Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

There are some themes at this time of year that I cherish. Don't mistake me. My spiritual beliefs are not focused on a man who lived long ago. But there are some threads that run through this season that are very meaningful to me. It is a good christmas when these things are brought into focus for me.

One theme that runs through the stories and traditions of christmas is that of light....the star of Bethlehem, candles, the lights that folk put in their yards that illuminate the countryside....there are strong images of light in dark places that is truly a message of hope -- a good thing to think about, both for the whole at large and for us each individual little folk...

Then there is giving. Notice I don't say GIFTS, I say giving. Because there are all sorts of ways to do that. Sometimes something tangible is what is required. But many times, the things you remember have more to do with giving something of spirit that touches another human in some special way....

Finally, there is music. The songs of the angels, the carols we sing....everywhere there is music, and it is all ok, as long as it is done with spirit!!!!

May you find peace in the giving, in the light and in the music of this season.....and a happy new year too!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Charlie Brown style Christmas Tree....

Meet The Harmonica Man

Mackie says, "I tell them music is a gift, you give it away - you give it away and you get to keep it forever."

This is a simply WONDERFUL donate and learn more, the web site is

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Michael Hedges - Like a Rolling Stone

My friend Deb shares......Once I heard Michael give someone advice regarding "how to play guitar". He said (paraphrased), "Don't play guitar. Play MUSIC. Forget techniques and the wood and strings, and let yourself create music."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Karen passed away last night. I spent the evening on Facebook, writing about things I remembered about her. Things like the popcorn and cranberry strings on her Christmas tree every year....her constant laughter....adventures on Warren Street...many parties and gatherings and weddings and such.

I will miss her. I hope she is at, i think i KNOW she is.

I did one more sing for her....Christmas carols on Sunday. She was weak, but smiling and trying to sing along with us. The time went too quickly and we had to leave. She sure did look like she had a good time. Christmas was one of her favorite times of year, she went 'all out' as her brother commented to me.

I will miss Karen. I love Karen. I will continue to walk the Garbage Trail in May. I will keep singing songs for her...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Time!

I know I haven't been good again-have not posted anything about my trip. I just
Want to say that it was wonderful! Much better than expected. I so fully enjoyed playing and singing with rusties, day and night. There is truly nothing like it and I thank Folks for helping me out on all those songs!

Now I miss miss miss that daily musical feast and I am itching to get together and play with folks.

This is the holiday season and singing carols is on the agenda!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Man of Ideas | Features

A Man of Ideas | Features

Even in the late sixties, a speculator wouldn’t have been out of line in saying that Neil Young would end his career as one of rock’s most influential singer-songwriters.

With Buffalo Springfield, he’d penned classics such as ‘Mr Soul’, ‘I Am A Child’ and ‘On The Way Home’ and he’d written a few more, like ‘Helpless’, for Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young. But his greatest output has been his solo material and even five years into this career, there was no need to speculate about what his stature would be at the time of his retirement.

At 64, Young is still active as a musician, director and environmental activist. He has released eight albums in this decade, released two films, and this year he will also be in a documentary about his 1959 Lincoln Continental, a car he has retooled to work on alternative energy. Those who’ve paid no attention to him will find this surprising, but this is the behaviour we’ve come to expect from him – prolific, pro-active and politically involved.

As a solo artist, he is a part of that upper rung made up of only a few musicians whose legacies are far lengthier than their Greatest Hits package. In the past 45 years, his career has been characterised by his willingness to constantly reinvent himself, at which only Bob Dylan and (arguably) David Bowie succeed him. Nonetheless, at successful reinvention, he beats both of them.

Apart from playing over 10 instruments onstage, Young has shown an interest in swing, jazz, rockabilly, blues and electronic, country, rock and pop. For his contributions to distorted guitar rock, he has even come to be known as the ‘Godfather of Grunge’.

Yet, Young is no virtuoso on guitar. While this is apparent even today, according to Tim Bachman, “Randy (Bachman) used to try and give Neil guitar lessons because Neil couldn't precisely copy the top 40 tunes back then. Neil was Neil and that was it. Randy kicked him out of our house and told him to quit the business, be something else! A year later to the day, we received the first Buffalo Springfield album in the mail. On the back in the liner notes was a thank you from Neil to Randy for kicking him out of Winnipeg.” But technically, precision has never got in his way. On the strength of his ideas alone, Young has sailed past several virtuosos.

The simple but melodic guitar phrasing on ‘For What It’s Worth’ is his construction, while songs on Rust Never Sleeps feature some of the most superfluous use (the hallmark of grunge) of distortion ever.

This facility of ideas wasn’t always lauded widely, though. All that people were certain of was his unpredictability, but not of his ability to change lanes while fashioning good tunes. His Ditch Trilogy, which he released after the #1 album Harvest, wasn’t well received in the seventies, even by commercial publications. Now, though, it is widely-accepted as some of his best work.

In 1979, he released Rust Never Sleeps, his best-known album with Crazy Horse. Rolling Stone named him Artist of The Year, while Village Voice named him artist of the decade. But the next albums he released – Trans, Hawks & Doves, Old Ways – were once again badly received. Trans, which contains robotic elements, baffled fans, Hawkes & Doves was seen as an inferior product, while Old Ways caused him to leave his record label.

This long run of unfavourable reviews ended with Freedom in 1990, after a whole decade of unsuccessful records. Since then, the previous records (once again) have received favourable treatment. Rolling Stone even ignored some of his ’80s work, but recently, gave even Landing On Water – the most experimental of the ’80s works – a 4-star rating.

Maybe critics and fans were just too slow to latch on to these changes. But that didn’t stop him from making them. And no one can claim that they weren’t informed that he would be making them. In ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)’, he expressed his intentions most clearly in the line ‘It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

Neil Young - Out On The Weekend - Bridge School Benefit 2009

My friend Harry is providing these excellent videos to us of BSB 09....what a wonderful song!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Friday morning I will be flying to the West Coast....Seattle/ meet up with a group of Rusties for a Very Big Adventure. Folks from literally all around the globe will gather Friday and drive down the coast together to the International Rust Fest (IRF), which is the Friday before the Bridge School Benefit. At that event, even more Rusties, also from around the world, gather to visit and play music and celebrate Neil Young. The IRF is held in 'Neil Country' and it is cool to play his music under the redwoods with other fanatical folk.....

The trip down will be filled with good times and laughs and music. Guitars and singers will be in abundance and we all like Neil Young music!!!!! Hopefully we can put together some songs for the IRF, or work on stuff for OPL....Old Princeton Landing, where we go to play acoustic music in a venue Neil himself has played in.

The end of my trip will be spent with old friends in Idaho....sort of a place to settle back down in. I hope.

