Thursday, March 31, 2011


Hamfist feels like a family. We all know each other well, warts and all, and we are emotionally invested in the music we make. When one person asks another to lay back or lay off altogether, there's a potential for hurt feelings. As a result, we go through elaborate psychological/emotional negotiations when building a song. Collaboration is a powerful tool; when used effectively, it creates a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. But, we need to make more space for the singular artistic vision. When one of us has a clear intention for a song we bring to the circle, the rest of us need to trust and support that vision.

I'm striving to be open to the honest criticism. I want to learn and grow. There have been times when I took offense when none was intended. Slowly, patiently, persistently, I'm trying to rebuild any bridges I may have burned.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Me and Pearl

Is it possible to fall in love with an inanimate object?
Ah, but how can an object that breathes, moves and sings be inanimate?
My accordion reminds me of nothing so much as a toddler. If I strap her to my chest and rock her gently, she coos.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Over the River, Through the Woods

Hamfist played Tease in downtown Ashland last night, our go-to spot for trying out new and unusual songs. Can anyone say Lionel Ritchie? We never know what Jesse will bring to rehearsal, but no-one expected The Commodores. Yet, improbably, it clicked. Jesse kindly indulges my fantasies of being a bordello chanteuse and backed me up on the Julie London classic Cry Me A River. Even Tease was too rowdy for a song as dark and brooding as that. I'll save it for some late night around the campfire.

That's how I met The Kid, y'know. He showed up at the Colestin Campout with his guitar, started playing and didn't stop. It didn't matter what song we pulled out of the campfire archives, he knew them all. We played for hours. People started drifting off to their tents, but he didn't stop. It was my night to stay up and tend the fire, so I pulled up a chaise, wrapped myself in a blanket and settled in. I figured I'd doze until it burned down, but I couldn't sleep. Every time I closed my eyes, Jesse would launch into another song that made me sit up, turn around and say, "who IS this kid?" He had me when he he played the first notes of Ziggy Stardust at about 3:00 a.m. Like Bogey and Claude Raines at the end of Casablanca, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I helped break down the gear last night and didn't leave the bar till almost 1:00. There was some pretty hairy weather on the pass and I had to drop the Tracker into 4-Wheel drive near the railroad overpass, where it usually gets bad. The transporation cops weren't making people chain up in Ashland but oddly I didn't see a single car or truck going up the hill. I had I-5 to myself, crawling along at 30 mph, listening to conspiracy theories on the AM dial. I love AM radio in the middle of the night, don't you? Last night, a "scientist" was propounding his theory that the recent earthquake in Japan is going to set off the entire Pacific ring of fire and result in a 7 point quake on the San Andreas Fault. He stopped short of saying California was going to fall into the ocean, but the implication was clear. He compared the earth's crust to a bedsheet. The fault slippage in Japan was like pulling a corner of the bedsheet so, naturally, the other corner in California would have to pop up as a result. The radio reception of his doomsday fantasies faded in and out as I crawled along the empty freeway in a white out. It felt very apocalyptic.

If the world comes to an end tomorrow, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to make music with my friends. I took a long detour away from making music and didn't know if I would find my way back. It means so much to me to have it in my life again. As a very small child, my earliest ambition was to grow up to be a singer - followed by my short-lived goal to be a tight rope walker. Clearly, I had more aptitude for the former, although, who knows? I'm not very strong but I have good balance.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Snow Photos

No beach at the beach; the garden goddess looking cold. It doesn't feel much like spring, campers. We are always glad for the water - well, except in the flood years. It's feast or famine. The happy medium is rare when you live out on the edge.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Snow

It's snowing hard and sticking the Colestin today, two days before the Vernal Equinox. Bodes well for the summer, but not for spring. March floods bring April muds. Sequoia's out tromping around taking photos; I'll try to post some later today. I may get inspired this afternoon , but right now I'm ensconced in my warm house with two books and the latest New Yorker. I ain't going nowhere.

Here's food for thought: "Old age takes everyone by surprise and no one really ever comes to terms with it. G. Stanley Hall thought that this was because old age is the only stage of life we never grow out of and can never look back on, not on this earth anyway. When you don't know where you're going, what you should do, it's time to think about where you came from...

"Darkness used always to follow day, but it doesn't any more; now we turn on lights, and day never ends. Fortune used to be a wheel that turned and turned again; now it's a number in a ledger, a score. During the past few centuries, life, along with a lot of other things, stopped being a circle and became a line... and if life is a line, it can be longer. When that happened, we forgot how to die."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Once Upon a Time in the West

Brother Jim provided this lovely photo from a few years ago.