Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Another 1st at Our House (& not a good one)

Saturday, May 20th, 2023

Susan Waters, Randal Bays, Clint Dye Maybe in the Fall??>

In all the years (22+ probably) that we’ve been hosting House Concerts here at the White House in Oysterville, today we had the first ever experience of having to cancel the day before the event.  One of the musicians, Randal Bays, called me at 8:00 this morning with what he said (thought? hoped?) was a terrible cold.  So far, he was testing negative for Covid.

Ironically, the very first House Concert Nyel and I ever hosted some twenty years ago was with Randal!  He’s probably done fifteen or more since then, has played at countless Vespers, and has included his wife Susan and sons, Willie and Owen, in most of them.  He sounded devastated.  (I was, as well, but tried mightily to sound supportive, concerned and all those other things that one feels in these all too recent days since the Pandemic.)

Randal Bays — when he was feeling plummier!

As soon as we were off the phone, I began e-mailing and calling the 30 folks who were planning to come tomorrow.  I do hope I got them all!  Everyone I talked to was amazingly sympathetic — wishing Randall and his musical companions — wife Susan and friend Clint Dye — well and hoping that we could reschedule at a later date.

Thank you all for your understanding.  And if, perchance, you know of anyone planning to come who didn’t get the word, PLEASE let them know!   This is not the hostesses worst nightmare, I’m sure… but it could be close!

Well, that’s one way to gatecrash!

Sunday, March 19th, 2023

Cinderella behaving properly  in the Living Room.

Gradually, I am “catching up” with musician friends and offering them time and space for a House Concert.  The worst years of Covid slowed things way down — actually to a screeching halt.  In the fall I began tentatively with limited audience numbers, lots of cautionary suggestions to keep us all healthy.Slowly we are finding our way back to normalcy.

Today as I was getting things spiffed up in last minute readiness for Fred Carter’s appearance, I felt that the library was still exhibiting a few crumbs from our Friday Night Gathering.  So, I asked Cinderella Roomba if she would give the carpet a once-over.  Off she went and I heard her from afar, making everything neat and tidy.  And then… silence.

Her app on my phone said she was stuck,  I know exactly what that means when she’s in the library.  She goes under the couch (though I’ve tried to explain that who cares about UNDER the couch!) and then tries to get out at one end or another where the space between couch and carpet is just too tight.

Does she back up and return the way she came in?  Of course not.  She just keeps inching forward, wedging herself ever more snugly so she is just peeping out.  Just a little.  And totally stopped.  Unfortunately, I’m not strong enough to lift the couch with one hand and grab her with the other… so, whoever arrives first will be asked to help.

Sydney and Fred – At Concert’s End!

Or, we could just leave her there to hear the music.  She’s out of the way and probably won’t even be noticed.  But it’s really not fair to all those who have brought their potluck dish and contributed to the donation box and joined in the applause and ambiance of it all.  And what about other roombas that might want to come?  Not fair at all, Cinderella!

And really annoying!

Laughing Along With Judy Eron!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Judy Eron — Singer, Songwriter, Author, and More!

This afternoon I’m going plum-picking with Judy Eron.  Or maybe I’ll get to compete with her to become a Rodeo Queen. And perhaps, too, I can share in her excitement over her first social security check and help her find her yodel!

You can join in these adventures, too, at the Peninsula Art Center from 4:00 to 6:00 this afternoon.  That’s when Judy will be center stage, playing and singing some of her own songs.  I’m not sure which ones — she’s written over 500 in her long career!   I hope there are some of my favorites, but I’ve found with Judy that each “new” song of hers I hear becomes my new favorite… so no worries!

And, you might think from my use of the word “career” that Judy has been a full-time musician all these years. Well… sort of.  But she is also a clinical social worker (which sounds almost as impressive) and, an author — of What Goes Up. . .Surviving the Manic Episode of a Loved One (2005).

Judy Eron – From Her FB Page

Perhaps, most impressive of all, to me, is that she lived and worked in Nashville for twenty years!  Nashville!  Rubbing elbows and writing songs for all those country singers we know and love!  She has also recorded two LPs, has written musical theater and has had two musicals produced — in Vermont and Nashville.  Wow!

Judy tells me that she may call on her friends Charlie Watkins and Janet Clark to do a few numbers with her today — the three of them make up three-fourths of Double J and the Boys.  But, mostly, this afternoon will be all Judy.  As she told me, “This is my once-a-year concert of all my own songs.”

I can scarcely wait!  I hope the Peninsula Arts Center tent is full to bursting — have you called to reserve a spot? — and that Long Beach reverberates with Judy’s enthusiasm and rollicking music!

