Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's a Youtube New Year

Back when cameras used film, Craig and I performed a ritual every Fall. We called it:

" Two *#!+^&! Minutes a Year!"

It required the children to remain still and smiling, looking quasi-cherubic for a mere two minutes while we tried to get a Suitable Holiday Family Photo to send to friends and family.

It was a L-o-n-g Two Minutes.

Disastrous, always, it resulted in tears, accusations, many trips to the drugstore photo counter and all-around poor parenting.

With the advent of digital photography, my job became loads easier: Find a shot of each kid and create a collage -- no more fussin' and fightin'. Bliss.

This year we decided to "Go Green" -- meaning no wasteful, expensive envelopes and stamps. Just a simple recording and video montage posted on Youtube.

I'm not sure why, but every recording we did sounded like a bar full of drunks at closing time. Thankfully, there were no tears, and only a smidgen of poor parenting was involved in the final product.

Not sure that this is progress, exactly, but our New Year's Card is here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Selling Stuff/Selling Out?

What do you suppose is the biggest market for original music?

Last I heard, it was video game manufacturers. I found that bit of news depressing and, silly me, I thought things couldn't get worse.

Then along comes this excellent piece by Jon Pareles from the International Herald Tribune: The new route to musical stardom: Shilling for products on the unholy marriage of marketing and songwriting.

Are we cruising to hell in a handbasket? Should we order up cocktails and enjoy the ride? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The new route to musical stardom: Shilling for products

In the Dust

In the Dust is from our first CD, A Kiss Beneath the Sundial Bridge.

I don't write many love songs -- and when I do, I usually make Craig sing them. Pretty rotten of me, huh?

But I do like singing this song -- it's a bittersweet story about love that doesn't last for a lifetime, but shines passionately every now and then.

In the Dust

words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

Not carved in stone or etched in a golden ring
A precious and a fleeting thing
Sometimes love lasts forever
But for us
It was written In The Dust
In The Dust

You drew a heart and our names in the dust
On the window of your daddy’s truck
Back in the summer of 1985
That old Chevy didn’t run too good
But we went farther than we should
Parked up on Mullholland Drive
Young love plans -- God just grins
The Santa Ana rushes in
That summer dust was caught up
In the wind

Not carved in stone or etched in a golden ring
A precious and a fleeting thing
Sometimes love lasts forever
But for us
It was written In The Dust
In The Dust

Drifted separate ways on a gypsy wind
But it spins us together now and then
Like in Lassen, hiking up the Cinder Cone
In Times Square we watched them drop the ball
Met by chance in Montreal
Made up for lost time all night long
I turn around and you turn up
Feel that old familiar rush
Trace our good times and good byes
In The Dust

Not carved in stone or etched in a golden ring
A precious and a fleeting thing
Sometimes love lasts forever
But for us
It was written In The Dust
In The Dust

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Song Contest

The West Coast Songwriters Song Contest is accepting entries until January 31st, 2009.

Read the details at their website.

Sandra James Music Foundation Songwriting Contest

The Sandra James Music Foundation is holding a songwriting contest in 2009. Reasonable fees and a good cause.

Read the details at the website.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

One Less Mullet in Shasta County

My husband came home sans ponytail last night. Apparently, five years of dealing with tangled, curly tresses is Craig's limit.

He stopped cutting his hair when we started playing music together -- it gave him a renegade-pirate look. Or maybe it was just an old-hippie-look. But it worked for me - I think bass players should have a slightly rakish persona.

But lopping off his hair was not enough. Craig also trimmed his beard short. So now my husband, who turns 50 in a couple months, looks about 14 years old.

Joe, my smart-mouthed kid said: "It's OK, Mom. If you cut your hair and trim your beard, you'll look younger, too."


Craig: "It's alright, honey. I'll get one of those shirts with the arrow that says: 'THAT'S NOT MY MOTHER.'"

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown"

Silly pajamas. Laughter. Family and good times.
Hoping your Christmas was merry. Very.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Housewarming Recipe

Christmas company is en route. I should probably be vacuuming or dusting -- making the house look good. That's never been my strong suit, though, so I'll be busy this afternoon making the house smell good.

One of the treats on the menu this Christmas is Spiced Pumpkin Bread -- it goes together in a flash, tastes great for days and it warms the house with scents of cinnamon and cloves.

I like this recipe from Epicurious -- I add pecans and dried cranberries, too. Enjoy!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas gets Ugly in Cottonwood

Too tired to come up with yet another Festive Holiday Party Outfit?

Not a problem for us last night -- we headed over to our neighbors' house for their Annual Ugly Sweater Party.

It's a lot of fun. No getting glamoured-up, no squeezing into that slinky black dress, no holding your stomach in all night.

Everyone gets seriously into Ugly Mode:

"Mine's uglier!"

"That one's tacky, but not really ugly."

"Oh, wow. That is hideous."

We were shooting for the Ugliest Couple Prize this year -- we thought we had a chance:

We didn't even come close.

A burly man in a women's sequined Christmas sweater trumps the extra-large vomit-colored golf sweaters. The bar has been raised, and and next year we intend to win. There will be sequins.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Have Yourself a Merry Little Re-write

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is one of my favorite holiday tunes. The tune has been covered by hundreds of artists -- from John Denver to Twisted Sister. And the back story appeals to the songwriter in me.

Written by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin in 1943 for the film Meet Me in St. Louis, the original lyrics were dark, dreary -- featuring lines like:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
This may be your last

Writer Martin was asked by the producers to lighten it up a bit -- yes, the song was supposed to be sad, but not THAT sad. So he rewrote the lyrics. He re-wrote them again for Frank Sinatra in 1957, because Sinatra objected to this line:

Until then, we'll have to muddle through, somehow

So Martin replaced it with:

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough

For what it's worth, I prefer the "muddle through" line. Maybe it's working in retail at Christmastime - but that phrase seems gently and refreshingly honest.

You can read more on the back story at Entertainment Weekly. And enjoy my favorite version of the song (nobody does sad like Margaret O'brien) right here:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Respect for bass players and drummers?

Well -- that would be novel.

But according to an article in Discover magazine, a Swedish study "found that the ability to keep closely to a beat is a sign of superior intelligence." It has something to do with neural mechanisms that operate at a sub-conscious level.

Of course, it is much more fun to make jokes about bass players and drummers than it is to give them ::shudder:: respect -- so Ill send a free Sacramento River Whispers CD to the person who posts the best drummer or bass player joke.

Here's my favorite:

Did you hear about the time the bass player locked his keys in the car?

It took two hours to get the drummer out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Most annoying Christmas songs?

What's the song that makes you frantically reach to change the radio station?

For me, it's The Christmas Shoes:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Gifts

Saturday night -- Art Hop, artists reception at Old City Hall -- and Christmas Spirit all over the town.

Joe (my 12-year-old mandolin player) and I spent a couple hours working at the Fine Art Gift Boutique at Old City Hall. If you have ANY more gifts to buy, you owe it to yourself to check out the beautiful, unique creations offered at this gallery.

