The Northwest Great Mermaid Tour – Part II

Wow, how can I even begin to convey what an amazing vacation, ahem, I mean tour, I had? I am totally blown away with how wonderfully things worked out and with all the friends, family, and fans that I connected with along the way. My heart is very full and I feel like my music and my mission are positively affecting peoples lives, and consequently, changing the world we live in for the better.

Spent a wonderful week with Joe Bongiorno and Amy Janelle in Kenmore, WA. Thank you again you two!! We played a house concert together, along with Joe Yamada and streamed it onto ustream. It was a lot of fun. Had a live audience as well. Worked on the vocal CD with my producerEric Tingstad recording some background vocals with Terry Lauber, a wonderful singer. Went by Tom Hall’s place to check out some of the mixes and talk about them. Went down to a really cool place called the Blue Bottle in Yelm, OR to play a concert with Joe and Amy. We had the greatest time. Michelle, who owns the place, really made us feel welcome and the audience was so into what we were doing. People were really into the music and a lot of people went home with our CDs. (see below about my take on CD pricing these days)

On Sunday, Joe had a gig, so Amy and I went to hear Tingstad & Rumbel in a park concert. They were great! Really enjoyed them. Playing a concert with them in Bethesda, MD on August 14th. If you live in the area, or know anyone who lives there, please send them this link for info and tickets.

Joe and I played a couple of games of tennis, and after 10 years of not playing tennis, some of the muscles that I haven’t used since then, were letting me know that they weren’t happy. My tennis elbow came right back. Still, it was really fun to play again.

Very early in the morning, on Wednesday, I flew down to Eugene, OR. Got lucky and was able to have an early check-in and slept some. Then, I went over to my cousin’s house and said hello to a lot of my family who had already made there way there. Big family gathering for my Aunt’s 90th birthday. Or first activity was at the Granary. They have a nice Yamaha grand there and we had the place to ourself. It was a blast. My cousin Steve played guitar and sang and we jammed out, played some of my aunt’s favorite songs, and played some songs that were easy to play together. And, we got to eat pizza there, which I had a hankering for for quite a while, and which was was quite good. Great night.

From there, I ran out to the airport to pick up my daughters, Skye and Brooke. So great to see them. We went back to the rooms and went to sleep. The rooms we were staying in had complimentary breakfast, which is always a plus. We supplemented some organic cereal, agave, soy milk, and fresh fruit to the stuff that they had. Coffee was good. We loved our little breakfast morning spot. Went over to the house where everyone was meeting up. I got to stay around until about 4. Then I headed out to a house concert at Kathy Parsons‘ house in Florence, on the Oregon Coast. Kind of long ride out there. Played with David Nevue. Concert was really up close and personal and a wonderful evening of story and song as Whisperings concerts usually are. Kathy has a wonderful Yamaha grand and it was pretty much a full house. A lot of piano players in the audience. Kathy’s house concert series is really taking off as I see it. Half the people had never been there before. Drove home that night. Drive home was a lot quicker. No traffic on the roads. Straight shot.

On Friday my girls and I decided to rent bicycles. Took our cousin Ruby and the four of us cruised along the Willamette River. We were out for about an hour and a half. Had the best time. We stopped at one place that was loaded with blackberries and picked a fair amount of berries. Then we went back to the bike store. Found a cool place to each lunch outside and had a few beers. Good times. Ruby can join our tribe anytime. Great to hang with her and get to know her better.

Friday night was the Eugene Whisperings Concert. David Nevue, Rebecca Oswald, Neil Patton and I were on the bill. We didn’t have much in the way of advanced ticket sales, but we ended up with a very nice crowd. Very enjoyable concert. Really enjoyed Rebecca’s new solo piano music. Look out for her new CD.

Friday night was party night for me. Because I was in town in Eugene, a bunch of my family decided to go out and get something to eat and to drink some beers. We had a blast. Good times.

