“Preacher man, don’t tell me, Heaven is under the earth, I know you don’t know, What life is really worth, It’s not all that glitters is gold, Alf the story has never been told, So now you see the light, eh Stand up for your rights, come on”Bob Marley

“The Future is Unwritten.”Joe Strummer

7 days away from the most consequential election in our lifetimes. For sure…

Yes. We are doing our best to conjure up a New Day, and Reclaim a New American Dream. “Stand up for Your Rights.” VOTE. Remember Election Day is Nov. 3rd. Dare we say it? Let’s elect Joe & Kamala. The alternative is too gruesome and retrograde to contemplate. – Jammer

Dylan: “Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters…”

This is a still from video shot of whitewolfsonicprincess playing on the sidewalk with parking meters. So fun. The Lovely Carla Hayden afterwards said to me:“I thought maybe WWSP was on life support, but we sounded good, people cheered, we made $, and we made a new fan who said hearing us today was a gift, AND we sold a CD.” Nothing better than that!

The pandemic has changed everything. Especially in our R&R life.  Our band used to play some pretty nice clubs, to some pretty good-sized crowds. No more. Of course, it’s not unique to us. Everyone in the R&R firmament has been knocked down by that nasty virus, Covid-19. No shows. No grand tours. No crowds. No intimate interactions.

So what to do? We have learned that over time that “playing is the thing.” Still. Always. Even if you feel tired, not-into-it, dragging, reluctant, unsure, sort of wanting to cancel; actually getting together and playing with other musicians is always an amazing kick, a re-vitalizer, a savior, a soulful, and life-affirming thing.

So 2020 has been about playing in the park. Outside, masked, distant, in a large circle. Playing to the trees, the sky, the birds and bees. Sometimes passing strangers too.

Also we have played on the street, literally, “taking it to the streets.” We filled a cart with our gear and schlepped down the street to a record store in our neighborhood yesterday. A little gypsy-caravan. I mean, we probably looked like homeless people carting our stuff around the hood. Making the effort.

We have played music on the sidewalk 3 times this year in honor of the slowly unfolding, 3-part Record Store Day Pandemic-Style.  There is something so real about playing a city street: buses, cars, people, dogs, vinyl-enthusiasts, lurkers and gawkers, folks stopping by for a listen, kids and dogs sitting mesmerized at our sounds and vibrations. Noisy. Distracting. Bad acoustics. Nothing special. Just folks playing music to the street.

It’s a bit humbling. But essential too. No airs, no ego. Just setting up on a cold, dirty avenue and playing music. There is something so empowering about being able to perform on the street, and to really embody it. There were 4 of us yesterday. It was windy, chilly, our fingers getting a bit stiff from the low temps. We gave it our all, put all our energy into it, heart, head, soul. And it felt amazing. 

Don’t need a big stage, or a big audience. Just kicking it in the street. In some ways maybe even more gratifying. To be able to get to some “transcendence” in the most humble, meager and homely way. It was great. Really. Playing in the raw elements. Nothing better. Satisfying. Gratifying. Playing really is the thing.Jammer

Video Still: Don Dennis

Outside the Civic Center, post-Vote…

The Lovely Carla Hayden and I biked to the Civic Center, and exercised our patriotic duty today. Dreaming of better days for this fragile Democracy. So happy to VOTE for Joe & Kamala. Let’s reclaim the American Dream!

There is something so r&r about Voting. It’s a small thing, but, really, just like every little thing we do, it has major consequences. Every breath, every step, every note & every vote counts.

Our little American experiment in Democracy only works if we all participate: pay attention, stick to the facts, engage fully; heart, head & soul.

We celebrated our jaunt to the Civic Center afterwards with a spaghetti lunch, and then, Carla retired to the kitchen to work on her latest painting, listening to Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, while I put my headphones on, sprawled across the couch, and listened to Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti.”

Such a lovely, sonic, dichotomy… democracy in action… – Jammer

Shows have been few and far between in Pandemic Year 2020. We have played out a handful of times. Yesterday, we played a set in our backyard. A last minute, “pop-up” show. A handful of folks came out to vibe with us. The Cops came too. Maybe too many minor chords?

Our good friend and fellow musician Tony Vick took this photo. He included this caption: “1968, October 10th. Close to Hyde Park, a swinging London back yard…”

It does sometimes feel like WWSP exists in another time and place. An alternate dimension. We are “out of time,” but at the same time, we are here; present, alive, aware and awake to the moment…

It felt so good to play. Nothing better. Dreaming of better days ahead. – Jammer

Photo by Tony Vick

We haven’t played any r&r shows lately. Still in “lockdown” mode. All of our playing has been either in the kitchen, or if we are playing with bandmates, in the great outdoors. Quick-hit get togethers. A few musicians, masked, physically-distant, unplugged. Funny. Some of our natural anti-social tendencies are actually now survival strategies.

There is something so elemental about playing outdoors. A totally pure, totally human, acoustic performance. Guitar, shakers, voices, raw, unfiltered. No microphones, no amps, no electricity, except the electricity running through the cells of our bodies.

The essence. Pure performance. Probably goes all the way back to cave-man/cave-woman days.

