The Muse and eye / Blog

Local Artist Series

Russell and Sarah were selected last year to participate in this year's Local Artist Series at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. They're slated to kick the annual series off on March 4 at 7:30pm. Not strictly a Muse & eye performance, the evening will be especially a presentation of Russell's songwriting. Sarah will lend her beautiful vocal harmonies in support of the songs and they will be joined onstage by a number of friends, featuring Rusty Fender and the Melody Wranglers, Russell's alt-country band.

Expect Russell solo, the Muse & eye and a friend or two, all followed by the Wranglers to wrap up an evening of storytelling, song and hard, but fun, traveling.

Find information about tickets and more at WICA's website:


Play Some Rock & Roll

I uploaded another cut from our "Never Go Anywhere" CD today. "Play Some Rock and Roll" was just a fun song I wrote that combined a memory of my son Jason and I busking at Grand Central Station almost 20 years ago with an evening of listening to some Jerry Lee Lewis about 10 years ago.

The thing I love most about this cut is the train whistle as Mike Phelan enters into his rollicking solo section on is Telecaster. Mike's house, where we recorded, is right back the train tracks just outside downtown San Antonio. I don't know how many jams we rocked out on in that house through the years, hooting and hollering as that train rolled by, drowning out our songs with its roaring whistle.

So when I laid down the base vocals and rhythm guitar and got to the solo part, I was thrilled when that train came roaring by again. Mike and I just looked at each other and grinned, knowing we'd be leaving that screaming whistle in the track as part of the solo.

Since that recording just two or three years ago, i understand they have banned the train from blowing its whistle as it passes through residential areas. So the recording is historical in a way.

One for the ages.


Sarah and I leave our Whidbey Island home in a about 10 days to go to Texas to visit my daughter and her new baby boy, Jack Oscar, and father Jessie. We've lined up a tour through the state to help us pay expenses. Check our show schedule!

Sunny Whidbey Island

We made it back to Whidbey late last night from a combination tour/family visit in Texas. I was gone for a month and Sarah joined me the last two weeks. There were highlights to burn on this one (aren't there always?) I got to hang with my brother Phillip for a good long while for the first time in many years. Seeing my mother struggling to recover from a broken arm and deal with life with congenitive heart failure was inspiring, although an understandable reason for concern. I got to see my daughter Emilie Clepper and her kick-butt band perform on three different occasions. Of course, I got to sit in and jam with them, too, including one show at the Whitehorse Saloon, one of the hot spots on the Austin music scene right now. But my favorite was the night they played at the Bad Rabbit Cafe at the Terlingua Ranch Lodge. We all jammed with Pablo Menudo that night. It don't get no better. Sarah continues to wow folks with her fine voice and harmony singing. We made lots of new fans in San Antonio and Terlingua, as much because of her work as mine. Plus, she always remembers to get the money out of the tip jar at the end of the gig. Not that I ever quite forgot to do that. A special thanks to Jim Carter, Gary and Cathy Woltena and Mike Phelan. Oh yeah! Did I mention? We recorded a new Muse & eye CD while we were in San Antonio. At Mike's house by the train tracks. And yes, we forgot to give the train credit for that fantastic whistle on "Play Some Rock and Roll." We're quite pleased with the results of this spur-of-the-moment project that we named "Never Go Anywhere." Lisa Lam came down from Austin one afternoon to add her violin magic to a couple of tracks, especially "Fiddle and the Bow." She plays in Emilie's band and is a tone master on her instrument. Performing with Butch Morgan again on a couple of occasions was a double bonus on this trip. Butch is a fine songwriter, excellent guitar picker and one of the best bandleader/showman entertainer Texas has to offer. He's planning on touring his way up to Whidbey next August. We'll do a few show together when he gets here. Sarah and I got to visit Trevor Reichman's cob dome house in the desert. We spent a fabulous morning there enjoying his and Justin Doak's hospitality which they dished up with steaming servings of the best huevos rancheros I ever ate along with copious amounts of coffee. Sarah and I had to leave to go to a gig, but I heard that the jam that happened shortly thereafter inside the dome was one of those moments when the divine essence of heaven briefly leaks into this poor vale of tears. Sometimes I just wish I could be in two places at once. I did receive ample consolation, however, when I jammed with the likes of songwriters and musicians like Jeff Haislip, Trevor Reichman, Pat Smith, Collie Ryan, James Williams and Ted Arborgast. Plus I got to hear Alex and Martha Whitmore perform a couple of tunes during our break at a gig at the High Sierra. I saw some old friends I hadn't seen in quite some time and met some new friends who I'm sure I'll be seeing again. More to come about "Never Go Anywhere." I'll be posting a couple of songs from it on our Reverbnation Home Page soon.

2013 Newsletter Part 1

Season's Greetings: We hope you have passed the 2013 test with flying colors. It was a rough year in many aspedts, but full of fine moments and good times, too. May 2014 be a banner year for all our friends, family, fans and us. (My original letter contained embedded links which are not supported by this blog. Please feel free to google!)

