Wild Bil X-ing

I’m extremely proud and pleased to announce that my friend, Wild Bil McCombe, who played bass and resonator guitar on my song, A Polite Little Madness, has been nominated for Best Blues Artist by the Ventura County Music Awards. Bil is one terrific man and about six amazing musicians (!) and he deserves to win. Let’s keep all our digits crossed!

I’m currently trying to work up the nerve to ask him to contribute his considerable talents on another song on my CD, but that may take me a little while. I just admire him so damned much and I don’t like imposing on people I admire. Yeah, I know. This is a problem and it’s held me back in my life, but I’m getting better.

Anyway, congrats, Bil. No one deserves this more than you!

Check Bil’s Facebook page (linked above) to find out when and where he’s performing next. If I still lived in Ventura County, I’d be following him and his band around like a puppy!

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Are We Angels

I’ve gone to many concerts in my life, and there are many concerts I wanted to go to but couldn’t for one reason or another, but if there ever has been one concert I really wanted to attend it was one that was held on April 1st. No, it wasn’t in an arena and it didn’t feature a world-famous artist. It was a one-hour concert held in a tiny chapel in an easily missed (if you blink whilst driving by) parish in West Sussex, England, where a local indy artist performed her songs for a few caring friends and neighbors.

As quaint as all this sounds, the cause was an important one. The 11th century stone church of St. Mary’s, Trotton with Chithurst, is in need of a new roof, a cause that local resident Tobiah took to heart. Her benefit concert, called Are We Angels, raised much needed money while providing her angelic music with help from special guest, award winning accordionist, Colette O’Leary.

Of course, I’m a bit biased where Tobiah is concerned because she’s a family friend and will hopefully make an appearance on my forthcoming CD, but even if I didn’t know her personally, I’d love this concert, which perfectly demonstrates her generous heart and gracious, enchanting spirit. Colette, whose talents are new to me, added a bit of tastefully refined fun as well.

Apart from weddings, I doubt this chapel has enjoyed this sort of joyous occasion very much through the centuries. Tobiah and her husband, with help from her friends, who include actress Sarah Miles, lovingly decorated its arches and windows with candles and flower garlands, and it’s easy for me to sense a gentle smile—perhaps even a long, contented sigh—rising from its walls.

I wanted so much to attend this concert, but, alas, time and money just wouldn’t allow it. Happily, it was recorded and has been podcast on the Paradigm’s website. I hope you’ll listen and that the concert’s magic will make you smile as well. Please click the link below to access the podcast. (Photos enlarge when clicked.)

The Are We Angels concert featuring Tobiah, with special guest Colette O’Leary

 

All photos are the property of Tobiah.

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On Opera, Tornadoes, and BBQ

I just looked back at my recent posts and was shocked at how obsessed I’ve been over the redecorating of Bookends Cottage. Enough already! Today, I’ll just make a sort of unbulleted bullet list of some of the other things that are going on around here.

Judging by the picture above, you probably can guess that we saw an opera. Man, did we ever! The Met live-streamed Mozart’s Idomeneo re di Creta to a large number of movie theaters across the country last Saturday and Nettl and I went to OKC to see it. We’ve both been to the Met and, sure, it’s wonderful to be in the actual hall, but sitting seventh row center in plush chairs with an unobstructed view and a box of Twizzlers was pretty cool, too. Oh, come on. In Mozart’s day people ate, drank, gossiped, played cards, flirted, snogged and shagged at the opera! Last time I was at the Met, I was up in one of the balconies and couldn’t see facial expressions at all, and I certainly didn’t have any Twizzlers. We’ll definitely do this again.

I was impressed with the cast, each artist fresh, unjaded, and flawless, but it was mezzo-soprano Alice Coote (Idamante) who totally rocked my world. I’ve long been partial to mezzos (hey, I married one!) and I confess I’ve had no favorite since Frederika von Stade retired. That certainly has changed now. It would be enough that Ms. Coote possesses a rich, emotional voice, and it’s almost too much to ask that she be an excellent actor as well, but she delivers, entirely, profoundly. I spent several hours in YouTube last night listening to her in other roles and in each she owned her character, spot on, fully engaged and strikingly believable. It’s a wonder to behold. Try this out. And then this. You won’t be sorry. The chorus, too was in great form; this opera is really chorus heavy and the Met chorus is phenomenal. After the opera we went to Guthrie to Stables, our favorite BBQ place. Opera and BBQ… culture in Oklahoma. Oh, how my life has changed since my active years as a composer and conductor! Meh, don’t listen to me. I’m much more relaxed about these things these days and I’m perfectly happy with that.