Scarves, handbags, prints, original artwork, CDs, pottery and all sorts of goodies. I spent a lot of time drooling over some very spectacular jewelry -- yes, I cleaned it up. But the prices are very reasonable -- and the pieces are jaw-dropping beautiful. How nice to be able to find one-of-a-kind items AND support the local arts community.

Talked with artist Andrew Jensen, who creates unique original Fish Prints.

(Logo from his website.) He also has mugs and other items for sale that would make perfect gifts for the fisherman on your list.

Then we headed over to Enjoy magazine, where artist Phil Fountain was drawing to raise money for the Good News Rescue Mission. He worked his magic with pen and paper and created a drawing of Still Married:

Great fun for a good cause.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gifts for the Songwriters on your Christmas List

Songwriters don't really need anything except inspiration, time and maybe a rhyming dictionary.

But a new book -- and a new idea -- is creating a bit of buzz in the songwriting community.

Makin' Stuff Up

My husband (bless his heart) already bought me a copy of the book for Christmas. He just doesn't know it yet.

Other ideas:

Conference seminar CDs from West Coast Songwriters
One year Taxi membership
Recording studio time
Music or voice lessons
Blank CDs
Time and peace and quiet

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Wonderful Life

We've had a couple of requests (OK - one was from Craig's mom, but it still counts) for a Still Married Christmas Album.

We're hoping to produce a CD of original and traditional holiday songs in 2009. Meanwhile, here's our one-and-only original Christmas tune, It Was a Wonderful Life. The song was inspired by my favorite Christmas film and the folks at KLXR have it on their holiday play list.

It's available as a free download on our band website this week. You can listen to it here:

It Was a Wonderful Life

words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

Last Spring I left behind a picture perfect family
Then I learned all that glitters is not gold
By September I was sorry, sad and lonely
It’s Christmas eve - I’m at the end of my rope

There’s an old movie playin’ on the TV
‘Bout a man who had it all but wanted more
He’s got Clarence – Me? I got Jim Beam
We’re both wishing we’d never been born


It was only black and white
But It Was a Wonderful Life
It used to be mine and I want it back
One more time for Auld Lange Syne
It Was a Wonderful Life
And I want it back

I want to run through the streets of our home town
Find you waitin’ there beside the Christmas tree
Bells are ringing, children singing - I see it all now
I’m home again and an angel gets his wings


Can we hit rewind – get our happy ending this time
Make this Christmas dream of mine come true?


© Erin Coombs Friedman

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Uncorked on Hilltop

Craig and I were walking over for a cup of coffee at Tobacco and Brew (one of the best coffee deals in town) and peeked in to the Uncorked Wine Bar (2155C Hilltop Dr ).

What a surprise - what a place! -- A magnificent wood crafted bar runs along one wall, and the entire interior is a feast of warm, inviting woodwork. Here's something fun -- You can watch a slide show of the bar being built at the Dreamwood website -- pretty astounding.

Here's a pic of the bar from the Dreamwood website:

The bar is BEGGING me to come back and enjoy a glass of wine. As soon as life calms down a bit, I intend to do just that. According to the Uncorked website, they offer loads of local wines a many hard-to-find vintages.

The bar is tucked into a side strip mall -- just off Hilltop, north of Industrial, between the new Tropical Tan (where Chuck E. Cheese used to be) and the Tobacco and Brew. The buildings there have been spruced up, and you'll be glad you braved the construction traffic when you set yourself down in this sexy new wine bar.

Uncorked Wine Bar

2155C Hilltop Dr, Redding, CA 96002

530.223.WINE(9463)530.223.0688 (Fax)

Here's the Uncorked website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

'tis the season

Dead tired after working a busy day in retail, I came across this sweet sentiment in Garrison Keillor's Leaving Home:

"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together, it's not individual, it's sociable."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hop - N - Shop

Enjoy the Art Hop this Saturday, December 13th AND get some of your Christmas shopping handled, when you stop by the Artists' Reception at the Holiday Fine Art and Gift Show at Old City Hall (1313 Market Street).

In addition to the Artist Reception that runs from 6-9, Garrett Viggers (amazing dulcimer player) will entertain from 4:45 - 5: 15. The Redding Idol Contest winners will be performing upstairs from 5 - 6:15.

For more on Garret Viggers, check out his web site.

For all the Art Hop details, click here.

Hope to see you there.

Ice Cream and Jam

The local Old Time Fiddlers are jamming downtown this week. They'll be bringing their fiddles, acoustic guitars, mandolins and basses to Leatherby's Ice Cream Parlor in Redding's Downtown Mall on Friday, December 12th and on Friday, December 26th, starting at 7.

Join fiddlers, and others to play old time jigs, reels, hoedowns, waltzes and tunes of choice. Beginners, intermediate and advanced players of all ages are welcome to come and learn new songs, have fun with old friends and make new ones.

The public is invited to watch, listen, tap their toes and dance. And they can load up on some delicious ice cream while enjoying the music.

Our daughter, Annie, started fiddling five years ago, and we were thrilled to discover this group of kind, caring folks -- a friendly, supportive community of musicians from age 4 to 94. Families playing together, Grandmas and Grandpas, little ones and teens, all sharing what they know, give the group a vibrancy and a richness that you don't get when you segregate activities by age.

A couple pictures from last Sunday's Fiddlers' Christmas Potluck:

For more info on the Old Time Fiddlers:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Putting Money in Music

The music business used to be controlled by a handful of major labels. Indies and the Internet have completely changed the landscape, and musicians now have the opportunity to take control of their careers and their marketing.

Singer-songwriter Tom Kimmel has found a unique way to finance his latest Cd project - his fans are putting up the money.

Cool idea -- read the story at

Sunday, December 7, 2008

He Said/She Said

He: I really don't like his voice.

She: Oh, I think it's sweet - it'll grow on you.

He: When things start growing on me, I shave them off.

To Paradise, By Way of Lake Wobegon

Craig had a job to do in Paradise last week, and I got to tag along. For the journey, I popped a couple Prairie Home Companion CDs into the player and it made for a lovely drive.

I am now ready to publicly declare: I have a crush on Garrison Keillor.

George Clooney had a nice long run as the object of my affection, but really -- chiseled features and twinkling eyes can only take you so far. I'm completely hooked on Keillor's gentle humor, keen insight, his humility and optimism.

My husband doesn't read this blog, so I don't have to worry about his opinion on the subject. A selective lack of attention to detail is one of the reasons we remain "Still Married."

Why Keillor? Yes - he has a face made for radio. But he makes me laugh, makes me believe that people are good. He's keeping radio and traditional music alive and lively.

And he's a songwriter's songwriter:

You can enjoy Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion in on KFPR (Redding: 88.9, Chico 91.7) at 6 on Saturday night and 11 AM Sunday morning.

Read more and listen to snippets from the show at the Prairie Home Companion website.

And if you develop a craving for Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie and an inexplicable infatuation with Mr. Keillor, it's perfectly understandable. What's not to love?

Friday, December 5, 2008

For the bluegrass fan on your Christmas list

The perfect gift: Rita Hosking's CD: Silver Stream.

