He is risen indeed! The traditional call and response of Easter….
In one of the readings of this past week from the Gospel of John, a phrase appeared that I had not noticed before….
“At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden…”____John 19:41
I know about the new tomb…but ‘there was a garden’ posed a new thought for me…What kind of garden? Olive trees? Fig trees? Flowers? Could He see it from the cross? Could He smell any spring fragrances above the smell of sweat and blood? I have been pondering this throughout the week as I look out into my own backyard and the beautiful yards and gardens of our town. If He could see and smell the garden from the cross, I’m hopeful that it provided a moment of beauty for Jesus in what were moments of profound pain and loss. The verse from John’s gospel seems to suggest ‘full circle’ from the garden of Eden to the cross towards a paradise to come. Again God’s promise of new life is visible all around us…may we have eyes to see:)
Hello, friends…I hope you and all those you love are preparing for the coming of Christ again into our midst…into this world of beauty and sorrow, status quo and chaos, questions and answers, love and fear, hope and hopelessness. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…
It has been a busy year on the Big Front Porch…trips to Los Angeles, Michigan, Nashville, and more…the work at DMI fills most of my days (and nights), and the program is now over 100 majors and continuing to grow. If you’re not familiar with the program, here’s a link: www.deltastate.edu/dmi. I’ve been able to do a few performances with the Women in the Round, and that is always a treat. I’m working to find/make the time to finish 2-3 songs in preparation for a new recording…more songs and stories about my dear Mississippi and the South.
I’m working on a redesign of the Big Front Porch website which I hope to launch in early 2017. Stay tuned…
This past spring, on the first Sunday after Easter, our ‘last mother,’ the Matriarch, Mrs. Eleanor Corban, left this earth to go home to God. What a witness she was in this life…what a legacy she leaves her family and all who knew her. This Christmas will be tender without her here. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…
My health is good, even as my ‘mechanics’ (knees, shoulders, etc.) continue to wear out a bit. I continue to be humbled and amazed by the circle of friends here that have ‘taken me in’ to their love and care. I have two feline friends, Rascal and Skeeter, who keep things interesting at home. My sister is comfortably ‘in the woods’ in the old Kingston community near Natchez. There is so much I have to be grateful for. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…
In my heart and spirit, I feel drawn more and more to pray and to seek ways to serve the local community as opposed to wringing my hands over larger national issues that I cannot directly influence. But as a follower of Jesus, it is my intent to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God” in the years ahead. As a songwriter, it is my job to put words and music together to try and move the hearts and souls of listeners. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…
Before the election, I intentionally disconnected from social media in order to ‘quiet the noise’ and rethink my time and my reasons for connecting, but I do ‘sneak in’ on occasions to look at messages and news. I’ll be back sometime in 2017…please be sure and connect to the Big Front Porch Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/bigfrontporch.
Here’s a Christmas song that was shared with me recently that I really like…I think I’ll add it to my Christmas repertoire next year:)
LOVE IS CHRISTMAS
I don’t care if the house is packed or the strings of light are broken
I don’t care if the gifts are wrapped or there’s nothing here to open
Love is not a toy, and no paper will conceal it
Love is simply joy that I’m home
I don’t care if the carpet’s stained we’ve got food upon our table
I don’t care if it’s gonna rain, our little room is warm and stable
Love is who we are, and no season can contain it
Love would never fall for that
We sing oo
Let love lead us, love is Christmas
Why so scared that you’ll mess it up? When perfection keeps you haunted
All we need is your best my love, that’s all anyone ever wanted
It’s been a while since I’ve been on the Big Front Porch…glad to be back!
It was a really busy academic year, and we finally reached the end of it a couple of weeks ago. Great feeling to watch young, hopeful students take their next step into this wide world. It’s also nice to have a momentary lull before all of the summer events kick in, but I wanted to come to you and ask for your advice as summer gears up…
I am bound and determined to carve out time this summer to try and finish five or six six songs for what will become a new recording. It’s also time to do a redesign and relaunch of the Big Front Porch website, and this is where I’d like to ask for your input.