Tonight I feel a little pensive, a little anxious, and a whole lot excited!!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Immortals - The Greatest Artists of All Time: 34) Neil Young

By Flea-

There's a rare contradiction in Neil Young's work. He works so hard as a songwriter, and he's written a phenomenal number of perfect songs. And, at the same time, he doesn't give a fuck. That comes from caring about essence. There can be things out of tune and all wild-sounding and not recorded meticulously. And he doesn't care. He's made whole albums that aren't great, and instead of going back to a formula that he knows works, he would rather represent where he is at the time. That's what's so awesome: watching his career wax and wane according to the truth of his character at the moment. It's never phony. It's always real. The truth is not always perfect.

I can't say enough about how much I love Crazy Horse. The sound is so deep, the groove is so deep -- even when they're off, it still sounds great, because they feel it so much. I don't usually go for that approach. I like Sly and the Family Stone, Miles Davis and Mingus. I like consummate steady musicianship. I grew up on jazz. I didn't listen to rock music until I played in my first rock band when I was in high school. I went from progressive to Hendrix to funk to full-on L.A. punk. That's when I had the realization that emotion and content, no matter how simple, were valuable. A great one-chord punk song became as important to me as a Coltrane solo, and I've had the same feeling about Neil Young. He changed the way I thought about rock music. As a bass player, I used to be into very boisterous, syncopated and rhythmically complex songs. After hearing Neil, I appreciated simplicity, the poignancy of "less is more."

My favorite Neil album is Zuma, with "Pardon My Heart" and "Lookin' for a Love": "But I hope I treat her kind/And don't mess with her mind/When she starts to see the darker side of me." And "Tell Me Why," on After the Gold Rush -- when he says, "Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself/When you're old enough to repay but young enough to sell?" it feels like me. I know I'm not alone. Tonight's the Night is probably the greatest raw rock record ever made, on a level with the Stooges' Fun House or any Hendrix album. It's such a mess, with stuff recorded so loud that it distorts. The background vocals are completely out of tune. And I wouldn't change a note. It's the spirit of what rock music is, and it's the reason to play rock music.

Neil is the guy I look at when I think about getting older in a rock band and still having dignity and relevance and honesty. He's never, ever sold out, and he's never pretended to be anything other than what he is. The Chili Peppers get offers all the time to sell songs for commercials and tour sponsorships, and our manager says it's not considered selling out anymore. It's the smart move, he says. Maybe we could whore ourselves out for the right price someday. I don't know. But I always think, "Would Neil Young do this?" And the answer is no. Neil Young wouldn't fuckin' do it.

[From Issue 946 — April 15, 2004]

Monday, September 28, 2009

Laurel Lake

Music is a Healer. It communicates without words. It touches people in real, wonderful ways. I know this in my heart, and I see it when I play.

When I was growing up, I had a best friend, Karen. We listened to music together, we giggled over boys, we dreamed about what life would be for us. Just like girls do. We were in each others weddings. We raised our kids together. We should be coping with our empty nests together.

But my friend Karen has Huntington's Disease, a progressive disease of the neurological system that runs in families. In her family, four out of six kids has Huntington's. One is already gone and the other three all live at a home in Lee, Mass which specializes in the care of people with Huntington's disease, Laurel Lake.

Karen and her brothers Paul and John are visited a couple times a month by their sister, Suzanne and Karen's daughter, Jen. Up until pretty recently, I have had the guilt of not going to visit them, but felt that it would be too know, all the ways that we convince ourselves not to do something we should do....she won't know me, I can't talk to her, what do I tell her??? When I visited for the first time in several years after the Garbage Trail walk this year, all those things were bothersome, but I could not deny that she very much knew who I was and appreciated my time with her!!! But I still can't TALK and UNDERSTAND and that drives me batty...

But I do carry a guitar. I can sing. And all the songs I do are old songs that Karen and I loved as kids....

I mentioned to Jen, who mentioned to Suzanne that perhaps I should go with them some Sunday with my guitar, because then I would be able to DO something Karen might appreciate....and they emailed me with 'how about this weekend' and 'we will drive' and 'don't worry, we will just take over a room and no one will mind' and other ways of calming my nerves right down....

In other words, they took away ALL of my 'yes but'....and I found myself, yesterday, driving to Laurel Lake with them and Suzanne's MIL....a great group of women, laughing and joking all the way...

Suzanne was in control, I told her....whenever she thought I should play, just tell we collected Karen, and Paul and John and headed to a room where she said, this fine? and i started playing....

Wow, music does it. People heard and came and thanked us for singing and playing. Paul looked me in the face and gave me his version of smiling. John fell asleep (I was told that was a GOOD sign, he sleeps when he is feeling good and comfortable). And Karen....she recognized and tried to sing along with many of the songs and kept looking at me with amazement...I have gotten a bit better than the last time she heard me!!!! When we went for a break, she was upset until I told her we would come back and do some more....It was clear that the music was moving in that place and giving people joy-I was honored that it was moving through me to them, making those folks feel a little brighter....

This is what is good about music, it touches and heals and makes people feel good. It is SO COOL to have a little piece of that, to share the music out like that. Music is meant to be shared. Give it out....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Campathon 2009 B

Last weekend I went camping with some friends at Copake Falls. We try to camp every year, but for the past few years, we haven't done it at we did it twice this year. We call it our 'Campathon'.

Of course, I can't go anywhere without my guitar...and camping is no exception. Trouble is, by time I am ready to play it, quiet time has set in and I CAN'T play it (Not that that should have stopped me this trip ...we had some REALLY LOUD neighbors who thought that quiet time didn't apply to them, and also didn't understand the concept of 'personal space', giving me the evil eye when i asked them NOT to pass through our campsite on their way to their Party--repeatedly....).

Anyway, I started playing early, right after we ate something, on Saturday night. The meal was a little sparse since I can remember to bring my guitar, but neglected to put the meat for dinner into the car....LOL. Thank heavens that some of us know to plan for the unexpected...or is it maybe that it is now expected that Scattered may forget??

Anyway, back to the guitar....I played mostly sing along type songs, getting some response from nearby neighbors that was favorable-I heard them singing along at certain points. I thought that was pretty cool. The MOST cool thing that happened, however, was when a guy walked up through the shadows with a kid on the hip and asked if he could bring his boy closer to the music and into the campfire circle. Apparently the little boy (seemed to be around four or five) LOVES live music and dad was bringing him at his request.

Dad, it turns out, is living right down the road, and moved here from New Zealand. Had a cool accent!! While we are chatting with Dad, the boy would say intermittently 'More music'. Every time I stopped and we started talking, he would request music and got a little loud if I didn't when I was playing, he would just stare and move just slightly, totally entranced with the singing all around him. At one point, I went over to him, to let him see the guitar, maybe touch it. He wasn't interested or I scared him, getting too close like that. He just said again, real quiet, 'More music'.....and shyly hugged his dad....

I bet music will be in that kids life forever....

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I think I met Joel Graves in Seattle....I really like his band, Everest...they are great...they opened for neil and his electric band.

