...and Ricely Yours  

Louie Armstrong, who famously signed his letters "red beans and ricely yours"  in so doing acknowledged a long standing love musicians have for beans, or rather, have to have.  They are, after all, -musical!  Perhaps more to the point, it's a poor folks delight.  They fill you up inexpensively and if done right can give your soul food too. While I personally have never met a bean I didn't like... black-eyed peas, navy, cannellini, cuban black beans and all sorts, red beans done southwest style are my all-time favourite. No one really taught me this recipe it's just something I've tweaked for years and explored different ideas. In New Orleans and parts of the south you may add chorizo sausage to the like to a similar recipe and everyone has their wee take on it.  it's a bit like almighty jazz in that I've never played (made) the same thing once!  So take what I say with a grain of salt.... but do make it sea salt please.

Impala-style southwest Red Beans (and rice)

*from the indian places around Edinburgh (and the world) you can get  large bags off red kidney beans. I generally use half of one of these big bags per recipe. I'm not fortunate enough to own one, but a huge enamel crock pot is ideal for this kind of thing.  Le Creuset. 

Take half a bag of beans put in large tall pot with lid.  Fill pot more a little more than half way with water.  Bring beans to a boil with a TableSpoon of baking soda, A TableSpoon of sea salt and an couple tablespoons of proper apple cider vinegar.

I often cool this down and bring to a boil three times in a night with the lid on, let rest over night,... rinse the beans and now you have beans that are detoxified and easier to digest.  They will cook down faster as well, using less energy.  Bad beans will stay floating and can easily be removed.

Tablespoon of Sea Salt

and entire large head 1/2 of garlic (peeled) 

A couple cans of tomatoes, 

Tomato paste 1/3 of a tube 

Half a jar of chipotle paste (or more?),

Five big squirts of Heintz ketchup

Splash of Olive Oil. 

Splash of cider vinegar

Half a cube of lard or butter.  Lard is preferred. 

Couple Tablespoons of brown sugar

Bring to a boil,.. reduce temp.  add salt to taste. Cook with the lid off to boil out the water making sure the beans have enough water (add if needed)

**Stir right,  banish the negative,..Stir left invoking the good. I try not to stir without this intention, this will  aid digestion and bring luck and creativity to those who enjoy it.**

after a couple of hours I add:

Jalepénos from a jar (to taste)

3 Tablespoon Cumin (I never measure this though and sometimes forget it

sprinkle of Tabasco (not a lot, folks like to dose their own adventure)

heaping tsp of powdered smoked paprika (not that important)

chunk of butter

splash of olive oil

sea salt to taste

You can vary this recipe by adding sautéed 2 chopped onion with 2 chopped green pepper and seasoned salted mincemeat for a hearty chilli.  I sweat my onions with apple juice or wine.   Always add the meat last to the onion and pepper and add all this last to the beans.  I tend to separate them into two different pot in case I have hungry vegetarians about. 

This pot of beans stirred and watched on the stove for five hours ....easily.

Served with fresh red sliced onions, grated cheese, dollop of organic yogurt.  Make into fajita style burritos with Dr. Dirk's famous Salsa!

ENJOY!

/
  1. Roll a Joint

You're not yours  

My heart aches tonight for a wee soul gone too soon; for those that feel alone and without community and purpose, for the most sensitive among us. We are living in dark times of collective and personal grief and isolation; open wounds around every corner.  Tread lightly, be generous and forgive.,.. most of all, forgive yourself.  Be heroically kind. Reach out tirelessly to those with a distant look on their face. There is no time like the present.  

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up" ~  Mark Twain


You're not yours

Wrap me me in paper, c'mon
Wrap me in cellophane
Leave me on the corner,
Cause it's where you think I stay
Waiting for you
Cause I adore you, it's true
I do

But I'm a runner, lord knows
I'm the smoking gun and
 
You're not Yours and I'm not mine

I'm your mirror
I'm your fear of her
I'm the void
I'm an old fashioned toy
Boy, I'm a princess 
but I don't wanna get saved
I wanna surrender
Dressed as the court jester

You're not yours and I'm not mine
We'd see it in the stars,
If we could find them
There's nothing more
But to sweep the floor
That can be done
Tonight.

It's the old woman,
Whose beauty never fades
It's the perfect thing
You forgot to say
And my wee one,
With his toes in the earth
It's the ancient tree
Forever giving birth

It's not yours and you're not mine

It's a long story for a tall glass
It's the question you wished you never asked
Now that you know is it easy
Can you let it go?
Now that you know, c'mon baby just you just
Let it go.

You're not yours and I'm not mine

We'd see it in the stars, if we could find them
There's nothing more
But to sweep the floor that can be done 

Tonight.