We bought it last night at the show at Bernie's - and what an amazing show it was. Hosking's lyrics are incredibly detailed and visual, her melodies move in familiar yet interesting ways. And her voice - clear, pure and honest -- brings the whole thing together in true folk-singer style.

She tells stories in her songs that speak on so many levels. I judge songwriters on their ability to give me goosebumps - and she delivered.

Surely you know a bluegrass fan who deserves some new music this Christmas. You can listen to the songs, and buy her CDs at Cdbaby. CDbaby makes it easy -- and the artist gets to keep a good chunk of the sales price - so it's a good deal all around. Rita Hosking on Cdbaby.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

The freezer is cleared out in preparation for my annual holiday ritual: The Stockpiling of the Cookie Dough.

I make about 70 pounds of this shortbread dough in December -- we give away most of the cookies - to customers, friends, roving bands of neighborhood teens. It's my favorite holiday recipe because it's SO simple and still so amazingly good.

You can roll the dough out, cut out fancy shapes. You can decorate them or drizzle them with melted chocolate. But I prefer them plain, naked -- pure, simple perfection.

I started with a recipe from Jeremiah Tower -- but I added vanilla to it and played with the baking time, so I consider it mine, now.

Feel free to consider it yours:

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

1 pound butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour. Form dough into logs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour. (Logs can be frozen.) Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Slice dough and place slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for thirty minutes.

The cookies should be pale, not browned - so keep an eye on them, as oven temperatures vary.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cascade Kudos

The kids and I saw A Cascade Christmas on Wednesday morning. We had front-row seats at the second show that day with the Redding HomeSchool Network and 900 schoolkids.

The entire cast had already danced and sung for an hour and a half. All I could think was: "They have to do the show TWICE in the course of 3 hours??!! You'd have to scrape me up off the floor!"

But James Santos and The Dance Project company delivered a spectacular show -- as always. The entire cast gave 100% -- their energy never seemed to falter or ebb. The production is great fun and the costumes are a feast for the eyes.

Cindy Sumsion is the costume designer for the Dance Project and she has done a spectacular job creating Victorian dresses, 40's-style chiffon numbers in ice cream colors, and a whole host of eye-catching ensembles.

In addition to being brilliant with costumes, Sumsion has many fans in the cast -- the December issue of Enjoy Magazine features a profile of this remarkable lady. It's good reading that sheds some light on just how The Dance Project pulls off such professional, lively productions year after year.

A Cascade Christmas runs through Saturday night - what a lovely way to kick-off the Christmas Season. Tickets available at the Cascade Website.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Free: A Stupid Woman

The conversation went something like this:

Ex-husband: "Hey -- I'm filling out the questionnaire for What do you think I should put for down for the kind of woman I want?"

Ex-wife: "You should probably check the box that says: I'm looking for A Stupid Woman."

Just in time for the holidays. A Stupid Woman is available as a free download on our website. It makes a lovely gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone on your Christmas list.

And you can listen to it here:

A Stupid Woman
words and music © Erin Friedman

I tried to overlook your faults
I tried to make this work
Some guys are worth the trouble they cause
And sometimes a jerk is just a jerk
I’ll resurrect an old cliche
“It’s not you, it’s me”
We’re incompatible as night and day
Cuz I’m not the kind of woman you need


What you need is A Stupid Woman
High heels and a low IQ
Nobody but A Stupid Woman
Would put up with the likes of you
A buxom doll with legs up to here
Nothin’ at all between the ears
Dumber than dirt and eager to please
A Stupid Woman is what you need

Your lame jokes will be just her speed
Drone on - she won't care
Your dream girl comes complete
With open arms and a vacant stare
It’s easy to fool a bulb that dim
She’ll fall for all your lines
“Business meetings last til 2 AM”
“Sixty seconds is a good long time.”

I’ll step aside, you be my gift
To the world’s brainless twits
The Bimbo Brigade is welcome to you
Dumb bunnies need love, too

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shopping Local

"Buy local" -- it's one of my mantras this holiday season. (My other mantra is: "Stop eating," but I'm not having as much success with that one.)

I like the idea of keeping dollars here in our community and supporting local artists and businesses.

It's easy to do, thanks to the Shasta County Arts Council (SCAC) Holiday Fine Art and Gift Show. The gift boutique is in the Old City Hall Center for the Arts, and you'll find artwork, jewelry, music and more.

Most of the purchase price goes directly to the artist. A portion of the money is retained by the Arts Council -- an organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the local Arts Community. The folks at the Shasta Arts Council are a tireless, dedicated group - and our community is more vibrant than ever, thanks to the work they do.

Check the SCAC web page for hours.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Tree Bargain

The true spirit of the season: Getting a great deal on a Christmas Tree.

We bought a beautiful 8-foot Silver Tip Tree for less than $45 at Tom's Tree lot -- in Anderson, on North St, between Highway 5 and Stingy Ln. Located next to North Street Espresso at 2780 North St, Anderson.

We've poured champagne, we're listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas Cd on the stereo -- and we're decorating the tree. Well - some of us are decorating -- and some of us are playing Texas Hold 'em.

Not exactly Norman Rockwell, but probably as close as we can hope to get.

Eleven months out of the year, our owl, Drosselmeyer, sits in our entry hall. During December, he watches over the festivities from the top of our Christmas Tree:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Best Gig Ever

It is:
Ringing a bell for the Salvation Army.

Annie, Joe and I spent two hours singing in front of Walmart last year. If you'd like to salvage some solace in the hustle and bustle of Christmas commercialism, this is a humbling way to do so.

We sing and people drop money in the bucket. Maybe if we kept quiet, they would contribute more..... But we REALLY like to sing. It's a blessed two hours -- we spend it being utterly and completely grateful.

Call 222-2207 to schedule a shift.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Shalom. Peace.

Songwriting in Big Sur

A few months ago, Craig and I enjoyed a show at Bernie's -- Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen. Gillette and Mangsen are songwriters of the storytelling, folk tradition - Steve wrote "Darcy Farrow" and a host of other clever, insightful songs.

They're organizing a weekend Songwriting Workshop in Big Sur next March. The price is very reasonable ($125) and the setting couldn't be lovelier. The details are available on their website

Songwriters who are generous with their time and talent -- now THAT'S something to be thankful for.

Here's Darcy Farrow:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Local Gal Makes Good

Last Sunday morning, Max needed a ride into town. In a rare moment of perfect cosmic timing, the drive coincided precisely with Rita Hosking's appearance on KPIG's Please Stand By live music show.

What a treat! Hosking is a superb songwriter - she won the prestigious Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest this year in Sisters, Ore, and the lady has a voice that delivers with amazing style and heart.

She sang a few of her songs, talked about growing up in Shasta County and her upcoming appearance at Bernie's (3086 Bechelli Ln) on December 5th. I'm looking forward to enjoying her tunes in this intimate venue.

More on Rita Hosking at her website. Buy tickets for the show at Bernie's or at the Oaksong Society web page.

Here's Cool Black Water -- from her Silver Stream CD:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kinky Reading

Craig and I rarely read the same books - his tastes run toward crime drama - Carl Hiassen, Robin Cook; I prefer biography, adventure travel and whatever is new from David Sedaris. Lately, though, we've both been in the mood to laugh -- so we've been doing some Kinky Friedman swapping.

