Monday, January 30, 2012

Balancing on the Edge of Eternity

Ashley, Dave, Russ, Al, and I played our “Jamericana” music at two venues this

weekend. The first, on Friday night, was in Bristol, TN at a place called Machiavelli’s. Most of you will recall that Machiavelli was the Italian writer and philosopher who wrote "The Prince", which detailed certain methods to be used in wielding political power. Primary among his beliefs were the fact that political leaders (The Prince during his time) must be willing to act immorally... This included the use of lies, pretense, and brutality.

It would seem that many of today’s corporate and political leaders have read, digested, ingested, and accepted Machiavelli’s premise nearly 500 years after his death. Observing this fact gives rise to certain feelings, and since artists are in the business of observing the world around them, they naturally express these feelings in whatever artistic form they are engaged in. They “channel the news” so to speak, and for those who like to “tune in”, art can be a very satisfying, informative, enraging, awakening, derailing, and heart warming way to turn on and light up the inner mounting flame.

But frustration about power and politics are only the initiatory aspects of expressing oneself, which brings me to our performances on Friday and Saturday night. Bristol happens to be about a five hour drive from the Nashville area,

and given the fact that Bristol (near the Virginia border) is in the Eastern time zone, we had to leave around 2pm to be at Machiavelli’s in time to set up and play at 9pm EST. But we were happy to find that in spite of the reputation

of its namesake, Machiavelli’s was a really nice place to make music, and we even got some airplay on the local radio station during the preceding week.

With our equipment set up in the cozy atmosphere, we set off to see where the music would take us. Speaking for myself, I had a lot of worldly issues on my mind that I felt needed to be expressed, as I mentioned to Ashley on one of our

stops on the way to Bristol. You might guess - and you’d be correct in doing so - that "hitting" drums is a great way to relieve frustration and disappointment (particularly about powerful forces at work in our society), but as I mentioned

above, that’s only the beginning.....

For me, it turned out to be one big gig over the two nights. We played VERY well on Friday, but just barely began to reach a little further into the depths of the subconscious... But we did release some inner energies and had a great

conversation on the way back to Nashville about books we’d read, movies we’d seen, people we’d loved. And as is often the case with musicians, we drove home throughout the night, arriving in the predawn chill.

Most of us were lucky to get 5 hours of sleep, and I think AL got only 4. All of which made loading and setting up our equipment for the Saturday gig an episode of tired determination. But as I said to Al - just wait till we start

playing.... As soon as we started, it really did seem that we were continuing right where we had left off, and having gotten our world-weary ya ya’s out on the previous night, we were released to explore other realms, thankful for the musical kick start that our “artistic observations” had triggered.

I remember Russ mentioning to Dave on Friday that he’d achieved a certain level of “effortlessness” that comes to musicians when things are really clicking, but then woke up suddenly as if from a dream, which caused him to make a little mistake. I mentioned that the same had happened to me. But that mode - when the music is “making itself”, when the muses are in full gear, is what I live for. It’s the greatest feeling of freedom I’ve ever known. And the muses were truly present on Saturday, awakening the Shaman in us...

This is what I call Balancing on the Edge of Eternity, when we balance between existence and non existence. It’s that time when the music is so happening, and the feeling between us is so warm that all of our defenses drop; we forget who

we are and become one - Sugar Lime Blue. Look for us in a venue near you, because mere words will never describe it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tornadoes, Satan, and Night of the Live Dead

Sugar Lime Blue is on the road in North Carolina, and we're having a great time avoiding tornadoes, the voice of satan, and a night of the live Dead.

Let me explain....

We left last Wednesday in beautiful weather. Sunny, 55 or 60 degrees - a great way to start things off. Dave insisted on driving (in spite of my offer to do at least a third of the driving, given that we had 3 or 4 drivers in the car), and I found myself sitting behind Ashley. She asked me if I had room enough for my legs, and of course I said yes when there actually wasn't - forgetting that we had an 8 hour drive in front of us. I finally got up the nerve to ask her to move forward after a couple hundred miles, which she very graciously did. I only wish I'd asked before my right leg fell off due to lack of circulation...

