Thursday, March 26, 2015

On The Eve Of Paul's Passing, I Pause

The moon is half full tonight in Encinitas. Two years ago March 26th, 2013, it was a full "super-moon" a little closer to the Earth. Alexander and I were in New York City and Paul Williams was dying. I knew this because Paul's son Kenta who was with him was keeping us appraised of his fathers condition via text. 

Lenny Kaye had picked us up a little earlier in the day. We'd been staying in Brooklyn, along Prospect Park with Stew (aka Passing Strange/ The Negro Problem). But tonight we were going to stay at Lenny's on St Marks in the East Village. We had dinner at a BBQ place on 2nd and St Marks and I just remember the loud drunk table near us. I felt swallowed by a fog of fear and grief. I was 3,000 miles away from home and from my husband. 

Today, sadly,  two short blocks from that restaurant, a gas explosion brought down several buildings. I had to look up the location to see if it was near my friends place and if it was the same BBQ joint that went down in flames. It wasn't. But the timing of the event brought me back to this sad-long-
painful night two years ago. 

-photo by Joe Murray-


         










When someone you love dies a slow death, or un-lives in stages, over many years, when does the grieving begin? And when does it end. I thought I had a foot up. Paul had been free-falling into dementia since, at least, 2004. But for so long, and quietly, secretly, there was the hope of something changing, maybe a miracle. Especially because, at that time, there still was no name for what was happening to Paul. No acknowledgment that brain injury can later lead to early onset of dementia. We were up the creek without a paddle. Maybe he could be fixed, who knew? 

In time I realized my companion wasn't coming back. But that was a slow gradual kind of understanding. For two years now, I've known for certain he aint coming back. That's a concrete thing you can bank on. If you catch my drift. Like a broken leg vs a depression. Something tangible. ("mom, she hit me you can see the mark!") Maybe that's what people mean when they use the word "closure". 

                                          *      *      *

This week I put together my taxes and took 'em to the accountant. There's some good news and some bad news. The good news is I get some money back this year. The bad news is next year, due to my very successful Kickstarter campaign I will have to account for all the money that came in and how it went out. ONLY PROBLEM; I found out from my accountant that the expenses of making the art (i.e. the music, studio, paying musicians) only get counted 50%. In other words I spent $500 at your studio but I can only count $250 as expenses. What? Bad tax law. HOWEVER: the post production expenses (promotion, marketing, manufacturing) I can deduct 100%. Now that sucks. 
What...music/art making is not as important as promotion?

I wish Paul were here. We'd have had a great bitch and gripe session. Then he would have gone to his office and proceeded to do his taxes...he was always very good at doing his own Schedule C. 
                                          
As a matter of fact I really miss talking to him about a lot of things.

                                         *      *      *


I like this photo of Paul, mostly because I took it right around the time we moved in together, here in Encinitas. I remember his mom once saying Paul was the least handsome of the three brothers, but for me he was very handsome. And nerdy. And cool. That perfect combination. We could talk about all my favorite stuff; books, music, Science Fiction, the history of physics, Brian Wilson deep tracks and Smile, Buddhism, what it is that constitutes rock and roll, the nature of the human spirit and passion, and a million other great and essential topics. 

So he didn't become the scientific genius his mother had hoped for. It was disappointing because she knew, she'd seen his IA was up there with the likes of the Stephen Hawkings of the world. Instead he became himself, and that was lucky for the rest of us. 



                                       *      *      *

You know that feeling when you're around an unmoving, stagnant but large body of water. This year this blog space has been a bit of that for me. It's hard to write about feelings, for me, while wading through them. I've always been one to hold my cards close to the chest. I don't like feeling feelings, but I acknowledge they are a part of being human, or a somewhat healthy human. 

So what is to be done with this unmoving body of water? I say, it is time to renovate! And so sometime in the next month Beloved Stranger will find a new look...stay tuned. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Benefit for Autism Think Tank: Wild Honey Presents The Beatles White Album (yep the whole thing)


Photo from the balcony by Janet Grey
Me singing Revolution1 with full band power;  horn section, backup vocal group, Lyle Workman, Willie Aron, Rob Laufer on guitars, Derrick Anderson on bass, Jim Lapesa drums, Darian Sahanaja on keyboards. 

The night before when I arrived at dress rehearsal in Glendale these guys, The Wild Honey Orchestra,  had all the parts together. Everything was in place, even my weird key of C#. It was like stepping into the glass slipper.