This is something that was found on the internet at the site (click below to get to the original article)----

Diversions :: Everest On An Alternate Neil Young
Published on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

(Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.)

Last year Everest found themselves on tour with Neil Young. If you are familiar with their debut LP, Ghost Notes, or their live show for that matter, then the pairing makes absolute sense. In the wake of the Archives: Volume I box set, Everest’s Joel Graves runs down, and shares his thoughts, on some of his favorite lesser known tracks in the Shakey catalog. As a card-carrying Neil freak, this has personally been one of my favorite Diversions entries thus far.

Everest plays an all ages show at the Troubadour, tomorrow night, with Parson Redheads and These United States.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here is a list of 9 lesser known Neil Young songs that are worth diving into. The classics are classics, and for good reason, but these songs show that even on the overlooked records, “hello ruby in the dust….”

“Kahuna Sunset” :: (Archives Vol. 1, Disc 01 Early Years) - Featuring kitschy (and awesome) surf sound effects and classic Buffalo Springfield era Stills/Young guitar interplay, this song has a rhythm like no other Neil Young song. A long time Hank Marvin fan (guitarist of surf icons The Shadows), you can really hear how Neil’s melodic lead guitar style developed out of aching surf tunes.

“Revolution Blues” :: (On The Beach) – This song cooks, and fixes it’s glare on the overblown Laurel Canyon scene that precipitated the Charles Manson killings. A rare Young song where he lets the rhythm section (The Band’s Rick Danko and Levon Helm) loose with no leash and no governor. Say no more.

“Love/Art Blues” :: (Unreleased) - As a band, Everest went to go see Neil play at The Nokia Theatre shortly after it opened, and he played this little-known fan favorite. Classic Neil Young in that he recognizes his own contradictions, and the fine balance between love and art in his life. “My songs are all so long, And my words are all so sad, Why must I choose, Between the best things I ever had.”

“Music Arcade” :: (Broken Arrow) – This song’s another hidden bone crusher from an overlooked album. “Music Arcade” features one of Neil’s most intimate vocals. The lyrics put you in the same lonely state of mind as the narrator. You can almost feel his breath blow in your face when you listen to it, and you don’t have to listen too hard to hear what dry-mouth sounds like. The album also includes “This Town”, a classic Crazy Horse pace song that is worth searching out on its own. Be sure to track down its wry video as well.

“Ambulance Blues” :: (On The Beach) – The lyrics and guitar of this song shake me and I will never be able to explain how or why. They just do. They just do. Neil has admitted that the guitar part for this song was unconsciously based on Bert Jansch’s “Needle of Death.” “Ambulance Blues” is the flip side to the raw and wild spirit of “Revolution Blues.” On The Beach is my favorite Neil Young record so I chose two songs off it. For me, this album has it all. Elements include acoustic folk, electric rock, boozy country, sad introspection, fictional characters, humor, and honey slides. It contains career-spanning contributions from Crazy Horse, CSN, The Band, and The Stray Gators. The sleeve design is artist Gary Burden’s favorite of all the classic albums he’s worked on, to boot.

“Lost In Space” :: (Hawks & Doves) – “I got to lose, the deep sea blues.” When I heard Neil playing this at soundcheck last year, I wasn’t familiar with it. The song opens and closes with the plaintive plea “Live with me… Live with me…” I’d listened to Hawks & Doves in the past, but the album never really sank in. Hearing Neil work through the first ever live performance of this song in St. John’s, Newfoundland really opened my ears. The album version has a low-key feel and even includes the “Marine Munchkin” tripping out on backup vocals. Check it out. “Breakers crash on the beach, I count them in my sleep, They come at me steady, They know I’m not ready, They pound on my mattress door, Have they got a big one in store.”

“Don’t Spook The Horse” :: (Ragged Glory B-side) – Neil’s got a great sense of humor and wit. It can be surgically sharp or it can be bluntly droll. This is the sound of four guys in a barn blowing off steam. To most Neil fans, “The Horse” is a eight-legged animal that’s as powerful as it is confounding. Crazy Horse. Don’t think too much. Don’t do too much. “Don’t Spook The Horse.”

“Change Your Mind” :: (Sleeps With Angels) – Sleeps With Angels was a dark and nuanced record that reportedly dealt with the loss of Kurt Cobain and the death of a Young family friend gunned down in a drive by shooting. It’s one of the most diverse Crazy Horse records musically. Vibes, flute, tack piano, hushed harmonies, distorted mouth organ, and pump organ are butted up against muscular and trance-y electric guitar meditations. This album was Young’s last collaboration with producer David Briggs. I’d love to hear Neil make another record as deeply personal and sonically inspired as this one. This year, while opening for Neil, he surprised us by adding “Change Your Mind” to the setlist. We were honored as a band to get up and sing it with him on 5 occasions during the tour. I can’t imagine I’ll ever hear better guitar playing than he put into this song live. Gives me chills to think about getting into his cage on those special nights.

“Bandit” :: (Greendale) – My friend was telling me the other day about how he used to hate Neil’s voice when he was younger. Now, he loves it. Neil has a funny way of doing that. I think at this point, everybody knows that his music is not about clinical perfection. Who wants that? He’s about honesty and framing the songs with integrity. That’s why they ring true. “Bandit” opens with a guitar tuned down from the standard low E, all the way to B flat. The rattling and wheezing low note that this tuning produces is a perfect example of Young shaping his instrument’s voice to suit the song. It’s fucked up … to perfection.

I could make another Neil song list tomorrow and it would look completely different. It’s like having the wind in your record collection. words/ joel graves

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer Sessions at Ambleside, West Vancouver

From HarryO, via blackberry:

"Circle of guitars, pump organ, grand and upright pianos. Also Larry just checked dobro and vocal mic sitting on Neil's right.

White hat with black band, khaki jacket and jeans

Going back
Birds (grand piano)

With Ben Keith on dobro, Pegi on vocals:
Sail away
Old king (banjo)
Long may you run
Light a candle
Human highway
Hold back the tears"

I wanna see Neil!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Practiced Speech

It is amazing to me how songs evolve. I have been working on a new song this week...based on a remark I heard from someone about someone else that I hardly know. So I can't tell you how close I came to actually telling a story that is true for that real person, but I can tell you that I tapped into some old feelings of my own that I haven't thought about directly until I wrote the song. What an interesting process!! Stewing over a concept, expanding on the idea, then realizing only after the fact what was really happening in the creation of the, thinking I was writing about THAT person, and realizing, it was still about ME.

Well, gosh, I guess it is ALL about ME, or so some say....LOL!!!

The name of the song is 'A Practiced Speech'. It is not finished yet....the guitar part needs some more interest, but the words and melody are there....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Todd Snider - I Cant Complain

I saw this guy in seattle....he sings about real life in a real way...hope i get to see him again....thanks to Harry for posting this on YouTube.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dead Man (Soundtrack) by Neil Young

This is one of my favorite videos. I think that Neil's guitar work is the PERFECT match for the is sooooooo cool.

