Photos from California, Spring 2015

Anais and the shell

Out of consideration for their kiddo Casey’s Spring Break, Kat & Cam and Kev & Steph had their weddings within a week of each other. What a beautiful family.

We drove from San Diego to Calaveras County stopping at San Simeon and Lotusland. What a joy to take these five year old cousins on the adventure! I snapped a ton of pictures. Here are a few of my favorites from the set.

Jellydots SXSW 2015

Jellydots SXSW 2015

It was my pleasure to join The Jellydots for a gig at the Pan Am Center on Wednesday. During one of the songs I ran out into the crowd and took some pics of the band.

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NEW SONG + VIDEO: Outside

J Reflection In Blunn Creek

I’m thrilled to present not just a new song but a video to go with it (a new goal of mine for new songs). The song is Outside, which started one day as I sat out in front of my house as a quick shower fell around me.

I started singing: “If I’m not sitting outside then I’m not noticing how the rain is falling on the street…” After a month or two of building and reworking it, here it is.

For the video I found some old public domain footage to go along with my own video of reflections waving in the water. Hopefully it helps to put you in the meditative state that sitting outside, staring at the trees, sky, water can do.

My DC friends will recognize the Cherry Blossoms blooming from what looks like the 70s.

OUTSIDE

If I’m not getting outside then the sun can’t lay its light
like a hand upon my head and bake my spirit bright.
If I’m not getting outside then I can’t open my eyes
past the walls around my mind, and stretch them out upon the sky.
Feel the breeze go still a while, then the rattle of the leaves,
song upon song from the trees, looping layered choruses.

I need the sun upon my face.
I feed my feet upon the ground.
Get me high on air and space.
Surround me with the open sound.

‘Cause if I’m not getting outside then the birds cannot remind me
that the dawn is filled with song and the wildlife goes on.
If I’m not getting outside then the flowers can’t confide
their sensual serenity, the sense of possibility.
Lay upon the lawn with me. Stare up at the sky and see:
There is no philosophy like the branches of a tree.

Mamacita, let’s go talk along the lake,
like we did so long ago, there’s still so much I want to know.
Hija linda, let’s pretend that we just met
for the 1st time in a long time and we fall in love again.

I need the sun upon my face.
I feed my feet upon the ground.
Get me high on air and space.
Surround me with the open sound.

If I’m not getting outside I need to slip out on the sly
sip a cup and simmer down, circulate around the grounds.
If I’m not getting outside then I’m not really alive.
I’m a part of everything, I feel it in my wiring.
Suddenly it starts to rain, hushing me with everything,
quieting my busy brain, I’m nothing but a weathervane.

I need the sun upon my face.
I feed my feet upon the ground.
Get me high on air and space.
Surround me with the open sound.

UT Night At The Trail Of Lights

J and Ralph play the Trail of Lights

Our division helped put on UT’s first year as a participant in Zilker’s Trail of Lights and our work-band, Mixed Bag got a spot on the community stage. It was a fun privilege for Ralph and I to play the event for the first time that we’d even made it to the Trail.

Maile, Anais and I walked the trail afterwards, spinning under the Christmas tree and riding the ferris wheel at the end. Perfect weather, wonderful experience, magic night. Here are two of the songs from our set on the community stage.

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Santa Fe Photos

Peacock in Santa Fe

Maile, Anais, Papa, Lil and I spent Thanksgiving week in Santa Fe where we rented a wonderful 5 level artist retreat on 5 acres in the hills just outside of town. We had a great time, walked a bunch of galleries, ate green chile dishes, hiked the hills, visited the Taos pueblo, and found time to sit around, draw, read, talk and watch TV.

I found a bunch of art I liked and was constantly taking pictures of the beautiful sky and sunset light, all the art and ornamentation. Here a few of my favorites and a slideshow at the bottom of the 297 photos in my Santa Fe set on Flickr.

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Sundaysong Singalong Has Begun

Singalong at the Menil

I’ve finally started doing something I’ve wanted to do for like the last year: Sundaysong Singalong. The idea is simple: have a singalong instead of church. Put another way, it’s like an old Pete Seeger-style folksong singalong, just with a Sunday-morning sort of setlist: songs of  love, beauty, gratitude, wisdom, work, wonder… songs that evoke higher powers, that are sacred without feeling sectarian.

So yesterday I finally gathered a small group to test the concept. A dozen of us gathered in my living room where I projected the lyrics on to a sheet hanging from the hearth. I didn’t snap any pics — the one below of Gray and I playing at the back of the room was by Dan — but I did have my recorder going. Here is a medley of seven of the songs we sang to give you a flavor of the morning’s songs:

j-gray-singalong-7-20-14Setlist

Rise Up Singing Songbook

  1. This Land Is Your Land (p.5)
  2. Moonshadow (p. 30)
  3. Big Yellow Taxi (p. 34)
  4. Day-O (p. 49)
  5. The Times They Are A’Changin (G)
  6. The Water Is Wide
  7. Rivers of Babylon (p. 63)
  8. Lean On Me (p. 66)
  9. With A Little Help From My Friends (p. 68)
  10. Keep On The Sunny Side (p. 87)
  11. Amazing Grace (p. 92)
  12. I Shall Be Released (p. 102)
  13. Blowin In The Wind (D) (p. 115)
  14. Imagine (C) (p.116)
  15. Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore (p.62)

Beatles Songbook

  1. Let It Be (p. 206)
  2. All You Need Is Love (p. 18)
  3. Across The Universe (p. 10)

We only made it through #12 before it had been an hour and we called it quits, chatted by the fruit and the donuts, and went our separate Sunday ways. The whole thing was an easy success judging by the effortless joining of strangers in song, the sharing and the smiles.


Last weekend I inaugurated the first Sundaysong Singalong’s touring version, because we were in Houston for the weekend to catch the Magritte exhibit at the Menil. I invited a few Houston friends to join us on the lawn of the Menil for the hour before the museum opened at 11, so at 10 AM, Maile, Anais and I spread our blanket beneath a shade tree and laid out our picnic. Before long Ritiban, Jasmine, and their boy Ian had joined us. Before we were done another mom and her girl had found and joined us.

While Ritiban and I strummed, the kids drew with sidewalk chalk and the mothers watched and talked. (Ian had to be chased down the block several times as he made breaks for it.) It was a wonderful hour after which we all went into the  gallery to roam around in the cool surrealism.

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