Dance More!

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ICv95LWc3mM

I took the time to re-edit and remix this project and this is the latest version.

Though I was born in Ashland, Kentucky, I grew up in South Florida where music and dancing is a large part of the culture, salsa dancing in particular and finding a club whose live band has a horn section is a common thing.  Hence my love of horns, Latin rhythms and dancing.

As a songwriter I address a variety of topics, but sometimes I like to keep it light, fun and simple.  Life is beautiful so dance more!

 

At the Intersection of Art and Music

Magic happens to artists when we cross into other artistic fields.   I got back into painting after my divorce. The pain of divorce left me feeling as though I might not ever be able to make music again.  It was as if there was no strength left in my diaphragm, like I had been kicked in the gut.  I couldn’t even look at my guitar without feeling slightly ill.

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I was sharing my house with a professional artist friend and he had paints and extra canvasses and encouraged me to get back into it.  As soon as I picked up the brush and started working with the colors and mediums I found myself swimming in that same feeling of timelessness I get from making music.  It’s like a field of potential energy watching color fall onto its body.

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“City on a Tree” and “City Kitty”

It took me over a year to be able to pick up my guitar and close to 18 months before I could eek out a tune again. Painting helped make me whole.  It helped me feel the vibrancy and vigor of celebrating life and when I did finally find my way back to my voice, it was there as strong as ever, ready to rock and roll.

Dancing Ladies 1 & 2
Dancing Ladies 1 & 2

My paintings will be installed in Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar for the months of August and September, 1414 N Street, Sacramento.  I’ll be performing in two separate shows those months, August 22nd and September 12th.  I look forward to meeting you!

P.S.  A Shout Out to the amazing Dr. Huong Bach (UC Davis) for reminding me that the heart heals on it’s own time.

The whole collection
The whole collection

This Ain’t Working Anymore…. ♪♫♪♫

I’ve hatched a new one.  This is fresh from the mental factory and there are three main components driving this song.  At Monday night’s Fox and Goose open mic in Sacramento, I heard a performer effectively use the “repeat the same line 4 times technique” and I realized that I typically avoid that technique in my writing.  I like to go somewhere with the story and resist singing the same line.  He challenged me to write a song this week using that approach… so I did!

Carey Seward played Ani Difranco’s, “Both Hands” that night and that’s one of my favorite songs of Ani’s so I wanted to capture just a touch of that element as well.  And finally, another local songwriter, Allison Hallenbeck recently wrote a song with lyrics that impressed me so much I practically fell out of my chair.  So I thought of Allison and her lyric effectiveness as I pulled this together.

Carey is a songwriter from Alaska who has recently joined the music community here in Sacramento and she’s got oodles of talent.  Allison is a ukulele goddess with a sweet soprano voice.  Both frequent several open mic’s around the Sacramento region.

The second verse came first and then came the chorus and then the last two verses and ironically the first verse was the most difficult to write, but it’s so true that it sticks with me like butter.

2 Week Update:  I’ve changed the chorus.  It was too annoying. It’s become:

This ain’t working anymore.
This ain’t working like before.
The time has come to close the door
cause this ain’t working anymore.

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The Institution

The struggle of all working artists who haven’t broken through the surface of their craft’s domain is the day job.   All those years of music education to be a secretary… and have a bed to sleep in, a pot to piss in, and maybe with enough hard work, you’ll manage to break through, but at least you won’t be sleeping on the street somewhere dreaming about the would have could haves.

Some dreams die easily.  I’m not going to be a famous dancer, doctor or a National Geographic  investigative journalist which were dreams that lit up like a firefly and burned out fast.  But I do have a particular set of skills that have grown into an ability from a teeny tiny little mustard seed and that ability continues to carry the root of who I am and what I have to offer.  That’s where this song comes from.

Flaming needles prick the darkness, hosed down halls that house the heartless, two pills in a paper cup, liquid soul, drink it up.

The Institution describes the cognitive dissonance I feel in my day job.  It doesn’t even matter what the day job, so it’s not tied to my current organization of employment.  I know I’m not the only one….

Bourbon on my Deathbed

I’m terribly impatient. I want to release these as I get them recorded and don’t have anything keeping me from doing that. Freedom is a beautiful thing. I’ll eventually pull them all together into a CD format and hopefully manage to keep a few songs a surprise.  

My family is from Ashland Kentucky and my Granny and I had an especially close relationship.   She was an amazing and entertaining lady.  She would talk about how beautiful Kentucky was and how she ached to return to the land of her roots.

When she was in the assisted living facility she was a hoot.  I was visiting with her one afternoon and she was telling me about what was happening with the lady she shared the room with and somehow we started talking about  Kentucky and she said, “Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some KY bourbon.  Just a taste would be sooo good.”  and I said, “Granny, I can take care of that for  you right now.  There’s no good reason why you can’t have yourself a little swig of bourbon if you want it.”  You could see her eyes just light up at the thought and then she said, “Oh, no…no. I just couldn’t,”  “Yes, Granny, yes, you can.  It’ll only take me a moment to run to a package store and get you some!”  She refused.   It was a funny moment that stuck with me.  So this song is for her.  I tried to capture her passion and love for the state and I accidentally made up a word, which I can fix in editing  – I’m just  not sure I want to.