Labor Day Weekend

I haven't had such a lazy weekend in a long time...feels pretty good.

I started the weekend by walking down Warren Street in Hudson....
Todd and I....saw the sunset over the river, enjoyed peeking in the 'Secret Gardener', marveled at the restore job done on many of the buildings, and avoided that great ice cream at 'Licks'....

we ended at the Spotty Dog where we had some wonderful brews and settled in to hear some local guys play some good music....first up, David Ree (pronounced RAY, according to his myspace). We enjoyed his set very much!! (and you can check him out by clicking his name).

Next up was Shane Murphy but by then I needed to walk again (sitting still is not my best quality!), so we left and came to my house where we watched the full moon from my screen house...thank god for the protection from the mosquitoes!!! You'd think they would be starving by now, there are just so very many of them out there this year!!!

Saturday I spend the entire day...yes, the ENTIRE DAY...playing guitar. Heaven. No nagging sense of all the other things I should be doing.....just playing guitar. And singing. Spent some time with Brooks Williams DVD on 'Groove', 'Fretboard Roadmaps', handouts from camp, wrote a song about a conversation I had with someone about someone else ( out! you never know what will end up in a tune here....) and played many many songs just because I wanted to.

Again, heaven....

I REALLY wanted to take off for Robins Sprague Street Jam, but I did not. I had another party to go to, Nathan's graduation/birthday party. I did bring my guitar, and I did get a request (well, several) for playing that guitar, but Mike was not aware of it (I don't think) and no one asked him (I certainly was not!) to shut the recorded music down. It was nice to be asked to play, though....maybe next time!!

Anyway, I did have a great time chatting with Mike and friends, drinking some nice brew (Sierra Nevada Anniversary India Pale Ale....nice) and sharing some tequila with Mike (the Three Gentleman...REAL nice) and making and watching the fire....good times with good friends....

Now it is Monday. My day off. I do have a few hours of yard work calling me....pruning my overgrown lilacs (i work each season on them, hoping the young will grow up to replace the older and give flowers and make a nice fence between me and the next house....), digging ditches for rain to run OFF the driveway instead of into my garage, stuff like that....LOL.

And play guitar. I am learning the neck. Yep, playing for years in first position gets a little boring...time to take my fingers to new places and sounds and see what happens....

Hope all of you who read this are/did have a great Labor Day Weekend too....

SUPPORT INDIE ARTISTS...they are the real thing....

Sunday, September 6, 2009

From Zen Guitar

'Music should go right through you, leave some of itself inside you, and take some of you with it when it leaves.'.....Henry Threadgill

That is something to think on....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Spotty Dog Gig

Wow. Tomorrow it has been a week already since I played the Spotty Dog Books and Ale. I had a great time, and if you were there, I hope you did too...

First up was Richard Stockton VIII on guitar and vocals. He brought with him a very enthusiastic group of people and sang some hard driving songs.

I brought my own group of great people and we combed the book shelves and drank the wonderful beer that Spotty Dog serves and listened to Richard. I can't say I remember mind was working overtime trying NOT to think about all the ways I could embarrass myself!!!....but none of my imaginings came true.

I sang my songs with little explanation....gotta thing about that. I want my listeners to hear their own meanings in my words and music, rather than have me say who/what/where/when/how....i think the music is better that way. And I have done my job if people can identify with the sounds they hear, not just try to figure ME!!

So I sang many of my own songs and some of Neil and John Prine and John Denver and a couple other covers....and I think I danced with my guitar during most of it, though I am not sure. I amplified my voice only and that seemed to work pretty fine. Near the end of the set, I pulled out my 'sing along songs' and the audience (you guys are great!!) cooperated was at that time that we drew in some folks from the street who had to stop by to see what all the fun was about!!!!

Thanks so much to the Spotty Dog Books and Ale for having me, David for his never ending support, and all my friends who came and stayed and sang and smiled at me for a bit of time....I hope I get to do that again, and soon!!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gail Wade

Gail was my roommate at SAMW....Summer Acoustic Guitar Camp. She has a great voice, wonderful guitar work, and is a really nice and VERY interesting woman on top of all of that.....Check out her work on MySpace (click on her name in the title to go there) and her website HERE.

Support Indie Artists. They are the REAL THING.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SAMW Week 2

Just recovering from my week at WUMB's Acoustic Music Camp, where I took classes with Brooks Williams, and Siobhan Quinn.

This pic, thanks to my new friend, Patti Wilson, fellow camper and great singer, shows me playing my song 'Dancing Tonight' with the amazing all round musician John Kirk and wonderful stand up bass player Rick Woods. It was one of the most fun times I have ever had on stage!!!

Please visit the links for more info on the artists and the camp.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jango Radio Station!

I don't remember what this is about or how Jango got my song 'Dancing Tonight'...I guess I must have submitted it, perhaps after reading about it on Facebook? I don't know....but anyway, my song is in rotation on Jango Internet Radio. Of course, the more it plays, the better the ratings and the more it is played NOT as a request. So, if you would like to help me out in this little experimental internet radio deal, go to

type my name Marilyn Miller in the box and hit can also create your own 'station' and load other artists into the player.

Thanks for taking a look!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009


Well, I am back from my Adirondack adventure. What a great time!

I left here early Friday morning and took my time. Stopped for ice and some breakfast but never noticed my gas situation until the light came on, somewhere in the foothills of the mountains. So I took the next exit and pumped some gas and went in to use the facilities....the woman after me looked a little familiar as she walked towards me, waiting in line...Well, GOSH, she turned out to be my very best friend in high school, Susan!!! What an amazing thing!!! She absolutely laughed when she learned I was heading to Jay to do a Neil Young tribute, as she was there when I first discovered Neil....

That seemed to be a good omen (did i really need one?) and I continued my journey...I was on the land pretty early and I greeted our host Dave and settled into the house and checked out all the new stuff built on the property since the last time I was there, a year ago. Slowly other rusties arrived....

We got word, however, that the second bass player was not coming...or one of the guitar players (we didn't really expect him). Mark would be arriving LATE and maybe not at all for the gig (border problems/no passport for a member of his party). And Nan had a sore throat and didn't think she would play...

Hmmm....what was once a 'too big' band suddenly shrunk to 'do we have enough band?'. But by time we hit the venue, Nan was feeling better and worked the whole evening. We pretty much followed the written set list (not always the case for this gig) and had the patrons rocking for much of the evening.

Thanks to all who helped set up and break down the sound system!!! It REALLY helps me!!!

Saturday was a wonderful, warm, sunny day. I started early setting up the sound system and almost had a meltdown when I couldn't figure out how to stretch all the cords to get the electricity to the speakers and the sound to the audience, you know??? But it was a matter of adjustment and I finally figured it out.