No - not THAT kind of swapping. Book swapping.

Kinky Friedman is a novelist, musician, former Texas gubernatorial candidate, a cowboy, and a first-rate storyteller.

He's stayed in the White House, traveled with Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Bob Dylan, worked for the Peace Corps in Borneo. His band, "Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys," have had some pretty wild, irreverent tunes on their playlist, including "They're Not Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore."

If you're looking for some diversion from the dire economic news, I highly recommend grabbing a Kinky Friedman book - and a cigar, if that's your pleasure - and spend some time laughing with the Last Jewish Cowboy.

From Texas Hold 'Em:

"Through it all, the Jewboys believed that the purpose of art is not merely to reflect a culture but to subvert it. We also believed, just as passionately, that some things are too important to be taken seriously."

Many of his books are available at the Redding Library -- and more of them WILL be available, when Craig and I are done swapping.
Good stuff at the Kinky Friedman website.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Shadow of Shasta

When I travel home from trips down south, I always look forward to the moment Mount Shasta comes into view. It gives me something to focus on, and reminds me that I'm heading in the right direction.

I often write songs while driving -- and The Shadow of Shasta got started while I was cruising north on Highway 5, after some time away.

It's available as a free download this week on our Still Married website.

You can listen to it here:

The Shadow of Shasta
words and music by Erin Friedman

Highway 89
Left The Shadow of Shasta behind
Had a wild streak a mile wide
And the kind of pride
That goes before a fall
Playin’ fast and loose
Left me battered – left me bruised
Pourin’ whiskey on my wounds
When I hit the wall

I’m northward bound -- a hundred miles south of Shasta
Prayers on my mind - Hands on the wheel
If I kneel down In The Shadow of Shasta
Will I rise
Will I fall
Will I heal?

Rough road ahead
Round this mountain of regret
Climbed in from the window ledge
And yet
I’m hangin’ in mid-air
Fire burns below
Cathedral crowned in snow
Beacon to a long-lost soul
Who hopes for tender mercy there

I’m northward bound -- a hundred miles south of Shasta
Prayers on my mind - Hands on the wheel
If I kneel down In The Shadow of Shasta
Will I rise
Will I fall
Will I heal?

It’s a long road
From sorry to Mc Cloud
Where shadows are falling
On sacred stones - sacred ground

I’m northward bound -- a hundred miles south of Shasta
Prayers on my mind - Hands on the wheel
If I kneel down In The Shadow of Shasta
Will I rise
Will I fall
Will I heal?

© Erin Coombs Friedman

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Woof! Woof! - Calling Michael Gaither Fans

Michael Gaither is a Bay Area singer-songwriter - he played at the Post Office a couple months ago with Jim Dyar and they drew a huge crowd. Local folks seemed to really enjoy his down home-style tunes.

Michael's latest CD, Dogspeed, will be released shortly, and he's holding a contest at his website.

Here's the scoop:

"Dogspeed Photo Contest

The "Dogspeed" CD is realistically a month away - I'm listening to the final mix as we speak- and I should have boxes of the things laying around the house sometime in the next few weeks. Since dog people just LOVE showing off their dogs, I thought I'd give you a chance to win a free copy of the record. The rules? Easy. Send me a picture of your dog that I can post on my gallery page. I'll make a list of names and do a random drawing sometime next month."

So send him your pooch pics - michael at michaelgaither dot com -- and visit his website, where you'll enjoy some nice tunes from a very talented songwriter.

Here's our Maggie, adopted from Haven Humane 10 years ago:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pics: Little Filly's CD Release Party

Little Filly's in Palo Cedro serves up some terrific pizza - and a nice selection of beers on tap. Every Saturday evening, they feature live music.

We had a grand time at the venue a few weeks ago -- it was the perfect spot for our CD release party. Our kids and their friends enjoyed it too. And when our Roadies are happy, we're happy.

One of my favorite people, Samantha Jepsen, took these shots at Little Filly's last month.

When our girl, Annie, joins us on fiddle, we feel especially lucky.

What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin?

You don't spill beer on a violin.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday night -- Diana Wallis at Downtown Eatery and Libations

Friday, November 14, 7-10

Enjoy live music from Cottonwood singer-songwriter Diana Wallis. Diana is sure to bring a smile to your face with her engaging style, original tunes and well-chosen cover songs.

Check out Diana's myspace and give listen -- then come out and enjoy the good eats at Redding's newest hot spot.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reminds Me of You

"Reminds Me of You" is a song that was seriously fun to write and always fun to perform for an audience.

Dedications, anyone?

Reminds Me of You

--- words and music by Erin Friedman

Stuck in traffic, suckin’ up fumes
Turn on the TV – there’s nothin but bad news
Big wad of chewing gum stuck to my shoes
Reminds Me of You - Reminds Me of You

The pain in my head from a cheap Chardonnay
Debris in the street from the rodeo parade
Shaving my legs with a dull razor blade
Reminds Me of You -- Reminds Me of You

It’s not the sentimental things
Keep me from forgettin' you
It’s things that stink
Things that slink
Leave an ugly residue

The scum that I scrub from my shower floor
The spider that crawls in under the door
A shiny red apple bad to the core
Reminds Me of You -- Reminds Me of You

A screaming brat, stomping his feet
Cream in my coffee that expired last week
Ooze on the ground where the septic tank leaked
Reminds Me of You -- Reminds Me of You

It’s not the sentimental things
Keep me from forgettin' you
It’s things that stink
Things that slink
Leave an ugly residue

The smell of the breeze by the stockyard in June
A festering toothache, a hot-air balloon
Road kill remains of a mangy raccoon
Reminds Me of You -- Reminds Me of You

© Erin Coombs Friedman
Free downloads of Reminds Me of You are available here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Joan Baez: Happy at last

Today's music industry spits out so-called stars and a rapid clip. How nice to have some of the the old favorites to turn to. Joan Baez is celebrating 50 years as an entertainer with a new CD, Day After Tomorrow.

She reflects on her career in this CNN story:

Legendary singer says she's finally happy

Joan Baez website

Hear some of the new songs on her myspace site.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The morning after

In local election news, I'm happy to see that Missy McArthur will be taking a seat on Redding's City Council. It looks like Philbert, though, may have to make-do with recliner from the Salvation Army.

But mostly, I'm glad it's over. Hope the signs come down and people can come together.

President-elect Barack Obama brilliantly quoted Lincoln last night:

"We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection."

Political reporter Joe Klein does a masterful job of summing up Barack Obama's historic victory at

Monday, November 3, 2008

Kitchen Schooling

As far as I'm concerned, there is no better way to spend a gloomy Monday than at home with the kids. We're baking some holiday gifts to tuck into the freezer today -- and Joe keeps me entertained with his guitar.

Helpful hint: If you've recently hosted a Halloween sleepover for a gang of teenage boys, do check the oven for pizza remnants before preheating. Or you can wait for the smoke detector to give you the heads-up.

