Many of you may know that I absolutely love being in a recording studio producing music.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to reconnect with my old pal, Davis Raines, and his group, The Band of Many Names, to work on a new project called “Turquoise & Silver.” We locked ourselves up for a few days at Fighting Okra Studios and had so much fun that we barely came up for air. Great songs that are well-rehearsed by musicians who are passionate about and dedicated to their craft make for a great session.
Over the years, Davis and I have worked together on several projects which are some of my favorites…search the web to see if you can find them (“Big Shiny Cars,” “Going To Montgomery,” “Parts Unknown,” “Mockingbird,” and more). The Band of Many Names includes the wonderful Pamela Jackson, who recorded a project at Fighting Okra Studios a few years ago called “Red Rock Heart” (more great songwriting), the multi-talented Mark MacKenzie (here’s a link to his bluegrass band, Fade2Blue, doing a cover of the Ace Ford song, “Orphan Train“), and bass player David Conrad of the Americana duo Conrad Y Skordalia (a fine writer and singer in his own right).
In this age where music is often streamed and consumed as ‘ audible wallpaper,’ it’s good to be reminded of the amount of work and collaborative effort that goes into creating and producing a new body of musical work. For me, it’s also important to not take for granted the small pleasure of popping an original CD, created with love, sweat and tears, in my car player (does your car still have a CD player?) and listening, uninterrupted, to some original music on the drive to Memphis and back.
What a privilege. Let me know if you’d like to work on a new record…I can be reached at…you guessed it…the Big Front Porch.
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,
I woke up to this lovely Saturday thinking of several errands that I needed to run, and with ‘run’ being the operative word, I decided to see what I could get done on foot. While spending a few quiet moments pondering a passage in Paul’s first letter to Timothy while sipping a cup of Community New Orleans Blend coffee, I realized what a gift it is to live where I can walk to campus, the post office, the bank, a grocery store, a coffee shop, an art gallery, the cleaners, and our downtown area of stores and boutiques…nice:) It’s a lot like my hometown growing up, although Fayette was a hamlet (Pop. 1600) compared to Cleveland (Pop. 15,000). From where I sit on the Big Front Porch, the leadership of Cleveland and Bolivar County are doing a good job working to build and sustain a nice quality of life for folks here in the Delta. If you’d like to know a little more about Cleveland, here’s a link to visit: http://www.visitclevelandms.com
And since it’s a holiday weekend, I wanted to mention two great men who share January 15 as a birthdate: Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and work made a positive difference in the lives of many, and my daddy, James Monroe (Jimmie) Walker, whose life and love made such a positive difference in mine. He left this world when I was only 18, but I believe he would have been so pleased with my musical career and all that it has brought me. I still miss him…
When I lived in Nashville, I had the privilege of hearing the multi-talented singer/songwriter Don Henry perform often at the Bluebird Cafe…I wanted to share his song, “Beautiful Fool,” with you all as we head into this holiday…I hope you take some time to sit on your Big Front Porch and ponder peace and justice…thanks for listening:)