Art doesn’t change. You do.

Duane Allman Anthology

One of my favorite blues songs is Boz Scagg’s “Loan Me a Dime.” My favorite version – and there are many fine ones – is the one he recorded with the Allman Brothers in Muscle Shoals in 1969.

A decade later, I played along with the song a hundred times on my Strat in my Mill Valley basement studio . At each drop of the needle, I waited patiently for the vocal to end, so I could I could play along with Duane’s passionate but nuanced solo. Among the finest blues guitarists ever, Duane had that rare combination of flash and reserve I so admire. And this song is arguably one of his best solos.

Many, many years have passed. Now, when I play this same cut in my Seattle basement studio, I listen carefully to Boz’s heartfelt vocal. When Duane comes in, I often find myself starting the song over. Maybe it’s that I’ve heard the lead so many times, that it no longer holds my attention so closely. Perhaps it’s that I hardly touch that old Strat of mine anymore. I’m much more about my acoustics. Or maybe it’s because I understand more clearly what the singer means when he says, “Somebody loan me a dime. I’ve got to call my old time used-to-be.”

A film review of B. F. E.

BFE2

Last Monday night I saw the Seattle International Film Festival premier of B. F. E., a very good low budget film by actor-writer-director Shawn Telford.  His first feature film,  the move demonstrates Telford’s gift for direction and complex storytelling in the vein of Robert Altman. Shawn is particularly adept at casting and getting the most out of a string of talented young actors and several older ones as well. Ian Lerch and Kelsey Packwood performed beyond their years as the principal lovers. Both Hans Altwies and Abby Dylan were very credible as well.
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As I Liked It

Seattle Shakespeare

I’ve been a season ticket holder to the Seattle Shakespeare Company’s season for many years now. Last night I saw their “As You Like It” below the Space Needle at the Center House Theater.

I’ve got to say Orlando (Nathan Graham Smith) had a bit of a rocky opening. There are moments in even a good actor’s career when he can do no more than summon his lines. And though this was one of them, the awkwardness moment passed quickly, and Mr. Smith led the play very well indeed.

The story has a rather serious beginning, as all good comedies should. Ray Gonzales and Keith Dahlgren played very credible dukes with lots of slapping around, which added to the drama in the resolution of the play.

Jake Ynzunza portrayed well the oafish wrestler Charles and the bumpkin rube William.  The characters played by Bill Johns and David Klein were not the most interesting, but the actors played their parts very competently, as they always do. Hanna Lass and Rebecca Olson where fabulous as BFFs Rosalind and Celia. Ms. Lass portrayed the lead with the perfect balance of spite and lovestruck ardor that the character requires, and Ms. Olson animated Celia with the humor and steadfastness Shakespeare breathed into the lines.

Everyone did well, though I have to say I was struck by the skill that David Pichette used in playing Jacques, the worldly philosopher who elevates the tale. His “All the world’s a stage” speech was the best I’ve seen. He gave it in the aisle, not three feet from me. I admit, I had to overcome the urge to leap up and wring his hand when he’d finished.

And Darragh Kennan was Wit himself as the wisest of fools. His patter throughout the play – especially with Hannah Mootz (Phebe) – was wonderful. There seemed to be one or two spots where their words got crossed and Mr. Kennan improvised magnificently.

The music, by the way was very well done. I usually read past those lines in the play, but they were delivered so musically they stood out as some of the best parts of the performance.

Once again thanks to John Bradshaw and George Mount, all of the actors and, of course, the Bard for a wonderful evening and season.

18th Annual Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference

SCBWI Conference NW This weekend I’m attending the 18th Annual Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference in Redmond, WA (home of Microsoft).

This is an excellent SCBWI Washington event with over 400 attendees. The highlight for me is six breakout sessions on writing, editing and publishing. These are very helpful, as is the chance to meet editors, agents and a host of local and nationally known writers. Mostly, though I’m in it for what I can learn.

The weekend is beautiful. No rain. Sunny and 75. Seattle really is one of the best places to be in the world in the summer.

ten day immersion vacation

It’s good to be me.

I’m currently in the middle of a ten day immersion vacation to plot out my new novel Timearang Pirates.  I get up at 5:30 AM. By 6:15 I’m being served the world’s best double-tall split-shot Americano by Corrine or Precious at a cozy Fremont cafe on the shore of the ship canal a mile north of the Seattle Space Needle. I take my seat at my favorite table and work on my story until about 9:30, have some breakfast and go to the gym.  

After a shower, I read source material before and at lunch.  Next, I’m off to the library for two or three more hours of writing.  A couple of late afternoons, I watched relevant films: Master and Commander and The New World.  Around five o’clock I venture out for my last espresso of the day with my friends before returning home for dinner. 

Quelle vie, non?

My Fremont friends Corinne and Precious