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Although the citya€™s structure forms the setting, ita€™s clearly the human element that is at the core of the inspiration for Robby.
Bespectacled, with eyes that often look into a middle distance with a near-expressionless stare, Robby Hecht tends to give off the vibe of a resolute avoidance of drama. Hea€™ll allow himself a sly smile, mid-song, during a low-key cover of a macho pop confection like a€?Ia€™m Sexy and I Know It,a€? but his ever-present, even, relaxed manner tends to reinforce the impression of a calm approach to every song, no matter what the content. We caught up with Robby at the 2013 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference and pitched our offer for a cover article.
During his time at the University of Wisconsin in Madison as an English and history major, Robby began gravitating toward a musical career. His focus as a listener was on FM radio staples such as Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Marc Cohn, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Joni Mitchell, Ben Harper, Coldplay and David Gray.
During his freshman year, he started performing at open mics and at age 18 he made a a€?strangely confident and finala€? decision to commit to music as his calling and career. Jason didna€™t stay in Nashville long a€” less than a year a€” before relocating to New Orleans. Robby had reconnected with Annie Klaver, a coed friend from Wisconsin, during his travels in Europe. Robby had applied three times to the Kerrville festival and failed to make the cut for the songwriter competition.
A video he made of a€?The Hard Way,a€? also from this album, is comprised of amateur video clips of people dancing to the songa€™s bubbling, perky melody, reveling in their own movement. During his freshman year, he started performing atA  open mics and at age 18 he made a a€?strangely confident and finala€? decision to commit to music as his calling and career. Jason didna€™t stay in Nashville long a€” less than aA  year a€” before relocating to New Orleans.
All through Robbya€™s growth as a musician, he was puzzled by his tendency to swing between being outgoing one day, to being painfully shy the next. As I was building the layout of this feature article, I found myself unprepared for the iconic beauty I encountered in the photos by Asia Kepka on Meg Hutchinsona€™s website. A phone interview with Meg uncovered some of the unique elements that went into the creation of this fiercely dedicated poet and songsmith. Meg affectionately referred to her parents as a€?hippies,a€? [extremely bright hippies] and said that their record collection included all the classic stuff, including Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Jackson Browne. When her grandmother passed away, an uncle sent the grandmothera€™s guitar, a beautiful old Martin, to Mega€™s family.
In eighth grade, Meg wrote a song, a€?Freedoma€™s Ocean,a€? about apartheid in South Africa for a geography project.
In spite of the revelation that came after singing her apartheid song at the talent show, Meg, overwhelmed by the culture shift and her parentsa€™ unraveling marriage, put her musical ambitions aside in high school and concentrated on athletic pursuits. By the time she was 17, while attending Simona€™s Rock, Meg had her own apartment and worked at an organic farm.
Meg experienced many mood swings during her early years that she attributed to a€?artistic temperamenta€? but they became more pronounced as she got older.
Her first self-titled album grew out of her college poetry study, working on the farm and dealing with her varying emotional states.
Her next album, Against the Grey, was more formally produced at a studio by musician Robby Baier and released in 1999.
Meg had been a a€?huge Martin Sexton fan,a€? and wanted his producer, Crit Harmon, to produce a CD for her.
Passim, the renowned folk club in Boston, runs a fundraising festival each year called a€?The Cutting Edge of the Campfire.a€? Meg was grouped with fellow songwriters Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton and Natalia Zukerman.
Joseph reckoned it would take less than three hours for the tree to absorb the flyzard's nutrients. He thought of the bedraggled puffer crouching in the corner of the lab aviary, mangled and dying. The foremen howled with laughter as McIntyre bowed, a toothy grin spreading beneath his moustache. Cal glanced at the crippled puffer-owl behind the transparent wall of the aviary, luminous eyes studying its captors as if they were the ones in a cage. Joseph's laughter rang against the walls, bold and unfettered for the first time since his arrival on Kelvyn. The pulverizers were roaring at full capacity when Joseph and Cal reached the edge of the clearing zone. Joseph stared at the stocky crew chief, knew with sick certainty that the man would not back down. One section of the colony structure and three pulverizers were demolished while the crews slept. Joseph knew little of his own Cherokee heritage: only scraps culled from thousands of history disks he had searched over the years.
