One of the things I do on a regular basis is search and discover ‘new’ (to me) music via a myriad of ways…all part of being a working musician – seeking, learning, creating.
A fine example of this occurred recently. As noted in a prior post, CNN’s short video in tribute to David Olney lead me to seek out more of his music. Which lead me to two other seemingly unrelated musicians/composers. I say ‘seemingly’ because I haven’t a clue as to how I arrived at their respective websites/youtube channels/streaming stations but some invisible google-ly algorithm guided me based upon something related to its way of calculating.
I know standard streaming sites routinely offer up an ‘if you like X, then try Y’ approach to new music seekers. However, my pokes and prods seem more organic, focused, personal – with a touch of human (mine) direction in the seeking. In addition, it is not limited to a particular platform.
Anyway, David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov * who lead to Gavin Luke.*
And then I discovered an unexpected related theme – that of home.
David Olney was an itinerant wanderer, Gregory Alan Isakov is a transplanted Boulderite (my hometown) and Gavin Luke is a composer whose style draws deep home yearnings front and center.
Olney’s cover of Snowin’ on Raton** reminds me of all the traveling back and forth between hubby’s and my family homes…driving over Raton Pass in all types of weather from Colorado to New Mexico and back again from New Mexico to Colorado.
Specifically, two significant snow times come to mind.
1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops, image from google
January 1979. Just a little over 6 months into our newlywed-ness, we packed all our belongings in the smallest sized U-Haul trailer and hitched it onto hubby’s 1977 Burnt Orange Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham (complete with T-tops and other extras). Moving in the winter was dicey but needful as hubby was set to resume studies at NMSU that semester requiring our move from Boulder, CO to Las Cruces, NM to begin our new married-student phase of life. He, as an older student to finish his CS degree on the last of his GI Bill (at that time, NMSU was on the cutting edge as one of the few Universities to offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science Program). And me, to forge a more direct relationship with my in-laws in hubby’s hometown while exploring our own new surroundings filled with endless possibilities. On the day of our move, we expertly navigated the increasingly dense low visibility January snow storm conditions. We even managed to slip (pun intended) into the climbing lane as we began the long steep grade over the pass…before CDOT closed I25 behind us. Yep, we were the last vehicle allowed on the road to mount up and over Raton Pass into NM. Suffice it to say, we jackknifed only once on the steady upward climb and managed a controlled descent on the other side of the pass into Raton, NM.
January 1982. After hubby graduated in December and with our firstborn less than 4 weeks old, we packed up that same Cutlass – with more precious cargo this time around. The plan was to move back temporarily to CO to stay with my folks while waiting for more details concerning hubby’s new job at HP in the Silicon Valley to determine exactly where we’d be relocating. Again, a January snowstorm. Again, slipping past the road closure signs as the last vehicle going up and over the pass. Safely strapped into her rear facing car seat, our newborn baby girl who’d been sound asleep for most of the trip opened her eyes with a start and immediately began her screaming cries as we began our ascent. She sensed the tension of our situation – and added to it – all the way up & over Raton Pass. This newborn Mother could not – dared not – pick her up to nurse her back to calm – and was thusly initiated into the lifelong Sturm und Drang slice of what it means to be a Mom.
And those are the snowy times when we drove Raton Pass and where listening to Snowin’ on Raton many years hence intersect – hitting squarely through my heart –
Missing home. Missing our baby daughter.
Stories & family jokes abound about his doling out tiny ‘balls’ of the stuff for others while heaping mounds of frozen lusciousness into his own bowl…
Plus, when he was thrust into the role of widower and had nothing much to eat in the house – he always had a freezer full of ice cream. He prided himself in eating his milk in the morning via a bowl of ice cream for breakfast.
On Monday, September 17th, my bro and I signed over our folks’ house to a buyer who said, “I fell in love with this house the minute I set foot into it.”
In celebration of this event, I bring you a jam session of a favorite gospel tune, Oh Happy Day, in the spirit of my JazzMan Dad…
(jump to 3:05 if you’re not a musician interested in the creative process)
Context of this piece is as follows:
Original youth group recording
This is track 5 from the 1968 album “Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord”. Lead by Dorothy Morrison-Combs Written by Philip Doddridge Arranged by Edwin Hawkins. Edwin Hawkins was a pianist at Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California when he came up with the popular Latin/Soul version of the song “Oh Happy Day” in 1968. In an October 23, 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he explained that “Oh Happy Day” was one of eight arrangements he put together for the Northern California State Youth Choir, which was made up of 46 singers ages 17 to 25, and the plan was to sell an album of the songs to finance a trip to a church youth conference in Washington, D.C. The tracks were quickly recorded live in church on a two-track tape machine (industry standard at the time was eight-track), but the records weren’t pressed in time for the trip. They did attend the conference, and the choir placed second in a singing competition, where they performed 2 of Hawkins’ arrangements, but not “Oh Happy Day,” which Hawkins said was “Not our favorite song.”