Lyrics:

Give me bourbon on my deathbed
fill my cup, before I die.
In that cup, I place my solace and the
secrets of my life.

Kentucky bourbon on my deathbed
when the bells begin to chime
Oh the devil comes a callin,
If I drink before it’s time.

Give me God that sweet refreshment
it’s like horses running wild
through the bluegrass fields of heaven
as I cross the great divide.

One last kiss of pure delightment –
one last taste upon my tongue,
for this land has been my heaven,
Kentucky bourbon take me home.
Kentucky bourbon take me home.

I’m Gonna Run

I spent Saturday working on this piece using Logic Pro X, my Ipad and IMac and my Blue Yeti microphone.  Composing brings out my OCD. I love nothing more than delving into edits and continually fine tuning the instrumentation and mix and getting it out of my head and into a solid format.

The scandalous NFL Rice and Peterson incidents have instigated much needed discussions surrounding domestic abuse and family violence.  The #WhyIStayed comments have been incredibly revealing and I wanted to write a song that was more hopeful and optimistic about the topic.  It takes a lot of strength to break out of something bad, especially if it’s been going on for awhile and conditioning takes hold.

This is for the women who aren’t afraid to run.

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It’s gotten bad, it sure ain’t good.
His temper’s rising, he’s gotten cruel.
It’s time to go. I’m no longer safe.
Ain’t no therapy, gonna change that face.

I’m gonna run, I’m gonna hide
I’m gonna find, the strength I left, behind, I’m gonna run.

I’ve got a plan. I’ve packed some bags.
Gonna head straight up through North Carolina
I’ve got three thousand dollars, and a clean car title.
I know I’ll be just fine, if I can make it past the state line.

Bridge:
I’ve grown stronger. I’m standing tall.
I may bend, but I’ll never fall….
cause I’m gonna run.

Photo by Sascha Kohlman

My Songwriting and Producing Process

I work in academic medicine during the week and my evenings are packed with workouts and band rehearsals so Saturday and Sunday are ideal for composing and getting deep into my craft.  I’m coming down to the final process of my instrumental CD, 12 songs are mixed and ready to be looked at for line up, transitions and mastering.  I accidentally fell into my 13th composition for that CD last Saturday and I think I’ve decided on a name, Delandia.  Naming instrumentals is much tougher than a lyric based song so I look for a word or group of words that conveys the color/hue/vibe of the piece.

I’ve also started recording the tracks for my next CD, which will include, Sweet Delta Breeze, Fly, Oops I Fell Off the Barstool, Miss Understood, Got my One Good Eye On You and a bunch of other tracks.  As a sound engineer, I am extremely interested in the mix and the tricks, continually asking myself, what can I do to make it better, richer and sonically clear. I see so many folks listening to songs right from the speakers of their phones so I think about that mix as well.

My songs are born from all sorts of methods.  Sometimes I get the music first, sometimes I get the lyrics first.  Sometimes some sort of event occurs in my life that is so vivid, so strong it becomes the catalyst for inspiration.  I often get the song all at once, as if I opened up the front door to discover a beautifully wrapped gift left on the porch.  All I have to do is pick it up and unwrap it.  Sometimes it’s so simple it’s downright silly.   Other times it’s silly but not quite as simple.

Oops I Fell Off the Barstool took a little longer and it belongs in that vivid life event category.  Here’s how it went down: A very nice looking blonde lady was sitting at the bar of One Speed restaurant in East Sacramento and enjoying dinner and beers.  She looked a little tipsy but not drunk.  She was laughing and chatting and having a nice time.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw her hand fly up and then heard a big commotion and looked over and she was on the floor and the barstool was on it’s side.  The servers and busboys came running over to make sure she was okay and she popped right up, red in the face and embarrassed.  She went back to her meal and things settled down.

About 4 days later I was sitting in that same barstool.  I had just finished teaching yoga and was enjoying a nice cold beer or two and don’t quite recall exactly how it happened.  I may have leaned back a hair and not realized it, but the next thing you know, I’m on the floor and the chair is on it’s side and I was like, “What just happened?”  I got up and pulled myself together and did a mental review of the incident but couldn’t quite believe it.

The next morning I was in the shower getting ready for work (I get a lot of songs in the shower) and I heard the melody and the line, “Ooops, I fell off the barstool last night!, Gave the poor bartender a terrible fright…the chair flew out and I fell down, people the restaurant turned around when Oops I fell off the barstool last night.”  The rest of the song came over the next few days and involves a bump on my head, a sore butt cheek and one or two beers too many….  Bright fun harmonies and a nice rowdy feel with humor.

So tell me, have you ever fallen off of a barstool?  Or seen someone else fall off of a barstool?

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