Monday, July 27, 2015

'Something Special' EP Release August 29 at Awaken Cafe

EP Release Party: Saturday, August 29th, 2015 in Oakland, with Deboray Crooks, Yours Truly, Michele, and Loretta Lynch 

Awaken Cafe

"Something Special" EP Release - 8pm

1429 Broadway (@ 15th Street)

Oakland, CA 94612

Price: $7 adv/$10 dos

 Heads up for a show I'm doing late next month to celebrate my "Something Special" EP! I'll be showcasing songs from the EP, which reflects my California roots and peregrinations, and sharing the bill with two of my favorite bands Loretta Lynch and Yours Truly, Michele!
Loretta Lynch: With dreamy three-part harmonies, raucous, surf-tinged guitar and more than a bit of tongue in cheek, the East Bay Area’s own alt-country outfit Loretta Lynch’s stirring songs reach the shady grove in all of us. A little tear in your beer, a little knife in the back – think "O Brother Where Art Thou" meets the Andrews Sisters’ disreputable cousins at a warehouse hoedown. It’s Americana Noir.
Yours Truly, Michele:  Michele Kappel-Stone began singing onstage as a teenager, when she donned a head-to-toe white leotard and crooned “Sex in Wetsuits” as part of the multi-media avant theater company Impossible Industrial Action. The Baltimore native’s latest venture, Yours Truly, Michele, may best capture the heady mix of influences and experiences she can bring to any party simply by showing up.  With a sound infused with 60s pop and soul and infected by Americana Roots-Rock, YTM can evoke Debbie Harry, Erin McKeown, and Patsy Cline.
About Something Special by Deborah Crooks
I recorded Something Special earlier this year at Lost Monkey Studio in Hayward with Mike Steven on drums, Kwame Copeland on guitars and Andrew Gibson on bass. The songs on Something Special cover such topics as seeking transcendence in the myth of Bigfoot; recovering from a breakup in a 50s era LA Travelodge, and keeping the faith while being lost. Come take a listen!

Listen to a song from the project, “India Street: on Soundcloud:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Read.Eat.Listen: Big Pictures

Another benefit to road-trips/tours is the capsule that the car becomes, be it for listening to music closely, having long conversations or reading. Last week's run up and down the 5, to Washington State and back for shows and family visits contained all of that. The passenger gets to be reader, sometimes to oneself, sometimes aloud, and much of my time on this trip was consumed with news and long-form essays on big picture issues. On the way North, it was climate change, on the way down I scared the bejesus out of us, reading aloud from the New Yorker article about the Cascadia Fault, while driving through the very landscape which would be irrevocably altered by a mega-earthquake. By the last day, we were in outer space, marvelling over the NASA reports about Pluto. I'm not sure why I'm seeking solace in geologic and space time, time where I'm small, a speck of animated dust just holding on like a bee in a hive, working for the honey. Part of it might be the sheer wow-factor: all this big science reminds me of how wondrous the facts, including our little lives, are. And part of it, I think, is that as much as I find the thought of huge earthquakes and tsunamis terrifying, I'm always glad to know the earth knows how to take care of itself even as we humans so often fail it.

Read: "The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle" by Kathryn Schulz, in The New Yorker. 
"When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job"by John H Richardson, Esquire
A view of the worlds around us With the fly-by of Pluto, we now can visualize all of the planets in our solar system. Here's a two-minute tour of the sun and the nine planets. Posted by Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eat: Healthy eats at Harlow PDX
Portland was the food winner on this trip, and how nice we were staying walking distance from gluten-free veggie Harlow. Just read their menu and get the idea.

Listen: Kwame's brother Kwab Copeland is another fine musician writing and playing "raw, rustic verse set to rollicking badland bomp" (Chris Estey) out of Seattle. He, aka The Demon Rind, just released a winner in "Love Is Perfect":

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Read.Eat.Listen: Tides & Vistas