Wrap me me in paper, c'mon 
Wrap me in cellophane 
Leave me on the corner, 
Cause it's where you think I stay 
Waiting for you 
Cause I adore you,
I do,
I do
And I would do it again

But
I'm not yours and
you're not mine

 

 

A cash poor, creatively rich life: Freedom is spelled T-I-M-E  

I have no TV and no smart phone.  But they are what they are,.. and they are here to stay.  I can't begrudge those that use them because these days, that's most everyone.   I wonder though, every single day in fact, how are people are experiencing culture through these devices,...or not?  Are we decent? Should we start to draw up some kind of ground rules for what's acceptable behaviour with these digital leashes especially in the sphere of performance?  Does it go without saying? Because I feel compelled to bring it up.  On the whole, devices seem to be the opposite of freedom; a trapdoor that allows a digital gravity to take over where we fall into limited spaces in our imaginations,  or rather, the imaginations of other people.  And it exhausts us.  Where  would that energy be better spent? I've made a choice not to have a smartphone for a lot of reasons but one is because as a performer I watch people watch things through their phones and not with their hearts,.. their faces lit up in digital glow, their eyes dim.  It's nice to have a nice video,.. but it's the scientific principle:  you can't observe something without changing it. and in some ways It's rude.  But it's more rude to take a picture of someone and not to tip them.  It's also rude to film a song or performance and not ask if it's ok,..and not offer to send the artist a link before posting.  This seems like common sense,.. but apparently we need to start building into high school curriculum,.. because it's more often the younger generation that's abusing this big brother power,. and that is most certainly what it is.  Power.  But to what end?  Without emptiness, space, boredom there is nothing to counter, and it would seem that we are forced less and less to confront our feelings, and this place of confrontation is where true creativity emerges.

is unconditional financial support what artists need?  
.....or would we all become heroin addicts and make shit art?
I had a student just come back from Cuba recently and when I asked her to spill about how incredible the music was she said "they're poor,.. but they're not." and from from there we got into a discussion about time and this realisation that if I had been born in Cuba, I probably would have played piano instead of banjo but more importantly, I would have gotten the opportunity to prove to a jury at some point that the government owes me a living.  I would be paid to exist, with the internal logic that I will devote all my time to my art (which artists there do, and pretty guilt-free, as I understand),..according to the guardian "Cuba's support for the arts should make us weep with envyand it's evident in how they play; It's magic.  Once you have proved proficiency to make your life a life of study in music or  your art, you are supported without question.  This concept of paying artists to exist is an unheard of idea in most of the rest of the world, but since Cuba has no real aim to participate in capitalism at large,.. and one of it's only unique exports is music, it makes sense artists would thrive.  But can it make sense elsewhere?. Incidentally, musicians are some of the only people allowed to travel elsewhere and there is a great pride is what they do and how they represent Cuba. Herein lies the secret about just how 'not poor' Cuba is - rich with culture and music but above all?  Time.  They have time and without it you can't make music.  In fact, arguably, it's the only essential ingredient to making music apart from passion.  And it's better, note-ably better in Cuba, because while people might not have money,. they really have a lot more energy and time to sing, play and be together.  Most people I've talked to who visit say they seem to have a higher happiness quotient overall,.. but it's a world turned on it's head to us  -and of course has it's own problems because socialism is bad,.. right? YES. Keep eating your chemical sprayed snacky-munch, peasants! And whatever you do, don't ask questions.
 
Buy! Buy! Buy!  Sell, Sell, and sell yer soul while yer at it.

It's hard to think this far north, while it's snowing in April that we're west of anywhere, but it's about lifestyle, right? Here in the western world we live life differently.  So differently, it's worth examining why. I suppose it's elemental because for one, we survive the weather.  one kind of poverty replaces another because leaving people out in the cold,. it's not cool. It's super cold.  We gather in pubs with varying degrees of a quality brew on tap and spend all the money we have in the warm glow of banter. We have little free time. We are suspicious of strangers.  We protect our interests. We care about collecting stuff and buying things.  Familiar in the way that contracting the flue is familiar.  What can you do but let it run it's course? It's always going to run it's course,... until one day it kills us of course! btu more to the point, we live in a society that values money and the accumulation of money as the most important thing. and this is reflected in legislation because should you not happen to not be a citizen you are living a very precarious life.  The rug can be swept up from under your feet at any moment.   Social workers, teachers, parents, artists and the lot of you  low payed nurses,.. Get Tae.. you are not welcome.  Your worth is £ sign, and nothing more.  If the Tories immigration plan of late is any indication of where we're headed at a society in Britain, the future is grim.  just now parliment is trying to require just now that Non-EU folks married to Brit nationals need to make 35,000K per year to stay,.. no matter if you have dedicated your life to your children, your art or something other than money.  But hey,... who am I to question the powers that be,.. just human,.. and one with no capital.  Here's one of many articles on the topic you may want to read as this newly suggested legislation is sociopathic.  Straight up psycho http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/mar/12/eu-workers-deported-earning-less-35000-employees-americans-australians
 

