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Spring Muse, in her down time…

1. If you want to ripen an avocado,
Put it into a bag with an apple
The switch is flipped,
And the hormones start to dance. Soon.
Flesh will give to gentle pressure,
In the dark,yielding sugar..

2) My story, ripens on the kitchen window sill,
Surrounded by trinkets of whim and practicality.
I truly hope my heart is not akin to a non-climacteric fruit,
If plucked too early, the strawberry, grape or cherry,
Are destined for hard disappointing shelf lives,
And possible bitterness.

3) Everyone knows that grief will ripen,
6 feet down in da dirt.
Also, in that peculiar cemetery of memory.
Flesh bleeds, when tapped on the shoulder,
And time or tears,
Are greatly unpredictable

4) So, to ripen tantalizing mystery,
Coax it to a circle of fire.
Burn love and science for heat and inspiration
Try grooving hard to the beat.
The rhythm of a cherry tree
Blossoming, at midnight.

writing for spring


Fraboni supervising the grill at Come Over CD Launch Party

The DFJB at the Come Over CD Launch Party, Guilford Vermont

For our 34th Unofficial” Anniversary, while I was recuperating from an emergency appendectomy (maybe, if you’re lucky, the subject of a future blog), Patty bought me Keith Richards new critically acclaimed autobiography, “Life”. And while I haven’t read it yet (that sort of book is more her cup of tea, but, hey, who doesn’t love Keith Richards), I did turn immediately to the index to see if our good friend and musical mentor Rob Fraboni was referenced. He was all over four pages and here’s a small bit:

“Twenty-odd years after I began playing with local Rastafarian musicians, I went back to Jamaica with Patti for Thanksgiving 1995. I had invited Rob Fraboni and his wife to come and stay with us – Rob had originally met this crew in 1973 when I first knew them. Fraboni’s holiday was cancelled on Day One because it turned out that at this moment all the surviving members were present and available, which was rare; there had been a lot of casualties and ups and downs and busts, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record them. Fraboni somehow had bits of recording equipment available courtesy of the Jamaican Minister of Culture and promptly offered to record the setup. This was a gift from the gods!

A gift because Rob Fraboni is a genius when you want to record things outside the usual frame. His knowledge and his ability to record in the most unusual places are breathtaking. He worked as a producer on “The Last Waltz”; he remastered all the Bob Marley stuff. He’s one of the best sound engineers you can ever meet. He lives round the corner from me in Connecticut, and we’ve done a lot of recording together in my studio there, of which I’ll write more later. Like all geniuses, he can be a pain in the arse, but it goes with the badge. “

He goes on to explain how Fraboni helped him find an audio pathway out of the technological nightmare that recording had become. Richards and Fraboni believed that the idea of separation of the musicians was the total antithesis of rock and roll. They built a studio in Keith’s home and experimented recording the room as opposed to dissecting every instrument with microphones and the result was the Grammy winning recording of “You Win Again” on the Hank Williams tribute album “Timeless”.

We met Fraboni when we had just finished the mix on “Come Over”, the latest album from Patty Carpenter and the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band. The album had been recorded at Hugh Pool’s Williamsburg (Brooklyn) studio, Excello, and at Northern Track in Wilmington, Vermont and we loved the sound and were debating whether we even had to get it mastered by a specialist.

With perfect timing, Alan McCarthy, Melissa’s husband and my son-in-law, had just met Fraboni at the 11th Street Bar where Alan was tending bar (amazing how many of these connections are greased with the sociability and other comforts of the local pub). He played him the album. Fraboni was impressed and intrigued and offered to master it at a substantial discount. We signed on and our minds were blown by the increased clarity and just pure sound of the mastered version when A&B rolled (compared) with the earlier version (which we had loved).

Melissa and Alan were with him at his studio for the two days he devoted to the task, watching him move from one corner to the other, scrunch up on a couch or on the floor, listen for awhile, turn a few knobs, listen from another perspective and so forth. Melissa and Rob bonded over memories of Wayne Shorter and Milton Nascimiento’s album “Native Dancer”, which Rob had mixed. As a child, Melissa used to fall asleep to the record every night and the DFJB had recorded Ponta de Areia on the first album “Under My Hat“.

He also put the songs through a software program called Real Feel, a software program which he has developed, which, as much as I understand it, connects the missing dots at the high frequencies of digital sampling, resulting in a warmer, more analog type sound. Fraboni claims it is the new dolby. I just know the record sounded a lot better after he got through with it.

If you follow the links and look up Rob Fraboni, you’ll find someone who has had a long and varied career in the music industry. He’s a sound geek who has speakers named after him and who has designed and built studios for the likes of Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. He’s produced, recorded, mixed and mastered a veritable Who’s Who list of major artists over the last 40 years. He’s also worked the business side of the equation having been a vice president for Chris Blackwell’s Island Records and as the manager of his own boutique record labels for a number of years.

A few weeks after the mastering session, we were all having dinner together at Barbone a fine Italian restaurant on the Lower East Side. Rob is rail thin, but he can still put away the food like there’s no tomorrow. He is also a person whose mind is constantly running way ahead of his ability to get the words out. At one point, I asked him if he could be of any help to us in finding an agent, or management, or a record company or any of the accoutrements you would think we would have after so many years in the music business. His eyes brightened up and he said that he was trying to start his own boutique record label, the prospects for funding looked good, and he would love to take on “Come Over” as one of his first releases.