Dave ended up driving all the way to Charlotte, and then another 10 hours on Thursday/Friday. Somehow he found the energy to play some great guitar on both nights. Don't know how he does it...

Anyway, we got up into the mountains and we couldn't decide what kind of weather we were having - one minute rain, the next clear blue skies. Once we got across the border, however, it was decidedly nasty, including a hailstorm (not golf ball sized, mind you, but big enough to make you wonder how many dents we'd be counting when we stopped!) Fortunately, the car survived intact - which was a real relief given that we were driving in the Beth's new Band SUV... I think it was Ashley who said: "hail usually comes down before a tornado comes through"...

But we all knew it wasn't tornado season and collectively decided there wasn't much chance of that. Turns out there WAS a tornado in the near vicinity, only we didn't hear about it until we got to Charlotte.... First bullet dodged!

The Double Door is a great venue, with a great atmosphere. Kind of like the Station Inn in Nashville, if anybody's been there to see some bluegrass. Craig the sound guy was very helpful and did a great job with our sound that nite. We had a great time playing, and it appears that next time we play there it will be on a Friday or Saturday night.

We stayed at a nearby motel, while Ashley camped out near the sink in her room. Did I say camped out? She pretty much owned the place... But she looked great the whole time, so all the more power to her. (For any musicians out there, Ashley doesn't fill the usual "singer" profile. You know, the stereotype from the old "how many soprano singers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer- one while the whole world revolves around her...") Ashley sings in tune, with passion and dynamics, and listens to the band. It's a pleasure to play the songs Dave and Ashley have written too.

So I was getting a really good night's rest, being tired from the drive and all, when I wake up as one does from time to time. Suddenly I hear this ungodly sound that I swear sounded like the voice of Satan. You know how you can be half asleep sometimes, and wake up in an unfamiliar place, not knowing where you are? It was that, only in the form of sound... My mind spun for a bit before I realized it was the next door neighbor snoring, only it was a kind of intermittent thing, with this sort of "ululating" effect (if you can imagine that). Phew! Dave said he heard it towards morning and it made him sit straight up in bed. (I know the feeling brother) Second bullet dodged...

So we drive ( I mean Dave drives) to Greensboro, and we spend some time visiting the shops. I got a cool shirt that I wore that night, and I'm really looking forward to trying out my tie dye that I got at a stop on the way in. Greensboro is a college town, and it has a great vibe. We were opening up for two other bands at the Green Bean, and were pretty much an unknown quantity to the local college crowd. But they were an excellent audience, and (as often happens) were
drawn in to the great songs and musicianship (not to be too egotistical about it :-). I had to yell out a few times - always a good sign that the energy is on!

So we hit the road again with smiles on our faces (in spite of the fact that there is a definite chill in the air). Sometime around 3 am, (and in the middle of the mountains) there's a loud noise and the SUV starts a-wobblin' somethin' fierce... Dave get's it to the side of the road, and we set about changing a tire on the trailer in something like 24 degree weather. (Dave and I are both from Maine/New Hampshire, and thought we were getting away from the cold when we separately moved to Nashville. HAH!) The tire shredded so badly that it took the fender, off, but fortunately we got the spare on and traveled the rest of the evening without any further troubles. Good thing Dave thought of buying the spare last week! Now that's what I'm talkin' about- people that pay attention to their intuition! It would not have been a fun thing to be stuck somewhere in the North Carolina mountains without a spare tire... Third bullet dodged....
So after narrowly missing a tornado, hearing what sounded like the voice of satan, and having my heart stop for a moment when the tire blew, I was beginning to feel a bit like the walking dead... This is when Dave puts "Live Dead" into the cd player, and we drove through the night and the snow flurries to the sound of Jerry and the boys...


