Catching Up

Time ticks by as we scribble out our lives...

Well...2016 is only days from going into the history books. It has been an uneventful year on the surface, but far from that underneath it all. Life is, for me, seemingly constant course changes and this past year has been no different. Personal hopes for a stable and lasting relationship-finally-turned out to be more a lesson in self deception, trying to make something out of very little or nothing. The sting is slowly going away and I can now begin to think about moving on, though the confidence I once felt about the future in terms of "romance" has taken a decisive blow and I am not sure if it will find its way back. We'll see.

As you can tell, if you still stop by here, I have been far from diligent about "minding the store", so to speak. I know keeping in touch is important in this age of technology but there are times when I either don't have much to say, or am not sure quite how to say what might be going on. Still, every now and then, I feel a little pang of neglect or laziness for not doing a better job of connecting. If blogging is like an online journal, then that is what mine is for I realize again as I am writing this how personal my blogs tend to be, maybe even more than most of you would care to know. But...take it or leave it for that is just who / how I am...for now anyways.

On the music front, I am starting to move toward recording a new CD. The last one was "Private Passion" released in 2008 which means far too much time has passed without another effort, so I will keep you posted on that as it unfolds. Along with that renewed intention, I have begun booking gigs at the coast of North Carolina...Oak Island (at The Lazy Turtle )to be exact and soon Southport (at The Yacht Basin Eatery). This brings things back to the "course changes" I mentioned earlier. My goal is to live at the coast, perhaps as soon as by this time next year with any luck and concerted effort. I was born near the water and spent most of my childhood into high school near the ocean. It is in my blood and is the place where I feel most at home. I have been too far away for too damn long. With my child now in college, I can start to look at the future for myself and I see my feet in the sand. You'll be the first to know how this all works out as well.

So...Happy New Year! I am throwing away the compass and trusting the winds of change to carry me to the people, places, gigs and adventures that will satisfy my soul. Maybe you will do the same? As the now late George Michael said in his song..."You gotta have faith, faith,faith"

The Creative Center of Greensboro - being an advocate

Some of the goals for The Creative CenterWhen I was approached by Susan Sassmann, who was at the time, the executive director of The Creative Center in Greensboro, NC. back in 2011, I thought I was just helping to get an open mic going at the center. What I discovered along the way was that I was unleashing a deeper passion than even I had realized was within me. I have always loved performing and have been grateful over and over for being able to do it for 40 some years now. Little did I know that it would be almost over-shadowed by a soulful desire to promote original music and the people who write and perform it locally and beyond.

Crystal Bright performs at The ShowcaseThe Showcase of Original Music proved that to me and set me on a path I would never have predicted. As situations and circumstances changed, there came a point at which I knew I must move in my own direction. Never in my life had I ever been so bold as to say "This is what I am going to do no matter what anyone thinks or how it turns out." Even as I put my beliefs into action by incorporating (Coinspirate LLC - pronounced CO - IN - SPI - RATE = collaborate/inspire/create), I spent many a day worrying and wondering if I had been fool hardy and impulsive at a time when caution and clear-headed thinking should have prevailed. Though I still have those moments, they are slowly becoming fewer and farther between.

These days things have almost come full circle for I am back at The Creative Center doing shows, but more importantly - and the reason for this blog -  I will be getting much more directly involved in things there. I have agreed to come on as an advocate and do whatever I am capable of to help revitalize the center. I passionately believe it is a place of untapped potential and full of possibilities that could benefit the Greensboro area nurturing spirituality, art, music, entrepreneurial enterprise and more. I see it as an incubator for creative and meaningful collaborations and community building. I hope I am right. If not, I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing I tried when it counted. The only failure in life is not making any effort... well,  that is my philosophy.

Save the date!I hope you will visit The Creative Center if you are a resident of, or visiting the Greensboro area. If you know people looking for a place to worship, be artistic, perform, build a business and enhance the community, tell them about the center. And... if you like to see great original music, think about attending a Collabative (yeah another one of those crazy words) event there. Now back to the vision quest!

Inner Journey: Watching the signs, getting the messages.

If you read my last blog, you may have surmised by now that my life has taken a turn down a road of significant soul searching. If you have not, well... now you know and you're up to speed for the moment.

There have been challenges in just about every facet of my life in recent months. You'll be letting out a sigh of relief as I inform you that I am not going to bore you with all the gory details. I am only going to tell you a short story. Very short if I can manage it.

