March 19, 2008
As a special treat, my mom, dad, sister, a friend and I went out on St. Patties day to see a band called Gaelic Storm at the Guthrie. It was a really nice time and the band was lively and entertaining. This group looked layed back and relaxed when they walked on stage but their performance was powerful and professional. Top musicians. I'd go see them again, given the opportunity.
October 18, 2007
Music Wish List
I'm hoping to purchase these three CD's within the next few months:
Dan Wilson - Free Life
The Clientele - God Save the Clientele
Nicole Scherzinger - Her Name is Nicole
September 3, 2007
After a week of vacation I can now play the notes in the G Major Scale and Chords D, F, C, G and A. I can also tune my Mandolin since it goes out of tune every time I play it. The place I bought it from said it would hold a tune well, but the instruction video I bought said that mandolins go out of tune easily so I'll have to tune it every time I play. Either I got a crappy mandolin, or the guy at the store was just saying anything to get me to buy it. This model does sound good once it's tuned and I'm playing. Not bad for my first week! Now classes start and I'm back to work on Tuesday, so my progress might be slower over this month. But it's fun and sounds nice to my ears.
August 28, 2007
Last night I purchased a mandolin, case, chromatic tuner, instructional material and hope that I can learn this new, interesting instrument. I've never played guitar or anything else so it's a gamble, but I'm encouraged. Last night I learned four chords and basic strumming technique and previewed my other lesson material. Now I'm on vacation for a week so I can practice a lot and see what a little immersion feels like. My fingers are a little sore already. haha.
I purchased a Roger RM-50. Not top of the line, but it sounded better than a few of the other ones I was trying out. I had another customer help me check the sound quality. He was in there to buy a mandolin also, but he was an avid guitar player and probably had a better ear than I did. So I had him play some things on the mandolins I was looking at to see which one sounded better. I think I made a good choice and am satisfied with it. Then a young girl and her mom were in there looking for mandolin music so I talked to them about instructional material and settled on a combination of what they recommended and what the store owner recommended. I think it'll be fun. The trumpet is on hold for a while I think. ;-)
Now, back to practice!
August 15, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
Just to be fair with myself, I am adding one last entry on Jeff Ray. Mainly because I did not really listen to him one day out of the ten.
So here is my final statement about all of the music on all three CD's:
My favorite sound is in the song Dear Grenadine.
August 14, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
Sandstone Footprints (June Generation album)
Just like our days, sandstone footprints crumble away. Nothing is permanant. But I don't mind. Soon we'll find a brand new way. Phrases like these remind me of how all of life really is not about time at all. It's about change. We are and everything else is in the process of changing from one form to another. From solid to liquid, liquid to gas, to energy, etc. Nothing stays the same. But I don't mind. It has to be that way. Sandstone footprints have to crumble away because it's the nature of all things.
All things change. New things are always being created and soon we'll find a brand new way.
btw...I found a mandolin and just have to pick it up this weekend. Music is cool. making music is cool. my trumpet practice will be put on hold for a while I think. Like Sandstone footprints. :-)
August 13, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
I didn't listen to Jeff Ray at all today. But a spark that started a flame has prompted a search for a new creative endeavor for me. Actually several sparks, several fires, an interest in beginning and and creating new beautiful things. It's like the flame of magic on my fingertips as I touch the flower bud and see it open and bloom. The cool, silver liquid flowing through me, spreading outward and through me, bringing out the beauty that is hiding, waiting to be released. Calling to be released.
I don't have any money to buy the instrument I found, but I'm solving that problem by selling two extra bikes I have. Anyone want to buy a bike? I have a brown Schwinn Suburban five speed that I just love commuting on. I'll sell it for 60 dollars. It's in great working order and has a rack on back for hauling stuff. New, semi-knobby 27" tires for all condition riding. I rode with those tires last winter and it handled most conditions and kept my upright. It's a classy old-style upright bike with comfortable spring seat.