Got Milk? That biology that also equals less time 

I nursed Harlen a long time.  longer than I feel comfortable telling anyone about in mixed company, because people are pretty judgy about that sort of thing. But this essay is about time. I had the gift of time to do this then because of the supportive German government which provided me, a freelance musician mother, support and then childcare without question.  I hope the rest of the world begins to look at the gender equality in Germany, Denmark, Scandanavia and parts continental Europe and start to put into legislation as they have done.  (I'm looking at you, Britain, -USA!)  It's really made such a massive positive impact on my life and that of our son's, I can't really put it into words.  But one comes to mind; that's what Harlen called it.  "mama, can I have some time?" he would say,...  yes.  have all the time you want.  As a result, he minds me very well.  He's never thrown a tantrum.  He's a very independent boy now and he HAS to be, because our life in music makes sure he's able to handle almost any situation.  Of course, this also means I can't provide for him the things that other parents can.  We don't have the luxury to put our son in a loads of classes,. in part because I cannot actually chauffeur him around (no car) OR actually afford them (we're delightfully poor!) But Still,.. I still, WE still need to simplify our life. Harlen, bless him,  has more time than other kids to do nothing,..and with that nothing I am in a constant state of amazement as what he does.  From  'boredom" comes his creativity.  lookin at him I know,... if we constantly busy ourselves, we never hear what our hearts want us to do.  His heart is really big, needs lots of crayons, time outside playing, and loads of cuddles.  I make him practice guitar for 15 min a day,.. somtimes,.. but I'm no tiger mom.  I don't reckon Prince had a Tiger mom,.. so I'm gonna risk it.   I just want him to be happy and be happy myself.  It's easy, when you know how.

Time is money, but money will never give you what time does

The artists and musician pals in my life, some -academic genuises performing essential tasks, others,  -dreamy songwriters head in the clouds, intuitive harmonies, and the rest bouncing happily in the spectrum between the two trying hard every day to find time to make the best sound they can. The world seems pretty rigged against us, and no matter how hard we work we still can't seem to manage to find time. The common frustration I hear from everyone is that, we all wish we had more time to actually just play and experiment, practice and create. So how come living a life dedicated to music, making monies from music we struggle with having the time to be creative?   At costs to our sanity, relations, personal maintenance and core beliefs we strive to continue to inspire in the environment in which we exist, an environment that isn't really suited towards offering us this time.  An environment that regards our pursuit of this time as decadent indulgence an dI think that attitude has to stop. It's a herculean job just to convince our 'benefactors' that we deserve this time,..and there goes our time, time that would have been better spent practicing.  Perhaps it's even ironic to spend the time telling you about it,.. because someone else just picked up my boy from the park, and now would be the perfect time to get in touch with my self away from this glowing screen,...  But let's be clear about something. Even in a world where there is loads of free time,. very few people still have the discipline to be an artist of any type.   It's not an indulgence and it's not for everyone. Individuals that require this time should be supported to create without scrapping from hand to mouth because it is so hard to live and create at the same time.  It will improve society. It will improve the world at large.   I guess just like everybody else,. we live in a world that requires us to reply instantly, be available now,....so there goes that time (i'll give that a healthy 30%).  We also live in a world of high rents and high costs which results in a lot of us taking work and even musical-work that we might not otherwise.   At the moment.  I'm in a simplifying phase of my life... and I'm willing to risk being poor to be rich in another way.  That's the only choice there is.  Poor and happy,.. and some days - lucky.

Coping with the Weather 

In Scotland, occasionally the summer just doesn't happen. This is one of those summers, where even the most optomistic pal is quite devestated. Yes, night feels like day and the cloud-cover is consant although sometimes the sun comes out,.. just to set. That's almost worse and what is there to do but put it in song?  Put it in a poem.  Put it down and then bring the sunshine into you face from some other strong but invisible place.  It's therapy.  Enjoy, indulge in your thoughts and leave me a haiku of your own at the bottom should you feel so inclined! Thanks, Cera

The sun comes out just to set

There’s no heading long-first
Fists full of Dynamite
Arrogant Anniversary fireworks
Birthing Burnt summer hands
Instead
Steamed Charcoal
Choosing chatter,
Cool convolutions;
Billowing brain matter
Grey Sky
Laundry soap putting out the fire of
Poppy-red remembering
Jangly lost purpose
Squeaky left-over meaning

I scratched it out of words for you
and reading is for those without sun

Who can recall what time it is?
With this soot-cave of clouds
So sweetly concerned with sheltering us
A too-cross Auntie
With two tight lace-up boots
She stands, a tower.
Shiftless
Looming just to loom
7 year-old dust on and
8 yeard-old broom

No boom,
No Thunder
No sign of the Gods or their lovers

It’s just us,
A wet hammock and
A want that cannot be called desire

A love letter to America  

Dear America,

It's been a long time, hasn't it?  There is so much to tell you.   We've both been through some interesting times,  and it feels right to tell you now, I still love you;  Your rivers run through my veins.

