Yep that is a post.
I have done something new. Asked. It has always been difficult for me to mention as much as the tip-jars during the show. There must be something about asking money for something that is a gift that is hard to do. So, I say that the music is free, but please contribute what you can to the pipes, wires, electricity and what-else (and folks do).
Then my son mentioned a website created to fund artistic projects, called Patrion. Ideas, films and videos, even music projects become funded there, so why not? I said to myself one day when I was actually listening. I don’t know if it will net as much as a dollar, but I’m looking to fund the idea of having guest-stars be scheduled (and paid) to show their stuff, backed by the Best Available Band, of course.
If you’d like to support any part of the foolish endeavor – or have rich friends you can inspire about this live-music sanctuary called The Crooked Path – here it is: https://www.patreon.com/TheCrookedPath
And goodness gracious, Thank You!
When my son was 16 he asked me about drugs. I told him to stay away from the stuff. “Life is easier if you can do without using drugs”, I said, but other than that I would like to let him know a few more details I’ve learned over the years:
Artificial vs Natural.
Scientists say that every emotion we have is due to our own manufacturing of drugs. Our brains and bodies lob chemical molecules around like basket-ball teams. The receptors we have in our brain can detect and react to compounds also found outside the body, in nature’s fauna. Certain chemicals make us feel in certain ways and thanks in part to science, man has concentrated or synthesized these chemicals to boost the effect of many natural substances. One result of such research has been the increased ability by medicine to manage severe pain and suppress emotions. Drugs can intensify or mask our perceptions – we use coffee, tea, cigarettes, pain medications, sugar and caffeine drinks, sleeping pills, keep-driving-pills, herbal remedies, doctor-prescribed peptide inhibitors and enhancers. Plants containing drugs have been used for thousands of years by all civilizations for healing, vision-quests or to enhance stamina. Some were used for pleasure, and some to control populations by creating mindless slaves (as in the Opium Wars). Drugs are ingested, inhaled, injected and absorbed. They are natural and synthetic, and they can heal or kill.
From my observations, an addiction to drugs can be chemical or psychological, but it would be safe to say that if something offers temporary relief from an undesirable condition (such as living in a bad neighborhood or in an intolerable situation) – that “something” continues to be an attractive alternative – from a psychological perspective. Chemically the brain seems to enjoy the pleasant effects of drugs, such as Nicotine found in cigarettes. So much so that, when the effect wears off, a smoker’s brain sends a “we need more of this” signal – often by way of a negative emotion. Cigarette manufacturers have, naturally, been happy about this arrangement, as have dealers and manufacturers of caffeine, sugar, and countless street-drugs.
What complicates matters is that Western Medicine has largely regarded all humans to be chemically the same. We now recognize that different compounds affect humans in sometimes slight, sometimes extremely different ways. Beer, for example, puts some people to sleep while others become up-beat and highly social – or in some cases angry and destructive.
Illegal Spells Profit.
The fact that many drugs made to induce pleasure (if only for a short while) are illegal to the public, adds a huge economical incentive to cultivate addicts, who would steal the bells of Santa’s sleigh for their next fix. On the black market there are no quality controls, and drugs are often mixed with stuff that is cheaper and even more damaging than the substance it proclaims to be – and just like the prohibition was the greatest boon to the liquor industry, some say illegality adds to the creation of addicts, not hindering it.
The History of Drugs.
Whether in the hands of a doctor, a healer or a street-peddler, drugs are not likely to go away. Throughout all recorded history substances of many kinds have been used in order to cause a shift in perspective. Some subtle, as a cigar after dinner, some more spectacular in nature. Alcohol was often the easiest to make – using anything that would ferment from potatoes to rice, grain, fruit and grapes – but other compounds found in nature were also cultivated. The Danish Vikings apparently ingested a certain mushroom, Fly Agaric, before going into battles making them go berserk and be impervious to pain. American Indians used the Peyote Cactus, Mescaline and “Magic Mushrooms” for vision quest journeys. The sacred “Peace Pipe” passed around could have contained only tobacco, but my guess is some “Loco Weed” may have found it’s way into the pipe. Further south, the medicine people in the Brazilian Rainforest for thousands of years have used the bark of the Ayahuasca tree, and parts of the Jurema Shrub in ceremonies – claiming to connect with a spirit world. The word “assassin” comes from the Mid-Eastern word “hashhassin” – meaning Hash-Eater, and even such venerable institutions as the “Oracle of Delphi” where “To thine own self be true” was edged over the entrance – featured a person affected by “a mildly toxic” steam rising in the cave. People have had a need for stimulation for as long as we can imagine and often as a way to perceive a connection with the mystery of life.
