Hello, friends!

Hello, friends!

It’s been awhile since I’ve have any extended time to sit on the Big Front Porch and gather up some news to share with you all, but I’m happy to say that the time has finally come to catch up! The Big Front Porch website has been undergoing an extensive ‘renovation’ via the capable hands of the Webchyk, and I’m excited about showing it off to you!

On the new site, you’ll find programs that Big Front Porch has to offer for your enjoyment and entertainment along with a schedule of upcoming gigs and a very cool new Big Front Porch Store which contains my albums and singles, old and new (did I mention I have a NEW album coming out?? Watch for the next blog post for details…). You can order physical CDs or download directly from the BFP store…cool:)

In addition to staying in touch with you all through the website, I’m going to put some time and effort into the ‘new model’ of engagement through selected social media platforms, so I’ll be looking for your feedback as that rolls out. All the cool kids are doing it…

Ok…short and sweet for now. Just know that I’m looking forward to sharing this next chapter of life and music with you all from the Big Front Porch!

Pax,
Tricia

It’s Time…

Dear friends and gentle hearts, it’s time again to sing the old familiar carols, feast with loved ones around a common table, and scratch our heads in awe and wonder at the craziness of Emmanuel, God coming to earth to be with us and to show us how to live. I love the contemporary translation of John 1:14 that reads, “And the Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.”

Emmanuel…God with us.

Christmas Eve morning brought a sweet phone call from the brother of a dear friend and an email from one of the sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery, each sharing that they were celebrating with my Christmas CD playing in their respective homes. That gave me a nice little ‘push’ against the Christmas blues and reminded me of how sacred is the gift of music…and to that end, I’m happy to report that I will have a new recording to share with you all in the first quarter of 2019! It’s called “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye,” and I suppose it will fall in the singer/songwriter/storytelling category (if there is a reason to categorize it at all)..whatever it is, I look forward to getting it out there and sharing it with you. Best way to keep up with all the news that is news from the Big Front Porch is to sign up to be on the mailing list at www.bigfrontporch.com. Thank you kindly:)

It’s Time…

In the fall of 2017, using a discipline I used when deciding whether to leave Nashville to return to Mississippi, I began a year-long period of prayer and discernment about if/when I should step away from my position as Director of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State. As the weeks and months of 2018 went by, it became clear to me that summer of 2019 would be the right time. I don’t really think of this as ‘retiring,’ but the DMI ship is in good shape and with some exciting projects on the drawing board, it’s time for someone new to take the helm. I plan to step back into the creative life I had before, but hopefully, keep a one or two toes connected to DSU in ways that will benefit the program and the university. 

As word of my decision began to leak out about this upcoming change, I received some calls as to whether I planned to leave the Delta and move back to Nashville. Let me squelch that rumor and say that when I came back to Mississippi, I felt it was a ‘calling,’ and I believe that ‘call’ is still in effect until God says otherwise. This community has embraced me, encouraged me, and supported me from the day my moving truck rolled into town. I will cast my lot with this unique mystical place called the Mississippi Delta. Going forward, I will try to use my gifts and talents in the service of building community in this complicated place we love that still wrestles with the historical residue of our collective past while trying to gather creative, honest voices for the future that will work to share our authentic story with others. Because storytelling is at the heart of everything, even the Divine heart…just read again the wondrous story from Saint Luke…

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

PEACE TO US ALL. 

O, HOLY NIGHT. 

EMMANUEL.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

My, how the summer has flown! School is starting up in a few days, and the next thing you know, it’ll be Christmas!

Summers are made for spending time on a place like the Big Front Porch, and in addition to summer camps and a few select music gigs, that’s what I had planned to do this summer, but a little “bump in the road” popped up…seems a shady lookin’ spot on a routine mammogram turned out to be a nasty little tumor that needed to be addressed, so here at the end of summer I have now added (ta da!) breast cancer survivor to my resume`…God is GOOD.

Faith

I had the great blessing to be able to stay at Harrah’s Hope Lodge in Memphis during my treatment…a wonderful opportunity that no doubt that saved my low back, ‘cause as much as I love making that drive up and down highway 61 between Cleveland and Memphis, having to make it every day for a month would have done me in!