I never had the financial luxury to leave your shores in my formative years. The wide world seemed so impossibly far away and I resigned to never leaving. Things change and then they change again -and I now know to expect the absolutely unexpected.

In the time that I've been away I have seen the image of you darken, perhaps like never before.  It's a confusing time to be a human in general,  but as for us?  What occurs to me is that excepting some musicians and some very driven hillwalkers, the world at large is somewhat lacking the voices of regular folk who can't typically afford the flight over. It's clearly, in part, that most people are so informed by TV, they comprehend nothing else....and those few who have seen you in the flesh have visited places like Las Vegas, Florida or New York, New York.  I often have people tell me how much they dislike you and then come to find out they've only been to Orlando.  Even worse,  they judge you by the rare tourists that get to travel to Europe.  American tourists do provide a special brand of stomach churning. Did you know that rich American tourists talk a LOT, and loudly?  They also say random unintellectual things with some alarming regularity, and have no ability to read. It's a wonder their ancestors found you in the first place with map deciphering skills so lacking. It's pretty embarrassing. 
 

“The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad.” – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad


I know you though. You are vast, and your size is something folks here can't really wrap their brains around.  I love your chaos within chaos, your elephant cloud skies, your 300 mile drives to nowhere (as long as it's not to a gig), your fabulous gay pride parades and fancy cocktails.  I miss your the lightning storms on the desert, your snaky sagebrush, your jalepéno poppers, worn flannel shirts, neon-lit seedy bars and Pow-wows.  I miss mountains.  Oh do I miss your mountains of absolute majesty -and the National Parks system that preserves them for everybody.  I miss the pacific ocean, artful sushi, Organic farms, farmers markets and recycling programs that make sense. I miss more than I can actually tell you.  Sometimes my heart hurts, and sometimes I wake up and realize I will have to build my own extended family from sratch.

 
I've now not had the luxury to be able to return and see you in eight long years.  The world, in this time has found a comfortable place in my lap, out my loins, in my ear. It's kept me busy by scraping my teeth and itching my bones in unexpected ways.  Berlin, previous to Edinburgh was crash course in European history, it's inhabitants ranging from the Spanish Vagabond, to African Refugee, Turkish immigrant to the Pinocchio run-away-with-the-circus type that seems to hail from all corners.  Can you still remember what it's like to hear so many languages? It's  not so long ago you too had your doors open to the world and reaped the rewards therein. Like my familia! My great Nana's, both Sicilian, never learned to speak English.  They never had to, they had children, (AKA old-fashioned insurance). 

 
I can tell you from a life made in music that it's those that take time to listen first that learn first.  Please keep listening to the voices that call you home.  With every new tongue  -a new song to sing, a new food to taste, a new old way of doing a very common thing; living.  You take the blame, but it's not just you, it's the world that's caught in its own reflection.  We have all to some extent become Narscissus in the pool, forgetting our roots, fixing our face while losing our smile ....and a slower way of enjoying life.  

I know what I know, you know what you know. 
Let's take the long way,
cause the highway, is just an illusion
you think you're goin somewhere
You're goin nowhere,.. fast

 
It's not always been ideal to be American abroad.  There are certain assumptions about any group of people,.. and Americans definitely get labeled clueless if not stupid right out the gate. That, and that we have good teeth (which I do, but they are coincidentally all natural, -thanks Dad.)  Bush the II was still in office in 2007 when we made the plunge.  I have been often asked by bewildered Europeans at a party and on the street with their arms in the air, their furrowed brows questioning....  "How this could happen?!"  Jeez. What do I know? I don't know a single person that voted for that faux-Texan flagpin flaunting elite.  I feel ashamed because I take it as a compliment that most people think I'm from Canada.  I don't know whether to sigh or give them a 'her-story' lesson.  Did you know that Canada is a part of North America.  I guess that makes Canadians Americans to some extent.
 
You can go the same bar everywhere in the world and talk to the same people.  I have gone to secluded islands and talked to inhabitants more worldy and open-minded, never having stepped out their front door than those world travelers in major cities accross the globe.  It's as simple as this: Your sense of the macro-within-the-micro is in the palm of you hand,... and it's not your phone, it's you.

I guess that's why I'm writing you.  I have to tell you how beautiful you are, and what it seems you've got figured out.  There is so much folks don't know about the wonderful you.   You are me, and I am you, and I'm not going anywhere.  I'm slowly seeking freedom in the old world,.. which reminds me, things are tough all over - but life IS better with healthcare.

