Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Brothers and their Music >>> #4 in a Series on Music Mentors

     My brother and I aren't twins but we have the same birthday.  Same parents, too, just two years apart to the day.  When my mother left my birthday party to go have him, I was probably too busy eating cake to notice.  It took me a few years, but, after getting over the shock of having to share my special day, I came to appreciate and brag about my little brother Brian---very best birthday gift of all, bar none.

Brian, left, with state park ranger, working to save sea otters
     We didn't stay in close touch during our college days.  Music-wise, I was singing in classical ensembles and folk and Latin groups, and he was "dead-heading" his way to rock concerts during every school break.  He got my attention big-time when he sent the song "Stairway to Heaven" to me while I was living in Spain.  Ever since then I've paid attention to the music he introduces me to and have become a grateful fellow fan of Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, Old & In the Way, Chris Isaak, Traveling Wilburys and of course, The Grateful Dead.

     It's a long way from our childhood, sitting around the turntable in the room we shared, entranced with Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf", Woody Guthrie's "Chisholm Trail", and the Howdy Doody theme song. We somehow survived our early years without videos and even without television.  A radio and a record player, that was it.

     The romantic lure of the "ki yi yippee yippee yay" lyrics must have played a part in my "horse period", and Prokofiev's music, text, and accompanying illustrations may have influenced Brian's Fish and Wildlife work assignments to Russia years later!  ♫

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Music with My Soul Mate >>> #3 in a series of Music Mentors

This is my 100th post on this blog.  It is dedicated to the man I love, in the photo below, Rick St. Charles.   He is my husband, father of our children, fellow musician and songwriter, recording engineer, business partner, source of unfailing humor, and soul mate in every respect.
Rick and me at the Buenaventura, Los Angeles CA where I presented at the CTA Conference 
Because of him, albums were produced and marketed, concerts were staged with ideal sound systems, professional photos and videos were captured and created, travel arrangements were made clear and easy, hearth and home were held down snugly,  business and financial records were maintained, and every aspect of being an indie musician was enhanced, enriched and enabled for me.

My biggest fan.  My advocate.  My darling.  Loving this man is the truest and sweetest song of my life.                                                      

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sister Music >>> #2 in a Series: Music Memories

If my big sister hadn't been out with her new boyfriend, we might be Mormons now.  Two cute missionaries from Nebraska showed up at our door bearing bibles, pamphlets and a guitar.*  My mom was thrilled to have English-speaking visitors, and I was happy to get an introduction to folk singing and guitar chords.  My family had moved to Argentina, I was 11, and those visitors, along with my sister Wendy's influence----even when she wasn't there!!---launched me on a performing career.

Wendy at my son's recent wedding
We went from Nat King Cole, Bud & Travis, and Eydie Gorme records to the Beatles' when we returned home. Weeks before this new band was to make its appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Wendy talked of nothing else.   The rest of the family had no idea what the big deal was, but it was obviously Very Important to her, so all five of us gathered around the set that night.  The TV was upstairs, in the parents' domain.  I remember as if it were last week, joining millions around the country in being mesmerized by that British Invasion.  I've continued to join in by doing covers of their songs ever since.

In the background, our ears were always filled with my sister's vinyl collection of Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz, Juan Carlos Jobim, Barbra S., Miles Davis, the Beach Boys and her boogie-woogie piano playing. With my trusty guitar, a fellow singer and a growing song list, she talked me into participating in our school's music nights, called 'hootenannies'  I discovered how fun and rewarding it could be to perform for a live audience.  .
.My big sister was my first fan. I'm grateful for every ounce of her influence and encouragement along the way.

* Why Mormons? If she'd been there, she might have fallen for one--or both--of them, and I'm sure they would have loved her! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mother-Daughter Music #1

Being blasted out of bed Christmas morning by Handel's Hallelujah Chorus played as loudly as Mom could crank it up on our "stereo's" turntable, is one of my earliest music memories.  A few more >>> listening to her singing lullabies and Latin pop songs, my dad's violin, sister's piano, brother's trumpet, and the five of us warbling harmonies on "Rock-a My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham" during long car trips---childhood treasures tucked away in my memory.

Thanks to Mom, I got my first guitar the year my family spent in Argentina while my microbiologist dad was on sabbatical from Cal Poly doing research on brucellosis in cattle there. (I've yet to find a musical association with the cow thing!)  I took off on the guitar, courtesy of some private classical lessons from a very patient Argentine teacher, and also of the two young Mormons who showed up at our door and taught me "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and other popular folk songs of that 60's era.

Later, armed with some basic chord progressions, a few short and sweet sonatas, and a love of singing and accompanying myself and others, I got to spend my junior year in Granada, Spain, and immerse myself musically in the land of Don Quixote.  In retrospect, I realize my good fortune to have had that uncommonly care-free period.  I would return home to finish college, marry the greatest guy in the world, raise a son and daughter who are the light of our lives, launch my music in various venues, and try out different careers---all feeding my spirit and heart enormously--- before I would get to see that part of the world again.  Forty years.  Growing up hearing these stories and dreaming of traveling more together, my daughter Genevieve proclaimed, "Mom, we could go on forever saying we're going to do this; let's book our tickets!"

Genny with mug, and me 

And she did, and we went and, joining all those who find Travel so rewarding, our highlights included connecting with local families and sharing music, food, stories and laughter.  My favorite things.  Someday I'd like to read my daughter's stories of her first music impressions.  And yours, dear Reader----please leave a comment or two below.