YOU ARE HERE - VENTURA, CALIFORNIA photos, musings, and links

Come join me on a hike through downtown Ventura.  I often take long walks that continually inspire me with unforgettable people and scenery. While I didn't grow up here, I belong here.  Sometimes I'll stop to write lyrics along the way or duck into a corner to record a melody on my cell phone (great we live in such a time).  Folks here are friendly.  I like that!  The city is rich with history, art, and diversity.  It is a vibrant community but not without challenges.  I wanted to capture both the vitality and the struggle.  I hope you'll feel in my music and in these photos that "You Are Here - Ventura, California" is really where you belong too.  (Select the pictures to see larger images.)
PICNIC AT CEMETERY PARK
When my family first moved to Ventura we had a picnic on this peaceful grassy hill that overlooks the pier and the Pacific Ocean.  We realized we were on sacred ground when we saw the grave markers of the folks who came before us, a reminder of our own mortality and the magic of each moment.  Today you’ll still see folks having picnics, playing touch football, and celebrating life at Cemetery Park.

ROSA
For many years I worked with migrant farmworker families.  I was profoundly moved by their humble and indomitable spirit.  Like my mother, Aurora, who came from Cuba, many folks bring not just humble service to their labor but also a feeling of hope that enriches us all.  I hope Rosa always rises again.

THE BALLAD OF ZACHARY LEE
I was taking one of my urban hikes through downtown Ventura when I saw a poster that alerted the community to the murder of Zack Lee.  Ventura is a peaceful city with caring and friendly people.  I was saddened and angry by this senseless violent act.  As time passed I saw the posters coming down and was moved to remember Zack with a ballad.  All proceeds from this song will be donated to Compassionate Friends serving families of victims of violent crimes (https://www.compassionatefriends.org).  Find out more about Zack at:  Zack Lee - Info, Prayer and Updates

GOODWILL GAL
Lots of thrift stores line Main Street downtown.  People buy the stuff that other people no longer want.  Why don’t they want their stuff anymore?  There’s a song in there!

TIPS, COFFEE, AND BEER
Ventura is a lively city with lots to see and do.  It’s a great place to raise a family.  It’s also a great place to hear music.  There are many venues and appreciative listeners.  Generous musicians everyday raise the quality of life for our community sometimes for tips, coffee, and beer.  I just wanted to show my appreciation.

AZUCENA
Azucena is the Spanish word for lily.  I like the way it sounds.  I felt that the name would work well in a ranchera style song.  Working with very traditional migrant farm workers I learned how protective, sometimes overly protective, families are of young women.  This song celebrates how love overcomes the barriers that exist in all of our lives and gives us the freedom to be who we really are.

KATE THE KITCHEN’S ON FIRE!
So I’m walking along and this silly song grew in my head.  I’ve always liked “Pig in a Pen” and that fun up-tempo bluegrass.  I think David Roine's fiddle break is awesome!  I bought a Goldtone banjitar last year and was looking for a reason to use it.  Think I found it.

HARDENED AND HOMELESS
Ventura, like many communities, is challenged with serving a large homeless population.  Long after the worst part of the recession, families and individuals continue to suffer.  Some are hardened by their struggles and their behavior scares us.  So we keep a distance and ignore the suffering.  Or worse, our fears are manifest in cruelty toward people already overwhelmed by a cruel life.  I do see the hardening of hearts.  I hope for greater compassion and healing.  Craig Andrews brings a soulful dobro lead.   Any proceeds from this song will go to Project Understanding to help homeless families (http://projectunderstanding.org/).

MY OLD LEATHER SUITCASE
In my closet I don’t have an old leather suitcase but a cardboard box with photos, birthday cards, my kids’ drawings and other mementos I’ve collected over a lifetime.  Every now and then I take it down and remember.  These memories grow sweeter with time. 

TRUTH, TALL TALES, AND GRIZZLY BEARS
I laughed out loud when I read the article in our local newspaper about William Randolph Hearst, the beguiled reporter Alan Kelly,  and the hunt for the reputed last grizzly bear in California.  You can find it here:  http://www.vcstar.com/news/outdoors/great-grizzly-bear-hunt-in-santa-paula-backcountry-reaps-state-flag-icon-tall-tales_90348345  I wanted to share this story in a song that had an old time feel and most importantly that allowed me to play kazoo!

THE MISSION
This year Pope Frances declared Father Junipero Serra a saint.  His sainthood comes amid much debate and controversy over his treatment of our Native Americans.  Still, Mission San Buenaventura stands as a cornerstone of our community.  In a sense we’re all on a mission.  Each of us endeavors to make the world a better place.  Sometimes the outcome of our most noble effort has unintended consequences.  Ultimately, we all long to know that, despite our failing, all is forgiven. 

LINKS


ART

http://www.cityofventura.net/culturalaffairs

THE MISSION

http://www.sanbuenaventuramission.org/

MUSIC SCENE

http://venturarocks.com/

Cemetery Memorial Park

http://www.cityofventura.net/cmp

VISIT

https://visitventuraca.com/

SONGMAKERS

http://www.songmakers.org/