The Arts and Drugs.
Although the generally accepted idea today is that contact with drugs (and alcohol) can only be destructive, many artists have contributed countless paintings, books, movies, songs and music under an “influence” of some sort. Mozart drank an extraordinary amount of punch and wine during his short, genius life, as actors like Robben Williams freely admitted to using cocaine (and being on everything but roller skates) while performing in movies. The Beatles sang about pot and LSD in the Sixties, and one can speculate what songs would have been produced, had they led pious, sober lives. Another great band, The Doobie Brothers, probably also had some knowledge of what a doobie was. Country music is more famous for alcoholic stars, but some like Willie Nelson are known for their fondness of Marijuana. The world of Jazz seem to attracting artists more of a hard-core presuation. Ray Charles, and Charlie Parker come to mind – with their well known addictions to Heroin. Historically speaking several of the founding fathers are rumored to have enjoyed a bowl of “loco-weed” now and then. When Benjamin Franklin floated himself across the village pond pulled by a kite, I personally think he had more than tobacco in his pipe that day. Lately it has also been pointed out to me that the “snuff” used by many aristocrats during the time of the European Renaissance was a mixture of cocaine and tobacco (no wonder the French Revolution took them by surprise). Although fictional, Sherlock Holmes was in today’s terms also a coke-head, exhibiting all the driven, keen behavior typical of a cocaine user. During the 60’es and 70’es many university scientists (some working for the Army) experimented with LSD, and the field of “psychopharmacology” developed at that time. Singer/writer Paul Simon got in hot water for having weed in his limmo during a routine traffic-check, Paul McCartney is said to have divorced over the issue of pot, and do we want to talk about reggae and the Rasta religion?
Two Kinds of Users.
I think users fall into two basic categories: Those wishing to escape, and those on a quest. Those who’s only goal it is to escape a “reality” are easy targets for exploitation, as a drug’s effect is only temporary while the need keeps growing (It is said that the first shot of Heroin or Meth gives a pleasure rush so intense that the user will spend the rest of his/her life trying to duplicate it – and it will actually never happen). If, on the other hand, a drug is used is for the purpose of exploration, the picture may be a little different. It appears to me that users who are motivated by curiosity, rather than need, are less likely to become addicts. A drug like Ecstasy, for instance, was originally developed for intra-personal therapy by a scientists named Alexander Sholgun, who had found a way to mimic what the brain releases naturally when it wants to feel euphoric. Originally a therapist would use the drug to guide couples – typically married, but at an impasse of their relationship – though a journey “of the heart” and often with lasting success. Couples were able to put personality and events aside and see the universality of each other. The remarkable claims about this method was that the insights, lessons learned and connection made did not vanish with the morning light. Ecstasy was not a substance suited for addiction as we knew it back when, since our bodies needed to reset before taking another “journey”, we couldn’t simply take more of it. What the kids today call Ecstasy, MDMA, X or Molly does not sound like what we experienced. We took X as a quiet “deepening of the heart” – the Rave-parties of today would have been the last thing we would want to engage in. Today’s X must be mixed with Speed and/or other stuff to give someone the idea to dance all night with hundreds of people.
Lately there has been a lot of focus on athletes using drugs to improve their performance. There has been talk about removing suspected users of Steroids from the Hall of Fame (presumably to the Hall of Shame)… Although most would agree we should punish those who had an unfair advantages in sports, should we also ban countless musical compositions and paintings because they were created “under the influence”?
On the surface it seems that society celebrates creative people when we can either ignore our suspicion that they may be “on” something, or if they say they used to but don’t any more… If a person has led a “rough” life, they are considered seasoned and an inspiration to others.
Threat to the public
Since drugs (and alcohol) have been around forever, and the so-called “war on drugs” has not had any success, it would perhaps make sense to pause – and ask a few basic questions such as: Is doing drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and other unhealthy behavior a personal issue or should government get involved? Most would agree that if a person behaves in a self-destructive way, we would see action be taken, but if there is no direct threat to others, who is best suited for intervention, family/friends or government?
