Hope Springs, Spring Hopes
After a long, cold, wet winter, my garden beds planted are finally planted. Again, like every year, my head and heart are filled with hopes and dreams for a beautiful, bountiful harvest.
One would think after years of pest-infested zucchini, pitiful tomatoes and, drought stricken flowers, I would have given up by now. But that’s not human nature, or at least, not the nature of gardeners. Every failure brings an opportunity to learn from one’s mistakes. We lick our wounds shoulder our shovels and head back into the battlefield, ready to take on pests, soil deficiencies and crappy weather.
This spring has brought with it sad headlines & disturbing news. Events taking place in the human world stand in stark contrast to the hopeful emergence of sweet smelling blossoms, colorful buds and the new life that nature provides in this season. In the midst of a beautiful springtime canvas, I find myself worrying about the world I am bringing my daughters into.
A house wren recently constructed her nest in the flower box of my chicken coop. Like this tenacious little mother, I have taken care of my little ones methodically and carefully for a very long time. If I do my job right, they will launch out into the world, independent, hunting and gathering, eventually building their own nests.
Yet I am painfully aware that there are predators out there. Like the cat that lies in wait for the baby bird to take its first flight, forces of ignorance and negativity are building bombs and buying guns. My heart carries within it a constant prayer that my daughters will be protected, as I prepare them to enter this big, bad, beautiful world.
It is easy to live in fear, to let the failures of the past and anxieties about the future prevent us from moving forward. Hope takes work. You must dig down deep, prep the soil and plant the seeds. You must teach the young to be smart, strong and vigilant, and train them in the skills they need to survive and thrive.
Hope is a precious, golden-egg like thing. Fragile and full of potential, it must be handed gently and carefully to the next generation. Like food, shelter and love, our children need hope to lead them forward to the important work of living their lives and making their mark on the world. Without it, we are lost.
Every single day, I must choose hope over fear. In spite of the negative chatter that tells us that things are going to hell in a hand basket, I will continue to nurture hope for this world, hope for my daughters, and yes, hope for a bumper crop of delicious, home grown tomatoes.
This Sunday, I’ll be performing in the final show of the Tennessee Women’s Theatre Project’s “Women’s Work” performance series, a 2:30 pm matinee songwriters’ showcase with Get It Girl Nashville emerging artists Drew Haley, Caitlin Eadie and Megan Dillon. Get It Girl Nashville was created by songwriters Rachel Lipsky and Drew Haley to encourage a forum for female writers to connect and showcase their work. These young women writers are lovely, talented, hardworking, inspired – and bring a spirit of fun to their shows.
More gigs-please check the website calendar: There are upcoming shows this summer at West Nashville Farmer’s Market. Every third Wednesday of the month I perform a family show for young children and their caregivers at Whole Foods in Franklin. I’ve also been playing out with the guitar slinging, Bobbie-Bare-inspired Rich Mahan, with his band of Cocktail Heroes. Check out the video here of a cover of a country-fried “Loose Lucy” that he produced that has now almost 10,000 hits via YouTube.
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Poor Penny. My little red hen is molting. In winter. Not the best time to lose most of your feathers, especially with the crazy cold snaps we have been experiencing here in Nashville. The funny thing is, it seems like she knows that she looks raggedy. Normally, she struts around with a bossy confidence, but lately she seems a bit more timid – less “confident” if you will. She has also stopped producing eggs for the time being.
I can’t but help identify with Penny – I’m molting too. After a recent visit to the dermatologist, I walked away with two huge nitrogen-induced blisters on my face. The procedure was necessary, the comeuppance I earned by spending my youth sunbathing in the sand dunes of Ventura, CA. Like Penny, I currently look a bit raggedy. I am hoping that in time, my skin will heal and I can go out in public again without feeling like a virus victim from “The Walking Dead.”
Perhaps early winter is a good time to “molt.” In this season of darker days and New Year’s resolutions, there is an opportunity to cast off worn out habits, patterns and the extra weight (both physical and emotional) that prevents us from being as productive as we might be. But molting is a process – it takes time. We wait, feeling timid and vulnerable as our new, beautiful, flight feathers grow in.