And I have an antique rod-brake british 3-speed that is a little too tall for me. This is a great bike that needs the right owner. It works and has new brake pads. I'm 5'10" so you would need to be taller than me to really fit this bike. I would sell this for 100 dollars.
Selling these two bikes would buy me a used mandolin I found. Anyone interested in helping me get this instrument? Need a bike?
The other creative spark is the collective yoga/spiritual/healing/arts center I'm becoming involved in creating. We met for the second time tonight. There is a very cool energy that comes from beginning something new, creating something that comes from everyone involved.
Jeff Ray, you rock. I think it's energy in your soul that always smiles and radiates out with your music.
August 12, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
Hey if it gets me writing again, I'm ok with the idea getting old. Ten days in a row is a lot to write about one topic. But I am learning some things along the way that I wouldn't have if I had not done this. Today on the car-ride home I did listen to Jeff Ray music all the way. All three albums. I discovered I could pick out the newer songs by sound. I like the blues sounding songs. But I also discovered that I cannot read my book and listen to Dear Grenadine at the same time. This music demands my attention every time I listen to it!
On another musical note, tonight I started searching for Mandolins and discovered they are expensive just like guitars. But I think I can find a decent lower-end model for under 300 dollars according to my brief search on Craig's list. Anyone have one they are no longer using and want to sell cheap or donate to me? I don't really have the money to buy one right now, so maybe I'll have to wait six months and save some money. Maybe I could borrow one from someone for the winter before buying one?
August 11, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
Meet the Instructor Jeff Ray. Just last year the St. Paul Guitar Studio, LLC opened in Lowertown. This is such a cool idea, bringing together five instructors with vaired music backgrounds and styles to teach what you are interested in. Between all of the instructors, they span Rock, Blues, Fusion, Folk, Country, Classical, Finger-Style, R&B, Funk, Jazz, and Latin! I'm already plotting to take some lessons this winter.
What I thought would be fun is to find an old mandolin with good sound and turn it into a resophonic slide mandolin. Do you think Jeff could teach me how to play it? The way he tunes his guitar on stage over and over, he could probably tune anything and make it work, haha.
Now I'm off on my road trip, ipod in hand. I get to drive for five hours listening to nothing but Jeff Ray. ;-)
August 10, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
My favorite song from Jeff Ray's June Generation album is Samadhi. I plan on listening to the Sunshine City Tree album tomorrow on our car ride to Illinois. That was Jeff's first beautiful release, and it's very insightful and interesting. One of the song's, Mr.God, asks, "How far can you see?" "Can you see inside?" It depends on which way we are looking. If you look you can find the hidden treasures in inside of these songs.
Tomorrow morning before my road trip, I'll share another thought I had about Jeff Ray's CD's.
August 9, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
Since this is day five of my ten days with Jeff Ray, I thought I'd highlight some of his other music besides the latest and greatest Winter CD. Jeff also has two other fantastic albums out: Sunshine City Tree and June Generation. You can listen to his music here...
Put all three CD's into your IPOD and you can make it through an entire century bike ride. Try it, but I have to warn you, it's easy to get lost on the way. ;-)
I did not get laid off from work today, and I attribute that to the positive upbeat sound of the Resonator Guitar Guru.
Let me know if you listen to any of the songs I linked to here. I'd love to hear what you think.
August 8, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
No matter how I look at this, and the more I listen to resonator slide guitar music by Jeff Ray, the more inspired and motivated I get. I almost want to pick up a guitar and learn how to play now! Music could be thought of as a great escape, but it's much more than that. It's a creative process, something beautiful being born, nourished, flourished and raised to completion. I was having a discussion with another friend today out on the deck. He also happens to be a guitar player. When we started talking about slide guitar music and Jeff Ray his whole body lit up, and the conversation got much more animated. Kind of like the music itself. That was a cool experience. Thank you Jeff Ray! The song for today is purely instrumental and I'll call it "Spark!" for the spark it generated today and the resulting animation and energy created.