Won’t you join me tomorrow on KMUN?

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

Larry Murante who made Mrs. Crouch famous in song!

And Larry Murante, too!  We’ll be on Carol Newman’s “ARTS Live and Local” show — although we won’t be exactly “live.”  You’ll hear Larry singing “The Ballad of Mrs. Crouch” through the magic of recorded sound* and Carol and I will be coming to you via a telephone conversation — me in Oysterville and Carol in her studio at KMUN Coast Community Radio — tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at 91.9 FM on your radio dial.
(*A note just in from Carol makes me think that Larry, too, will be singing “live” from his place in Seattle and not via recording at all!  Stay tuned, as they say…)

Sydney at home in the erstwhile Parsonage.

It all sounds like smoke and mirrors to me, but when you think of the subject matter — ghosts! — the magic of electromagnetic signals and transmitters and receivers seem one hundred percent  appropriate.  Carol told me she wants to talk about Mrs. Crouch and about my “new” book (out last June), Historic Haunts of the  Long Beach Peninsula!  “After all, Halloween is almost here,” she said.

Carol Newman, Host of “ARTS Live and Local”

I hope to talk about the Reverend Crouch as well as about his young wife, Sarah, who drowned so mysteriously in the Willapa River back in 1893.  Was it an unfortunate accident?  Or did her husband do her in?  He lived for almost a half-century longer than she did and led quite a newsworthy life, as it turned out.  Thanks to the ever-increasing digitization of public documents and historic newspapers, much information has come to light in recent years concerning Josiah Crouch — much of which I reveal in Historic Haunts.

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

Since Crouch never was brought to trial here in Pacific County, we can only speculate what conclusions an 1893 jury of his peers would have reached.  But, given the information about his shenanigans during the next four decades, what conclusions might be reached today?  What do my readers think, I wonder.  No one has said… yet.  But several folks have asked if he, also, haunts this house.  Or… is it only Mrs. Crouch?  Perhaps more clues will come up tomorrow on ARTS Live and Local!  Tune in and see what you think!



7:00 Nov. 28th:

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

The Oyster Crackers in Red — Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth, 2018

The Peninsula’s very own Oyster Crackers —  Bette Lu Krause, Rita Smith, and Cryst’l Mack — will arrive here this evening in a live stream performance from the stage at Longview’s  Columbia Theatre!  We can enjoy them from the comfort of our own homes via the magic of cyberspace!  They are part of a series called, “Artists in Our Midst” shot at the Columbia Theatre with the conviction that “if you can’t come to the theatre, the theatre will come to you!”

Recorded some months ago, “We did all of our favorites,” Bette Lu told me recently.  She was non-specific but I truly hope that my own favorite,  “Bring Me Li’l Water, Sylvie” (by Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter) is included.  And, just in case, I’ll have my handkerchief ready.

The Oyster Crackers – a Tucker Wachsmuth Photo, 2018

It’s not the only one of their songs that makes me teary, however.  You know, those unbidden tears that come  — not from joy, exactly, and certainly not from pain.  Probably from something akin to nostalgia and almost always triggered by music.  I’d call them “old lady tears” but I know for a fact that they are not confined to age or gender.

I’ve said it before and, no doubt will say it again:  The Oyster Crackers are an absolute pleasure to listen to.  Their voices gently glide and spiral around one another, carrying the listener to places of possibilities and contentment.  They are polished, professional, and profound!   And their performances always bring me a deep feeling of peace.  I can’t think of a better beginning to this Covid-plagued 2020 Holiday Season!



What’s in a name?

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

Randal’s New Album – 2020

Nyel and I were both blessed with difficult names.  Difficult to remember and, apparently, in Nyel’s case, difficult to pronounce.  And then, of course is the spelling thing.  Sydney, Sidney, Cydnee, Cidne — more variations than you can sharpen a pencil for.  Nyel is often Neil or (go figure!) Niel, or Nyal or Niles or Nils.

So when Randal Bays sent us his newly released CD, Up The West, listing the twelfth track as starting with “Nyel the Cannoneer,” I for one was pleased.  It’s a jig and Randal had debuted it at Vespers a couple of years ago — and here it is, published!  And even spelled correctly!  Yay!

Which, of course, brings us to our last name, “Stevens with a v” as I often say, even before the question.  It really had never occurred to me before I accepted Nyel, name and all, that people would wonder — ph or v?