As the sunlight returns, shining longer and brighter each day, new projects, goals and challenges lie ahead. As I look toward spring, my little red hen reminds me to honor the process of molting, to take the opportunity to reflect, re-assess, shed, and allow processes to unfold as they are meant to, in their own time.
I’m fired up to perform again at Two Old Hippies with my cover band “Big Love Medicine” on Saturday, Feb. 9th from 6:00 – 7:30pm. Callie, my 13 year-old has been feeding me new songs by great bands like Young the Giant, Lady Gaga and fun. At this show, however, I will most likely be offering up material that will recall Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and other roots influenced female artists of the early ‘70’s. Fred Lawrence will be joining on keys & Hammond B3, Rich Mahan on guitar, Luke on bass and Rob Guidry on drums.
I recently attended a fantastic songwriting seminar on Jan. 18, sponsored by Big Brother/Big Sisters of Tennessee. Candid information, stories and songs were offered by Nashville songwriting monster Tim Nichols and a great panel of publishers including Mike Molinar of Big Machine, who is currently publishing the music for the t.v. show “Nashville.” I met some talented female writers, including Rachel Lipsky whom I will be joining at Belcourt Taps, March 9 with an all-female line-up for Get It Girl Nashville. This seminar was inspiring and informative – a really rich way to spend a Saturday learning & supporting one of my favorite charities.
However, one burning question remained unanswered by the experts: Why are there not more female country artists currently on the airwaves? Maybe they’re busy molting.
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Lot’s of projects going on and shows on the horizon! If you get to the end of this e-blog, you will be rewarded with fresh eggs.
First of all, Luke and I will be playing with our band Big Love Medicine (your Rx for the daily grind) at Two Old Hippies this coming Saturday, Nov. 10, from 6:00-7:30. Last time we played, this happened:
I’m not suggesting that our set was responsible for this natural phenomenon; I am just saying that it seems to be a PRETTY BIG COINCIDENCE…if you love double rainbows, check out DoubleRainbowGuy.
Another show worth checking out will be at the 5-Spot on Nov. 17th. Big Love Medicine will play several songs in a tribute to The Band’s epic concert, The Last Waltz. We will be rendering songs originally performed by Levon Helm, Joni Mitchell, Emmy Lou Harris and Rick Danko, to name a few.
Every 3rd Wednesday of the month at Whole Foods in Franklin, I’ll be performing an interactive family program from 9:30 – 10:30am. I’ll be there this month on Wed. Nov. 14, in the Community Room sharing songs, stories and visits with my menagerie of puppet friends.
On Dec. 1, Ginger Sands & Friends will be teaming up with POVERTY IS REAL for a family concert to benefit Open Table Nashville. This interactive show for young children and their parents will feature some of my award-winning friends – children’s artist Rachel Sumner and other special guests – including Santa! Concert will be held at Smart Sprouts at 2209 Bandywood Drive in Green Hills and begins at 3:00pm. Seating is limited for this special event. Tix are $5.00 per person and $10.00 for per family.
The following weekend, I am excited to be a part of Cheekwood’s Holiday Extravaganza on Dec. 8, at 11:00 am. Cheekwood has some serious FUN planned this season: Santa’s workshop, cookie decorating, crafts and real live REINDEER to name a few. I will be in the story room sharing seasonal books, songs and stories to get your whole family in a multicultural holiday mood.
My work with TPAC has taken an exciting turn – our collaborative album, “Give Yourself a High Five” has won the coveted Parent’s Choice Gold Award. Produced by TPAC’s Lattie Brown and dedicated to Head Start teachers, this recording includes the talents of Lattie, Rachel Sumner, Dan Sherrill, Jamie London, Jocelyn Sprouse, Kathleen Lynam and Mary La Fleur, whose memory lives on in her lovely songs and poetry. Congratulations, team. Can’t wait to do the live concert of this fantastic children’s album.