Cal shamed McIntyre into letting Joseph out the next morning after it happened for the second time.
A mogre slipped from the splintered tree line on six powerful legs, drawn into the open by the scent of death.
The two men jogged toward the temporary sleep-cubes where McIntyre and most of the foremen bedded down.
Marsalis glanced at the ruins of the crew chief's cubicle, then nodded with obvious relief. Joseph and Cal were in the lab four hours later when the last shuttle blasted off for the Surveyor. Cal studied Joseph with a new expression in his eyes: surprise, admiration, a trace of fear. The two men stopped just inside the stand of trees that marked the boundary of the village. Cal was a slender man, but he managed to sling Joseph over his shoulder and stagger back toward camp. Cal sank to the ground in exhaustion, breath coming in strangled gasps, and laid Joseph beside him. Nashville songwriter Robby Hechta€™s self-titled new album will have its local CD release at Rockwood Music Hall on March 24. The throb of a drumbeat supports a pulsating calliope-like electric piano while a kaleidoscope of urban New York humanity rushes at the viewer.
After brief moves to Houston and New Orleans while his father, a doctor, finished med school, his residency and initial medical stints, the family settled in Knoxville, Tenn. Robby said, a€?I grew up singing the songs he would learn on his instrument.a€? Their musical tastes also influenced him.
Along with the aforementioned a€?New York City,a€? other songs worth mentioning include a€?Soon I Was Sleeping.a€? With its pedal steel guitar backup, it has a strong country flavor and covers the familiar ground of an alcoholica€™s failing marriage. Ita€™s the aural equivalent of having very expensive imported chocolate melt on your tongue a€” a velvety, bittersweet tone that carries with it all the pain and all the dreams in her life. The picture I chose for this first page reminds me of a George Hurrell Hollywood photograph from the 1940s. Mega€™s father has been an English professor at Simona€™s Rock College (now called Bard College at Simona€™s Rock) all her life.
She remembered, once, after playing in the yard, she came stomping into the kitchen in protest while her mother was playing Bob Dylan. She went to the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School, one of the network of Waldorf schools. Simona€™s Rock College had an early entry program for students with good grades, so she began her college career at around age 15 and, because her parents worked there, got free tuition.
She said that she had no idea how serious things were, but attempted to express the depths of her feelings through poetry and music. Meg was now being managed by the same woman whoa€™d helped her earlier, and a€?was teaching me about the music business,a€? Meg said. Shea€™d met him at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, but was too shy to present herself as a prospective client. After my early infatuation with a€?Everything Familiar,a€? ita€™s difficult to pick a favorite. She was hospitalized by July of that year, and after several months of treatment and therapy in and out of a mental health facility, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.


She was signed by Red House Records and in 2008, Come Up Full, produced again by Crit Harmon, was released. This time around, she ponders both the depths shea€™s plunged and the heights to which her bipolar disorder has taken her.
Theya€™d been on the same circuit together and quickly realized how good the combination was and how much fun they were having. In quelling her bipolar symptoms, Meg lost the manic creative highs, but forges on, banking on truthtelling for inspiration.
Each tree was a scale model of the forest, supporting a complete ecosystem within its massive coils.
He was in better shape than anyone else in the Surveyor's crew, but the strong gravity of Kelvyn still sapped the strength from his muscles. Skin and bones would drop to the forest floor, where scavengers feasted on the porcu-pine's leavings. A mousipede crouched in the grass near the center of the clearing, nibbling on the fruit of a bloodberry bush. A broad pair of forewings and a smaller pair of hindwings controlled their speed and direction of flight.
Joseph could not see the creatures hidden behind the leaves, but their terror and confusion buffeted him in waves.
