Old Meets Young Meets Old

Seven years ago I started collaborating with a blues poet (Richard Leach). We are about the same age (60 something) so we share the same influences. Since then I have put music to eighteen of his poems. We have also collaborated with one of his poems that he recited and I mixed with visuals and audio. It has worked well for both of us.

Six months ago I had this big idea that for our next arrangement, I would find a female voice to sing the song and surprise Richard! Well, I started looking and found a number of good candidates (at fairly reasonable rates). Before I could reach out to any of them, I was conversing with a co-worker who mentioned that his daughter sings. So, I asked…”do you think she could sing for my next project?” He thought for a few seconds and said, “well, I can ask”. I said, “Yeah, all she can say is no, right?”

Then it dawned on me that I had never heard this person sing before! What if she isn’t right for the raw nature of blues? Of course by that time, I had already committed. Whatever happened next would just have to play out the way it always does…one step at a time.

Upon receiving email information, we started to correspond. Her name is Janine, a twenty-something young lady living in Van Nuys (L.A.). After a couple of weeks of correspondence, she sent me a link to some songs she had performed on stage. Her voice is “pure”. That’s what I told her, and I meant it. When I hear it, I think of a child searching for answers. There is a certain longing to it. Not sure if that makes sense.

Well, I knew that the traditional blues approach wasn’t going to work. I suggested that she give me some time to work on an appropriate composition that would fit her voice. During the next four months I created several melody lines, but just couldn’t seem to push through with lyrics. I had hit the wall. It’s ok, sometimes it happens. It was time to back away, let it rest, and come back to it with fresh eyes later.

Then something very cool happened. (More on that tomorrow)



A Little Funk

Put a little funky music to a poem by Richard Leach. From his book “At this Time” – http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/richard-leach/at-this-time/paperback/product-23494265.html


Trouble (2017)
There’s trouble when you sit and trouble when you stand
trouble with your ostrich and trouble with your sand

There’s trouble when you’re tight and trouble when you’re loose
trouble with your gander and trouble with your goose

There’s trouble with your pride and trouble with your shame
trouble with your albatross and trouble with your blame

There’s trouble with your hook and trouble with your bait
trouble with your freedom and trouble with your fate

There’s trouble with your gremlins and trouble with your gods
trouble with your evens and trouble with your odds

There’s trouble with your symbol and trouble with your sign
trouble with your water and trouble with your wine

There’s trouble with your humbug and trouble with your bah
trouble with your do re mi, trouble with your fa

There’s trouble with your January, trouble with your June
trouble with your later and trouble with your soon

There’s trouble on the ground and trouble in the air
you know what I’m saying next – I think there’s trouble everywhere

©Richard Leach

Lunacy

The moon.
Somethin’ about it.
Drives me crazy.
Looking for it.
Waiting for it.

Much of my photographic work includes the moon in its different phases.
This video depicts some of that work along with Debussy’s Claire de Lune played by Simone Renzi.

December Walk


In my world
All matter is subject to change
The forest holds the key to stars and distant memories.
Each a soulful energy waiting to be captured
There are no fast rules of physics
Water can be water, or, water can be light, or color
The murmuration of one hundred birds
Becomes the child, restless before sleep.

“Shenandoah”

Arguably one of the most beautiful melancholic true American pieces of music you will ever hear. It belongs to the U.S. and has been sung around the world….and as such, belongs to all people. Like many of us U.S. Americans, this song is a blending of many cultures and stories. There is the story of first nation man Shenandoah who aided the new republic in defeating the British. Though he was true and valiant, he saw his people and lands ultimately diminish. It is said he stood 6’5″ and was a great war chief. The story in the original version alludes to a seven year courtship a trader held for Shenandoah’s daughter. He brought the chief a canoe full of gifts, but was rejected. Later, he brought liquor, and thus, when the chief was under the influence, he stole her away. Shenandoah’s life existed far away from the Missouri River. So how did this river become a part of the song?
Well, this song was a well used shanty sang by sailors who worked the boats from the Missouri, down through the Mississippi, and eventually onto the ocean faring ships….which made it a global song. Apparently, this is where the marriage of the river, the native princess and the men came together.  The story of a man’s love and his willingness to risk his life for that love was just too much not to sing about. It was a man’s song about a man, his desire and unfulfilled love. The river and its unrelenting power gives a beautiful metaphor for leaving, adventure and the power of love.There are many versions. The original likely carried a medium upbeat tempo. The meanings behind all of the versions take on a certain abstract interpretation that transcends any one simple story. But no matter the version, the tune stays constant, and sends the listener to distant places. Like a great river, this song is a confluence of stories that by themselves are wonderful, but together make for something words cannot describe. It is a song for the world.