Monthly Archives: February 2014

“Goats are Good!”

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #6)

June 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

The fires that burn within artists require them to act, talk and move differently than us non-artistic folks.  Laura is one such artist.  She will start talking to a movie, be moved to write a poignant vignette, inspired to compose a new piece for guitar and cello/violin/other instrument…all based upon some obscure event that no one else would seem to notice.

We had the privilege of living on a small place in the country which had horses, goats, dogs and visiting roadrunners, coyotes, etc. for almost a year.  During that time Mama Goat gave birth to two male goats.  Laura was the first one to find the newborns and was instrumental in saving the life of the second newborn.  She was given the honor of naming them because of her care and work, so she naturally grew attached to them.

Goats are wonderful creatures and are quite fun to be around.  They really like interaction with humans.  Laura built a habit of storing away table scraps of salad or other items and routinely taking them out to the goats for treats.  She enjoyed talking to them, training them and just being in their company.  They enjoyed her as well.

Laura was also a very vocal and strong supporter of goats. Continue reading

Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon (part two)

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
(Goat Suite Saga #5b)

February-March-April 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

“Happy Easter, Happy Spring everyone”…thus began the preface to the e-mail I wrote to my ‘little list.’  I hope this longer vignette offers to you some music interest along with a little encouragement in whatever you’re facing today. And, this season instead of thinking ‘bunnies and peeps’ think:  goats!”

After recounting my ‘goats in the garden’ incident; revealing both my strange emotional response to it as well as the overall musical inspiration I’d been receiving from those goofy goats, I pushed the ‘send’ button.

It was quite cathartic. Continue reading

Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon (part one)

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between-homes
(Goat Suite Saga #5a)

February-March-April 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

Mama Goat, Tater & Kids

Final Goat Family Portrait: Larry, Terry Scape, Mama Goat and Tater

With Tater gone, Mama Goat and the kids were introduced to life beyond the pen; opening up numerous opportunities to roam about the range during the daytime.

Terry & Mama foraging in Tate's feed bin

Terry & Mama foraging in Tate’s feed bin

At first, the threesome devoted their new found freedom to eating leftover hay in Tater’s now empty pen rather than go exploring. However, frolicking in the feed bin became passé once its contents dwindled down to nothing.  While the pens held fond memories of family playtime, Mama Goat, Terry Scape and Larry easily entered into a daily routine of romps out on the range.

Romps on the range

Romps on the range

Billy & Terry & Leggy Lady's manure mound

Billy & Terry & Leggy Lady’s manure mound

Human romps out on the range increased as the days grew warmer.  All of us on the compound got quite excited about starting a new garden plot by the goat pens where Leggy Lady left us lots of soil enriching fertilizer.

Billy and Terry on tractor with pitch forks

New Mexican Gothic: Billy and Terry

Everyone on our corner of the compound pitched in: Billy and Terry tractored and raked,

Karen in the director's chair

Karen in the director’s chair

Karen watered and directed, and I…well…I raked, but mostly just kept the goats company.

Laura, sitting in the goat pens

Laura, sitting in the goat pens

By the end of that third weekend in March, we had a fully prepped garden area; ready and waiting to begin planting crops.  In order to gain greater yields during its producing stage, we were now ready to plant our cool weather crop seeds by the dark of the Moon (time from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again) and to plant our above ground bedding plants by the light of the Moon (new to full) in April.  Planting by the Phases of the Moon is a new farmer-thing I learned and has some basis in scientific reasoning. Just as the moon pulls the tides in our oceans, it also pulls upon water beneath the soil’s surface, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages plant growth.

Consequently, this combination of getting my hands in the dirt, planting according to the Phases of the Moon and watching Mama Goat, Terry and Larry cavorting about the land caused my brain to come up with the song title for a musical composition I’d had rolling around in my mind for quite some time:

Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon

Several rhythmic motifs came to me from observing those goats playing on any given day with such abandon and crazy clumsiness, providing me with plenty of creative inspiration.

Surefooted?
Yes.
Clumsy?
Yes.
Do they care?
No.

As well, I acquired some melodic material from their bleating. Continue reading

Killer Tune Shoutout: “Give It To My People”

The dreaded drought season in the life of a working musician…while it can be excruciatingly hard to bear at the time, the good news is that it does not last forever.  Also, during that period of seemingly non-productivity, the brain on music is constantly firing on some level or another.  For myself, this period of non-performance, my ‘dry spell’ has been filled with more opportunities to compose, arrange, explore other instruments, actively research and listen to tons of music.  Sifting through various genres, with piles of notes heaped high one on top of the other I have entered into a myriad of musical worlds; hence gaining insight into diverse approaches to the artistic need to create and express what is deep within…

That said, when fellow colleagues share audio clips, videos and good sources of musical material for listening and consideration, I eagerly attend to their suggestions.  And, when a piece is presented to me by way of my son, I take even greater notice and engulf myself in its offerings.

Take a listen, folks.

A-MAC DZ – ‘Give It To My People’ from Rise Above c Alex Mackenzie-Low 2014

Alex Mackenzie-Low: vocals, acoustic guitar

Alex Mackenzie-Low: vocals, acoustic guitar

How’s that for an in-progress EP rough mix? Let’s analyze it a bit…first off did you notice the voice?  Who is this guy behind the Rod Stewart voice?  When I got the mp3 from my son who plays on all the sax tracks, I started out listening only for his parts: the voicings, the integration of the instrumental tracks, compositional components; totally disregarding the normally banal lyrics of newer bands.  Just my usual way of delving into the musicality of individual recordings.

But the guy behind the Rod Stewart voice was quite compelling.  I couldn’t ignore the voice or the message. Continue reading

Teaser Quote: Goat Suite Saga #5a

from- Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon (part one)
(Goat Suite Saga #5a)

“In terms of a musical composition, titling a piece, ‘Goats in the Garden’ conjures up quite the visual. Picture this: snapshot images of goats dancing wildly about while snacking on the available produce, all to the sounds of the rhythmic and melodic motifs whirling about in my brain.   Adding to that, ‘Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon’ sounds romantic and earthy and mysterious. The two titles could quite possibly comprise two movements within the totality of the piece; a short Goat Suite composition. Technically, a suite consists of a minimum of three movements.  And even that works within the complete title: #1-Goats in the Garden, #2-At Midnight, #3-By the Light of the Full Moon.  Cool.”