Monday, February 23, 2015

Happy Women Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Lucinda Williams March 6, 2015 @The Starry Plough

Lucinda Williams has released 12 albums over her storied, Grammy-award winning music career. I've been a fan a long time and when I saw her play live most recently at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Fest in October, I was once again struck by how deep and wide and GREAT a song catalog she has.  Plus she absolutely rocks. A tribute show to her work seemed in order. Our pals at The Starry Plough agreed, and I'm pleased to announce the date for Happy Women Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Lucinda Williams approaches! Please join us,  March 6 in Berkeley as six local Bay Area acts perform songs spanning Lucinda's brilliant, 35+ year songwriting career.

Happy Women Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Lucinda Williams 

 The Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA  Friday March 6, 2015 at the Starry Plough. Doors at 8pm / Show 9pm. Featuring:  Briget BoyleDeborah Crooks • essence •  Kate Burkart •  Keller SistersSecret Town

Monday, February 16, 2015

KCDC Live in Alameda February 20, 2015 w/Wilson Wong

Full band, a new tune or two plus our friend Wilson Wong opens. Come on down. HS has a full food and drink menu. Reserve a table 510-995-8049!
KCDC’s "Your Own Reaction"is available worldwide, online via CDBaby, Amazon, and at the shows.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Heartbreak Hell in Berkeley: Celebrate Valentine's Day with Sad Songs & Soothsaying

Looking for Valentine's Day plans? May I suggest Heartbreak Hell @ The Monkey House this Saturday, February 14, in Berkeley. Sad songs about love, loss & all manner of things that make a heart crack
A benefit for BASCIA: Bay Area Suicide and Crisis Intervention Alliance Doors 7, show 7:30-10. Event will end at 11.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Read.Eat.Listen: On the Trail

I don't see that many movies in the theater anymore. Nor do I watch TV much. So the effect on my brain of seeing a movie in a theater and watching the Super Bowl during the same week remains to be seen. I do know I came home from the Super Bowl in a bad mood (and not because I was leaning more toward Seattle). All those wacky commercials, and Katy Perry's fun, if dizzying, half-time show were fine (I think?), but the fact of watching a brawl break out...well,  I'm not desensitized enough anymore.
This wasn't the case with Wild, the movie starring Reese Witherspoon, based on Cheryl Strayed's excellent book of the same name. Albeit, I was a little emotionally worked by the end, too.
It's been in theaters a couple months now, but I finally saw Wild last week. I loved Wild, the book, about a woman finding her way up from the bottom by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail solo. As a writer whose found a lot of solace in nature, including some of the wilderness Strayed's route travels, I ate the book up in a few sittings. It's a great story, and Strayed is a great writer and its no wonder the book was a bestseller. So I shied away from seeing the movie when it first was released. But there was nothing for me to worry about in the 'oh, I wished I stayed with the good memory of the book.' Reese and crew captured the story very well as well as its tear jerking affect. 
Read: I was talking to some writer friends about how working on projects — be they stories, short or long, or anything creative, really — involves letting them work on you. So I loved-loved-loved reading this profile of Yitang Zhang, "The Pursuit of Beauty," a genius problem--solving mathematician in the New Yorker. 
A snippet on how Zhang stays on the trail of problems: "A few years ago, Zhang sold his car, because he didn’t really use it. He rents an apartment about four miles from campus and rides to and from his office with students on a school shuttle. He says that he sits on the bus and thinks. Seven days a week, he arrives at his office around eight or nine and stays until six or seven. The longest he has taken off from thinking is two weeks. Sometimes he wakes in the morning thinking of a math problem he had been considering when he fell asleep. Outside his office is a long corridor that he likes to walk up and down. Otherwise, he walks outside."
Eat: Some weeks, I derived most of my protein from Almond Butter. I can't say this is the best thing (I know it could be worse) but almond butter prices have been a bit of a drag. So I've been looking into making my own. Here's the (not-so) skinny on that: HomeMade Raw Almond Butter.