Dave, our host, had told me he wanted music, LIVE,, as much as we could provide....I told him, if you let me, I will play until you shut me down....and I basically did, with the great help of the band....

Nan on guitar and vocals (her harmony lines are so amazing, and she also did some great lead singing...thank you Nan!!!) and Mark, whose guitar playing is my envy. He gets the feelings in the music out there for us to ponder!!! Paul made sure we followed the beat....I SO miss playing with you Paul!!! And Tom's bass laid the foundation for the tunes....and he had a HIT with Jelly Roll Man both nights!!!!!

The man of the hour, though, is BUgs....Bugs doesn't let rules stop him from getting great sounds and wringing emotions from that guitar of his....and we happily followed him through many many Neil songs. Thanks for the good times guys!!!

Another GREAT ARF....Thanks to all. The food was great, the company FABULOUS. Here's to next year!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Coldplay Interview - WDST Winner!

My BIL Mike interviewing Coldplay's Guy Berryman.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Henry Hudson Quadracentenial in Hudson, of course

I saw Tao Rodriquez Seeger (Pete Seegers grandson) play tonight...what an amazing set!! He really was on fire...plays folk music to a rock beat. Fantastic sound....

Then we had fireworks...with a band loop that played twenty times if it played once. If there was a wall around, I would have climbed it.

Calmed down at Mexican Radio with a nice margarita made with Herrerdas...ok, that is not the spelling and spellcheck is not working.

Also saw The Verrailes, a group of three women who had such tight, wonderful harmonies...that was so nice.

Went and checked out the Spotty Dog after that....they have some really really fine local beers on tap....

I had a very very pleasant evening tonight!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What To Do? Oh, What To Do.....

It has been hard for me for a while to sort out the sort of things I used to like to talk about here. I made another site up for the Neil Young stuff because some of my readers aren't into constant posting about Neil's latest cool video or interview. I also like to post here about my adventures in music making.....but I am thinking that posting about my efforts to overcome my stage fright may be frightening to potential venue owners who may be thinking of asking me to gig....LOL.

This summer has been full of new ventures and good times and lots of support for my music...seems I don't quite know how to report on those things without it appearing that I am tooting my own horn.

So my blog, that I still love, sits empty of my current thoughts, my life, my musings....surely something I have to correct if I want to keep on keeping on...

I have recently started yet another blog, though I have not worked on it to bring it up to is a blog that will be JUST the music, a place I can send people who are associated with the 'business' part of my music life. The more 'Public Face' of my music. And I hope to keep this as it is....

So look here for writings about ARF and getting ready for it!!! well as the practice that will lead up to my gig in August. Of course, only if you are interested in my thoughts about these things!!!!

Feels good to post SOMETHING!!! LOL

Saturday, July 18, 2009

CORRECTION-Sunday August 30

My show is NOT the 28th of August. Seems she was looking at next years calender!!! MY show is now scheduled for August 30, Sunday at 6PM at The Spotty Dog, Hudson, NY....Ben will accompany me on guitar....soon I hope to have a sample of work up on ReverbNation, I think we have a good sound....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Spotty Dog

NEWS!!! I will be playing The Spotty Dog on August 28 at 6pm. I am so very happy to be playing my home town of Hudson, NY!!! More to come....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The birds get upset that i invade their space <~m>
This is a lovely evening. walking outside. like an early june instead of a mid-july. but it is beautiful and comfortable. <~m>

The Music is Moving Along

What a long time since I sat down to write a real post here...and this will be short, as I am, as always, short on time.

About a month ago, I made contact with an old friend of mine, Ben, who is a first class musician. He is excited about my originals and we are working on some arrangements for the songs that are already up on my blog/reverbnation sites as well as recording some of my more recent materials.

We have also been playing together....last friday i had a cookout/party here and ben and robin were a part of it, along with a group of friends who supported the music by their wonderful enthusiasm and/or vocals. Ken brought his guitar and played along a couple of songs, too... It was a great time and laid the foundation for yesterdays 'Open Mic' which turned into mostly a 'Marilyn and Ben' performance due to the lack of other players.... We did have a couple folks contribute such as Rob G, who i have finally met!!...and they added a lot to the good times....AND the rain held off...

It seems to be the time of 'no players' for other open mics around here too...a couple weeks ago, I stopped by the Mt Washington House in Hillsdale, NY and was the only player there I played and sang and again had a few people sit in, but no one who wanted to take the lead....that was a good time too....

I am currently working out a gig in Hudson, my home be announced. If you are local (or not!!!) and want to be sure not to miss a gig, please sign up on my reverbnation will only get a mailing when i am announcing a gig...

Now, out to my yard to mow the lawn....then to practice for the Neil Young Tribute in Jay NY, along with many fine rusted musicians....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Music Itself

“I've never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.” - Virgil Thomson (American composer 1896-1989)

(thanks to Helena)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Two Logs

so TWO LOGS was at my house, and i missed him, as evidenced by this
Marilyn is at radion city music hall with jill. Wow, last night was john prine. Common, earthy, wonderful. Now, leonard cohe <~m>

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Music

Got a verse, a melody (i think....sounds too much like something else i wrote at first, but coming along now...) and what i think is an interesting chord progression. Saw a guy yesterday in the cemetery, while waiting for my family to show up. (WHOA does THAT sound strange...)

Anyway, he was just looking out on the stones from the roadway, but obviously distraught. I don't know him. But I am going to write about him. I hope he's better today than he seemed yesterday...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Oh my. big fast hard scarey thunderstorm now!!! <~m>
It is a beautiful soft day outside. <~m>

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Neil-Young-Trans-World-Tour-80562.jpg (JPEG Image, 278x400 pixels)

This is similar to a poster that my friend Jen just gave me...i LOVE it...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Things I learned Last Night

1) You HAVE to memorize your songs. The papers get in the way of your interaction with the audience.
2) Save the gravelly songs to the end, when your voice is gravelly....
3) Do the vocally challenging songs in the beginning of the set.
4) Have a good time. It shows.
5) Take a break, don't play and sing for two hours without some sort of break...even to change instruments or SOMETHING.
6) Let them see how much you love the songs, the music, the being there. It shows.
7) Seems to work to put the real downer songs dispersed in the set.
8) Focus on the music, not you and not the audience. It shows.

Yard Work

The buttom pic is what I have done in the yard so far....listening to Fork in the Road is good therapy...

The next is my forsythia bush.... :( not much to it this year...

The third up is the neighbors brush fire pile....the cops were here this morning along with the firemen...yep, it caught back on fire (they did nothing to put an end to the smothering....) and they are gone for the weekend. Hope they are having fun, won't be fun for them when they return.... :(

The other two pics show you what I have left to do.....better get out there and get to it, heh?

April 17, 2009, Marketplace Cafe, Sheffield, MA

Set list from last night (not exact, this was the planned list though)(yes, i AM an old folkie...)

