In 20 Photos….Willie Nelson, a High School Reunion, and a Clean(er) Studio.

What I’ve been up to over the summer – in 20 photos.

1.Traveled up a winding road to the top of a mountain in Saratoga, California to see Willie Nelson and Kasey Musgraves at The Mountain Winery.
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2. Got to the top of the mountain and took in the view. Look at that sun!
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3. Gazed into the valley. Thought about my favorite novel, East of Eden.
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4. Checked out the amphitheater. Cool, huh?IMG_6702

5. Sat back and relaxed. Date night, beer, great music, no toddler.
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6. Watched the sunset and listened to Kasey Musgraves. Wow, she blew me away.IMG_7232

7. Watched the legend himself, Willie Nelson. More beer and “Always on My Mind”.IMG_7272

8. I flew to Florida, where I grew up. Usually the first thing I do when I’m in town is get boiled peanuts. If you are from The South, you know about boiled peanuts. Thinking about family and friends in Florida right now, as Hurricane Irma is blowing across the state as I write.IMG_6400

9. I was in town for my high school reunion. I attended The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a visual and performing arts high school. Ya know, just like “Fame”. It has changed a lot since I was there. Now they have a sculpture garden.IMG_6500

10. There it is, my old locker. IMG_6504

11. Did I mention a lot has changed since I attended there? Now they have a full fledged jazz recording studio! I went there the first year it opened. We just had a trailer in the school parking lot for a few music classes. It was really impressive to see how the school has developed over the years and the opportunities students now have to develop their artistic talents. IMG_6523

12. They also now have a fully built out theatre. Did I mention our theatre was the un-air-conditioned gym?IMG_6525

13. Every good arts school should have student sculpture in the library. IMG_6590

14. Also, an incredibly cool wire car sculpture. I wish I knew who did these pieces, as I would give them credit here. IMG_6589

15. Oh yes, the reunion itself! You know when you go to a performing arts high school, there will be “A Chorus Line” style kick line at the party. IMG_6649

16. Finally getting around to cleaning my studio.IMG_7769

17. See, nothing on the floor.IMG_7768

18. Last, but not least, the beach. IMG_7046

19. There is always a time for the beach. We sat and watched the waves.IMG_7055

20. Now the real last, but not least. Always time for a hug.IMG_6341

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The Mockingbird Song & My Little Slice of Heaven

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Well hello again!

This week, there have been some beautiful days here in the Bay Area. It’s generally a beautiful place to live with really nice weather, but the last few days have been particularly nice. I was sick the last few days so being able to get out and sit in the sun in my back yard felt pretty amazing. I even grabbed my guitar and sang a lullaby. I did “The Mockingbird Song”, using the words in the Carol Thompson version of the children’s book. I followed the words almost exactly with an additional twist at the end to make it a Mommy and Mama song, since my son has two mommies. Check out the video I recorded here on my RLW YouTube page. I love the backyard in my rental house and have  found a new spot in it to sit, relax, and play guitar. It’s now My Little Slice of Heaven. It’s the perfect reading and recording video nook. For fun, I included some pics below of how I set the camera up to record video and how I taped up the lyric sheet in front of me to keep it from blowing away. This is what ladders are for, isn’t it? Also a pic of the book, should you want to get it for your own child. Great words in it. Less buying of animals and diamond rings and more loving of nature and tickling of babies toes.  That’s all folks. See you next week. Here’s to good weather, good music, pretty flowers, and singing songs to our children.

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What am I doing, you ask?

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It has been a while since I’ve written a post here on FiftyTwoinFiftyTwo. I’ve heard some of you say things like “What happened?” or “We miss hearing your songs and seeing your posts!”, and “What are you doing now?. Actually,  I have been doing a lot. I just haven’t been posting or talking about it all that much in a public format. Mostly, because I’ve been allowing myself time to figure out what I’m inspired to do these days, finding different muses, so to speak. For example, I’ve started putting together a new vintage jazz ensemble for events. I’ve been researching old jazz songs and writing charts for the set list. I started playing with a new guitarist. I’ve been researching new gear to get for my studio. I’ve been playing songs to my family in my back yard here in California where it’s amazingly warm most of the year. I’ve been getting monster trucks added to my guitar by my son (see picture above). I’ve been learning new cover songs. I’ve been attending local songwriter circles and meeting new writers to work with. I’ve been participating in songwriting competitions. All good stuff that’s been allowing me to find passion again in my work.

Also, I’ve been letting myself say “I don’t have time” to send updates. That, I’m working on not doing anymore. I started listening to a new podcast called “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” by the songwriter Cathy Heller. If you are a musician or creative person of any kind, you should check out her podcast. She’s really enthusiastic and genuine in her delivery and has some great interviews with creative people and pointers on profiting from your work. One thing I was reminded of after hearing one of the episodes is that I can’t blame not creating work on not having enough time or money. Every time I say I don’t have enough resources like time or money to create or promote my music, the bigger reality is that I’m not being resourceful. Yes, I have a small child. Yes, I have another job besides being a musician. Yes, I have a spouse. Yes, I have housework. All of which I love (well, I don’t love the housework) and am grateful that they “consume” my time. I’m not always left with a ton of space in my day to write or perform or post about it. The reality though is that there is time, even if it’s just a small amount and a small amount can add up to a large amount in no time at all.

So, here’s my update and promise to you. I’m letting some new muses guide me and seeing where it takes me. I’ll get back to keeping you updated every week. It may not be a video. It may not be a new song. It may just be pictures like the one above of me playing guitar in my back yard with my kid. Either way, I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for the reminder to stay connected. I’ve missed you too.

Rachel