If you're looking for a new recipe for the holidays, the Double Chocolate Walnut biscotti from Epicurious is yummy and well worth the effort.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wise Words

This American Idol era has changed the dynamic of performing. It's created a slew of artists whose sole qualifications are that they can dazzle an audience. Longevity, depth, conviction, honest communication? Not on the menu this week.

I grew up listening to The Weavers, and I still love to sing the old songs they shared with such passion. How refreshing to read an interview with folk music legend Pete Seeger in this month's Performing Songwriter magazine. The man is still going strong at 89 -- and wise, indeed.

His advice to young people:

"Sing for as many different kinds of audiences as you possibly can. Old people, young people, angry people, sentimental people, religious people, anti-religious people, lefties, righties, and in-betweenies. Sing for them, and you will learn from all of them."

The first part of the interview is available here. For the rest of it, I'd be happy to share my copy of the magazine with anyone who would like it.

Here's a clip from The Weaver's reunion at Carnegie Hall:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Musical Gifts

Yeah -- I needed another reason to stick close to my computer. Thanks to my friend Molly, I'm now hooked on the Internet radio site

Maybe everybody has already discovered this cool music delivery option? It certainly wouldn't be the first time that I was the last to know.

With Pandora, you plug in an artist, a style, a song, and create a radio station that plays on your computer. It "learns" about your musical tastes based on some very complicated analysis of the songs you like. The folks at Pandora have created what they call a "Music Genome."

From their web site:

"Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like. "

Pandora uses your preferences to introduce you to artists that fit your profile -- I'm finding artists I really enjoy listening to that I'd never heard of (Brandi Carlile, Cactus Choir) and rediscovering artists that I'd forgotten about (Kate Wolf, David Mallett).

Waiting for the next song is a little bit like opening a Christmas gift - it'll be a surprise and I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it.

Check it out here:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Skyscapes


Not my favorite day of the week -- especially after a lovely, relaxing weekend with the family.

But a day that starts like this:

and ends like this:

is -- for a Monday -- not bad at all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Songwriter's Dreams

When busker Steven Bacon saw the movie "Once" about an Irish street musician, he was inspired and energized. The movie, starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, was a low-budget success that won an Oscar for best song.

Bacon's own story deserves a prize of some sort. Here's the Boston Globe article about what happened to Bacon, when the stars of Once played a concert in his town:

For this street musician, dreams are taking flight

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Danny Dill: Co-wrote Long Black Veil

I used to listen to the Joan Baez version of Long Black Veil on my Dad's old reel-to-reel tape recorder. It's still one of our favorite songs to sing here at home and an example of truly masterful songwriting.

Danny Dill died on Thursday at the age of 84 . He co-wrote the song with Marijohn Wilkin, who passed away in 2006.

Just found this version, with Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchel providing splendid harmony:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Insectica Prophetica

Yesterday, while on my afternoon walk, I watched two dragonflies mating in mid-air.

The two of them were securely attached together, flitting, soaring, dipping and diving. The couple looked to be thoroughly enjoying their afternoon dalliance -- though I may have been projecting just a bit.

"Wow," I thought, "that's a cool trick."

The two of them circled up then spiraled down and


They were both taken out by the grill of a passing mini-van.

And isn't that just the way it goes?

One moment you're enjoying a bit of blissful ecstasy, the next moment you're eternally bonded to a mini-van.

Oh, yes, there's a song there.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

People of Progress: Chuck McCabe

Chuck McCabe is an award-winning songwriter, a delightful entertainer and an amazingly talented musician. His new CD, Creatures of Habit, even features a song that locals can appreciate: "I'd Rather be in Redding." He has a humorous way of looking at the world and his lyrics tell stories that will stay with you.

Chuck is coming all the way from the Bay Area to play a couple gigs this week.

The first is a fundraiser on Thursday evening for People of Progress
Tel: 530-243-3811
Please call for times and ticket availability.

Chuck will be joined by Rolfe Wyer and the two of them will entertain on Friday night at the North Star Brewery:

3501 Iron Ct.,
Shasta Lake, CA 96019
530-275-BREW (2739)

Listen to Chuck's music at CD Baby - then come on out and enjoy the shows.

Rosin in Red Bluff

It's Fiddle Week in Red Bluff -- the Western Open Fiddle Contest starts with an old-fashioned Country Dance on Thursday (Oct 23) evening, and the contest gets underway Friday morning. The strains of old-time fiddle music will be heard until Saturday night.

The Western Open is a real celebration of music, tradition, family and friends. The musicians are some of the best in the country and the atmosphere is joyful.

Annie's not competing this year, but in the past Sweet Georgia Brown was her contest round Tune of Choice.

Here's a killer jazz version, performed by legendary Joe Venuti, to get you in the proper mood:

For details on the Western Open: click here. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Celtic Harp - coming to Redding

I didn't get to see the Natalie MacMaster concert the other night, but while waiting for my kids to come out of the Cascade, I ran into friends. They were passing out fliers for an upcoming concert, presented by the Greater Redding Chapter of the American Harp Society and the Shasta Celtic Society:

Masters of the Celtic Harp: Two sides of Celtic
Grainne Hambly & William Jackson
Saturday, November 1st, 7 PM
at the Pilgrim Congregational Church

Music in that beautiful building is, indeed, heavenly.

Tickets are available at Bernies, Mike's Music and Sound, LiVolsi Chiropractic. Call 230-7729 for more info.

Pretty stuff, indeed. Enjoy this youtube video:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Music is where you find it

Waiting for Winco pizza with my music-major daughter.

The store was crowded -- bustling shoppers hurried to get out with their groceries and their noisy kids. My 19-year-old daughter was staring into space, listening intently to the cash register/scanner beeps.

I didn't even notice it, but there it was. Over the din (or under it, maybe?) she heard tri-tones, intervals, dissonance. Listening closely, we could even pick out pieces of songs. The first line of Happy Birthday. Was that William Tell?

Learning to hear music where others don't.

It's not exactly the reason we're sending her to college - but not a bad pay-off, really.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bargain Bonanza: Anderson

Thrift Store shopping -- just about the only shopping I really enjoy. It's also an activity that all three kids will enthusiastically join me in.

Yesterday, my 12-year-old son and I discovered a Thrift Store mecca in Anderson.

Joe - who likes to be "stylin'" (NOT a trait he inherited from his parents) -- picked up a perfectly-fitting suit for $1. I found dress shoes for my daughter for 50 cents.

We ran out of time, but we could have spent hours on this block in Anderson -- several stores, with a huge variety of goodies. Nice folks in charge, too.

These shops are conveniently located in a two-block stretch, on East Center Street in Anderson, between South and North Streets.

Etc -- Frontier Senior Center Thrift Store
Memory Lane Collectibles
His Thrift Shop
Margot's Trading Post
Beverly Hills Junk

Just across North Street is the Salvation Army Store

Also in Anderson, at Gateway and Balls Ferry:

The Clothing Exchange
Sacred Heart Thrift Store

Just up the road on 273 at Hill St:
Junk and Treasures

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Serendipity and God and Mr. Gomez

I was killing time at the Anderson library when I stumbled on a treasure on The Friends of the Library bookshelf:

A copy of Jack Smith's God and Mr. Gomez for a $1.

