“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.”
– Jeanne Moreau
– Jeanne Moreau
In early November, I was fortunate enough to be in the audience at the Gramercy Theater, New York, for Garrett Court’s live show to launch his new album, Young Hands, Old Hands, Same Strings.
It was an amazing night of music from Garrett and, in fact, from all the musicians involved. I mean, who can resist Silver Lake’s Jake Power?
One incredible new talent to take to the stage that night was a young lady called Riley Johnson. If you weren’t lucky enough to hear Riley sing on the night, check her out online. You can’t miss her with her distinctive emerald green hair!
After a few enquiries, I managed to track this mystery songbird down and arranged to meet her for a chat. Much to my surprise, Riley suggested that we meet up at Garrett Court’s music store in Greenwich Village.
It was around lunchtime when I arrived at the store and I quickly spotted Riley behind the cash desk. Seeing that she was busy with a customer I took a few minutes to browse the various instruments on display. If you’re in the market for a new guitar, you could do worse than drop by. Garrett’s Store is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave!
Eventually, Riley was free. At her suggestions we headed to a nearby diner to chat over lunch. (I’ll not lie- I was disappointed not to be invited up into the infamous Gothic Palace above the store.)
Sandwiches and coffees ordered, we settled ourselves at a secluded corner table.
“So, Riley, tell me how you came to be appearing on stage last November with the legendary Garrett Court?”
“A combination of luck and a lot of help from Dr Marrs and Jake,” she revealed quietly. Up close Riley is younger than she appears on stage and is a rather shy young lady.
“That’s some pretty big names. Tell me more.”
“Back home, I took a summer school music workshop last summer,” began Riley. Despite her youth, Riley has an amazingly warm husky voice. “Jake was the teacher and, as part of the workshop, he took us out to JJL to record the songs we’d written. There were ten of us. That’s where I met Dr Marrs and Garrett. Garrett helped out for a day while we were in the studio.” Pausing to take a bite out of her sandwich, Riley continued, “A couple of weeks later, I got a call from Dr Marrs asking if I’d like to sing some vocals for Garrett’s record. Trust me, he didn’t need to ask me twice. I jumped at the opportunity. The following week I spent a couple of days out at JJL recording some stuff. It was just Dr Marrs, me and the sound engineer. No Garrett. I recorded four or five songs over the two days. One made it onto the record.”
“Which one was that?”
“Black Heart Dark Mind.”
“Then I guess it was Garrett who invited you along to perform at the show at the Gramercy?”
“No,” revealed Riley with a smile. “It was Jake who set that up. He was up here helping Garrett out. They needed a vocalist and Garrett mentioned some “green haired girl” that had sung on the record. Up til then I don’t think Jake even knew I’d been involved with the album. He recognised me from Garrett’s description. Reached out through my high school principal and, well, here I am.” The teenager giggled. I must say, Riley has a very infectious laugh.
“And now you’re working in the music store?” I enquired, curious to learn the full story here.
“Not so much working as helping out,” Riley replied a little evasively. She paused then said softly, “It’s complicated.”
“Things at home weren’t great,” continued Riley, keeping her head bowed. “When Jake called to invite me up here, I grabbed the opportunity. I saw it as my chance for a fresh start. I talked to Garrett. Explained my situation and we reached an agreement. He’s agreed I can stay on at the Gothic Palace, arranged for me to finish up school here. He was real strict about that part. In turn, I help out in the store. I’ll also be going on tour with him later this month.”
“I assume Rehoboth Beach was home? Why couldn’t you go back there?”
“That’s personal. I’d rather not talk about it.”
“Apologies. I didn’t mean to pry.”
“You’re a journalist. It’s your job to pry.”
Riley is a very astute young woman. Changing the subject, I asked, “How is it living with a music legend?”
“Quiet,” giggled Riley. “Garrett is a creature of habit. You could set your watch by him. He’s happy for me to stay but there are a few golden house rules. It’s kind of cool living there though.”
