Monday, February 20, 2017

The Chicken or the Egg?

Back at the piano.

It's a Monday night. I should go out and support live music in Austin. Some good friends have a steady gig downtown every Monday night, but I'm sticking to my promise to stay home and get the music out of my psyche and onto paper.

Things are flowing with more ease tonight thank goodness. I attribute it to the fact that I dined with my 6 year old grand nephew this evening.  Hanging out with 6 year olds is good for the spirit. We had pizza and then we built a fire in our back yard chiminea.  Shoal Creek runs behind my yard and it's often a dry creek bed, but tonight it was a raging river from yesterday's heavy rain fall.

So we sat talking with a rushing river, a pink sunset, and a blazing fire on a cool Texas evening.

It was quite perfect.

I'm not sure if being calm and happy brings out the music or if bringing out the music makes one calm and happy. It's a "what came first, the chicken or the egg" thing right?

Well, I'm calm and happy now for sure.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A 6th Century feminist, writers block and Guacamole.

I'm staring at a blank sheet of lined notebook paper to the left of a blank sheet of manuscript paper propped up on the piano's music rack.
In a mindless trance, still staring at the blank sheets of paper my fingers plunk out a pattern of notes on the piano.
Then the voice inside my head interrupts.
"maybe I'll make some tea...that wold be nice...or get some apple juice? No! Concentrate on what you're doing..."
Back to the pattern. I love bass vamps, so I put the pattern in the bass register to see how that sounds.
The voice is back.
"that's dumb...sounds like everything I write...maybe I'll make some guacamole out of that avocado. I better use it up's getting too ripe. FOCUS!!"

I close my eyes...fingers still dancing around on the keys like they have tiny brains of their own that are completely detached from the mother ship up above.
I see todays news behind my closed eyes.
Donal Trumps face. Yikes!
I open my eyes with a start and look down at the keys, trying to center myself again...trying to get back into the zone.


Writers block.

I close my eyes again...start thinking about something I read last night.
Empress Theodora, who was married to The Emperor Justinian in 527 AD was this amazingly strong woman who voiced her opinions to her husband about human rights. She made rape a punishable crime and fought against kidnapping girls and women into prostitution. She elevated the legal status of women to unprecedented levels giving women the right to own property.
We're talking about 527 AD!!  Things went forward for human rights for a minute then they went way backwards before inching forward again...and now can they be taking several steps backwards again? Really?

I open my eyes.

I found myself in that same trance hovered over the piano.

"Wow...there's a song in there somewhere...Maybe I'll go water the garden...or make that guacamole."

On another "note" altogether, check out my new Web Site which in progress but mostly finished, and go to the "Shows" link.  I have some Austin dates coming up soon!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Music and the Minimalist Kitchen.

I had no idea that I would fall in love with the Los Angeles area.  I've been in LA for work several times in the past but I never spent time exploring the mountains and gardens around Pasadena and Altadena.  It's really wonderful here! The Huntington library, Art and Garden complex is a 30 minute walk from our apartment and it's spectacular.

Setting up an apartment in Pasadena has been like a flash back to college days. The living room is sound equipment, 2 keyboards and 2 chairs. The bedroom is a mattress (Albeit a new fabulous Beauty Rest) on the floor and a lamp.

The kitchen is a study in minimalism and we love it!  2 wine glasses, 2 forks, 2 spoons, 2 plates! Actually we have enough stuff to cook with and we could feasibly and comfortably have exactly 2 guests over at a time and we hope to soon.

Music work is beginning. I taught one student yesterday and I've been compiling ideas for some new material while I sit with my music on my lap cross legged on the bed as George composes in the other room.

Next week I'll be back in Austin full force teaching and doing gigs. I feel pretty damned fortunate to be able to do what I love between two very cool places.

Friday, January 27, 2017

On the road again!

Traveling to new places always expands my vision.  I am reminded that there are so many different ways to live. There are so many different types of people who are moved by the vastly different environmental surroundings that shape their unique culture.
This trek that George and I are currently on isn't really very far. We're just driving from Austin Texas to Pasadena California, yet the changes in color, and light and texture and the dynamics of the people who live along this 1300 mile line are remarkable. The food, the art, the politics, the general aesthetic noticeably shifts along the highway.