So much has changed out there in cyberspace over the past ten years… I work quite a bit with students encouraging them to promote and market their music careers with the tools of the internet, and if I was where I was 25 years ago I would redo my website in much the way I’m advising them to now. But my roles and reasons seem different now in this chapter of music and stories and teaching…
So my question for you all is what kinds of things/info would you like to see on the Big Front Porch website? Songs? Stories? Songwriting information? Old demos? Places I’ve been? Mississippi connections? Eccentric characters? My music will still be available from the site, although I’d like to know your thoughts about buying physical CDs vs. streaming/downloads. Oh, and I’ll be reaching out to ‘clean up’ my email lists and social media sites…so bear with me:) Online concerts are something I would really like to try… I know it’s not the same as physically being in the same room with you good people out there, but with the amazing technology available today, I could do a house concert from my house to your house in real time. Things to think about…
Certainly is the season for being on the Big Front Porch right now… the seemingly never ending fields have been planted, and it’s that rare and wonderful time in the Delta before all the mosquitoes come out and the temperature skies upward. Once again, God is teaching lessons through His creation…this beautiful green earth.
Took a little Sunday Delta road trip this afternoon…the translation is “God willing”….amen:)
I confess I’m a bit embarrassed that I have not entered a blog entry for a WHOLE YEAR….geez…but no point in dwelling on that. My hope is to make time to contribute on a more regular basis so that I stay connected to all of you who have supported my musical endeavors and encouraged me over the years…
In looking over last December’s post, I can see that much of what was written last year could be repeated this year…seasonal blues, aches and pains of aging, navigating the waters of academia in a ’non-traditional’ program…you know, LIFE.
I have a song list of titles for my next record and almost half of the song ideas have been completed…but finding time to labor with pen and paper and instrument to complete the rest continues to be challenging. My songwriting ‘juices’ were charged a bit when I had an opportunity in early December to perform at the 26th annual Evening in December show to benefit Daystar Counseling Ministries and to do back to back shows with my Women in the Round friends Ashley Cleveland, Karen Staley, and Beth Nielsen Chapman at the Bluebird Cafe. With the popularity of the TV show, “Nashville,” the audience is 90% tourists and out-of-towners, but I was able to squeeze in a few old friends for a night of music and merriment in that sacred little space. It was particularly great to see the founder Amy Kurland, who kept many a songwriter alive there during some lean years.
Backing up a bit in the 2015 calendar, I did have a most amazing trip back in late spring with some DMI students and faculty to Perm State University in eastern Russia. Delta State has a partnership with Perm State, and we took our DMI ‘crew’ over to facilitate a DMI summer camp experience for some of their students. The program was called “Rivers of Music – Rivers of Culture” and was funded through a U.S. Department of State Peer-to-Peer cultural exchange grant. On our return to the US, we were able to spend a couple of days in Moscow…as a child of the ‘cold war’ era, the visit to Moscow was very though provoking…it is a beautiful city. If you’d like an overview of the year long grant program, visit www.deltastate.edu/russia for blog posts and photos by our exceptional campus photographer, Rory Doyle.
In the fall of 2014, I said goodbye to my old pal, Moses, and spent a year with no four-legged friend. But this past fall, a new feline friend came to the Big Front Porch…her name is Rascal, and she lives up to the name! Nice to hear puuuuurrrrring in the house again:)
I’m still toying with trying out the online concert idea…would again love your input on that idea. My song list might be ‘oldies but goodies’ until I get some new things written, but connecting that way sounds kind of fun given the amazing possibilities of today’s technology.
As always, thanks to the Webchyk for making sure this site is up and running.
Much to look forward to this year…the opening of GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi, in particular. Be sure and make plans to come visit us here in Mississippi…you won’t regret it. And if you’re ‘not from here’ and are trying to figure Mississippi out, treat yourself to a reading of “Dispatches From Pluto” by Richard Grant…a wonderfully objective and entertaining look at some complicated issues here in the Magnolia State.
I hope and pray for each of you a healthy, happy, productive, and peaceful new year. May you continue to seek the One who is seeking you….
Well, friends of the Big Front Porch, you can’t accuse me of filling your inbox with meaningless and useless information, seeing that the last post on the BFP blog was a little over a year ago…how did that happen?
No excuses, just life….and a season of reflection during this Advent as we wait in expectation for the coming of the Promised One into this time and place and heart.
Rather than try and do a lengthy ‘catch up’ of 2014, I’ll try and hit a few high points and then ask for your input on some thoughts…
2014 started off with the opportunity to produce a recording project for my partner in rhyme, Davis Raines. The project is called “Mockingbird” and it involved the writing skills of not only Davis, but Frye Gaillard and Pamela Jackson. It’s a unique look at some Southern themes that keep recurring in our regional and national dialog, and I highly recommend it for your listening pleasure. Check it out here on CD Baby, along with the CD I produced for Pamela Jackson last year….I’m very proud of both projects.
