I like this song for a lot of reasons and the message, I’m certain, is up for grabs, but I see it, at least now, as a song about the contract we make to one another, as friends, as family, as lovers to keep on–not to fade. It’s a melancholy tune, true, but also a vibrant call to confront those who are fading–in any sense–to make them remember how much they are loved, how much they mean and how you miss them when they fade. These are not easy conversations, of course, but we all know when we are fading and sometimes we just want someone to notice….to help us get back on track. The lyric, “Don’t Fade” is drawn out, a plea to come back, and it’s followed by another one “Don’t fade on me,” which, in my view, is the real truth–that we need each other…and sometimes desperately.
Another reason I like the song is because I get to put my guitar down and listen to Wendy play so beautifully on the tune. Sometimes it is she who brings me back to the music when I begin to fade and to sit next to her, to sing alongside her playing is one of my greatest joys. We keep each other honest in this pursuit and, while we are not sure where it is leading, we know we are fully alive when we are doing the work required to be the best we can be.
The song Coastline came to Wendy by way of….I can’t even tell you, though she’d say that the Universe brought it our way, so I am learning to embrace that idea…slowly. We spent a lot of time on the Northeast Coastline this summer/fall meandering from town to town, beach to beach, bar to bar–enjoying each other’s company, our many blessings, the sun, the tides and the infinity of the ocean. And then this song just came into the house. It’s a lovely tune, I must say, written and performed by a band called the Hollow Coves and covered on a late Saturday night by Peter and Wendy.
I’m not sure where our musical journey will end up, but when I play with Wendy, as the song says so well, I “lose all sense of time” and know that “this life will keep us young.” That I know. In a culture where we overvalue time, where we keep such precise track of it, try to rush it, want it to go by, want it to stop, I find that when I play music with Wendy the aspect of time disappears into intervals of verses, choruses and chords, melodies and harmonies. I am not young, nor am I old; I am simply a man trying very hard to eke out the best music I can in this moment and I am where I should be.
Hey all. A quick update on Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy, the New Year and all that lies ahead.
We just finished the video for the Tiny Desk Contest held by NPR. It’s our third year of entry and we’re looking forward to the final product, which you’ll see soon. We hired a company started by a former student of mine called Gimmick Studios and held the shoot in his studio which was a very cool structure—a former church renovated into living/working space. We had an incredible experience in the making of it as we were treated professionally by four very young, but extremely competent artists who, having heard our song and what we wanted out of the shoot, made it come alive.
Here are some shots of us recording the video.
This Friday we’re playing at a club in Cambridge called The Rising and, having scoped it out last weekend, we are thrilled at how warm and inviting a place it is to play. We feel both fortunate to have gotten the job, and also very confident that we are perfect for the vibe of the place. It is our hope that we can earn a few places there in Cambridge to play regularly and are working hard to make sure it happens.
What’s true is that it IS HAPPENING. We’re playing in Cambridge at a very great club…can you believe it?
The Rising Bar, Inman Square, Cambridge
We are entirely grateful to all of you who have shown your support by coming out because it makes us work harder and push our goals forward. It matters a lot and while we know that you enjoy the music and that The Rising is a great venue, that you’ll have a great time, we also know that it’s late and a significant drive. We know it and cannot thank you enough.
Do come out. You’ll like the place. We go on at The Rising in Inman Square a little after 10 and are playing until 1:30. Can you believe that? It’s like the real deal.
Well, it’s on. We have our Emerging Artists and are set for this Saturday, April 30 at 7:00Upstairs at the Harvard General Store.
And as the days have passed and in the planning Wendy and I have done, our eyes are becoming wide open to the possibilities that this venue, this event and those beyond it have as a potential for artists, like ourselves to have our work heard and appreciated. In our quest to expand our horizons, we have targeted other larger venues and have found it not entirely easy to break in. It’s not impossible if you have a good product, but we have come to know that it’s going to take some time, patience and dedicated work for our vision to become reality, which it will. This event, we hope, will open some eyes to our work and also the work of two additional local artists, both of whom are very accomplished and further ahead of us in their musical journey.
One is Aidan O’Brien, a young man who I met many, many years ago at an outdoor music festival in Trumansburg, NY called Grass Roots. He was…about 7 and was in the camping area playing a guitar that looked enormous in his little hands, but there he was…for three consecutive days, playing that thing and hugging it like it was his best friend. And, damn it, he was good. Even then. Now, of course, he’s really good, has been in several successful bands and has an entire trove of songs he’s written and covered. Just wait. He’s the real deal. That guitar has never left his side and has proven to be faithful friend.