In short I think freedom means the right to figure life out by ourselves, and we have each other to help. Some of us get addicted to credit cards, sex, bad relationships, gambling, sugar or fast food – does this mean that the government should step in before we do more harm to ourselves? Do we want the authorities to protect us from ourselves? Not unless we look to government to also define the reason for living, and this, I think, is the central question regarding drugs:
What do we think life is for?
It seems to me, that if we believe life is a test to do the “right” thing in order to be rewarded at death by a Supreme Being, then the race is on to determine what is right and what is wrong before it’s too late. If life, on the other hand, is an opportunity for a unique experience including personal choice, and there is no “judgment” or “right way” in the eyes of the Universe, then we are each free to choose what kind of experience we want. This doesn’t mean its a good idea to go crazy because there is no one to punish us: It would indeed be our own loss if we found ourselves wasting away on Opium in the slums of Hong Kong, much like if a foolish action left us crippled or stranded on a barren island. Free Will means personal responsibility, and no one to blame but ourselves.
Many Christians believe we are all sinners and must repent. Jews were told they were the chosen people and have been isolated by other tribes ever since. Muslims have not yet separated faith from science, something the Christians called Reformation. Buddhists attempt all-acceptance, but are driven out of lands by those tolerating nothing – and Native Indians see all animals, plants, earth, water, fire and sky as connected, but not so modern society. Most faiths attempt to gain access to the unknown by restricting or modifying behaviour and governing thought. Since drugs challenge accepted views of life, they are often regarded at a threat to “tradition”, hence banned as evil.
The down side
of Drugs is that the user often becomes isolated in a personal experience that others can’t relate to, or is caught in either a mental, or chemical dependency. Drug abusers become despondent, listless, and without interests beyond the drug itself. We say that when there are drugs or alcohol involved, the person is not fully able to make good judgments about choices in life and therefore it is a compassionate response to step in and change the situation.
In my view, a well functioning community of friends, family and neighbors is probably better suited for such intervention, rather than laws and government. Little is done to help someone by putting them in jail.
was founded on the idea of personal freedom to pursue a life of one’s own choosing. We are allowed to tattoo ourselves from head to toe, eat Twinkies for all our meals, smoke cigarettes non stop and never see a dentist, so why are we are not permitted to alter our minds with any other substance than alcohol?
I grew up during the sixties and had my fair share of various herbs and spices such as Pot, LSD, Mushrooms, and MDMA. I learned a lot and never had a bad experience, but luckily I was never attracted to the hard stuff. Pot helped me better than Prozac and Dextrin during a depressing period of my life, and I still find it helpful to lift the mood and find musical inspiration. Otherwise I appreciate having a keen mind, living in the same world as those around me and show up on time with all my gear. My friends and loved ones helped me find balance, not the government.
More useful information available from the book: “Hallucionogenic Plants” by Richard Evans Schultes published by Golden Press, NY.
2016 Was another season of musical exploration. Many magical moments, many players of great heart and soul. We attempted to record every show in magnificent 16 track 48K. Some moments held the presence and a few examples are below. Watch the slides, play the music. It’s all recorded live.
Inge Steinbach became a friend of mine over the past years. She was an avid photographer, artist, with a constant curiosity about life and art. She would stop by or call me with questions of cameras, computers and the electronic paint-programs she was trying to learn. I’m not sure how old she was, perhaps 80 something.
I had not heard from her in a little over a month, when Paula Paola (also friend) went by her place to see how she was. From a neighbor she heard that Inge had died 3 weeks ago from melanoma. It had happened pretty quick, but unfortunately painfully. This picture is the only one I was able to take of her one day when we were both out photographing horses. She otherwise refused to have her picture taken even though she did several (exhaustive) sessions with me as the subject. Inge was born and raised in Germany and had the love of precision often expressed by Germans, but loved all living creatures and would bring treats to my mother’s dog.
There was no memorial, I don’t know if she had family left, and it (again) made me think of life here on planet Earth. Inge lived a whole life, traveled, met people, served everyone that I know of and all that is now left is a single picture, along with this 30 second video-clip I randomly recorded one day when she was discussing her art with my then-friend Robyn.