“And what about Jake? Are you still in touch with him?”
“Yes! He’s been awesome. So has his wife. I spent Thanksgiving with them at the beach. They treated me like family.”
“So, would you say Jake was your mentor?”
“Definitely,” Riley replied without hesitation. “I’m going back to stay with him this summer. He talked to Dr Marrs and I’m booked into JJL to record some stuff. The hope is we can pull together an EP or something. We’ll see where that goes.”
“So what does the immediate future hold for you. What’s next?”
“After the tour later this month, I need to focus on finishing school. One of the conditions of staying in New York with Garrett is that I maintain a B+ grade average and graduate from high school.”
“Sounds like a sensible condition. You’re in sensible hands there.”
“Oh, I am!” Riley gushed. “Garrett is more strict with me than my Dad ever was. Jake also keeps a close eye on my grades.”
“And where do you see yourself a year from now?”
“Singing, playing and writing music,” replied Riley before draining the last of her coffee.
“Thanks for your time today.”
“And thanks for lunch. This has been fun.”
I walked Riley back across to the music store. As we walked and talked, she let slip that Garrett was also giving her music lesson and that she had an essay to finish for her History class.
This young rising star is somewhat of an enigma. On the one hand, she’s a very confident musician then on the other, she’s a normal teenage girl fretting about her homework assignment. If she puts as much dedication into her studies as she did into her performance last year on stage at the Gramercy Theater then she should have no issues maintaining and exceeding that B+ grade average.
Details of Garrett Court’s forthcoming tour are available on his website and tickets are on sale now. I’ve already got my ticket and strongly advise you to grab yours before these shows sell out.
(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)
As the end of the year approaches, there are two choices- look back and reflect on the year that’s coming to a close or look forward to the year that is about to dawn.
Personally, I’ll look forward if that’s ok with you.
I’m looking forward to sunrises, sunsets, beach walks and new paths to travel.
Oh… and the goal for 2020?
It’s a simple one….to write the last part of the Silver Lake series.
Happy New Year to each and every one of you. Thanks for the love and support and I look forward to sharing the journey through 2020 with you.
love n hugs
Sometimes the planets align and you are lucky enough to experience something magical – a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I experienced one such moment earlier this week thanks entirely to a special friend. (You know who you are)
Christmas came early and I was fortunate enough to find myself seated next to my friend in the SSE Hydro preparing to watch the Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas 25th Anniversary concert. Not only that but Danny Elfman, the composer, was about to reprise his role as the singing voice of Jack Skellington alongside other original cast members.
Now, I appreciate that not all of you may be Tim Burton or Danny Elfman fans….oh…you don’t know what you’re missing!
Ok, I’ll calm the enthusiasm for a second.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, The Nightmare Before Christmas is an animated dark musical fantasy film conceived and produced by Tim Burton. The film is based on a poem written by Tim Burton when he worked as an animator for Disney
It was late one fall in Halloweenland,
And the air had quite a chill.
Against the moon a skeleton sat,
Alone upon a hill.
He was tall and thin with a bat bow tie;
Jack Skellington was his name.
He was tired and bored in Halloweenland –
Everything was always the same.
“I’m sick of the scaring, the terror, the fright.
I’m tired of being something that goes bump in the night.
I’m bored with leering my horrible glances,
And my feet hurt from dancing those skeleton dances.
I don’t like graveyards, and I need something new.
There must be more to life than just yelling, ‘Boo!'”
Then out from a grave, with a curl and a twist,
Came a whimpering, whining, spectral mist.
It was a little ghost dog, with a faint little bark,
And a jack-o’-lantern nose that glowed in the dark.
It was Jack’s dog, Zero, the best friend he had,
But Jack hardly noticed, which made Zero sad.
All that night and through the next day,
Jack wandered and walked.
He was filled with dismay.