Me: the bassline beginning at 2:40 through to the end is fantastic! – this is a stellar example of the vibrancy of live performances regardless of the limitations of available recording equipment…wow!
And the performance you might be more familiar with:
Me: this one is a vocal improv that is relatable to the Jam.
Oh happy day (oh happy day) Oh happy day (oh happy day) When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed) When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed) When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed) He washed my sins away (oh happy day) Oh happy day (oh happy day)
He taught me how to watch, fight and pray, fight and pray
And live rejoicing every, everyday
Oh happy day…
Two years ago on the 17th, I was scheduled to fly back to SC after a Summer of Dad visit. He, instead, changed my plans the day before by having a mini stroke. Hubby quickly cancelled that flight and rescheduled for another flight for the following week.
As most of you know, I’ve been sorting/sifting through the stuff of the lives of my folks while trying to get their house in order for sale these past almost 2 years. That said, this post is kindof like how I am – two opposite drives streaming together – sadness for those lost and gone, yet invigorated to actively let those still here on earth know I love them in the here and now…
The day after my cousins and Aunt Dolores returned to Chicago from Dad’s funeral* in Colorado, my Aunt Betty fell, broke her arm and entered into hospice care within the week.
Unlike Dad, she and his other sibs were/are lifelong Cubs fans. And I confess I caught the cub-bug from them back in the day! Freshly back from Colorado** hubby and I settled into a regular routine of watching 2016’s historic World Series. It helped ease re-entry into our life away from loved ones, life’s new normal and tending to everyday living in our little rental here in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, my cousins and Aunt Dolores had the television on for all the games, too. They spent time with Aunt Betty during her last ‘dream-sleep’ days listening and talking with her about all the exciting baseball action.
On November 1st, Dad’s sister joined the increasing Family party up in heaven.
When news spread over the Bruno Grapevine about her passing, I took comfort in thinking she had the best seat in the Universe to see those Cubbies take the World Series in all its victorious glory***.
The very next day, Terry and I took to the road again to attend the wake/funeral mass on Chicago’s south side.
Going back to old family locations, rejoining the cousins and the last two remaining of Dad’s sibs proved to be an unexpected blessing in the midst of my own raw grief.
I received an extra gift from my aunt – a chance to honor her – standing for Dad – and a chance to continue in the healing and comfort with Family – Coming back to my roots and laying Dad to rest there, too.
Surrounded by Family still in mourning over the death of Dad; beginning the trail of sorrow again with the passing of Aunt Betty – shared sorrow, shared support.
Joining joyful memories with the present shifting of Family ‘residency’ – sharing in the double grief – makes me think Aunt Betty waited to sit at that Family Table till Dad would be there, too.
Last trip to Chicago with Ma (2004) – missing only 4 Bruno oldsters. l – r: Adua, Dennis, Dad, Elmer, Betty, Frank, Rose, Ma, Dolores with Lizzy
*Dad died 9/22, we held the funeral mass, internment and celebration of life feast on 10/14 to enable more out-of-town family to attend
**Terry drove out of Hurricane Matthew on 10/8 in order to be with me pre-post funeral, and most of all to bring me back home with him; we left 10/21
***Cool tidbit: another cousin got to see the celebration parade up front since he has a law office on Michigan Ave
“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” -Victor Hugo
My homemade cannoli
What better way to ease into another set of 2013 Reflections than with luscious references to food?
My homemade sourdough bread
This past year, I resumed my life as a ‘good cooker.’ This family badge of honor, proudly reactivated now that I have a kitchen at my disposal, has provided nourishment to both body and soul.
~ 4/13 The unfolding of my ‘horse gentler’ skills learned during our time of horse rescue being placed within a new context of use. While making a final pilgrimage to visit Terry’s Mother in Dallas (just a week before she passed away) our ‘nephew’ Jeremy helped with a fundraiser for the ‘Horses for Heroes’ project in nearby Rocky Top Ranch. Himself a Wounded Warrior, he opened my eyes to this realm of horse therapy for returning veterans and their families.
Shortly thereafter, to my delight, I discovered a local established horse therapy group beginning to implement a Wounded Warriors component into their program offerings. I immediately contacted them and not only signed on as an active volunteer, but got in on the ground floor as part of the initial group starting the WW program. In addition, I work regularly with the other students. While my primary role is in enabling the horse(s) to be their very best while in use during therapy, I enjoy the blessings of working with the various students and their families, other volunteers sharing my passion, the therapists and owners of the stable…
Gracie on Freckles, First Annual BTR Horse Show (I’m wearing orange)