Took a quick break at the beach with the D7, a group of amazing and generous friends that have invited me into their circle (I think they like having a musician around:). They are brilliant women and I am grateful to have them in my life.
Later in the summer, I had the opportunity to return to Michigan to perform alongside my pals, Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor, for Dr. John Muldaur and the wonderful work of Faith Hospice. We lovingly billed it as the “Rufus, Jeffro, & Magnolia” show. I like that. Also played the Back Door Coffeehouse in Hattiesburg and squeezed in a Women in the Round show at the Bluebird Cafe with my friends and fellow songwriters Ashley Cleveland, Karen Staley, and Beth Nielsen Chapman. Yeah, THAT was fun:)
The fall semester at Delta State came and went so fast…and the spring semester will start before I really get unwound. But come it will, whether I’m ready or not.
This season has brought its share of the holiday ‘blues’ even though there is much joy in my heart at the same time…something of a ‘holy tension,’ I suppose. I am holding fast to the Hope that is arriving on Christmas Day and hope that you are, too. Sad news today of the passing of a friend and neighbor across the street from me…she was a sweet and kind woman, full of talent for writing and teaching, and her homecoming will leave a big hole in our neighborhood. I sat on my porch this evening and looked across the street at the light on in her home, finding it hard to believe that she won’t be coming back…the community will grieve, but she will have a Christmas this year more beautiful and wonderful than any of us can imagine…..
As 2015 begins, I am planning to ‘get shed’ of some things I don’t need (heard that before?), fix some things on the Big Front Porch that need fixin’, and ‘downsize’ my social media life in order to refocus and live with more intention. I’m also looking to reclaim some of the time that is forever ‘sucked away’ on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
As the degeneration of various mechanical parts (knees, shoulders, back) begins to curb the number of my long distance performances, I wonder if you’d be so kind as to share your thoughts about tuning into an online songwriter concert? I’ve seen a couple of platforms that are really easy to use and offer a unique kind of connectivity between performer and listener. I do so want to continue to share songs and stories with you all, and perhaps this would be a way to try and do that….what do you think? I value your input, so take a moment and share your thoughts in the comments section.
I look forward to hearing from you…may your Christmas holiday be filled with joy, peace, and love…be safe and warm, and I hope to see you on the Big Front Porch soon!
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve had a chance to sit on the Big Front Porch and write you all a note, so it’s time I sat down now to send you Christmas greetings with perhaps a recap of the past year…seems like it’s just flown by, doesn’t it? The mistress of the web for the Big Front Porch has prepared some Christmas (and other) CD specials on the website, so I hope you’ll visit the ‘store’ page of the website and take advantage of the sweet deals she put together for you. Remember that Christmas doesn’t begin until December 25, and then you’ve got 12 DAYS to continue shopping (and probably finding some great bargains and avoiding the craziness from folks that feel they have to get it all done BEFORE December 25)…take it easy, y’all:)
I wish for you all an Advent season filled with peace…I love Advent…the waiting and hoping anew for a miracle, for some hope, for some joy…here on the Big Front Porch, the streets are quiet in the cold evening, the moon is almost full, and there is anticipation in the air…come, Lord Jesus…
Life on the Big Front Porch has been filled with music and schoolwork, changes and new adventures, and here of late, some pretty big challenges….
Early in the year, our student all-star band at the DMI at Delta State (where I spend most of time when I’m not on the Porch), travelled to Los Angeles at the invitation of the state tourism department to perform at Mississippi Night! during GRAMMY week. What a thrill for those young people…this was the first time on a plane for one of them! I truly enjoy watching the world expand for them through these kinds of opportunities. Being from a small town myself, I distinctly remember the thrill I felt the first time I played the Grand Ole Opry with the wonderful Connie Smith. As those big red velvet curtains were slowly raised, I had to pinch myself to see if the whole thing was real or a dream…ok, I digress…
The end of the spring semester brought the graduation of our first music industry studies degree student with only a slight pause before summer set in with DMI camps and projects. I had the great privilege to perform again with Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor at the beautiful home of John Muldaur in Michigan. The dinner/concert is held on the banks of the Grand River and is a benefit for Faith Hospice, and as you all may know, I try NEVER to miss a chance to play with Buddy and Jeff.
