Another Blog???

Hi all.  After a l-l-o-o-n-n-g-g stretch of silence, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve created another Blog.  What?  Another one?!!  Well, my intentions are to have this site dedicated to information about my music and the “Other Blog” be sort of a dumping ground for thoughts on everything else.  Believe me, you don’t want me filling this site with all my random thoughts, that’s for sure!  LOL!

The site is over in and is good old “Sounds-of-Ray” there too.  The link is in my list of links in the right side column.

So, stop over there periodically and see what crazy or idiotic stuff runs through my mind.  Some of it might even be funny.  But, some of it might not.  you never know with me.

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The Cardinal has flown

Well, the nest is empty this morning.  What nest?  Oh, yes … some history first.

My wife and I live in a townhouse, joined with the other at the garage.  And, between the two garage doors is a bush.  This year the bush is doing so well that a pair of Cardinals decided it was a great place to build a nest and start a new family.  I first noticed “him” beating around the bush, paying far more attention to it than I’m used to.  Then, “she” started taking to the bush.

Well, they were fine there, though our comings and goings often disturbed their calm.  And they stayed on, even after the lawn people trimmed the bush back, barely leaving the nest covered (I’m sure THAT really traumatized the family).

And, there seemed to be activity in the nest when Mom wasn’t around.  So, that was good.

Yesterday, my wife noticed that the young one seemed pretty grown-up.  So, this morning I decided to take a peak and … the nest was empty.

Now, there are several possibilities with that.  Some good, some not so good.  But, the one I choose to believe is that there is now a proud mother Cardinal out there teaching her young one what it’s like to be a Cardinal, despite all the difficulties she went through hatching and raising him/her.

May the wind be ever at their backs, and the sun shine warm upon their wings …

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How the Music Started

It all started … HA!  Now that is a corny line.  Mainly because it’s not true.  My evolution into writing was just that: an evolution.

My ENJOYMENT of music started back at “The Cabin,” mentioned in A History, Part 1.  I loved singing the songs I heard on the radio.  I’d be out playing in the field and singing “Wayward Wind” or “They Call the Wind Maria” or some other popular songs of the time.  My folks weren’t Country fans.  But, popular music at the time had a touch of Country to it.

I started playing the trumpet the year before Dad went into the Ministry: so, in 4th grade.  This was a critical step, because it gave me knowledge of notes, rythmn, and written score I only knew about intuitively before.  I don’t think I ever played it really well.  That’s not the point.  Besides, I was a nasty student (still am) in that I NEVER do my homework.  Well, not true.  But, at least not enough to matter.  Lack of interest?  Not really.  Most things I study I’m very interested in.  More like a lack of focus.  There’s sooooooo much out there to take in, to learn about, to understand how it works and why it works.

OK.  Enough of that.  But, my father going into the ministry added another dimension to my love of music …churches and parish houses almost always have organs and pianos.  At that first house in Carterville, they had a piano in the side room: the one off the dining room.  I taught myself to play it from what I knew of the trumpet.  yes, just one fingered.  But, still, I understood what the white and black keys were for and how it all fit together.

The next year, at Leonardsville, I continued the trumpet for band, but soon was given a baritone horn because they had too many trumpet players. But, the grandest thing about Leonardsville was that they had a player piano in the living room of the parish house.  Now, I could see how more than one finger worked.  So, while the school tried to teach me baritone horn, my Mom paid for piano lessons to try to teach me the piano.  Both failed because I don’t do homework.  Not that I didn’t enjoy both (though I really liked the trumpet better than the other horn).  Though, with the piano, I just wanted to learn a higher level than I was getting (teachers are like that .. master the beginnings before moving on) and totally oblivious to the disservice I was doing myself.  Later on, when I met the competition, I would regret not working harder at the early lessons.

One point I forgot to mention about Carterville: I learned a valuable lesson.  The Minister that my father was training under (the Rev. Dibble) had some very talented children.  One young man (he was in his 20’s at the time) was a great organist.  While visiting, I had asked permission to play the big organ in the church (remember, I only knew about trumpets at this time), he came in while I was experimenting with it.  He then gave me the grand demo, but ended it with the best advice I ever had … you need to let the emotions flow through your fingers … to vary the tempo and intensity with the mood.  That single piece of advice has made the difference between playing notes or playing music.  I will carry that lesson to the grave.

