Breathless is a state of mind,

not lungs.

The air that circumnavigates

the globe is ceaseless

in its circulation.

It will drift within and without

without your blessing

or your encouragement

or your wishes.


The ‘breathless’

that you feel is

lack of time to notice

what the world is

doing to you ;

what you do to it.

The interaction is


The feeling is


-BW 2016


15 days and counting! We fly to Scotland in two weeks! I’m scrambling to wrap up loose ends and make ready for a two-month sabbatical from normal routines. We were talking the other day about how strange it will feel to spend so much time without a schedule. There will be planes and trains to catch – sure – but overall, the time is ours to waste and wander.  That is very exciting and very unusual. I am very much looking forward to the ponderous hours of people watching.

As promised, here is an approximate itinerary.  All dates are estimations, and even locations are subject to whims, but this should give you an idea of our journey.


June 15th – June 21st \ Glasgow, Edinburgh, London

June 22nd – June 28th \ Paris, Nice

June 29th – July 7th \ Zagreb, Vienna, Salzburg

July 8th – July 15th \ Munich, Prague

July 16 – July 21st \ Leipzig, Berlin

July  22nd – July 29th \ Hamburg, Copenhagen

July 30 – August 5th \ Stockholm


If you want to tell us something about one of these cities, or you know someone that lives there, drop us an email!

A long time back we had thought to travel with a cello in the plane seat beside us, but that proved too expensive and potentially disastrous if airlines decided not to let a wooden person on the plane. I have heard some good stories about how pleasant travelling with instruments can be – and then I’ve heard some horror stories.  The long and short is that we would probably need a travel agent to ensure my neo-viola da gamba makes it across the pond AND back.  Instead, we will buy a student quality cello in Scotland then burn it for warmth before we crawl onto a plane in Stockholm and fly back to the US of A.

Cue meme:




Why Wormwood?

Why Wormwood?

A family member recently asked me, in more or less words, “Why Wormwood?” I hadn’t stopped to consider this question for a long time. It has just been a given, a reality of what we are. I want to thank this family member (Thanks, Aunt Kim!) for asking so that I was prompted to put the many thoughts I’ve had about the name into words. So, for all of you out there who may be wondering, here are some words about this thing that we call “Wormwood.”

It all began as we were sitting on the stoop one balmy summer night drinking absinthe (as many nights as a 26 year old bachelor artist begin) and spitballing ideas for what to call this duo we’ve found ourselves in. Needless to say, wormwood, the iconic ingredient in absinthe, was right there on the tip of our tongue. At first utterance, my gut told me that it was right. A sort of “love at first sight” moment. There was a poetic attraction to the word through the way it felt, sounded, and the imagery it suggested. The “wood” pointed towards our acoustic instruments carved from spruce, maple, and pernambuco. The “worm” held both the musical “ear worm” as well as the process of decay where worms recycle old life into new.

After this initial attraction, we began to learn more about this word and discovered the use of wormwood in herbal medicine. When consumed, one if the benefits is that it creates an internal environment which purges and resists harmful, invasive organisms. Wormwood, the herb, is a purifier of the body. Wormwood, the sound, we will soon discover.

Finally, absinthe is a drink made most famous by the Lost Generation of artists converging in Paris in the early 20th century. It is said that this was their drink of choice as they shared ideas, created their work, and made merry late into the evenings. Much of their work and approach have inspired both Baylen and me. Specifically of interest to Wormwood is the work of the surrealists and their attempts at reaching into the subconscious mind as a source for unfiltered creativity. Improvisation is the closest musical act that I have found that reaches towards this place. There isn’t time to think. There isn’t time to trace along some pre-prescribed plan. The conscious, verbal mind must shut off. One must enter The World Unspoken.

BD 5/18/16

Small Stones

Small Stones

Ripples are not seen,

but felt

by hearts that beat in tandem,

recommending care

and encouraging harmony

in every human interaction.


The small stones that

you drop

here in this moment

do not elevate me simply

by their motion.


Rather, it is your specific

gravity and mine,

revolving with impenetrable

purpose around the

self-same heart

of human kindness,

making ours a complex

celestial arrangement

to puzzle anthropologists

and astronomers



We have the same orbit,

you and I,

if you care to notice.

-BW 2016


As we prepare to conclude our Indiegogo campaign, we want to send out our sincerest gratitude for all the generous support we’ve received for our World Unspoken Europe Tour.  Your donations mean a great deal to us!  They help us financially – sure – but they also tell us that you think our project is worthwhile.  That is the ultimate compliment.  The countless people that we’ve talked to about travel and culture and music have given us the confidence we need to sally forth with smiles on our faces and music in our hearts.

If we could leave this month, I think we both would hop on the nearest plane. We are so ready to be off!  June 15th is the scheduled departure date, though. So we have just over a month to wait. Plenty to do between now and then!

If you were thinking about donating or recommending our page to someone you know, now is the time.  There are three days left on the Indiegogo campaign.