I'm from a lot of places which I feel gives me some insight on some of the better things about you in the broader sense. First and foremost  I'm from a gunsligin' red state,  Arizona. Flagstaff AZ, that's me.  I never saw or used a gun growing up, and I never had the inclination.  Most people I knew kept them for scaring animals.  'A mountain girl knows how to love', or so the song goes,  and there is no denying that lovely pure mountain air, water, trees, rocks and sky that I sometimes see when I close my eyes had something to do with my love of nature.  My mothers Viginia-rooted Irish family ended up there because the car broke down on an experimental trip west;  Route 66 in all it's romance.  The Santa Fe train tracks and Ponderosa pine as far as the eye can see.  At 14 I then moved to Portland OR, one of the best cities on the planet.  It's fair to say, I'd probably still live there if given the chance but I got a scholarship to a fancy-pants liberal arts college called Sarah Lawrence in 1997 and moved to New York,.. where, I put on the appropriate costume, boots and hat,  loved it for a time, but became overwhelmed by the massiveness of the east coast,..not to mention the class tension that really felt very in-your-face me. I thrived in ways and New York taught me a lot of things and made me appreciate the mellowness of the west.   I  happily soaked up the truly unique theater, music and dance that was offered to me and  New York, while I could never call it home, called me to it for a time and taught me limits. It showed me the bravery of generations.  In the end it revealed a near complete lack of wild nature, and therefore brought me back to the Pacific Northwest to the rain, ...the quiet, lovely settling mist, fog, drizzling rain, ferns and evergreen trees as tall as your neck can stretch to look up at. I needed to be around trees and less people.

 
 
"Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world."
 
Olympia Washington.  North of Portland and a similar vibe, but tiny.  It was for many years I nestled into your sound, the I-5 corridor a road to everywhere at arms length.  Mostly though, this is where I came to learn the ways of the organic farm, bluegrass circle, and Evergreen State mentality. The Olympic National Forest beckoned, and many a bog-party with questionable homemade blackberry wine.  I reflect now on how people from all over the country ended up in your soft pocket with dreams of a better way and made it happen.  Hippie-shit a-plenty to be sure, but a true haven for folks with some vision and know-how.  The annual procession of species was a highlight, and I was fond of the brand of madness that ran ramnpant there.

Over the years I traveled all over California, Oregon, washington, the Southwest states, Texas, even Oklahoma and my favorite, New Orleans where I once had a dear uncle who stayed there on Dumaine.  I was meant to move there, I fanatizised I would read palms and busk (what else?) -but that's a story for another day.  New Orleans has so captivated me for most of my adult life, it's dark magic complex and dangerous;  A bitter buttery cacao, with worthy stories underneath the paint peeled cobble .  I hope one day to go back and drench myself in it's songs and wet warmth.  Which brings me to the of the things you do best...

Music. Food. Fun.  In no particular order, and all together at once,.. well, if you insist.  And you do.  This music is timeless and unique, it smashes and swirls an array of histories jettisoned out from the mouths of freed slaves,  soldiers, housewives, hobos and murders.  Everyone with their song to sing, a place from which they came and you gave them a common ground.  Your competitive nature says 'Go hard or go home'.  I love you madly.  From here, I can taste your gumbo, your arugula, your Nappa valley wine, your expensive mocha cheescake, your home delivered box of heirloom veg, your free range quirk and wide open wonder because all of it is JAZZ.  My favorite. Yes you with your nerd wit, crass one-liners, off-the-grid Do-It-Your-DAMN-self Earthships, hand blown glass, your Wrangler cowboy jeans, and and Life's too short to not say-what-you-mean attitude,  ...you've taught me well.  I'm still yours.

I'll see you in September

xXxCeraxXx


 
/
  1. River Song

Kelburn,  

My inspiration comes a lot from the natural world and in the last year I've written of birds, blackberries, and wee wanders through the dense forest of my fears.  Kelburn was such a reflection of this. We haven't made much time in ten years for escape and it began to dawn on us, if we don't make time, the mad-society we live in sure won't either. But all the time, the great and wonderful natural world is always arching it's back aching for us to come to it.  Why did it take so long to find five days to lean gently into this love?  I can't say, but it certainly won't take that long again.
We had the pleasure of being a part of the Kelburn Garden Party this year which introduced me to a  part of Scotland I hadn't yet seen. Between the New Prohibition and The Bevvy Sisters, pals and all the rest, it was impossible to carve out time to explore at the time then, so vowed to bring the fam-damily back and enjoy it in some in a separate peace.  Not only is it the perfect place to bring an imaginative 6 year old (who got to ride a horse for the first time), it really did the job; it cleansed my soul  in five days.  I would love to go back soon. Our camper van, Eeyore provided a nice warm stay and while the van door fell off once in the middle of the night (kind of a buzz-kill), he was trusty enough.  Thank god it didn't happen on a proper tour...
There is so much to explore hereThe secret forest, the pet project of the Earl of Glasgow must be the result of some mushroom-infused undertakings.. it's a trip through a trippy wonderland. then there is  the view to the islands and sea is breathtaking and a climb to the highest hill will lead you to a tree that was once struck by lightning and though only a shell, is still half alive.  It's profile reminds me of the ghost mating of a unicorn and stag... i didn't have my camera that day, but I can tell you I relished climbing inside it's cavity and dreaming of what a beautiful future we might have.  Most of all though, the Glen itself brought me to tears.  it reminded me of home, the canyons of Arizona I would splash in as kid, vines draped down, water clear and cool,.. and a naked boy making mad soup for us all the while, content just to be together in this ancient place.  It felt as thoguh for thousands of years people came here to celebrate fertility and life, and while we'll never know for sure, it's no surprise that one family has owned the place for 900 years and a wee magic festival is being birthed from it's loins.  It's a place for people to come together and celebrate each other.  -Or at least so the Rhodedendrons tell me.