Special Request If you don’t have time to go through this entire message, please do this one thing. Check out my latest article at Whidbey Life Magazine, and if you can spare a buck or three, contribute to our Indiegogo fundraiser (there is a link next to my article, assuming you open this before the end of the campaign, in which case thanks anyway!). If you’re reading this before midnight, Sunday, December 31st, there’s still time to contribute.

We’re trying to raise money to publish a print version of the magazine. Writing for these guys has been a great opportunity for me to do the kind of articles I’ve wanted to do since I got my degree in Journalism far back in the day. My two-part piece about the Greenbank Farm here on Whidbey well represents the direction I’m taking. I still have some dust to shake off and learning to do, but I’m getting there.

Meanwhile, for those of you who received this, opened it and are still reading, here’s the news. And if you are family, please print this out and get a copy to mom.

Tour News In the past couple of years, Sarah and I have made several tours to the Southwest and the Northeast. We would like to continue expanding these tours, and adding others, especially up and down the West Coast and perhaps to the Southeast. There’s a slight scent of Europe in the air, too. We’ll see.

If you’d like to help us out in any of these areas by suggesting a venue to contact, organizing a house concert for us, or would just be willing to put us up for a night if we pass through your town, please do contact us.

CD Maybe, Baby I’d like to do a new CD. I have way more than enough material. New’s Year’s resolution number two: seek funding. We have already had a couple of offers, I just need to follow through and get things rolling.

Emilie: New EP and Moving to Texas Emilie has released a beautiful new EP with five songs (including one of mine: “Dison’s Hill) and is currently living in Austin where she will be for the next few months. In February and March she will be back in Quebec City participating in a theater production, but is planning on returning to Texas for good after that. She will base her music career out of Austin, as she sets out to “sink into her dreams” in the States.

2013 Newsletter Part 2

She has a fine new website up at Emilie Clepper. Along with gorgeous photos by the highly talented Tim Hussin, you will find tracks of her music you can listen to, and a video of her performing her song “Texas Eagle.”

Other Highlights

We finished the Purple Cottage and Sarah has her studio set up there, making beautiful jewelry (now on sale on Etsy) from rusted stuff she picks up in parking lots, ditches, and roadsides. Talk about recycling.

We also fashioned a deck on the side of it and installed a “poor man’s” hot tub; well, a “poor woman’s” hot tub, since Sarah uses it a lot more than me. The year before, when it was still unfinished and hot tub-less, we had many visitors stay there, including Emilie, Tim Hussin, and Sarah’s nephew and niece, John and Rebecca Dial.

More recently, in the finished version, we hosted the legendary Northwest songwriter Jim Page and his delightful wife, Katy.

A list of other memorable moments from 2013 include:

...our February Texas tour with a house concert at the Griffith’s in San Antonio, a Trebelmaker’s reunion at Specht’s Store in Bulverde, a patio concert at the HIgh Sierra Bar and Grill with Pablo Menudo. And of course, the magic always happens when we play at the Starlight Theatre in Terlingua. In non-music we got to hang out with mom in Leakey for a few days.

...our train ride in May to Vancouver where we visited Thornton Park which inspired the song by the same name by my late son, Jason Clepper.

...helping organize some benefit concerts for my old picking partner, Mike Phelan who was might sick with cancer. And especially for seeing him pull through and get well. He’s back out there playing again. Bravo!

...our fall tour to the Northeast and our visits with Sarah’s family in New York, and my children and grandchildren in Quebec. We stayed in a cool old farmhouse way out in the country south of Quebec.

...playing most Wednesday nights in November and December with fine Whidbey Island songwriter, Timothy Hull, at Mo’s Pub in Langley, WA.

...witnessing my dobro playing friend Ro Purser relance his glass art career under the guise of Arte NeuRo by making some of the coolest spherical objects in the history of the universe and taking them down to California to sell.

...losing two amazing people who were important in my life. Ro’s brother, Eric “El Rojo” Purser, who was called by one of his universe of friends and admirers as “the original most interesting man in the world”, died in April. And just a couple of days ago, Barbara Wolfe, who with her husband Steve Silbas, bought an old South San Antonio neighborhood restaurant and bar called Casbeers and turned it into one of the finest live music venues I ever had the pleasure of attending and performing at, passed away at 53, from cancer.

...and finally, we had many good moments visiting and/or making music with many of the people already mentioned here plus Trevor Reichman, Gary Woltena, Lesti Huff, Mo Pair, Anthony Ray, Steve Showell, Joanne Rouse, Landon Primrose (Sarah’s son), Blaine England, Karin Blaine, Ed Newkirk, Keith Bowers, Paul Neis and his daughter, plus Dave Bolt, Lynne Adler and Lindy Hearne and many others.

To those of you who made it all the way to the end of this, thank you for taking the time and a very special Holiday wish to you, with love, from Sarah and me.

