On the second February 5 since my dad’s passing, I figured I’d wish him a happy birthday here, with a few pictures.
Here’s John Putnam Dinwiddie with John Cage, in 1967..
..complete with reflection from the glass in the frame, in my snapshot. I think the incidental graininess and chaos would agree with both of these gents’ appreciation for chance events in music, art and life.
Here’s dad, a half-century later playing Charmian London’s piano at Jack London State Historic Park, where he often volunteered on weekends to play for visitors to the museum.
I noticed that John’s presence seems so similar in these two photos, even though they were taken about 50 years apart. He played piano his own way. Took photographs his own way. Lived and loved his own way. I miss him a lot.
As the rain continues to pour on our thirsty California, I’m reflecting on the last year a bit, and considering what to do next. While the debacles of 2016 played out, I spent some time writing and recording new music. I released four new songs as “Peace and Love and Rock and Roll part 1” as the new year arrived. Nearly everything about it is a first for me. I’ve never done a solo record before, I’ve always worked with bands. Never self-released anything before, or self-produced.
I’m glad I did it, and I have decided to do more. I made a new website to host my records, and after thinking very hard about it for almost two seconds, decided to call it peaceandloveandrockandroll.com. You can pick the EP up there instantly in download/digital form, or even order a physical CD if you like, from the very small batch I made.
Wishing you all a good start to this strange new year. I am going to go swim in the rain now.
Peace and Love and Rock and Roll to you and yours,
As this horrible election lurches to a shuddering death I decided it’s time to post some quality content to counter the vast tsunamis of ugliness and bile. Here are the great Lucy and Burley, starring in The Burley and Lucy Show. The episodes don’t happen in any particular order, nor do the stars of the show exist in linear time. They occupy a free-floating space-time warp fueled by catnip and excessive naps. They often exist in several places at once. Scientific studies have proven their spontaneous generation in open guitar cases. Here they are in their natural element, secretly documented by yours truly the monkey.
Bill McKibben calls it a “War On Climate Change” now, in this age of “War On” every little thing. I guess that might get more attention to this single most important subject in the history of everything. From Democracy Now! this morning:
Here’s an excerpt of the part I find most important in RE: how we vote in November:
Bernie refused to concede. He didn’t back down. He didn’t do what everyone told him he should do. He kept in the race through the final meeting about the platform in Orlando two weeks before the convention. And he did that in order to ensure that he’d have leverage in those discussions..
..And as a result, by staring them down, the platform, at the last-minute, turned markedly more progressive. Among other things, there’s a call in there for an emergency climate summit within the first hundred days of a new administration, designed to — and it says this in the platform — mobilize us for something like a World War II approach to climate change. We’ll see if we can hold them to it.
– Bill McKibben
That is one reason I am following through with my support for Bernie Sanders, by voting for the Democratic Party ticket in 2016. And then this year can be over please, thank you.
There is a certain sick entertainment value to having a presidential candidate tweet at 3AM that Miss America is fat. And that many Americans seem determined to elect a boy with no qualifications and every horrible trait a person can have. Charles M. Blow in his NYT column articulates this perfectly. There’s a certain hilarity to the fact that grown persons want to provide a maladjusted toddler with nuclear weapons.
In the race also, are two other candidates. The Libertarian doesn’t know the name of a single foreign leader and he’s a right-wing nut. Yet he’ll pull some votes from right and left, and this too is good for an uneasy chuckle. We also have a Green Party candidate who will pull a significant number of votes away from the sole qualified candidate in the race, Hillary Clinton.
The laughing stops when you realize that most of the unworthy brat’s followers will vote for him, no matter what he says or does. And that many rational people seem to be missing this point, as they prepare to make protest votes for candidates who are not only unqualified, but also have exactly no chance of winning a single state. Thus, the unworthy brat can win. It is not funny.
There was one other qualified candidate in the race, his name is Bernie Sanders. He has endorsed and is campaigning for Hillary Clinton. I agree with him, and I am voting Dem even here in sunny “Blue State” California. Because this election is weird. It’s so weird it makes weird look normal. Anything could happen, and it’s an emergency situation. We must not allow our nation to be led and represented by its most horrible specimen.
To abandon the Democratic Party nominee in the general election would be to render all the efforts we made behind Bernie Sanders a complete waste. Please don’t do that. Please vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, support her campaign in whatever ways you can, and encourage others to do so. After that business is done, we can address everything else, but first we must put a grown-up in the White House. And hopefully bury the GOP down the entire ticket for ever subjecting us to this shameful display.
From what I can tell (and that isn’t much) from the various articles and screeds about “Brexit” (which sounds like crunchy breakfast cereal, I want some), it’s either a medium-sized economic disaster, or The Beginning Of The End Of Civilization. Oh, and Happy Freedom Patriotic Flag-Wave Rah-Rah Populist Nationalist Liberty! – to some. Many pints and ridiculous pub fights scheduled for tonight, throughout the UK and beyond. Enjoy. The “Leave” vote (I love that language, don’t you? I mean where are they going? Gonna put an outboard motor on England and sail it to Freedom-Land-Place?) the Leave vote, I think, was based on emotions rather than thoughts. And I get it. Things are bad. “I vote for DIFFERENT!” is a natural reaction. It might make things infinitely worse, but at least, at least, things will be different. Good luck. Congratulations. I wish you success and happiness.