Until the vikings showed up for the festival at Largs on our last day, it was just us and the horses, perfect silence. They were nice vikings besides, but was time to go....
for those who didn't have the chance to go to the festival this year,.. here's a taster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvhmhcdxss4 
A thousand year old tree







Kelburn

the sound of forever in a cup
Canyon pool
Gargling glen
gold initials of the gods
dance on the surface
and find their way;
toes to stones
knees become thrones

Our bodies stretch
The canopy imitating
a mother's embrace
Ivy dripping
Granny's homemade lace
Sunset streams into the purpled corners
Locked light-ness from the tightening
Of too much work


To wander here is to speak truth with your breath
wordless you unhinge
mossy mist tickles, Fern, Fusia become
Friend
For What has come before us
We know, our bones the rites of passage
Calling out
We stop and listen to
Forever

once again.

PLAN B. The Bevvy Sisters hit the studio. WHAM-bAM-That's how it's done by MaDAMNes. 

Go ON! "B" a Sexy Beast and Photo by Sean Purser taken at the LoveBoat Fringe Show 2013
Life has sure handed me a lot of sweet serendipity,..or (ehem) Cera-n-dipity if you will, since arriving in Edinburgh. The Bevvy Sisters are high on the list of wonderful friends & collegues I have made here. As we are now making our first studio album together, I'd say we're in like Flynn. How it happened? In short, I had only a couple pals in Edinburgh over a year ago, one was Doulgas Robertson, who seems to know every darn acoustic musician I can think of on both sides the Atlantic!  (I'm thrilled to tell you that he and his magic house have just won Holyrood reprieve -YAY! Douglas may continue with his legendary house concerts to which we have been lucky to perform in.)  Douglas and Jane-Anne for Prime Minsters of the Arts!!  It's not just us musos who love him though,...Here's today's article from the scotsman giving them a nod for "venue of the year"http://www.scotsman.com/what-s-on/music/douglas-robertson-s-house-gets-venue-of-year-nod-1-3173219
 
But this is about The Bevvy Sisters!  The other person of interest that I knew here in Edinburgh was Roberta Pia, a then Bevvy sister who I had met through some pals in Berlin.  About Roberta- She's a doll, and damn good song writer  and  fronts her own band, The Banana Sessions Who are completely dear bunch of musicians unafraid to not take life too seriously. It's inspiring stuff and it's a contagious attitude to have.  I had seen the Banana sessions but also  wanted to come to hear the reknowned Bevvy Sisters play, and having just arrived was totally skint. I knew the contact at the club as New Prohibition had played there before, so I asked to come in free (cheeky, eh?) Well, the feller was willing to comply on the condition that I open the second set with three songs of my own, and of course I did. One of the Songs I played was "Row My Boat" off our last album, a sexy nautical number that comes to, erm,..full climax. In other words, a perfect Loveboat tune. Much to my a-flattering, Heather thought it was on old jazz standard, and asked if would I play this tune at the Love Boat Fringe show with she and Gina doing backing vocals. This would be for the opening of the second set at the Queeens Hall….and of course I would!! As excited as I was, I really had no idea what an epic event it would be, the Loveboat frenzy, but jeez were they nice- and everyone so stylish! I was on of three guest performers getting to share the stage with even Amanda Fucking Palmer jet-settting in from god-knows where,.. Japan? I wore a real starfish in my hair and felt like a banjo mermaid with the lovely ladies singing sweetly with me,.. you could say we 'came' together too. ahem.  It was the seed that planted what has now grown into quite a thriving life-force. As they do in bands, things got topsy-turvey for The Bevvy Sisiters when beautiful Bob went off to the golden city of London town. The plan A was to truck her hill and dale to make gigs, but when things got real it seemed less and less realistic  keep the band a-float this way.   It was time for Plan B.

