In the 1980’s, when I moved to San Francisco, creative souls were everywhere, up and down the city’s hills. Some of them became a permanent part of my life. I’m grateful for time spent with people who love what they do, whatever they do, generous souls who share their talent. I’d like to introduce you to some of of them from time to time.
My friend, Barbara Wetteland, a glorious singer, passed away a few months ago. I miss her awfully. I met her through her husband, Ed, a Bay Area keyboard legend. In the 1980’s I lived on Green Street in San Francisco, a few blocks up from North Beach and I tripped over to Washington Square Bar & Grill (“Washbag” to media folks) so many times a week I ought to be embarrassed about it. Ed played piano there, holding forth from a space that barely contained him. He was a giant of a man with a big booming laugh, a piano-playing genius who could expound on any subject while taking requests, except when he wasn’t in the mood, and then he played what he pleased and didn’t chat.
Ed and Barbara fell in love and began performing together all over the Bay Area. After every gig they drove away from the city lights, returning to their log cabin in Sebastopol.
Barbara was feisty and restless and loved making things, from soup to needlepoint, embroidery to gardening, quilting to songwriting. She created this for me as a table runner, but then she borrowed it back to enter in the Sonoma County Fair. She took home a ribbon and was as proud of that as any song she ever sang.
Sweet B has now joined Eddie, taking their music to another stage. Please do click the links below the pictures and hear The Wettelands.
Ed at Bohemian Grove playing beautiful music under beautiful redwoods.
Barbara (right) and me at Candlestick Park in the 1980’s waiting for Ed to warm up his keyboard out on the pitcher’s mound where the two of them performed the national anthem.
My blogging buddy, Dave Williams and I were rock and roll disc jockeys, proud to be rock jocks through some interesting times, playing the hits and talking about the artists. We call this website The Aging of Aquarius, but it wasn’t just the Summer of Love that turned the music around again. Two major industries, music and broadcasting, have been completely reinvented.
The first board I ran on the air. Turntables!
We told you what you were listening to, using a “talk-up” or what you’d just heard – called a “back-title.” These had to be precise. For a talk-up we watched the second hand and memorized the point where the vocal started, and during those few seconds, it was our job to tell you something about the song or the singer.
I’ve turned over the car radio to the Grand, and she moves around among stations. Radio is not the way she learns about music. No one on the radio says the name of the artist or the song. Sometimes the car’s dashboard screen tells us, but not every time.
Once upon a time, getting onto a radio station’s playlist was the goal and without it, there was no assurance new artists would be heard. I ask the Grand, how do you learn about new music, fall in love with your favorites, know when they have new songs coming out? Friends, she said. Okay, but word of mouth has to start somewhere. Who starts the buzz? And who’s singing that song? I still want to know.
Dave’s still on the air – mornings at KLIF, Dallas – bringing you news and information and friendly wake-up talk. His board looks something like this.
We took down the birdfeeder when a squirrel kept knocking all the seed to the ground. He braced his haunches (if squirrels have those) on the tree above and stretched his acrobatic self down to the feeder. This is our first birdfeeder so we’re learning squirrels know many ways to scam the system and while it’s a funny idea, it’s also a waste of birdseed.
Instead of buying a new squirrel-proof feeder, we kept the one we have. We added wire to drop it down lower. If he figures a way to hang onto that wire and still knock the seed out, I hope he falls on his little squirrel butt.
Birds in the trees can be heard discussing whether it’s worth it to give it another try. I’m waiting here by the window. May not be able to work today.
Thanks, NBC, for featuring The Joneses’ songs, recorded 60 years ago. And thanks A P Bio producers, Seth Myers and Lorne Michaels and the show’s music supervisors. Credit is due also to the team that keeps The Joneses’ music playing. Numero Group, Bankrobber Music, and Secretly Distribution. Two albums are now combined into one package called The Glory Road.
We started watching A P Bio because it’s clever. When the first episode began, we were surprised to hear Mother (Fern Jones) singing her rowdy version of “I Am A Pilgrim And A Stranger.” Click the album cover to hear the song.
The most recent episode featured a duet from my parents’ 1958 album, “The Joneses Sing,” especially poignant because it features Daddy’s hill country tenor on “I Don’t Care What The World May Do.” He didn’t record often. Both songs were a perfect fit for the show – says their daughter, without a lick of prejudice.
Click the album cover below to hear the song.
The contrarian teacher is played by Glenn Howerton, the principal is Patton Oswalt and the classroom is populated with talented, quirky students.
CBS Sunday Morning is my church when I’m not in church. When I hear this trumpet play, wherever I am, I settle in.
There’s news, art and literature and music and lots of things I didn’t know before – and without being saccharine they weave in stories about good people doing good things.
We’re familiar with every note of that opening theme, so we instantly noticed the difference when Wynton Marsalis recorded it. This, quote, right here, about the opening theme, is the kind of background the show offers on any number of subjects.
“The piece spans two octaves of the trumpet’s range. A vinyl recording of a version by Don Smithers, played on an eight-foot baroque trumpet, was used as the theme song for almost 20 years until CBS opted to switch out the vinyl recording with a clearer digital recording performed by Doc Severinsen on a piccolo trumpet.”
Now we can watch as Wynton Marsalis records the new version, complete with his own frills and trills. Click the link to see Wynton at work.
I’ve been fond of old stuff since long before I was old stuff myself. Other people’s furniture and accessories and dishes and even old clothes call to me. I try to avoid chotchkes because shelf space is limited, but I keep an open heart about anything else I might fall in love with.
Even old pieces of metal that fell off some object can be fascinating. Especially old iron that’s rusting. Old wood? Don’t get me started. Favorite thrift shops require a whole day. I have my route. I always have a wish list. A stop for lunch or coffee and on to the next. Three current favorites are Hospice By The Bay “Hodgepodge” stores in San Rafael and Novato and Mt. Carmel Thrift in Mill Valley.
I love ordinary days. There’s a rhythm to them that helps me venture into unknown territory when I have to. Sometimes the new works out, sometimes not, but there’s always the favorite chair, book, coffee, music, supper, TV show, to return to.
I love old lamps and old lampshades. Some of us don’t start out as collectors by intention, but the numbers keep growing and I look around and I dohave a bunch of lamps.
For my friend, Pam, it was an unintentional sofa collection. She had plenty of room in a big flat in Boston’s Back Bay. From there she moved to a Maine farmhouse, and pared down her sofas, but last time I visited, I noticed a lot of chairs.
I recently emerged from a small-table phase. I gave some away and sold some and I don’t miss the tables that left, but I’m unable to say goodbye to lamps.
Old lamps work fine, as long as you know someone who can rewire them. My friend, Itsie, in Mill Valley, at nearly 90 years old had a full workshop on one level of his hillside home and he kept all my treasures in working order.
Itsie re-wired this one
After he passed, one of my favorite old lamps flickered and died. Todd to the rescue. Todd’s a prolific music producer who also knows his way around tools. He sent me to Home Depot in Woodland Hills with a piece of paper specifying what part he needed.
Back in Northern California, I plugged it in and it glows. Todd, you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, being good at stuff like fixing old lamps.
This is a close-up of the one Todd re-wired. She is obviously a lady who doesn’t mind showing her age.
Mercy and Grace are what I hope for each time I begin a new project. Major edits for my book, The Glory Road, are underway. It began as a book, then was adapted for a stage musical, then back to the book . Rewrites are tough. New outline. Cuts. Additions. Multiple pages of notes. Mercy!