I am now on a road trip in my new RV traveling through the southwest
US. As I write this I am sitting in a campground in San Antonio, Texas.
The trip didn’t start out with the intention of being a music trip but
that has sort of changed! (not like I’m complaining, mind you) While I
was in Mexico I ran into an old friend, Chuck Umsted, who is a teacher
at a bilingual school in Sherman, Texas. When I told him I’d be passin’
through Texas, he invited me to come give a concert at his school. Since
my trip took me right through Sherman, I couldn’t say no!
Chuck’s school is a bilingual school or, more accurately, a 50% bilingual
school because only about half of the 450 kids are in the bilingual program.
I played in an outside courtyard on a beautiful day with blue skies stretching
from horizon to horizon. The concert was for the bilingual kids and a
good portion of the 250 showed up to listen. I talked about how music
is a kind of language that musicians speak amongst themselves as well
as with the audience and how speaking more languages allows you to communicate
with more people.
After the concert portion, during which we all spoke Spanish, there was
a question/answer session in English to give the older kids a chance to
practice. I was amazed at the quality of their questions. I’ve sat through
Q&A sessions after concerts by artists like Steve Reich and Pat Metheny
and the questions were, for the most part, fairly banal at best. Here
I had a group of 10 and 11 year olds asking probing questions like “do
you think a lot about your compositions before you write them, or do you
write them on the spur of the moment?” Below are some photos of the
Ok, so they didn’t pay attention every
second… but they really were a wonderful audience! Playing some blues with Chuck Umsted
After my stay in Sherman I moved on south to Fort Worth which is where
my brother and his family live. I got to spend a great week hanging out
with family. However, the coolest project of the week was a recording
that I made with my niece and nephews. I wrote a tune with parts for each
of them – my niece Stephanie (15) plays flute and my two nephews Doug
(12) and Dana (10) play drums and guitar respectively. Once I had the
skeleton of the piece written and loaded into Pro Tools, I had each of
them sneak out to the rv without their folks knowledge and record their
parts. It turned out really well I think. You can listen to it here.
I think that’s all I’m going to put in this newsletter because I don’t
want to make it too long. I’ve actually left out several recent shows and
some new recordings that I’ve done, but I’ll save those for another post.