Saturday, November 21, 2015

St. Marks Church And Saying Goodbye

This past summer I ran into writer Gillian McCain at a party she and Legs McNeil held for musician Michael DesBarres. Gillian reminded me that my late husband Paul Williams and I had performed at the St. Marks Church in the East Village back in 1993, and that it was she that had booked us! That church later played an important role in my grieving Paul's death and had a hand in the letting go of and saying goodbye to Paul's spirit the day after his passing.

Thank you Gillian for sending along these photos of that day in 1993. 

Paul Williams, Anna Kaye (age 12ish), Lenny Kaye. Lenny played a few of his own songs and backed me on a few. 

 Sound check and my Gibson w Lenny's extra amp. 

*         *         * 

From "The Midnight Hour" posted April 17, 2013: 

Alexander wasn't surprised his dad had passed, we talked about it over breakfast. "Sometimes I thought he was faking it," he said. What do you mean, I asked? "I just thought that maybe he would get better, that maybe he was just pretending to be getting worse".  I said I sort of understood that feeling. And told him when my mom died of cancer, when I was eight, that I'd made up a story, that I'd believed for years, that she had been an archaeologist on a mission to dig up old bones and ruins and had contracted Valley Fever. 

We walked by the St. Marks Church and saw that their would be a ceremony that night for Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, the night of Passover dinner. So we went. This felt right. We were staying right around the corner from the church where Paul and I had played a show together back in 1993, he reading from Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles and me singing songs that he'd inspired. Not to mention that this had been the venue for one of Lenny and Patti's first shows together, or the place many beloved beat poets had read their poetry aloud to deep listening ears. I love this place, St. Marks Church. And in the nights ceremony we washed one another's feet and drank wine and broke bread and sang some melodies and uttered some words. And through it all I felt Paul's spirit, his energi, his unbound self, rise and lift and move from that limited encasement called the human body. 
Deo pro vobis
What do you want Paul?  "..want to go up in the sky"
What do you mean? "Good music goes up"

                                                         *         *          *

Paul and I had been together about a year and a half at this point.
This is how I look before a performance; anxiously waiting. This is how Paul looked most of the time.

A rather somber me with Lenny Kaye's delightful daughter Anna.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Joy of Riding A Bike

I was one of the last kids in my Delano CA neighborhood to learn to ride a bike without training wheels. At the age of seven I knew I was a late starter, my dad had tried to help me get comfortable with riding without the extra wheels, but I just couldn't get the hang of it. It wasn't until a kid a block away, Lonnie, two years younger than me, made me try riding his bike which had no training wheels. He said "it's easy, don't sit down on the seat, its about keeping your balance so stand up and pump and it will feel kind of like running". He was right. Almost immediately I could ride his bike. It was about keeping your balance. 

Once I got the hang of it and had the stupid trainer wheels removed I was riding that bike all over town. One day I rode into downtown Delano and bought a new goldfish, the last one had died. The new fish was in a baggy and I carried it on my handle bars all the way home. 

My best friend Lisa Mashburn had 2 bikes both with butterfly handlebars and banana seats. I ditched my Schwinn for hers and we rode all around the neighborhood for hours with matchbook jackets clipped on our wheel spokes, making our bikes sound like "motorbikes" bbbbbbbb. 

Riding bikes in Delano afforded me some autonomy and some freedom. I could ride to school. I could ride to town or to Lisa's house. I remember fondly that feeling of power you have as a kid on a bike on an open road. 

Later that year when I was spending the summer with my cousins in Laguna Beach I had a bad bike accident. Their house was situated at the bottom of a hill with the rest of the street going down and back up on the other side. They had two bikes one of them with no brakes and thats the one I used. I thought I had it managed, flying down the hill then using my tennis shoed feet as drag to slow before the speed bump, but at one point a car stopped half way down the hill and I swerved to keep from hitting it. I ended up with broken front teeth , a trip to the emergency room and stitches in my chin. Thankfully I didn't hit my head. 

In 1995 my husband, rock writer Paul Williams, rode his bike wildly fast down our local hill, on the way back from the post office, with the plan of coasting half way up the up side of the street. Something went very wrong, no car involved, but he ended up over the handle bars and in brain surgery an hour later. 

I met Paul in May of 1992 and by the fall of that year I visited him at his home in the Sonoma area. We rode bikes around his little town of Glen Ellen and along bike trails in the local park. My memory is of green trees whizzing by and Paul, ahead of me several bike-lengths his hair blowing in the breeze and his shirt tails whipping in the air behind him. The joy of bike riding. 

