Remembering

November 1st was All Souls Day. It is one of my favorite holidays because it has nothing to do with cards, candy, plastic toys, or stuffed animals. It is the unsexiest of holidays, because it celebrates death. Not death, but those who have gone before. It is the opportunity to think of friends, family, mentors who have touched our lives directly or indirectly. It is a time to remember what loved ones have taught us and the lessons learned through how they lived. I was thinking about some who were close to me as well as a few well known musicians who passed away this year.

1) Aretha Franklin
I love listening to Aretha, that 3 octave voice of God range went straight to the listener’s heart. That voice had to the power to make me want to be a better person. She had a 40 year career- this kind of longevity is not for the weak and did I mention the 18 Grammy Awards?! But what impressed me most was her philanthropy, she supported folks in her own community of Detroit.

2) Bob Dorough
Thank you Bob Dorough for educating me! I grew up on School House Rock (yes, I am dating myself). Those short nuggets of songs were catchy, fun and helpful. I remember scrolling through the Multiplication song when faced with a math problem that stumped me. I never knew music could be used to learn! He played with Miles Davis and Blossom Dearie to name of few, and left an expansive discography. His contagious sense of playful joy of making music was one of his super powers that I loved.

3) Hugh Masekela
I don’t know much about the life of Hugh Masekela , but his was one of the first trumpet tones that I recognized. Other than civil rights songs he was my first world music introduction on how music can be used as a political tool in the face of injustice, specifically apartheid. Music as an action of bravery–that is good lesson. Thank you Bra Masekela.

Take a minute and think about those who are no longer with us and say thank you….who is on your thank you list?

Tonight we’re gonna party!

While I am a summer baby, at heart, I love the fall. As soon as the air cools and the leaves change into their fiery “go to meetin” wear, something in me relaxes. Summer seems to demand activity and usefulness. Fall says relax, sit with a cup of tea first before you get going on that “to do” list, here, take a look at this book, of course you should take a nap, let me get you a pillow. Summer stands in the corner, shaking her head from side to side in disbelief, Are you crazy, look at that sunlight, you could be working in the garden, bike riding, painting the house, fixing the garage door… Summer is great friend when you want to go party but fall brings you home and feeds you soup.

I am also loving October because It is CD release month BABY! Did I say that too loud? My fourth solo album, There Will be Trouble is available today at CD Baby!
Celebrating begins at Tula’s in Seattle Wednesday October 3rd at 7:30pm; and if you have an aversion to Wednesdays come to Rhythm &Rye in Olympia Monday October 15th at 8pm.

Like Come Together, this CD consists of diverse covers of jazz and pop standards. I celebrate songs like “My Funny Valentine” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” with stellar musical friends Eric Verlinde / David Deacon Joyner on piano, Jeff Busch on drums and Osama Afifi / Dean Schmidt on bass.

On There Will be Trouble the usual quartet expands to include brass and horns. Jerome Smith (tuba/trombone) and Hans Teuber (baritone sax/clarinet) to add some extra sass!
CDs are also available at Olympia’s own Rainy Day Records.

I also want to take a minute to thank you, yes you for coming to shows, sending me emails, suggesting songs buying and sharing my music and generally being a well wisher. You know you rock right?

Be well,
L

Bring it on, April!

Thanks to everyone who voted in the Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Awards. I appreciate your support, regardless of whether you voted or not. It is an honor to be included.

March music makin’ was mighty fun! I had the chance to share music with some students at St. Martin’s University in Lacey; shared the KNKX airwaves with The New Cool host Abe Beeson to talk up the station’s Spring Fund Drive. Last week, I gave a house concert at Panorama City, which was intimate and wonderful. If you are interested in hosting house concert please email me.

I’ve been in the recording studio putting the final touches on a new CD. Watch this space for announcements of when it will be available. Very excited about outting these new sounds out into the world (hint: there are horns!).

Enjoy the smiley daffodil faces!

