What a busy Spring! A few months ago I was named a contributing writer at The Guardian. My beat is Americana music. Every week I'll be writing about artists and trends out of Nashville and other music-rich cities. The full archive will soon be up on this site, or you can check here. Among highlights so far have been looks at new albums from Robbie Fulks, Loretta Lynn, Dierks Bentley, Todd Snider, and a Grateful Dead tribute curated by The National.

Then there were the deaths of Merle Haggard and Guy Clark.

I've continued to cover the unfolding police reform saga for The Washington Post. However a fun detour was diving deep into the unexpected partnership between "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a museum that is struggling to get off the ground. It ran a few Sundays ago in the Post, read it here.

There IS good news coming out of Chicago. His name is Toronzo Cannon.

Sunday morning I was summoned by The Washington Post to head to Kalamazoo, Mich., where a shooter went on a rampage Saturday night, killing six people. Arriving 12 hours after his arrest, I found a city in shock: Neighbors in disbelief, community members worried how their city would look in the media, and of course, memorials. There is sadness in how these events now seem to follow a certain pattern.

My first story established the facts, as much as we knew late Sunday. The second story covered the arraignment of the shooter, among other details that emerged that day. The final story talked of possible motives.

What is unnerving is how this case apparently is off-script when it comes to mass shootings: The violence was random, the shooter had no criminal record or history of mental illness and no affiliation with hate beliefs, and he surrendered quietly to authorities. The investigation will last months, so I'm sure more details will emerge then.

I'm filling in with colleague Natasha Korecki this week (2/7) in producing Illinois Playbook, the morning feature on Politico that looks at what's important that day in Illinois, Chicago, and elsewhere in the state. Subscribe for free here to to get it in your mailbox before the sun's up. 

In one week I reviewed two major tour heading through Chicago. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band brought "The River" tour here in celebration of the 35th anniversary of that double album. (Thirty-five years? It doesn't seem possible, although I was too young to buy it the first time around. Later in the week, seminal British hard rock band Black Sabbath played the second date of their year-long world tour titled "The End."

Both reviews ran in The Guardian. Read them here and here.

In other news, I appeared on WCHB radio in Detroit Tuesday, Jan. 26, to talk about the Flint water crisis and my coverage in The Washington Post. The most recent story was on escalating costs homeowners face in having to one day retrofit their home in response to nearly two years of corrosion. The story is here and to stream the interview, click here.

Since late November I have been immersed in the Chicago police scandal that continues to grow. Writing for the Washington Post on the ground from Chicago, my work started with the release of the LaQuan McDonald video by CPD, the protests that followed, the resignations, the pledges for reform, and then two subsequent videos involving the shooting of unarmed black teenagers on the South Side. Here is the latest report.

My work struck a lighter not in Detroit where I covered the boom of restaurants over the past two years! The story ran on the front of the Washington Post's dining section. Read it here.

Then there is Flint, Mich. One of the saddest stories of last, and presumably, this year, is the awful truth that people in that city have been drinking, bathing, and otherwise consuming water with incredibly high levels of lead. I went there two weeks ago to report for the Washington Post and will be returning for a follow-up. You can read that report here. It covers why this happened, the political fall-out in Lansing, and the despondency people there are feeling being hit with this scandal.

There was a bit of levity in all this work. I covered opening night of the Miley Cyrus/Flaming Lips tour for The Guardian. Read here.