Three years later he was recovering from a traumatic brain injury due to his bike accident. No helmet and riding his bike down a hill at a reckless speed. The same guy that I admired a few years earlier in Glen Ellen both times with no helmet. 

After the bike accident and after his recovery, for many years, Paul's bike lived in our apartment unused. I forgot the things I liked about it. I forgot the feeling of freedom a ride on a bike gives you. The wind on your face pushing your hair out of your eyes. The exhilaration. 

A month ago Alexander got his first real bike. Not like the little-kid-Walmart bikes he'd had, with one gear and back petal brake. This one has twenty something gears, it's light, it's pretty and it taunts you to ride it -just lookin' at it. Like a beautiful pony. "Come on baby, lets go for a ride"

Alex has been riding around getting used to it. But during his school hours, this week, I've been taking it out for a spin myself, just me and the Red Bomb riding up and down Neptune Ave...along the bluff. Past Beacons Beach path and on to Grand View. And I'm remembering....the joy of riding a bike.      
                                                              *      *      *
Sometimes when things go bad we stop doing the things we love. Like when objects; people places or things, are infected-infused with a memory of past loss. Some call that ptsd. I call it deep caution. I lost my mother, she died when I was 8, people die, they go away and we are left with a kind of tattoo, a muscle memory. I have a song; Cry Me a Jordan (Beloved Stranger 2008) which address this loss. 

"Momma died when I was a little girl it broke my heart it shattered my world. Now I'm always expecting the worse when people come close I know someone 'll get hurt. One thing I found out a long time ago, when the  hurting starts young it looks like everyone you'll know". 

How do you Un-learn this kind of caution, or expectation of the worst? That's where my update comes in... 

What does the view look like from here, 2 1/2 years after Paul's passing? Well, there's more time and emotional room for our, now-as of yesterday- 14 year old, son for one thing. He needs some attention, he started 9th grade last month and the transition made him quite anxious. But with some care and attention that seems to be improving. 

And how does it feel to be this age, this person, i am and starting a big part of my life again? Dating. Intimacy. Revealing. Vulnerable...
It's a lot like riding a bike. You learned once. You found joy in it. You fell down and broke something. Then eventually, tired of seeing the damn bike in the corner you try it out again. And there, after all, you remember the joy of riding a bike. 

Harvest Holidays Bike Parade, Delano CA

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Paul Williams' Archive THIS WEEK at MOMA

The Paul Williams archive will be represented at the New York Art Bookfair at the Museum of Modern Art beginning tomorrow, September 17, 18, 19 and 20. You can find it at the Cummin's Bookseller booth. Talk to Henry Wessell's about acquiring it for your university, public library or public collection. And pick up one of these rad catalogues...

If you are interested in buying the catalogue but can't make it to the NY Art Book Fair,
you can obtain a copy ($12.50 postpaid) from Henry, email: 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Paul Williams: Archive Of A Major Figure In The American Counter Culture


We are looking for a library or public collection that agrees to keep Paul Williams' work available for public viewing and reference. A home that will honor his great work as an author, publisher/creator of CRAWDADDY Magazine, writer of common sense philosophy (Das Energi, etc), writings on the work Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Neil Young and more. As well as confidant  of and later, literary executor of Philip K Dick  and editor to to the complete writings of Theodore Sturgeon.
Last November I shared with you all that at long last, the Paul Williams storage units were being cleaned out and Paul's boxes, papers, and files shipped to New York to be catalogued and processed. That was done by Henry Wesselles for James Cummins Booksellers who specialize in rare books and collections. 
Henry was the best guy for the job, and came highly recommended by David Hartwell of Tor Books (and Paul's long-time friend) and Patti Smith. Henry has gently gone through every file and box and envelope that Paul kept, with a fine tooth comb, and with love and admiration, finding a lot of very interesting stuff. 

Henry Wessells will have a few special Paul Williams items on display at: 
The NY Art Book Fair at MOMA -PS1  Thursday 17 September.
Please help us get the word out

Here's a link to the Paul Williams page at Cummins Bookseller 

photo by David Hartwell 1967 CRAWDADDY office

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How CRAWDADDY Issue Four Found It's Way Home

A few weeks ago I put word up on Facebook that the Paul S Williams archive was looking for CRAWDADDY issue #4 from 1966 (the one with Dylan on the cover) to complete Paul's only set. I was contacted by Kris Raiman who generously and kindly offered her copy. Not only that, she had a great story to go along with it, which you can read below. 

Thank you so much Kris! I'm excited that Paul's archive, including your issue #4, will soon find a proper home in a University Library or Public Collection. This is what Paul would want. And he would smile and get a real kick out of your story...

