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

Yes. Lately we’ve been in “lockdown mode.” I decided to learn how to navigate and play a mini-Moog. It kind of spawned a “concept EP.”

Jammer’s solo mini-Moog project: Faux Fu – “moments/x&y.”

“… you are less inclined now to move counter to the momentum of things.” Wm. Gibson – “All Tomorrow’s Parties”

whitewolfsonicprincess · Faux Fu – moments/x&y

15 minutes of music. 4 variations on a theme. Instrumental, ambient, solo mini-Moog. Waves, pulses, vibrations and x&y calibrations. No beats, no drums, no clix.

Just like everyone else, I have been “sheltering in place.” Trying not to go crazy. This music was created in the shadow of the plague. Dreaming of better days. – Jammer

I usually wear bandanas around my head, helps corral my mop of hair, but new times, call for new fashions. Not a surgical-grade mask, but the bandana is a reminder that I shouldn’t “touch my face.”

Married to nature. Mother Nature has tapped us all on the shoulder, to remind us that really, no doubt about it, she rules; we are from Nature, and to Nature we shall return.

The feather in my cap is a gift from the little cockatiel we live with that we affectionately call Lonely Dragon. She is a sweet little being, except when she is in her egg-laying phase. When she kicks into full-dragon-mode, she defends her shiny new eggs with every fiber of her feathered-being, beak and claw.

Thinking of our Marriage to Nature makes me think of William Blake’s “Marriage of Heaven & Hell.”

Blake explains that…

“Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence. From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.”

So, yes, being a Human Being means embodying, both Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell. We are Body and Spirit. Spirit attached to Body. Body inhabited by Spirit. At least that’s how if feels to this Human Being. We are the Marriage of Heaven and Hell…

It’s a thorny, complicated thing… life…

The a.m. soundtrack – The Decembrists’ “The Crane Wife.”  (2006). Supposedly based on a Japanese folk tale. Who knew?! A tale of a man, married to a crane. He lives off the fruit of her labor. Of course, he abuses the situation, his greed becomes a destructive force; The Crane Wife suffers and finally flees, never to return. Yes, well it’s a nicely constructed album. Colin Meloy is an eloquent, and literary songwriter. The recording is musical, whimsical, well-played. For some reason it all sounds a bit nautical to me. There are elements of “prog” rock. Surprisingly, a very clean-sounding production. Unlike any other record we own. Unique.  Yes, and well, married to Nature, indeed… – Jammer

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

“Keep Calm, Carry On” – “Commonly featured on posters, clothing, novelty items, and internet memes, keep calm and carry on is a popular slogan calling for persistence in the face of challenge. It was first used on a British propaganda poster during World War II but now enjoys general currency as an expression of resilience.”

Right. You know, that “stiff upper lip” idea might come in handy right about now.

Latest word is this coronavirus is gonna alter our lives for a long time. Social Distancing. Isolation. Quarantine. Lockdown. For many of us, our lives are going to get very small and circumscribed.

The Federal Reserve is printing up money. Word is they will be flooding the economic system with “Trillions of Dollars.” A reminder that money is a fungible, abstract thing that we all live and die by. It’s not “real,” or only as real as we imagine it to be. The Fed can just conjure up money. Add a bunch of 0’s to a sum. Pretty much creating something out of thin air. Something from nothing?! Who ever said it couldn’t be done?

Personally, I think the hardest cut is no live shows for our band for the foreseeable future. It is something that we lived for, a driving imperative. Every day. Where do we play next, when is the next show, what songs will we do, I wonder who will show up?

All that has vanished. Sometimes the show just won’t go on. You find out pretty quickly what is essential, and what is not essential. The essential list is pretty compact: survive, stay well, eat, sleep, dream, keep yourself occupied.

What’s important? Breathe.