Jack Smith was an LA Times newspaper columnist - I grew up enjoying his keen observations and genial way with words. In God and Mr. Gomez, Smith recounts the construction of his vacation home in Baja, California.

Mr. Gomez is the land-owner, contractor, musician and philosopher who educates Smith on the finer points of Mexican life. The construction is full of ups and downs and confusion, and when Smith began to worry about amenities in this remote area, he asked Gomez where the the water in the well comes from.

"The water," said Gomez, "it comes from God."

Smith's charming descriptions of the area and its people piqued my curiosity, so I did some Googling, hoping to find pictures of the landscape.

I hit the jackpot with Dale Ploung's website.

Ploung was also enthralled with God and Mr. Gomez. While I'm quite content to travel via Google, Mr. Ploung is an actual adventurer -- he took a motorcycle journey to Baja to find the house and documented the trip on on his website.

Love this technological age we're living in.

The direct link to Jack's House doesn't work - But you can click here and then click the "2001 Baja Houses" button.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eat, Pray, Think

Elizabeth Gilbert - author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Last American Man -- discusses the presidential election and her relationship with her father in this week's TIME magazine.

An excerpt:

"Good Lord, how much simpler it is to dismiss your political foes when you don't know them personally! Knowing my father as I do, I'm forced to acknowledge that his political views come to him from an honest and thoughtful place, as do all of his most cherished beliefs."

What's this? Recognizing and accepting our differences?

How very refreshing.

Read the entire, lovely piece here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's a Small (and sometimes harsh) World

A friend, D, is in town, visiting from Bali. He stopped by Wrap-N-Pack this morning -- this is the email from Craig:

"He bought a new CD and mentioned he had been in Italy visiting on a house swap. Looking at the guy's music collection, D pulled "A Kiss Beneath the Sundial Bridge" (our first CD) off the shelf.

When D asked him about it, he said, "Still Married is very popular in his town among the singer-songwriter set."

"For a price," D told him, " I could probably get that autographed."

The gentleman replied, "They're not that popular."

Don't know how that CD made it to Italy, but the story made me smile.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Out of the Ashes

These days, there are lots of reasons to sink into A Funk --

The bleak economic outlook, the juvenile sniping that passes for political discourse, the return of the fashion disaster known as the "smock top." Oy.

And In a Funk is where I was on Thursday, when I set out for a walk by the river.

But it couldn't last, because out there on the riverside, which just a few weeks ago was burned to a crisp, everywhere I turned I saw signs of new life, new hope: Fresh green, growing sprouts emerging from the ashes, doing their damnedest to heal the blackened landscape and revive the dark, dreary scenery.

The river sparkled in the sun. Tourists smiled and posed, snapped their souvenir shots.

The Funk surrendered, having been soundly battered by the prevailing theme out on The River:

"Life is good - healing happens."

The pictures are, mostly, from the river trail and surrounding areas.
The song is "I Never Knew I Could Fly." Free download available here.

I Never Knew I Could Fly
© Erin Coombs Friedman
Saw my whole world fall apart in slow motion
The tragedy unfolded frame by frame
Before and after severed in a moment
When the ground beneath my feet fell away

I tumbled in a free fall without warnin
Terrified until I realized
I was no longer fallin’ -- I was soarin
I Never Knew I Could Fly ‘til I tried

A fall from grace – A leap of faith
I Never Knew I Could Fly ‘til I tried
Til I was fallin’ desperately
I never knew I had wings
I Never Knew I Could Fly ‘til I tried

I found hope in a hopeless cry of sorrow
An upliftin’ wind in a dark cloud of despair
From here on high, I see a bright tomorrow
If it’s an angel that you need, I’ll be there

Friday, October 10, 2008

October: Daniel Pearl World Music Days

Now here's a brilliant idea -- concerts dedicated to promoting "Harmony for Humanity."

"An international network of concerts using the power of music to reaffirm our commitment to tolerance and humanity"

Daniel Pearl, a musician and journalist, was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002. His family and friends created The Daniel Pearl Foundation "to carry on his legacy, using music and words to address the root causes of the hatred that took his life."

The foundation's mission is "to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music, and innovative communications. "

The concerts take place all over the world, across all musical genres. It's not a fundraiser, it's a "hope raiser." The event began in 2002, with 117 concerts in 18 countries. By 2007, Daniel Pearl World Music Days were celebrated with 537 concerts in 42 countries. That's a lot of hope.

To learn more or to participate, click here for details.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Martha and Me

I don't buy Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I don't need a monthly 240-page reminder of my inadequacies as a cook/decorator/middle-aged woman.

But when the magazine, quite by accident, falls into my lap, I do devour it -- for the recipes, the exquisite photography and design. I believe I may have even drooled on the Butternut Squash Lasagna page of the October issue.

And while I understand that Martha-lovers place the woman on a pedestal and hang on her every word, a question in this month's "Ask Martha" column left me shaking my head:

"What's the best way to deal with a bat that has found its way indoors?"

You've got a possibly rabid, many-toothed creature careening wildly around your living room and you're thinking: "What would Martha do?" Really?

To Martha's credit, she did not advise stuffing the critter with foie gras and serving it on a bed of arugula. But just the same, I'd direct bat questions to a wildlife expert and consult with Martha when I needed to get guano stains out the satin draperies.

But the the woman knows her stuff when it comes to food. The Butternut Squash Lasagna? It was to die for.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Co-writing with Woody Guthrie

Now there's a peach of an assignment for a songwriter.

Jonatha Brooke got to do just that - the lucky dog -- and the result is a new album called "The Works." Details are at her website, and she talks about the experience in this month's Performing Songwriter Magazine.

Right here in Redding, we may not get to co-write with an icon, but we do have the opportunity to enjoy a talk and presentation on Woody Guthrie and the American Folk Song at the Redding Library, Thursday, October 9th
5:30pm to 7:00pm

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Enjoy the photos and the music

One of the perks of spending more than a decade in this homeschooling community is watching the many different ways that kids take their interests, hobbies and passions and run with them.

I met Wyatt Olson at a homeschool picnic several years ago, where he impressed me as a smart, personable kid.

Fast forward a few years.

Wyatt, now a student at the University of Portland, is just as smart and personable as ever, and he's also an accomplished photographer, musician and songwriter.

He's a featured artist at the upcoming October 11th ArtHop. You can enjoy Wyatt's photos and listen to him play original tunes along with veteran singer-songwriter Nick Ciampi at the the Enjoy magazine headquarters from 6-9 this Saturday.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Put on your Happy Feet

I love multi-generational activities - watching older folks and teens learning together, helping each other. It seems like such a normal, natural way to gain knowledge and skill.

And I REALLY love it when all three of my kids want to be in the same place at the same time.

The place is Old City Hall -- Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, when Ron and Faith Lane offer ballroom dance classes. Last night the kids worked on East Coast Swing and they can't wait to go back next week.

The classes are a great bargain - $5 a dancer - and the environment is warm, fun and caring. It would be a great date night for a couple and a wonderful way to meet interesting, active people of all ages.