Who's Shadow is that on THE BEVVY B??
**Highlands and Islands tour in MAY 2013**

I was of course quite tickled to be invited to Bevvy-fy my life,…. and oh boy, how my wardrobes sequin collection has grown since joining the band, I really can't begin to tell you. (At least now I have an excuse!)  Being in a band, it's not any normal job,....it's a bit like dating three other people and, by the time you make and album together, that's when you've said,  "I do".  In my other band, the New Prohibition, I really did marry my bandmate. (in fact, we've been in a band together so long we have a five year old son) but I'm happy to say, there's no danger of procreation with the Bevvy Sisters, which is a relief. 

The Bevvy Sisters back stage after an "Electro-Bevvy" gig at the fabulous INSIDER FESTIVAL

 
In the month of September we traveled out to the Borders to record at the Heriot Toune studio with Mattie Foulds, a truley thoughtful engineer and musician (who clearly must have the patience of a saint to deal with the likes of us) He's got a keen ear for detail, but also knows when you've taken it too far,... and how to tackfully tell you that you probably shouldn't be listening,..you need a break.  I've was impressed with the space itself to boot.  The valley the studio looks out onto gives your heart-cave 10 minutes to replenish,.. that might take an hour at home. It's hard to express how important and necessary this is to have when recording 14 tracks in four days.  It's paradise, and the weather has been unreal.  But yo!  Nevertheless It's been intense folks,  and we've done the bulk of it.  The sequin sparkely light is shining at the end of the tired-tunnel exciting all four of us equally, and bringing us together like never before.  Nothing like studio time to show you what people are made of,.. and I'd say we're a pretty hearty soulful bunch.  Demus (more formally known as "David Donnelly") has proven very valuable throughout and shown a great deal of know-how and ease in the studio.  He's got ideas and executes them before I can tune my banjo (but hey, it's a banjo.)
Photo by Sean Purser
The ladies have remained positive, supportive and even though Gina threatens to kill me when I slurp my slippery elm (yeah, it's a thing)  I live on,.. WE live on!... and the album itself it's a cracker.  It's Mastered by the Master producer himself Tom Bancroft who is full of valuable insights,.. and is genuinely behind us every step of the way. The Album has got loads of the good stuff that Bevvy fans are going to dive into head first.  There is so much in it for our fans.  AS we wind into the home stretch and finish up the last bits and bobs, artwork and pressing, I can't help but feel like we've really accomplished something wonderful. Folks like to complain about the state of music these days, but we live in rare times! It really is exciting in this day-in-age how connected we are to the people that listen to and support our music.  Our fans will make this abum happen, and we owe it to them to make it 'B' great.  With Mz Heather, Gina Rae, and Demus I feel I have a new musical family of sorts.  There's always a Plan B and sometimes,.. it's the best one.

Go ON! "B" a Sexy Beast and
SUPPORT THE BEVVY SISTERS NEW ALBUM PLAN B

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thebevvysisters?utm_campaign=project7961&utm_medium=activity&utm_source=twitter
as of Nov 6th were underway at 60% with 30 days left to reach our target! help us get to 200%!
xxx THANK YOU!!! XXX
Where was this hostel?  Somewhere in the Skye! You can tell we don't have any fun at all.

Oh yeah, I'm a mother. 

"Puss-in-Boots/Buzzlightyear/Tig-ger/Pirate" aka my son Harlen (who downright refuses to be called by his own name almost every day) comes barreling into a rehearsal with "Mom, I'm hungry,.. and I don't want an apple."  We're mid-song, and he knows to wait,.. but he's genuinely hungry.  When's the last time I fed him a proper meal?  I can't remember. He's eaten though, surely. I've got beans on, but that's not good for him really.  OH what to give him!  "just a sec hun" I say during the instrumental break, my brain multi-tasking away. Dirk is fiercely digging in,  fiddle lines are slaying the stratosphere of our insanely colored tenement parlor and I look over to see Harlen rolling his eyes..and I mean rolling them.  He's 4,  not 14 but this life is giving him a certain perspective on life, no doubt about it.  The song is finished and Harlen has gotten engaged in a full-on imagination game with his toys,  he's lost in a world all his own,...he's forgotten his own need.. and who could blame him?  Certainly not me, in fact, I was just like him in that way.  I'm not so sure I've changed much. The cold and startling reality is that his parents are awfully distracted people.  When we're here, we're often not here, and when we're gone,  we're far-gone.  I live in a constant state of guilt and a strange pride about the whole thing.  The truth is, Harlen is one of the people in my life I respect the most.  He's a lover, a forgiver, a remarkably generous spirit but above and beyond that, he puts up with the collective compulsive disorder we call music with such grace and patience,.. I have to remind myself at times that he's just a wee boy.  He has a late bedtime,.. but he always goes without a fight. In fact,  sometimes he tells me to go to bed... which is weird.  I am struck by his loving wisdom almost at every turn.  He is my superhero...
 