The other is Mike Kelly. Wendy and I met him at Slater’s Pizzeria and he runs an open mic there on Thursdays, one in which we played early when Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy were just getting started and he was encouraging from the start. A couple of weeks ago when we asked him to play at the Emerging Artist Series, he was on board immediately, telling us that it was a great idea, that he’d be glad to be a part of it. What Wendy and I didn’t quite know then was how accomplished he is. Like Aidan, he’s had an instrument in his hand from the beginning and has, over the course of his young life played with James Montgomery, James Cotton, Johnny A., J. Geils, David, Maxwell, GE Smith, Paula Cole, Trombone Shorty, Joan Osborne, Simon Kirk, Barry Goudreau, The Uptown Horns, and others. He is an excellent song writer and musician in his own right and you’ll love him. (website: www.thebrotherstereo.com).
What are these two doing at the Harvard General Store? Just sharing their music. They, like Wendy and I, just want to play. It’s such a blast, you should know, and it will be a pleasure to play alongside these two for all of you.
Do show up on time and bring as many people with you as possible. We’re trying to fill the place and to fit in as much music as we can. More importantly, Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy are on first; you do not want to miss that…. No way. We are emerging, baby, and want to share our love of what we do with all of you on that night and, hopefully many others.(website: bankeP.wix.com/wendydarling).
See you there.
If you want a sneak preview of what you will see Saturday, check out the video links below.
Our Annual New Year’s Day Party was as fun as always. For nearly 10 years (or more, I can’t remember), we have been having this gathering to celebrate the end of the holiday season (phew!) and the beginning of a new year. (It is also my birthday but I don’t like to highlight that).
In addition to the cool and interesting people and tasty food and drink, there has been one element that is the hallmark of the party, Live Music. While my husband and daughters handle the details of party planning, I get to focus on what I love. Over the years, I have offered up a variety of acts from solo acoustic performances to full bands, the common denominator being that I get to play! I think that’s fair. After all, it is my birthday.
This year, I was very excited to play with Peter and also to bring in Rick Hess on drums and Andy Bollman on Bass. Andy and Rick were quick to get up to speed and really helped create a groove and round out the sound. We played for several hours and had a blast (as did the guests, I hope).
My daughter was able to capture a few of the songs on my ipad (quality not great but you get the idea). Here they are:
As far as New Year’s Resolutions go, here are mine:
Play More Music
Perform More Music
Sing More Music
Listen to More Music
Write More Music
Go to More Music Festivals
Learn More Music
Wishing everyone lots of music in 2015! Happy New Year.
I first remember listening to Cat Stevens (born Steven Demetre Georgiou) in the spring of 1985 while in my Junior year at Ithaca College. My roommate, Jane, had his album, “Tea for the Tillerman” and would play it often. I was particularly captured by “Father and Son” and “Miles from Nowhere,” both songs that delivered the deeper meanings of life on a melodic wave of sound. Stevens’ tunes were insightful and harmonic. They made me think, feel, and listen. I never did buy any of his albums, and as I moved on, away from my college years and into a more digital age, I left his music behind.
Stevens also walked away from the music in 1977 when he decided to give up his career as a popular musician and convert to Islam. He changed his name to Yusuf Islam and focused his efforts on educational and philanthropic causes. Since then, he has received several awards for promoting peace in the world including the World Award (2003), Man of Peace Award (2004) and the Mediterranean Prize for Peace (2007). It would be years, however, before I was to hear or even think about this iconic man again.
During a visit with my mother this fall, we had the good fortune of watching Harold and Maude, a 1971 film about a young man obsessed with death and his relationship with a 79 year old woman who teaches him that life is the most precious gift of all. Stevens’ music surfaces in the opening scene and continues throughout the movie. The soundtrack is 100% Cat Stevens (with the exception of one or two classical tracks). As soon as I heard the scratchy sound of needle on vinyl leading up to “Don’t Be Shy,” I was immediately propelled back to a different era. First to 1984, in my junior year apartment and then to the early 70’s when I was growing up. Both periods punctuated by feelings of freedom, independence, creativity, and thoughtful expression.
More recently, it has come to my attention that Stevens (or now Yusuf) has decided to revisit the music and embark on a full fledged American tour. He began releasing new albums in 2006 and just this year (2014) began his first tour since 1978.
Peter and I decided it was a great time to cover one of his tunes, and Peter brought “Longer Boats” to the table.
Here is our version.
We have since changed a few of the harmonies and are working on refining the arrangement and tempo. All the same, it is a great tune to sing out, “If You Want to Sing Out.” Enjoy.