Kris (Weistraub) Raiman 1967

How Issue Four Found Its Way Home
by Kris Raiman

In 1968, when I was still known as Kris Weintraub, I went to see The Doors at the Fillmore East, which happened to be just two blocks from my apartment. I was so impressed by this show I wrote a letter to my best friend back in Connecticut describing my transcendent experience. My then husband dared me to send a copy to Crawdaddy! This was a month before we divorced, so it occurred to me later that the suggestion may have been sarcastic on his part. (He was not a big fan of my writing.) But to his (and my) amazement, I soon received the fateful postcard from Paul, a copy of which I share with you all, that my letter was to be transformed into an article to be published in the June 1968 issue. Since it truly was a letter to my friend I had not given it a title, so Paul had used my ecstatic salutation of Oh Caroline! as the name of the piece. I have treasured that postcard and kept it safe since the day I received it.

I got divorced and moved in with a friend in New Rochelle while I looked for my own place. We both worked at the same company on Madison Avenue so, as often as I could, I headed down to the loft on Canal Street after work and absorbed the energy. I was drawn to Paul, not just because of Crawdaddy! although I still remember the day I read in 16 Magazine, of all places, about this guy my own age up in Boston who had decided to start a magazine for people who understood that the new music was changing the world; people who took the music seriously and cared about more than what that new singer’s favorite color was. I wanted more of the “going beyond the surface and releasing the spirit” that was coming through, and I wanted to hang out with other people who felt the same way. No one could have been a more perfect companion on this journey of exploration of music and spirit than Paul.

He was always encouraging and gentle with me when I turned in something for consideration and we were both very proud when Robert Christgau sent me a note on Esquire letterhead praising my review of The Buckinghams (Issue 17). (I still have that too.) But even though I never actually intended to pursue a career in rock journalism, I know that those few months with Paul at Crawdaddy! influenced me on a higher level- and probably vice versa, although I make no claims to that, but energy is always exchanged in any relationship, so it would make sense. I told him once that I felt like most of our relationship took place on another plane. He seemed bemused by the thought, which I later thought odd coming from the guy who wrote Das Energi, but I stand by it. We were soul friends, whether we were near each other or not; whether we communicated regularly or not; and that connection lasted for over 40 years.

Anyway - Issue 4.
I think it was when Oh Caroline! came out in May of ‘68, Issue 16, that I went down to the office to collect a few copies and mentioned that I had been a subscriber since at least Issue 6*. Paul immediately went over to the shelves that held stacks of copies of back issues and loaded me up with most of the ones I was missing. (A couple of slots were empty, alas.) So I received Issue 4 directly from Paul’s hands that day. When Cindy Lee said she needed Issue 4 to complete Paul’s personal archive, I immediately checked my collection and found it. How could I not offer it up for such a noble purpose? Paul had published my very first national piece. He had been unfailingly supportive of me for over 40 years. He was my professional and spiritual mentor. It’s an honor to be the one to restore Issue 4 to its rightful home.
Be well, Paul. Your legacy lives on.

*I would have been a charter subscriber if I had known Crawdaddy! existed before I read that little blurb in 16. I send profound thanks to the editor, Gloria Stavers. She may have run a teen fan mag, but she had a real appreciation for the music and musicians and was savvy enough to know that some of her young readers did too. Her photo of Jim Morrison wearing the beaded necklace is still probably the most iconic one ever taken. Interesting that Paul was close with Jim too, and had been able to show him Oh Caroline! as they sat together on a flight to LA. Paul told me Jim liked it. It meant the world to me that Jim understood what I was trying to say, and that Paul knew I would want to know it. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

"Is Someone Missing From Your List" my medical insurance website asks me each time I log in to look at appointments/test results. "Is Someone Missing From Your List?" And the rapid response is: Of course there is, so why keep asking me! And 'does the robot remember we had a Paul Williams in our family?' Or is it like an indelicate family elder always pushing for you to be married already. (Yes I had that experience at age 24. The Texas grandmother asked me "So, how is it going with that boyfriend".  "Oh we broke up awhile ago", I say.  "Oh that's too bad now you will turn out to be an old maid at 25 like your Auntie Flo ). 

(the view from here)

At any rate, that is not what I brought you all together for. Tomorrow is my birthday and I decided to reach out to each one of you with this check in and a "hello". It might seem like a distant, rather impersonal sort of checking in. But you friends, those of you that Ive known for years, played music with, done gigs with, taught or were taught guitar, or had our kids over for playdates....this is a moment of appreciation to you. Yeah, especially you. I appreciate you.

And I also appreciate Ben and Paula Luber and Mark for getting me to my medical procedure appointment this morning. And Susan and Chuck Hahm for taking in Alexander for the day.