Wormwood: Indiegogo Campaign

Again, we can’t thank you enough for your time and words and dollars. Stay in touch and stay classy!

Here is a tongue-in-cheek video we made this evening. We didn’t write a script, and we didn’t do multiple takes, so we apologize for our shenanigans.





A lazy afternoon
drifts by
full sun

Time ticks
with or without
my assertion

Hopeful leaves
full life

Or so it seems to me as I race along running this marathon at a sprinter’s pace with eyes and mind fixed on the finish line.

Every step
I take
passes by
of expression

held softly
listening ears
might find
that place
of past
and future

-BD 5/4/16

I find myself running so much these days. Running from place to place, appointment to appointment, even state to state. Always striving for that next thing. That next gig, that next performance, that next paycheck, that next “whatever” that is always there because of a tendency towards insatiable consumption.
What Wormwood embodies for me is a time to slow down. To sit where I am, be who I am with, and see and hear what is immediately in my present. A note begins and is filled with infinite potential. I must listen to it, see it for what it is right now, and follow the story that it wants to tell. As a Suzuki teacher, I can’t help but think of Dr. Suzuki’s words “Tone has a living soul without form.” Never is this more true than in the act of improvisation. The living soul pours through, unfiltered, and it is our job to listen.

May Day

May Day

The trees cry spring

and gently burst into flames.

We dance inside our skin

and skewer our hearts upon the notes of

sunrise birds and sunset frogs.

The emboldened soul that walks

among the dead and rotting flowers

demands abandon,

commands for nothing,

revels in peaceful recklessness.

-BW, 2016

Happy May Day to you, friends! Tomorrow Wormwood plays a set at Potted Meet. Stop by Elsie’s Bowling Alley in NE Minneapolis and have a drink with us. The jam starts at 7pm. We’ll have our say between 8 and 9pm.

There are about ten days left in our Indiegogo fundraising for the World Unspoken Tour. If you have pledged already, we are extremely grateful!  If you are still considering, keep in mind that any pledge of $10 or more will earn you a dedicated improv set.  We’ll video record a round of music from some far-off location and post it on this web page.  It will be our pleasure to send you a musical postcard!

Check out the fundraising site for more info: Wormwood Indiegogo Page



Simple Truths

Simple Truths

This last week I spent a great deal of time imagining.

My imagination is my strongest muscle, or so I’m told. I find a lot of ways to exercise that muscle. Sometimes I brainstorm ways to reach children and light a fire in their hearts.  Other times I play nerdy games like Dungeons and Dragons, imagining fantastic worlds with realistic characters and rolling dice to add some chance.  Still other times, I sit on the porch with a close friend and talk about the way the world changes or – more often – doesn’t.

In all these moments I imagine what might have, what could, and what I hope will be. The imaginings are made real when I share them with other humans. They affect the trajectory of the moment when I simply speak them aloud. We all imagine things, but some of us hand those things over for public scrutiny.

I think that improvisation is the actualization of imagination. (Do I???) Yes, I do. It’s the action that corresponds most directly to imagining. I think that when we improvise we reach into the velvet folds of memory and pull out a handful of high-octane quicksilver and we throw it on the wall. Some of it sticks. Some of it melts. All of it is good.

In music, Wormwood taps into our shared classical training, our adolescent love of Prague metal, and even our half-sarcastic-half-serious appreciation for Second Viennese School intellectualism.  What comes flowing through the water main is something very truthful.  It is music that expresses us as people. We don’t have time to condense it, complicate it, or sweeten it, because the faucet is always on. It’s very honest and that’s the point.

Honesty is vulnerable but freeing. To say what you believe, rather than what you memorized is to share a piece of yourself with others. It’s speaking simply – with instruments.  I should say: We aren’t the first ones to realize this! There are uncounted musicians out there that play what they feel and to hell with the plan.  It’s just great to be able to put words around our “style.”

Consider the following: If pop tunes are poems, and symphonies are novels, then Wormwood is two voices taking turns sharing random journal entries with a crowd of strangers. Considering the content, I suppose the audience can’t be strangers for very long.


Roots that set us free

Photo by Lee Tran

Last week Wormwood played a set at our favorite local music gathering, Potted Meet. It’s a cultural exchange free and open to the public where musicians of all ages and abilities swing by one Monday of the month and jam to their heart’s content.

This year, Ben and I have been a staple act in the evening’s festivities. About halfway through the night we slow down the action to allow for some acoustic, improvised string conversation. Every night is different, but every night is magic. We love the casual feel of a well-lit room (imagine that!) and we are always blown away by our reception.

This month was a particularly versatile improv.  There were hints of beauty and sadness, but also laughter and the occasional bout of virtuosity. If you listen and watch carefully, you’ll notice that a couple of times we thought perhaps our conversation was over, but then the music kept flowing and we found we had more to say.

I hope you enjoy this first post on our freshly minted blog.