Dead Flowers
Don't Hit Send (original)
The Losing End
Folsom Prison Blues
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Four and Twenty
The Cruel War
Spanish Pipe Dream
Pain (original)
Day is Done
Rich Man's War
Crater (original)
Big Yellow Taxi
Country Roads
For Baby
Star of Bethlehem
On a Saturday Night (original)
The Old Laughing Lady
Helplessly Hoping (with david)
Nights in White Satin (with david)
Powderfinger (with david)
The Fiddler (with david) (original)
Expecting to Fly
Out on the Weekend
Coming into Los Angeles
Sweet Baby James (being in the Berkshires, you know...)
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Angel From Montgomery

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Neil Young - Words (Live in St. John's, Newfoundland)

I know it is bad. It is sick. But I wanna see neil again. Soon. Got a ticket...need a day off....(well, two, actually!!!!)

From my friend Jill

Fate is a strange bed fellow, and time is a healer.
Busy days and nights cause distraction from the unpleasant.
Or is it just that time is a healer?
I am not sure.
What I am sure of is April 7th is here. A day I have dreaded for the last 7 years.
It's the day I last held my father's warm hand, laid my head against his chest, listening to his heart beat, as we all told him, it was OK to go, to give up his fight, making promises to take good care of his bride of 54 years.
Yes, my parents were still in love. On their 50th anniversary trip, a cruise in France, people thought they were newly weds, and instead of cringing like little kids would. Don and I and some of our close friends marveled at the depth of love my parents felt towards each other and how long they had loved each other for.....till the end. A few months shy of 55 years.
Fate, a strange friend, I hadn't realized April had come. I do recall trying to think of an April fools joke to play on Kyle and Don, came up with nothing. Last week was to busy to spend time on things like that.
Don and I attended concerts in the night, and the normal weekly activities and a lot of pouring over travel books planing our 30th anniversary trip this summer to Alaska.
We missed seeing the travel agent on Sat, and set off to meet with her on Sunday..but failed. We got there at 3:00 p.m. and, oops they close at 3:00...and then it happened.
We were driving back home, talking about this weeks plans. Who's going where when and so on. Tree people coming and going and trying to figure out where to fit in family time. And Kyle going to Ct. to see a show with Ethan and Ethan's other half, Kelly.
Kyle didn't seem ready to drive to Hartford alone, and it became clear, I would drive him half way, and meet up with Ethan at a rest stop, and do a pass off. The rest stop is also the half way mark between our house in NJ and our house in Ma. That was my parents house....and that's how I came to find myself here, on the cusp of the passing of my father.
Comfort, I find inside these walls. I hear my parents laughter, and my father, the only time he'd get annoyed with my mother, her soft voice calling from another room, and he couldn't make out what she was saying. No one could. So after a few tries, seeing his frustration growing, I'd get up and play translator between the two, relaying messages between the 2.
Once annoying, now something I miss.
The long breakfasts continue. Several cups of coffee around the round table, till the coffee is cold, leaving rings inside the cold china cut. That tradition continues and is part of what makes this house a home.
This morning, bundle up.
Put muckers on my feet.
It's raining, raining and it's mud season in the Berkshires, and add in the rain, it makes the cold wet mush shin high mud in some places.
Take my parents memorial stones I made, out of their winter hide out and place them in the garden. Go back inside the house and fetch a hot cup of coffee, and lawn chair and share quiet time with my parents once again. Giving thanks for the wonderful life they gave me, filling them in on their amazing grandsons, and filling them in with what they have missed, the awesome women my sons have chosen to spend their time with.
That some how, when I never thought I would ever smile again,
from deep inside, spreading all over me on the outside, I have.
When I thought I could no longer put one foot in front of the other,
somehow I have.
When I thought I'd never see the bright sun inside of my soul, I have.
Fate is a strange friend
and time is a healer.
It was 8 years ago today, since I held my father's strong hand,
Yet somehow, I can still feel him.
Love your parents today, thank them today.
Love your friends today and tell them so.
Treasure your children, even when they get on your last nerve.
Tomorrow is a gift, promised to no one.

I'm thankful for my country home.........It brings me PEACE OF MIND!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Going Back

Losing a Friend

I grew up with the Connors. They lived in the little hamlet that we went to on Sunday mornings to get the paper. The store in that hamlet was Lighthart's, and we Miller girls loved the place....

And I knew where the Connors lived. I think the house was yellow back then, like mine. I was only in it once, for a very brief time, to pick something up.

I knew Robbie, though. He was in my class in high school. What I remember most about him was his smile. Always smiling and always friendly, even to me (i wasn't very popular). His best friend was Tom. I knew them mostly through Debbie. They were the friends that I think would have been better friends if we let ourselves know each other instead of trying to be cool, like we all did back then.

I found out that Robbie is dead today. I guess from cancer (family requests donation). I am so sorry. I am not sure where I saw him last, but it may have been my class reunion. I think it was Robbie (or maybe Tom) that said one of those perfectly defining 'statements of the moment'.

We were having a picnic as part of our reunion weekend at a park that didn't exist when we were graduating high school. As we made our way into the woods....a small group of us, each looking back over our shoulders at the classmates we left behind....Robbie said, 'Some things never change'......You probably had to be there.

Robbie was a friend of mine.
An old friend. Funny, I was thinking today of his brother, Donnie. He plays guitar and we had spoken about getting together and seeing what we could do. Found out when i moved here that he did the plumbing in this house that I live in....

It hurts that I will never see Robbie again.

He was not only a good person, he was a special person. I always knew that, and always wanted to know him better. Now, i will never have that chance. That is sad.

Seize the day. It is the only one you have.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I liked this. The tree looking one way beneath and another at the top. My walk. I felt that spring is finally here today. She arrived. It may stay cold off and on, but winter is done, it has lost its hold. Spring is here. I heard the birds calling this morning. I said on facebook that they were not giving up on spring. And this is why....

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Fiddler

Please check out my new song, Fiddler, on my ReverbNation widget over there ------->

Last night we recorded it.
David Hodge on Guitar and Vocals
Helena Bouchez on Bass
Karen Berger on Piano

Hope you like it....

Friday, March 27, 2009

It sure is beautiful outside <~m>

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jeff talking about addiction

It is interesting that the interviewer didn't ask any further questions about this topic.....

You have been open about anxiety and your addiction to painkillers. Is there a downside to being so up-front?
......I find it strange that people are more uncomfortable talking about mental-health issues than they are addiction. I think it’s a control thing. It’s more appealing and romantic if people destroy themselves. But mental illness just happens to you. People avoid topics that remind them how random and ambiguous things are. Whether it’s true or not, people have the belief that the addict can just stop. It’s perceived as something they’re doing to themselves. Obviously it’s a complex issue. There’s some truth to that, but there are a lot of misunderstood qualities about that notion.

*I* certainly want to hear more!!!

Jeff Tweedy

I am going to see Jeff play with Pete Seeger next Saturday. I want to post here some words of his that were meaningful to me and maybe some other songwriters...

