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I had a remarkable time last Month performing at the 'Devil Mountain Coffeehouse'. This series is in the new event hall at the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Church in Walnut Creek. Our whole concert scene began at MDUUC as an open mic over 30 years ago. In those days we brought everything in from the sound system to the coffee so it took the whole day and night, and we typically didn't get to bed until 4 in the morning. The beautiful new hall has everything built in. What a breeze!
Laura Zucker performed the first set of the evening with some very well written originals that all told distinctive stories. She has an excellent voice and stage manner, and is doing great work keeping music alive at the Unitarian Church. Thanks also to Harry Miller for setting up the sound system and hall. We spread out the hundreds of photos of musicians who played the old "Musician's Coffeehouse" that ran at MDUUC for over 20 yrs. It took three 8' tables to spread them out with the photos piled 3-4 deep. Seeing them displayed that way really brought home all the wonderful memories as well as the hard work it took to stage all those shows. Thank you to all who took part in those concerts!
About 125 folks showed up to hear my shenanigans. My main goal for the evening was to get everybody singing. I broke my set into 3 segments: Science, Satire and Spirit. So to get folks singing, I said "Let's begin with an old space classic", and launched into John Lennon's "Across the Universe". It took a while--an initially shy crowd--but by the end of the song, "Jai Guru Deva" rang out over the hall. On the second song, "Coming of Age in the Milky Way", the crowd really got going and we were singing and rocking the rest of the set.
I tried a new song about the "mulitverse" that asks whether inanimate objects are 'alive'. It's a metaquizzical rap tune about my childhood slinky which I found in a box earlier this year. I took off my guitar--which is scary for a folk singer--picked up the slinky and let it rip. The slinky has a very distinctive sound which works nicely as a percussion instrument. I had lots of fun with that one, though the metal slinky pinched my fingers a few times. The trick is not to say ouch in the middle of the song. (Read the lyrics here.)
So the music goes on at the MDUUC! Scientific theories say music preceded language as the first form of communication. Deep stuff not to be ignored or devalued at the peril of our own happiness and understanding. (Bookmark the website to check out future shows!)
The next day a group of us went zip lining thru the tops of the redwoods with "Sonoma Canopy Tours" out of Occidental, CA. What a rush! It was so beautiful to stand on a gently swaying platform at the top of a redwood tree, and just take off like a hawk! (Check out this video our friend Mark Westwind made from our trip.)
I was deeply fearful about doing this crazy sport, but once I was up there it felt almost natural to fly like this. I told my friends: "Playing live onstage is way more scary than this!" Put it on your bucket list.
My next show is at Armando's in Martinez on Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 from 4 to 6pm. If you happened to pick up a flyer at the Devil Mountain Coffee House show, take note. We had a mix-up on the dates. Initially we were going to play Armando's on January 29th, but decided to change it because we're running a benefit concert for the San Ramon Valley High School Instrumental Music Program that on Saturday, January 28th featuring the great Journey Tribute band "Evolution". (Since we're not as young as we once were--but maybe a little smarter--we decided to spread things out a bit.) Click here for more information. And remember, concert tickets make great holiday gifts. (Hint. Hint.)
It's that time of year when we start getting together all the demos and ideas for next summer's booking. Got any? This'd be the time to let us know who you want to see next year. If we had funding for Fall/Winter shows this week we'd have the 'Fishtank Ensemble' one of the wildest, interesting gypsy jazz groups alive. (Check em out!)