The experience of the past month seemed like a combination of moving into a freshmen dorm, going to summer camp, and retreating at a monastery. It was a reminder that folks all over are fighting tough battles everyday, but there is still a great measure of goodness and kindness in the world. Of the patients and caregivers I met during my stay, I will particularly remember Sameh from Egypt, who has been at the lodge for over 4 months with his wife while his only son, Karim, battles leukemia. Met several Delta folks, too, while I was there, and they all commented on my Fighting Okra shirt:) I also got some time in to brush up on my mandolin skills…

I was visited by Ya Yas, a contingent of the Delta 7, and old friends from Nashville…we all sat on the Big Front Porch (figuratively), shared some belly laughs, enjoyed the precious bonds of friendship, and seized the day.

As for timing, I suppose summer vacation was the best time to deal with this ‘bump in the road,’ but now it’s time to go full speed ahead. I have a new record (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye) that’s almost mixed and ready for release (more on that soon)!

I hope your summer vacation was filled with things that make you happy…family, friends, mountains, beaches, music, food, and joie de vivre. Thanks for all the good thoughts and prayers…Come join me on the Porch sometime and share your summer stories…I’ve got some catching up to do! 

All shall be well….pax, Tricia

“They Say It’s Your Birthday…”

Everything is so GREEN around my birthday…green, the color of spring….green, the color of St. Patrick’s Day…green, the color of hope…hope and anticipation of what is to come in this new season. Today I spent my 65th birthday (with my Medicare card in my wallet) in joyful revelry with 70,000 fun-loving souls who gathered together for a parade and to join in community for a worthy cause. Although my knees were tender and wrapped in orthopedic braces, I am grateful that both of my legs worked well enough to strut in time up Capitol Street to the music of the Southern Komfort Brass Band. I am blessed to be so rich in friends and to be in a place where people work hard….not only to earn a living, but who also work hard to build unified communities, to value the unique things about our culture, to raise children with good manners, and to honestly struggle with issues that continue to concern us….it’s complicated sometimes, but it’s wonderful.

Ready for the parade

In the spirit of this new season, I’m excited to share with you all that I’ve been working on a new record! About this time last year, I finished a handful of new songs to pair with some old favorites in a collection that will be called “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye.” It’s currently being mixed and I hope to have it ready in early to mid-May…more songs and more stories from the perspective of this Mississippian…stay tuned.

And so today I wish for you the old Irish blessing: “May the road rise up to meet you, may the rain fall soft upon your fields, may the wind be always at your back, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

Pax,

Tricia

Happy New Year from the Big Front Porch

Brrrrrrrr….on this eighth day of Christmas, it’s really cold on the Big Front Porch as the new year opens before us, full of promise and new opportunity… and football. I don’t put too much stock in resolutions anymore, although the start of a new year does allow for some reflection and perhaps a recommitment to those things like a healthier lifestyle, more laughter, deep breathing, and less stress. Once again I am grateful and full of joy that Emmanuel did come, in the flesh, and moved into the neighborhood. O come, let us adore Him…

I was re-reading some journal entries last night and came across some haiku that I had written as part of an Advent retreat last year…thought I’d share:

DAWN

Morning has broken

Just like the hymn writer sang

And Cat Stevens, too

DAY

High noon Delta heat

Smothering from east to west

Fire penetrates bone

DUSK

Evening light fading

Slipping from living colour

Into the unknown

DARK

Brief cosmic chatter

A few words heard far between

Then, at last, silence

I’m excited to tell all you friends and BFP fans that I took the opportunity during last year’s spring break to lock myself in to complete some half-finished song ideas, dig out some old songs that have never been released, and put together a new album project called Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye. Songs and stories from the heart and this place called the South. The bulk of the recording was done at the DMI studios during the late summer, and in the fall, through the magic of technology, files were shared back and forth with some Nashville friends who added some great ‘touches’ to the project. The album is currently in the mixing process and if all goes well, I hope to release it around my birthday (St. Patrick’s Day)….I’m jokingly referring to this project as my ‘Medicare record.’ I’ll be sharing some photos and other fun things related to the project on the BFP site and on social media platforms for your info and entertainment.

 

Another journal ‘find’ from another retreat…the assignment was to draft steps for being an artist…so here goes….makes sense to me:

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

Turn off your phone.

Put it away.

Forget about it.

Be still. Be quiet.

Breathe. Listen.

Hear what your muse

Your God is saying.

Pick up your tools

And begin.

Work until you are done.

Stop.

Have a glass of wine or a root beer.

Get some rest. Give thanks.

Repeat.

 

There feels like a season of discernment is ahead and I would welcome prayers and good thoughts for hearing that ‘still, small voice.’ Here’s to old and new friends and the ones that left us this past year…and here’s to the year ahead…may it be filled with love and joy and….pax.