Photo by Janet Grey

(photo by Maria Younghans)
Extra backup singers for Birthday. With the young Alexander included. John Cowsill, standing next to me, told him "you'll be fine, its just two notes, up and down 'Birth-Day' ". My friend Robin Danar Ring who ran the sound told me later, "I soloed his mic and he was right on pitch. "

End of the night, a guilty pleasure, getting a photo in with one of my hero's Dave Gregory of XTC. I told him "Skylarking is on my top 5 albums of all time" He says "Well it was good for us cuz we finally made some money" Thanks Steve Stanley for the photo and your fabulous rendition of 
Honey Pie.

A screen grab from the youtube audience video. When I finished singing Revolution1 grabbed my glasses and went off stage my son Alexander was waiting for me with a big hug and a kiss and he said "you did great mom". Man, how lucky am I to have such a sweet and thoughtful son. 


A blurry one of Syd Straw singing Rocky Raccoon, and her doggie, Carol Burnett..with Willie Aron on harmonica


Gary Wright (Dreamweaver) singing While My Guitar Gently Weeps with the Wild Honey band including Lyle Workman and XTC's Dave Gregory on guitar


A string section, a harpist, a horn section and background singers. All of the songs were done note for note like the album. But the singers could still do their thing. This was my kinda show, and I was lucky and honored to be a part. It was all recorded and filmed. 


Django Haskins, Keith Allison (Paul Revere and the Raiders), Chris Collingwood (Fountains of Wayne), CLB, Syd Straw, and musical director Rob Laufer. 

A perfect night of fabulous fun. Where you get to be inside the music you've loved your whole life and first listened to clandestinely late on school nights. (But no one must know, because its the 70s and the Beatles are gone and you are not cool). Here we are now, all music nerds. Every little part precisely in place and we all knew it. 

There were so many amazing players and celebrated artists on this show. I'm not gonna list them here, but take it from me, it was very cool. 

Everybody on stage for the grand finale Hey Jude. (Right, not on the White Album. But there were a few songs as "encores" that were not on the album but recorded same year; like Bulldog, Revolution-the single, and Not Guilty)

When we got back to Santa Monica, at nearly 3am, after dropping Syd Straw and her dog off, we discovered Alex had left his homework bag at the Alex Theater. So the next day, instead of basking in the warm glow of a show well done I was bothering poor Paul Rock about helping us get into the theater in Glendale and get that dang bag so we could drive back to San Diego County. 

What a cool and calm head; Paul Rock organizer of this huge event and founder of the Autism Think Tank, got us into the theater and bag retrieved on a closed Sunday afternoon. With the west side wind howling and hail slamming down we made our way back to Glendale where the weather was nice and the school bag waiting.


The night after the big show and the marquee has already changed. 


We made it home to Encinitas with the homework bag and yet very little homework actually done. But I think, perhaps better, an experience of a lifetime.

*
P.S. Thank you David Jenkins and Paul Rock


Monday, February 9, 2015

A Guitar Pickers Gathering of The Tribes at Geoff Muldaur's


It was an honor to be invited to hangout and play music with these guys last weekend: Geoff Muldaur who makes a killer spice soup and one of my favorite guitar pickers.  Jim Kweskin: who sang a delightful if bawdy song by Shel Silverstein about falling love with a mermaid but liked the girl with the bottom half human and top half a fish, better. Happy Traum: the king of the Woodstock scene and I will have to pick up his blues/folk guitar instruction books from Hal Leonard, for me and my students.


The guitars were passed around like a peace pipe and everyone imbibed. Geoff encouraged me to play a song so I started with a new one Horsepower with it's little nod to Mississippi Fred McDowell. They told stories about Howlin' Wolf scaring off two college girl fans but otherwise being a big nice guy, not so nice for Fred McDowell though. My late husband, Paul Williams was a huge fan of Wolf and I would often hear him playing the original recordings and singing along at the top of his lungs (out of key but never mind). 

Paul would tell me stories of growing up in Cambridge and seeing these guys as a young teen, and watching part of that scene make that turn towards rock -ala folk, I feel like I know more than I oughta for my generation, mostly because of Paul. Not to mention that gawd-danged great, hard to find, illustrated story of the Cambridge folk years Baby Let Me Follow You Down by Eric Von Schmidt. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention my bass player of the Damn I Wish I Was A Man years, Waygone Rex Wilson, who would tell stories of seeing all these guys at the LA folk/blues clubs like the Ashgrove in the 1960s. 

We are all just standing on the shoulders of those who came before us, as the saying goes. 


My current bassist and co-producer David Schwartz (and wife, Jody Schwartz) came too, and brought his doghouse bass. It was a ton of fun. Lots of good and traditional songs were sung and I threw in an oldie (well maybe not so old to these guys) YaYa by Lee Dorsey. A 45 my mother owned growing up and we kids inherited. We'd listen to that dang 45 over and over, in particular the intro, the "oh well  Iammm" and then that, grunt, and we'd laugh 'til we cried.

