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.

The Longest Night of the Year…

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,

Tricia

[mp3player width=175 height=35 config=single.xml playlist=sweetlittlejesusboy.xml]

 

 

“Come ye who labor…”

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…

City of New Orleans

Ol’ Skool Revue at the Chicago Blues Festival

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…

Looking for a song hook…

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.

Time to harvest….

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.

Pax,

Tricia

 

Reflections on a Green Birthday…

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!

Ready for the 'O Tux Society
Ready for the 'O Tux Society

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?

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I!

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….

Sistas
Ready for St. Patrick's Day!

Pax,  Tricia

 

 

 

West Coast to Big River….and the beginning of Lent…

Crab cake at Monmouth

Evening, one and all, from some of the loveliest big front porches in America…on the bluffs overlooking Ol’ Man River right here in Natchez, Mississippi, where I gave a presentation today at the 23rd Annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration with my good friend and fellow wanderer, Davis Raines, one of this country’s most brilliant and underappreciated songwriters. We dazzled ’em with a little program entitled, “Come and Listen to My Story: Melodic Narrative in Country Music.” Sounds impressive, don’t you think? Anyway, the good friends and neighbors seemed to enjoy it, and we celebrated our success with a lovely ‘sit down’ dinner at Monmouth, one of the beautiful plantation homes of Natchez.

Fighting Okra catching some rays in Malibu...

Only two weeks ago, I was on the porch of a wonderful beachside eatery called Malibu Seafood, having Pacific snapper while watching the blue surf crash on the sandy shores so far from our own Gulf of Mexico. I was with a group of civic leaders from Cleveland, Mississippi who attended Mississippi Night at the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live. Quite the festive affair…a lovely time was had by all as the group begins the groundwork for our own GRAMMY Museum Mississippi to be built on the campus of Delta State University. More to come on that…

With such a whirlwind of days flying by, the sacred season of Lent sort of snuck up on me, but I did keep my calendar clear enough to attend Ash Wednesday service at my church earlier this week. I hope for me, and for all of you, that this season will be meaningful and will draw us closer into God’s heart as we learn to deny ourselves daily in order to follow Him more closely. Someone shared this cool Lenten calendar with me called Busted Halo…contemporary and practical.

Won’t be long now until the Mal’s St. Paddy’s Day parade in Jackson, Mississippi. This is the 30th year of the parade, and I plan to attend and do a little marching myself…stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it goes…should be fun:)

Until then, travel safe and take a little time this spring to sit on your Porch with a glass of sweet tea and ponder all the new life around you…miracles, one and all, great and small…pax.

Ya Yas and frocks…

Hard to believe that January is almost over…and thankfully, it’s been a mild enough month to actually sit on the Porch and do some pondering…nice:) Hope that February will follow suit, don’t you?

During the Christmas season, my two best ‘growing up’ buddies, Jackie and Paige, and I always get together for what we have lovingly termed, “The Gathering.” I’m not sure exactly what year we started, but it’s been going on now for at least half of our 50+ years. It’s a chance to put on our PJs, laugh a lot, and do pretty much NOTHING for about 24 hours. Pure bliss…

Ya Yas

Mom Walker and Luzon have gone on to heaven, and so our last remaining mama on this earth is the Matriarch, “Miss” Eleanor. We gather in her kitchen at Meadowview, and while she mixes together some homemade cornbread in HER mama’s cast iron skillet, we revert back to childhood and giggle uncontrollably at the retelling of some incident from forty years ago that still makes us act silly.

Mmmm....cornbread...

The focus of the Gathering was the impending nuptials this spring…the first born of the ‘petite’ Ya Yas (Jackie’s daughter) will be tying the knot in late March, and so this blessed event requires that we all go out to shop for a new frock. Yes, there. I said it. I have to go shop for a frock. I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I don’t think she was speaking in the context of shopping, but whatever….

I was in Jackson yesterday and so I made an attempt to enter a mall and make a purchase. Lord, have mercy….there was a SALE on and there were hundreds of women who were in their element in such a situation while I, on the other hand, was about to break out into hives. I had to wait 45 minutes just to get into a fitting room…so while I waited, I fired a volley of texts off to the Mother of the Bride extolling how I was making close to the ultimate sacrifice for her firstborn:)

Ok…I didn’t fall out or throw up, so all is okay….found two items that I will live with for a couple of days to see if one of them will work for the happy occasion. I’m sure to be a lot more comfortable in boots and jeans for the rehearsal dinner at the fish house.

I also got off the Porch last week long enough to make a quick trip to our beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast to perform at a showcase in Bay St. Louis for the “Backstage Pass” arts event sponsored by our Mississippi Arts Commission. I am proud to be included on the Artist Roster of the MAC, and I appreciate all the work they continue to do to spotlight the arts and arts education in our lovely state. Executive director, Malcolm White, understands how valuable arts and artists are to our state and particularly to how they can impact the creative economy. Next time you have a little time on your Porch, take a few moments and read all about the Creative Economy in Mississippi and what it can mean to our future.

Showcasing at the Hollywood

Well, I’d better cut off the Porch light and get a little rest…looks like a busy week ahead. Y’all take care, and I’ll get back in touch soon!

Pax,

Tricia

 

Saturday in a small town….

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:)

Pax,
Tricia

Here’s to 2012 from the Big Front Porch….

Ok…no sense in adding the undue pressure of a hard and fast resolution to this post, but I do intend to try my best to bring you news from the Big Front Porch on a more consistent basis than I have been…’nuf said.

Here’s a glimpse of the Big Front Porch…it was lovely to sit on the porch yesterday on the first day of this new year and take a few moments to enjoy the smell of a wood fire, the colors of the sunset, the feel of the crisp winter air on my cheek, the sound of a hoot owl in the woods, and the taste of my sister’s perfectly cooked black-eyed peas. God is good…all the time. I hope you and your friends and family will take some time in the coming days to sit on a porch (inside, of course, if it’s too cold for outside sittin’) and be quiet long enough to hear the ‘still small voice’ within…

The Big Front Porch

And since we’re still in the days of Christmas, here’s a sweet little cedar that is our Christmas tree this season…cut from the fields of Secluseval…a special place.
Christmas Tree at Secluseval

Pax,
Tricia

New Gospel CD is on the way!

Tricia at the mic.
Tricia at the mic.

Hi, everybody:) It’s blazing HOT in good ol’ Mississippi (105 degrees on the bank clock today) and I’m still trying to find more time to update the blog here. I’ve finally finished putting the final touches on my new Gospel CD…and now it’s done! The title is “Farther Along”, after the old hymn, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

I’ll be performing two church concerts in a couple of weeks to mark the occasion. Friday, August 12 at 7:00 pm I’ll be at Holy Family Catholic Church in Natchez, Mississippi and on Saturday, August 13 at 7:00 pm I’ll be at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Mississippi. The musicians on the CD will be joining me for the concerts and I hope you can, too! More to come soon…stay tuned:)