He searched the work zone for Angus McIntyre and spotted the crew chief near a field console, poring through schematics with a cluster of foremen.
It didn't take long to locate McIntyre, but the noise made it impossible to talk in the open. He read of the Busk, the festival celebrating first fruits and new fires, but the words had no flavor.
The essence of what the Cherokee had been eluded him, like the dappled outline of a lightning-buck darting through morning mist.
He looked more like a cornered animal than the puffers that circled above him, singing their silent rage.
They fell to the ground, Joseph clawing for the laser, McIntyre still trying to aim at the retreating puffers.
He had been up most of the night, haunted by ghastly visions of Shaman erupting into flame.
For a moment he was gliding through the ancient forests of America with his ancestors - strong and unbowed - sinews stretching down into the fragrant soil like roots. Ita€™s a combination of ancient film footage and stills as well as contemporary video and photographs. His voice is a velvety baritone with an unerring sense of melody a virtuoso violinist might attain.
In grade school there was classic rock: hair bands like Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Poison. He was in chorus from grades eight through 11, then joined the chamber singers group when he was a high school senior.
Robby said that since Jason plays tuba, he found a great home in the a€?Big Easy.a€? He gets a lot of work with a number of bands and has been nominated as best sousaphone player in New Orleans. Annie, who had been working in Rotterdam for the past three years, was relocating to the U.S. Some of the lyrics buoyed by exquisite melodies appear to reflect Robbya€™s struggles with the darker side of his personality. It begins as we watch a grainy clip of a woman winning a large sum of money on a TV game show. He was in chorus from grades eightA  through 11, then joined the chamber singers group when he was a high school senior.
This is unlike her first song to get its hooks in me, a€?Everything Familiar,a€? from her previous album, The Crossing. Her mother would go on walks and play the recorder and both her mom and dad sang lullabies to all three kids. Her mother stayed home to raise the children and later became a writing teacher at the same college. The family didna€™t have enough money to visit her often, so she remained an elusive revered figure.
Their grief for the loss of their matriarch seemed to transfer to the guitar and everyone wept upon seeing the damage. She sat onstage in the auditorium, calmly playing for the very first time in front of an audience. There were manic periods of great energy where shea€™d write and perform, feeling very powerful. The album, named after watching Maine fishermen pull their nets from the water, is full of new self-awareness.
Yet the rustle of leaves, the fragrance of vegetation, the spring of living carpet beneath his feet offered familiar comfort. He took three swallows from his water pack and watched in fascination as a nearby porcu-pine lured its prey. It scurried halfway to the tree line on its dozen stubby legs before the puffer's talons dug into its back. He wriggled between the loops of a corkscrew so his presence would not disturb the puffers. I also know that Corporate is rattlin' their saber a little louder every day, and it's not your head'll be rolling if we fall behind.
When we rape a world, it's never the same again; it dies of shame and misery, then it rots around us until we leave.
He read of Sequoya and others who tried to adapt to the white man's customs, hoping to salvage some shred of their culture. The tension in his body unwound as the three of them ambled through the maze of plasteel and titanium toward the far edge of the site. An ugly purple bruise bloomed on one cheek; a split lip bulged beneath the bushy moustache now matted with blood.
Massive crocodilian jaws snapped up the tenderest chunks, crushing them to pulp as they vanished into its maw. These men did not fear anything in the galaxy they could see, but an invisible enemy was too much for them. I've reviewed every scrap of seismic data I have, and there's just nothing out of the ordinary about this chunk of rock. Then the crippled puffer-owl spread his speckled wings, inflated, and vanished into the sky. In high school he was into Counting Crows, Lemonheads, The Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, The Band, Sarah McLachlan and The Indigo Girls. Although he took guitar lessons when he was 10 and 14, he never stuck with it for very long.
