Word of the day

So the word of late, is patience. 

Ahhh patience, that elusive ability to accept the timing of all things without reverting to the behavior of a “hangry” 2-year old.

Most dictionaries remind us that it is  an ability or a habit that allows one to go through setbacks and difficulties without foul feelings, foul language, or punching someone’s lights out. 

 Now courage? Courage is sexy, it is a (dare I say it?) “virtue” that smells like cardamon and summer sweat on bare skin. And if it had teeth…surely some glint of light would bounce off of its blinding whiteness.

Patience? Not so much with the sexy. And while challenging to practice; it is beautiful when witnessed, a protection against back tracking and as simple and necessary as a spork.

Walk with me, will you, through the wonderful world of cutlery. Forks? They get the job done, straight to the pie hole. Knives? They make stuff fit in the pie hole by cutting it up into smaller pieces. Sporks, like patience, feel a little silly but make life less complicated and can be hung from ones nose just because it feels good.

I won’t lie, I have not quite gotten to the PHd level where practicing patience actually feels good. There is still a lot of groaning, eye rolling and tantrum styled flopping about (both literally and figuratively) that occur on a daily basis.  Standing behind a fellow shopper at the co-op who feels the need to share their story about the  restorative benefits of spirulina to the cashier causes my knees to buckle.  A round-a-bout virgin will cause me to clutch the steering wheel and loudly, colorfully critique one’s parental ability.  Being on hold with a customer service representative  for the 3rd time, whose helpfulness outweighs their knowledge? OY!  All these interactions require, yep you guessed it…the spork of virtues: patience or as they use say  in the olden, olden days- long suffering.

When impatience sucker punches patience; it’s not pretty whether it is a so-called stranger, a pet, partner or your child, the after effects  are usually yucky requiring apology and a cheek burning awareness that “yes, I can be that much of an ass”. Apologies to all donkeys reading this.

The thing about this zany world of virtues is that opportunities abound for their practice. There are not only plenty of volunteer positions available, but crisp cash paying virtue positions available to those not even looking for a job. And what makes the practice of patience so challenging is that doing it well doesn’t feel any better than doing it, not well. Both are equally challenging.

So after many daily scraps with impatience and embarrassing attempts to woo patience. I brush off my knees and attempt to stand tall, only to get back on my knees and raise my voice to the heavens, ” A high hope for a low heaven: God grant us patience!”
Hopefully, whoever is listening is not rolling their eyes.
 



New Projects, Oh my!


 Today as I was driving I-5 home from a church gig, a hawk flew across the four lanes, 20 feet up. Oblivious to the traffic hubbub below, probably in pursuit of some small bird who was wondering why he was not being appreciated for his mind, but rather for his drumstick. Oh the twists and turns of this life.
    

After the CD release party back in November, I had a  couple of folks ask me if I do lot of songwriting. I have usually answered no;  my thought was that there are plenty of beautiful songs in the world and what could I possibly add? Recently, I have re-thought that premise. While writing good and beautiful songs is no small feat, I have started that journey more intentionally.

      I am very excited about this new musical exploration. Is it jazz? Not necessarily., more singer-songwriter stuff about people and things that catch my attention in this world. I am having a good time with these new songs, and I hope to share some of them with you later in the year. Stay tuned!

I hope you will tune into  88.5 KNKX on Friday March 8th at 12pm: I will be on the KNKX live studio session with some of my musical friends.

Listen…shhh

Hello Friends far and near I hope you are well in all ways. If you are living in the Pacific Northwest, it is around this time of the year that the lack of sunshine induces one to think that chewing off one’s arm is the only way to cope. This is also the time that any sliver of sunlight causes the Northwest native (or not so native)  to strip down to the  bear minimum of clothing to absorb as many crepuscular rays as possible. Cope well and please don’t chew off your arm.

On another less carnivorous note, January 31 was the birthday of American music ethnologist Alan Lomax, who collected over 17,000  folk music field recordings following the footsteps of his father John Lomax. His collections can be found in the Library of Congress and are also available online. The Lomaxes’ work influenced the American folk scene of the 50’s and 60’s. They also opened the doors for world music to reach the ears of the the mainstream American public. You can find those recordings here.