Throughout  the night I watched closely what these guys were doing with their guitar chords and blues riffs...lord willing, I picked up a few tricks I can assimilate and pass on to students. At one point I played a slice of Wolf's Smokestack Lightnin' and Geoff looked sideways and said "How do you know about that". 

Geoff Muldaur, Happy Traum, Jim Kweskin, Bob Neuwirth



I'm grateful to have been invited to be a part of such a wonderful gathering of the tribes. And now, David and I prepare to do our first recording sessions since the very successful Kickstarter fundraiser. Yes, the word is indeed grateful. 

(those black and white photos by David Schwartz, color photos by me)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thank You!

CLB at Casbah w/X, The Blasters, Otis
photo by Otis B

We Did it!
As we wind through the last five minutes of this fundraiser for my 7th album I reflect on where I was 30 days ago; afraid to start this thing, wondering if anyone would contribute, and thinking it was crazy to do this before Christmas. And here we are 30 days later with an amazing, astonishing outcome of over 19 thousand dollars. 
I am in awe of how this sort of thing works; people telling people and something grows. My late husband Paul Williams was a big believer in community he was a part of the 1960s. As a musician I know what community is like and I can thank many artists and musicians who have helped me, encouraged me and supported me on this campaign. 
Legendary New York photographer David Godlis really stepped up to the plate offering the prints of Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, making it one of my most popular rewards. X and The Blasters were gracious enough to let me open their shows this week and pass a basket around for their fans to pitch in on my campaign. A handful of Science Fiction authors either contributed or helped pass the word around Twitter about this Kickstarter: Gregory Benford, Jonathan Letham, David Brin, Spider Robinson and William Gibson. And the list goes on....
But most importantly there is the community of friends and fans I've met over the years playing music and making records. Some of you I have met in person and know as a dear friend, some of you I have seen out on the road, and some I know through the music. It is you all that have been the backbone of my support. 
I also thank my nearby friends that helped me put this thing together. If I start naming you right now, I will miss a bunch of names, because I'm high as a kite on not enough sleep and the Big-Wow of making my seemingly impossible goal. Some of you are named in the video credits. 
I thank you all. Everyone from the heart. And now my real job begins; making great music. I'm ecstatic about that. And I'm a good little budgeteer, by the way, so I will take good care of the money you have entrusted with me today. And I will give back to you, probably, maybe likely, my best album yet.
with deep appreciation, 
cindy lee berryhill
12/15/14 
8pm


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 Days Left On Kickstarter.. And A Brand New Song

Please if you've thought of donating and haven't yet,
now is the time.
Without your support this album won't happen 
I have 5 days to make my goal...
From the bottom of my heart, thanks!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1138671896/new-studio-album-by-cindy-lee-berryhill/posts/1078494?ref=email

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

An Update And A New Song

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1138671896/new-studio-album-by-cindy-lee-berryhill/posts/1072097

That link will take you to my Kickstarter page which also features a brand new recording that only 5 people have heard before this. And they have their fingers poised over a red button of ....love?..destruction? Never mind.

At any rate, the December 15th goal date is looming ever closer. So if you haven't pledged something yet please do!

Here are some photos from the CLB/Cake show last Sunday night:
with Michael Jerome Moore on drums and David Schwartz on bass




The week before was equally as exciting and busy. Paul longtime friend David Hartwell came to town and brought with him an antiquarian book dealer from New York, Henry Wessells of James Cummins. They and sometimes I, went through and boxed up all of Paul's papers, books, reference material, posters. Here at our home and in our 2 storage lockers and sent it away to be catalogued and gone through with a fine tooth comb. Those two storage lockers were emptied and closed. No more $220 a month. Hallulujah!

But the best news is we are in the process now of finding a proper home whether a University, museum or public collection for Paul Williams archive. And I know he's happy about that. 
breakfast at the Pannikin ...before hitting the storage spaces

CLB, Henry Wessells, SF writer David Brin, David Hartwell
at the Phililp K Dick night at A Ship In The Woods gallery

Storage space!

Henry and all the boxes to be moved

waiting for the freight truck to arrive

and then a walk at very low tide

Encinitas Beach with Henry, Alex and David





Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kickstarter Fundraiser For My New Album


Last year some of you helped me raise funds for recording. That was the start of me working on my first album in over 7 years. Now it's time to get back in the studio and finish recording those new songs, master them, press them on CD,  and get them out into the daylight.