Personal journeys boil down to lots of questions, prayers for guidance and understanding and then usually a lot of time waiting, wondering, listening to the crickets chirp in your mind as the answers drift painstaking slowly into view IF you're awake enough and aware enough to catch sight of them as they pop in and out again. I have in my past missed many of the answers I so pleadingly asked for and fervently sought I am sure. But my latest inner journey has opened me up to a new awareness I hope; no... believe. There have been several things that have happened that I have recognized as messages for me without the slightest bit of hesitation or doubt. I know, this is getting into "woo-woo" territory, but for me (to me) they speak. Without spilling my private life all over the page, I can just say that the messages are clear that I have issues to let go of in order to move past this challenging time and find the inner peace and comfortable-in-my-skin-happy-about-my-life place that seems so elusive. To solidify the messages... today, while walking, I came upon a short length of chain laying in the road. Normally I would have passed it by without a second thought or glance. But today, in that new awareness mind set, I stopped, looked at it, picked it up and carried it with me as I continued my journey at a casual gate. As I walked with it, holding it in my fingers, looking at it closely I counted the links. 8. And in the very moment that the number 8 was arrived at came the message. "You have 8 things to unchain yourself from to find what you are looking for". Now, in days gone by I would have sought immediate psychiatric evaluation. But on this day, I just said a quiet "Thank you" and put the length of chain in my pocket as I made my way back home. It now hangs directly above my computer to remind me that I have more work to do discovering the things I need to release.  Rest assured, I have begun.

This story and picture will also be going up on a new page at The Collabative called "Sparks". Like the name suggests, they will be pictures, much like the one I wish I could have taken of the chain as I found it laying in the road instead of as you see it here on a table at the house. All the images there on "The Sparks" page will be left to do just that, spark someone's imagination to interpret them in any manner they wish through any art form they choose. Sound intriguing? Check it out.

The Devaluation Of The Arts

David Byrne-photo by Ron BakerI have been saying for quite a while that live music and more specifically new original music has become passe in this techno world where everything is at our fingertips - literally through the myriad devices that connect us to the world wide web- and most of it for free or very cheap. This is just one man's opinion and as such holds little weight. But, there are those with a larger voice who share this view and one of them is David Byrne. Now if you are under 30 years old that name might be unrecognizable to you, but he's been around the music business long enough to see the trends and understand the consequences of the direction in which things have moving. While no super star himself, he has been a  very successful writer, performer and producer so has had a view from all angles and seen and felt first hand the effects of living in the new digital society. Rather than trying speak for him, it makes more sense for me to allow you to hear what David has to say about all of this in his own words. So, if you have the time and are interested,  read for yourself.

I feel compelled to do something to alter what seems like a course headed for disaster but honestly, I don't even know where to begin. And who's to say that this is not the way it is supposed to be and I would merely be meddling with destiny, fate or the inevitable? A good question no doubt and one I cannot answer, for my feeling is the world cannot lose the gifts of artistic creation without suffering some consequences both seen and unseen. Perhaps it will be a case like that expressed in the lyrics from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" which say " Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got till it's gone..." I wonder if Joni could have seen this coming? (and yes, I get the irony of providing you with a song I got for free from youtube)

Have a look.As long as we are happy to consume for free or at severely-discounted prices what others have labored to create not just for our enjoyment, but to support their own livelihood, then we effectively seal the fate of all but a few who manage to stay afloat in such a business structure. The new saying in the music business is " Don't go into it to make money" which means the devaluation reality has already begun to permeate the minds of many who choose to stay in the creative fields despite the trends.  For now we should count ourselves fortunate that there are those still willing to create regardless of the payoff. One day however, it may be very difficult to find many willing to give their heart and soul and time to something that offers little or nothing in return.

It's not all doom and gloom admittedly. If you have a warm cup of coffee and an hour or so of time on your hands, listen to this radio talk show from WHYY on the subject for a closer look by some people who know more than I do about this subject. Despite the positive spin they put on things, I believe locally the perception in the minds of those who create, at least the opinions that I have heard personally, not just from musicians but from those in other art forms is that the odds seem stacked against them and the consumers seem less and less interested in paying what the artists are asking and more apt to find the cheapest way to have what they desire. It may be just another form of survival of the fittest and wiser for me to let it run its course, but I am not ready to sit silently on the sidelines just yet, though as I said earlier, I am still pondering just what kind of effort I can make and what the actual impact might be? Back to pondering... more later maybe.