Change

I have found the fall colors intoxicating, simply gawjhus. Leaves dancing with leaves stirred by wind and weather into creamy shades of amber and goldenrod with explosions of burgundy and apricot. I get giddy over the diversity of the leaf-scape. Leaves shaped like olives, like fans, like arrowheads,waiting patiently to fall and carpet the ground. Walks turn into finding crunch linings for my pockets. The maple leaf that is face size is awesome architecture. Fall is more than a metaphor for change, it is change animated and teaching. Fall is about endings and preparation for the winter of patience and unseen growth.
Often in my day to day of negotiating and building with life, I forget that growth does not just occur in the springtime of busy-ness but also in cool quiet of winter. Growth requires endings. It requires letting go.
While I glory in the firework endings that fall brings, I struggle with endings that occur in my own life: relationships that change, habits and outdated thinking that no longer serve me well, real or symbolic deaths. I struggle to see the beauty and I whine, lord, how I whine. Change is hard and sometimes we see the beauty of outcome, but that kind of sight requires a good teacher.
Let fall be your teacher as you walk through it’s canopied halls. What color will you turn before letting go?

 

On another note, I am working on a video for my various musical projects and I need a live audience for a recording of Red &Ruby in Olympia.Taping will be from 12-4 Sunday November 19. There will be refreshments and eternal gratitude. If you are interested, please email me privately at Lavon@lavonhardison.com and I will give you the address.

The B side

I recently had a day. It was a first world sort of day, but still it was …a day. The kind of day that makes you say, laawwd. You have had those days I am sure, the kind where communications go south, plans take unexpected turns and the need for a nap is the only thing that feels like it would remedy the snarkiness that has brewing in the heart .
I had a gig that night. I am always happy to go and make music with my friends, but that day it felt like a chore. I got on the road and my hour and forty minute commute turned into 3 hour test of patience, courtesy of I-5.

Needless to say, by the time I got to my venue, very late, I was too through.
After a moment of collecting myself, and profuse apologies to my band mates, we began to make music together.
The venue was a senior center; the occasion was an open house /gala. Vendor tables lined the concrete white walls. My favorite food group: things that you can eat with a toothpick and place on a cocktail napkin was plentiful and the chocolate fountain was a flowin. I was definitely on side B of my day.

One of the lessons that music continually teaches me is stay in the moment and be present. Whenever that happens, a “meh” moment turns magical. So many moments unfolded before us as we played. A gentlemen who looked like Santa Claus came up and asked if we knew Bette Midler’s song, The Rose. Without much prompting he proceeded to sing with such great emotion that even the most cynical heart would soften.

Another woman requested the folk song, Shenandoah. It ain’t a jazz standard, but the moment asked for a folk song. She sang it unaccompanied with a opera trained voice and the whole room applauded when she was done.
At the close of the evening before the last song we played Sweet Georgia Brown and a woman began dancing by herself arms flailing, a big smile on her face. My lousy day was a memory and it was worth the slog through the unresolved and untangled to get to this sweet shore.
May your side B’s be better than your side A, and may you always reach the sweet unexpected shore. Enjoy your fall!

 

 

 

 

If you are a regular subscriber to this blog, you know that I often try to write a little somethin’ somethin’, but I most admit that the summer months have messed a little with my productivity. So know that I love ya and I think about you often and come September I will have tales to tell, words to weave and a poem in my pocket. Until then, I’m afraid I have “Gone Fishin”.
I hope you are having a fabulous summer and I will check in with you again in the fall flip side.
Be well, be fabulous!

Happy Fourth to All!

Hello there friends!
I hope the summertime is agreeing with you and making you feel ridiculously sun-shiney! Today is the Fourth of July and as I write, the bims, bams, and booms have subsided and finally all the dogs and cats can finally come out from under the furniture and resume their peaceful lives. Happy Fourth all! Celebrate the America you want to see and let freedom sing.

June and Poets

Brian Doyle is dead.

My heart aches to hear such news.

Probably not as much as the hearts of his immediate family and those closest to him. Condolences and love to those he has left behind.

Portland author Brian Doyle left the planet recently at age 60.

I did not know him personally but I have read a few of his words in such beautiful books as Mink River, The Plover, The Thorny Grace of It. To open one his books was to be bathed, tickled and sung to with words. Words set up as complicated traps for the mind and heart, the lure: humor, the human condition observed-words bending like a gymnast.

I was first introduced to Brian Doyle in his book Mink River, it was not an instant love affair. His long descriptive sentences demanded me to get on board and breathe deep the world that he created and ride the waves of lush wordsmithery.  This required attention. I was lazy. His words made me want to stop being lazy. I wanted to see how he would describe moving water or birds circling or a woman looking at a tree. His writing made me hungry.
Until next time, be well and write poetry in the medium of your choice for the living and the dead.
Poem for Brian Doyle

When poets die

Ellipses grieve

dashes moan

italics slump with the heaviness of loss

while the empty page weights

until the empty page waits

for the pounce of a printer

for the scratch of a pencil

for the caress of pen

backs of business cards cry out

napkins weep

notebooks and notepads rock back and forth reciting prayers

When poets die

my heart craves their yarn

my tongue thirst for their cadence on my lips

my heart seeks that simple line that took 5 years

to tell the truth

When poets die, I cling to their arms and legs:

their books

Crying.