Preservation is not a quality that is appreciated in our culture. We grow impatient for the new and shiny and shudder at the old or not apparently useful. We hear of cultures, species, and languages that are gone. No record, just gone, held only in memory. And when it comes to sound, a very ephemeral medium, there are sounds that are extinct, either because the technology and curator were not there to capture them or they simply were not considered valuable.

We are surrounded with sound nowadays. Phones ping and whistle, Muzak and music cut through any potential silence, video screens at the gas station murmur as we pump our gas. We spend a lot of time blocking out rather than collecting intentionally.
If you were Lomax senior or junior what sounds would you capture in today’s world? What songs would you save from extinction?
I’m curious…..
Happy hunting!

HAPPY 2019…START YER ENGINES

Happy New 2019!
Mmm, it still has that new year smell. Fresh, slightly lemony scent of being driven by no one else. No misplaced wrappers of half-eaten resolutions litter its floor, half-drunk bottles of unrealistic expectations. Kick the tires and hop
in, the open road beckons!

Thank you for lending your ears and time last year- in coming to shows, emailing me about songs or things that you have read on the blog, or buying a CD. Thank you, I so appreciate your support and hope to see you in the coming year.
I wish you and yours a happiest new year!

May the new year bring adventures that make fabulous yarns;
Discoveries that rock and rebuild and improve your world;
Laughter that makes you blow whatever you are drinking through your nose;
Health that is vibrant and allows you to swagger a little in your step;
Prosperity that overflows and allows sharing easily with others to be the natural expression of gratitude for such good fortune;
Introspection that helps you to know yourself so well that it causes blossoms of compassion for those that refuse to look within;
Clarity that continues a tidal wave of “aha’s” that make you giddy with the knowing;
Gentleness and patience that walks old dogs in the pouring rain and allows sniffing every blade of God’s green grass without a hint of impatience;
Moments of true amazement and love for a fellow human who you are not obligated to have any feelings for.

This and more I wish for you friend. Raise your sail or start your engine, let us boldly begin.
Walk well,
LaVon

Do you remember that Time in December?

Yikes! I feel like I sat down to read a book and looked up and bam! it was December! How did that happen? I was recently marveling with my husband about how time moved so slowly when we were kids. Back then, July was light years away from December, and the pure anticipation of wanting it so badly seemed to slow its pace even more! When I was a child, I spoke about time like a child, I understood time as a child, I thought about time as a child; but when I became an adult, time sped up!

It took me a long time to figure out how to tell time as a kid. No glowing block numbers for me. My parents were purists. Time had a face. In those long ago days of afro puffs and velour, time had a body and functioning parts: a face and hands. Although its legs were not visible to my young mind, I was aware of how it could stand still and be as quiet as a game of hide and seek, or it could be foot-draggingly slow when demanded upon, as in the case of birthdays or Christmas.

My relationship with time was a little combative. The whole concept of the “one o’clock” spot also being the “five after ” spot when the big hand was one, was puzzling. How could 2 be 10 or 8 be 40?

I’m not sure when I “got” the concept of telling time, but something clicked. Maybe the shiny new ladybug watch whose wings spread to reveal a delicate clock face might have given me the incentive that I needed to to enter the world of time keeping. Maybe I just accepted that a thing can be be two things and that was just the way of the world.

December propels one to think about time. Holiday and family obligations, the year end of things undone or not said. It seems that the pace of living is steroid driven and time begins to feel like a bully… and a little cheap. There simply is not enough time; and when that happens, breathing stops. Not really stopping because that’s whole ‘nother problem but the dance with time can be a little breathtaking.

So as we step into December and the year end, join me as I dance a different dance with time, which is neither miserly or miserable. It just is, it is a tool, a song waiting to be sung with surprises and moments of familiar refrain. Take the gift and enjoy one of our most important playmates — while breathing well.

Enjoy the holidays gently and kindly!

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!