It may not be much, but I carry a bit of her spirit with me.
Bless your soul, my dear Inge.
This is a live recording from the Crooked Path. Two fellows of advancing years performed in the garden. One sang and played the guitar, the other a keyboard. It came out pretty good.
No tricks, no replacements, cuts or added tracks.
Just Ronn Cobb, a Texan.
and Bent Myggen, a Dane.
Come listen again this Saturday.
Sunday is Open Jam with Frank, Rick, Grace & others.
Bring your own wine.
Linda Hance caught a video clip of people having a great time at CP today, Saturday.
Twas a splendid time at the Crooked Path this Weekend. Video production of Off the Grid with Ray Pannell, Frank Palmer, Mama K, Vince Denham, Jamie Greene, Liz Brumfeld, and the recently returned Wizard of Odd, Rick Norton.
The video and new CD album will be released soon. Of other noterieties in attendance: Jeff Elliot, Lasse Blumberthelsen and Matt Schick. Stay tuned…
Music track: Free Lunch (B Myggen, BMI)
So summer 2016 have anchored up to the curb at the Crooked Path. We look forward to an amazing season where all kinds of alignments are gifting us. Our latest treasure, a Vintage Hammond B3 Organ and Leslie speaker is finding her voice under the able hands of Ronn Cobb. Frank Palmer, the mayor and full time outlaw of Los Olivos, is showing up with a stand-up acoustic bass, the kind only serious bass-players pack.
The sounds have been extraordinary, heavenly, actually as we have been playing the last weekends and I’ve had moments when I thought I would simply float away. Ron, Frank and I have enjoyed high praise from souls wandering in and enjoying the rich sounds. I say People wander in and wonder out. This summer Dave Smith will also be here, Ray, Eric, Grace, Mama K, FeelGood, Leon, George, Benito, Tony, Rick, LP, and others will hopefully come visit the Crooked Path – and the odd nexus of a Hippie, a Texan and a Dane.
- The garden is blooming, the sails are up.
- This year, there are rumors that Tommy will bring some of his BBQ creations for consumption.
- I’m still dialing in the mix in now three separate monitor systems, all analogue – better than ever.
4/20 was amazing.
And so it was that Lillian Myggen, 90 years old, closed her eyes on Friday the 15th of January, 2016.
Born between two World Wars, creating an enchanted life with our father, Arne Myggen. It will take me about a year to tell their story, but we celebrated her life here at the Crooked Path for the past four years.
She would take walks about Los Olivos with her little white Terri/Poodle and was always telling me how helpful strangers were if the dog-leash got caught or there was a steep curb to negotiate. After a while some got to know her, some came to the garden and often had conversations with her during out concerts. She used to play play piano, building houses, tile pools, run our household, and support her husband in a way most men can only dream of these days.
A Thank-you-forever to the Hospice Team from Visiting Nurses, and to Felicia Cody, who became mother’s (and my) friend and coach through a tricky passage. My brother Finn and his wife, Carol came through and pulled off an incredible lunch-feast with Danish Specialty foods along with American Lasagna in the garden. Our family arrived from San Francisco and San Diego for the afternoon – and spoke of the woman and her husband who died 10 years ago as a glowing example of partnership, talent, faith, hard work and love.
After speeches in chocked-up voices and music by Magi Myggen, Frank Palmer, Eric Brittain, Ronn Cobb and Yours Truly, we drove to Figueroa Mountain where I blended my parents’ ashes and released them both into the Light.
It was a good sendoff.
Thank you all who came and special thanks to those who helped set up and clean afterwards.
Mom would have been proud.
Dad would have expected nothing less…
Frank’s dwellings recently experienced the state of fire, and from it many lives were changed. Frank is cleaning up. Ruth and others help him. I went to see him and saw his walls and metal plates and what the fire also did. See for yourself:
Latest insight: The word “Music” (everyone properly knows this), comes from the word “Muse”.
A Muse is a spirit that fills us with inspiration.
When people hear the music they are sometimes (a)Mused.
To musicians, the art of listening is also the invitation for a spirit to arrive, a Muse to come.
When many are gathered, music focuses energy.
All, who listen expand the field of music.
A musical composition provides the structure for a connection between players, a sort of jungle-jim everyone can climb around in which keeps expanding.
