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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Open Mic Night at Freight and Salvage

It is an important acoustic and folk venue, and it is an historic Open Mic:  the longest-continually running one in the East Bay.

Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse on some alternate Tuesday nights is the host to the Open Mic.

Open Mics are part of how I got my start and developed my chops in Fort Collins:  Avo's, Lucky Joe's, The Canyon Open Mic in Masonville and more.

Signing up to play a new tune, or test one's stage presence as a performing artist, to get known in a new area, to meet other song-singers and song-writers are some of the reasons that men and women add their name to the list.

As a listener/observer, Open Mics are always hit-or-miss in:
the talent department,
or the ready-for-prime-time department,
or the stage-presence polish-department,
or trying-out-the-new-material department,

but that's exactly the point.

On a recent Tuesday, I threw my hat into the ring, bought the ticket to get in, hitched up my baritone mountain dulcimer and traveled the BART across the bay.  Important learning: Arriving 20 minutes before door opened almost didn't get me a spot to play.  There were several other hopefuls behind me in the line who DIDN'T get a slot to play that night.

Before I went, I thought I'd check in my with colleague, Kerry Patrick Clark, about which song to sing for my "Freight" debut.

I have a large repertoire, I play many instruments and when faced with a "one-song-set" am sometimes stymied by which one to choose.

"It's a no-brainer," he said, when I finally reached him on the telephone.

Then he named the perfect song, but it was one I had completely overlooked when trying to balance: instrument, style of song, goal of song in giving my debut performance on this stage.

"We need to move the audience to laugh, or to cry, to move them toward community," he noted.  "It's the stories that have the power."

Of course he was right, and I played the one he suggested.

I drew #26 out of a line-up of 28 performers and even though I waited for nearly 3 hours through all the preceding performers [and found myself really being moved by a third of them!] I had a blast!

And my sweethearts: (my spouse and my daughter) both came to smile and support me....
....and they said,

"you did good."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Off to California

Here I am in my new studio, with just a tiny sampling of my work behind me!

The physical transition was completed with my arrival in San Mateo last Saturday at 4 pm.

I can't even begin to describe the beauty I witnessed while crossing Utah and Nevada on I-80:  the colors of rock, the shades of tan, the raw umbers, burnt siennas-- I finally realized where Crayola got the names for some of the crayons that I used from my 64-color box.

The mountain peaks reaching up to scrape snow or rain out of the clouds, or was it the clouds leaning down to be scratched like Baloo the bear in Jungle Book?

The clouds hovering over the Great Salt Lake, the snow draped peaks with the deep blue-green of the tree lines in a band of color below, while the spring-yellow slope that rose to meet the tawny border that separates them all like the fancy parfait treats made by my mother.

The perspective I learned in art class in Junior High was demonstrated with the long road to infinity stretched ahead.

Towns every two hours apart, a family friend to visit in Reno, the foggy, snowy Sierras which gave way instantly to SPRING!  The bright orange of California poppies and the white bobbing heads of jonquils on springy green stems.

I didn't come close to hearing everything I'd planned to hear from my iPod, but instead kept repeating tracks over and over to sing with Holly Near, Sandy and Pat of Emma's Revolution, Jim Croce and more.

So now I am here, learning my way around, correcting forwarding errors at the post-office, finishing the fiscal transitions and sitting on my back porch, watching the planes in their final approach across the Bay to SFO.

Pinch me!