No matter.  The next place we moved to (Utica) added a new instrument to my knowledge-base: the cello.  Now, how that happened is strange.  Both my younger brother and I were going to the same school.  For some reason, the orchestra leader had wanted my brother.  But, the office got it mixed up and sent me down, instead.  “No matter,” he sighed. “I’ll give you an instrument, too.  I could use a cellist.”  And, so, a cellist I became .. sort of .. remember, I don’t “teach” easily.  (You know… I actually “learn” very well.  I just don’t learn what people are trying to get me to learn).

Ahhh .. this grows long.  More to come in the next post … where I actually start writing music.  Until then, enjoy!

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Personal History, Part 2

So, after a year in that special location known as Carterville, we moved to Leonardsville.  Now, that is a small town in the Unadilla River valley: very peaceful town.  I could walk to school .. it was across the street and up a block. Winters were snowy and Summers delightful.

Ahhh .. stories abound from there.  From the sulphur well and hand-cranked telephone to wild Halloweens, almost every day was an adventure.

It is hard to fully describe those two years.  It was a coming of age time.  It was a learning about friends with cool “toys” time.  It was a time of explosive things (mainly bottle rockets …  wait, story there … fire crackers and 22-caliber rifles), of getting buried under a snow slide, of team sports … all of these new to me.

Bottle rockets!  A neighbor brought over some bottle rockets around the 4th of July one year and we were launching them on the sidewalk in front of the Church (my Dad’s church).  Of course, one went into the Belfry.  Man, I was really scared.  So, I got Dad and we climbed the ladder to take a look.  Sure ‘nough!  There was the rocket sitting in a pile of dead, dry leaves and smoldering away.  Got a lickin’ for that one, you-betcha!

I learned two cool things about launching items using explosives: they either fizzle and smoke or they blast off never to be seen again.  The “fizzle” was a series of attempts at launching an aluminum foil rocket with match heads as propellant.  Made a great smoke screen.  But, that’s all.  The “blast” was an empty 30-06 cartridge stuffed with a firecracker.  Put it in a V-channel and lit it.  BAM!  And it was gone.  I think we were lucky it didn’t become shrapnel instead.

Summer was for exploring the country side, shooting at cans in the sand quarry and looking for fossils in the slate quarry.  I remember big, puffy clouds and lots of sunshine, visits to farms to help with bailing, and a Player Piano in the Living room .. opps, that’s another Category.

Winter was just as fun.  Heaps of snow!  Long slides down the hill behind us (it was a huge pasture with a long slope up to a fairly steep hill).  Forts that started out as snow, but ended up with a coating of ice on them to protect them from the roving bands of Fort Busters. However, one day I did get buried alive (obviously, I got out).  A series of snow storms resulted in a lot of snow in banks beside the driveway.  But, it also left a lot on the roofs.  And, while I was digging in a snow pile near the Church building, I heard a “wooosh!”  Next thing I know, I’m pinned to the ground under a mound of heavy snow.  Only slightly panicked(who am I kidding .. I scared to death), I managed to get my hands under myself and push up and through the mound.  Wow!  Air!

So many more stories.  But, you get the picture.  It was a fun time to be a kid.

Oh, BTW, Halloween?  That was the year a drowned calf was raised-up on the school flag pole and someone threw a glass jar of silver paint high up on the brick side of the school building facing the parking lot.  It was there for ages after that.

Next stop .. Utica .. and a whole new lifestyle.  Until then, enjoy!

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Why Second Life?

Five years ago I had not heard of Second Life ™, which may be the case with some of you.  And, those of you who have heard of it may have a completely different idea of it than I do.

It was the Fall of 2006 and one of my work friends, who was/is involved with Online Training, asked me if I’d heard of it.  “No,” I replied.  “Well, you should check it out,” she said.  And, she pointed me to an article about “Suzanne Vega and the Second Life of Live Music” (link here)  I was floored!  Plus, there was a YouTube video of the making of her guitar in SL (link here).