Here are some shots that I've taken while on the road this week in West Texas, Santa Fe New Mexico, and Sedona Arizona.  I'm still to Oregon after Pasadena California, but I'll be back in Austin to play some jazz gigs on February 24th at the Elephant Room with GATO 6, and then a warm musical offering with two great friends Alex Coke and Peggy Stern at a house concert hosted by the phenomenal piano restoration wizard Bernard Mulberg at his beautiful home on Feb. 26th. (email me for more info. on that event!  And on March 5th the Suzi Stern Quintet will be the featured band at the Austin Jazz Society concert series at Chez Z.

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West Texas Beauty

Headed to Lubbock

Cotton. Clouds of white soft loveliness growing out of a stark dry soil popping out of unforgiving sharp pods. Imagine picking this for 12 hours a day.

George and the west Texas big sky.

Snow and berry vines in Santa Fe.

Crab Apples and snow...Santa Fe

Santa Fe adobe

At our dear friend John's home in Sante Fe..talking over vino in his great kitchen...look at that kitchen!!

More snow in early morning Sedona Arizona!

Snow on grasses, Sedona Az

Bell Rock in a cloud Sedona

George growing out of nature!

Beyond the wire...

Wire and snow scape

Bell Rock

Our planet is so stunning!!

Earth and sky...intense!

By mid day the snow had melted and the red's of the earth intensified.

Happy Hiker!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

We The People...

I'm racing to pack for our trek to LA.  I haven't even started and we want to hit the road in an hour!
But before I focus on that task, I had to take a minute to share some images from yesterdays amazing protest march in downtown Austin.

My heart is full. I am encouraged to see that so many people...not just in Austin, but all over the world came together to have their voices display a show of unity demanding that our new president hear us...see us...and know that this is the majority.

The overwhelming vibe of the entire day was kindness, inclusivity, action, support, inspiration from the most wonderfully diverse crowd of over 50,000 men women and children.

Thanks for checking out the pics!

I'll be back in Austin for some gigs in late February.  See you then!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Worst in me and the best in me...

Donald brings out the worst in me...but also the best.
I was taking a power walk this inauguration day morning trying to clear my head and I found myself thinking terrible things, like: "Oh I hope he suffers as he realizes what an enormous job he's taken on...I hope he goes down in a murky sink hole of stress, nasty tweets and continually lower popularity ratings in his precious polls so he can get impeached knowing he was immensely disliked...then in the middle of imagining him burning in a firey pit of doom and despair I caught myself..."wait a minute...I don't want to hate ANYONE...I'm not liking how this feels at all!"

So I switched gears to muster up the compassion thought waves.

Poor Donald. He's just unloved. He was probably the unhealthy unattractive overweight kid at school who never felt loved at home. As I walked along I could see him in the bubble over my head...there he was sitting alone in the playground dreaming about one day being Orange.

Well...he got his dream. He is Orange and he is the 45th president of the United States. Michael Moore predicted this and I never imagined it could come to pass. I don't really think Donald thought it could really happen either as he seems a bit overwhelmed and completely un-prepared.

The other bright spot in all of this is that we are all made profoundly aware of how divided the country really much anger, hate, fear, disappointment and desperation was brewing here, that is now out in the we need to counter that by being even more vigilant about speaking up, defending kind and just ideals...taking actions to defend our civil liberties, become more involved, proactive, loud...most of all loud in love.  So thank you Donald for opening our eyes and scaring us enough to get busy. We have a lot of work to do. I still cannot stand you though. Sorry.

Go hug someone!!



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Shadows and light

Keeping a personal promise to blog as often as possible about what's on my mind, I knew the night before America as we know it changes completely with the swearing in of DJT, this would be the  evening of all evenings that I must write.  I just finished a long day of teaching voice lessons to my incredible students. Several of them commented on how scared they were about what would happen after tomorrow.  I've never known an inauguration day that has filled so many people with fear and dread. Frankly I'm at a loss for what I can say that I haven't said so many times that I'm tired of hearing myself talk.
My dear friend Brad Buchholtz said it me some hope moving forward, so I'll share it with you.
"I think it is time to stand together ‘for’ something . . . not necessarily ‘against’ Trump. But: For love, for justice, for compassion, for equality, for Black Lives Matter, for science, for the environment, for NATO, for art and education, for regulation to protect our air and water and land. . . all of it. . . It’s easy to say ‘yes’ to all of that. . . and it encourages inclusion.   Maybe those are the words. Two words. ‘Say Yes.’ As John Lennon sings, ‘Yes is the answer.’  
Thanks Brad.
I'll just say that life is filled with shadows and light. We need both of those elements. Here are some photos I took in "light" of that.
Love, peace, hope to you and thanks for reading my musings.