Deborah Crooks

 
 

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Making Art, Hitting the Road

 

First, a #tb . 2001. I was living part-time on the coast north of Santa Cruz. My dad was sick, in his last year, and I was holding as tight as I could to my dreams to write and sing and generally make art. It was a messy time, but I got up every day and did my practices, including doing some watercolor sketches of the view and the animals who lived on the ranch, among them, the close-to-feral cats who (sort-of) controlled the barn rats. The view of the ocean was never the same, always beautiful, which is good to remember this week. Making art and working on projects has always been my go-to. Given that the weird, unseasonably wet weather here has wreaked havoc on my weekend #lovethebay  and gig plans (and the national news blows), its time to make something new!
So what's new?
Well first, I had a great time last weekend, playing atop Mt. Tam as nearly a thousand folks hiked and biked up for the Mother's Day breakfast at West Point Inn. I would happily play my music for people atop a mountain any day! It was magical singing "What the Land Will Tell You" (a newer tune included on the forthcoming record) surrounded by nature. And on that day, sunny, wildflowers in bloom, hummingbirds buzzing to and fro, the land seemed to be saying 'Yes! Life is beautiful!"
I live for moments like that.
And later that evening, we played a Bread & Rose’s gig at a rehab center, and at the end, when we had most of the room up and dancing (yes, Bay Station Wiggle-ing), I likewise felt like I was exactly where I should be, and very grateful for my winding path.

This week, pivoting amid the cool bluster of clouds over the bay, I'm now wood-
shedding, helping edit a new Love the Bay episode, and getting read for a Bay Station mini- duo tour starting next week. If you live in Salem, Eugene or Olympia, come on out and say hi:
May 24, 2019, Vagabond Brewing, 2195 Hyacinth St. NE, Salem, OR 97301 8pm-10pm duo
May 25, 2019 Hotel RL Living Stage, 2300 Evergreen Park Dr SW, Olympia, WA 98502 5pm duo
May 26, 2019 Sam Bond’s Garage, 407 Blair Blvd, Eugene, OR 97402 8pm

 

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A post shared by Deborah Crooks (@deborahrcrooks) on May 14, 2019 at 9:11am PDT

 

"All Signs" Mt Tam Mother's Day

 
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“All Signs” is one of the new tunes on my forthcoming record and it’s about... my mom! My mom has been gone more than 14 years; nonetheless, I feel her influence on my life all the more the older I get. Which led to this song, about her, forgiveness and respecting our debts of gratitude to our parents no matter how fraught those relationships can be. I’ll be celebrating this coming Mother’s Day (& Mother Earth!) like I’ve done the past several years, playing music atop Mt Tam at @innwestpoint . Hike up for breakfast between 9-1pm in Sunday and find me playing this tune and more as @kwamecopeland and I serenade the brunch crowd. . . . . . #mom #mothersday #happymothersday #momsong #motherearth #loveyourmother #mttam #americana #singing #songwriter #newmusic #livemusic #departmentofthewest #allsigns #allsignsleadbacktomother

A post shared by Deborah Crooks (@deborahrcrooks) on May 10, 2019 at 12:10pm PDT

 

"Beauty is not optional, but a strategy for survival…"

 
 

Aloha and The Department of the West

 

Aloha!

I’m writing from Hawaii, where I’m preparing for a very busy month of Bay Station and duo gigs by swimming in warm water, noodling on a travel guitar and enjoying the beautiful environs. It’s been good to get outside, and hit pause and reset after several months of record and video production. (We’ve of course been taking advantage of the island scenery to glean some footage for a next round of videos.) Speaking of production, I hope you’ll enjoy the following footage from my recent work on my new recording at Tiny Telephone. What a joy it’s been working with this crew of musical humans! I feel extremely fortunate. Plus, Bay Station just released the fourth episode of its Love the Bay series featuring another one of my favorite people, poet Karen Hildebrand. 

Mahalo! 💛Deborah

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A post shared by Deborah Crooks (@deborahrcrooks) on May 1, 2019 at 11:31am PDT

 

Love the Bay 2019: Episode 4 with Karen Hildebrand is LIVE

 

 

Recording Trailer

 

 

"Springtime Come Early" (Super Moon Special)

 

Hand-in-hand with our monthly music & sailing ‘Love the Bay’ artist feature, Kwame and I are making a video filmed on & around the full moon each month. We just finished the latest in the series, l featuring a song from a few years back “Springtime Come Early,” as well as baby geese, drawing, night sailing, guitar licks and more! Take a look! Full video:

 

Meanwhile, back in the studio

 

Mixing has begun! Bit by bit, the 11 new tracks are coming together. I spent another couple days at Tiny Telephone last week, putting the finishing touches on the vocals and listening, listening as engineer Maryam Qudus began the mixing process, loading reels of tapes, moving faders and adjusting levels to get all the parts to sit just right. I'll go back for more of this mid-summer.

Would you like to support my project? You can pre-order The Department of the West, for any amount between $10 and infinity, by clicking HERE. 

 

 

 

Love the Bay 2019: Episode 3 is LIVE

 

Bay Station's Love the Bay video series is cruising along. Check out Episode 3 with the amazing Felsen:

 

Spring Sailing, Recording and the Butterfly Effect

 

"In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state."

Butterflies have been showing up all month. I had butterflies in my stomach, standing in the green room of The Lost Church late last month. It's always a little nerve-wracking playing new songs live so I'm extra grateful to the super-friend audience that came to our show and great band who played with me in late March—thank you. I'm super happy with how the songs are shaping up in the studio and out. It feels good to start airing the new arrangements live, and I will be adding more of such shows to the calendar soon!
In the meantime, when I'm not in the studio recording, I'm likely to be on the water as part of Bay Station's Love the Bay video and sailing series. We've a new episode with Felsen about to drop later this week, another waiting for editing, plus three more sessions and a Bay tour planned between now and the end of May....

Recording: The Department of the West

Recording studios are kind of like cocoons, and I took it as a good omen that actual butterflies are migrating over California as I've been spending time at Tiny Telephone working on 11 new tracks. The new record, The Department of the West, is all about my love of land and place, where I am and where I've been, underwritten by my concern with how history has and is playing out. It's a volatile time, as you all know full well, rife with possibility. Actions, of course, large and small, make all the difference.

For weeks, I've been seeing photos of the wildflower super-bloom all over California, riots of poppy and lupine, owl's clover and mustard. Another friend posted about a swarm of migrating Painted Lady butterflies that were expected to fly over the Bay Are next. Signs of spring have been a bit less showy in Alameda, but no less encouraging. The daffodils are blooming steady, poppies are popping up in medians, and the few freesias and iris are opening despite the intermittent rain. I walked outside one morning, headed to the city to record, and startled a flock of waxwings from the Pyracantha. As if on cue, I pulled through the studio gate to see a butterfly flutter across the driveway and land briefly on the side of the building.

“Did you see butterflies?” I asked Maryam Qudus, the wonderful artist and engineer who is running the board during my sessions. Perhaps she'd seen the rumored swarm.

We'd be inside most of the day, Danny Allen chipping away at more guitar tracks and Kwame Copeland popping by to add harmonica and vocals to a couple songs. I didn't get outside to look for anymore lepidopterans. Downtown, high school kids were marching for the climate as part of a global protest. I don’t know if the butterflies flew over their rally, but I like to imagine they did.
I'm back in the studio this month, putting the finishing touches on my vocals and starting to mix! Interested in supporting my project? You can pre-order The Department of the West, for any amount between $10 and infinity, by clicking HERE.