As players learn to step back, play less, but still be present, they do the opposite of what most players do.
Usually when the music gets good, players get louder and play more notes. They figure if 15 balls on the table is fun, then 20 must be even better.
This is different. This is listening with instruments.
By stepping back we are creating a vacuum.
A vacuum draws people in.
The sound a musician makes is the witness of his/her presence in the audio field.
Why do people clap their hands an applause?
They want those who they listened to – to hear them say “we are with you”.
You have to be human to hear music.
You don’t have to have a soul to remember – a computer can do that – but you have to be human to hear music.
You also have to human to respond to humor, as well as have compassion for others.
Music, humor and compassion is like a secret handshake between souls, and probably a dead give-away if ever hiding among alternate species.
Many times I now feel this Muse, this presence of presence of more than are physically present.
It is an ecstatic presence.
Music is not the notes, but the space between them.
Authorities, once established, never want to give up their power – no matter what domain they preside over. I get confused each time we “spring forward” or backwards. The whole thing about changing time was dubious from the beginning and benefits thereof highly questionable years ago, but it prevails like eskimos through a blizzard. Laws are made – sometimes with good intent – and then things change, but the law doesn’t. Twice a year we all must switch gears in a slightly unsettling way and go on about our business.
The system says to it’s citizens: “I am in charge of what time it is and now I say it is something else than yesterday”. It is unsettling in two ways: The change by itself – and having someone you don’t know change your life arbitrarily. My cat is also bothered by the change in routine.
I would prefer time to stay the same as yesterday, have a meal around sunset – rather than when it’s pitch black and things like that.
So I’m going to revolt!
For the next 6 months, if I say to you I’ll see you at 10 tomorrow, that means 9 o’clock in your time-zone.
I will get up at my usual hour, have breakfast, lunch and dinner at my usual time, and my aging mother will be back to her routine.
It is a small thing to remember that if I want to see a movie while they still have movie-theaters, I can be an hour late and still see the whole thing. The more I think of it, it seems eminently reasonable to have my time be a personal matter. I suggest we all do it, we simply declare our own time-zones and don’t go along with foolish ideas of springing back and forth. I imagine employers could also simply ask their workers and staff to not change their watches either, or simply agree to come at 10 instead of 9 and go home at 6 instead of 5.
So that’s it! I have talked about Los Olivos Standard Time before and here time follows the sun and does not change. It may he 10 o’clock in Buelton, but here it’s already 11.
Oh liberate us from state sponsored impositions!
We have sight and sound. Two senses. They say we have 5 senses: Sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste – but we have more. We can feel heat, which is neither sight, sound, touch, smell or taste. How about our sense of balance & gravity? That would be yet another sense. Seven senses. Then what is the sense that starts an energetic transformation when lovers kiss? Pheromone receptors in our nasal cavity, doctors say is what makes us hot for sex, not just sight and touch – which makes it a separate sense – number eight. From there we go to a feeling in our stomach we can get when something is not right (nine), and a feeling in our hearts when something is good (ten)…
Just like some folks use less than a thousand words, while others access twenty times more – so it is with our senses, I venture to say. Most people are visual, obtaining all the information they need from sight, while sound, smell, taste and touch is barely noticed. Words are used to convey information, rather than setting up emotional connection. Most folks focus their attention on the visual aspects of life.
Music is an anomaly in the animal kingdom. Birds sing, but do not harmonize. Perhaps crickets do, but as far as I know, humans are unique as a species to sing and play interactively. Everything in nature has a purpose, but what is the purpose of music? A horse may make murmuring belly-sounds to welcome another, while a wolf will growl to scare off a foe, but music gives no message other than feelings. Somehow humans can sense and connect with others through melody, rhythm and progressions, but for what purpose?
It is precisely for the reason that music serves no purpose, that it is so meaningful. It makes no sense and really has no place in the physical world, and just like a rainbow, music only exists when a sentient being bears witness to it. It is a secret handshake between souls. A recognition of other beings around us. You cannot hear music unless you have a soul. We smile, dance, move and shake and demonstrate our connection to each other when music is live and present.
Music is another sense – number eleven, perhaps.