 (Reading The Slit's Viv Albertine's memoir )

I suppose along with the good cheer of birthdays comes the awareness that we have to take care of the engine and inner workings of mechanisms under the hood. And that's what I did on my Birthday Eve.

Two years ago I had an appendectomy on my birthday. That was a hell of a time. Paul had just died 8 weeks earlier and then there was so much to take care of after he passed. I literally had no time for grieving. There were several memorials and paper work for the mortuary and I played the role of the Paul Williams Press Agent when someone needed quotes and photos. (Sure I coulda said no, but I felt like Pauls spirit was actually enjoying the belated attention. Like photos and info to the Grammy's so his picture could show up on the Remembrance sequence). A lot came down all at once and then my appendix blows.

The appendix was taken out by a doc that was at the ER and a friend of the family. Nice. He sent lab stuff in, just in case, and it came back ok. He called me a few times more than a doc might that doesn't know you, to check up and see if I'm doing ok. Very nice. Meanwhile Alex and I flew out to the east coast for a much needed vacation with family friends.

This week, while in the Bay Area recording string parts with Renata Bratt I began to have a pain near where my appendix had been. So this Monday I went in and had it checked out. My doc wasn't available so a young new doc checks me. And he says: "Ive been doing some serious ruminating on your chart and I'm very concerned about this pain. I can see on your chart the surgeon called you Two Times and they never do that! He must have thought this was Very Serious. And then you Blew Off a follow up doctor appointment!" He's lecturing me and he thinking worse case scenario.  This is one of those few times where my practical mind is working better than the doctors--I'm usually of a hypochodriacal nature. So I told him to look for the test results. And I told him Id been given a clean bill of health. And that I did not make that appointment because I was on vacation after the many long years of caring for a husband that had just passed away. He was silent. But here I am now doing these tests on my birthday week; one down two to go.

Good news after todays test...things look okay so far. And now I'm home resting as the sedative wears off. Groggy but good spirits. And ironically, the pain that I had last week that brought me in,.. its mostly subsided.

Moral: Have fun kids. Beware the doctor that is more worried for you than your own inner Woody-Allen-hypochondriac, (and looking to bring you down on your birthday week). And, as Thich Naht Hahn says: Enjoy your non-toothache.

And so the ever-pressing question remains: "Is someone missing from your list?"
Answer: I think not... I appreciate you all, each someone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Today is Paul Williams (the Daddy of Craw) Birthday

Today, May 19th is Paul Williams birthday. Forty nine years ago as a 17 year old he started the first serious U. S. rock and roll magazine CRAWDADDY, that would be in 1966. I met Paul in 1992. This is a photo of us by Brian Battles taken in 2001. It was a glorious time for us, we'd been separated for a year and now we were reunited, our son Alexander would be born 10 months later. And we were backstage at the Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds show, with some of our friends playing in Brians band. 

Like this guy! Probyn Gregory. So funny, I just picked up the mail this evening (I'd let it go for a few days) and found these photos in the mail tonight. Perfect! 

I was just in the studio a week and a half ago recording the last 6 songs for the new album...with, ...Probyn. And some other great players: D.J. Bonebrake, Danny Frankel, David J. Carpenter, Syd Straw, Robert Lloyd, Sheldon Gomberg...Listening to the playbacks I thought about how much Paul would have loved this new music . He was incredibly supportive when I was on a creative streak as a writer or music arranger. I felt him listening from his little place in Heaven, and it brought a tear to my eye. 
Paul once said to me; "The thing you love about Brian Wilson's music, is a blueprint for the work you need to do with your own." And now after many years, I'm doing it again! 

Happy Birthday Paul. We still love and appreciate you, and your wonderful wild words...

(photos by Brian Battles)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

CLB Rhino Promotional Reel 1987

Don Brown, who was head of the Rhino Art Department in the late 1980s, just sent this my way. I can't remember if Id actually seen it before. A reel Rhino put together before my first album, Who's Gonna Save The World, came out. At this time I was living part time in San Diego and part time in New York City's Lower East Side, splitting my time between the two opposites.

That is Rick Saxton on harmonica and Waygone Rex Wilson on upright bass. Were jamming in Rick's downtown San Diego loft. There is some footage of me and my parents strolling down Main Street in Ramona.  Also interspersed is footage from MTV's The Cutting Edge with Peter Zaremba ( btw, the makeup lady really piled on the makeup that day...I asked her to back it off...and the results were still pretty extreme) Then their are some outtakes from a show Waygone and I played with Irene Libertore on drums (doesn't she sound great), that's from a noon concert at UCLA.

photo by Greg Allen

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. 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)