Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Winter Acoustic Music Weekend

 I used to use this blog as a place to write about some of my musical experiences. I haven't been doing that, and it is time I return to the original purpose of this thing!!

This past weekend, I visited Groton, MA for a musical adventure called Winter Acoustic Music Weekend, sponsored by WUMB radio out of Boston. It is run, heart, and soul, by Lorraine and Bennett Hammond, a couple of very sweet folks who are also fantastic folk musicians.  They run what can best be described as a musical retreat, a gathering of acoustic music makers for the sole purpose of... making music.

You drive up a short country road (if you follow the directions perfectly... the immediate right is IMMEDIATELY on the right, for example, lol) and come to Grotonwood, usually a camp for kids from what I gather. Greeted by a staff or two, you are handed your tee shirt, wrapped with your lanyard, and a page telling you your room number and building. How to actually find your room, however, is pretty much up to you. I did meet many folks, though, looking for my room and saying GREAT TO SEE YOU to several people I remembered from past weekends. And, of course, there is already a group of people jamming in the lobby of the house I am living in for the next few days. By the time I get settled, though, it is dinnertime, and we are headed towards the cafeteria, on the other end of the property. This is usually ok, but this weekend, it is ah HEM, a BIT cold (freezing temps all weekend). 

Do I sound a little tired before I begin? yep, I am. Feeling a little guilty about leaving the dog... again. Wondering what I am doing here, really. Kinda been down lately about writing songs, seems they have all dried up, and gigs are getting rarer as the population of musicians is getting thicker. You know, the typical musician worries and disappointments. 

But, I go into the already bustling cafeteria. 'MARILYN' someone calls to me, gives me a hug, and tells me I am missed. A little later another and another... and another! And, they mention songs or things about my music or performances in the past or SOMETHING that means, yes, they really do remember me AND MY MUSIC. Oh MY! That means so much. 

None of that was expected. At all. I was hoping I would be remembered, but I NEVER thought the music would be, especially when there are so many very talented music makers here!!! Then I started feeling at home. The rest of the weekend went on from there...

The first evening is the concert by each teacher. We could learn harmonica, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer, harmony and guitar. There were workshops in singing health, rhythm guitar, blues fiddle, songwriting, performance, and stage sound. You can take 4 classes Saturday and 3 on Sunday. There was even a class on applying Beatles study to your own songwriting!!! I took harmonica, songwriting, harmony, and singing health. I got something I am already using out of every single one of those classes.

And then, there are the jams. You don't have to go to a class at all... you can just do jams all day if you want (or sleep, there is no attendance!!! LOL) In the summer, we sit on the large porch and jam from pre-breakfast to late at night... but it is cold in Massachusetts in February!!! lol So we jam in buildings, and so there is only one area since the others are full of classes. 

The jams are what I LOVE. Each one is different. Some are run like I do here... Go around the circle and pass, request, or play. Most, however, are 'Who has a song?' which in an unstructured group leads to a couple people just playing all evening. Then there are the groups where it is still 'who has a song?', but the song should be followable by most players... those are the ones I prefer!

After jamming for a bit, I hit the hay. At some point, I find that my roommate is someone I have shared space here with before and I am glad to see her! We are sorta on the same schedule, for one thing, and that worked out this weekend too!

After classes, we have a small break before the student concert. I am on NEXT TO LAST. Sigh. OK. Someone figures out I should be onstage by  10pm. That is not TOO bad. But what song? I spend an hour or so before dinner making that decision. I sure would like to do, 'Little Things', an upbeat tune about the pleasure of 'little things'. Turns out my voice is just NOT gonna hit those high notes for nothing. I keep looking. 

Stole My Trust, a song about a woman discovering her lover is using drugs instead of paying the bills, keeps sounding best. It is SUCH a heavy song, and from experience, I know this crowd mostly enjoys pretty, positive-sounding songs. Should I?

It sounds the best BY FAR, to my ear. Sigh. OK. I guess it wants to be heard.

And... it was a success! I am SO appreciative of the comments I heard! We all make a point of telling each other what we like about the songs, performance, or whatever, and that is really what makes this gathering so special. I used to leave it wanting to shake off all the (possibly phony) positive stuff. This time I didn't want to leave it. I felt that I really needed it.

Thank you, WAMW (pronounced Wham-double U). 

I am gonna write a new song!!!

Friday, December 9, 2022


Happy Holidays and a FANTASTIC New Years!!!

 Ah, yes, the year is winding down. December just started and it is already a third gone. Lots of our friends are having a holiday season unlike any they have had in the past, and after the past three years, that says a LOT. Our hearts go out to you folks in that position. 

Please, everyone, help each other find the peace of the season and spread around as much love as possible. We can all do that. And, in most cases, the more we each put out, the more that comes back around. 


And, something to help us!!!  Marilyn is rewriting our intro materials both for listeners and for venues we hope to play. Some questions:

How would you describe our music/sound? What do you like about it? Genre? 

Do we remind you of any other artists (some folks are creative with that question, like a friend once said, "a cross between Mary Travers and Jimi Hendrix", lol)

Please, just hit reply and send us your thoughts... often, just off the top of your head is best. We SO appreciate ANY help with this.


I am still hoping to put together an upgraded video of my Christmas Night tune this year!!! Maybe next time Rick and Marilyn get together to practice, I will think of it and turn on the camera!

In the meantime, consider coming to the live stream, at 1 pm est on Sundays. It is on Facebook and YouTube at the same time. I will post the links below. You can also see the video after we finish in either place. I am thinking of adding our stream to Twitch, as I hear the music community there is growing and very active. Whichever URL you go to, please keep refreshing the page until you see us. Sorry, the stream will not just start for you when we come on if you are just waiting at the URL, and that is how it works, nothing we can do but ask you to refresh your browser (in Chrome, it is a little circle arrow immediately to the left of the address bar, click it). Somewhere on the page while you are watching, there will appear 'Click here to get notified of future live streams by this artist' or something like that, and you can try that to also find us easier. 