As I woke up this morning reflecting on my first GIG with Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy, I asked myself what was so fun and rewarding about this type of experience. Over the past week, I had also been contemplating why I was enjoying writing the blog and what I realized was this. There were some common threads that pulled me towards both.
The thing about blogging that is different than writing an essay or more formal paper is that it allows you a space to jot down ideas in a variety of ways without the pressure of having to be “perfect.” It is a journey rather than a destination and as journeys often go, there is no real ending or final product to worry about, mistakes happen (and it’s ok), ideas evolve, unexpected events occur, and if you allow it, the path may lead to a place of discovery that you would not have found had you tried to over plan it.
Gigging can offer the same freedom to grow and evolve. Getting out and playing in front of an audience on a regular basis allows you the opportunity to try new things, to make mistakes, to perfect your technique and presentation, and to connect with others. It offers you the chance to put aside fears of failure or not being perfect in favor of embarking on a journey where the unexpected is the norm. The key is to keep moving, keep evolving, keep listening, keep playing.
Last night, as we performed to an intimate audience, we realized the benefits of embarking on this musical journey. Through some hard work, commitment to creativity, support of one another, and a willingness to take small risks, we were able to put out some music that made people smile, groove a little, and connect to some great tunes. What could be more fun and rewarding than that?
Peter and I with Fotini (One of the Owners of Fortini’s Restaurant, Bolton, MA) after the show.
Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy will be playing this Friday night at Fortini’s Restaurant in Bolton, MA. Our goal has been to begin booking gigs after the New Year, but this one came along and we are really excited! We realized, however, we needed to add a few more songs to our list in order to fill up the 2 1/2 hours. This is what we came up with..
(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone, written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and made famous by Paul Revere & the Raiders, who recorded and released it in May of 1966 on their Midnight Ride album. The Monkees also released a version in November of 1966 which made it to the top of the charts. I recently heard Steppin’ Stone when I went out to see my brother-in-law’s band over Thanksgiving weekend. They did a splendid version and I immediately knew it would be a good one for us.
The other song we added this week is Everything Has Changed by Taylor Swift. Covering Taylor Swift is not an easy task but after many requests from my 18 year old daughter, we thought it would be fun to try. We chose Everything Has Changed because it is not only a beautifully written song, but it also features British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran. This vocal and guitar duo seemed like a perfect combo to cover.
If you have the chance, come down to Fortini’s Restaurant (544 Wattaquadock Hill, Bolton, MA) this Friday night, December 12, and check out the rest of our music. We’ll be starting at 7.
I had the good fortune to see Bob Dylan and “his band” perform at the Orpheum Theatre last Friday night, November 14. As you can imagine, the environment was warm and intimate, the volume and tone masterful, the crowd nostalgic, and Bob, well Bob was and continues to be, “Forever Young.”
The Band played a combination of old favorites like “Tangled up in Blue” and “Simple Twist of Fate” as well as many songs that I did not recognize from his newer albums (the man is still cranking them out). Bob was in classic form, cool and collected and although his vocal cords were showing wear, he still managed to belt out his poetry with the same heartfelt soul that attracted attention in the early 60s.
The magic of the show was not surprising. After all, Bob Dylan is one of the most acclaimed artists of all time and he undoubtedly has access to some of the best supporting musicians and creative staff in the world today. What did surprise me about the performance, however, was how differently he approached some of his old classics.
I have had this conversation many times with my musical friends. Is it more valuable to cover a song detail by detail so that it sounds as close to the original as possible or better to put your own twist on it? I have always been on the side of adding my own spin. After all, I have mostly covered larger band songs with a two part act and substituted the traditional male lead with my female vocals. There is no way I could sound remotely like the original presentations, even if I tried. However, the main reason I strive to “cover” not “copy” a song is that I believe that music is a merging of the art and the artist. I am not Bob Dylan so I will never deliver a song like Bob Dylan. The best renditions, in my opinion, come when the musician is able to connect on a soul level with the essence of the composition. The best songs are those that have such a universal essence that they are easily interpreted in as many varied ways as there are different people interpreting them.
As I sat listening to Bob and His Band play “She Belongs to Me” early in the first set, it took me a minute to recognize the song. The rendition was so completely different than the original version I was use to hearing. Bob was reinventing his own music in a way that was refreshing and new. The crowd loved it, because by changing the tunes and the delivery, Dylan was revealing a new part of himself. A true gift that we all appreciated.
“She Belongs to Me” by Bob Dylan,
Covered by Wendy and Peter
“She Belongs to Me” was one of the first songs Peter and I attempted to play together and one that came out in our own unique way without much effort. Ours is a very different version than those played by Bob Dylan or anyone else for that matter. But, that is exactly how we want it to be. Enjoy listening!