SWAM 2013 A Wrap

Whew. SWAM 2013 is memory. All the hard work, the sometimes frustrating challenges of putting it all in plae, all the fine performances and cool doings are behind us now. Rather than say too much besides thanks to every single person who participated in any way, I'll refer you to the photo album I put together on the SWAM Facebook events page at the following link. Hasta luega,


Cruisin' for a boozin'

The title of this blog would,be a good title,for one of those gimmick country songs. But I ain't a gonna write it. No sir.


Hey everyone,

Sometimes hardcore means doing things to which you have a natural aversion, rather than to things to which you are drawn by perversion. I have always hated self promotion. That trait comes most likely more from false humility than true pride. Because the fact of the matter is, I am proud of my songs and the music that Sarah and I create onstage in our duo act, the Muse & eye.

Our first East Coast Tour begins next Saturday, Oct. 6 with a show in Red Hook, NY in the Hudson Valley at 1pm at a place called Taste Budd’s Chocolate and Coffee Cafe. Ok, so it’s not Carnegie Hall, but it’s a lot closer to it than anyplace we’ve played so far. And our last scheduled show is at the Red Hook Bait and Tackle in the Red Hook district in Brooklyn, just across the East River from lower Manhattan. From Red Hook to Red Hook. I love it.

To get this tour within reasonable range of the break-even point we could use a little help from our fans. I would love for us to continue touring for as long as health and finances permit. One day, for whatever reason, we won’t be able to do this. But for now, we hope to keep sharing our music with people all across the country.

If you’d like to help us out with this particular tour, here there are several ways you can do it. Just pick one. Or two. Or all of them. And thanks from the Muse & eye.

First, invest a buck.

If you go to our Reverbnation store at http://www.reverbnation.com/themuseandeye, you can order a song there. Just order one for $0.99. Or order two or three, if you want.

Second, buy a CD.

If you prefer having our complete CD, Redwood, with artwork and all, send me an email at rclepper@gmail.com. We’ll have to do it the old fashioned way, where I send you an address, you send me a check or money order and I’ll ship you the CD as soon as we get back from the tour. You may want to buy two or three CD’s; Christmas is coming up, you know. Jeez, I know; rank commercialism. Hey, the kids where I sub teach say I look like a skinny Santa Claus, so there you go.

Third, share us out there in cyberspace.

Forward this email to friends who you think would like to know about our music. Let them know about our web page and our Facebook page. Who knows? If they live out East, maybe they’ll even be able to make it out to a show. Which brings up the next way to help...

Fourth, come out to a show

And if you’re not out there in New York, Vermont or Quebec, maybe you know someone who is and if you think they’d like to hear us, please tell them where they can find our itinerary (that’s right, http://www.reverbnation.com/themuseandeye.)

Fifth, lend moral support

Respond to this email. Let us know you got it and that you’re pulling for us. Visit our Reverbnation and Facebook pages and leave us a comment. It would be great to hear from you. We’ll be sure to get back to you.

Both Sarah and I are excited about the prospect of playing in a number of venues and places for the first time, but especially for the opportunity to see family, friends and fans out east who we haven’t been able to see often in the past few years. We hope that our music will at the very least make it possible for us to continue to visit our families for a good number of years to come. Many thanks to all of you who have already contributed to helping us get our music out of the house.

When we get back home to Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound, we’ll be figuring out how we can make a new CD this winter. We’ve had a couple of offers from some good local sound studios, promising to give us the old sweetheart deal. If we can pull off a successful tour this fall, we’ll be much more encouraged to follow through on that. I have a number of songs that just need a little tweaking and polishing and would love to get them recorded. Watch for news about that sometime early in 2013.

Thank all of you for your support and encouragement.


russ for the Muse & eye

You Must Be Someone Famous

You. Yeah, you. You famous? Yeah, me neither. But I keep getting that comment. "You must be someone famous." Usually it comes to me as some kind of compliment for my songwriting, and quite a fine compliment it is, too. That's especially true when it comes from someone who either actually enjoys a certain measure of fame themselves, or knows people who are. Of course, the famous people I'm talking about are musicians and singer/songwriters. The relation between fame and singer/songwriters is rife with conflict and paradox. Without a rich patron or two, fame is something a songwriter must acheive in order to make a living in that vocation. A few dozen or a few hundred fans can never supply enough revenues to pay the bills. Fame is one of the hallmarks of songwriting success, even if it doesn't result in its sister hallmark, financial stability or even wealth. But fame also brings scrutiny, invasion of privacy, increased professional pressures and a certain loss of liberty. It can be exciting to be in the public eye, I'm sure, but it also looks to me like it can be a huge pain in the ass. "How dreary to be someone, how public like a frog, to tell your name the livelong day, before an admiring bog." I really dig obscurity. I just have to figure out a way for this obscure songwriter to put food on the table, gas in the tank and money in the bank.

The Muse and eye
The Muse and eye  (over 5 years ago)

Maybe you & Emily(Dickenson) like the obscurity...But truly, Russell --you & your songwritting is some of the best out there. Someday, someway --it will be found. Maybe not by the masses, but enough to give you the payoff that you so deserve for your talent and hard, hard work.