Finally…After five months of lobbying and waiting for the City of Forest Hills to join Davidson County in updating their domestic hen code, my outlaw chickens are finally legal. Weary of hiding out and being “on the lam,” my spunky hens have hung up their little six shooters and are getting on to the business of laying these beautiful eggs. PHEW! You made it to the end! Here you are – enjoy.
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Hey y’all! I am traveling on the West Coast so just want to touch base and let you know about some upcoming shows that will be happening in Nashville in early July…
Thursday 7/12, Exit/In presents “Sunshine Daydream: a night of Grateful Dead music.”
Our GD tribute band Tennessee Jed will perform along with a cache of local talent including the Danberrys, Don Gallardo and Marion Grace – all covering the well-worn songs of Jerry and the boys.
Music begins at 8:00 pm and continues well past midnight.
Saturday, July 14, my latest band project, BigLoveMedicine will be back in the gulch performing at the Two Old Hippies’ stage from 6:00-8:00pm.
BigLoveMedicine (your “antidote to the daily grind”)
is a mix of original and cover folk/rock, blending West Coast jam-band roots with the southern flavors of Louisiana, old Nashville and blues influences.
This all-ages show takes place on “Bastille Day,” the French equivalent to the USA’s 4th of July.
Heads will roll.
More shows on the horizon – Art Crawl, West Nashville Farmer’s Market, Cheekwood. I’ll keep you posted with the details.
Wishing you safe travels, peace in your heart and music in your soul.
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This coming Wednesday, May 16, I am pleased to be a part of the weekly event “A Place at the Table” sponsored by local chef Martha Stamps. Every week at West End United Methodist Church, Martha invites the public to attend a local, seasonal and sustainably cooked meal paired with thematic programming that might include a food-themed film or speaker. This Wednesday, I will be performing some garden-themed songs from Back to the Garden and showing a brief presentation about the “school garden to cafeteria” Fresh Fridays program piloted at local middle school JTMoore. The event starts at 6:00 and is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children. Reservations, call 321-8500.
On Friday, May 18th, I’ll be attending a school “garden party” at Carter Lawrence Magnet Elementary school, where students will be celebrating their recently planted garden beds in their newly expanded school garden, a.k.a. “outdoor learning lab.” I was tickled to help my friend and master educator Michelle Allison instruct the students on how to raise plants from seed and set out seedlings of squash and beans and a variety of other veggies. The highlight for me was when the students started digging for, and finding WORMS! When the students come back in August, they will be sure to explore all of the changes that have taken place in their garden over the summer.
On Saturday, May 19th, I’ll be performing at the Franklin Whole Foods 1st year Anniversary celebration. Family-friendly music and celebration begins at 10:00 a.m.
Looking forward to the summer months, I am excited to be back performing with friends at the West Nashville Farmer’s Market on June 2 at 10:00. Till then, our family will be at the market as shoppers, enjoying the basil lemonade, fresh produce, goat cheese, local meats and great music. Hope to see you soon!
Next time: “Outlaw Chickens…”
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Isn’t this a great photo? Mythologist and philosopher Joseph Campbell wrote that when the Apollo astronauts took the first picture of Earth from the moon, our human perspective was changed forever. In this single image, it became clear that all of humanity is inextricably linked together.
I was so excited when my daughter showed me this link that she found via her 6th grade science teacher during their astronomy unit. When I was her age, the only images available of our solar system were the two-dimensional kind, spread out on the pages of a science book, complemented by the requisite Styrofoam ball models. But these computer-enhanced graphics really put our solar system and planet into perspective (“a bit too much perspective” Nigel from “Spinal Tap” might say…)
And what a beautiful planet it is, this water-filled bounty of beauty, mystery and diversity, teeming with life.
This Earth Day weekend is a busy one for me. On Friday, I will be playing out with band “Big Love Medicine” at Two Old Hippies in the Gulch from 6:00-8:00. Then, on Saturday, from 11:00 – 2:00, I’ll be at the Earth Day festival in Centennial Park, working a family seed-planting activity booth sponsored by the Nashville School Garden Coalition.