“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
I played guitar on that recording, along with young Matt and his fabulous Distractions. He’s a helluva songwriter and musician, and it’s been a pleasure to work with him and watch him go from open-mic wiz-kid to budding rock star. I’ve been by turns, a session player, coach, and even tour manager for this band, when they supported Blues Traveler on their US tour last fall.
“Holding On” is one of my faves in their live set, and I dig the “rollercoaster” metaphor in the vid. Occurred to me also, that “holding on” is like attachment in the Buddhist sense, the cause of suffering, and that gives the chorus its power. But I think too much. “Holding on, cos I don’t know what’s true.” Amen, brother.
Recently I’ve been making some new recordings of my own, and young Matt actually co-wrote and played guitar on one of them. So the circle is complete! More on that later. Cheers all!
A while back Paul Jackson and I popped into Joel Selvin’s Basement Record Library to share some stories and play some Uptones records. OpenSourceMusic just published it in their new podcast, and I listened back to it. A blast from the past! Some of this music, I myself haven’t heard in years. Thanks Joel, and thanks everyone who ever came out to our concerts or enjoyed our recorded music. What a long, strange ska trip it’s been.
As a guitar player, I’ve rarely used anything but standard tuning. I don’t even like capos. So it was a new challenge to learn three custom tunings to accompany the amazing and beautiful Pollyana Bush, on three Joni Mitchell songs. This is part of her concert series, “Full Circle, musings on Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, and Carole King.” We’ve done the gig once in the East Bay, and tomorrow we’re doing it in San Rafael.
One of the songs, “Case Of You” was challenging for another reason – I couldn’t not cry when we were doing it. Ridiculous, no? But seriously, once I got the song down, every time we’d play it and Pollyana started singing, my eyes would be raining. This leveled out after a while and I was composed during the performance. I can’t recall another song/singer ever affecting me in that particular way. Why am I sharing this? Oh, I don’t know, why not.
We’re doing “Case Of You” in an open-G# tuning, and I needed to figure out how to make it sound something like a dulcimer doubling a guitar. Luckily, Pollyana has a Taylor acoustic with a cutaway, which is perfect for this. Another song I’m playing on is “Help Me,” which is open-tuned to C Major 7th. Who does that!? It’s been a great experience learning these songs, and to sort of get a glimpse into Joni Mitchell’s creative process. You couldn’t play these songs in standard tuning, it’s physically impossible. I found myself wondering – does Joni play with the tuning and THEN write a song, or hear a song in her head, and then tune the instrument to fit? Both approaches maybe? She uses so many tunings, and they are wildly different. Now I’m fascinated enough to find some interviews with her, and see if she talks about this. Tackling this was made much easier by the wealth of info provided by Joni Mitchell herself, on her own website.
I’m thrilled to be on this gig, with some amazing cats, including the great Raz Kennedy. Raz called me asking if I knew anyone who could do this kind of guitar playing, a few weeks before the earlier concert. I recommended a few players but none were available, so I started learning the odd tunings to see if I could even get there. It turned out to be a really fun and rewarding guitar lesson, and now, as a consequence of this, I wrote a song in open-G! A good friend told me years ago the day you stop learning is the day you die. I guess I’m still alive.
Here’s the concert info, I think some tickets are still available if you are interested.
Oh, and Pollyana, this happened to your guitar case. But don’t worry, Lucy is very neat and does not have fleas.
I don’t think I’m actually signing any petitions demanding that congress do its job re: Supreme Court nomination. We don’t sign petitions demanding anyone else do their job, do we? You pay them and they fix the sink or whatever and that’s it. I’d like that – plumber comes over, sits down, says “I refuse to even hear your arguments about that leaky faucet. Fuck off and die. Oh, and pay me.”
I’ll miss President Obama. I don’t agree with him on everything of course, but that’s not the point. He’s a great president. In harsh contrast to his predecessor, and most who scramble to replace him, Barack Obama is highly qualified for that office, while most persons simply are not.
I hope Bernie Sanders wins, and I’m doing what I can to help make that happen. But much of America is deep in a self-destructive kick. To say economically disadvantaged people often vote against their own interests is a whopping understatement. On the one hand, they’re nominating a belligerent fascist buffoon. On the other, maybe a dedicated servant of Wall Street, the Incarceration For Profit Industry, and the Department Of Lobbing Bombs At People. She’s rational. And reasonable. In comparison to the raving, psychotic idiots of doom. And that’s the deal. We’re supposed to be happy with the lesser evil in this context.
There’s no need for satire anymore. Reality has replaced satire.
There is exactly one candidate for president in 2016 whose positions align with the interests of most Americans, and not with the entrenched corporate forces of greed and devastation. His name is Bernie Sanders.
If you, like many Bernie supporters, are discouraged by yesterdays not-so-super-Tuesday results, have a look at this optimistic assessment for a morale-boost and reality check: