It’s a lot cleaner and more high tech than I remember with commuters in various stages of awokeness. Almost everyone is “of color” though I appear to be only 1 of 2 members of the African American tribe along for the ride. I’m on Sound Transit bus 216 traveling from Sammamish where I live to Seattle Center where I have a late morning meeting. Actually it’ll take 2 buses and 90 minutes to travel 23 miles — a trip that, depending on traffic, usually takes 35-50 in my car. But I love the $2.50 exact change price of admission and marvel it’s taken me this long to actually do this.
So why now? Well, I’m 1 of 5 Seattle area songwriters chosen for this year’s global Acoustic Guitar Project: one guitar.one week.one song. I’m songwriter #4 and last night picked up a Kindred guitar from songwriter #3. Now I have 1 week to write and record a song with it. Back in the day riding the bus often inspired me to write and so I’m hoping to once again catch lightning in a bottle. Wish me luck!”
When I first heard "Wichita Lineman" I didn't know where Wichita was and I didn't really know what a lineman did, but this song hooked me. Jimmy Webb's searing lyrics "and I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time" stirred my grammar school sensibilities and the chord progressions mesmerized me. But Glen Campbell SOLD this song -- the voice, the guitar, the delivery -- making it stick with me to this very day. Upon learning of Glen Campbell's death I played the original version and found it a little too "produced" but then found a live version of Glen singing it at one of his final performances and at Nashville's storied Ryman Auditorium. I love this version...RIP Glen🎶🎵🕯
Dear Friends and Fans, thanks to you 2015 was an amazing year for Paula Boggs Band.
After launching album CARNIVAL OF MIRACLES in March, we hit the road quickly with shows in Berkeley, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, DC, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Tacoma, Olympia, Bend, OR and Eugene before returning to Seattle for a year end gig. In addition, we were featured in many local and national publications, appeared twice on NBC TV shows, were on PBS and cable. We were played on several radio stations in the US, UK and Netherlands and made 5 in-studio or on-air radio interview appearances.
And in keeping with our mission to make "music that matters," in September we announced a partnership with NAACP Legal Defense Fund and My Brother's Keeper Alliance using our song "Look Straight Ahead Remix, featuring J. Pinder" to help spark awareness, constructive dialogue and forward movement in improving outcomes for boys and young men of color in America through mentoring, improved job skills training, improved police-community of color relations and reform of our criminal justice system. With LDF, MBKA and to be announced stakeholders, we will co-host forums in Seattle and Baltimore and hold a Seattle benefit concert with TBA musicians in 2016.
Along with our partnership, the new year starts with a Seattle TV appearance and shows in Portland, San Diego and Everett, WA as we build a tour calendar that again takes us across the US and Canada. We've applied to music festivals and will keep you posted as we learn more. Along the way we continue to write new music and are close to having enough material for a 2017 album of "Seattle-Brewed Soulgrass."
We could not do what we do without your support so THANK YOU and Happy Holidays from us to you,
PAULA BOGGS BAND
"There's a gypsy down on Bleecker Street. I went in to see her as a kind of joke and she lit a candle for my love luck and eighteen bucks went up in smoke..." Joni Mitchell's "Song for Sharon" on Hejira keeps running through my head as I stroll Greenwich Village's Bleecker Street a day after our Rockwood Music Hall show. It's a Saturday and the sun blazes as buskers sing everything from folk to gospel and tourists gawk at a transvestite's sashay. Walking along Bleecker, I hear the ghosts of Joni, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and so many others who honor it in song or lived it back in the day. As I pass "The Bitter End" a bouncer shouts "live music inside!" I'm tempted but resist knowing time is short before flying home. I must return...I will.
There's something about a beach that helps me reflect more deeply. Maybe it's the water. Perhaps it's the sound of waves crashing on shore or grasping a shell at low tide with grains of sand washing across my toes. A beach can symbolize hope and the vastness of possible. I'm at home and it feels good. When I play music here there's no amplification. It's just my vocal chords unadorned and a guitar strummed or strings picked with calloused fingers. Melodies visit and sometimes they stay. My writing pad is never far away and yesterday I even got reacquainted with Simon & Garfunkel's 1964 masterpiece, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, the one where on the cover Art Garfunkel leans casually on a NYC subway post looking dapper while the shorter and brooding Paul Simon stands beside him with a guitar and left hand forming an A minor chord. They both wear suits as a train whizzes by. This album, in vinyl of course, introduced the world to "The Sounds of Silence" -- one of the greatest songs of the 20th century..."people hearing without listening..." It's a successful day if I work harder to make Paul Simon's words ring a little less true.
"I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen." John Steinbeck. Pinterest can be tacky but it can also be a revelation. I wasn't expecting to find a quote there that so completely captures the conundrum I face each day as songwriter and human. No matter how empathetic I think I am, whether it's the homeless man sleeping under I-5 in a makeshift sleeping bag I breeze by to make an early meeting or the way I scratch my head about the latest choice of a close relative, I don't always "see" them. Don't get me wrong. My physiological eye perceives them but to borrow from yesterday's Hot Yoga, my "third eye" -- the one meant to provide perception beyond ordinary sight -- just blinks and moves on. And so it goes. As I think about the album we've just made and is now being manufactured, I recall special and rare moments I got to "see." In the title song "Carnival of Miracles," I write, "I walk the street not seeing, my eyes gaze straight ahead as my brother's eyes are bleeding -- mocking voices fill his head." In "Lenny's in The House" I "see" the youthful exuberance in aging songwriter Leonard Cohen. In "Edith's Coming Home," a friend shared his mother's story and through him I got to "see" a risk-taking, strong and talented black woman at end of life and marred by Alzheimer’s. In "Miss Ruby Kirby Blues" I "saw" a devil-may-care Septuagenarian Texan who'd more than earned the right to be sassy. And, In "Look Straight Ahead" I "saw" an African-American male teen's machismo, fear and limited life choices before the world knew Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown or Eric Garner. Each day is a new opportunity to pull out the Visine and when I do, I write better, become more human and by so doing, become a better me.