The a.m. soundtrack – Dead Can Dance’s “Aion” (1990). Medieval. The album cover is a detail from a painting by Hieronymous Bosch. Sets the tone.  Music from the 14th, 16th & 17th century.  Lisa Gerrard’s voice is an incredibly beautiful, expressive instrument. The music is otherworldly, sacred. It’s not r&r. Instruments include the hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, an array of percussion instruments, strings, keyboards. Some of these songs sound absolutely sacred to my ears. You think of plague, and dark times, and voices, naked, human voices reaching up to the heavens, beseeching, praying, wondering. Life, it is a mystery. – Jammer

Living in the shadow of the coronavirus…

We cancelled our March 14 show. It was a hard, but necessary thing to do. Our band is so much about spreading positive vibes, we couldn’t risk it. Seemed to be a smart, safe idea. “Social-Distancing” in action.

We are laying low. Trying to stay safe. Listening to music, streaming Netflix. Our plan is to work up some new songs in this time of strangeness.

I am reading William Gibson’s “All Tomorrow Parties.” I came across this line thinking it was a message sent directly to me: “… You are less inclined now to move counter to the momentum of things.”

Right. Another way of saying, “Go with the flow.”

There was also this gem: “Don’t anticipate outcome… await the unfolding of events. Remain in the moment.”

Words of wisdom. We are keeping our BOSE music player in the kitchen supplied with plenty of those little silver discs (this is the golden age of CDs.) The Lovely Carla and I both love to play DJ.

The last few days it’s been: Billie Holiday (“Verve 12 Jazz Masters”), Chet Baker (“Let’s Get Lost”), Shy Ben Tzur/Jonny Greenwood/The Rajasthan Express (“Junun”), Wilco (“A Ghost is Born”), The Rolling Stones (“Aftermath”), Arcade Fire (“The Suburbs”), John Cale (“Eat/Kiss Music for the Films of Andy Warhol”), Green Day (“American Idiot”), Pink Floyd (“Animals” & “Wish You Were Here”), The National (“I Am Easy To Find”), Roger Waters (“Is This the Life We Really Want?”), Drive By Truckers (“American Band”), Sigur Ros (“Takk”), D’Angelo (“Black Messiah”), Peter Gabriel (“So”), Fleetwood Mac (“Tusk”), The Rolling Stones (“Sticky Fingers”).

Powerful, healing vibes. Medicine for our ears, our hearts, our heads, our souls. Keep safe. Wash your hands. Let’s all dream of better days. – Jammer

This morning, I was telling the Lovely Carla about the book I’ve been reading. She said, “Why don’t you write a r&r diary post about it?” Okay. Here we go…

I’m pretty confident when I say you won’t hear any Reggae influences in whitewolfsonicprincess’ music. We may often have a bit of a groove, or rhythm thing going, but it’s pretty much, decidedly not, Reggae.

At the same, I’m also pretty confident when I say the spirit of Bob Marley and his music, is very much embedded and embodied in the way the Lovely Carla and I approach our music and song-writing. Marley’s example of writing socially-conscious, spirit & soul-based music is very much part of our musical DNA.

What are we saying?” Is a burning question that is always very much top of mind for us.

Marley was an amazing boundary-crosser, part black, part white, from one the toughest, poorest neighborhoods on the planet. A Rastafarian from a majority-Christian nation. Blazingly original. Amazingly, improbably, he became a global, musical Superstar.

We own all of the Bob Marley & the Wailers records from “Catch a Fire” (1973) – “Confrontation” (1983). We still play these records all these many years later. These albums and grooves never grow old. They are still, and always, inspiring & relevant.

Anyway, I love to read. It’s sort of a superpower. The human imagination too, it’s a superpower we can all call upon. Time-traveling, head-tripping. Just a page away.

The last week or so, I have been living in Jamaica 1976. Reading Marlon James’ fabulous novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” (2014). I am nearly 200 pages into the novel (total pages 688), and already, I am hoping it never ends. The story is told by 75 different characters. Amazing book. “The Singer” (Bob Marley) and his music hovers over the whole thing, the early action all revolves around him too.

Bob Marley. He still seems alive as you or I. Alive in the grooves for sure.

Jammer

Tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth right now!
Come on and tell the children the truth

Bob Marley – Babylon System