April Musical Showers

My mother has been retired for several years and enjoys her retired status immensely. She fills her days finding treasures to repair, refurbish, and re-sell. She loves it! Often, I will get a picture of some cabinet that she shabby chic’d or a Coach handbag (or some pricey equivalent) that she has refreshed into new sale-ability.

She loves the hunt, the boss-less hours, and the  element of surprise in her new profession. Recently, my dad (who has been my mothers amiable ex-husband for years) called to say that he had tried to call my her but she didn’t answer. “I heard rustling and her voice but she couldn’t hear me.”  That was the moment I explained the concept of “butt calls” to my father. It was a clunky conversation and after a moment of silence, I realized that he was not convinced that it was real thing and was concerned. I told him not to worry and I would give mom a call.

Saying that I would call my mother and doing it was not as straight forward as I thought it would be. Unanswered cell and home calls are usual nothing to worry about but those of you with parents who are getting on in years will understand the concern.

Finally, I resorted to calling one of  the consignment shops that she frequents to see if I could locate her. The owner, who I had met at a recent visit, knew my mother and was added to Operation Find Mom.

Well, a couple of hours later, I got a call from the owner saying that my mother was happily at home ensconced in her treasures surprised at the personal visit. She explained that her cell phone had died and she had not listened to the many messages on her land line.When I finally spoke to her she joked about the search party and  seemed to delight a little in all of the attention. She laughed, “I need to not answer my phone more often, look at all the love!” I rolled my eyes and had to laugh with her, but it did remind me to be sure to show the love. Feeling love is something that folks don’t tire of; its effects are rejuvenation and it can be shared in many digestible servings based on the recipient. So show some extraordinary love today if you can, I can guarantee an interesting story or at least a smile.

Lots going on musically this month. I hope to see you!

Finding purpose with porpoise

Recently, I read a news story about a type of porpoise that makes its home in the Gulf of California and is fast approaching extinction. Pictures of these guys can induce an audible or mental “awww.”’ A healthy dose of anthropomorphism as well as dark markings around their eyes and snouts give them the illusion of a Mona Lisa like smile.

In 1997 there were an estimated 500+ porpoises living in their small gulf home; Currently there are less than 40. Have human palates become accustomed to tasty fillets of vaquita? Fortunately no, unfortunately though, vaquitas are simply the underwater collateral  of an insatiable Chinese demand for the totoaba, a marine fish whose swim bladder (an organ that regulates buoyancy) is considered to be a delicacy as well as a traditional Chinese wonder drug.

The vaquita’s demise is due to a wall-like gill net dropped in the ocean by fishermen, trapping not only the intended prey but any other unfortunate marine passer-by.  So thus begins that economic cycle that can mow down a species:

    hungry wealthy buyers
+  hungry profit seeking fishermen
+ inconsistent lack of attention or regulation
=the demise of a fish.
Or the short form of that equation is:
Greed+Entitlement=someone or something is going get hurt.

In response to  a porpoise’s possible extinction, one may answer (although incorrectly) that there are much bigger fish to fry in the world. True, the problems of the world  are aggressively jostling for our attention and care, however the problem of the porpoise (which is us!)  is begging us to collectively be and do the thing that we are currently finding extremely difficult: care for that which is small and without a voice.


Smallness is not a quality that is deemed important in a culture that will do anything to feed the hunger for greatness.  As the gill net of the desire for greatness is dropped into our society, let us not destroy that  which is voiceless small and beautiful.

More Info about the vaquita can be found at these sites:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/science/vaquitas-dolphins-mexico-extinction.html?_r=0

https://swfsc.noaa.gov/textblock.aspx?Division=PRD&ParentMenuId=676&id=21081

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160111-vaquita-totoaba-poaching-swim-bladders/

https://qz.com/468358/how-chinas-fish-bladder-investment-craze-is-wiping-out-species-on-the-other-side-of-the-planet/

As of 2017 Mexican government officials are working with conservationist and fishermen to address this problem.