August 7, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
Today the Jeff Ray song of the day is dubbed, "Longing to Belong." It's a place we call home. It's the place we've been working at, or the place we hang out. Like another song we know, where everyone knows our name. It is the comfort and saftey zone.
Today felt like that at work, yet at the same time, there was a current of doubt as more people were laid off, and rumors were flying. Insecurity is fear and nobody wants to live in fear. I said when I first started here, that in order for me to solve the problems at this company, we would have to change the work culture. And I think that is about to happen in my department.
Here is another discontinuity in life. Too many times I've been in the situation where there is no security in a job. I have never been laid off or fired in my life, but who knows. Just like everyone else, I would love to go to work, feel like I'm making a valuable contribution to society and to others. And be appreciated. This is my longing for home. It's why I feel so good at home. It feels good and I'm loved and I give love. Even at work I'm working on my feeling of belonging. The song hit it on the spot. There is more to life than work, but it sure is nice when work-life is more than just a paycheck.
August 6, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
Tuesday was a blue day. I did not have music in my heart when I was getting ready for work. And then the mood at work somber and insecure. We are expecting some layoffs and I really don't feel like looking for another job especially since I happen to like this one. But just as a mood can start out low and wailing, the beat can pick up and gain strength underneath and give hope. Whenever something dies, there are always new beginnings. I have a lot of new beginnings in my life I realized. I looked around to see all of the hope in other people at the new things happening. Last night I went to an organizational meeting of a cool, new, collective yoga/dance/meditation studio. We were asked to go around the table and introduce ourselves and list one good thing that happened in our lives recently. At first all I could think about was my work-day blues, but then thought about the Jeff Ray music I listened to and that was the thought I shared. Like those few high notes in the middle of the song, I was there. When we stop feeling sorry for ourselves, we can see the new beginnings, the good things that happen to us every day. Even something as simple as the enjoyment we get from listening to music or meeting friends at a coffee shop to build a dream. A song can easily turn from a low, plaintive wail to a lively plucking of high notes. Name one thing that's good in your life right now. The Jeff Ray song for the day is hereby named "New Beginnings"
August 5, 2007
Ten Days with Jeff Ray
Last night I took my wife and another couple out to the Ginko Cafe on Snelling after dinner to hear Jeff Ray play. I did it mostly to seize an opportunity that presents itself and is gone like a vapor if not recognized. Jeff is promoting his newest "record", Last Great Winter. As usual Jeff's playing was mesmerizing; the guitar seems to take on a voice of it's own, singing it's own tune with Jeff as backup!
Several years ago I discovered the power of Jeff's music for long bicycle rides. The reason it works for me is that it's mostly instrumental with fast, motivating lyrics and a perfect pedalling cadence beating underneath for a good workout.
This morning I woke up slowly, quiet and peaceful after a good night of sleep. Waking up slowly is a rare opportunity that I savor. Hanging out with my wife, sipping coffee it dawned on me that I had Jeff's new CD sitting there on the table unopened. I looked at the case and read the names of the ten songs. It's funny how disconnected those names seem to me, with the feeling of the guitar sounds. Jeff said it would be interesting to hear my feedback on the new Album, so the inspiration came to me this morning as I put the CD in the player and turned it on. Ten Songs, Ten Days with Jeff Ray. Each day for the next ten days I will attempt to put into words the feeling of each song, giving a name to each one that represents how It feels to me.
As I reflect, sip my coffee, listen to the entire album as a whole, the Morning gives a name to the first song, Peace with a heartbeat of excitement; Anticipation.
September 25, 2006
Tonight I went to my third band practice, which went better than the first two times. Little by little I will get better at playing the trumpet. I am looking forward to that and know it's inevitable if I practice. But due to sinus infections and allergies and asthma, oh my, I haven't done much horn blowing in the past few weeks. Now, tonight with meds, I Finally am feeling energy come back to me. Tomorrow I will try to get back on the practice track so my learning goes faster.
