Posts filed under ‘Jazz’

Spread Joy up to the Maximum!

Last week I drove to Memphis and back by myself. I’ve made long drives before so I was prepared with charged cell phone, healthy snacks and a whole pile of CDs to listen to for the journey. There is something completely liberating about flying free. The two weeks of workshops in Memphis were a lot of fun and I took a bit of time to actually get to know the “real” Memphis, not just the Beale Street tourist section. The history of music and civil rights in that city run deep, but today there are shadows around it’s former glory. Whole streets of businesses and houses are boarded up and empty while the next block over is alive and thriving.

I returned to my home with a new pile of tunes from the CDs lodged in my head that include artists like Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Dr. John, the Drifters, and Professor Longhair. This particular song seems to be on constant “repeat” in my brain. I had a recording of Johnny Mercer singing it, but Aretha is fun too…

What a handy thing to have in your head when you come home to a pre-foreclosure notice in the mailbox and a large two trunked red oak tree across your driveway! I’ll admit, the sight made me shed a few tears, but a few calls to the right friends had me on top of the situation quickly. This week began the Mountain Clearance Giveaway. I’m unloading the burden of stuff that has weighed me down for far too long and it’s truly liberating. Rather than making a mountain out of a molehill, I’m taking apart the mountain. One of the things I enjoy doing best is helping people find what they need. So…I’m inviting folks to bring a car full of joy by the house this week and take something you can use away with you. We all benefit that way.

Once I’m free of the baggage I don’t need, I look forward to spreading joy in my own quirky way to as many corners of the world as possible.

June 24, 2009 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

Music in the moment

A month ago I thought I’d be in Sacramento, CA this weekend for my second trip to the Jazz Jubilee. Part of me is there dancing to the merry music of the Firecrackers as well as the other amazing artists like Allan Vache, Bria Skonberg, and John Sheridan that I encountered live for the first time out there.

Instead I’m in Asheville, which is a good thing too. I caught the tropical sounds of Kon Tiki after work at the The Wedge Brewery down on the tracks by the New French Broad river on Wednesday when the sun finally decided to shine on all the greenery and flowers from the rain. I left there with the CD With Benny in Mind so that I can listen to Allan Vache this weekend on this side of the continent.

The evening then continued with live music dancing to the Screaming J’s. I’m always amazed at how Jason Krekel & Jake Hollifield maintain a consistently rocking fun time as band members slip in and out to hit the road with other projects. It’s always surprising and always new. This week there were a couple of particularly avant garde medley transitions that proved that they are not just another rock and roll band.

Last night I was Moogified at the 75th Birthday Bash to celebrate the life of Bob Moog and raise funds for the Moogseum in Asheville. Drummer David put together a stellar line up of local musicians to record live tracks while patrons wandered through the exhibits. Molly & Jenny were like gems playing with vocals. The jam between Jay Sanders, Jonathan Scales, Andy Pond, and Mike Rhodes was sonic joy. Chris Stack was kind enough to walk me through the intricacies of the difference between the various Moogerfoogers that I would love to hook up to my clarinet and make crazy fun sound. The keyboard lounge was a treat to wander through and experiment with all the options the knobs and buttons provide. The only thing missing for me was the touch sensitive keyboard Chris developed with Moog, but apparently I’m not the only music geek who couldn’t afford to buy a crazy toy like that and the production was so limited they didn’t have one to share.

But wait, there’s more. After all that pitch bending, oscillating wonder I treated my ears & feet to the sweet sounds of acoustic gypsy jazz with the Space Heaters in the cozy little BoBo Gallery. I arrived just in time to catch a couple of my favorite leaders on the dance floor and visit with a few more players who were enjoying a night off to listen while someone else did the work. Whew!

Now it’s time to organize travel for the Poetry Alive! adventure next week and then I’ll get my down & dirty blues rock fix with Abe Reid & the Spikedrivers tonight. It may not be the musical feast I had planned, but I’m certainly not starving this weekend. Happy Memorial Day weekend to you and may you find the music that soothes your soul is brought to you live.

May 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment


I had the joyous pleasure of meeting and interviewing Lisa Kelly Simone for the Tryon Daily Bulletin today after hearing her sing and field a million questions from the kids at Tryon Elementary. I feel blessed to have been in the presence of such a bright star sharing her light with the world.

It’s a gorgeous day today as I finish up the computer work on my porch listening to the sounds of birds and watching pileated woodpeckers flirt among the locust trees. What an amazing spot to call home!

This evening will bring a reception for Simone and in some ways it feels like Nina Simone has finally come home to Tryon through her daughter. May her spirit receive the love from this town that raised her on music even though the politics of the time sent her away feeling like she could never come back.

March 17, 2009 at 8:27 pm 1 comment

Songs lyrics in my head recently in no particular order

Never was I – Mad Tea Party

Paper Moon – (Arlen & Harburg)

It’s All Right With Me – (Cole Porter)

Love will Come to You – Indigo Girls

Christine – Screaming J’s

The Pearls – Jelly Roll Morton*

Shadows of the Night – Pat Benatar

Rock & Roll Music – Chuck Berry

Dream a Little Dream of Me – (Andre, Schwandt, & Kahn)

My Inspiration is You – Annette Henshaw (Levant, Rose, & Dixon)

*Okay, this one doesn’t have lyrics that I know of, but the tune has been insistant lately.