When we opened the CD wrapper and read the notes, however, I was surprised to find that our last name might have still another interpretation:
    #12 Nyel the Cannoneer/  My friend Nyel Stevenson lives on the edge of the world down on the coast of Washington state.  He has a cannon that he fires off on special occasions…

Randal Bays, July 2018

Never mind.  I’m pretty sure there’s only one Nyel who has a cannon and lives on the edge of the world.  And there’s only one dear friend named Randal who could compose a jig especially for Nyel.  Randal, we love you no matter what you call us!  And I’d be hard pressed to say that about anybody else!


Happy Birthday Aaron English!

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Checking Connections

Remember that old song, “If I’d know you were coming, I’d have baked a cake…”?  Well, we actually did know Aaron was coming, but what we didn’t know was that yesterday was his birthday!  Luckily, Nyel had baked chocolate chip cookies which actually made it easier because Aaron was back on the road with a bagful in nothing flat.  Or so it seemed.

He was here to pick up a keyboard and its various accoutrements which were donated to his charity by Charlotte and Joe Paliani last July.  At that time, Aaron was here for a House Concert and, though he gladly accepted the keyboard, when push came to shove the next morning… he couldn’t fit it into his rental car.  “You can store it all here,” I said.  “No problem.”

Aaron in East Africa

The charity, the International Music Project, had celebrated its fourth “birthday” shortly before Aaron’s appearance here.  According to his website:  In May 2015 I flew to East Africa with luggage full of donated instruments & the beginnings of a plan. Since that day, my charity has been able to support music programs for youth in orphanages, refugee camps, HIV/AIDS resource centers, & low-income communities in Uganda, Burma, Kenya & the U.S.A.  Thanks to all who have donated musical instruments to the programs, or funds for teachers’ salaries.

Charlotte and Joe’s donation was fabulous but, as the months went by, I wondered if that keyboard, its stand, the piano bench and big box of music would ever get to its intended destination or if it would all live in our back forty for good. I shouldn’t have worried…  It was great to see Aaron, hear about how his ‘new life’ in Nashville is going and about his two upcoming (return) European tours planned for 2020.  He, himself, is a keyboardist and, having wrestled with with “The Donation in The Back Room” for five months, I was more acutely aware of the logistics that might be involved in his European tours.

Aaron English In Concert“Actually, I don’t take an instrument with me,” was the reply.  “I have keyboards stashed in…” and he named at least four European cities where friends are storing instruments for him.  Who knew?  “It’s easier that way,” he said.  “And cheaper in the long run.”  Oh my!  And the rest of us think that we have luggage concerns when we travel??  No so much.

It was in passing that he mentioned it was his birthday.  The 46th.  I was sorry we hadn’t known.  Maybe we could have pulled off a small House Concert…  But, as it was, he was on the road shortly after loading up his car.  He had a concert at a church in Bremerton early this morning…  Wow!  As usual, I’m full of admiration for touring musicians!

I’m counting on you, Bill Svendsen!

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Bill Svendsen

Tomorrow, Bill Svendson (who, with his wife Sue, founded the Long Beach Peninsula Acoustic Music Foundation and operates the Peninsula Performing Arts Center) is going to talk at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.  I am SO looking forward to it!  I’m hoping to fill in a lot of gaps in my musical education.  No pressure, Bill.

His subject is “How To Hear The Music of Our Fathers” and is a response to a question from Diane Buttrell.  Diane is organizer of the very popular  Oysterville Town Hall Lecture Series and this fall’s offerings focus on “The Stories and Songs of Our Fathers.”  The question she posed to Bill:  “How can I tell what genre I’m listening to?  Is it Country or Western, Blues or Slow Jazz?  Or maybe Fusion?”

In answer, Bill promises to take us on a tour of American music, beginning with the immigrant populations who brought their native music with them.  How it changed and merged and was labeled will be the subject of his talk tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m.  At least, I hope so.

Which Genre?

Like Diane, I feel that my music education is sorely lacking.  I know far more about the visual arts than I do about musical genres.  Diane, at least, plays and sings.  I grew up in a family that almost prided itself on being musically inept.  (Truly!)  I remember going to the Boston Pops and to the New York Philharmonic Symphony when I was twelve.  And I saw a fair amount of musical theater in San Francisco when I was growing up.

But, except for forty-five minutes a week during the first semester of sixth grade when we all went to the auditorium for “Music Appreciation,” that was about it.  I’ve acquired more musical knowledge from the musicians at our House Concerts over the past twenty years than I ever learned elsewhere.  Even the much-touted History of Western Civilization course at Stanford had far more to say about visual art genres than about music.

Schoolhouse Clock

It’s not that I’m expecting Bill to fill in all the gaps.  But I do hope I have a better understanding of what I’m listening to after tomorrow.  Plus, did I say…  he’ll be illustrating some of his information by playing his guitar!  Yay!  See you there.