WWSP trio nearly got “busted” on July 25 for playing “folk-rock” on the porch at Dawes House. The caretaker lady told us we were on “private property” and we had to move. WTF. I mean, what was the “crime?” Corrupting nature with our WWSP folky vibes?

We will not backdown.

We will be back, to Dawes, and hopefully, a park near you too. Who knows? There is something so rewarding about playing music to the trees, the grasses, the wind, the sky, the sun, the squirrels, rabbits, cicadas, and oh yeah, the passing strangers. No money will exchange hands, but really, we have never been in it for the money. I mean, sure, money is nice, but really, playing is the thing. – Jammer

Playing music to a camera doesn’t do it. It’s really does need to be live, in the moment. Yesterday we had the chance to meet in the little “village green,” wearing masks, six-feet apart, social-distancing, sitting under shady trees, with a big, blue sky looming overhead. We played some brand-new songs. Two guitars, a violin, voices, percussion. It was so fun, thrilling, satisfying, life-affirming. Soul work.

Our last rock show was at Martyrs’ in January 2020. This was our first get-together since the lockdown. 4/7ths of our band making music together. Music has been the savior in this time of pandemic, of trauma, toxic leadership and social unrest. Creating, composing, playing, listening, thinking, dreaming, music.

The hardest cut has been not being able to make music with our band. We can play at home, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, one guitar, two voices, a bit of percussion. But we truly, madly, deeply miss playing music with our wonderful band of musicians. There is nothing quite like sitting in a circle, a group of musicians, listening, communicating, creating new music together.

The best kind of soul work imaginable.

The a.m soundtrack – Kings Go Forth – “The Outsiders are Back” – (2010). Sounds like a throw-back to another era. Late 60’s or early 70’s soul. A ten-piece band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sounds like it was recorded on tape, vintage analog gear, all the musicians in the room together, making it happen, in the moment. Maybe “old-fashioned,” but it’s the good stuff, the right stuff, the soul stuff, done supremely well. I “discovered” this one via Greg Kot of Sound Opinions. I look to music “critics” not so much to hear their “criticism,” but to hear what they may be enthused about. This record and is a great, rare find. A fabulous band and sound. – Jammer

Aerial Photo: Mary Mrugalski

The Lovely Carla and I are taking shelter at home. “Social-Distancing” is the order of the day. The highlight of every day is pretty simple: socially-distant walks on the lakefront. It is always invigorating to walk to the lake and watch the waves crashing in. Every day the lake is different. Sometimes smooth as glass, sometimes a churning, raging beast. It’s everything in between too.

Turns out Spring is happening all around us. Green shoots coming up thru black dirt, buds on the trees, birds busy doing their busy birdy things. Each day, so far, we have spent time basking in the healing rays of the sun.

Everything seems normal out in nature. Still, we know the virus is out there. Most folks around here are doing an excellent job of distancing themselves. Lots of knowing glances and nods of the head from folks passing by from a distance. Everyone is being serious and responsible.

At home, it’s all about music. Playing music in the kitchen, two voices, an acoustic guitar, various shakers and bells. Playing old songs, and new songs. It’s been super-gratifying.

We also of course are playing all kinds of CDs on the BOSE Music System. Positive Vibes flowing thru the air.

We do tune into the radio once in awhile to catch the latest news. We have been listening to our Governor give his daily Coronavirus Update. We voted for Pritzker. He seemed light-years better than the alternative, but frankly we didn’t have high hopes for him and his term in office.

We have been surprised at how good Pritzker has been so far in this crisis. He seems in command of the situation, listening to the experts & scientists. He is not making crazy promises. He is taking responsibility, he has marshaled forces to try to tackle the problem. He comes across as a common-sense problem solver. He has been a reassuring voice. Surprising. Who knew he would rise to the occasion? Who knew someone in power would show compassion and care? Pritzker: “You should not have to choose between your life and your livelihood.” Makes sense. Life comes first.

The a.m. soundtrack – The Zombies’ “Odessey & Oracle”  (1968). Recorded at Abbey Road and Olympic studios in 1967. Exuberant, British Psychedelia. A joyful blast of catchy, perfectly-realized Pop. Gorgeous harmonies. Fabulous musicianship. It stands up to anything else from that era. The band dissolved when the record was released and the first two singles sunk without a trace. “To this day it remains a word-of-mouth obscurity.” Later  the single “Time of the Season” became a major hit. Still this record is much more than one single. Sounds so fresh. A breath of fresh air. A major work that can go toe to toe with albums from The Beatles and Pink Floyd released around the same time. Zombies! During the Apocalypse! Really. No kidding! – Jammer

The Revolution is Here. NOW!

It came to us via a nasty viral entity. The virus went viral, and everything changed.  One of my favorite maxims: “A Change of Consciousness Can Happen in An Instant.” Turns out that when folks realized that a nasty viral entity was now everywhere on our little spinning blue planet, a Change of Consciousness was instantly the coin of the realm.

What did the new Revolution teach us?

Borders and walls are meaningless. Nations and Governments are only valid and relevant if they can take care of people! Guns, ammo, bullets are totally irrelevant.