Late summer brought a fabulous production project to the Big Front Porch…singer/songwriter Pamela Jackson and my old pal, Davis Raines, brought a collection of songs to the DMI studios for a recording in August, and man, what a record it is turning out to be! For those of you who enjoy great lyrics, beautiful melodies, and heartfelt stories, you’re going to want to get this CD when it becomes available. Pamela, like Davis, is a child of our sister state, Alabama, and that streak of Southerness runs easily through her creative work. Stay tuned…
Fall semester got underway and flew by until two weeks ago when an aging air handler pipe on the roof of our building broke and the DMI offices and classrooms were totally flooded! Thank goodness, the studios were not damaged and it was the end of the semester, but what a way to wrap up the final two weeks! Whew…no need to drag on about that…suffice it to say that there were many blessings in the midst of the flood, and for that, I am grateful. Even in the midst of all that, DMI presented the third “Mississippi Delta Holiday” show at the BPAC, and I managed a quick trip to Nashville to perform with Buddy Greene and Ashley Cleveland for the 24th Annual Evening in December event benefitting Daystar Counseling Ministries. And this Wednesday, I’ll perform a concert of Christmas music at my home church, St. Luke’s UMC, with my friend Joni Bishop. That should just about set me up for the Christmas spirit…make some of Papa Dear’s family egg nog recipe, enjoy some oyster dressing (maybe in New Orleans), and have a pajama party with my Ya-Yas…life is GOOD.
Be blessed, y’all…my new year’s resolution (and I really don’t make many) is to be in better touch with you all in 2014. I’ve starting working on some new songs for a new project, and I’ll keep you posted. As always, if you’re tired of being on the Big Front Porch, I’ll take no offense if you choose to unsubscribe, but don’t stay gone too long! You might miss a good story…
Epiphany…January 6…the end of the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany cycle…I had a lovely time at Secluseval, even with awful weather on Christmas Day. It was 70 degrees on Christmas Eve and my sister and I enjoyed the sunshine on the Big Front Porch once again. I then had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a New Year’s retreat at a very special place called Laity Lodge out in west Texas. My friend, Buddy Greene, invited me to be one of the musicians for the retreat, and I never miss a chance to play music with Buddy. Another old friend, Scotty Smith, was the speaker for the retreat, and his focus for the retreat was Epiphany…taking a deeper look at how God ‘broke through’ then and continues to ‘break through’ now to those in this world. I sang…I rested…I feasted…I shared community with others who are seekers…it was a glorious time and I am grateful to have been a part of it. I hope to carry the spirit and grace of the retreat into every day of this new year…may your days ahead be filled with hope, good health, peace, and grace…pax, Tricia
Advent…the season of waiting…and tonight is the longest night of the year….but there is hope in this dark night of waiting even with the unspeakable sorrow of Newtown and the uncertainty of what lies ahead in 2013. I had the privilege of singing last night for some beautiful patients and caregivers at our local hospital…there was birth and death and the fearful waiting of the emergency room all within three floors of each other, and yet music held us together for a short while during the cold night.
I came home to read an Advent selection by Brennan Manning titled, “Shipwrecked At The Stable.” Manning writes of how the world does not understand vulnerability and how the spirituality of Bethlehem is incomprehensible to the advertising industry…how true. But in his commentary on the mystery of Bethlehem and the trivialization of the divine scandal, Manning quotes the Spanish author, Jose` Ortega, whose thoughts of being shipwrecked resonated with me in this Advent season:
“And this is the simple truth…that to live is to feel oneself lost. Whoever accepts this has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order to the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce. He who does not really feel himself lost, is without remission; that is to say, he never finds himself, never comes up against his own reality.”
Those who are shipwrecked cannot bring along baggage from the past…they can only be in the here and now, facing the reality that they are lost…we are lost…but we are captivated at the Bethlehem stable by joy and wonder, and the Child there is the One to whom we cling.
This Christmas, whether you find yourself literally at home or at home within your heart, may you find peace and comfort there in knowing that there is Hope for the shipwrecked….from the Big Front Porch to your home,
A good Labor Day to all of you from the Big Front Porch!
