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.