I have gone to jam with Dave every Wednesday in what I now call Soulvang. Sometimes we hit the groove and I’ve tried to capture it via recorders. Last Wednesday I dragged my little big rig mixer. Tape is still brutal, but the idea that this is just two guys playing for tips in a bar, while two tourists from Chekoslovakia are listening is funny to me. Later Danny joined in – here are a few moments from that memorable evening.
Xmas tree-lighting party in Los Olivos last night. Thank you Ron Cobb/Keyboard, Frank Palmer/Bass, Tommy Joe/Guitar, LP/Drums. Thanks Linda for the picture.
We pulled out all the stops, speakers, subwoofer, mikes – and (greatly appreciated) a garden heater.
It was fun to stand before the residents of LO and sing L.O. Standard Time. Perhaps we can fish out a mix from the recordings. What an amazing town.
Live music mixes in the air. The sound vibrations from the tuba runs headlong into the snare drum. It’s a midair collision that works out like a tug-of-war for the same set of molecules.
When each instrument uses a separate microphone, and they all come together in a mixer, the collision of sounds happens in an electro-magnetic environment – behaving much like air and so it was done with multitrack recorders and tape many years ago.
Today, when we record digitally – a circuit measures the sound of each instrument – then records the numbers (not the sound). To mix, the computer calculates how the parts would have mixed – according to models, essentially adding and subtracting the measurements. This means we twice subject music to interpretation. Personally I trust air more than computers, and in the old vinyl jazz groups you can still hear and feel a room full of musicians all playing at the same time. In MONO, no less.
If I had the budget , I would record all music live – meaning we all play together at the same time. I would use a trusted old 24 track Studer with 2 inch tape moving at 15 or 30 ips. Then I would mix using an analogue mixer, like Neve to a two-track reel-to-reel. (Real-to-real, one may say) As a last step I would transfer that master to digital high-fez for the general market, and press a few analogue LPs. Vinyl records are not only still made, they are pressed with better vinyl (little or no pops) and gaining in popularity. I think I know why.
I am fond of pronouncing that there is no Soul in digital sound, but still – when listening to an MP3 of Benny Goodman’s quintet, I feel the presence of the musicians – even from a mono-recording. Back then it was all live in the same room and a fellow in overalls mixed the recording as they played. It was live, it was analogue, surviving the digital homogenization. Can we do the same today?
Karen, Mama K to some – came to visit and sing a bit with me today. It was very quiet in town, as Solvang was celebrating Danish Days and many visitors of the valley presumably went there.
It was a very pleasant day, and my efforts to “tune in” various instruments, piano, guitar and such paid off. The speakers delivered the splendid sound of real wood, real strings and hands. Our voices met well each other and we indeed called in a few visitors, couples in love and groups of friends. Not many, but very appreciative for the space and the music.
We exchanged a few gifts after the show along with spirited conversation about life, music, and the moment “now”.
After everyone left, after the cleanup and putting instruments away I counted the tips left in the box. I always count, and regard every dollar as a gift from someone’s heart, since we don’t charge for the music at the Crooked Path. Among the ones today, fives, a ten and a twenty, there was a fifty – and also a hundred dollar bill. A hundred dollars!
I’m not saying this to brag of how touching our show was today. It was good, but there was also a spirit present in the garden. Now, music cannot be measured, weighed or framed on a wall – it only exists because there are souls who listen, so when someone leaves more than a polite amount in the contribution-box, it a very solid kind of applause. It – in essence – says to me: Keep going, keep writing, playing, performing, set up the equipment, turn on the fountain, put out the chairs, invite everyone in – because music, live music is needed.
Thank you very much.
I’ve been thinking.
Fixing the grass.
Hanging up a sun-shade.
Testing speakers and a new mixer.
Mixing live performances here at the Crooked Path, in Soulvang and the Garlic Festival. Listening to the recordings and thinking some more.
Jamming over the last few years has been fun and I’ve learned a lot. Things tend to go a certain way: Tight and wonderful in the beginning, and loose and loud at the end. Party is party, and some musicians seem to have a great deal to celebrate. Nothing wrong with that, everything has it’s time and place, but for me the fun is not in getting lost – it is in coming together.
