The Great American

Once a year, Zepparella plays a hometown show in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall. This is a wonderful night for me. I have loved this venue from the moment I moved here 16 years ago: the gold leaf ceiling, the warm dark red of the walls, the mojo. Someone once walked me around the venue and told me ghost stories.

All the great music halls in San Francisco have ghosts, as anyone who works there will tell you. It makes sense, seeing as they have often been theaters for close to 100 years. I think of all of the bodies who have worked there, on stage and off. I think of all of the audiences packed in over the years, and that adds up to quite a bit of plasma and energy that you can feel when you walk in. I also love to think of music as a conduit connecting worlds, and imagine all those melodies conjuring spirits from other decades. read more

Pain and the Constitutional Requirements of a Music Career

When we think about meditation, pain isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. We think of a relaxed body settling deep in the parts of the brain where dreams live. Most people from my genetic background of Viking have some discomfort when sitting for long periods of time on a floor. During a 10-day meditation retreat, there are three one-hour sits of ‘strong determination’ each day, hours in which we do our best to not move a muscle, to just observe sensation and not react to any pain. Speaking to meditators on the last day, I find that everyone experiences pain, no matter age or fitness level. read more

A Human, Being

The fog is a gift. All night sweating and rolling around on damp sheets. When San Francisco reaches over 75 degrees it is unbearable. Why is that? I guess the dream of endless Springtime gets shattered, and I quietly panic in the possibility that the heat will never abate, that this is the new normal. Here is that struggle again, the wanting what was once there, the desire for the future to mold itself to my vision. The source of all pain, the enlightened say, is wishing for the fog to come again. read more

My Life as a Dog

This morning, I had a dream that I was a dog. I was aware as I was walking around that I was in ecstasy most of the time, but there were these moments when I was angry and barking. I was speaking to someone, and saying, I came back here to work out the last of this futile anger. I’m here to release this last bit of deep worldly emotion. This will be my last life on the planet.

I’m not sure why I gravitate toward the idea of reincarnation. Intellectually, it seems a little too neat of a situation, that we keep coming back in order to educate the soul until the day comes when we see clearly, when we clear out all the baggage and let go the human-ness that holds us back from enlightenment so we don’t have to come back anymore. read more