What keeps you writing songs?
It doesn’t hurt anybody. It’s something I love to do, and it doesn’t hurt anybody. And the world probably doesn’t need any more songs, but I need more songs. It’s satisfying and lovely to do. I feel better, and as a band—I think I can speak for everyone—we feel better making something that wasn’t there ten minutes ago. Whatever spirit there is in the universe, I think that puts you closer to it. The act of creation, you know, it’s a very powerful thing, and very gratifying. I wish it on everyone. I wish everyone could enjoy making something that wasn’t there before.

Click on the post title to go to the rest of the article....

cough up the bucks!

Neil Young - Cough Up The Bucks

ANother Neil Video. Click on the title to this post to go to others

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Keira is Here!!!

See the new baby!!! Keira was born friday to nicole and josh. Nicole is my sister Muriel's, kid. We are really loving this little one!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

So it is snowing here in seattle. I am sitting in the airport watching the snow fall. It is even sticking. <~m>

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I am early for once to something! Standing outside th Hilton waitinf for the conference to start. <~m>

Monday, March 2, 2009

LincVolt-The Cutting Edge

Maybe a song won't change the world, but then again, maybe it will....over the weekend, Neil test drove his LincVolt. There are still issues, but as Neil said at one point, 'I don't give up'. The car drives beautifully through Wichita, like a silent white ghost through the streets....except when Neil is playing a track through the stereo and singing!!!! It is his new promo video, called 'Johnny Magic', about John Goodwin, the guy responsible for outfitting the car, an old Lincoln Continental that weighs...oh, i guess a half a ton or so....

Through the miracle of the internet, yesterday 200 people and I watched Neil drive down Douglas Avenue, making his new video, while we were commenting on the action in an attached chat room. I personally know many of the people there, having met them at rustie events. There were people from around the world...Australia, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands...and we watched as Neil made history....

Please join us. If you are a rustie, watch reports come up through rust when we are there....OR join twitter and get alerts sent to your phone or email (search LincVolt on that service). Here is the link to the live web cam in the garage...

Come and watch, even if you are not a rustie, even if you do not care for Neil Young. If you care for the earth, this is a good thing. The goal for LincVolt is Zero emissions and Zero roadside fueling. Yes, ZERO. He thinks he can do it....lets watch him as he tries....

See you there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Class Reaction

I figured since I have talked so much about the song I wrote here, I should mention the reaction the class had to it last night. What I was happiest with, they also pointed as being the 'good part', and what I was uncomfortable with, I was given advice about fixing....Usually, what the class likes best is what i am uncomfortable about in a song...don't know what that means...LOL.

My favorite comment was over a part in the song when the narrator is saying how she loves to dance. The woman said that in that part of the song, the sensation of dancing and loving it was in the music and melody as well as the lyrics....made her want to get up and spin! That was a comment that made me feel like I am on the right track, that is what i WANT to do with music, make people FEEL.

I guess now that I have written all this, I should put the song up....LOL. But first, I have to be able sing it...this darn cold has my voice all crackly...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Think I'm finished now....

So, a few days ago, when I first decided to write about writing that song on this blog, I said that if inspiration meant being moved by some big spirit, I didn't believe in it....if I waited for inspiration, I would never write.

I was a little bit wrong and a little bit right on that ('Scattered'....look at the lyrics over there ------> and down). To write a song, I have to be moved enough with an idea to want to spend the time. It has to mean something to me. I have to care enough to have something to say about it.

The end, for now.

Dancing Tonight

I am going to call my new song 'Dancing Tonight'.

I know it is pretty weird trying to describe the process of writing this song, in real time. Especially when how I want to describe this part is-- 'Over the Hump'. The song is there, basically. It made me stop and think and feel after I sang it through complete the first time. I think that is a good sign. We will see.

So, the song is done. It is not in its finished version, but that is just tweaking. It has it's basic outline and most of the details. It is about my grandmother. I can't say that she ever danced, but the only thing I ever remember hearing her say good about my grandfather was about his fiddle playing....and i wondered why she left her family and money to follow him into poverty.... He was a charming man, and I could see him playing to a room of people and keeping them happy and moving. I am told that I heard him play, before his parkinsons disease took it away from him, but I don't remember that. I do remember him being pleased that I showed interest in music....his home was filled with unplayable instruments....

I am glad to have known both my grammer and poppy!!

The Moment

There is the moment of triumph, when you have some words and some chords and some melody and you see how all that you have in front of you is gonna shape up into a song.

Just a few minutes ago it was barren struggle to find an idea, a concept, a story, a line, a word, some melody, the feel, the pulse of the song.

Then, there it is, something with a few words, a couple lines of melody, a feel....

A Song.

i wonder where it will go and how it will grow....

Soooooo Sorry

I have to stay. I have bad tires and there is NO WAY I can drive in this. Today is my niece's shower....I suggested to my sister (her mother) that we have a small gathering for our family who are not able to come. My mother just refused to go out in this (as I see, being fearful of driving in the snow is a family trait).

So, I will stay at home and work on that new song I am supposed to write, that I just can't seem to start on.

Then...a walk in the snow!!!! LOVE to walk in the snow...but NOT drive.

Another Snowy Day

The view through my window....
So, do I stay or do I go??

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Write it Down


Facebook is teaching me the value of short posts/comments!!!

I want to tell you that there is something so therapeutic in cleaning a house.

Satisfying, when it is done, or nearly so. I don't like the activity, though, so I play music as loud as I can stand (or as loud as I think the neighbors will tolerate at the time) and go to it.....makes the time feel good....

My house is NEARLY clean....I have to dust the mud room (boy, that does sound hopeless, doesn't it???) and vacuum the floors, then mop....about an hour or so of work.

Then it will look and feel so nice....and then I have to write a song. David's class. A song about an historical event. I was thinking about Clara Barton (beings as i am a nurse), a friends family history (he is an ancestry buff), and then slavery (making it personal/first person), and finally an idea that seemed the best that I can't recall and didn't write down (cause it was so good I was sure to remember).


How many time before I learn that lesson? Write it down?

Art Rambling

I am thinking that creativity only breeds when the 'normal' manner of communication is blocked. When a work is created out of human feeling that needs to be put out there, there is creativity. If that means talking one on one, you will never know about it. Some folks, like me, get creative when they don't have their usual ways of communicating. Others are creative because that, they learn early on, is their best way of communicating.

I guess the end is....all people need to communicate. Sometimes, others like those communications and consider it art....

Just keep making art.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I read on a message board, from Darin:

'Enjoy the ride kid. Life is short, and you'll be 4o like me before you know it, and you'll regret not jumping on opportunities to play. Don't be a jerk to other players, make friends with everyone, learn everything you can, be willing to teach what you know. And remember, when you're on stage, they are there to see you, and be entertained. Don't be a lump on a log. If they just wanted to listen to music, they'd turn on the radio.'

