Thursday, October 22, 2015

Musical blessings

It has been a wild and woolly couple of weeks for me - being on vacation and then two conferences.

The second conference was the regional Folk Alliance conference called FARWest.   FARWest is essentially a trade conference for acoustic musicians and bookers.    There are workshops aimed at helping touring musicians and venues to do what they do better and lots and lots and lots of music.  The performances begin in mid afternoon and run until 2:30 in the morning... followed by an open jam session for those who still don't want to go to bed.  Add getting to spend time with old friends and make some new ones.

I have no idea how many performers there were but between the official showcases and coffeehouse and the guerrilla showcases that take place in hotel rooms, I think I saw at least 40-50 different acts.  Some literally knocked my socks off and I hope to book them for Cambridge Drive Concerts.   Some were really great but didn't seem as if they would be the right acts for Cambridge Drive.  Others... didn't click for me... which is not a swipe at the quality of the performer's art, only a statement that it wasn't my cup of tea for a variety of reasons.  Depending on how I was feeling at any given point it was either musical nirvana or musical overload. 

Then, I got home and began working on music for a gig I have this Friday (10/23) with Robin Howe and the Darin Lee Project.  They've got a full band for this gig with Grace Feldman on drums, Eric Brittain on guitar, and me on bass.  It is some very nicely crafted pop music and I' looking forward to the gig.  At the same time, it has been a long time since I've played with a full fledged rocking band... and I forgot my earplugs for rehearsal.   I'll not do that again.  If you're in greater Santa Barbara this weekend, we're at The Brewhouse at 8:30.  Stop by for some really great music.

On Sunday, I am back playing bass with our excellent church band.  We do a very wide variety of musical styles and (if I do say so myself) are one of the better church bands that I've heard, especially when you realize that our players are mostly volunteers while the big churches mostly have paid players.  IMHO we hold our own or better any of the bands I've heard.  Still, church music is not about performance.  It is about experiencing the presence of God.  I can only speak for myself there, but I certainly feel God's presence in the music this band makes.

Back to Cambridge Drive Concerts... more wonderful music.  We present on the first Friday of each month and have a great show coming up in a bit more than two weeks from this writing with Dulcie Taylor as our headline act and banjo gal, Donna Lynn Caskey opening.

All in all... I am blessed with the opportunity to hear and play some wonderful music.

Friday, October 16, 2015


No, this post i not about abortion although I think some of the arguments might be similar. 

Recently the state of California legalized physician assisted suicide.  Obviously the issue raises difficult moral and ethical questions.  I won't address them here except to say that difficult moral and ethical questions first and foremost need to be addressed by the person immediately facing them.  Of course there are social and community concerns that cannot be ignored but the struggle belongs to the individual facing the situation.

I have struggled with this question and my basic orientation always leans towards life.  My gut says that even in the most painful and difficult of times, there is something wondrous and wonderful about life and that should never be discounted.  At the same time I saw images on 9/11 that made me think differently.

We also saw peole jump from the towers to their deaths, knowing that they were committing suicide.  At the same time, death was imminent as the flames came towards them.  The choice was clearly between dying a painful death of burning or a quick one from the impact of a fall from the towers.  I don't know what I would have done if faced with that choice but I do know how I feel about burning and it is not a way that I would choose to die.  So, I asked myself, was the decision to jump an immoral one?  Did I have the right to condemn those who would choose one way to die over another, knowing that death was clearly coming? 

And so, I come to physician assisted suicide with a new perspective.  For those for whom death is clearly coming - a death that may be slow and painful and erase all that they are  - who am I to say that a choice of a quick and painless suicide might not be a reasonable decision for them to make?