Then deep in the forest, just before night,
Jack came upon an amazing sight.
Not twenty feet from the spot where he stood
Were three massive doorways carved in wood.
He stood before them, completely in awe,
His gaze transfixed by one special door.
Entranced and excited, with a slight sense of worry,
Jack opened the door to a white, windy flurry.
Jack didn’t know it, but he’d fallen down
In the middle of a place called Christmas Town!
Immersed in the light, Jack was no longer haunted.
He had finally found the feeling he wanted.
And so that his friends wouldn’t think him a liar,
He took the present filled stockings that hung by the fire.
He took candy and toys that were stacked on the shelves,
And a picture of Santa with all of his elves.
He took lights and ornaments and the star from the tree,
And from the Christmas Town sign, he took the big letter C.
He picked up everything that sparkled or glowed.
He even picked up a handful of snow.
He grabbed it all and without being seen,
He took it all back to Halloween.
Back in Halloween, a group of Jack’s peers
Stared in amazement at his Christmas souvenirs.
For this wondrous vision none were prepared.
Most were excited, though a few were quite scared!
For the next few days, while it lightninged and thundered,
Jack sat alone and obsessively wondered.
“Why is it they get to spread laughter and cheer
While we stalk the graveyards, spreading panic and fear?
Well, I could be Santa, and I could spread cheer!
Why does he get to do it year after year?”
Outraged by injustice, Jack thought and he thought.
Then he got an idea. “Yes…yes…why not!”
In Christmas Town, Santa was making some toys
When through the din he heard a soft noise.
He answered the door, and to his surprise,
He saw weird little creatures in strange disguise.
They were altogether ugly and rather petite.
As they opened their sacks, they yelled, “Trick or treat!”
Then a confused Santa was shoved into a sack
And taken to Halloween to see mastermind Jack.
In Halloween everyone gathered once more,
For they’d never seen a Santa before
And as they cautiously gazed at this strange old man,
Jack related to Santa his masterful plan:
“My dear Mr. Claus, I think it’s a crime
That you’ve got to be Santa all of the time!
But now I will give presents, and I will spread cheer.
We’re changing places I’m Santa this year.
It is I who will say Merry Christmas to you!
So you may lie in my coffin, creak doors, and yell, ‘Boo!’
And please, Mr. Claus, don’t think ill of my plan.
For I’ll do the best Santa job that I can.”
And though Jack and his friends thought they’d do a good job,
Their idea of Christmas was still quite macabre.
They were packed up and ready on Christmas Eve day
When Jack hitched his reindeer to his sleek coffin sleigh.
But on Christmas Eve, as they were about to begin,
A Halloween fog slowly rolled in.
Jack said, “We can’t leave; this fog’s just too thick.
There will be no Christmas, and I can’t be St. Nick.”
Then a small glowing light pierced through the fog,
What could it be?…It was Zero, Jack’s dog!
Jack said, “Zero, with your nose so bright,
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
And to be so needed was Zero’s great dream,
So he joyously flew to the head of the team.
And as the skeletal sleigh started its ghostly flight,
Jack cackled, “Merry Christmas to all,
and to all a good night!”
‘Twas the nightmare before Christmas, and all though the house,
Not a creature was peaceful, not even a mouse.
The stockings all hung by the chimney with care,
When opened that morning would cause quite a scare!
The children, all nestled so snug in their beds,
Would have nightmares of monsters and skeleton heads.
The moon that hung over the new-fallen snow
Cast an eerie pall over the city below,
And Santa Claus’s laughter now sounded like groans,
And the jingling bells like chattering bones.
And what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a coffin sleigh with skeleton deer.
And a skeletal driver so ugly and sick,
They knew in a moment, this can’t be St. Nick!
From house to house, with a true sense of joy,
Jack happily issued each present and toy.
From rooftop to rooftop he jumped and he skipped,
Leaving presents that seemed to be straight from a crypt!
