It does look like a snowglobe being gleefully shaken as I look out the window at the half-buried cars (including ours) in the parking lot. All in all it’s been a mild Saint John winter so far, but every few weeks we awaken to one of these blindingly white winterscapes…even the sky is pale blue approaching whiteness. Fortunately we have nowhere we have to be today. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the snow on our car will melt before we have to clear it.
On the cancer front, not much news but it’s all good. My latest CT scan shows continued improvement. Last Thursday I received my 42nd chemo treatment. It was actually one of the better ones…no nausea, decent energy (though I do feel the need to nap most days, sometimes fairly long naps). It seems crazy to say but all of this is becoming more and more routine, I’m getting totally used to it. Yes, I’d prefer to spend less time in a cancer ward with IV tubes hanging out of me, but it’s not that much of an ordeal. The nurses are efficient and personable, and I’ve struck up relationships with two or three fellow patients and enjoy our conversations. Occasionally I think of how much worse this could all be and I count myself lucky. My attitude is good, I’ve made new friends and enjoy my old ones, I have my music. Life goes on, bruised a little but still vital and rewarding.
I have a birthday, my 62nd, coming up on February 4th. It will be just under two years since I received the colonoscopy report that sparked this journey. A lot of miles have since been covered marked by a personal and logistic upheaval that Maggie and I would not wish on anyone. There were some very low moments when I was frighteningly aware of my mortality and held little hope, but right now that’s all part of a murky past that sometimes seems to belong to someone else. I thank Maggie, the generousity of friends, and the constant challenge and occasional rewards of my songwriting for keeping my flimsy ship afloat.
If my own life is lacking in significant events lately, I can always turn to friends and colleagues for more exciting news. Mike Biggar is going stronger than ever. Aptly named, Mike carries a girth that has been a cause of concern for many of us…especially considering the energy he expends maintaining a day job and a busy weekend music career. Last fall he joined a local weight loss club, Simply For Life. They advocate a total change of lifestyle and offer smart but tasty menus. It seems to be working: Mike has lost 90 pounds in a few months! He’s aiming for another 100 or more (like I said, he’s a big guy) and is visibly feeling better as his clothes start to hang ever looser on him. He’s very determined and we’re proud of him. Mike continues to work hard toward finishing his album, which I predict will give his career an enormous boost.
My favorite jazz thrush, Halie Loren of Eugene, Oregon, has completed another excellent album, Heart First, which is currently charting in Japan (where she continues to have a large and enthusiastic fan base) and will be released in North America in March. Halie and I have two co-writes on the album, the title track (a product of Skype writing) and another that we wrote in Nashville several years ago. She grows with each outing. I listen to Halie as a true fan, admiring her phrasing, wonderful tone and flawless pitch, as well as her inventiveness and the sense of true joy she brings to her artistry. Then suddenly a song we’ve written will appear and I’m jarred back to reality: Oh right, that’s Halie! One thing that I find especially exciting is that she will perform two of our songs on February 9th backed by her combo and the Corvallis-OSU Symphony Orchestra! That will mark a first for both her and me, and Maggie and I dearly wish we could be there.
Hopping genres, I’d also love to be in Nashille 20 days later on the 29th when Kaitlyn Baker (a wonderfully gifted 17-year-old country singer who’s been amply mentioned in this blog before) performs her first industry showcase at 12 & Porter. Kaitlyn has been working with songwriter-producer Dean Miller (son of the legendary Roger) toward getting a major record deal. The Bakers returned a few days ago from a whirlwind Nashville visit that saw her singing live, accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, for executives at Capitol, Warner Brothers, Showdog, Big Machine and Average Joe. Everyone was full of praise (Average Joe actually offered a deal) and it was recommended she do a showcase so she can be seen fronting a band and more original songs can be heard. Kaitlyn is a natural, in both beauty and artistry, and I don’t doubt she’ll wow them. The set list isn’t firm yet but there’ll certainly be two or three of our co-writes on board.
Years ago when Maggie and I started Brainchild Music, I envisioned these songs that I write and co-write as living things, finding their own varied paths in the world much like, well, children. That vision stays with me and I’m certain that in some way I’m healed by it.