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sucker for Marketing

Anyone who knows me, has heard me say “I am a sucker for marketing.”. I can’t help it, so I don’t try to. I like it when something calls to me from across the store. I like clean packaging, colorful print, or beautiful artwork on what I purchase. For instance, (and no, they are not sponsors though maybe I should look into it) Publix store brand has very clean packaging. There is a white label with words, telling you what is in the can or box and a small picture of the product for us visual folks. I like the look of it in my pantry. On the other hand, Celestial seasoning’s newer line of green teas all have this beautiful artwork on them that makes me want to keep the box even when I am finished with the tea. I don’t care for big stamps across the front of things that say things like “33% less sodium than the leading brand” or “New look, same great taste.”. Pretty or clean, those are the things that catch my eye. I also don’t care for things with a ton of tiny words that are hard to read, especially in the ingredients. Really, the less ingredients, the better. Not just for healthy eating purposes, but for reading material. I like interestingly shaped containers as well. Like the orange juice that comes in the cool plastic containers that look like the old glass containers my grandmother uses (I only get the ones that can be recycled). I also love spice jars, though I seldom purchase them. Why? 1) You only need so much oregano 2) I like to grow my own oregano 3) They are costly. When I do get them, I’ll get a pretty bottle IF I have a good coupon. Coupons… well that is a topic for another blog. Anyway, I would like to thank the people who package the things that I like the way that I like, you do good work…. I like it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Spring has begun! I don’t know about any of you out there, but I get really antsy this time of year. I just want to plant some seeds. All of the stores have these huge, full-color, beautiful seed displays that call to me. I could spend hours just looking at all of the different varieties of squash or tomatoes.

Every single store seems to understand my desire. It is like they hire someone to see where I shop, then they go around putting up these seed displays everywhere within a 10 mile radius. Do gas stations USUALLY carry marigold seeds? “Is this normal?” I ask as I buy the seeds. It is like I can’t resist the power of seeds.

The fact that something so tiny can grow into a big beautiful plant of your chosen variety is just pure magic. AND THEN to top everything off, you get to eat the fruit of some of your choices… WHOA! As I wile away the hours loitering next to the seed display of enormous capacity, with a stack of seeds lovingly placed in the fold of my t-shirt (because I have WAY too many to fit in my hand), the voice of reason (Dave) surfaces and asks “Where are you going to plant all of that?!”. Both the question and the response are the same year after year. “I’ll find a place!” I say. And so we get the seeds, a cartload of dirt (even though we have a bag in the garage already), and some extra clay pots (so that I have a place to plant to seeds).

I love getting my hands in the dirt. There is something right about it. It feels like tapping into something ancient, repeating a process that humans have been doing for years and years.

A few years ago we started getting organic seeds exclusively. They are a little more expensive to begin with, but it is nice to know that my plants are coming from the best stock.

One of the best things about planting vegetables is being able to share. Half the time, I plant an extra zucchini plant just so the neighbors can have some. Plus, I found this really simple and tasty zucchini ribbon recipe. So, if you are like me, enjoy the picking process, enjoy the nurturing of the seedling, take pride as your plant presents its first blossoms, and share the fruit of your labors with those around you.

Monday, February 28, 2011

HOUSE Party!!! 8 Steps to a Rockin' Good Time

Okay, so we have pretty much had to face the fact that our economy here in the U.S. is hurting. Even if, as the experts say, it is on the mend; we are all feeling the effects. That being said, we humans are social beings and we really want to have a good time whether our bank accounts trend in the “good time” arena or more toward the “just squeaking by” category. Now the problem clearly stated…. WANTED- good time with friends, but don’t have much moolah. Solution: A HOUSE PARTY! This is a relatively new idea that is sweeping the nation, due in part, to the above stated issue we all face. The idea behind the house party is this. You (the house party host) invite a band or other live entertainment into your home for the evening in exchange for a reasonable amount of cash. You also invite let’s say 10-20 of your friends. These friends are instructed to each bring some food (you can do finger foods, a full on meal, or just dessert and coffee) and a small cover charge ($5.00-$10.00 each should do it) to cover that aforementioned “reasonable amount of cash”.