Apparently, we survived the season’s first tornado watch last night. I don’t worry about them as much as I did when I first moved here 17 years ago. Anymore, it’s the fracking earthquakes that get to me. As a native Californian you’d think I’d be better at that, but living in Quakenado Country has a way of keeping one on edge.

I’m still trying to get this house finished, but it’s slow. Also slow (but that’s my own fault) is getting back to my CD. There’s only so much energy to go around these days, and I have to choose my battles wisely.

Have a great week!
Kaye

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Controlling the Chaos

My current project of decluttering my life is already producing the effects I wished for. With each thing I discard I feel freer and lighter. This isn’t confined only to the material possessions I’ve kept through the years, it also includes outdated, ill-fitting, or otherwise unnecessary ideas and goals, but it begins with the material world and filters on through the mental, emotional, and spiritual. Funny how that works. I’ve always maintained that our outer environment reveals the condition of our inner state and, this cottage, with its doilies, figurines, lace, and old family chotchkies revealed my need for a home life I enjoyed growing up. It’s been nurturing and safe, but I’m ready to step out from that womb. I’m not saying I don’t like the cottage style, I’m just tired of it. It’s holding me back and it no longer resonates with who I’m evolving into, and who Nettl and I are becoming as a couple. Oddly, when I was younger I adored the grandma look, but now that I’m of the grandma age, I want a more active look. As I said to Nettl one night last week, “I don’t want the ‘Arsenic And Old Lace’ look anymore.”

I have about two weeks to get this place ready for the new furniture and as you probably have experienced in your own life, when you pick out a new sofa you notice other things that need to be replaced. Suddenly, the drapes are tired, the coffee table is out of place, and the walls are no longer crisp. Fortunately, our current wall color, a warm café au lait, works well with the new colors, which are taupe, tan, and espresso, like this Peppered Tones palette, minus the blue. I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I wasn’t looking forward to painting these two rooms again. But buying the right paint really paid off. It hasn’t faded, chipped or washed off a bit since we rolled it on nearly eight years ago. Now, that’s great paint!

The most arduous part of this project is emotional, though. Thoughts of Oh, look. Mom’s doilies! and I remember when we bought this! flood my mind, and I’m forced to decide which box something is destined for: “Keep on Display,” “Store in Attic,” “Donate to Habitat,” or “Trash.” You have to be mentally and emotionally ready for this kind of decluttering; it isn’t something I’d advise you force yourself to do. You’ll know when (or even if) you’re ready when the urge to feel unencumbered  outweighs your sentimentality, and when your peace of mind is crowded and pinched by the things you’ve been holding onto. Whether it’s an idea, a habit, a relationship, an attitude, or a table, you’ll know when it’s time to let it go. If it happens at all. I mean, it’s not mandatory for everyone in order to maintain their happiness. For me, it is. I’m done with the pain, the drama, the fear, the xenophobia, and the chaos of modern life and I’m creating a private world where curiosity, the arts, intellectual pursuits, wanderlust, and the celebration of our diverse and magical world can be celebrated. As above so below, as without so within.

Physically, the hardest part is redoing the gallery wall above the piano in the music room. I’m already taking down the Baroque frames and now irrelevant images, which I want to replace with photos of our travels, book-related events we’ve attended, and our musical performances. All that frilly filigree? Gone. Likewise, the larger wall in the living room is undergoing a radical change. Three framed pieces are being moved to other walls to make room for a grid of black and white photos we’ve taken through the years. Not photos of people, but of architectural elements, storefronts, and other interesting things we’ve shot here in Stillwater.

Mostly, my work right now consists of cleaning out the debris and clutter I’ve accumulated in myself through the years. The physical part of this project ends at the close of the day, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual parts continue.

Hm. I wonder how my inner self will relax once my outer self is planted in the recliner we’re buying…

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