Since we finished recording upcoming album "Carnival of Miracles," we've sought to play gigs around Washington State to gear up for a national tour after "Carnival's" release in March 2015. We'd never played an Eastern Washington gig before so with excitement and trepidation we set out to conquer Spokane with song. Legendary The Big Dipper seemed like the perfect venue: storied, resurrected, great acoustics, downtown and owned by Sunny Day Real Estate band's Dan Hoerner and wife Dawson. We marketed mostly to lawyers, business folks and the Gonzaga University community though we were also able to get a great Spokane jam band to open for us, Bodhi Drip, who's founder, Lucas Brown is the son of Lisa Brown, who served 20+ years in the Washington State Legislature and is now chancellor of Washington State University Spokane. Winter is not always kind to Spokane and the bitter cold, dipping into the low teens Fahrenheit was not for the faint of heart -- even on a Friday night. Nonetheless, as folks trickled in The Big Dipper became increasingly electric. Bodhi Drip did their thing and job, causing the crowd to want more. We started with "Look Straight Ahead" and right away we knew the crowd was with us. Ninety minutes later ending with a roaring rockabilly cover of Led Zeppelin's "Rock & Roll" the crowd had danced to a third of our set. Dan and Dawson invited us back and we can't wait. Thanks Spokane!
Walking along a tree-lined boulevard dotted with Craftsmen-styled Greek houses I encounter young women wearing shorts and attitude and young men sauntering confidently past me, not really seeing. I've been here before, thirty-three years ago when I first walked down this same street in September 1981. Back then, I was also older than most folks as I headed to orientation for first year students at University of California at Berkeley School of Law, known then as "Boalt Hall." The "Sig Ep" house looks more polished than I recall and the students seem a little more world-wise or world-weary? A flood of emotions overcome me. This is not my first time returning to Berkeley nor is it even my first law school reunion. But somehow this feels different. Thirty years. I've been a lawyer 30 years and excelled in and retired from a profession I never embraced fully as my own. For me Berkeley was a place of moment, ambivalence and contradiction. Far later than most people, this is where I discovered the early Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Tom Waits, Ry Cooder and The Grateful Dead. I almost died three times in Berkeley -- twice while on a bicycle and another when unknowingly I stumbled upon an ongoing burglary in my best friend's home. In Berkeley I was perhaps more fit than before or after, made life long friends, attended my first Rolling Stones concert, met my first real lover and taught bus drivers, architects, lawyers and waitresses the finer points of using a new-fangled weight machine system called Nautilus. Berkeley's colors burn bright within me and time refuses to fade. I could not live here but part of me never leaves. Looking back across the 30 years, Berkeley was the perfect place for ME to attend law school. It was not fun, hard work did not always payoff and there was much to dislike. But I became a woman here and these sounds, smells, sights and emotional landscape launched the lawyer and human that followed. So THANKS!
When they're good, vacations center, rejuvenate and make it all seem, well...just better. For the past week I've stayed up longer, woken to splashing and hypnotic waves meeting shore, savored that morning cup of Joe a little more and soaked in unprecedented Puget Sound sunshine. Exercise comes easily on the shore and seafood in particular is awfully fresh. People are nicer too. Fresh air and low stress spawn "good mornings" and "is your dog friendly?" My honey and I strike easy rhythms of independence and togetherness. We talk and read more while iPads and Facebook take more a back seat. I've not played guitar as much but that's OK too. It's vacation!
It's stunning to believe a year's gone by. That's right. It's been 12 months since Paula Boggs Band spent 2 weeks recording 10 tracks at the enchanting Bear Creek, a 45 minute drive Northwest of Seattle in a town called Woodinville. Back then we were trying to make a record anchored by a mournful Americana tune called "Carnival of Miracles" -- inspired by the Newtown, CT tragedy where so many children and their teachers were slain by a young madman. The song also showcases a vet's voice that reveals love for her country while urging us to do and be better as a great nation. We made good vibes and were fortunate to be guided by producer Jonathan Plum and SNL veteran engineer Josiah Gluck. Though our upcoming record will still tap "Carnival" as a centerpiece, we decided our 2013 sound was too diverse and we've since upped our game through performing, rehearsals and being more purposeful in creating what we call "soulgrass" -- a sound that combines jazz chord progressions and soulful vocals with traditional "Americana" instruments like acoustic guitar, banjo, standup bass, washboard, melodica and a variety of acoustic percussive instruments. This time we'll be guided by Grammy-winning producer and engineer Trina Shoemaker who comes to us from Fairhope, AL and was nominated for BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM -- NONCLASSICAL just last year. In an industry with few women producers or engineers, Trina stands out and earns respect the old-fashioned way -- talent, grit, endurance and never burning a bridge. Sandy, Tor, Mark, Andrew, Jarrett and I could not be more thrilled to work with Trina and return to Bear Creek to record six tracks between July 9-20th. Stay tuned as we post photos and impressions over the next few weeks. And as always, THANKS for supporting us!!