When I was gathering songs for my CD “Back to the Garden,” songwriter Rachel Newman’s tune EarthGirl hit the mark. I have fond memories of sitting on her front porch, gazing out at “her” fields, talking about songs, family, Jesus, cats and nature. EarthGirl perfectly expresses my sentiment: that this beautiful planet is my home which I love and want to protect and even defend, should those mean ugly aliens in the sci-fi movies ever try to colonize it, a la “Independence Day.”
This planet is worth protecting. Just look at it! We are so very blessed.
Happy Earth Day to you.
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“If music be the food of love, play on.”
There is a connection between good food and good music. It’s simple: good food feeds the body - good music feeds the soul. Both contribute to our health and well-being, mentally, physically and spiritually. Isn’t it notable that we say we have certain “tastes” for music, art, and style?
Good food can be plain or gourmet, all-American, or international – an infinite variety of combinations, cultures and traditions. It’s the same with music. Music can be simple, or fancy, all-American or international, reflecting those very same traditional and cultures that we discover through food. When playing music, I often feel like the band works together like a restaurant kitchen staff, create a gumbo of rhythm, melody, tempo and texture.
We all like the music that feeds our soul and gives us what we need on an emotional level. Food and music both help us to touch the sublime. When we are eating a great meal or listening to great music (better yet, simultaneously), for a brief time we are perfectly present in the moment.
This spring, I’m looking forward to serving up a various musical cuisines for a variety of audiences. When I perform for children and families, at Whole Foods in Franklin on April 14, or at the Nashville Public Main Library March 27 & 28, I plan to cook up material that is palatable to the younger set and their parents a – musical equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich.
Playing out with folk/rock cover band Big Love Medicine at the Two Old Hippies store this coming April 20 (6:00 – 8:00pm), we’ll be offering traditional roots rock that will satisfy a more seasoned palate, those with a taste for “old school” songs and riffs from “back in the day.” This musical evening could be likened to California cuisine (that’s Luke and I) with a side of red beans and rice (drummer Rob Guidry’s from Louisiana) with an Avocado Sundae for dessert (courtesy of guitarist Rich Mahan).
On Thursday, April 5th at 6pm, the flavors will be decidedly French. I’ll be singing a selection of French jazz songs at a student performance at the Nashville Jazz Workshop. Exploring the work of Yves Montand and Edith Piaf has been inspiring, demanding and “fantastique!”
Each of these musical cuisines feed my soul in a different way, and I’d love to share them with you. If you are a parent with young kids, a fan of live rock & roll or a jazz aficionado, I hope you will come out to the show and get your fill.
Until then, Bon Appetite!
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I’ve been a fan of Kermit the Frog ever since I first saw him perform “Bein’ Green’” on the first season of Sesame Street. Jim Henson’s touching performance offered us a gentle reminder us that we are all the same under our skin. Joe Raposo’s lyrics are a message of self-acceptance, but also invite compassion for those who might look different from ourselves.
Recently, while studying jazz vocals with the Nashville Jazz Workshop, it occurred to me that “Bein’ Green” is a darn good jazz song. Melody, lyrics, message – a perfect choice for my collection of covers for “Back to the Garden.”
Since Kermit’s first performance back in 1970, the term “being green” has evolved into a new meaning. As our population grows and our planet’s resources shrink, being “green” now more often refers to environmental awareness, and the case for making lifestyle and policy choices that reflect a shift toward sustainability.
Its not easy “being green.” Collectively, our society is dependent on outdated energy sources. Our leaders get bogged down in politics and policies which make it difficult to make needed changes. We live in a consumer culture that makes it so much easier to throw away and buy new rather than reduce, reuse and recycle. Bringing bags to the grocery store, composting kitchen waste, separating the cardboard from the glass from the newspapers from the metal from the plastic isn’t really hard, its just not convenient. And we are so used to convenience.
Its not easy, but it is worth it. By taking even small steps to living more sustainably, we work towards making sure that we will always have a place for little green frogs and other earthlings.