The beautiful thing about getting older (and wiser) is that you get to know what you can and can’t do with alcohol. My days of drinking too much are over, even when I’m in party mode. Saturday was our big birthday celebration for my Aunt Harriet, who will be 90 in November. Love you Aunt Harriet! We got there at a round 10 am and had the most wonderful brunch. My brother and his wife Ann made it up that morning from Santa Barbara. So great to see them. It was a great hang. A very special thanks to Ed and Ellen for opening their house for the shindig. Thanks to Helm and Sawako for the entertainment they provided for my girls and everyone else via their beautiful baby Emika. Great to see everyone! Unfortunately, I had to make a hasty retreat. Had a Whisperings concert with David Nevue and Mike Strickland in Portland and had about a 2 hour drive up there. Made it in time. First time I played with Mike Strickland. Yeow, that guy is great. And a wild man. We ended up doing the finale together and we had a blast playing. Hope to work with him again sometime. The size of the audience was disappointing, but we put on a great show nevertheless. Portland is a tough town. I played that same place about two years before to about 6 people. I understand it is more difficult in the summer too. People are out and about. Drove straight back to Eugene.

On Sunday, we went over to the house early to take a family picture and say our good-byes. It was a lot of fun. Skye and Brooke agreed to come with me to my gig in La Pine, OR, Jade’s Jazz Festival. I had no idea how that was going to go, but we checked out of our rooms in Eugene and headed for the Oregon high desert. We took the fast route there, which was about two hours. We saw some amazing mountains, lakes, and vistas. Pulled over at the side of the road and had some snacks at various points. Went straight to our lodging, which was DiamondStone Guest Lodges, run by Doug and Gloria. They put us up in a beautiful room. The girls and I were very happy. We got situated and unloaded most of our stuff. Then we went to the festival. When we pulled up, we were a little disappointed. I had no idea what to expect. We walked in, and the music and singing were very nice. Sound system was good too. Not a gigantic crowd, but nice sized crowd. My time slot was 3:45 – 4:45. I started to play, and I immediately felt the vibe. The people were loving what I was going. I mixed it up and played some solo piano and some vocal jazzy originals. Got a standing ovation. The girls were at the CD sales table, and because I tried something that I tried before with Joe at the Blue Bottle, sold a ton of CDs. And here is the secret. I personally believe that the days of people paying $15 a CD are over, even if you give them a break on more than one CD. So, I sold CDs for $10 and then any CD after that was $5. I didn’t want to be flying or sending CDs home. My mission was to get my music out there. And the strategy worked. And this will be my pricing system from here on in because I see how well it works. I will make less profit per CD, but I will get a lot more music out to people. And isn’t that the idea really? I had three solo piano titles and almost everyone bought all three. My girls were also instrumental in talking it up, but I truly believe that in these difficult economic times, and the fact that you can download a CD from amazon for $9, I’m feeling just fine about selling my CDs for less. So, that’s my take on where things are at right now regarding CDs.

We went to a great Mexican restaurant after the gig. Couldn’t believe that La Pine, OR would have such amazing Mexican food. Really nice place. Tres Caballeros. Then we went back to the Lodge and cooled out for a while. Then we went out on the deck with some blankets to watch the stars. Brooke had never seen a meteor before. Within a minute we saw one. Then we saw another. I thought that we should wait for just one more. I was really tired. At one point my eyes just started to close and then both went “ooooh.” I missed a big one. But I didn’t care. Was so happy under those stars. Went back to the room and went to sleep.

Skye really wanted to horseback ride. It had been a while since we had a really good ride. Would you believe maybe 12 years? So, we were supposed to go to one place near La PIne, but because we wanted a private cool ride, not a pokey group ride, they could only accommodate us at 2:30, which would have been too late. So, I went on the net and found another place which was in the direction of where we needed to go to get home. Found this amazing place called Rock Springs Ranch in Bend, OR. Got a private 1 1/2 hour ride with Heather, our wrangler. What an amazing ride. We went through a river. Trotted a lot and then went into a few looping rides which we call cantering. One of them was incredibly long. We had great horse and we had the best time. One of the best rides of my life I would have to say. In the high desert of Oregon. We went on our way to our next adventure, seeing the lava. It was like being on the moon. All this black everywhere. It was freaky. Drove to the observation area, built entirely of lava rock and then had a little picnic before we left the parking lot. Drove down and extremely curvy road and got back to Ellen and Ed’s and Auntie had cooked about chicken marsala. We didn’t have a whole lot of time. Ed printed up our boarding passes before we ate. Then, we changed, got in the car, got gas, and drove to the airport. Dropped off the rent-a-car and went through security. Had a quick flight to San Francisco. We got in a little early, but then we had to wait for a gate to open. We had a very small window of opportunity to get our connection to Newark. As luck would have it, our connection was delayed and we ended upwith plenty of time. I am on the plane right now and we are about an hour outside of Newark. What a fantastic tour and vacation and road trip with my girls. The best! I am one happy solo pianist Dad.

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