As it is right now I can hear him making airplane noises from the living room. I told him I wanted to write for a while, and he was off with and "ok, mom!" He's relieved. He doesn't want to get out of his pajamas or leave the house today.  The apple deon't fall too far from the tree, and like us, he's content without a playmate, playing with ideas and adventures more than anything else. But, It's gonna be one of those days.  I had to get an overnight sitter to attend and late night rehearsal with the Bevvies while Dirk is on the road with another band (The Southern Tenant Folk Union).  The season is just warming up,.. and I'm a little weary.  It will be the bussiest year yet, and while that's a good thing, I already miss him,.. and his Daddy.   Harlen sings and soars, stabs and straightens thorough every page of our book, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  He has informed my music and my life,... and everyday I'm forced to examine whether a negative thought should take up any headspace-for his sake.  I'm not a very conventional mother, but if Harlen is any testament to alternative means,..I feel hopeful for the other freaks out there.  He's just come up behind me, put a blanketon my back and said "There mama,  you are now Bat-man-mom!"  Fitting... but I wonder if there is a snack-bar in my tool belt.

Taking the Electric Sabbath; a weekly pledge to ungoogle and unwind 

We may not longer go to church, believe in a white bearded father figure, confess our sins or pay a tithe, but it doesn't mean that there is nothing sacred left in the world. In fact, it could mean that we are taking back what has always been sacred, human and spiritually important for ourselves, in our own right. It's the day after yesterday again with more powerful and tempting Gods wining and dining our subconscience . One of them has ironically taken the form of an apple; my apple PC. What an interesting twist of fate that the tree-of-knowledge allegory has seen such literal and permanent place in our collective consciousness. It got me thinking; it's true, I fill myself up on way too much on information, *burp*, stimulation (omg), and all the five billion things this apple-knowledge can give me. I'm so grateful for it, but honestly- I'm absurdly addicted to it, and I can't imagine my life without it. But today listening to some great music it occurred to me; Janis Joplin, Mississippi John Hurt, John Lennon and a host of my favorite Saints never needed one minute of the cyber-mess. It's become really clear that I need to rethink how I am using my time; I need an Electric Sabbath, a cleansing period of non-use.

A peaceful heart isn't found on a search engine
Because as far as I can tell, being constantly connected certainly doesn't bring any more happiness to most people, but does bring a lot more pressure to everyone to be everywhere at once, answer even the smallest request within 24 hours, and be on call for God-knows-what at the drop of a dime. After all, being human is a pretty far-put experience no matter which way you slice it, and it's hard for me to completely disregard the magic living in the everyday ether, it's just that I can't experience it when I'm glued to the screen. Magic isn't a google-able, and I DON'T need to read every article on 'The Dailybeast' post before I go to bed. There is a great cost to this I am starting to feel, and though my life is an open Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Cera.Impala.Music) wherein I have personal and professional page aside from my own website..(oh brother), I even have a twitter account I've been told is eventually the holy grail of all (https://twitter.com/banjomama) Why? Well, it seems there is no escape,..It's the business, it's what I'm supposed to do, but on top of this I manage three separate email accounts and three bands, engage weekly students, rehearsals, gigs, a strict songwriting regiment I am truly religious about, and most of all we a have child that lives apart from his entire extended family..(imagine the Skype dates we have to keep up with). It's insidious how sometimes small things stack up to one banging reality; I've been sitting at my damn desk ALL DAY! The balance of my work and private life is complicated and I need break. I NEED to spend more physical time with my son, my husband, my kitchen, my books, my music, the artful albeit rare silence I prize beyond all things. I NEED to stretch more, walk more, meditate (at all). It's time for me bring back a sacred space in my own life without the omnipotence of any organized religion. If that means letting go of a few gigs or a few fans, maybe it's all for the best.

The Pledge:
So from now on, for me, this means that once a week for a 24 period
1. I WILL NOT use the internet
2. I will not make phone calls,
3. I will not send or receive emails or
4. I will not watch anything but the occasional family movie
(if that's what the family collectively decides to do in the late evening).

Instead I will focus on my breathing and my family, play music, games, make art, listen to the radio, go on long walks, chat, cook, craft and adventure.

Wish me luck- although with all this free time I may just have my eyes open enough to see the first four-leaf clover of the year.


“We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.”

― Lao Tzu


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April 25th~ Hats off the Chris, Julian and the gang of talents who worked to publish the latest edition of Berlin's own english  literary journal.  I was honored to play the release party event and Ice-block exit aside,..(don't ask.) it was a party worth remembering.
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Oh yes, and Cera got a haiku published!

Tequila Bar Haiku
Is it you or me
that is drunk talking as if
words really mattered?

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