Check out this fun video of my live performance of “Bein’ Green,” accompanied by the talented Will Barrow and featuring some “celebrated jumping frogs” operated by puppeteers Mary Tanner Baily and Adrien Leonard Rose.
Please take a moment to “like” my facebook music page at facebook.com/gingersandsmusic.
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Maybe it was all of those years touring across the country in a van with crazy drummers belching in the back seat. Maybe it was the electric live shows we played for skiers in ski resorts and college kids in college towns. Maybe it was the rush of that mysterious moment when when a band comprised of bass, drums, keys, guitars and vocals is suddenly greater than the sum of its parts.
Perhaps it was all of the above, but the fact remains that my husband Luke and I have devoted a great portion of our adult lives to playing music together. Due to our extensive history, to this day we finish each others’ sentences when quoting the movie, Spinal Tap. Hard knocks and tough tours aside, we are fortunate in the fact that we have an unspoken understanding that music connects us emotionally to ourselves and to each other.
In 1995 Luke and I moved to Nashville determined to pursue our music. 16 years, two kids, and a career change later, Music City is our home. Ironically, in seeking stability for ourselves and our family, the responsibilities of adulthood became our priority, leaving us little time to create and play music.
Perhaps it was inevitable that a few years ago, in the throes of raising our daughters and slogging my way through the laundry baskets, my dear husband noticed that I seemed to be a bit, well, sad. That year, a few days after Christmas, I found an envelope on my pillow. It contained a blank check and a note that read: “This is for your album. You need to record again.”
That was the beginning of my latest CD project Back to the Garden. With Luke’s blessing and the unique resources that this city has to offer, I was able to go back into the studio and explore the amazing new frontier of digital recording.
Looking back, I am especially grateful to my husband for his gesture that told me so plainly that music was, is, and will continue to be, a powerful force in our lives. Looking forward, I am excited to continue my work as a musician, mom, teaching artist, school garden advocate and oh yes, JAM with my husband as much as possible.
Here’s my version of Joni’ Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” from Back to the Garden. In this brand new year, my hope is that this song might remind you that even on long, cold winter nights, each one of us holds within a beautiful, creative, mysterious spark of light and life to be honored and cherished. “We are stardust, we are golden…”
(Just for fun, here’s a video of Joni playing her version in Big Sur, 1969.)
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The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller
In this season of buying and selling, I find myself reflecting on the nature of gifts. Some gifts, of course, are presents wrapped in colorful shiny paper with a bow on top. Other gifts, the ones that remain unseen, untouched, but felt with the heart, are the most powerful and transformative.
My dad was a gardener. Some of my earliest memories revolve around time we spent together in our family’s backyard, tending dad’s vegetable garden.
In late spring, I would drop corn kernels into the holes he made with the handle of his shovel while he would lecture me on the many and various virtues of sweet corn. I would cover the seeds, the earth cool and sweet smelling beneath my hands. He would follow behind and step the loose soil down with his big dad-shoes. Then we would water, watch and wait.
Dad thrilled when the baby corn sprouted, unfurling its sharp, grassy, impossibly green primal leaves. He told me that the corn needed to be “knee-high by the fourth of July” to be ready to eat in late summer. As the weeks went by and the corn grew, he would brag that the corn was “as high as an elephant’s eye” which would elicit a rousing chorus of “Oh what a Beautiful Mooooooornin!” from the musical “Oklahoma!”
When the corn was ripe, we would pick, shuck, and toss it into water that was already boiling on the stove. Though the ears were never as big as the ones you could by at the store, Dad always swore it was the best sweet corn he ever tasted.
Although I didn’t know it then, those moments in the garden, my father was giving me gifts. The gifts of time and attention, a passion for growing things and an appreciation of the wonders of nature are just a few of the endowments he gave to me. These gifts continue to bless and deepen my life today, even though my dad passed over 20 years ago.
In taking the time to teach his young daughter the joys of gardening, my dad gave the greatest gift of all – the gift of love. And, of course, a highly developed appreciation for the taste of fresh sweet corn.
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