Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Oh, The Places We'll Go!

*Posted originally on the amberwavesband.com site. Moved here and post dated.
August2014 104
“Congratulations! Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!” 
Yesterday we were invited out to lunch, by members of the church hosting last night's concert. The children's pastor was asking about our travels so far and wanted to know about our favorite places we've seen, and I found myself completely stumped. Where would I even begin?

 It has been over 3 years since we closed the sale on our house and moved into the bus, which was one of the most difficult transitions I think I've ever had to deal with, but if anyone ever asked us if our travels met our expectations, I'd be just as stumped. I'm not sure I had a clear picture of what life on the road would be like, which is rather strange for this dreamer.

 I think, to be honest, we just felt compelled to do it. To see what the world would think of our music and what we would think of the world.

May Travels 110
“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!” 
Leaving hour home state, where we all grew up in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, we have since seen everything from the famous Superstition Mountain in Arizona, to the Appalachian Mountains, and most recently, the Cascade Range with the towering Mount Rainier, with a hopeful trip next week to Mount St. Helen.

 Lord willing, by fall we'll have a view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

 By the way, the bus does NOT like mountains. Loves beaches though!

February Travels 381 Wait... No, that's me. The bus is currently stuck in sand outside the beach house.

 I'm the one that loves mountains and beaches. It's all amazing.

“And when you're alone there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.”
I had to actually take a moment to think about my favorite places because, in all truth, the last year was very scary at times, frustrating at others, and all of that made me forget for a moment about this amazing journey. Our life is not a comfortable life, but it's enriching.

It took hours at the beach house over the last week to remind me of this and I began looking through old pictures.

   Hours of this view will certainly clear your head.
“Out there things can happen, and frequently do,
To people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don't worry, don't stew.
Just go right along, you'll start happening too!”

New York City 149New York City 054The twins had no problem answering that question. It was New York City. Why? Two reasons, the amazing buildings and architecture, and Time Square at night!

The coming months promise further adventure, but with that comes the risk. Life is precarious at times, with a minivan about to fail, an old bus still going strong... until it doesn't, but a manageable schedule... if everyone stays healthy.
“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.” ~Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!
We're in good hands. Bring it on!
Lexington 103

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Beach Therapy

*Posted originally on the amberwavesband.com site. Moved here and post dated.
How do you take a vacation when you live in a bus and travel full time? By getting out of the bus and NOT traveling.

We have been greatly blessed this week by a friend I met years ago at a lady's evening at our church in Colorado. When she and her husband moved to Washington they found this fantastic beach house in need of a lot of renovation, so lucky for the beach house, they happened to be into that sort of thing and it has been turned into the most charming home. 
August2014 060
Unfortunately, work requires them to spend most of the week in Seattle, so the poor beach house is left lonely at times and really needed some friends over the next week or so, a job we were happy to take! The busy winter schedule, new CD and heavy travel has made this band of vagabonds quite weary and this is just what the doctor ordered. 
 The picture above is the view from my lap top where I am typing. No school and minimal practicing is on the agenda for the next week. We'll take a break from the vacation Sunday to travel to southern Washington and enjoy the hospitality of Father's House Church in Longview, then return to keep the beach house warm the rest of next week before our travels make it unrealistic to stay here longer. 

August2014 058 Our time in Washington is coming to a close, something that makes us all pretty sad. We've loved it here and have enjoyed the most amazing views and some of the prettiest playing stages and absolutely perfect weather. 
August2014 053

 We still have a few memorable moments in our plans before we say farewell to our summer tour and start the slow move south to prepare for our busy winter season. The next park will be within easy driving distance to Mount St Helens so we'll spend a day there, then after a couple events in Portland, we'll make our way towards the Redwoods for a couple of nights, before we get back to work with school, practice of some new music, and booking our schedule for next summer. 
 We'll worry about work another day. Right now there is a beach 100 yards away and my toes need some sand therapy.   

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Music, Practice, Life

*Posted originally on the amberwavesband.com site. Moved here and post dated.

This family grabbed a bunch of instruments. What happened next will BLOW YOUR MIND!

Ok, not really, but I was dying to try a click bait.