And we have FUN! You are welcome to chat with the folks in the stream, it does not affect us playing at all!!!  And if you prefer to peak in, WE can not see when you come or go (ever), so come and see what it is about. If you want to let us know you are present, post! 

please email music @ Rickand Marilyn. com  (take out the spaces), respond below in 'comments' or you got this as an email, just hit reply. We appreciate ANY help with this.

Oh, yeah, and here are the live-stream URLs. Hope to see you there!

Livestream on FaceBook

Live stream on YouTube

Saturday, November 19, 2022

 Time for new beginnings!

Rick has been fully retired now for a while, but I am just starting this journey. Afraid of returning to poverty, I am still working half-time as a medical person, but I am identifying more and more with RETIRED. 

It is strange to have time... I can rearrange my files, my rooms, my life. I have time to actually THINK instead of just MOVE (yep, it IS harder to get my 10K steps every day!). 

I tend to spend a lot of time 'getting ready' to do things. Like, I know I want to spend significant time practicing and improving my vocals, guitar playing, and songwriting. So what do I tend to do? I read ABOUT practice, vocalizing, writing. I realize that is an excuse to not DO those things, while FEELING like I am advancing my knowledge, lol.  Something I struggle with... the DOING as opposed to the PLANNING. 

You may know that there are books about procrastination. LOTS of them. I have procrastinated some time away by reading some of those books. The ones that are specifically about the creative process talk about procrastination being actually RESISTANCE. That is a concept that does help me move forward because it gets my back up. You know, I am gonna stand up to anything that gets in the way of my doing what I want to do, so I resist RESISTANCE.

And that is why I am making this blog entry. It is something that has been on my To Do List now for months. So, I decided to blog (again) about not blogging. Yep.

Another thing I tend to procrastinate on is booking shows. Well, that backfires when I have no shows to look forward to doing. I LOVE playing for you, face to face, in person. Covid still makes it a little scary to be inside singing, but Rick and Marilyn will be contacting your favorite places to see acoustic music and try to line some stuff up. Watch the calendar!!!

We are also going to start Live Streaming, Brunch with Rick and Marilyn on November 20, 2022 (tomorrow), barring any technical difficulties!

Otherwise, my plan is to get some more songs, both covers, and new originals. I think I have already written enough for the next record, but Rick and I have to learn them and work on them before settling down to record. I will do this one completely differently from my last two records and make them more artistically MINE. I got the time now. But I also have lots of pieces of lyrics and melodies and guitar parts that need to be worked into standing pieces of MUSIC.  And once in a while, a whole song wants to have some life!

So those are my plans for the upcoming winter months, now that I have an 'extra' 20 hours a week to work on MUSIC!!!  I hope that you all also have a reason to get up every morning that makes your life interesting, fun, and meaningful!

Sunday, August 7, 2022


Some of you may be having a similar issue, around what? Exercise? Diet? So, here it is:

I should be practicing.

No, I really should be.  I made a commitment to myself to practice every day. I used to practice every day, and I used to enjoy it. I did not understand how other folks went days, weeks, or months without touching their instrument. It is an original reason that I don't have 'background' music in my house... it discourages me from making it myself. 

I think I first stopped practicing so much when I started gigging a LOT. Seemed no need for it. I would write and I would learn new songs, but review? Why, when I was playing those same songs two or three times a week or more gigging? 

Seems, as I look back, I was starting to realize that I wasn't practicing a whole lot even in the winter, when the gigs dried up (yeah, I still mostly play the farmers- market- plus circuit.). 

And then COVID. Yeah. MUSIC dried up. And I don't know if I practiced in the early days... I don't think so. Day work doing medicine was hard, there was a lot to DO that you didn't have to do before, and I bet I did not even think of it... Until the gigs started disappearing (we had SO MUCH booked at the time of the shutdown!). So I suspect that is when I really stopped practicing.  Sorta because, all the gigs were gone, why?  (Yes, I know now that a lot of my depression during that time would have been alleviated if I had spent more time with music, but depression breeds inaction, right?)

I started doing the live streams pretty early on, although that was surely an uphill battle, technically. But I got to learn it and I think many times we sounded pretty good. And I did practice the songs I would play on the Brunch with (Rick and) Marilyn. 

But that is the kind of practice that reminds you of the song. So you don't have a fake start, or wrong rhythm or whatever when you do the song in front of folks. And guess what? The older you get, the harder it is to remember it all, and PRACTICE helps!

So. Now. I have decided that not only do I want to remember the songs I already have in my repertoire, and add an occasional new one, but I want to get BETTER. More skilled. I want to regain the vocal high notes that are now eluding me and gain more vocal character. I want to be a better rhythm guitar player, to give Rick a little more interesting backdrop to his wonderful solos. I want to add covers, there are so many great songs! I want to write more and better. That is SOME EXTENSIVE LIST.

There is only one way to accomplish any of those.


Practice each of those items in some way, for a little while, every day. Without giving up all the other things... the journal, the ten thousand steps!!!  Maybe giving up some online time? (Yeah... )

So, instead of practicing, I am writing ABOUT practicing. Now THAT is a procrastination. Almost a humorous one. 

So, They say the first thing to do when you have a problem is admit it. So I am. And I am going to recommit to this idea of daily practice. If you are reading this, you are welcome to hold me accountable to myself!!! But now... Goodnight. 

I will start the practice of Practicing tomorrow...