Where’s the space?

I was in the honors jazz group my last year in college (it took me that long because I wasn’t good enough for it before I got in) and you had to be good enough because the members were hand chosen by Fred Buda (a drumming legend who came up to “moonlight” at a state university one day a week).

I sat with him alone on a few occasions (not many times because he was simply overrun with drum students and he had to do everything in a 7 hour sitting).

He asked me to play him a ballad (solo jazz guitar), preferably an Ellington tune. I launched into “I’ve got it bad” and immediately starting trying to jump chords and fit in double time passages, most likely to try and impress him (we just do this right?). I was just as dumb as most people.
He let me get to the bridge before he stopped me.
And then there was a nice “kid, you’ll shoot your eye out” moment.

“Where’s the space man?” That’s how he started.
I can’t even remember if I tried to defend something or maybe I just looked at the floor.
“You want to let those chords ring and then give them space, you know. A pause. You’re yelling at me man. I want you to soothe me.”

Yep, he said something that was just that kind of outrageous.

I played the first chord and then hesitated before the next. I think I looked at him and he laughed. I relaxed but before I started again he started humming half singing it with such a rhythmic mastery that it made me turn red because he was swinging harder with a half scat then I could do with a single guitar string.

“And then man, the pause. Never (pause) Treats ….aaah Me….(space) Sweet (stop) So….gentle….

And so was my first experience, like receiving some sort of holy darshan of rhythm, with Fred Buda. We met again sporadically for lessons and everything was an extrapolation of our initial meeting, it was about me adding space and rhythm to the playing, not overplaying or ever ignoring the pulse and what I could play or not play on it.

In ancient stories of the East, the Taoism, Chen (or Zen) where the student meets the teacher on the road and there’s a large amount of insight passed with a single sentence, I can relate to it. My experience with Fred Buda was quite short, and special, and he taught me more about rhythm with words and his voice then anyone had until then.

Go in peace Fred and know how many lives you touched, mine included.

First look at Renegades and Healers

Can’t Go Home
Endless Summer
Grey Lines
Hardest Part
Last Night
Let Me
Let’s Burn Everything
No Stranger (Click here to listen)
Renegades and Healers
Sailing Again
Waiting On A Rainy Night

Renegades and Healers is my first solo acoustic outing.  Some may remember the “songs that will never make it to radio” recording that was a duo with Rick O’Neale, but this is entirely alone.  There isn’t even a guitar solo on it.  

There’s old ones, new ones, rewritten ones, a lot of material just stripped down of band elements that would otherwise characterize it.  

There will be a short run of physical CD’s as well but you have to send me a personal note for one.

“Let’s Burn Everything” (version 2.0)

I’m no stranger

I want to know the dreams that haunt you
The images you hold inside your mind

The battles you’ve won and the ones that you lost
I’m no stranger maybe I can help you this time

Behind those eyes you’re no stranger
Even when you can’t say why
You look away every time

I want to find all your demons
I want to make them go away
The battles that you got going on inside your head
I’m no stranger maybe we can fix it this time

Behind those eyes you’re no stranger
Even when you can’t say why
You look away every time

This is what I want for you

These battles that you got going on inside your mind
I’m no stranger just a man lost in time

Behind your eyes you’re no stranger
Even when you can’t say why
You look away every time
You look away every time

Thanksgiving speeches and the spontaneous nature of creation

I stood up and gave a Thanksgiving speech at the age of 6 that floored everyone in the room, and I don’t remember it, at least accurately, and the family still talks about it. You might say it was an immortal moment in my childhood.

And since, and in Irish fashion, they speak and joke about it lovingly and for years challenged me to “one up it.” You know, “do it better,” and that will never happen and I’ll tell you why. I could give a speech that’s better and they’ll never hear it as being better.

The spontaneous nature of creation that is completely “in the moment” has a great magic to it that can’t be replicated (this is common with children as they don’t have self judgment and they do naturally). As adults we still do it all the time in conversations, problem solving, and decision making, but to stand on a stage, that’s another thing.

The very act of trying to replicate it, to me, is futile (kind of like my distaste for tribute bands) because as I previously stated, no matter how good it is, it won’t be the original (in other words, I would have to be 6 again).
The solution is to make something entirely new.

My new Thanksgiving speech goes something like this:

On the eve of 2020, while the world watches itself, trying to understand and perceive the totality of conditions on a planet through the small screens of their trusty hand companions, I might make my own suggestion and offering even if it may be a trickle of water added to the billions of voices that make up the river.

We alone, own and control ourselves, our focus, our ability to feel, love, and shed tears at the sounds and images that move us towards our mortality and our humanity, and that in a time, not unlike the times that have come before and the times that will no doubt always exist in the future, we each stand up and turn the camera off so that we might actually be “with” the sunset and each have the power to become renegades and healers in our own ways.

My deepest thanks to all of you who choose to stay connected, “around the dinner table” if you prefer, because that’s what brings meaning….to just about everything.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone….