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Mary Beth Cross / Blog

Casey Cormier from Rock and Roll to Jazz to Bluegrass

I would like to introduce Casey Cormier, a very talented musician, teacher and music enthusiast. He plays wicked ukelele, but he also plays bass very well. He is currently helping us out on upright bass. I asked him to share his story, and here it is. "My musical journey started at 13, in New Jersey learning rock and roll guitar and bass, playing in bands influenced by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the rock-blues that my parents listened to. Summers I'd visit family in Texas; my grandfather bought me my first Martin acoustic guitar, a D1, and all he asked in turn was I learn "El Paso" by Marty Robbins to play for him. I loved that west Texan gunfighter ballad music, but it wasn't a big thing on the east coast, so it was put aside, or mixed into my blues-rock sound. Going to school for music in Connecticut, I took to jazz, loving the improvisational feel and chord complexity, plus the soul behind a good saxophone solo. Learning the standards was the key, from "Autumn Leaves" to "Take the A Train", then getting into the language of the solos. It was great fun but hard work. Moving to Colorado two years ago, I was introduced to the musical style known as "bluegrass". Many of the players I met had been playing the music since a young age, so I had some catching up to do. I attended bluegrass jams, upright bass or guitar in hand, and followed along. I went to the library and checked out CDs with the music of Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and local outfits playing their standards and traditional fiddle tunes. I bought the Bluegrass Real Book and played the melodies at slower tempos, to get them in my ear and under my fingers. Though I still have a ways to go, I know from experience that the only way to learn a musical style is exposure. So jump on in it!" Thanks Casey!

Working with cover tunes to make them songs that reflect you

Have you ever listened to a song and thought, "I'd really like to do that one, but it always sounds like I am copying what has already been done?" I went through this and still go through this process of decision making. Sometimes the way someone wrote or arranged a song should be honored and repeated. I felt this way about Eva Cassidy's arrangement of "What A Wonderful World" which was recorded on my CD "In My Right Mind". I liked it just the way she did it, and I wanted the saxophone and electric guitar to stay in the instrumentation. Recently, we have been working with the Paul Mccartney song "Mother Nature's Son" for string band to perform it in the Bluegrass style. When Paul played the song for John Lennon on acoustic guitar in a rehearsal, John immediately heard the horn section and full sound that would flesh out their recorded production. When I listened to it, I immediately imagined a long bow fiddle and cello playing on the horn section instead. I could also hear mandolin harmonies over the bridge section of vocal and acoustic guitar. These are the instruments I love and tend to gravitate to. I find myself in a restaurant or shopping at a store listening to a song overhead thinking, "Oh we have to do it too, but our way!" I hope you who like to make music have fun with this, and I wish you many music making moments with friends. Cheers, Mary Beth


Chuck Swindoll wrote this beautiful piece I will share. I think it is the key ingredient to leading a happy life: "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, and what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, gifted mess or skill. It will make or break a company... A church.... A home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how we react to it."

Quite a week!

Prayers and love pouring out to the folks in Boston, surrounding suburbs and Texas. I cannot begin to imagine the roller coaster of emotions experienced since one week ago this morning at the Boston Marathon. It will be an ongoing healing process for thousands. Here in Denver, Colorado, I feel like my head is finally starting to clear and I can address the anxiety and fear voiced by my children and the High School kids the next two days at work. For those who don't know, I am a school nurse for Cherry Creek School District part time. I think the best thing I have heard from the news and President Obama, was the emphasis on focusing in the victims and not on presuming the intention or motive of the young terrorists. A crime worthy of punishment and consequence, yes. What leads people to act on emotions and commit a crime against thousands of innocent people, while others choose not to remains a mystery. I hope you find peace in the struggle to find peace within yourself and your circle of influence.

Mary Beth

Happy Spring!

So much has been happening.... Most importantly, I want to take a minute to thank David East, Anna Leavitt and Cathey Stamps for helping me out at our show at Swallow Hill music association. It was a spontaneous and fun night of music! Each person brought a different musical background to the table and what came out was really fresh music! That is what makes all the work worthwhile! KRFC live at lunch hosted Anna and myself for a musical interview where we played music and discussed some interesting topics including Americana music vs country music and bringing together people of different musical backgrounds and training. Although an aural approach to playing is faster and lends itself to improvising, the final consensus was that an ability to read and write music does not diminish the wonderment of music that can be made together. Another topic of discussion these past few months has been that of CD packaging, written content included with the packaging and the speculation of when CD's may be phased out altogether as things move to downloads. This does raise many questions and affects the artist greatly in decisions made when putting a project out to the market place. My Father once wisely said, after the caos of a family gathering, " Soon it will all be a fond memory, Mary Beth". So it will be true of how we navigate the possibilities of delivering music to the public in the next 5 years. My music is being heard on the folk and Americana radio charts and Colorado Public Radio. I m getting global airplay and charted at number 20 for all Airplay Direct Albums last week. I continue to enjoy the journey of growing as an artist in this fascinating industry. Now, off to prepare the soil for planting more seeds, (literally) in my garden. Happy Spring to all, Mary Beth

Why write a song about Alaska?

I have been asked to explain some of the thought and meaning behind my songs. This is a difficult thing to do as I cannot always give a simple answer. Does a painter explain a painting? Did Van Gogh explain his thoughts behind "A Starry Night"? I will tell you that the inspiration for a song is usually not directly related to something in my marriage or family life, but more of a cummulative account of life experience, current events, inspiration from nature's beauty and the soul of another human being. These things are all thrown in a "pot on the stove" so to speak, and allowed to simmer for quite some time. It is my hope that what comes out is something someone else can relate to, or has felt at one time or another. In my song "Land of the Midnight Sun" I raise awareness to the need for protecting our National parks and nature preserves in the US and around the world. Environmentally responsible, conscious mining is possible and is what we should expect. It is our job to raise our voice and let it be heard. Have a great day, and hope to see you Sunday. Mary Beth

About Pebble Mine

Home » About The Bay » About Pebble Mine

The Pebble deposit is a massive storehouse of gold, copper and molybdemum, located in the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of the eight major rivers that feed Bristol Bay. If built, Pebble would be one of the largest mines in the world. Because of its size, geochemistry and location, Pebble runs a high risk of polluting Bristol Bay, one of the world’s few and most productive wild salmon strongholds that supports a $500 million commercial and sport fishery. For this reason, Trout Unlimited is working with a diverse group of fishermen, guides, lodge owners, Alaska Natives, scientists, chef, restaurant owners, seafood lovers and many others to try to stop the Pebble development and to protect Bristol Bay. The proposed mine developers, the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) are a consortium of the world’s second largest multinational mining corporation, London-based Anglo American, along with Northern Dynasty, a junior mining company headquartered in Canada. Anglo American’s environmental track record does not bode well for Bristol Bay and Northern Dynasty has little experience safeguarding the environment having never developed a mine to date. Although PLP has not released its final mine plans, preliminary designs indicate that the Pebble Mine complex would span 20 square miles of state land in the Bristol Bay watershed. Located in a seismically active region, Pebble would require the world’s largest earthen dam to be built, some 700 feet high and several miles in length. Independent scientists have questioned whether the dam could withstand the force of a massive earthquake, such as the 9.2 quake that devastated Anchorage in 1964. The dam and 10-square-mile-wide containment pond are intended to hold between 2.5 billion and 10 billion tons of mine waste that Pebble would produce over its lifetime - nearly enough to bury the city fo Seattle, WA. Because the sulfide, or acid-generating, nature of the Pebble ore body, the waste would require environmental treatment in perpetuity. Any release of mine waste into the surface or groundwater has the potential to harm Bristol Bay’s salmon runs. The PLP recently stated that they plan to apply for federal and state permits in spring of 2011. With the developers moving toward permitting, now is the time to get involved to stop this mega-project and protect Bristol Bay. Now is the time to educate elected officials, agency heads, the media and anyone who cares about the future of wild salmon. Please consider taking action today to stop the proposed Pebble Mine.

MLK Jr and Inauguration Day January 21, 2013

Hello, We are very excited preparing for Sunday's event to launch the new record titled "Beyond Good and Evil". It is a collection of stories celebrating the spirit and Grit of the pioneers who made their way west, from Appalachia to Alaska, and the love of God that is Beyond all the imperfections of humanity. We are still on the journey that these pioneers began. The gold we seek is progress, peace and opportunity for all people, including hope for the future generations. I am amazed as I listen to President Obama, just how spot on the concept of this project is!! I hope you can make it Sunday to the release party from 4-6 PM and/or check out the CD available now on cdbaby, itunes, etc. Keep in touch and let me know what you think! Blessings, Mary Beth

Beyond Good and Evil

Hello and Happy holidays! We are getting hit hard here in Denver with a snow storm! It will be a White Christmas with fresh snow for skiiers and boarders in the mountains, which is good for all of us, so we put up with it here on the front range. We are still trying to keep a stiff upper lip for our kids in light of the shooting in Newtown, CT. Hard to explain to kids what would cause someone do that to little kids and dedicated teachers. We ask them a lot of questions. We have been taking time to tell them stories of the countless accidents in homes related to guns. One of my favoirite stories is of a family up in Montana who were dealing with coyotes going after their sheep. They came inside and forgot to put the safety on the shotgun. It accidentally fired after the slamming of a door and started a fire. Their beautiful ranch home burned to the ground. They could rebuild the house, but it lacked the character and nuances of the incredible place that was their home. People are the same. These children can never be replaced, no matter how many other children these families have or adopt. Mothers know this, Fathers know this. It is a loss that will never go away. My new CD is dedicated to my nephew, David Cross who spent his life in Great Falls, Montana. He had just moved out to California and was settling in to a house of fun, young people when he was suddenly diagnosed with lung cancer. He died at age 31. We still miss him and his Mother and Dad have, like the folks in Newtown, survived a parent's worst nightmare. There is a love that somehow carries us, and pulls us through these kinds of tragedies. It is a love that surpasses all understanding. This Christmas, it is my wish that we all take a little time to look closer at friends and family, neighbors and the teachers at the schools, and really see them. They are like the snowflakes falling in Denver today... individual, fragile and will eventually melt away from us. Thank them, love them and enjoy them for what and who they are! Merry Christmas, and for those of you not of the Christian faith,.. happy holidays!

Mary Beth Cross

(c)December 19, 2012

performing for the Colorado Association of School Nurses

Hi folks, looking forward to performing at the annual conference for the Colorado Association of School Nurses in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. It is a chance for me to share my songs that are often inspired by the challenges facing the young men and women growing up in today's competitive world. In My Right Mind is a song written to encourage the kids to find a "sweet spot" in life, something as a "go to" that can help them cope with the stress and pressure they are presented with both socially and academically. As you listen to my song, think of it in that light. Have a wonderful day! Mary Beth

one day post 911

Hello! Thinking about our trip to the ground zero memorial in NYC...one day post 9/11. It is so quiet in the memorial, you would never know you were in New York. Of course, we were there in the evening last November, but it is "a city that does not sleep" according to Ol' Blue Eyes. We just finished mastering my new CD today!! It is titled "Beyond Good and Evil" more about that as the release draws nearer. I am very excited about the music on this CD. I am honored and pleased to announce that Stuart Duncan, who is playing Fiddle on my CD has been nominated for the 2012 IBMA awards to be held in Nashville, TN next week. Go Stu!! He is nominated for fiddle category. One of my favorite bluegrass female vocalists, Ms. Claire Lynch, is nominated in the best female vocal category along with some other fine talent including Alison Krauss. Wow Claire!! Pretty cool! One of our Colorado young ladies, Miss Courtney Hartman has been nominated along with the band Della Mae. Finnders and Youngberg will be there playing a live show. They are a great Bluegrass band from Ft Collins, Colorado. Keep for watch for their shows in the area. Well, that is what I know for now. Enjoy the rain!! We surely do need it! Blessings, Mary Beth