Last weekend we had an unusual show for our band which required working out some old and new music to fill in extra material since the venue requested no cover tunes (music licensed by another artist) and no intermission. This meant we needed to learn/revive a few lesser performed originals or traditional tunes, as well as those we sometimes do in order to stagger breaks for the various musicians in the group.

 So, we practiced.

That show was also one of the first in a run that included 7 shows in 9 days. Guess what we were doing during all of that extra practice and those many performances?

 We were building BRAINS, baby!


 Actually, we fought off whining. (Shhh... talented band kids don't do that, right?)

 In truth, one does not necessarily exclude the other. Those in the group under about, oh, 39ish (give or take) are not fond of 2 hour shows without breaks, but as their father and I pointed out, that's only because they never flipped burgers for 8 hours with a short lunch and only 2 breaks. So, although musical discipline does not guarantee rejoicing in all things, I still see the benefits every day in other areas.

Outside of musical talent, which I firmly believe is only a small part natural talent, mixed with a whole lot of musical exposure and practice, I have shockingly average kids. No early readers in the lot. In fact they were all fairly late readers by modern expectations. All are, at best, average in math, no spelling champions, and no NFL quarterbacks in the mix. In fact, none of them are unusually motivated or driven in any area, except perhaps Sean, and that's in astronomy, and then only if he's not allowed to play minecraft at that moment.

 Somewhere along the line the first two of my late bloomers in reading became not only excellent readers, but they analyze written work and write their own novels, often a few each year. (Editing and publishing are another story, but Alex is working on it.) In fact, a child I almost had formally tested for attention deficit, audio processing, and cross dominance issues now frequently gets up at 6am and puts herself through self-designed drawing exercises with strange goals, such as "Draw 100 heads on Tuesday". Of all the therapies that could have turned her learning difficulty around so dramatically, it was a BANJO that ultimately did it.

Then there is the fiddle player... Naw, I'll spare you that one since the jury is still out on the balance of music vs. the video game! Check back in about 6-7 more years and we'll see where the balanced tipped.

DSCF3234Research has told us how much music changes the learning brain. I've been conducting my own little research for the last two decades and the results are definitely astounding. Even if none of the kids further their professional careers beyond the band, and even if they never do learn how much easier a two hour show is compared to flipping burgers, the musical training will have positively shaped so much of their future, and for that opportunity, we are truly thankful.  

"Got time to breathe, got time for music." ~Briscoe Darling on the Andy Griffith Show

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Beautiful Washington!

*Posted originally on the amberwavesband.com site. Moved here and post dated.

The park where we have stayed the last couple of weeks does not have wifi, so posts are few and far between, so here is a quick catch-up through pictures. Washington is a beautiful state, though I must report that we have not had any big foot sightings just yet. Maybe he doesn't like acoustic music? Oh well.

We had some great shows upon arriving in the area, including the Si View Summer Concert Series. This picture is the beautiful Mount Si, standing tall in the backdrop of our stage.

 July2014 041 

 It certainly isn't all work and no play. We took a trip down to Pikes Place Market, visited the docks and the original Starbucks!

July2014 055

When we finished our fun, we headed to the home of some old Colorado friends and they gave us a tour on their boat! Yes, they even let the kids take turns driving it.
July2014 072 DSC00395DSC00386


Later that week we played for the Port Ludlow Festival and took the ferry from Coupville to Port Townsend. It was chilly, but an amazing ride!

July2014 313

July2014 383

We couldn't be this far to the northwest without a trip into Canada. We chose a day trip to see Granville Island and Vancouver's Chinatown!

August2014 023August2014 028August2014 001

In addition to all of these great sights, we're staying up north at a campground in the Puget Sound area, right on a rocky beach, full of crabs and clams that spit when you walk by. Our bus is parked right up against a very large blackberry bush. It's been fantastic! The only thing lacking is wifi, but that does have its own advantages,

I suppose. Starting Saturday we have 7 shows over a 9 day run before heading to the beach for a few days. Our "boat" friends also have a beach house and we will be treated to some R&R right by the beach.

I can feel the sand on my feet already.