March 11, 2009 at 5:20 am 1 comment

A Wiley Westward Caravan of Sound

March 26, 2009 starts the Redwood Jazz Festival in Eureka, CA. I’ve been informed “this is the one to go to” this year.

I had a great time road tripping from Seattle to Sacramento last May for that festival and learned so much and met so many amazing people I’m eager to get to another festival. I’m also due for a visit to my parents in Washington since I skipped the holiday madness. I was considering trying to buy a plane ticket, but then started thinking…

Do I actually know enough people from my travels that I could drive across country and back with a couple musicians in tow and find enough gigs to let us eat, sleep and buy gas along the way? It would be a great way to visit some of my favorite people while the money I make here continues to feed the house as a place for other travelers to rest on their way through my neck of the woods.

I’m working on hashing out some details on my end, but suggestions, ideas, and contacts are certainly welcome!

February 19, 2009 at 11:17 pm 1 comment

Dreaming of jamming at sea

In between emails and other word munching for work I started wondering what the saxophonist Skerik might be up to these days. I remember catching him play with Sadhappy in Seattle in the early 90’s. In the midst of all the guitar players flooding the city at that time it was impressive to see how he could rock a woodwind. A quick Google video search pulled up a slew of new fan video bites from the Jam 7 Cruise at the beginning of the month.

A musicians life may be a bit bumpy at times, but things can’t be all bad if you’re jamming with Les Claypool on a cruise ship headed for Belize and Costa Maya.

My dad is headed for Puerto Penasco, and the Chinese New Year revelers from Asheville have hit Negril, Jamaica to jam on the beach there. I’m wondering if the Hawaiian sounds of Kon Tiki at The Purple Onion in Saluda this Saturday will be enough to quench my thirst for sea faring musical adventure. For now, I’m winter cloud drip computer working and dreaming of sun jamming music on the ocean.

January 28, 2009 at 11:15 pm 3 comments

Dancing on the ceiling

Why have I never seen this?

Here’s the rest of the dance:

January 14, 2009 at 7:26 am Leave a comment

Welcome Home

Elmos Too Blues Jam Sun 11/30/08

Elmos Too Blues Jam Sun 11-30-08

There’s nothing to make you feel like your little town is home than to come back just in time for the annual oyster roast and discover that even though it’s 11 p.m. you know nearly all the people there and they are still cooking up oysters and handing out drinks.

They also were sure to remind me about the blues jam at Elmo’s Too the next day. I had planned to rehearse with Fred Whiskin, so we just packed up in the car and drove on over for a fun evening of jamming the blues. It felt wonderful to be welcomed home with good friends, food, and music after travelling half way across the country and back this week.

December 1, 2008 at 6:44 pm 1 comment

Dodging the Chasm

One of the most amazing things about a good improviser is that you never notice when they make a mistake. In fact, a great improviser can even cover other people’s mistakes. Whether it’s poetry or theatre or music, one of the most frustrating things is when the performance to comes to a grinding halt because someone drops a word or line or phrase that sends everyone onstage spinning into the chasm of panic. Yet my favorite magic moments on stage are when suddenly everything is “real” for a moment as the performers respond and dance gracefully around the chasm.

In real life, every day is improvisation reacting to and relating to the events that happen. No script can be read to determine what will happen next. Flying solo, it is easy to react to the whim of the world if you allow yourself to be flexible enough. (Pause here for a moment to catch a bit of Oscar Aleman of Argentina improvising a bit to please his listener.)

When I woke up Saturday morning I realized that I’d spent the whole week in a juggling act of personalities and musical talent that somehow landed me right side up alone in my home once again to catch my breath. I can’t say whether I’d do it all again, but there is one highlight worth mentioning.

For the first time in the six years since we met and made music together, I finally got to spend time on stage in front of audiences as a duo with my best friend. It involved running late of course, as well as crafting a “clarikazoo” on the way out the door with duct tape. We practiced one song in the car on the way to the first stop and then let go of worry and simply played whatever came into our heads. We even played one song that neither of us had ever performed, but we’d played the record many times. The audience laughed with our goofy antics and we laughed with each other and every song landed with gracious applause. It was exhilerating to finally cross the chasm of fear that had kept us from making the leap and learning that together we can fly.

November 24, 2008 at 8:44 pm 2 comments

I could have danced all night

J's at MoDaddy's

J's at MoDaddy's

What do you get when you mix former and current members of The Blue Rags, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Mad Tea Party, Firecracker Jazz Band, & Squirrel Nut Zippers on stage with electric instruments? High powered rock and roll baby!

I had just finished a fun evening of singing and playing trad jazz with Dan Petrella & Caroline Pond in SC and was too wired to think about sleep. So, I trucked up the hill to meet C-Po at MoDaddy’s and check out what the Screaming Jay’s sounded like now that they were just the J’s. I couldn’t help but dance.

Thanks to Jake, Abe, Krekel, Mikey Fresh, and the H-bomb for a great finish to an evening full of music.

November 6, 2008 at 8:09 pm 1 comment

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