Thursday, June 28, 2012

Infinite Fifteen Minutes of Silence

Walking on the beach today with my son Alexander and his friends Guthry and Renata Hahm. It was a challenge. The ten year old boys were bickering and debating the theories of particle and astro physics: "I understand the smaller the mass of a star the less gravitational pull it has" retort: "Well, you don't know that for certain, and there are some things smaller than a star that have a great pull like a black hole"....and so forth. 

It went on and on. It was time for SuperMonk-mom. I had the boys synchronize their digital watches for exactly five minutes, and told them the goal was to be silent and walk and notice things within that time. At the end of my words they pushed their time keepers in unison. It was a very very pleasant five minutes.

When the five minutes were up we stopped and had a pow-wow. What did you notice in your five minutes of silence? Everybody had something to offer. Guthry noticed how quiet it was. Renata noticed how many seashells their were to find. Alexander noticed that "everyone was watching their watches"...well, he and Guthry were anyways....

Now I suggested we set the alarms for 10 minutes and they were up for it. We did a lot of very delicious walking and looking and breathing in silence. 

I noticed how clear the water was when we went round the curve of Moonlight Beach and approached Swami's. You could see small schools of fish in the water. Their was a snowy white Egret perched in the shallow surf and Renata chased after it...

I noticed how much I love the feeling of the water washing over my bare feet and the feel of my breath moving in and out, like the water moving forward and back on the shore. I noticed how my frustrations were falling away, my thinking was slowing down,  and how much I love being with children when we are both here in the present moment.

After ten minutes we sat around and shared what we had noticed and now everyone was a lot quieter and ready to notice more so we approached the tide pools with the quiet noticing. They, looking at all the life living in the sand and the water and on the rocks. And I, sitting on the sand, noticed all of life moving by.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day Weekend

This weekend was Fathers Day but before Sunday hit I played a show with my new pal, Nena Anderson in Ocean Beach's best venue Java Joe's. Nena is a young up and coming songwriter that's getting some great attention on radio around the country and she was a blast to hang out with. We traded songs for hours, telling stories and playing a few cover songs, like Ring of Fire and an old blues she sang and who's name illudes me now. 

I can hear the surf churning up the beach sand out my window. Some nights it gets pretty loud, even though I live two blocks away. I've lived here almost 18 years now, unbelieveably, sort of a little piece of paradise. Before moving to Encinitas, and in with my then-boyfriend Paul Williams, I lived in another San Diego seaside town, Ocean Beach: a vortex that summons forth a convergence of old hippies, dead beat poets, ex-cons, meth-houses and money. 

Hanging out in Ocean Beach this weekend, churned up old memories of Paul visiting me from the Bay Area. He'd fly into the San Diego airport, just a few miles from OB, I'd pick him up in my VW Bus and we'd drive to LA for various music related visiting Van Dyke Parks, Lenny Waronker and Howie Klein at Warner Bros, the sublime painter and a+r man of A+M Records David Anderle, and lots of other friends. 

I have lovely memories of Paul and I hiking the cliffs and stones on the shoreline around OB north of the pier, stopping and sitting on sand stone and he reading to me a Theodore Sturgeon story from a dog-earred paperback. Or the times between Paul's visits where I'd bicycle around town, not a freakin' care in the world....and mornings walking out on the pier and sometimes spotting seals making faces at us humans....all the world is a beautiful miraculous place when you're in love.

*     *     *

On Sunday I picked Paul up from the nursing home he lives in. He's frail now, too frail to do much walking and so we helped him into a wheel chair and our 10 year old son Alexander, pushed him down the hall ways past the moaning, or smiling, or hollering patients that live there with Paul. He's probably 20 or 30 years younger than most of these folks, but he's no better off. Nursing homes are a place for those who can no longer care for themselves, no matter the age.  

Paul is up for a drive around town. Before leaving our apartment I'd randomly grabbed a Bob Dylan cd from Paul's extensive collection so we drove down Coast Hwy listening to Freewheelin' Bob Dylan with Paul very happy for that, nodding his head now and then. 

These days he's always working the lock or the window buttons and it makes me nervous..on sunday he finally did the thing I'd been fearing, he opened the door while we were in traffic. Somehow we got out of that unscathed but I realized next time I'll have to put him in the backseat with the child-lock on the door....

Corrina Corrina, played out over the car's cd player and it sounded great. I mused out loud that I loved the way it sounded and wondered who the guitar player was. Not missing a beat, and maybe the first thing he'd said to me in the two hours we'd been with him, Paul said "guitar player is Bruce Langhorne". I looked it up later, and he was right. 

