Bright Star Rising
I offer this rare spiritual that I first heard sung with a guitar in a large group meditation. It is sometimes performed at a pensive pace by acapella choirs. I arranged this in a new image with banjo and mandolin accompanying the guitar, and have added an original verse along with a melodic motif. My wife, Dalbir, is playing the conga. This is the plus side of sheltering in place!
I Just Called To Say I Love You
A great song by one of the finest composers of the 20th century. I love singing this with my friends and have attached the lyrics so that you can join in. Stevie Wonder is taking us through a cycle of a year, explaining that this expression of love is not tied to any holiday or special event. So appropriate for this time in our collective lives. I have recorded the song using a variety of instruments. I hope you enjoy it!
I Thank You God (e e cummings poem)
I find this poem to be a deep expression of spiritual awe and appreciation, and my musical arrangement is designed to amplify the feelings the poem elicits. This recording was made in a studio on one “live take” in which four musicians played the song together, one time through. Me on guitar and vocals. Fred Ross-Perry on bass. Phil Lawrence on mandolin. Aaron Balano on dobro.
I have fond memories singing this song with my students at Harmony Union Elementary School in Occidental, CA in the early 1980’s. Note that this was first recorded by a frog! And not just any frog, Kermit The Frog, in 1979 as part of the original Muppet Movie. It received an Oscar nomination for the Best Original Song. For this recording, I started with guitar and vocals and then I added the warm tones of my clawhammer-style banjo.
Keep On The Sunny Side
I love this song, especially for sing-along. It was written by June Carter Cash. I first heard it on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album that brought bluegrass to millions of seekers and hippies in the early 70’s. The song was also featured in the film, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. In this version, I play guitar and banjo, and I sing. Enjoy!
My friend Annie Fetter added her stand-up bass and vocal harmonies. She joins the vocals during the choruses and her bass can best be heard after the first chorus. I am so delighted to have her energy in this recording! You may want to plug into nice speakers to get the full effect.
All Around This World
I first heard this song on a Jerry Garcia bootleg album called Bear’s Choice. I was stunned by the simplicity, the naked sense of a song with mostly just one chord. Years later, Garcia recorded this with David Grisman on mandolin, and it’s this version that inspired me to create this recording. Me on guitar, mandolin, and vocals. A simple recording. Not refined. More spontaneous. Enjoy!
Take Me Down
I wrote this to honor my friends on my 60th birthday. Over the years, I have come to appreciate the power and importance of friendship. This song expresses those sentiments.
One take in a studio. Me on guitar and vocals. Fred Ross-Perry on bass. Phil Lawrence on mandolin. Aaron Balano on dobro.
Guru Ram Das Chant
This is the first spiritual chant I ever learned. When I was younger, I played this on my guitar and sang along for hours and hours. Now, with the passing of my friend Janet Grice, with whom I first chanted these words, along with the remarkable COVID-19 situation, I find myself strongly attracted to this yet again. Friends of mine sing this mantra in many ways. This melody, written by someone whom I cannot recall many years ago, has always been my favorite. Guru Ram Das was a Sikh saint or guru in the 16th century. Chanting in this way is a means of calling upon protection and connection to the infinite. I am playing guitar while singing, and then adding my mandolin with my home recording equipment.