Tag Archives: music
Will wonders never cease? Jack posts on time – – –
My good friend Dirk is the expert technical guru who records my radio shows at his excellent home recording studio. But his real expertise is in making videos and although officially retired, he continues to do that for his previous employer as an external contractor.
In the process of working on the radio programs he became fascinated by the background information on the music that I provide and that got him sucked into an idea.
So a few months ago he announced that he wanted to make a video documentary about my life with a core focus on me as an immigrant who chose to become an American. Running alongside that will be my professional career(s) and my musical life.
He started the project by videoing a series of interviews with me and that was quite intimidating! Almost from the start I decided to treat this like one of these personality tests where you answer questions without thinking too hard. The questions were mostly short and open, and my answers were usually lengthy. However, because I didn’t have any pre-warning of what the questions would be, I did occasionally have to ponder a bit.
The next stage is for Dirk to video interviews with Wendy and some of my friends, both here in the US and in Scotland.
Luckily he was recently in Scotland visiting his son Trevor who is studying at St Andrews University in my home county of Fife, so he could interview folk there. Equally luckily our musical buddy Alan Reid was passing through this way recently and Dirk was able to ambush him too.
The next stage is continuing to interview folk including a central figure to the story – Wayne Bean who first got me to the US back in the 1980s and then to WETSfm where the story continues.
I think I’ve learned a lot about myself during all this and have a clearer understanding of what brought me here. Despite all the practical and principled explanations I usually give (all perfectly true) I think underneath it all I was just ready for a completely new life!
But is that really possible?
I have been organizing small group tours of Scotland annually for the last twelve years. The first couple of times I had a definite sense of ‘going home’. However around year three I suddenly realized that boarding the plane to come back at the end I really was ‘going home’.
I think I have finally arrived at the point where I feel equally Scottish and American – not an American Scot or a Scottish American, but a US Citizen who will always be Scottish.
I’m waiting to see the finished documentary with both anticipation and trepidation – – –
As we continue with our house move, Jack writes – –
Every now and then a strange and magical figure enters your life. Such was the case when River came down here from New York State to live with her brother Mark Cooperstein and his wife Elizabeth a couple of years ago.
River wasn’t her birth name, of course. She adopted the name River Lightwomoon many years ago, and if I tell you that she also lived in Woodstock then I think you probably begin to get the picture.
She was the archetypal hippy and also a wonderful musician, specializing in percussion, and any adjacent surface was a drum for her.
She told me the amazing story of how she was already beginning to play drums and went to a club where the world-famous Jack DeJohnette was appearing. At some point one of his drum sticks ended up at her foot and she returned it to him. She met him some time later and asked about lessons, but they were going to be far too expensive her. However he remembered her and the returned stick, they got chatting and he found out she was expert at tax forms. So, in return for handling his tax stuff she got her lessons!
I was intrigued by the complex rhythms she’d set up whenever she drummed and she explained that she had worked with a mainly female group that played South American influenced original music. A short bit of on-line research and there she was listed on a number of albums!
When our good friend and wonderful singer Barbara Dickson came here to perform, she was completely entranced by River and they shared many a musical moment. But more than that – Barbara also experienced what I had – a very rare and special connection!
RIP River – you will definitely be remembered.
Jack missed his Wednesday deadline again – –
We have a pretty disparate group of friends that have many different interests, some of which I share. One of these, of course, is music. Every now and again some of us find some overlapping time when we can get together and can do some picking and singing.
Today was one of these days, and it was glorious!
For a couple of hours all the cares of the world disappeared and three of us threw everything else aside, forgot our cares and lost ourselves in bringing together our very different music to a common ground.
Tony had just heard that his brother had suffered a heart attack (but was recovering), while Leroy is still dealing with the death of his beloved Jenny and Tyler is trying to balance the life of a professional musician with balancing his budget. Me? I’m just juggling all the logistics of buying a new house and moving there while keeping my marriage on an even keel!
Tony is our guitar playing Presbyterian Pastor buddy who is seriously into ‘middle-of-the-road’ anything goes kind of music. Tyler is our local deep down traditional and very well informed banjo playing expert on the local music. I sing Scottish songs and ballads and play a pretty odd guitar style.
But the dark horse in all this is Leroy.
He’s very capable at playing everything from Simon and Garfunkel to James Taylor and everything in between – and he does it very well. He talks about things like diminished minor 7ths and such like.
So, for two hours we shared songs and did our best to follow each other as we sang, and every so often really got it together. We chatted about our musical preferences and veered off into lots of other things. We laughed and got more serious sometimes. And we got some renewed energy for life’s challenges.
I have to admit that I wondered if getting together at eleven on a weekday morning in the bookstore with a group of folk I’d never played music all together with before was such a great idea. But in the end it was just what we each and all needed.
One of the customers that came into the bookstore as we were getting started spent a long time “browsing” and finally said he expected to pay extra for the excellent entertainment.
Nah—we got more out of it than we put in, and that’s worth everything. Take a look here.
Jack’s on time again – Musht be shome mishtake – – –
Ah! – the aftermath of our annual Celtic festival! The post-mortems and memories; what went right and what went wrong.
Actually not much went wrong, but I’m always a nervous wreck in the run-up thinking what might. This year our hard working chairperson Darinda moved home out of the area so the rest of us had to regroup and strategize. We had already had to accept that we couldn’t avoid a calendar clash with another big, but non Celtic, music festival just a couple of hours away. The weather forecast began to look more and more ominous right up to the night before.
In the end the forecast of all day thunderstorms didn’t materialize, the bike race was well supported, the parade wasn’t rained on, the vendors were happy, the sheepdogs starred, the music venues worked well and everyone had the opportunity to sample haggis, Cornish pasties, cock-a-leekie soup and apple crumble.
We probably did lose some attendance to the other festival, but not as much as I feared. We probably also lost folk due to the terrible weather forecast. But we still provided custom to the local B&B and the local hotels from folks who came from a distance and that’s partly what it’s all about.
Another perennial worry is whether we’d raise enough financial support to run the festival to our projected budget. Some regular supporting businesses and organizations had to cut back a bit this time but we got there in the end.
For me, the icing on the cake are the late night sessions back in the bookstore on Friday and Saturday. This year they were exceptional, in no small part because our good friends Tim and Eileen were over from North Carolina. Friday night saw great instrumental music while on Saturday I was transported back to the wonderful experience of being in the company of exceptional singers and harmonizers that I remember from years gone by.
I’ve helped organize many festivals and folksong clubs over the years and there’s always a constant tension between the satisfaction and pleasure when things work out and the worry that things will fall apart.
This time it mostly worked –