‘As you move through your day
keep your heart focused on the Goddess within
and let her spirit guide and show you the way.’
I walked down the aisle past the piano keyboards, past cymbals on display looking like shiny branches on short trees, heading toward the loudest drum section in the back. Music equipment was everywhere on display – calling for
a test drive. The chairs were set up facing the stage. A jazz clinic was about to take place, the special guest performing at a local venue.
I arrived with little background information, yet was immediately defensive at what I observed. A man appeared to have cornered the guest asking for a LOT
of autographs and kept referring to his phone. Immediately I suspected these autographs were headed for ebay and this man was actively listing each item.
I applaud myself for how wrong I was.
The actual story is so much better.
The local music store had invited our high school jazz ensemble to participate in a clinic with Randy Brecker. Before you immediately judge me on my “I’ve read the album covers and know all the musicians involved for the past 50 years knowledge”, I’ll share with you that I cut my teeth in the 80’s dancing all night to every song I could sing & dance to. Certainly the birthplace of karaoke.
The jazz band took the stage and performed their first piece. Randy Brecker
rose from his seat, ascended the few stairs, greeting the musicians on stage. Humbling even the band director, the clinic began with Randy taking the microphone – ‘I can’t critique this…can I play with you guys?’ I think only a handful of the students could grasp that they were about to play with a
A little background: Randy Brecker is a trumpeter, composer & one of the founding members of Blood Sweat & Tears (1968 album), a Grammy Award winner, has toured behind the Iron Curtain in 1989. A studio musician, sometimes never actually playing with the artists but with ‘credits’ on albums by: Steely Dan, Ringo Starr, Aero Smith, BB King, Chaka Kahn, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross (see?, I sort of ‘knew’ Randy Brecker…), Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Frank Zappa, George Benson, Paul Simon, The Average White Band, Lou Reed, The Brecker Brothers…to name a few.
According to allmusic.com Randy Brecker has 2,208 credits on albums.
Next, a 17 year old trumpeter from the jazz band came forward to solo – he exchanged some effortless musician-to-musician strategy with Randy. The music they played-back & forth jazz trumpets with support from the band was just incredible. This young trumpet player got a ‘thumbs up’ from Randy Brecker.
That moment will probably always live with that young man as it began to sink in that he just jammed with a legend. Unsure if he even heard what Randy said into the microphone to the crowd…”keep your eyes on this kid” kind of thing.
A memorable experience for this group of musicians to share the stage with living history.
The guy with the autographs?
Sometimes I just can’t walk away. I started a conversation with the man with the autographs & a few hundred record albums. Prior to the clinic, Randy sat, patiently signing album cover after album cover with this man. The best part – they were not going on ebay. This album collection is his hobby. He has several thousand albums in his basement with over 20,000 signatures – his wife draws the line that they must remain there. I asked how willing the musicians are to sign autographs. He told me one person met him for coffee the morning following a concert and signed a few hundred while they talked.
After all the albums were autographed, Randy Brecker took a small breath, handed the marker back, reflected saying, “Wow, that was my whole life
in 15 minutes”.
I doubt he’ll get credit on an album for his appearance on a small stage in a music store on a winter afternoon, but the almost 70 year old Randy Brecker made a difference that day.
Four days of spring!
Each year I look forward to the arrival of spring at the Milwaukee Art Museum where flowers are the art. ‘Art In Bloom’ is the museum’s four day event that fills each room with the scent & colors of spring.
Art in Bloom pairs one piece of incredible art to a talented floral designer or group. It’s quite an honor among florists, garden centers and garden clubs to be selected as a designer for this event.
The challenge of the day: deciding which arrangement receives my “people’s choice” vote.
I found it difficult to walk away from this arrangement! It was fascinating from all sides.
Elegant in simplicity.
Three panels of abstract flowers – an interpretation of
Yellow Guitar and Blue Vase.
Floral humor: grilled cheese & tomato soup
Simple, stunning, creative.
Vision, skill, artistic creativity.
Art in Bloom – always worth the trip.
Milwaukee Art Museum, www .mam .org
‘start small & begin promptly’
I love it when I look at something and am instantly inspired! A small
photograph in a frame – is obviously something important. Reading
the caption behind the glass case I learned this small shed
was in a backyard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about 110 years ago.
The shed belonged to a family named Davidson.
If I added the fact that ‘serial number one’ motorcycle
was built in that little building with a friend named Harley
you might start to piece together, Harley-Davidson.
The Harley-Davidson brand is known in every corner of the world,
easily recognizable on most highways especially in the warmer months.
Over 3.5 million (2002) motorcycles have graced roads, fields,
race tracks, police lines, postal routes and even the front lines in
two World Wars.
I just visited the Harley-Davidson museum where this photograph hangs and what impressed me the most that day was enthusiasm for everything Harley,
a familiar brand that started in this tiny space, a 10 x 15′ shed.