Listen: Bjork has been getting plenty of press for her newest, Vulnicura, CD. And well, heck, its Bjork!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Coming up Friday: Alameda Songwriters Roundup, Friday, January 30, 2015, 7pm

Please join me this Friday in Alameda for night of original songwriters playing in the round, featuring some of my favorite Bay Area songwriters. 

Alex Walsh, Amy Obenski, Dan Seidel, Deborah Crooks, Johnny Nash and Paige Clem  LIVE 

1303 High St,
Alameda, CA 94501
$5-10 sliding scale. High St. offers a full dinner and beverage menu. Kids welcome. Call for a dinner reservation! 415 355-7888
Hear Alex's latest at his Blog

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Desert Postcard: Skywatching and songwriting

So yes, there was a lot of sky watching going on last week, and landscape viewing and generally lounging about. But also a lot of writing and  co-writing, the KCDC mash-up managing to complete 8 songs and counting. Time & space add up to somehow accessing the well a little better. It's a good feeling. KCDC has some lives shows coming up Feb. 20 in Alameda & March 8 in Modesto. Perhaps a new tune will get added to the mix!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Picking Up Good Vibrations at the Integratron

We've been doing quite a bit of songwriting on this semi-unplugged jaunt to the Joshua Tree. Still, with plenty of time to both play and create - Wow! Vacation! - we took the area up on it offers and spent much of Sunday soaking up the sounds of others. 
The desert of course, has long attracted artist and seekers of  all manner: homesteaders after free lands, outdoors-folk in search of a tricky rock problem, naturalists and scientists assembling clues, Mystics and madmen and one combination of many of the above, George Van Tassel (1920-1978), creator of the Integratron. Located in Landers, on an energetic vortex, the Integratron is a "one-of-a-kind 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, all wood dome designed to be an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel." 
It's composition is also "based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions from extraterrestrials."
Uh, sign us up! 
The Integratron is open to the public a couple "no reservations weekends" a month, and fortunately for us, our timing worked. We drove up the road 20 minutes to the site, lucking into a just-added, earlier-than-scheduled sound bath at 10:30am, when the gates opened Sunday morning. Within minutes, we were laying on the floor with 40 other people in the top story of the domed building. After everyone got settled with their blankets and mats, a gentleman played large crystal bowls for 25 minutes, sending variously oscillating sound waves, in frequencies perceptible and beyond perception, pulsing through our bodies. I didn't see any aliens, but I can't say it wasn't great. After the last bowls sounds, Hearts of Space type music was played for the remainder of the hour in what became a sort of sound-induced savasana.  I felt better after than when I'd arrived, still cramped from the travel and sleeping in a new place, and emerged from the dome feeling as bemused as healed, an altogether good thing. 
The grounds of the site were an equally relaxing playground of general good vibes, complete with a hammock garden, cantina, a place to cast your dreams and water stations. Reminded me of Fairfax and Goa and Sedona rolled into one.

Still. we were up for more sound vibrations later in the day, albeit of a more traditional kind, and drove another 30 minutes to Pioneertown where Pappy & Harriets was hosting its Sunday evening Music Service. A weekly, well-curated jam led by a band composed of the venue's favorite musicians and guest artists, the service was a unabashed celebration of LA Country Rock. More than ably covering songs by the likes of Gram Parsons, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Rondstandt and Tom Petty, the musicians were hot and the crowd hungry. Noneother than Bay Area native Bart Davenport, in fine form, happened to be the week's musical guest, and more than rose to the challenge, rocking his telecaster and otherwise destroying every song he led. Good stuff. People dancing, people eating, another dose of high quality good vibrations. 

Then we saw aliens. Well, not really. As drove drove down the hill from Pioneertown, more of those impossible bright stars overhead, we did a double take, then pulled over to the side of a road to watch  as an (illicit?) group of folks were lighting large paper (?) lanterns and letting them go into the sky. As they ascended, the lanterns - luminarias? -  appeared much like those moon jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, languorously floating brightly through space, only in reverse and in the sky rather than water. It looked dangerous, but it was more beautiful, the lights rising, tumbling over one another before melting into the starry sky. Nice.