Unaware that the world was in panic and fear,
Jack merrily spread his own brand of cheer.
He visited the house of
Susie and Dave;
They got a Gumby and Pokey
From the grave.
Then on to the home of
Little Jane Neeman;
She got a baby doll
Possessed by a demon.
A monstrous train with tentacle tracks,
A ghoulish puppet wielding an ax,
A man-eating plant
Disguised as a wreath,
And a vampire teddy bear
With very sharp teeth.
There were screams of terror, but Jack didn’t hear it,
He was much too involved with his own Christmas spirit!
Jack finally looked down from his dark, starry frights
And saw the commotion, the noise, and the light.
“Why, they’re celebrating, it looks like such fun!
They’re thanking me for the good job that I’ve done.”
But what he thought were fireworks meant as goodwill,
Were bullets and missiles intended to kill.
Then amidst the barrage of artillery fire,
Jack urged Zero to go higher and higher.
And away they all flew like the storm of a thistle,
Until they were hit by a well guided missile.
And as they fell on the cemetery, way out of sight,
Was heard, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
Jack pulled himself up on a large stone cross,
And from there he reviewed his incredible loss.
“I thought I could be Santa, I had such belief…”
Jack was confused and filled with great grief.
Not knowing where to turn, he looked toward the sky,
Then he slumped on the grave and he started to cry.
And as Zero and Jack lay crumpled on the ground,
They suddenly heard a familiar sound….
“My dear Jack,” said Santa, “I applaud your intent.
I know wreaking such havoc was not what you meant.
And so you are sad, and feeling quite blue,
But taking over Christmas was the wrong thing to do.
I hope you realize Halloween’s the right place for you.
There’s a lot more, Jack, that I’d like to say,
But now I must hurry, for it’s almost Christmas Day.”
Then he jumped in his sleigh, and with a wink of an eye,
He said, “Merry Christmas!”, and he bid them good-bye.
Back home, Jack was sad, but then, like a dream,
Santa brought Christmas to the land of Halloween.
(credits to the owner Tim Burton – copy sourced via Google)
I love Tim Burton films!
I love Danny Elfman music!
This was sure to be a night to remember – and it was!
Both my friend and I were a little unsure of what to expect…..
Below us the stage was prepared for the arrival of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. There were three video screens above the vast stage.
It struck me that I was more accustomed to standing on the rail in front of the stage….not tonight though. This was an entirely seated event. Very civilised.
The show opened with the RSNO playing The Nightmare Before Christmas overture while the screen showed a selection of Tim Burton’s original drawings.
To cut a long story short, we then watched the film but, when it reached a musical number, this was performed live on stage. Aside from the incredibly talented and animated Danny Elfman, we were entertained by Catherine O’Hara as Sally and Ken Page as Oogie Boogie plus five other vocalists who included comedian Greg Proops (remember him from Whose Line Is it Anyway?)
Like all theatrical performances, there was a short interval at an appropriate moment in the film.
Following the intermission, acclaimed violinist Sandy Cameron was invited on stage to perform the Elfman Violin Concerto. WOW! That’s all I can say…WOW!
(credits to the owner via YouTube)
When the film ended to rapturous applause, the various performers took their bows then Danny Elfman returned to the stage to treat us to one final number. He performed Oogie Boogie’s song as he’d originally envisaged it in a Cab Calloway style. This performance above all others showcases just what an outstandingly talented entertainer he truly is. Loved it!
Sadly, all good things have to come to an end….
How many sleeps till Sandy Claws comes?
(credits to the owner via You Tube)
(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)
If you go down in the woods today…….
Unexpectedly, I found myself with a few minutes to spare earlier this week so I seized my chance to get the daily step count up and took a short woodland walk.
Even on a cold damp November afternoon there was beauty to be found.
and playing in among the trees and fallen leaves
And in a flash he was gone, leaving only the blur of his tail…….
But…… he couldn’t resist a final glance.