Easier Sung Than Done

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Larry Murante

Larry Murante performed at the PAC (Peninsula Performing Arts Center) in Long Beach last night to a respectful, attentive audience.  Mostly he sang his own compositions, any one of which I could readily listen to over and over again — and have!

Larry’s songs aren’t exactly what I’d call ‘easy’ listening.  Not because of the music, mind you.  His melodies are catchy, his rhythms upbeat, his delivery a combination of cheerful, ironic, and always always always thought-provoking.  And they stick with you.  They cause you to think and to evaluate and to resolve.

This morning when the alarm woke me to the usual pitchy black of late October, his “Ready for the Dark” popped into my head and will no doubt be with me for a while.  When days are short and nights are longer, you gotta get ready for the dark…  

Larry Murante

Those long nights are already here.  But it’s bound to get worse — especially considering the added impact of returning to Standard Time a week from today.  Yep!  On Sunday, November 3rd we’ll get back that hour that we lost last March — a concept that I don’t think I’ve ever completely understood.

Time is time, no matter what the clocks say… isn’t it?  The best I can wrap my head around is that it will (presumably) get light earlier in the morning  and get dark earlier in the evening.  But when you get up at 5:00 a.m. and go to bed with the chickens… who cares?

I think I’m ready for the dark — I’ve got extra logs on the hearth and my honey is nearby.  It’s actually the cold and gloom of winter that I’m not ready for.  But, maybe I can segue my thoughts into another favorite by Larry,  “Point of Entry” —  …If you give the world outside a point of entry, it’ll give back to you…  

And, after all. if Daylight Savings Time is soon to be over, can the Winter Solstice and shorter days be far behind?  Thanks, Larry, for all that positive energy and for your compassionate observations about this tired old world!  You are the best!


Stop! Look! Listen! Saturday 10:00-4:00!

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

2019 Music in the Gardens Ticket

Saturday, July 13th is coming right up.  Do you have your Music in the Gardens tickets?  Have you planned your route?  They say that this year you must BE at a garden at the stroke of ten a.m. if you are to visit all seven gardens before the four p.m. closing.

It sounds simple enough.  Start at one end; go to the other.  But wait!  Don’t forget to factor in the musicians.  And if you have a favorite one (or two or six) that will take you some additional factoring.  And maybe a bit of calculus or even trigonometry.

For one thing, not all the musicians play all day.  And, in most cases, each garden hosts just one  musician (or group)..  But not always.  The schedule looks like this:

Garden One – Dave Drury 9:45 am. to 12:45 with two breaks on the half hour.
Tom Trudell will set up and begin “about” 12:45 until “at least” 3:30 — maybe
doing a couple of tunes with Dave.  And… student musician Tristan Trudell will be playing part of the time as well.

Garden Two — Two groups, Tanz (Judy Eron and Charlie Watkins) will play from 10 until 12.   Sea Strings (Bill and Janet Clark) will play from 12:30 or 1:00 to 2:30 or 3:00.  (Got that?)  In between (from 12 to 12:30 or 1:00) Janet and Judy will perform Beatles songs.
And later, guitarist Tim Bunney, a friend of the homeowner/gardener will play to round out the day.

Well… you see what I mean.  In those two gardens alone, it is a constantly changing, moveable, musical feast!  The other five gardens appear to be somewhat more straightforward:

Guitarist Brian O’Connor

Garden Three – Brian O’Connor, all day with breaks from time to time

Garden Four – Geoerge Coleman, 11:00 – 2:00

Garden Five – Tom Grant, 11:00 – 2:00

Garden Six – Terry Robb, 1:00 – 4:00

Garden Seven – Jean-Pierre and Al Perez, 1:00 – 4:00

Oh yes… the gardens!  If you have your tickets, you have a description and, most importantly, the location of each of the seven.  Super necessary to plan your day.  I can give you a bit of a hint — the names of the gardeners for each of the numbers above.  #1 – Diane and Fred Marshall; #2 – Dawna and Terry Hart; #3 – Shelley Pollock and Jeff Stevens; #4 – Barbara and Eugene Norcross-Renner;  #5 – Dave and Linda King; #6 – Deb Howard; #7 – John Stephens and Steve McCormick.

The Love Shack 

Only a few pieces are still missing — addresses and a map!  Both are available on your ticket which, if ordered online or by phone, can be picked up at the English Nursery in Seaview, the Basketcase Greenhouse in Long Beach, or the Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park.  Each venue still has tickets available for sale, as well — a $20 bargain!