To me Music is the art of listening. Without listening there is no music. The more listening, the bigger the creative field of music. In a bar, music is often used as a way to create an environment of sensory overload, along with TV-screens and alcohol. It serves a purpose and there seems to be a need for all that, while I would like to create an environment of sensory expansion – not overload. This summer I will be inviting those who write, those who play because they like to listen – and those who listen because they can hear – to come to the Crooked Path.
The park next door has had new grass installed. I suspect they will open it back up to the public for the Jazz Festival on June 7th. They usually finish their program around 5, hence I’d like to have a good show ready to go, starting a summer of beautiful music.
Paul isn’t ready, but he will be. This week-end the musical excitement in Los Olivos will be at Paul’s Garlic stand. Each year the music gets better. This year it will awesome. It will be Frank Palmer, Ray Parnell, Dave Smith, Jeff Elliot, Benito Tapia and some “amazing sax player” coming up from LA.
An unusual feature to the day’s musical presentation will be the presence of an audio-engineer, actually mixing the band. The performance will also be professionally recorded and the cameras will be rolling for history to decide later what actually happened.
More info to come.
Mark your calendar.
It’s late, I’m back home again. We played tonight at Randy’s Taproom in Soulvang. It was a sudden gig, but I was glad that Eric Brittain was free, so he came down from Atascadero, and Grace Feldmann came from the other direction, Painted Cave, bringing her Cajon and toys. I’ve got an amazing new keyboard, as close to an acoustic piano as technology allows and we got going when Randy Hennings showed up. I had a Djembee in the car, so the two percussionist sat next to each other. First time all of us played together. It will not be the last.
I never know what the band will sound like, when we play, and usually it’s always good. This time was different. Good, of course, but different. You could hear every note and still there was room for a pin to drop. It was like soup and a roller coasters – or as Grace heard me say, like throwing a snowball through a pine-tree. Solid ground, but effervescent. Notes and sounds of hands was heard, rather than chords, sticks and picks. I sounded so good I sometimes forgot I was playing. What a hoot.
The audience went wild. I can’t tell how many there were.
It was music to my ears.
Let’s do different again.
Time to mow the lawn. Oops, ran out of gas. Luckily I always leave a little in the bottom of a can, so I could complete my task.
Gas cans nowadays are very tricky. I tried several at Home Depot. One has to twist a thing in the right direction, then pull back and keep holding the can and contraption in a firm grip until enough gas has been dispensed.
Ladies and gentlemen who make rules and regulations:
I know what gasoline is.
I have sofar been able to go through life without gas cans exploding in my hands.
I find it much more convenient to open the can, use a little funnel and dispense said fuel than using the Micky Mouse contraception you have approved. If you think you are doing the multitudes a favor, please be advised that I do not think so. Kindly un-force your demands for manufacturers to make things that pretend to be better – and that we are then forced to buy. The truth is that my gas can may only be a small example of how things are all over – but I must say that things all over have gotten less fun and more complicated because of stupid ideas becoming laws. Everybody gets stupid ideas, some of us even try them out, and some even turn out to be good ideas. That’s life, and stupid ideas come and go. The trouble is that when stupid ideas come from the government, they become law and wether they work or not they don’t go away.
Electric lightbulbs from China. That was a great idea for while. Now we know better, but still have to use those unsafe things. You made it illegal to manufacture a 60 watt bulb? Now I see I can get an old-fashioned bulb rated for 58 Watts. Brilliant!
Obama just went to give money to the farmers up north fighting the dry season. They need water, but cannot get it because a fish will cancel it’s campaign contributions. Instead they’ll print more money and pass it around. Try some blue-cheese dressing on those hundred-dollar bills, it still won’t be food.
Dear people working in government: Your job is to serve the needs of the people? Have we asked for safety-funnels on gas cans? Have sufficient tax-payers in the Valley asked for a new roundabout as a matter of great urgency – right at the time California is running in the red? Why are there cameras everywhere? That must have cost a pretty penny? What are all those yellow emergency phones every half-mile along the highways still doing here? That was another great idea until everybody (including the homeless) got cellphones. Are those yellow boxes still maintained? They even have braille keyboards, solar panels – heck those things can’t be cheap. Great idea, very compassionate idea. While I’m at it: The vista-point on the 154 towards the bridge where I notice the sign says “Vista point”? The vista is not there. Trees now grow where the view used to be. Folks have to get out of the car, which is a nice idea, then walk a fair jaunt to come to a lookout. What the heck? There are four million trees everywhere around, and we can’t cut a few of them back so all people can see the view? Is there some rule that we can’t cut trees?