Two days later I had an account.  I wandered around for 2 weeks getting the feel of things.  Finally, I bought some (virtual) land and built both a house and a large patio where people could come and listen to my music, which I had prerecorded into a 60 minute stream that ran over and over 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

So, do you think the old adage “If you build it, they will come” works? Not in your sweet life time they won’t.  I waited … and waited .. and waited.  No one!

So, I just took to building.  I could do that. And learning the ropes.  Joined a few groups. Finally, the guy who I rented my stream from listened to my songs and suggested I talk to a certain someone in the SL music scene.  Plus, he wanted her to hear my songs.

That was the big break.  It got me started and I’ve been cranking on that for the last two and a half years. Then other people started listening and liking my stuff.

Well, lots of people don’t care for it.  But, that’s probably because it’s raw: just me and my 12-string, coming to you live from my basement studio in Minnesota.  A lot of people need more than that in order to get excited.  Plus, Folk is a limited taste now a-days.

There are lots of things to say about playing Live Music in SL.  First, you aren’t going to get rich doing it.  In fact, you won’t even make coffee money.  But, that’s not the point, at least for me.  It’s the fun of it and interacting with real people more so than you would if you were playing a coffee shop or bar.

Second, you meet a lot of wonderful people there.  And, people from all over the world.  Most of them are there because they love music.  They have all sorts of backgrounds and many are not really in the business (though, there are many who are in the RL music business, and in promotions, too).

Keep your eyes posted on this topic.  I have lots more to say.  In the meantime .. be sure to look around you and have fun, whatever life you are living.

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the Early Years, Part 1

My early life (in Upstate New York) was not too outstanding.  I was just a normal kid who drew on walls with crayons (because it was pretty) and plastered himself with a whole tube of toothpaste pretending to be a wild native tribesman.

My early life was quite rugged.  For a long time (before Dad went into the ministry), we lived in a six room “cabin” in Pleasant Valley, NY, that my father built on land my mom’s dad gave them for a wedding present.  No running water … well, not true.  My brother and I “ran” for it in buckets from a hand-cranked well about 200 ft up the trail (and on my grandfather’s land) from the cabin.  Two buckets for the bathroom, two for the kitchen.

How did music fit in here?  Well, I’ll take that up on the Music History side.  But, it did.

Once Dad had gone into the Ministry, we finally had places with running water.  Food was sometimes a worry.. haha.  But, it was that period that rooted my interest in music deeper than ever (think church, organ and piano).

To name some spots, in order of residence: Carterville (near Camden), Leonardsville, Utica, and Stittville.

Now, it took me awhile to find it, because the town is long gone.  But, in Carterville we lived in a large house on the corner of Hillsboro Rd and County Route 17, right across from Carterville Pond.  Part of the house was said to have been a tavern in the earlier days (who knows if that is true, I’m just saying what I’d heard).  It was a wonderful old house, with a tunnel under the road and strange things in the attic.

Unfortunately, it’s gone.  And from the looks of the building replacing it (thanks to Google Street view), it’s been gone for a long time.  Gone, too, the gazebo on the other side of the driveway.  And most likely the spring-fed cistern out back.  And, no more grassy hillside covered with wild strawberries.  But, it looks like the old barn is still there, maybe. It was fairly new when we lived there.  So, that old barn could be it.

A little ways up Route 17, on the pond side, was where I went to 5th grade, in a one room school house, complete with a hand-pumped well and the infamous pump handle.  The school mistress, Mary, lived in a trailer next to the school.  About 8 students, 3 from our family, went to classes there.  All that is gone now.

So, many stories .. *sigh* … I may get back to them.  For now, I will close, since Real Life beckons.   Until, then, enjoy yourself and those around you, no matter which Life you are in.

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Ray … Who?

Haha!  It’s not like the the name is unique.  I bet there are a million people out there who say “Yes?” when someone shouts out “Hey, Ray!”

I simplified it all because when I joined Second Life ™, I decided to take the same first name as in Real Life, so as not to confuse myself.  Also, since I’m not trying to hide there (my RL stuff is right out in the open for all to see), it was a natural.  In truth, I think Ray Weyland is more widely known then Ray Pascoe, Jr., is.  Not sure if that’s good or bad.

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