who backed my Kickstarter project), I’ve wondered how to tell the story without sounding like one of those young folk singers. This was my first time on the road, you see, hoping to create moments and connect with folks and sell books, and also unsure of how to string together events that would be more than simply self-promotional.

I went back to churches in Winchester and Marshfield, which were places filled with people I knew, and I went to St. Stephen’s University in New Brunswick, Canada, where I knew no one except for Heidi, whom I knew only through this blog and Facebook. Kristin, a long-time friend, introduced me to her book group in Hingham. Ashlee, whom I met through her seminary connections with Ginger, invited me to her church in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, where I made soup for a room full of people I didn’t know and ended up making Durham connections.My last event was back in Marshfield, but not with familiar faces other than Andy, whom I knew through Habitat and who is a part of new church start there called Sanctuary. To say the week was amazing for me would be an understatement. I am grateful to everyone who came out, to the questions and conversations, and for the chance to feed my face and my soul in between events sharing meals in old Boston haunts with good friends.

After twelve days, I was more than glad to see Ginger and to chase the Schnauzers around the house and I got home just in time for Thanksgiving, which is also known as Pieapalooza around our place, so I hit the ground cooking. In the swirl of it all, the big lessons for me are in learning more about the business end of the whole deal, not the least of which include learning first-hand what I have been told, which is publishers don’t promote their books and it’s hard to make much money doing this. Both those things, along with the unfortunate reality that the distributor has yet to fill one of my orders without making some sort of mistake, has left me feeling despairing about the whole enterprise from time to time, which is when I start feeling like one of those fledgling folkies I used to hear at Passim. On a day when the Syrian government shut down the Internet across the whole country, that I spent an hour on the phone trying to sort out invoice issues is not such a big deal.

One of the folk singers whom I got to know through her music was Diane Ziegler. On her record, The Sting of the Honeybee, Diane sang a song called, “You Will Get Your Due” that has been one of those songs that has remained a touchstone because it reminds me why it matters that I keep working to do what I feel most called to do, even if that means I still end up with as many questions as answers about what lies ahead. Here is the lyric:

there’s a man that I don’t know well
but I’ve seen the way he cast his spell
straight across a room until the people had to listen
he was singing from a quiet place
and you could only hear the faintest trace
that he wonders if he’ll ever taste the kiss of recognition

but you will get your due
you will get your due
believe that there is so much more
even if it’s not right here at your door
and you will get your due

I want to call him friend
because I love the way he works that pen
and spinning stories seems to be his true devotion
but he says he’s gonna pack it in
because he doesn’t see it rolling in
he thinks that ship is somewhere lost out on the ocean

but you will get your due
you will get your due
believe that there is so much more
even if it’s not right here at your door
and you will get your due

I know you want to leave it behind
but it’s all there in your mind
and you can no more stop the songs
than stop your breathing
I can’t tell you how it’s gonna end
I know the lucky ones sometimes win
but not before they’ve paid a price
for all their dreaming

but you will get your due
you will get your due
believe that there is so much more
even if it’s not right here at your door
and you will get your due

I don’t guess I can ask for much more. Thanks for listening.
Now on to Texas in January.



  1. This is hard work, Milt, but I think you are all about meeting and knowing people and that was definitely happening on your “maiden” tour. From our short acquaintance, I’m guessing your networking efforts will result in good friendships and connections that are helpful in the future – for you and the other folks.

  2. Milton, we at Gourmet Gallery have been trying to contact you on the email address given us–we think we got it right. Karyn Miller, proprietor wants to work on the menu and your compensation for our book talk on January 12. Look forward to hearing from you.
    Jo Ann Miller–Karyn’s mom– Jo Ann Miller

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