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!!!!