Oh, My Goodness!

Oh, my goodness! 

That was the immediate reaction I heard from the citizens and guests who were in our fair city last Saturday night when thousands of new holiday lights were turned on downtown. The green space and walking trail were packed with people from one end to the other, and in a matter of seconds, Cleveland was suddenly bathed in magic and awe and wonder. It was a sight to behold and the event was the talk of the town in Sunday church hallways and grocery stores.

Now, let’s move the comma.

Oh my, goodness.

There was something else I felt among the good people of Cleveland at the lighting ceremony. Even though it’s early in the holiday season, I swear it felt like peace and joy and good will. Did you feel it? Did you turn to someone in amazement and exclaim how beautiful it all was? Did you forget for just a moment the things that were troubling you? Did you feel hopeful? Did you feel the goodness? I did.

A thousand thanks for the goodness of those who made this possible…the original visionaries of the project, the 50 Nights of Lights team, the City of Cleveland crew, the sponsors, the donors, and the dedicated volunteers who put in countless hours of work on behalf of our community.

Oh, my goodness…what a community Cleveland is. May we all hold onto the magic, awe, and wonder these lights will bring during this season and beyond…and may we also share some goodness with each other along the way.

Pax.

Diamond In The Rough

With the baseball pennant games underway, today seemed like the right time to mark the release of a new song I’ve written, “Diamond In The Rough,” which tells the story of legendary player and coach, Dave “Boo” Ferriss, from Shaw, Mississippi. Coach Ferriss passed away in November of 2016, and after his passing I found myself jotting down a few lines based around a ‘diamond in the rough’ idea. He was not a rough man, my any means…in fact, he was quite the Southern gentleman. ‘Rough’ was written as a reference to the Mississippi Delta, the place where Coach Ferriss built and left a lasting legacy, not only on the baseball diamond, but in the hundreds of players’ lives that he touched. The design for the limited edition CD was done by Bryan Rodgers, All-American first basemen for one of the Delta State teams under Coach Ferriss. 

This song will be included on my upcoming full length CD, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye, scheduled for release in spring of 2018. There are just a few more overdub parts to add before the record is mixed and mastered. The project is a mixture of new songs and a few older ones that I’ve never recorded, plus a cover song that is a particular favorite of mine…I’m pretty pleased with how the whole thing is turning out:) To download the “Diamond In The Rough” single, click this link:

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/triciawalker6

Stay tuned for updates on the recording of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye….in the meantime, the lyric for “Diamond In The Rough” is below along with a link to Coach Ferriss’ obituary, beautifully written by Rick Cleveland, the ‘Dean of Mississippi Sportswriters:’

https://mississippitoday.org/2016/11/24/the-great-boo-ferriss-has-died-at-94/

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH 

In a little ol’ town on the IC line

Not much for a boy to do there to pass the time

You could work in the fields or you could go to school

And every Sunday morning you’d go to church to learn the Golden Rule

He was a diamond in the rough on a field of dreams

He could fire up a wicked fastball split fingers on the seams

The Army called him up for World War II

So he went to do his duty for the red, the white, and the blue

A diamond in the rough on a field of dreams

A giant of a man from modest means

From wind-up to delivery he sure did have the ‘stuff’

He was a diamond in the rough

From the Delta up to Beantown the Boston faithful knew

‘Bout this Mississippi country boy with the nickname ‘Boo’

He’d set ‘em down one by one, this hero from the sticks

And the Red Sox won the pennant back in ‘46

But on a muggy July night he felt his shoulder snap

He lost a little speed and you know the hitters sure liked that

He hung his jersey up and he came back home

Found a soybean field and built a diamond of his own

Then he took some boys from the Delta clay

Taught ‘em the game and a lot about life along the way

How to sacrifice, how to touch ‘em all

How to plant some seeds to leave behind for when you’re gone

Tricia Walker

© 2017 Big Front Porch Music (BMI)

What I Did On My Summer Vacation….

It’s Labor Day on the Big Front Porch…the “official” end of summer. Time to put the white shoes away (does anyone still follow those fashion rules?) and begin to prepare for fall and winter…even if the temperature was still in the 90s today in the Delta.

I heard lots of lawn mowers up and down the street today, and two beautiful hummingbirds visited my feeder in their own preparations for the journey ahead. So before I dive into the bulk of the fall semester, I thought I’d reflect a little on my summer ‘vacation’….

