AND SPOKEN WORD
of the most exciting things I have done in the past ten years has been collaborating
with many poets and writers, joining music with
I quickly found that interacting with
someone’s speaking voice
different from working with a singer. It is so easy to obscure
words, so easy to sway the meaning of a piece with the tone
and feeling of the music. I see it as an extremely delicate
balance, probably not unlike walking a high wire (no, I’ve never
actually done that). When it is
successful, the music supports the words, helps bring them
to the listener, makes the words and meanings easier to take
in and understand. Listeners have often commented on how well
the music complements the text, and it is something I love to
The first opportunity for me came some years ago from a friend, Nancy
Bertelson, who was producing a benefit for the watershed around
Pt. Reyes Station, California. The event focused on raising
awareness about the Coho Salmon and included science writers,
poets, songwriters, and instrumental music. I was hired to
play music and Patti Trimble, one of the featured writers,
was asked to write a series of poems about the salmon. Nancy
suggested that Patti and I collaborate, combine the music
and poems, something we had not previously thought of ourselves.
work was the beginning of years of performances and the CD
Small Craft Advisories which includes Pablo Rodriguez on
vocals, Juliana Kohl on vocals,
Joseph Sabella on drums, and myself on guitar. I have also
worked with the poets Ellery Akers and Jerry Martien as well
as the writers Jean
Hegland, Susan Bono, and Amanda Krugliak.
I have also collaborated with the poet Bob Stanley, including performances in Sacramento. Most recently, I worked with playwright and poet, Brian Thorstenson, collaborating on pieces as part of the performance of the Bill Horvitz Expanded Band tribute to my late brother Philip. These included performances in San Francisco, Sebastopol, and New York City.
I am always interested in finding new writers who would like to combine music and spoken word.