For more info -- Dance Classes at Old City Hall

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On the Wild Side

That's where you will find us this Saturday, October 4th, where we'll be kicking up our heels at the Cottonwood Wild West Art and Wine Festival.

Come out to downtown Cottonwood and enjoy wine, art, historic encampments, good food and Western entertainment. We'll be on stage at 1:15.

We'll pull out all the cowboy songs for this event and, of course, Shut Up, which has become an audience favorite.

In the Happy Place where I live, I consider the song's popularity to be "good news" and not a "sad commentary." Here's the Shut Up video.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tri-tip-atarians: Come on down... the Tehama District Fair!

Craig and Annie and I will be helping to serve up Tex's famous marinated Tri-tip -- raising money for the Western Open Fiddle Contest coming up on October 24th-25th.

So strap on a feedbag for the fiddlers! It's a good cause, supporting the North State's rich musical heritage.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fabulous Fashion Find

Maybe I'm the last one in Shasta County to discover this gem of a store, but the boys and I had a blast at this place on Friday:

Retro Rampage
2480 Athens Ave - near Cypress.

I could have spent the whole day there - the place is packed with fun and funky vintage clothing and groovy accesories -- all reasonably priced.

We'll be back.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The answer is: "To make us feel OLD"

The question: "Why do we have children?"

My kids' homeschool drama group is rehearsing "Our Town" -- so I quickly put it on our Netflix queue.

"We'll watch both of them," I said, "the William Holden film and the live version with Paul Newman."

Annie (age 19): Paul Newman was an actor?

Joe (age 12): NO WAY! The Salad Dressing Dude? Really?

Mom (age nevermind) :::deep sigh, tinged with a melancholy disbelief:::

The list of movies now in our queue: Hud, Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler and The Young Philadelphians.

Little Filly's Pizza and Party

Like great pizza?

Little Filly's in Palo Cedro (22047 Palo Way) serves up some of the best -- the garlic crust is my favorite - and they've got a terrific selection of beers on tap.

Craig and I will be there on Saturday night, celebrating the release of our Sacramento River Whispers CD, starting at 7 PM. We have a few giveaways and a whole bunch of tunes -- old and new -- that we're looking forward to sharing.

We'd love to see you there - all are welcome. Even City Council Candidates.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Christmas in September?

If the City of Redding can celebrate the Fourth of July in October, we can give away a Christmas song in September.

The song was inspired by the Frank Capra classic, It's a Wonderful Life, the sappy but sweet movie that we've watched countless times. We've committed most of the dialogue to memory - and snippets of it have become part of our family shtick.

"Yeah - well one of us is goin' to jail, and it's not goin' to be me!"

My aunt Carol Coombs played little Janie Bailey, the piano-playing gal who banged out Hark, the Herald Angels Sing "over and over and OVER!!!" --'til Jimmy Stewart just about went over the edge. That sort of thing happens at our house, too.

The kind folks over at KLXR AM 1230 added this song to their Christmas playlist for the past couple of years. It's yours to download for free, this week on our website.

It Was a Wonderful Life

words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

Last Spring I left behind a picture perfect family
Then I learned all that glitters is not gold
By September I was sorry, sad and lonely
It’s Christmas Eve - I’m at the end of my rope

There’s an old movie playin’ on the TV
‘Bout a man who had it all but wanted more
He’s got Clarence – Me? I got Jim Beam
We’re both wishing we’d never been born

It was only black and white
But It Was a Wonderful Life
It used to be mine and I want it back
One more time for Auld Lange Syne
It Was a Wonderful Life
And I want it back

I want to run through the streets of our home town
Find you waitin’ there beside the Christmas tree
Bells are ringing, children singing - I see it all now
I’m home again and an angel gets his wings

Can we hit rewind – get our happy ending this time?

Make this Christmas dream of mine come true

Friday, September 19, 2008

100 years later...

...brilliant writing is still brilliant.

Daughter Annie recommended Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat" as our next read-aloud. I had my doubts about a book first published in 1889 -- not sure it was quite what we were looking for after a satisfying diet of Harry Potter and Alex Rider. But she promised us we'd love it, and she's usually spot-on about what the boys and I will enjoy.

Funny, irreverent, sarcastic -- filled with dry, British wit. I find myself marking passages to read to Craig, like this gem:

"Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone who loves you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing."

You can read more about the man and his stories at the Jerome K. Jerome Society web page - and if you like to laugh, take a trip with Three Men in a Boat.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

900,000 pounds of trash

No - it's not a commentary on election year mud-slinging.

It's the amount of debris picked up by volunteers during last year's Coastal Clean-Up event.

The fearless leader of the Redding chapter of Roots and Shoots, Karen Scheuermann, is seeking volunteers to pick up trash and recyclables at Whiskeytown beaches this Saturday, September 20th, from 9 until noon. Show up at the Whiskeytown Visitor's Center at 9 AM for assignments - all are welcome.

Our beautiful Whiskeytown Park has had a rough summer - here's a chance to help her.

We're giving away free downloads of The Lost Falls of Whiskeytown this week in honor of this volunteer event.

Here's 'tis:

The Lost Falls of Whiskeytown

music and lyrics:© Erin Coombs Friedman

Our morning coffee comes with heavy silence
In the nighttime we find refuge in our dreams
Like some mid-life cliché
We sleepwalk through the day
While the love of a lifetime slips away

They finally found
The Lost Falls of Whiskeytown
They found crystal caverns
Buried deep beneath the ground
A fortune in gold
In a mountain of stone
Surely we can find the love we lost
Right here at home

I used to find an open invitation
In your eyes and in your tender touch
Like a postcard from a lonely place
You’re so far away these days
And I’m trying to find a reason I should stay

Too much to lose –- too much at stake
I’ll find my way back to you –
Whatever it takes

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Why read the fine print?

Because you may discover that the citrus cologne that you got such a great deal on is actually room freshener.

And yes - I've been using it for a week. Reminding people, I'm sure, of a grapefruit-scented hotel washroom.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rita Hosking: WINNER!

Rita Hosking -- singer-songwriter who hails from Eastern Shasta County -- has won the prestigious Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest at the Sisters Folk Festival in Oregon.

Congratulations and a great big "YAHOO!!" from Cottonwood.

Read more and listen to this talented lady at the Rita Hosking website.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Six random things about me because Philbert's afraid of ThomG.

Philbert tagged me with this one:

Post the rules on your blog

Write 6 random things about yourself

Tag 6 people at the end of your post

If you’re tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag…

1. I very rarely cry, but the last scene of It's a Wonderful Life gets me every single time.

2. My favorite breakfast food is leftover pizza.

3. I can uncork a bottle of wine with a towel and a tree.

4. I don't know how to turn our television on. It involves three remotes, a complicated sequence of button-pushing and - I think - a secret Hebrew chant. It's not a problem because I've never wanted to watch the thing when I'm alone in the house.

5. I think being mauled by a grizzly bear would be a good way to die.

I won't be tagging anyone, because my "allergy to authority" has left me unable to follow directions and

#6 I was a computer science major at one time and know something about geometric progressions, and I think this riff will play itself out momentarily.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Irish Roots

According to family legend, when my Great-great-grandfather, George Convy, emigrated from Tullamore, Ireland in 1866, he brought a chunk of sod from his homeland to St Louis, MO. He kept it stored away, but when he was feeling particularly homesick and melancholy, he would take it out and cry over it.