Race & class are beside the point. The color of your skin is irrelevant. Your investment portfolio is irrelevant and shrinking.

Biology and Science are pushed to the forefront. Turns out facts, data, & reality really do count. Political spin, lies, propaganda, disinformation evaporate in the face of the cold hard reality of disease.

We are (as the Dalai Lama always told us), Human Beings First. We are all the same. We are all connected, via invisible strings. We are all responsible to each other. We all have a responsibility to care for ourselves, for our planet, our environment, and for each other.

Turns out Capitalism is a figment of our imaginations. We really can print up money and give it to everyone. No one need go without, no one need be left behind, no one need go hungry, no one need to lack a safe place to shelter. No one need be denied quality healthcare. 

We are not in a competition with each other, we are engaged in a vast interdependent cooperation agreement with each other.

We are all safe and healthy if and when we are all safe and healthy.

Most of us are “non-essential personnel.” Maybe only essential to ourselves and our loved ones.

Essential Personnel = First-responders, Nurses, Doctors, Care-givers, Teachers, Health-Care workers, Scientists. These are the essential ones. These are the ones we turn to for help, for counsel, for care.

We can live with less, and in a more sustainable way. We can live more responsibly. Instead of mindless consumption, mindful contemplation.

THE REVOLUTION IS HERE. NOW.

The a.m. soundtrack – King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King.”  I guess I have “progressive” politics on my mind. Makes me think of the great “progressive” rock of King Crimson. The brain-child of Robert Fripp, one of the great British guitarists. This record takes you to another land, far away. Exquisite musicianship; the players venture into the furthest reaches of virtuosity. The opening track gets a bit frenetic, & “schizoid, the rest of the album sort of washes over you with softer, mellower vibes. Greg Lake has such a fabulous voice; it’s all rounded & grounded tones. “I talk to the wind…” Excellent record. As they say, “a classic.” Jammer

Cover Art by Raymond Pettibon

Biology. It is a Hard Master.

Cells. Dividing. Multiplying. RNA. DNA. Enzymes. Proteins. Hostile Viral Entities.

We sometimes forget, or try to forget where we came from. Sperm and Egg meet. There is a process. A Trajectory of Life. It is all beyond our control. We emerge from the process, and are carried along by the process.

Born. Live. Die. Life & Death; two sides of the same coin. The Coin of the Realm.

We sometimes take good health for granted: These eyes, these ears, these limbs, these organs, all our fingers and toes, our beloved brains, all working together; an elaborate, collaborative team.

We think we are the world. We reflect and mirror the world. Everything we can imagine, everything we experience,  everything that we do, or don’t do, fills up our days.

Biology. It is a hard master.

The a.m. soundtrack – Black Flag’s “The Process of Weeding Out.” (1985). Pretty sure I purchased this CD in the late 80’s because of the cover. That horned-being behind the microscope piqued my curiosity. The word “Instrumental” on the cover was intriguing & appealing too. I had no idea what to expect. It is a hard, stripped down sound. Guitar, bass, drums. No frills. Basically an EP: 26 minutes, 28 seconds. Avant garde jazzy, crossed with elemental r&r fire. I mean, I am just grasping for words. Hard, spiky, wiry, a bit elastic. It is unlike any other record. Militant. Black Flag. A hard master too. – Jammer

The global pandemic. It dominates the news. It is everywhere. Reports this morning tell us that Covid-19 is in our town, it’s in D.C., it’s in every state of the Union. It is already in a theater near you.

It is definitely a blockbuster. An unwelcome blockbuster.  Yesterday afternoon we listened to a Global Pandemic Expert talking on the radio. She was totally pissed off, and alarmed, and alarming. I won’t repeat her dire warnings, but let’s just say they were extremely, extremely dire. I am not one for panicking, but a little flame of panic rose up in my being.

I think the source of her “pissed-off-ness” is that we all should have been much better prepared for this inevitable event. The experts have known that a global pandemic like this was coming for a long time and we could have, no, scratch that, we should have been well-prepared for it.

We aren’t. And our Toxic Clown President has been pretty clueless and toxic throughout the unfolding crisis. Every time he opens his mouth more stupidity and disinformation pours out. You couldn’t have picked a worse, less qualified, supremely incapable person to be at the head of our government. Yikes. We have a crisis of leadership too.

This morning, what do do? Trying to “act normal.” Find a level of normalcy. What is normal? It’s pretty much an illusion, a bubble, but we are doing our best not to panic, not to go too dark, not to be too discouraged.

We hear on the radio that tonight the Spring Equinox will arrive! Spring is coming! There will be new roots, new flowers, new life. Birds, bees, buds on the trees. Remember to smile, to laugh, to dream.

The morning soundtrack – The Kink’s “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” (1968). So British. Ray Davies at his quirky, graceful, witty best. Ray called it “the most successful ever flop.” It is a magnificent flop.  A brilliant record: “I miss the village green, and all the simple people” – Ray Davies. Yes, a look back to simpler, greener times. Trying to hold onto a grace, intelligence, innocence. Maybe it’s only alive in our hearts and heads. That will have to do. This one makes me smile every time I spin it on the box. – Jammer