Silliness In Honor Of July 4th


Our dear friend Jo Zeimet  created this little snippet of nonsense and oh-so-unwisely shared it with us, to our lasting delight. The song spontaneously erupted during our filming session. Everything really IS a song cue in our lives together!

Cuddling / Housework

Here’s the first video from our video recording weekend. Deepest thanks to Tom and Kelly for skilled recording!

Live  video performance meant we decided not to drive ourselves nuts trying to have perfection as a goal. Instead we went for being as lively as we could figure out how to be. To have fun with each other.

The song gives a peek into one couple’s attempted negotiations around housework. From the number of requests we get for this song in concert, and from the laughter that often greets it in performance, we suspect the song strikes a chord for many other couples as well. The best foreplay many men can engage in is taking out the garbage!

Many thanks to Mary Hodgson for her original insight and inspiration; to Richard Scholtz for increased playfulness; and to Janet Stecher; Lizanne Schader & Jerry McGarity for clear thinking and experienced direction.

The process of preparing this song for performance brought me and Zeke closer as a couple as well. So we offer it with some sense of shyness – “this is really us” – and we hope you like it!

Love/Fl!p & Zeke

Video Recording Weekend!

Zeke and I were visited this past weekend by retired film makers Tom Reitter & Kelly Bryan. Absolutely sweet folks. We had great fun getting to know one another. They bicycled together to Alaska!!! Such stories they had to tell… They said they’d come back again next Fall.

They recorded 11 songs for us in one day! Zeke and I had prepared six songs in advance. The rest were spur of the moment inspirations. 

It all started when Zeke and I played a house concert last month for the amazing Micki Perry, creator of the Tumbleweeds Festival in Kennewick. She invited a bunch of friends that we had never met, Tom and Kelly among them. A few days later we got an email from Tom. Here’s an excerpt from that email:

“In the 1970’s through 1990’s Tom was a professional film maker before turning to software development for 20 years to shun fame and find hardly any fortune. Now in retirement, we turn back to filmmaking but only socially enriching projects that involve no money. Couldn’t help notice your rich YouTube channel.  If you would like to shoot some tunes with video we would love to help. We have a lightweight pro video setup and are happy to travel to any location convenient to you. It would be on our dime and the finished video would be entirely your property to use in any way. This would simply be a way for us to use our talent to support folk music in the Northwest.”

We were totally blown away!

Even if we don’t get a single usable video, it was utterly worth it because it pushed me and Zeke to rehearse, discuss, arrange, and prepare at a whole new level. And it got me to ask for coaching from a bunch of skilled friends, like Janet Stecher of Rebel Voices, the ever perceptive Richard Scholtz, and Lizanne Schader & Jerry McGarrity who ran the Bellingham Children’s Theatre for years: professional theatre for young audiences. After the first production I saw, I was determined to never miss another. Lizanne gets right to the deepest heart of things and Jerry is a brilliant comedy actor. I’ve never even thought of asking for that kind of help before. So Zeke and I grew as musicians, as performers, and as a couple.

I finally realized that a key reason Zeke and I don’t play background music at home is because it leaves room for songs to just pop up in our minds. Everything is a song cue. Mostly other people’s songs, but sometimes our own. More often Zeke’s than mine, but I wrote a new one in March for the first time in years. And did my best to record it Saturday.

I looked at part of the first few video roughs and decided I didn’t want to see any more. I don’t need to feel any worse about my mistakes, my limitations, or my lack of perfection. That just doesn’t help. I focused on sharing songs. It’s not about me.

Late in the evening, we finally got help from Vortex The Cat. She was deeply concerned and offended by the Moving Of Furniture (that’s not Furniture! That’s Geography!) and setting up of lights and such. We thoroughly reorganized the living room several times, and kitchen as well. It’s a good thing our furniture is on slides! But Vortex finally joined me on the bed and got to be the focus of a couple of songs that Zeke had written for her over the years: The Cat Does Not Approve, and Making The Bed Without Moving The Cat. I have no idea if we got sharable video out of it; it was past everybody’s bedtime by then. But Vortex purred counterpoint throughout. 

We’ll start getting videos back from Tom later this week, and begin writing blog posts and getting songs up on our website. Our thanks to Tom & Kelly for an amazing experience!

Requiem for Whatcom Falls

Twenty years ago today, there was a huge pipeline explosion in Bellingham’s Whatcom Falls Park. How can I explain to you who weren’t there?

The park is a brilliant green ravine of old cedars, ferns, salal and moss, with a sparkling salmon stream winding through it. The creek runs down through the hills into the city, from the Lake Whatcom Reservoir. Deeply cherished and actively used.

 When the pipeline blew, a gigantic cloud of smoke rose over our city. Scorched leaves, cedar fronds, and chunks of roofing from a nearby house were blown over a mile. A friend who was a Vietnam War veteran was sure our city had been bombed and napalmed. Zeke and I drove through the vicinity just minutes before the pipeline blew, and noticed the number of emergency vehicles headed the other way.

The pipeline had been damaged years earlier during nearby construction, and it ruptured at the weakened point, pouring thousands of gallons of fuel into Whatcom Creek. The fuel floated on the surface of the water and formed a cloud of fumes above. A young man fishing was overwhelmed by the fumes and died. Two 10 year old boys were playing with fireworks down by the creek and set off the inevitable explosion. They walked out with burns everywhere but the soles of their feet and died later that night. But they were conscious enough to worry that the explosion was their fault. I think that’s the part that grieves me most, all these years later.

Trees turned into torches. Even the soil was on fire, soaked in gasoline. The gas flow was stopped just short of I-5 by a beaver dam. Old Man Haskell had fought for years trying to get rid of those beavers!

Just on the other side of the interstate, Whatcom Creeks flows past a senior high-rise, then dives into downtown, running past the courthouse, the library, the post office and the jail. Catastrophe was so near at hand.

There are pipeline explosions constantly all across the USA. Pipeline companies are accustomed to “settling” with the families of those who die. But their money comes with a price tag: silence. A gag order. The Bellingham families were unusual. They refused to shut up and spent years reliving their trauma, testifying, lobbying, leading the fight for safer pipelines. Because of them, we are all a bit safer these days.

Our city contracts with the local radio station with the highest powered transmitter as it’s emergency information station. In Bellingham, that’s a right-wing station. Before the fires were even out, I listened to the announcer telling us “There are those who care about the families of those poor boys, and then (dripping contempt) there are those who just care about the trees!”

I was so furious at this attempt to divide us as a community in such a moment that I wrote a song. I walked through the park in my mind, looking at what was lost. The song came out better than I expected. Music can help me move through the most powerful emotions. The song, not the words or melody but my feelings and intention, have evolved since this recording was made. I’m more peaceful now when I sing it. It feels like a true requiem. A friend from Colorado created a choral arrangement last year for her Threshold Choir. I feel differently about the song most of the time these days. But June 9th brings me back to my starting point.

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Steve Lalor Sings Zeke’s Song

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Our beloved Steve Lalor played One Man Rock Band when Zeke wrote a rock and roll song about the Nisqually earthquake in 2001. It’s called The Northwest Rock. I post this as a gift to all the folks who loved this man! Steve was the force behind the fabulous Seattle sixties band, The Daily Flash and made amazing music all his life. He taught me so much!