Band practice was really fun tonight and all of these old guys are funny and nice to me. So it makes me feel more relaxed, which helps me play a little better. I've decided I'm in this for the long haul and for the pressure to make me practice more often.
December 26, 2005
New Music to Enjoy
First of all, my trumpet practice over the past month has paid off. I performed Christmas songs on my trumpet for my family on Christmas Eve. Not saying my playing was up to professional standards, but it sure was fun practicing toward that goal and I could definately see an improvement in both quality of my playing and my endurance. Practice makes us stronger.
Then, we have new music to enjoy: Josh Groban is fantastic! Michael Buble' is also good. Hayley Westenra is still an Angel beyond this mortal realm. And to contrast all of that passionate music, not new but still a classic is Pink Floyd the Wall, on CD. I have an original old LP record album but now have the CD's, best heard by cranking up the volume when home alone!
This weekend has been highlighted by some great new music and a passion to play some myself. Music and Life. Music is an integral part of my life. It's role is equally as spiritual and life-changing as other experiences if not more. I cannot think of a time, during my entire life that music has not had some kind of influence on me. We are changed by music.
November 5, 2005
Last night I saw 'Shovel' at the Artist Quarter. I went to see the trumpet player, Brent Sandy. He was fantastic! I loved the Angola Prison song. It was fun going there with my friend and seeing and hearing the trumpet player in person, was nothing short of inspiring. So this morning I pulled out my trumpet and practiced. All the memories came back to me and I remembered how fun it was to practice my trumpet. But sadly it's been so long that my lips no longer had a memory for being able to hold those notes or hit the high ones. These muscles were weak after neglecting them. I had no staying power. But this practice motivated me to practice more. I was truly motivated to get back at it after seeing Brent play live, sitting about 4 feet from him, practically feeling the vibrations coming through the air.
This morning for practice I played 'The sound of music.' that was one of my favorite songs on the trumpet, especially when I could play the notes cleanly. Ah well, practice, strengthening my lips, will produce that again.
September 23, 2005
Dee Duckwall Live
Tonight I went to see Dee Duckwall live, in person! It was really cool. And since I no longer had my copy of her CD, I bought another one. Tonight I had the pleasure of sharing her music with a friend I met downtown St. Paul at the Bike Depot. We sat there and talked and listened to the music. It was hard to talk though, because Dee is kind of captivating while she's singing. With a rolling voice, like the waves of the sea dancing and rolling around the Isle of music and magic. Her Irish folk songs were refreshing and uplifting. Tonight, between the good conversation with my friend, the good music and the beautiful weather on my walk home, my heart was bouncing and rolling like that sea. I cannot say enough good things about her music. She's also a very nice person and it looks like to me a good mom. Tonight we also had the special treat of hearing her daughter perform three songs on the violin. She's very much a captivating performer like her mom.
April 10, 2005
Dee Duckwall, No Prison Walls
ďIf you cannot reach the stars why take to the sky?Ē The answer lies in Dee Duckwallís Acoustic Folk Guitar Ballads. Charming like a spright in the early morning dawn, with fresh laughter, beautiful voice and honest smile says, ďAnother Gaelic song that had to be altered for public consumption...Ē
March 29, 2005
Corky Siegelís Chamber Blues
Tonight I went out with my cousin and his wife and my aunt to see a concert and have dinner at the Dakota Jazz Club/Restaurant on Nicollette Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Itís a nice place with good food, although a bit pricier than Iím used to. But the food or the place is not the real reason we went. We went to hear this band because of one of the members, Mark Agnor. My aunt and Markís mother are good friends from Ohio and since the group was here playing at the Dakota, she took the opportunity to go see him. My aunt thought it would be fun for me to see Mark play also, since we have a slight connection. Mark and I are about the same age and when I was in elementary school my older brother and I went to visit my aunt in Ohio. During that trip we went canoeing with Mark and his brother. It was a fun trip. We had a great time, but now thirty some years later those memories for me are very vague. In fact, I donít remember the canoe trip at all. haha.