I confess that I’m ashamed to see that my last post was back during the spring, so I figure I owe you BFP fans some summertime catching up, in you’ll indulge me:)
The summer somehow, as summers seem to do, FLEW by, and we’re already two weeks into the fall semester…how did that happen? But the farmers are fully into the harvest and the sounds of football teams and high school bands fills the air on Friday nights, so it must be fall…..even if the actually temperature today in the Delta will hit 100 degrees!
A recap of this summer from the Big Front Porch includes a wonderful trip with friends to the Greenbrier in West Virginia in late May. Nice to be in the mountains again sitting on another beautiful big front porch talking about life and stuff…
Got down from the mountain in time to accompany the Ol’ Skool Revue band from the DMI for a performance at the Chicago Blues Festival in June. It was a fun adventure riding the City of New Orleans north through the night to the Windy City, a journey made by many Mississippi musicians over the years, altering the development of American music…nice to still be part of that.
Hopped off the train, took a day or two and then headed back up the road to Music City (Nashville) for the annual “Songs From The Heart” workshop/concert with cancer patients, caregivers, and professionals at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Some of the participants this year really took ownership of their song as well as their performance. There’s a CD and a DVD in the works…songwriting at its purest. It is always a privilege and an honor to try and help put those feelings into words and music.
Late June brought me the opportunity to join my pals, Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor, in a benefit concert on behalf of Faith Hospice in Michigan at Dr. John Mulder’s home on the banks of the Grand River. What a magical, beautiful evening, full of good music, good food, and good fellowship all for a good cause…it doesn’t get much better than that.
July 4? Vacation? What’s that?
The DMI Summer Camp for high school students interested in the music industry was held in mid-July, and we had a GREAT group of campers this year….some unexpected collaborations between unlikely pairing of students brought about some very original works, not to mention opportunities for getting to know each other in a way that shows we’re not so different after all…
Of course, there was the yearly summer gathering of the Ya Yas at the Alluvian in Greenwood for much needed R & R among old friends, but let’s just say what happens at the Alluvian stays at the Alluvian and leave it there…
The Big Front Porch had the opportunity to work on a very cool CD project with three of my favorite singer/songwriters: Kate Campbell, Tom Kimmel, and Pierce Pettis. They perform together as The New Agrarians, and they were looking for an opportunity to work on a recording project together. All the planets lined up to have them record in Studio B at the Delta Music Institute, and it was a BLAST! They’ll be finishing up the project in Nashville, but trust me…you’ll want to watch for this CD if you’re a fan of literate Southern storytelling in song….there’s some amazing work on this record.
And so that brought me to early August…a few days of re-grouping before the business of DMI kicked back in. I made a dash to the Coast and a dash to Secluseval and enjoyed the relatively uneventful days here on the Big Front Porch in the Delta. And now we’re in full swing again…harvest time.
I’ve got some new ideas in the pipeline for my next recording project so I’ll keep my nose to the grindstone and begin to flesh out characters and situations and histories and see where it leads…stay tuned.
I promise I’ll try and get on the Big Front Porch sooner than later…let me hear from you…we’ll sit awhile and catch up.
Well, I left the comfort of the Porch this weekend to celebrate my birthday, and what a birthday celebration it was! I was invited to march in the 30th Annual Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade as a part of the ‘O Tux Society by Malcolm White hizownself!
In being part of such a sea of green, I thought it proper to sport the Fighting Okra to represent Delta State, and it was quite a conversation starter. What a kick to enjoy the Pet Parade, the Children’s parade, and then march through a crowd of 65,000 people, strutting to a Dixieland brass band and exchanging flowers for kisses! Where else can that many people of all shapes, kinds, colors, and sizes get together and be NICE to each other?
My sister joined me for this celebration as she, too, celebrates a March birthday. We were both born in Jackson, Mississippi, and so we had a chance to ride through some of the old neighborhoods to see what we could remember, who lived where, etc…
Driving back to the Delta on this fourth Sunday of Lent, looking out onto the ready fields, I took time to listen to some podcasts of messages by Keith Tonkel, pastor of Wells United Methodist Church in Jackson. Keith and the ministry of Wells had a profound impact upon me during my young adult years, and hearing him continue to preach the Gospel in such a clear and loving way was a sweet encouragement. Those messages and seeing the tractors in the fields turning up the ground was a good reminder that, by grace, God is still keeping His promise to ‘make all things new.’
Here’s hoping you had a good and ‘green’ weekend and that your hearts and spirits are encouraged with the coming of spring. Let me know what’s ‘springing’ up in your world….