On his website, he states: a€?My condition made it hard to really commit to anything a€¦ It made it hard to want to record a record. So that year, he went to Kerrville simply as an attendee, without any status as a competitor. It has a repetitive refrain toward the end, Ia€™m gonna be somebody, which repeats about eight times. They encouraged children to be creative a€” allowing them to move their bodies, draw, build stuff and make gardens a€” a path to letting the child be a whole person. The entire family suspended their normal routine and made a pilgrimage to the Martin guitar factory in Nazareth, Pa., to get it fixed.
She laughed as she recalled how, at one point, shea€™d fallen in love with a champion high school wrestler and lost him to a cheerleader.
One friend had a four-track recording setup and allowed her to use his living room as a studio and put the tracks together. Corkscrew ferns twisted toward the sky in tightly bunched loops all around him, giant fronds feathering out to catch the orange sunlight.
He felt in tune with the rhythms of nature here, reconnected to the threads of growth and life woven into the very fabric of his soul. A brown flying-lizard not much bigger than a pigeon hovered between the branches, drawn by the aroma of honeysap that oozed from the porcu-pine's bark.


It squeaked twice as its captor flipped it and sliced through its tender belly with a scythe-like beak. Well, now, there's a thrivin' colony on that planet, and I don't believe a one of them that built it spent a slim second in lockup.
The roar of the pulverizers swelled, much tamer now that half their number had been reduced to scrap. We've only five pulverizers left as it is, and the lads can't make any progress with this commotion. Before Joseph could react, a rod of light leapt from McIntyre's hand into the mass of puffers. Shackled by the roustabouts, Joseph could only shout to drive the demonic creature back into the forest. He's dead and buried… just a few hours after you told him he oughta haul ass out of here for his own safety. He saw the same wonder in Cal Benton's eyes that he himself had felt when he first walked among the corkscrews. I better get you back so we can drug you up good… and so I can jabber some double-talk at Marsalis. They had been chased away by a ghoul with hair the color of blood and a moustache of flame. The songa€™s rhythm is maintained with the steady pace of each photo or three seconds (or so) of each video clip.
Eerily, on the day after Jason and Robby decided to move to Nashville, she emailed him, and knowing that Robby was from Tennessee, asked him what Nashville was like. The rest of the video is a celebration of dancersa€™ ecstatic physical reaction to other music, but in total sync with the beat of a€?The Hard Way.a€? Ita€™s mesmerizing and I watched it again and again, transfixed. One main teacher acted as a a€?a€?corea€? teacher and a€?that teacher would become like a third parent,a€? Meg said. Meg said that this was a powerful, extremely moving experience for her, bonding her with her family over the value of music and this particular instrument. She wrote an unrequited love song that was the extent of her song production during high school. She finally met Crit at a Folk Alliance conference and he agreed to allow her to demo a song for him. Eight interminable months trapped in the sterile shell of the Surveyor had almost driven him mad… but the land restored him. As soon as the flyzard touched the sticky sap, the branches snapped together, impaling it with a dozen needles. A few minutes passed before the bloated outline of a puffer-owl glided from the upper branches.
Because of the strong surface gravity of Kelvyn, they could not get off the ground without the buoyancy of their flight bladders. Far beyond his vision, a clan of puffer-owls had built their living chambers, piling section upon section as family and home grew together, intertwined. He barely missed an outstretched porcu-pine branch as he labored back the way he had come, legs pumping against the iron grip of Kelvyn, black hair dancing in the wind.
There is a counterbalance in the opposing actions of the inadvertent actors: braggadocio and fear, ecstasy and cruelty, desperation and defiance, calm and hysteria.
AllDay Radio made an album anyway and, slyly referencing an imaginary TV show, called it The Best of Season One.
Because at some subconscious level, I didna€™t know what version of myself I was going to be when I showed up.a€? After Annie described to him the drastic nature of his day-to-day personality shifts, he sought medical help and confirmed his self-diagnosis that he was suffering from a bipolar disorder. This gave him the feel of the festival and allowed him to relax when he returned in 2008 as a competitor and took first place.