Can you donate something today to help me make my goal?

cindy lee kickstarter


Yes, you will receive the download, and for a little more the CD, and for a little more you can even have me record a message to you (happy birthday, pep talk, snippet of song, whatever). There are levels of donation and rewards.

More importantly, I am excited to bring you new music. I think its some of the best songs I've ever written. Help me make my goal of 16K, we are at $2,600. now ...we have until Dec 15th to make that goal. With your help we can do it! And I'll get that new music to you as soon as we get it on cd!

In hope and
appreciation,
cindy lee


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NY Times Sunday Book Review Features Bob Odenkirk on Paul Williams Das Energi

Bob Odenkirk: By The Book

The actor and author of “A Load of Hooey” keeps a volume of “hippie philosophizing” on his shelves as a counterbalance to his “angry, skeptical, scowling mind.”


Which books might we be surprised to find on your shelves? 
A book of hippie philosophizing entitled “Das Energi,” by Paul Williams (not the singer-songwriter). It’s a counterbalance to my angry, skeptical, scowling mind, but you can only stand a page or two at a time — unless you’re a hippie, then you’d probably wolf the whole thing down.






Monday, November 3, 2014

Our Covered California Commercial

Cindy Lee and Alexander -Covered California

Above is a link to the directors cut. The version which has only me and Alexander in it. Working with the director Joe Murray, and the crew, was fun and easy. They actually showed up one day at our place here in Encinitas and spent the better part of a day following us around, asking questions, hanging with us on the beach. 

Since that day of filming, I've seen some of Joe's other work as a photographer, some amazing shots of Dave and Phil Alvin,
and some of his prior film footage at his website. Beautiful images with a deep sense of feeling, some kind of compassion coming through camera's eye. Some have the gift of the visual and Joe does, ...an extraordinary way of seeing the beauty in the mundane and commonplace.


And this one is the montage version that has been played a lot, over the past few months:
video

It was a real honor, and honestly quite a surprise, to be chosen to represent California's health care exchange, and be a part in some very small way, of ushering in this new era, of expanding health care for all citizens.
Joe Murray setting up a shot at our place

crew and Alexander goofing around on the beach
and this screen grab

Monday, October 27, 2014

This Morning I Awoke From A Dream, That Was The Second Of Two

This morning I awoke from a dream, that was the second of two.
The first of which was drawn out confused.
But the second
had Paul
and Lou.

He had just flown in from somewhere.
I wanted to spend time with him but I knew he was here on assignment.
We hugged and exchanged words and looked forward to the time we'd spend later.
But he was here specifically to interview and hang with, and get to know better, Lou Reed.

There were some handlers around Lou and I had to let my time with Paul go
so he could move into that inner circle they puttered about for a while then
left for the warehouse kingdom that Lou resided in.

Some time later, at a social event and a bar I caught back up with Paul.
We embraced and I noticed his energy was different. He seemed very far away.

"What's going on with you Paul?" I asked
But I knew already what he was going to say, before he mouthed the words.
It was something I'd thought a lot about.
How do you create more joy, bliss in your life.

"I need a lot of bliss in my life, really a lot. " he said.
A man with a blue dress on, long eyelashes and shimmering pink eye shadow walked by and
we were quiet for a few minutes, in contemplation.

"You want to go back in there with Lou don't you" I said.
He nodded in affirmation.

"I have been looking at the places I have joy in my life" I said to him
 "things like playing music, spending time with certain friends, writing songs,
children, creativity. "

He said again for emphasis, "I need a lot of bliss". 

I knew what he was referring to, on some level, and knew that meant our time
together was over. No one could administer that much continual good time feeling even
with a full supply of liquid bliss via IV.

I wished I had it again. That kind of bliss you have for just a little while, when
you are floating, soaring above all of mankind's woes with someone very special,  on a lovers pink cloud. It's a sand painting though, within a year the wind blows it away. If you are lucky, and
i have been, you are left with something wonderful and livable and sustainable underneath.
The floor boards of reality.

"I guess that means you are breaking up with me, we are breaking up" I concluded.
I looked at him angrily, took his chin in my hand and pulled it my direction. But his eyes
were looking another way. A far away place.

I felt lost and suddenly abandoned. He wasn't leaving me for anyone in particular
he was just leaving, and wherever that place was he was going, so was Lou.
Though he'd already apparently, been gone for awhile, It hadn't seemed permanent
until now.  I was losing a best friend, a companion.

At dreams end I'd come into acceptance, hugged him goodbye,  and left him there in that airport bar. An airport with planes to a far away land, places that I can't go, and no one can, still living.


When I awoke it occurred to me that Lou Reed passed away a year ago today and that Paul passed exactly 19 months ago today. God bless and enjoy that bliss dear ones.