In addition to mornings, views are one of my favorite things about life. Sometimes, I think I live for the long view: the broad expanse of sea and sky from a high mountaintop, the sweeping view of the East Bay from the 980 when you come off the Bay Bridge, the seemingly endless terrain of desert in the Mojave. There's no question, no answer, just that. A couple of weeks ago, we were up on Mt. Tam to play the Father's Day brunch and everything suddenly made sense again.
Of course a high wouldn't be a high without a low. The tides of peaks and valleys, dark and light go in and out, and I followed up that weekend with a few days holed away, looking back, while scanning a genealogy book my great-aunt put together. My aunt had chronicled six generations on my father's side, before passing away in 1998, and the book has languished on various relatives shelves til getting to my hands a couple of years ago. I don't know what finally clicked, but I finally turned toward it, and began the process of archiving her materials. I was struck, as I went through each page, by how much detail she had amassed pre-Internet,  and how much of the story of my family is a tide running back and forth between fighting wars and going back to the land to farm/ranch/homestead, inching East to Wests, with stops in the South and in the Rockies, and finally to California, over a couple of centuries. There are also many gaps and question marks about particular characters in this narrative – where did the great-grandfather get to between St. Louis and Oakland? Who was my aunt's first husband? Questions, questions. Suddenly I'm back in the fog.
Read:  And so All The Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West by David Gessner feels like a friend this week, detailing the lives of two authors/activist I read avidly while in college, while traveling much of the terrain I knew well when I lived in Boulder, asking questions about motive and character, our relationship to land and our seemingly inevitable exploitation of its resources.  
Eat: Mint and summer just go together and throwing a bunch of fresh mint into a salad can be especially satisfying: "Kale/Tomato/Feta/Mint Salad"
Listen:Veruca Salt is back at it after a long break from recording.

Friday, June 26, 2015

This Saturday! The Surf Spot & The Monkey House

More opportunities to celebrate life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness for all: This Saturday we're playing both sides of the SF Bay: 1pm The Surf Spot in Pacifica & 7:30pm at The Monkey House 3rd Anniversary Party.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Read.Eat.Listen: Pools

My sister was pushing me faster and faster around the pool, as I lay on one of those inflatable floating mats. This was thrilling. There was much shrieking and splashing. And then the mat flipped. All was quiet as I swam underwater for what was likely no longer than 15 seconds, but felt like a vast sea of calm.
My family was up at the river, visiting my aunt and uncle who had the place in Guerneville with the pool. On a hill full of redwood trees, the cabin's northern California landscape setting wasn't so different than the one that surrounded our house, a few hours south. But "The River" was a different place. People came here to get away from the city, to retreat and frolic and vacation, not raise kids (though of course, there are plenty of families here, too).  Along the clean air and views of the country, the little unincorporated town had a bakery and  restaurants within walking distance of my aunt and uncle's place.
The fact that they had a swimming pool, a round fiberglass number,  was a big deal at the time.  I must have had a swimming lesson or two by the time I visited, but as a rule, we didn't swim much.  When it was hot in the summers, we ran through the sprinklers to cool off if we didn't head to the beach. Our favored, and closest, beach, 10 miles west of where we lived, had huge signs in the sand warning of rip currents. We didn't dare go in past our knees. So the sudden immersion into the round, not-too-deep-but-deeper-than-a-seven-year-old pool waters turned into my first 'swim.' I was pleased with myself when I surfaced, but my mom was as angry, and scared, as if I'd been swept away by one of those Pacific riptides. It was a confusing re-entry, kind of like taking a nap and then walking outside onto a construction site. Perhaps its why swimming pools never really became my place of solace. Still, in lieu of a beach....
Read: I'm already annoyed* with Michelle Goldberg's book "The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West," or rather with Goldberg, but I'm eating up this book all the same. Indra Devi, one of the more famous and few women students of  Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, had a long and colorful life so she makes for a great subject. 
*Goldberg breezily (which is damningly and inaccurate) describes traditional Ashtanga yoga as being originally intended for young boys.
Eat: Chances are, we were eating Popsicles while poolside. Those multi-color rocket ones or maybe a fudgesicile. Circa 2015, I'd make it more like this vegan Fresh Summer Apricot Pop.
Listen:  More recently, we've found ourselves driving on a lot of dirt roads, in the desert a couple weeks ago and this past weekend in Marin. Some of the best listening while driving those dirt roads, we found, was the wonderful and wise Greg Brown. I love his daughter Pieta Brown's music, too, so I started digging up more of her tunes. Goodness.
Then I found this video of Pieta Brown playing a Lucinda Williams song with Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey. So here you go:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This Friday! Songs From The Fog Parlor Show at The Lost Church

Friday, June 19th, 2015 at The Lost Church 
65 Capp St San Francisco, CA 
Price: $10 in adv/$15 door

Artists included on the recently released Songs from the Fog CD Compilation continue the party at this private parlor show at The Lost Church. Featuring Jim Bruno, KC Turner, Maurice Tani, Mick Schaffer, Paul Griffiths, Deborah Crooks & Carol Denny.
Most of this talented crew of SF area songwriters, aka the Songs from the Fog CD artists, 
are reconvening this Friday 6/19 @theLostChurch for another fab show. Be there!