We knew the music business, especially in its current downward spiral (the recording industry once worth $18 billion a year is now worth $7 billion, approximately), is a universe of smoke and mirrors. On the other hand, Rob was enthusiastic and our best contact, and slim is always beter than none. Suffice it to say that after a year of ups and downs and possible breakthroughs and coulda, woulda, shoulda, the idea of the boutique label crashed and burned. Back to DIY.

So we released it ourselves this summer in a beautiful field in the Vermont country. It was done as a benefit for a local group working to shut down the nearby nuclear plant in Vernon.  We got lots of local press and some great reviews. We recorded it with three HD video cameras and expect to have some songs coming out soon. Rob and his new girlfriend Kelly came and stayed for the weekend.  They are expecting a baby girl sometime in the near future.

At any rate, I wanted to give a shout out, as the tv talk show hosts say, to Rob Faboni who took our album to another level, but who also has become a good friend and member of the extended family.  It’s nice to know that Keith Richards feels the same way. And, btw Keith, if you ever want to sit in with the DFJB just drop on by.

I took A Trip On A Train

I have many wandering notes about my train trip, but first let me make a pitch for more support for our rail system in this country. We subsidize the airlines; we pay for the roads, WTF?
I took a lightning raid train trip to NYC last week. It was quick and efficient on the way down, and a bit long and slow on the way home, but I did get to read a whole novel, finish most of my music homework, and send off a bunch of flirtatious text messages (to my husband). All of this is difficult while driving, although the lack of being able to sing does slow down my learning a new song, but I am not so sure singing and driving should be legal for someone like me, I get really lost in the music!
I live in Vermont, and often walk in the mornings with my friend Susan Bonthron. She is an incredible book artist, check her out at: We spent some time talking “Trains,” and she sent me an old poem about her ride up the East Coast. Here is an excerpt:
The Train I’m On

The Yankee Clipper chuffs out of Newark
ten minutes late, slides quietly on
sidings, clicks across tracks, makes
its connections in the cross-hatched railroad yard
and picks up speed.

I read, but can’t keep my eyes on words
when the window slides past so
many private places people treat
as if no one could see, though trainloads
pass by regular as clocks and whistles.

I was reminded of the trip I took from Mexico City to Oaxaca by train (no longer an option!). The train wound past sights not visible by car. I saw sights that broke my heart, like the endless miles of toxic chemical dumps where people live under plastic tarps, and scrounge for garbage. No tour guide listed sight was revealed here, but one that I hope taught me to continue the fight to change the world, even if it is in a small way, and to remember compassion and humility in a BIG way.
I awoke that night to visions of wild and perilous trestles on the backside of impassable mountainsides rising out of the early dawn mist, and slept again to the clack of the wheels.
After my trip last week, I have a new fantasy. I “wicked” want to travel by sleeper car somewhere-like Chicago or New Orleans. I waited for quite a while in front of those train schedule boards, where everyone gathers before hurrying off to the announced track for their train. Kind of like a dance. I listened to the list of towns and final destinations, and this being November in the Northeast, I had to restrain myself from trying to board the one that ended up in Miami! Oh well, the trees are bare, but, today, my heart is full. What is that word my friend Trish taught me in her Brooklyn garden “Saudage?” That is for another blog!

Mom's first try

So, I am the least tech savvy of the DFJB and tend to prefer a pencil,  a piano, and a tape recorder, but I see that the big E-world is out there and I am gonna try it.  I would rather try this than have to call a guy about a job, and I already emptied the dish washer.

I need to pack my bag for 2 Halloween shows in  NYC.  I am packing my little red Nord keyboard, matching  feather boas, crystals, and fishnet stockings. I really didn’t need to go shopping for a costume, but I did fall for a bit of light up LED riff raff at the dollar store. My closet is rife with outfits that really should be only used for Halloween! Melissa was seduced by a bit of LED technology for her costume also, but her disguise sounds much more elegant. She will be the Blue Curasao Fairy for  Sunday night at the Rodeo Bar!

Does any one have favorite Halloween songs? I am really loving “That  Old Black Magic ” this year! Harold Arlen was a genius. The repeating rhythmic features on single notes ! Wow.  I watched some various YouTube versions , but the Marilyn Monroe one won my heart. I hope Jimmy Stewart jumps up on a table to quiet the crowd at the Rodeo saloon during MY rendition! I also just learned Spooky, and got behind the simple GROOVE.  A good 2 chord vamp will take you many places if you let it.

The Honey Crisp apples from our local Vermont orchards are sweet as cider, and I have gummy ghosts and good chocolate to give away as well . I think I will become a fortune teller and bring my Tarot cards  along this year. However I have never done a reading for any one but myself. I will see if I actually step out of the closet once and for all. I am not an absolute believer in anything.

Some say that this is  a time of travel through the “vail of life and death.” I did decide recently to embrace mystery over certainty. Somehow, that makes me feel better about the great beyond, all this certainty seems to cause a lot of trouble in the world . So, here is to the mystery of the season, here and hereafter!