Wow, thank you Darin!!

That kind of followed close on a suggestion from David Hodge, of Guitar Noise (and the david most often mentioned in this blog, btw) that musicians make the following two resolutions...

Never Turn Down The Opportunity to Hear Live Music


Never Turn Down The Opportunity To Play With Others

The rest of the article is called 'Two Tenets to Live By'. I recommend on this post title to go there.

Unfortunately, there are times when you gotta choose between the two, and fortunately, there are times when the two are tied closely together. But I agree, that is all some really good advice i have collected tonight...

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I have written far more here about performing than songwriting. Songwriting is another whole 'thing'. When people ask me how I do it, I don't really know. Sometimes I have words and I can sense a melody/mood/chords. Sometimes I have music and the words don't come....until a phrase sticks in my head and the whole song gets written around it. Sometimes it all comes at once. I don't really believe right now in 'inspiration'....if you mean inspiration as a deep feeling that takes you away and makes you have to write. I write next to nothing that is not an assignment from class...but what i write on assignment gets as good review as what i write because the 'muse' moves....

I went to a song writers song circle last night. I had no idea of what I was going into....but these are professional (!!!!!!) songwriters who make their living writing/performing. I was more than a little out of my league. I know I will certainly benefit from my experience, but likely more as a guitar player than a writer....they challenged every one of my song not on the melody or lyrics or feel, but on the 'old three or four chord thing', while also telling me, some of the most known songs are built on three chords!!!! They challenged me (it was me, a man and a woman) to add sevenths and sixths and minors and get rid of the pick....

Last night it didn't feel like a challenge, last night it felt like they were telling me I wasn't good enough. Today it feels like a challenge to learn my scales so I can add those notes in my guitar playing, not just my melody (that was very that i think of it.....C. told me 'you are singing an A, it is in your melody, add it to the guitar part there')

I don't know how you do that stuff while singing, though....LOL...

Other songwriting experiences I have had so far, and recently....hearing an mp3 of a friend doing my song. Wow. Did it better than I did it, too.... Strange to hear someone take your words and melody for themselves.

I also recently heard one of my songs played with a band acoustic and another song played with a band electric, and some other songs played late at night accompanied by a friend who seemed to hear what i had in my head, he was so ON THE MARK. Sharing my songs with other musicians is a blast and i hope to do much more of that. I have had people comment to me after listening to my mp3s here (not the best way to hear my music, btw) and played for people live in private settings (much better than the recordings). All in all, it has been a positive experience and I thank all of you who appreciate what i am doing and let me know (oh, and i also appreciate you folks who don't like my stuff and refrain from flames!!!)

Time to get ready to go to my next experience....a song circle set up as a performance....last time it was GREAT playing there....Ramsdell Library, Housatonic, MA at 2pm if you are around....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Neil Young Photo

Ok. I really like this picture and want to post it here....

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Jam

What a great weekend!! Sorry to those who couldn't make it...we had a great time.

Friday night found some of us stuffed (i have a tiny house) into my livingroom for an acoustic warmup evening....we played guitar and sang until about 2am.....Neil, Dylan, Williams, Prine....lots of different music--got us in the groove for sure....

Saturday we got up and hung around and played a bit but mostly talked and got ready to head out to Davids at noon....
I, Marilyn, was actually EARLY to get to someplace....thanks to my friends here, I am sure....

We pulled up to Davids house, which is really like going to a retreat somewhere....a large house in the Berkshires on the side of the ski slope...yes RIGHT THERE. We set up and started playing and although we each took short breaks, as a band I don't think we really stopped until dinner....supplied by nan and david--delicious!!!!--and it was back to the music. We again played a wide variety of songs and styles (we did a round robin/song circle, so that everyone had a chance to play the songs they liked best). David played us his new acoustic fingerpicking song, which I just love....Powderfinger and Time Fades Away got new treatment with a banjo solo....we found new harmonies and guitar parts for other songs....there was a lot of great creativity happening, which we did not capture in recordings at all.....but we who were there know the good sounds that got made, and we even have an audience that will verify (except i was told that if we played surfer joe one more time, i might have been hit....LOL)

While we were still moving, we packed up davids space and left for our next destination....Jill's country home....where we finally winded down another acoustic songfest about 3am....needless to say, no one picked up the guitar Sunday morning, I think my fingers have blisters on top of the callous'!!!!!

I want to thank you all for coming....Jim for the great drumming (i wished we had been a little more attentive to your song requests!!!!), Mark for his great choices of D C G songs, guitar playing and vocals, Nan for her harmony, guitar and songs.....David for hosting us, feeding us, providing whatever interesting instruments to spice up the sound, playing bass for us, and some of those leads were RIPPING!!!! Very, very cool......Deb, thanks for being the greatest audience, Jill for the bed, food and laughs, Kathy for the wonderful friendship and Wanda for once again making me laugh!!!

I had needed this weekend so badly and today i feel like i am energized for the coming week....thank you all so much for making it such a great time!!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sing Alongs

I just recently sent this to a mailing list, but it is much like the sort of stuff i like to put here it is!!

sing alongs....

one of my favorite singing moments (and yeah, i am wracking them up as much as i can, i play and sing with folks every single chance i can....)

i was at a song circle and it was late and it was my turn, but half the group decided to leave (yeah, right when it was MY turn!!!)

so i started to play 'leaving on a jet plane'
i know, hokey song, but people LIKE it
and you know, all those people stopped shuffling their things, some guitars got pulled back out of their cases, and we all sang that song was SO COOL, made me feel so good.....i love pulling people into a song like that...

happened again when i played a bar song circle and had all the drunk folks at the bar, singing that song!!!!
THAT is fun...didn't matter what it SOUNDED like....the looks on peoples faces as they sang at the top of their lungs and smiled and was SO COOL....

so, my thing is....just sing/play and be happy....
it is all good
music is for the good feel, not the perfection....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

1000 Hits

I have had 1000 hits to my blog since I started counting....Who are all you folks? LOL!!! Just for the record, *I* was the 1000th....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just Singing a Song

It is really often that even on Neil songs that I LOVE, I don't really think I GET until I play them. Ok, that applies to most all songs, not just Neil songs.....but this is one of those songs, and this is one of those nights when the song hits.

I think my friends that I plan to jam with on February 7 need to be aware that this is one of the songs I will call...just to see what we can do....what a cool song....neat changes....unique harmonies....i like it--

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On a Saturday Night Part 3

I am beginning to like Saturday Nights alone with my guitar. Seems to take forever for me to get into the mode of settling down and playing and working on music, but once I am there, it is good to keep going. Got another song up. I think I am getting lazier about how they should sound before i get them up....hope you don't mind out there....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama....sounds great, doesn't it?

20 January 2009
Obama's Inaugural Speech
Text of President Obama's inaugural address on Tuesday, as prepared for delivery and released by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

The Associated Press