WITR at Blackberry Farm

My work at Delta State includes the summer months, so what vacation I take I usually squeeze alongside a gig here and there, and such was the case this summer. As it turned out, a couple of those gigs were with the Women in the Round…a songwriter group made up of myself, Karen Staley, Pam Tillis, and Ashley Cleveland. We’ve been singing together between other careers for almost 30 years now, so it was great to with them again. We were booked to be the first act of the summer for the Bluebird at Blackberry Farm series in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. What an absolutely gorgeous place, and what an honor to perform in their very cool venue.

Then just last week, I made the trek up to Nashville for a double show with the Women in the Round as part of a documentary film about the Bluebird Cafe`. I had the opportunity to disconnect for awhile during the interviews and filming, and I tried to really be present and savor each moment, knowing what a gift it was (and still is) to be able to sit in a circle of incredibly gifted and talented friends and share the fruits of our labors with an appreciative audience. And as an added treat, Connie Smith, my former boss and Sweetheart of the Grand Ole Opry,  sat in with us and sang her smash hit, “Once A Day.” The WITR have been many miles together over many years and through countless ups and downs, and we’re still writing and singing. One thing I did over the summer was to digitize about two dozen cassette tapes of WITR performances at the Bluebird from the late 80s and 90s…I’m hoping to put a website together to share some of that WITR music and hilarity….stay tuned…

But here’s what else I’m REALLY excited about….I’m working on a NEW record! There. I’ve said it. During spring break last March, I locked myself away at a cool undisclosed hideout in the Delta to finish writing seven new songs to put together with four old songs and one cover…the working title of the project is “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye”…more songs and stories about this complicated South. I plan to release a special single this fall and release the entire project next spring around my birthday in March. In this digital age, I’m working on a redesign of the BFP website and scrambling to pull together my social media platforms in a more organized way, so I hope you’ll look for the Big Front Porch Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram pages and ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ along (or whatever the young folks do).

 

Thanks for reading…now I’ve got to go find a place to put those white shoes. See you again soon on the Big Front Porch…where there’s room enough for everybody….Tricia

Stronger Together

As the newly consolidated Cleveland Central High School launches their new school year, I felt inspired to share a little of my own story in our local paper, the Bolivar Commercial…I hope it will be an encouragement to those who read it.

STRONGER TOGETHER

JHS State Champs 1970

There were seven of us on the track and field team….a scrappy little group of country girls from the public schools of Jefferson County, Mississippi. Four white students and three black students. We didn’t even have a real track at our school…we ran on the grass around the perimeter of the football field for practice. It was my task to set the blocks for our sprinter, Eunice Washington…we both became superstitious about following our set routine as she won race after race. And in the spring of 1970, our little rag-tag team won the state track championship by one point. It is a fond memory during what was a difficult time.

We knew change was coming to our schools, and as I finished my junior year I was hopeful we would have one more season to play sports together. But after four years of the ‘freedom of choice’ plan to desegregate the school system, the federal courts mandated a total consolidation of the two high schools in Fayette beginning that fall. Fayette was in the spotlight during the civil rights movement, and tensions in our small town ran high. There was a great deal of uncertainty as to what would happen, and parents from both the black and white communities were concerned for the safety of their children. Half of my classmates finished their last year of high school in a neighboring county, and the other half earned the required credits and finished early. I was in that group, so I missed having my senior year of high school. It was hard for my 17 year old self to fully understand. I graduated with 16 classmates and began my higher education at a nearby community college.

30 years after the fact, while working on a live performance show related to that time and place, I reconnected with my teammate, Eunice…she was one of the first students who had come to Jefferson High School on the ‘freedom of choice’ plan. I asked if she would share recollections of her experiences during those days. She told me that it had been very hard, and that she had often been scared, and then she paused and said, “But you were always kind to me.” In that moment, I was totally undone. Her words offered absolution, and they fell on my ear like a blessing. ”Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

I wanted to share this story in hopes it will be an encouragement to all the good citizens of Cleveland as we work to move our community forward, and especially to the young people who are entering a new year in a new school.

In looking back on our little rag-tag state championship track team, I learned that we were much stronger and faster and better together than we would have been separately. To my knowledge, there has not been another girls state championship team from Jefferson County in any sport since our unlikely victory.

Here’s to the students of Cleveland Central High School and Middle School… cherish every moment and be kind to each other. Go, Wolves!

Tricia Walker

He is risen…

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:)

Pax,

Tricia