I also drew attention to his cover of Townes Van Zanta€™s a€?If I Needed You,a€? a duet with Jill Andrews, formerly of The Everybodyfields, calling it a€?exquisitely done.a€? A link to a live performance of this song, with Liz Longley providing harmony, is among the many video links on Robbya€™s website. I also drew attention to his cover of Townes Van Zanta€™sA  a€?If I Needed You,a€? a duet with Jill Andrews, formerly of The Everybodyfields, calling it a€?exquisitely done.a€? A link to a live performance of this song, with Liz Longley providing harmony, is among the many video links on Robbya€™s website. You did a good job!a€? Meg was actually overwhelmed with the sudden knowledge that she had just experienced what she was meant to do.
The song demo grew into a series of a€?living room sessionsa€? where a€?hea€™d rip my songs to shreds.a€? Crit would dissect each song Meg presented and send her home with pieces that were like a puzzle for her to put together again.
It floated across the glade with silent stealth, riding the wind like a feathered zeppelin.
These inflated with hydrogen extracted from the air when the owls rose, swelling them like balloons. When he staggered into the clearing near the camp, ten pulverizers were already online, gobbling the forest and turning it to mulch.
McIntyre followed their gaze, stroking a bushy red moustache that burned like fire in the orange light. But the fact is, we've got to finish the shell structure here and be hyperspatial toward Avalon inside of two months, or it's my ass. After a few weeks with the pulverizers, we'd flattened half their hunting territory and driven most of the game away.
Maybe this planet has some weird localized tectonics, some kind of seismic hiccup we haven't detected yet.
There is, too, a brilliance in the assemblage of the mosaic of the old and new, showing the timeless nature of the mortal struggle against the potentially lethal forces that are unleashed daily by a large metropolis.
Hea€™d also sit alongside the Seine and play a€” not performing so much, but nevertheless getting noticed by passersby. This began an approximately three-year period of testing different doctors and regulatory medicines to stabilize the effects of his bipolarity. They left the guitar there, and it was later shipped (safely this time) back to Massachusetts. She walked out of the school, into a snowy day, carrying her guitar case, feeling that she was a€?home.a€? The song was so well-received that later she performed it at a number of open mics in town. She told one interviewer, Bob Edwards (Sirius xm), that it was possible some days, between tips and selling CDs to make $200 in a few hours.
Crit may not have known what he was dealing with, perhaps expecting Meg to dissolve and run away in tears. I programmed the computer to scan the ultrasonic frequencies, and there it was: they have a musical vocabulary, pitched so high that the human ear can't detect it. Soon Shaman's village would be a memory, and here he sat like a caged animal, cut off from the sweet breath of the land… unable to stop the slaughter of a way of life. They wheeled overhead, diving and snapping at the crews, filling the air like a plague of feathered locusts.
Without warning he whipped it down across his legs, driving the needles deep into his thighs before collapsing with a cry. The album, laden with acoustic guitar, fiddle and dobro licks and hummable melodies, is still available on iTunes and is well worth a purchase (Ia€™ve got mine). As he explained it, any person with this problem has to use trial-and-error to find out what works, and an artist, in particular, must have faith that their personality wona€™t change so much that they experience a loss of creativity. During this period, shea€™d express elements about her recurring depression, but not own it as being about herself. Meg accepted every criticism and rebuilt her songs, her lyrics becoming leaner and more concise, less dense than her earlier work. Survivors climbed frantically above the inferno, but McIntyre kept firing, setting off a dozen smaller explosions. Ita€™s a place where for generations, people from across the world have gone to challenge themselves and start over under a new set of rules. My tendency to get swept up in melody and rhythm led to a late-blooming awareness of Mega€™s poetic lyricism. Similarly, my knowledge of Mega€™s journey through the dark landscape of bipolar disorder came only after my online discovery of other interviews shea€™d done.
As I continued listening to her music, each bit of knowledge gave the songs greater weight.



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