I don't know how true it is, but the story tugged at my heart.

These days, my CD player has been spinning a variety of Irish music - sweet folk ballads, drinking songs and traditional fiddle tunes. I wanted to honor that bit of my family's history with a new, old Irish song:

The Turf o' Tullamore

words and music © Erin Friedman

Into the West – land of the free
In freedom will I e’er a stranger be
So up the stairs I climb
Open up the trunk and find
The piece of home I carried ‘cross the sea

Weeping o’er The Turf o’ Tullamore
Exiles both – the Irish sod and I
The Turf o’ Tullamore
Will know my bones forevermore
Sweeten my grave when I
Lay down to die

For my sons I made a pledge
They’ll not beg The Crown for daily bread
There’s days I understand
The promise in this promised land
And days I fill my glass with my regrets

When I take my final rest
Lay The Turf o’ Tullamore upon my breast
And it’s sweet - the dream I’ll dream
Home to Erin’s fields of green
By the Shannon’s holy waters, I’ll be blessed

Monday, September 1, 2008

Name That Tune

Singing harmony -- or attempting to sing harmony -- is a family tradition that we've only recently attempted to revive. How successful will the resuscitation be? That remains to be seen, or - rather - heard.

Our goal is a performance at the Western Open Fiddle Championship in October. We've never placed in the highly-competitive (but very fun) Jukebox division -- but we are giving it our best shot this year. The competition is meant to feature songs from the Jukebox Era of American music, performed acoustically -- the campier, the better.
Annie -- the Shasta College music major -- is in charge of assigning parts and keeping us on track. We call her the "Harmony Nazi."

Craig, trooper that he is, is putting on his best lead-vocalist-falsetto voice.

I'm trying to blend with tenor Joe, and not dominate. "You're singing back-up, Mom -- tone it down."

Max will be a dancing animal.

There's a free, Hot-Off-the-Presses Sacramento River Whispers CD for the first person to tell me what song we're rehearsing.
Here are the clues:

The song was written in 1939, and the songwriter's heirs only recently were able to recover royalty payments. It was a pop hit in the 50s and early 60s, and a big hit for a band with a 14-year-old lead singer. The song has been covered by 150 different artists, including: The Weavers and REM.

Email me with your guess: erin at stillmarried dot net - or leave a comment.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Reuse, Recycle, Renew....Rewrite?

I believe in do-overs. Second chances. Making something new from something old -- redemption in the broadest sense of the word.

Maybe it's just a pragmatic, peri-menopausal coping mechanism, but finding utility in seemingly useless items lifts me up, gives me hope.

I'm a big fan of church rummage sales, garage sales and consignment houses. When I came across The Sacred Heart Thrift Store in Anderson, I decided that it was almost the perfect title for a song.

Almost perfect. But it didn't quite have the lyrical lilt that makes it musical. So I flashed my Poetic License and made a minor change:

Ah, that's better -- now it works.

I recycled the melody for the verses from a very old Scottish tune -- Child Ballad 173: Mary Hamilton. I used to love Joan Baez's rendition - I listened to it over and over on my father's monstrous reel-to-reel tape player.
My-oh-my... technology has come a long way.

Just finished recording and mixing this song on a digital workstation the size of corned beef brisket:

The Sacred Heart Secondhand Store
words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman
Buy, sell or trade
Find you some hand-me-down faith
The cast-offs are saved
In the name of the Lord
At The Sacred Heart Secondhand Store

The neon sign flickers to life
The second time she flips the switch
The Sacred Heart Secondhand Store
Is in good hands
Weekdays from 10 until 6
The demons she wrestled
Are all kept at bay
By the spirit that blessed her
With the power of grace

Buy, sell or trade
Find you some hand-me-down faith
The cast-offs are saved
In the name of the Lord
At The Sacred Heart Secondhand Store

She’ll wipe dust from the Lladro Madonna
Polish the gold wedding bands
Here among the unwashed and unwanted
She’s the angel of One More Last Chance
Hers came by the river
Where she lay in the dark
Was gently delivered
Into His Sacred Heart
Buy, sell or trade
Find you some hand-me-down faith
The cast-offs are saved
In the name of the Lord
At The Sacred Heart Secondhand Store

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The definition of a Gentleman:

One who knows how to play an accordion but doesn't.

I'm not sure what that makes me. I don't know how to play my new concertina -- but that doesn't stop me from trying to play it.

A concertina looks like an accordion:

but it's less complicated and smaller, and mine was a thoughtful birthday gift from my husband -- whose capacity for suffering seems to know no bounds.

And when the concertina is traveling in its handy-dandy carrying case:

it raises eyebrows and causes much consternation among the minions who monitor the airport security x-ray machines, at least according to a story told by Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen.

We saw the two of them in concert at Bernie's a few months ago, and that's when I decided that I really needed a new musical instrument that would tax my middle-aged brain to the absolute limit: 20 buttons...40!

When it's played right, the concertina has a sweet, long-ago kind of sound -- perfect for Irish songs. Right now I'm working on "The Wild Rover."

Here's The Dubliner's version. It really ought to come with a pint of Guinness, but I'm still waiting on that technology:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Heart Shaped Stones

I think of this song as another gift from the Sacramento River. I was walking on the shore at Anderson River Park, navigating the river rock, when I began a story song about a woman who collects Heart Shaped Stones.

I originally thought about making her a victim of unrequited love – filling her pockets with heart shaped stones and dramatically throwing herself into the river.

Yuck. I hate singing Poor-Pitiful-Me songs. I much prefer to sing about powerful women, so I came up with a more enjoyable storyline.

In true country music tradition, it includes the requisite elements: love, loss, revenge and a pick-up truck.

My kids consider this song “twisted” and “creepy.” I like that.

Heart Shaped Stones
words and music by Erin Coombs Friedman © 2004

She hoped for hearts and flowers, maybe wedding bells
Instead she got the valentine from hell
A year has passed, but it she pictures it like yesterday
The way he laughed, got in his truck and drove away

She walks down by the riverside collecting valentines
Heart Shaped Stones aren’t hard to find
Everyday she fills her pockets up
With stones that remind her of
The hard-hearted man she used to love

The river wields a mighty power all its own
Making pretty things from shapeless sand and stone
She washes out her wounds and heals her scars
Strolls along the shore searchin’ for hearts

She walks down by the riverside collecting valentines
Heart Shaped Stones aren’t hard to find
Everyday she fills her pockets up
With stones that remind her of
The hard-hearted man she used to love

They found his pick-up wrecked beneath the overpass
His battered body in a pool of blood and shattered glass
The case remains unsolved – motive unknown
But the cause of death was Heart Shaped Stones

She walks down by the riverside collecting valentines
Heart Shaped Stones aren’t hard to find
Everyday she fills her pockets up
With stones that remind her of
The hard-hearted man she used to love

A woman with an ax to grind
Can pitch a pretty mean valentine
Those Heart Shaped Stones work every time