Oh Christmas Tree!

“It’s late in the evening, the sun has gone down.   The neighborhood is quiet but I hear the sounds.”  I spent the weekend working on It’s a Lonely Christmas Without You.   I somehow managed to delete my project files and had to recreate it, which was a good opportunity to make some changes and I’m pleased with the outcome.  I hope your loved ones are near to you this Christmas. If not, wherever they are I pray they’re safe and sound.

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

David Houston and String Theory

If you haven’t caught David Houston and String Theory, make it a point to get to one of their gigs.  I’ve nicknamed David, Professor Houston because his talent deserves that level of respect.  As a songwriter I have a particular affinity for wordsmiths and this man is a genius.  The way he turns a phrase will catch you off guard and open your heart before you’ve realized what’s happened and then here comes String Theory with a sweeping line to lift you out of the mechanics of the lyrics and into the job that music is meant to do –  move you to another level, another hemisphere, another view.  Several times during their performance I marveled that this combination is so powerful and effective.  It’s vibrational open heart surgery, hits you in the nostalgic area of your gut, but the strings and arrangement saves you. They hold you up, help you feel and keep you from falling too far down.  That’s the feeling of an open heart.

It doesn’t get any tastier than this delightful pairing of aural pleasure.  Solid song structure, expert musicianship and powerful lyricism that at one point brought up a few tears.  Now that caught me off guard, I can’t recall when a performance delivered that kind of punch, hence this post.  Kudos Prof Houston & String Theory, I look forward to your next gig!  Stay informed:  http://www.davidhouston.com

Photo by Carrie Jenkins.
Photo by Carrie Jenkins.
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Photo by Carrie Jenkins

Friday Night Music in Sacramento

Where to begin?  Last night was packed with fun, friends and superb talent.  If you don’t get out to see live music in this town you are really missing out.  I started the night out at The Shack in East Sac and got a Lyft down to Old Ironsides right as Anton Barbeau was going on.  I recognized some of his songs and was blown away by the tightness of his band and how the songs themselves had matured into really fine works.  Aural pleasure.  Here’s Anton:

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Next I ran over to the Fox and Goose and walked in on Dr. Velocity playing and singing some beautiful songs.  I was struck right away by the quality of his songwriting and the sweet vocal delivery.  I will definitely be following his work.   Next up was Kimberlina and Jeffry Wynne-Prince.  Both of them are excellent musicians in their own right and you put them together and bliss is the word that comes to mind.  It was heaven to hear Kimberlina sing with Jeffry backing her, great guitar sounds and I swear that woman has perfect pitch.   I did not hear a single wrong or off note and I am in awe of her consistency.  Great work and I look forward to seeing them again soon.  Photo by Allyson Seconds.

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I ran back over to Old I and caught Harley White Jr. with his band Clouds Roll By and again, I was struck by the superior quality musicianship and Harley’s performance.  Dripping with sweat he easily commands attention, he settles into the beat and lifts you up.

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Next up was Blame the Bishop.  I’m biased as two of the members play in my band as well.  But I love these guys.  Great songs, harmonies that are infectious and unfortunately for the video guy, my big mouth can’t help but sing along too from the audience.  I get a little enthusiastic when I hear great local acts.  I love that about this group, accessible songs and some truly gorgeous harmonies.  Add to the mix the fact that you’ve got two great guitar players who sing well and it’s a recipe for magic.  Down with the Ship is a favorite.  That song is something else, but they’re all well worth hearing.  Photo by Dan Smith.

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If I could have been in two places at once I would have put myself both at Old Ironsides and the Fox and Goose as I unfortunately missed Kevin Seconds and his wife Allyson play and they too are top quality musicians.  I’ll be catching them the next time.  I caught a Lyft back home and was tucked in some time after midnight.  I can’t believe I got all that entertainment for less than twenty bucks.  I couldn’t have asked for a better night out in this fine town.

Two Days Gone

I’m terribly impatient.  I want to hold back until the whole CD is finished, but I can’t wait to share when I think I’m onto something.  I guess the great thing about being an indie musician/producer is that you don’t have someone telling you not to do something.  So here it is.  I typically close out my shows with Two Days Gone as it’s a natural fit.  I love to sing and play this song live.  And I admit to being somewhat twisted.  When I wrote this song, it was with the intent of writing the “complete” country-blues song.  It had to have certain elements (I think I even collected a list of these words before finally writing the lyrics), trains, a gun shot, lightning and a shack, red clay roads, Alabama and Memphis, family drama, someone in jail, someone in heaven, a bar, a hotel and a twenty.

The photo is by Pat Henson and can be found here: www.flickr.com/photos/80297647@N00/2275352946

Two Days Gone by Kally O’Mally
I got crippled back in Memphis when Bessie
shot me in the knee.
Lightnin hit our run down shack and I was
begging God to please, take me now I’ve had enough
I can’t take another day. So I packed it on up and took
the south bound train.

Whoa Momma’s gone to heaven.
Bessie’s all locked up in jail.
Papa ain’t been seen nor heard from for the
past fifteen years.
I’m sleeping here in this cheap hotel.
Girls in short skirts hanging out in the stairwell.
Down on my luck ain’t got nothing,
nothing to sell.

Chorus:
I’m two days gone, so all alone, no
dial tone on the telephone,
holes in the wall, no one to call, no one at all.

So I made my way to a bar named Sam’s
Deep down in southern Alabama.
Where the land is red and there’s fools a plenty
bought me some beer, spent the last of my twenty.
Gonna find me the reaper he’ll have plenty to sow.
Gonna pack it all up, it’s the end.
Gonna pack it all up, it’s the end, end of the road.

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