If I may summize: Dear people working in government: Please ask what I need before trying to serve me. I know what gasoline is. If I fall off a ladder it is not because you failed to warn me where steps are. I have climbed trees, scaled mountains, navigated rivers and crossed many streets without being hit, so I don’t feel the need to stand on some street corner at 3 in the morning waiting for a light. Kindly do not instruct me unless I ask you, or if it looks like I’m hurting others. It took me a long time to disassemble that gas-can spicket so I can use it. Please don’t protect me and I do not believe you need to protect others from me either.
There are too many laws. Period.
You can keep them if you like them.
I view them as ideas.
Often dumb ones.
Greg died suddenly when his bulldozer flipped over. Nobody knows exactly what happened, it was a shock to everyone. For me he was a hard-earned friend. He did not do things the usual way. He liked to rattle folks to see what they were made of, I imagine, as he rattled me more than once. He was a gifted player and committed rock’n roller, playing with Frank Palmer and others since high school, in a band called The Grasshoppers. He could play like lightning, but excelled with his melodic sensibility.
I learned a few things around the man, certainly to know what I stand for. He was not shy of showing his opinion, even his musical compositions reflected a preference for the unexpected “just because”. He was, as they say, a man’s man.
I will miss him, as many will.
Here is a clip with Greg and the Grasshoppers I shot in Los Olivos a year or so ago.
[vimeo 18932438 w=500 h=341]
Who runs Los Olivos? I asked an innocent bystander.
He had no answer, but I have to ask: What’s up with the holes in the roads?
I see the highway constantly being paved and cared for, other roads as well. It seems there is no end to the willingness of our entrusted agencies to put men and women to work directing traffic while others care for the roads. Why not Los Olivos?
My mother of 87 years old has now taken two tumbles navigating across Alamo Pintado. There was a hole large enough for a rat to hide in and it darn near knocked her out. Kind neighbors scrambled to her rescue, then called me and 911. She’s ok, but the roads everywhere are becoming a challenge for elder pedestrians and bicyclists.
Who runs this town?
I believe the game of life is to be in the right place on the right time. I believe there is such a place and there is only one time – now. When we are in the right place at the right time, there is the chance we have something that is needed and we can be useful. To be useful is a great joy.
These days it is cold outside, but each wednesday I go to Solvang to play with a motley crew at the Brewhouse. It’s officially “open mike”, but it’s more like “jam-night”. I do all sorts of goofy things, playing drums and organs while Dave Smith sings all the songs I never learned before. It gets lively, and musicians have come to join for the sake of music alone – as no one gets paid except for Dave (and that’s only a rumour).
Why do musicians play? I’ve been in many places and there are two reasons that I can see. Some, have something inside, something they want to say and they use music to express it. That’s cool. That’s most of succesful stars and shedders in the rock’n roll world. Shoot first, ask questions later would be one way to look at it. Others are seeking someting to be part of, they listen first, then play. They serve music and seek to find that moment when everything is in harmony and they carry their part.
Last Wednesday, the usual outfit of Dave, me, Randy and Danny were augmented by a fellow named Michael and yet another who sat at my keyboard while I took at turn on the mike using Dave’s guitar. It is hard to describe, but this evening all of us were actually listening to each other and somehow I was permitted to steer the ship, to guide the flow. It is a process unlike directing and telling people what to do. A conductor conducts energy, then pass it on. Many moments were reached that evening where every note could be heard even though 6 people were playing. Like a moving three-dimentional puzzle, each had their part to contribute, but remained in touch through time. It was music to my ears and I was sorry that the fellow who did an amazing job on my keyboard left before I could tell him thank you.
The evening started out with three people in the audience and 5 big-screen TVs competing for attention, but as time went by people came in and most stayed as long as the music played. They whooped and hollered and nobody was watching the ballgame for once.
Even in a bar magic can happen. That evening I dubbed the band: “The Too-Good-for-This-Place-Band” Music is illusive but inclusive, a languare we all know, but cannot understand. Time is precious and music demonstrates that. A world where everyone enters with different tools, background, ideas and ability, but all that is needed is to listen.
That’s why I play.
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