A good week’s work…

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).

Background vocals in progress

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.

All is gift,

Tricia

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

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.

Wise men still seek Him….

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, TriciaFrio Canyon_Laity Lodge

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

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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.