Love you, California. This past week, some of my compositions flew with me out to California and landed in the Portola Valley Vineyard, performed by a band I've been in for 35 years, the Lunar Octet
. The group started as a composers' workshop and became a working band. Inspired by Aron Kaufman, Dan Ladizinski and other player/composers in the group, I began contributing tunes around 1984 and have been writing ever since. One thing learned: if the musicians love playing a tune, chances are the audience will love it as well.
The night before, our 9-piece group was packed onto the stage of a jazz club, the Cafe Pink House. If anyone asked why an Octet had 9 players, I explained that we're making up for all those times we only had 7. Here are the three percussionists in the band--congas, drums, and timbales--what I call "the joy factory."
Being a botanist, I took an interest in the trees framing the vineyard performance. There were redwoods in the background, and in the foreground, a massive stump where a bay tree with a tree house had stood. The tree's gone, but I bet there are a lot of kids who will carry memories all their lives of listening to music from up in a treehouse. Afterwards, the hosts treated us to a selection of wines grown at the vineyard. Incredible for an easterner, the summer weather is everyday the same, with cool nights and warm days, and never any rain. The trees must find water deep underground.
Our third performance was at Sol Treasures, a play on the words "soul" and "sol", the spanish word for sun. Their nonprofit came into being ten years ago, to teach music and art to kids after California stopped funding arts and music in the schools. California, we love you, but how could you? We received a standing ovation from people who treasure their kids and want them to learn art and music. That was a good feeling.