They say that with age, there are two things that go. The first one is memory, and I canít remember the second one.
Seriously, it was a very nice evening with good food and really good music that had harmonica, drums, violins, viola, piano and an amazing washboard. We also had a good chat with Mark Agnor. Markís been with the group for about six years full time, but before that he subbed for them. When he played, I could really see he enjoyed what he was doing. He leads a busy life, traveling all over the world performing, mostly in concert halls. Next week heís going home, then turning right around and flying to Arizona. Here in Minneapolis, they have only played at the Dakota. The last time they were here they played in the old Dakota club, before it moved.
Itís interesting to me to see how other people my age are finding their way through life. Mark looks really happy and is a calm peaceful guy, not to mention gifted with music. This is one thing I keep trying to tell people: Follow your dreams; in the grand scheme of things there is no right or wrong career choice for you, except when you are miserable. Really life is so much better when we do what we love. Mark seems to have found what he loves to do.
Although I donít really remember Mark, I do appreciate the chance to go see him play tonight. I am really happy that my Aunt decided to invite me. I got to see another kid like me after he grew up. And Iím glad things worked out so well for him.
They were putting on another show after we left tonight, then tomorrow they have a special guest rhythm and blues singer with them for the first time. Then I guess theyíll be playing Chamber Rhythm and Blues. haha. I liked one line that Corky used during the concert, ďOne of the most common questions I get is Ďwhy?íĒ Everyone laughed at his joke, but in truth Chamber blues is a very interesting and stimulating combination. The harmonica mixed with the violin is an awesome sound. And I loved the animation of the drummer. He played several percussion instruments, but most memorable was the washboard. I never knew anyone could get such a great sound out of a washboard! And he just plain looked like he was having a blast up there!
Corky Siegelís chamber Blues group has a new CD out and you can find out more about it and about this type of music on their website: http://www.chamberblues.com/
January 14, 2005
Saturday Night Music
Saturday night, January 15th at 7:00pm I'll be at the Old Man River Cafe on Annapolis and Smith Avenue in West Saint Paul / St. Paul. It's right on the Southwest corner of the intersection. One of my favorite young musical geniuses is singing. I wrote adoringly about Greg Froehle before on August 20th, the last time I saw him play. I bought his CD and really loved it. Now I get to go hang out, drink coffee and listen to him again.
If anyone wants to meet me, here's your chance. If you can identify me, I'll buy you a cup of coffee, a Latte, Mocha, an Almond Brother, Hyper Zen, Polar Bear or something like that. Greg seems to bring his own fan club (they like his music also) so there'll be plenty of people to choose from. And you can enjoy some good music.
See you there!
August 20, 2004
Greg Froehle Music Review
Tonight saw Greg Froehle at the Old Man River Cafe on Smith Avenue. The place was packed with about 32 people. Most of them came just to see and hear Greg perform. Before I walked in the door, I had never heard of Greg Froehle, but after leaving I wonít be able to forget the fresh lyrics and phenomenal voice! He plays guitar and sings. He writes his own music. He produced his own CD. It was a pleasant surprise for me tonight.
According to Gregís website, he was born in 1984 in his living room. From the sound of things, I think he must have been born with his guitar in his hands! And instead of crying like normal babies, he was probably music to his motherís ears. Gregís CD is music to my ears. I especially liked the guitar playing on Did you ever look so nice? I donít quite understand all of the lyrics yet, but in the song Smoke I understand completely what it feels like to be in unfamiliar territory.
ďIt's so dark and cold
And the air is getting thin
As I walk the tightrope
In unfamiliar skinĒ
Greg, I donít see any new dates on your website calendar yet, but I have you bookmarked now, and look forward to hearing more of your music. Thanks for the great CD and performance!