Harley is not just a brand of motorcycle or rider, it seems to be part of life for those who choose to breathe in that air. It’s a culture. I saw it in the excitement of a staff member who was thrilled to share his knowledge
of the layout of the building so we wouldn’t miss any exhibit. He loved his job, anyone could see it.
An exhibit, ‘Living Lost’ – photographs from the front seat of a Harley on a cross-country ride. Gritty in open nature, greasy from side of the road repairs, soft in the future generation of HOGs (the term used for Harley Owner Groups), this display showed the camaraderie among riders.
The evolution of fuel tanks ranging in color – looked very much like my memory of a vast display of butterflies. The ‘Wall of Tanks’ was clean & simple yet spoke loud in volume of history, longevity and miles of open road.
One of the most moving pieces I’ve seen in any museum was the ‘Tsunami motorcycle display’. When the devastating wave hit Japan in March 2011 a motorcycle in a container was washed out to sea. The container drifted 4,000 miles and washed ashore on the coast of British Columbia. It was found in May. Inside the container was a Harley, the Japanese license plate still intact. Finally tracking down the owner who survived, it was learned many in his family perished, his home lost. The owner asked if his Harley could be donated to the museum in Milwaukee as a memorial to those who were lost. The motorcycle is encased in glass in the same condition it was found, the salt water corrosion continues to make progress.
The structure of the museum is steel, strong & sturdy, held together by rivets.
‘A rivet is the strongest bond that holds things like I-beams and jeans together. A rivet is exposed to the elements & takes on whatever nature throws at it’ (from the Harley-Davidson website).
I’ve been a visitor to a few Harley events – they’ve always intrigued me – viewing the common thread of Harley; the camaraderie between thousands of owners & riders, the feeling of freedom on the road & being connected by a unique energy & culture, being exposed to the elements & taking on whatever nature throws your way.
And to think every time you hear the roar on the back road or highway – it all began in a 10 x 15′ shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
www . Harley-Davidson . com
I know a young man who has passion.
Passion in how he learns, the quantity of knowledge he has, his joy in sharing his gift with the world.
This young man is a drummer who was born with rhythm coursing through his veins and always a steady heartbeat, barely able to contain his drumming fingers…always at the dinner table, frequently on a drum set.
I know this drummer. I gave birth to him.
‘Passionate’ is the perfect description of his enthusiasm of all things percussion. As a barely two year old trying to configure a drum set using a coffee can, tape, paper plates & a barbecue skewer, frustration mounting as the high-hat cymbals wouldn’t open & close like he saw in a Beatles video.
Shortly after, a December holiday brought an entire drum set–and at his birthday party only 3 weeks later he shared his drumming passion with the world. Ok…maybe to most of his first grade class and all the neighbors.
What I admired about his performance was he didn’t know if he was a great drummer or an ok drummer. He just wanted to play. And he played along with the Beatles music and he started the party.
So this passion continues and gets deeper (as does his song selection) over the years to include all genres of music. It’s a pleasure to watch the evolution of his style and skill as he proceeds through each phase. I am grateful that heavy-metal was relatively short lived and that jazz is in the heavy rotation.
When I see passion in a young person, it’s not forced. It’s an inner drive, strength, motivation. An athlete on the practice field before the team, the artist who has filled every page of the sketchbook before the semester begins, the mountain climber who has studied the map well before the hike. The drummer who is on the stage for every performance that involves music: the pit musical, the symphonic & orchestra concerts, the student showcase, marching band & jazz bands. And then playing through his selections for hours at a time on his set in the basement. Without applause. Drumming is the blood that keeps him alive.
Where does it come from? I’d like to take a little credit – for the 9 months I carried him I taught step aerobics to a perfect 8 count…
…but that doesn’t explain why, on one of the coldest days in winter, he packed up his set (breaking down drums, stands, cymbals, amps), loaded the pieces into his car – unloaded them at school, set up the drum set, rocked the stage for his Tri-M (music honor society) recital, then took the whole kit apart, in the car, home & back into the basement. It was well below zero degrees F. I know because I was ‘helping’ him get it packed into his car at the school, when everyone else was gone. The janitor was already cleaning the hallway outside the room. There was no applause, just frostbite. Frostbite and passion.
‘Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still’
April 25, 2013 – I looked out the window at the dark sky and saw frozen rain, then snow. Seriously, winter should have been over months ago, if you ask me.
(And, if you’re asking me, the temperature should remain at a constant range of 78-82 with sun and a gentle breeze…everyday)
I sat in my kitchen with coffee in a special coffee cup that my daughter just sent for my birthday. As I planned my day I noticed the rain and snow stopped. A few minutes later a small stream of sunlight lit up a tree in the yard! The tree had early spring buds everywhere and was covered in clingy, wet drops and the sun was glistening on the branches against the dark-grey sky background.
I had just made a facebook post that my daffodils just bloomed and the sad news was that they were being snowed on!
Next, I was lost behind my camera for some period of time (minutes/hours?), completely absorbed in nature, in the beauty of the moisture (in all forms) on the flowers, not seeing but feeling the images appear.
I see beauty everywhere.
I’ll share it with you along the way.