(photo by Dennis Andersen)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gravity Falls @ McCabes 5/13/12

Renata Bratt plays cello and Randy Hoffman plays glockenspiel and cardboard box. I love these two musicians. We've played together since the love affair began around 1992/3. We've made several albums together in various configurations, (Garage Orchestra, Straight Outta Marysville, Living Room 16, Beloved Stranger). 

Randy has been a percussionist since college where he met the great avant gard composer Harry Partch and played with him and his ensemble for over 20 years. If you want a real kick look Partsch's instruments up and you'll see all the stuff Randy had to learn to play, giant bass xylophones, train whistles, the Quadrangularis Reversum etc...

When I met Renata I thought, 'now here's a real musician, she reads notes and she has a phd in cello'. I was completely intimidated. But I asked her to play with me anyways, and hummed out little parts for her to play w the ensemble that were well beneath her ability. She was fun, she was smart and she was up to putting together an ensemble with me that was new and different. 

Years ago, a wise businessman said to me; "Whatever you don't don't get attached to the people you work with in the music business." Seemed look a good idea, but I never figured out how to employee that advice. I either fall in love with the music, musicians, business partners or it's sort of a slightly extended one-off date. 

I remember reading somewhere, (in maybe the 1967 interviews between Paul Williams and David Anderle) that Brian Wilson used to write his songs hearing the sounds of the instruments in his head, he could hear the drums of Hal Blaine, the bass playing of Carol Kaye, the voices of his brother and cousin and friends and they were all sounds he was in love with, inspiring new and intriguing melodies. 

I've felt this way for many years about these two musicians, and some of the others too, that were pulled by the gravity of the music. You serge me forward, helping me reach for greater heights artistically. I am forever indebted to the music you've inspired. Where the music actually comes from is still a mystery, but there's another one ahead now, it's gravity pulling us into it's orbit and a song is born. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Affair of the Heart at McCabes

Randy Hoffman, Renata Bratt and I played at McCabes in May. One of my favorite venues in the U.S. and it happens to be only an hour and a half away, in Santa Monica. I'd just written this song a week before the gig and here we are trying out an arrangement.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Folk Hunk: 1990...

photo by beth b

(Been browsing through some old stuff; photos/articles and came across this one. Everyone had their shot at being Anti-Folk Hunk: Lach, Roger Manning, John S Hall, Billy Syndrome...etc. it was a goof. We were just innocently, trying to put sex back into folk music where it belonged.)

X-Poseur Magazine New York Lower East Side, 1990
 by Lynne Robinson

The magazine was ready to go to press, Cindy Lee had done her Folk-Hunk shoot and even though we were both exhausted, we sat down to gab. Cindy Lee with her agile, Gemini mind kept me on my toes- this may be girl-talk but this lady, who may appear to be the quintessential California girl-aint no bimbo. Extremely well informed, Cindy Lee is a voracious reader (currently digging into Biblical and Sumerian texts) and generally we have been known to get into some pretty heavy subjects, but not this time. Even clever girls are allowed to get silly sometimes...

X: How does it feel to be Folk Hunk of the month?
CLB: I still feel like the same person that I always was-- I do feel a little freer now that I've rid myself of clothes. 
X: And you are gonna play our party next week at the Pyramid Club (in NY) with your new band. And what was it like for you to work with Lenny Kaye? (Lenny has produced Cindy Lee's second LP for Rhino Records, "Naked Movie Star")
CLB: It was very cool. It was really neat hearing the Patti (Smith) stories. He is a rock-god y' know. Lach and I met him at the Cat Club, a benefit for the writers of the Village Voice, and the three of us were all goofin on folk music and speculating about the demise of New York's rock/club scene. 
X: Does the scene seem changed to you, now that you are back here in NY with Kirk and he and Roger (Manning) have records out and Michelle (Shocked) has been nominated for a Grammy?
CLB: It doesn't feel like people have changed at all, I don't sense that, in a way I feel that people are not as anxious as they were a year ago--what with a whole lot of us getting records out. It feels like our energy is now able to be a little more directed.
X: When will your record be released?
CLB: Mid April
X: And it's a big change from your last record. 
CLB: Definitely. Putting together a rock god producer, a story teller songwriter, a jazz band and a kooky reissue record company. I'm being groomed to be the next Roy Orbison.
X: Presumably they will spend some of the money they make off of his catalogue on you. 
CLB: No I'm sure that money is going into stocks. I'm still living off the Rhino/Monkee's money
X: And do you have a message here for your mom?
CLB: I had a girl photographer..