Soon, your invited entertainment arrives, your guests arrive, everyone enjoys some music or comedy or whatever you got for about 45 mins to an hour. Then, you break out the food. Everyone has a chance to eat, mix and mingle, and get to know your invited artist. Then another set of entertainment and you wind down the evening. Everyone wins! You just threw a SLAMMIN’ party, your guests just got to eat, visit, and enjoy live entertainment in an intimate setting for less than the price of ONE movie ticket, and the artist made some new fans and contacts, snacked on some tasty cuisine, and made a little money to help in the pursuit of their passion.

Here are some tips for setting up your own house party.

1) Don’t be afraid to have a band over to your house because you think it will be too loud- most bands now days have a scaled back coffee house version of their electric show (Sugar Lime Blue does)

2) If you do want to have a full band (with drums/etc) over be sure to invite the neighbors so you don’t have anyone to complain about any noise that does bleed over. Know your local noise ordinance, if applicable, and share this information with the band. (If your HOA wants quiet by 10PM make sure the party is wrapping up by then)

3) If you don’t have enough chairs, ask the guests to bring some of their own, camp chairs work great, or maybe bring some of those gigantic floor pillows.

4) If you choose to have your party outside, have a back up plan for inclement weather. And be sure to have access to whatever power that the performer may need.

5) Have open and clear communication with the performer. Find out what their needs and preferences are and make yours known to them.

6) Have a beginning and an end. Even if your friends want to hang out after the party, there must be a set “release” time for your artist. (They may have a long drive, an early day at the office the next day, or child care issues)

7) For a little twist, consider a theme for your party, or costumes.

8) Have a good time, it’s a party after all!

So, as you plan for your house party please keep Sugar Lime Blue in mind, we would love the chance to meet with you and your friends!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Give us the Monkeys!

As a musician its hard to take a stand against other forms of music or any one artist in particular, but one thing is for certain as we expand our own musical horizons and bring new cover material to mix in with our originals, we are drawn to the sounds of the past. Little Feat, Steely Dan, the Grateful Dead, Al Green, Otis Redding and the list goes on. Yes, sometimes we find current artists to cover like Ray Lamontagne or even Sheryl Crow, but on the whole it seems as though our favorite songs are from days gone by. Looking at the musical landscape today it is not hard to wonder why. With the record companies in shambles and holding on to anything that makes them money for dear life, its seems that all that is left is the Justin Biebers of the world. Although, the 60's and 70's had their version of teen rock, (Donnie Osmond, etc,)it somehow doesn't seem as forced as it does today. S0 give me the Monkees anyday over what is being shown to us today and called music.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kase of Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme... Why are they so good? Why are they better hot? Why are they so addictive? What do they do to musicians in the middle of a shoot for a music video? These are all questions that begged to be answered yesterday morning. Sugar Lime Blue was, in fact working in studio with Veronica Beavers on the upcoming, super exciting music video for our song "Go Home". Veronica (nickname: "Ro-Ro") is such a beautiful lady with a soft spot for sharing sweet stuff. She brought two boxes of fresh, hot Krispy Kreme donuts for everyone to share. Little did she know, we are already a fairly zany bunch of folks, add a little Krispy Kreme action and we are full on ridiculous. We all had a great time! Veronica was wonderful, the band was great, and the Krispy Kreme donuts added an excellent, well timed sugar rush to the S.L.B. set. All in all a successful day. We are so pumped to be able to share our music with you via our forthcoming video. Thank you Veronica, S.L.B. members, all of our friends and family, and yes, thank you Krispy Kreme.