Posted by: 2russ | June 23, 2017

Willow Weep For Me


I do not know why I thought of this except for two reasons: One July, and the other is the song: Willow Weep For Me.
I did not want this to go unsaid. So, I write it while listening to a set of Wes Montgomery jazz guitar albums, one of which is titled Willow. And it has the title track with him.
With hours of free time, I write.
When I was growing up we had a giant, well it turned out to be a giant – Weeping Willow tree in the back yard, toward the Tindall Road side, but before the 2 acres of what was once garden and then simply lawn.
Each summer I would take the big loppers and run around its circumference chopping off and giving a bowl cut to its hair of branches which were drooping – weeping. They were heading to the ground and I am sure, since the willow seeks water, they would have rooted and hit the water again. There was so much water there below the surface of lawn. The concrete block of the basement of the house would seep water in. There was a drain in the concrete floor, as well – of the basement.
When I was about 11, I would entertain myself. My five year older brother was 16. He worked hard at my uncle’s dairy farm, milking. Soon he had a car and was off at nights in the summers. I on the other hand had all day for games by myself.
One of my favorite was to hit a whiffle ball as hard as I could to try to hit a homer over that forty plus foot tall willow. If I made it, it was a homer. Hundreds of hits were seen by that tree. I could find the whiffle balls when they landed. Softballs worked. Hard softballs. Baseballs would likely get lost.
I loved that willow. I could trim it high and we could sit in under it. I would watch it grow back in a few weeks. I could mow in underneath when it was trimmed. I was young. I was innocent. I loved that tree. The idea that it sucked so much water intrigued me. I knew there was a reason for everything and a reason for being for everyone and everything. Each contributes just something not only of their species or genus, but also uniquely, as in where they are planted in this world, what area they are rooted in, and where they belong and what they contributed while they were there.
We soon added a screened in summer porch for sleeping on that side of the house. The tree was closer and it made that part of the house and yard a bit cooler. That tree grew enormously. When I left for college, I lost track of that tree. I do not believe it is there anymore. In fact, the creek a few hundred feet away and in lower ground looks to be much more dry. I suppose it may be to do with global warming.
But when that tree was there, it provided for me an opportunity to participate as every player in the all-star home run derby. I was every all-star. I had a barn for basketball, and I was every team and player on every college league. St John’s, and Syracuse. I had a frozen pond strewn in with the cattails in winter, and I was the NHL. I had a flat rock wall with a cinder turnaround driveway that was a baseball diamond and a rubber ball for strikes and balls and popups and homeruns. I had a barn wall with a ridge the height of a tennis net and a cut grass court that was one half the size of and was my Wimbledon. I was twelve when I got a Nehru jacket and my brother took me to Teen Canteen at Three Rivers Inn. Those were all ages dances, and on Sunday afternoons.
That was all about chasing and dancing and girls and I am sure I spoiled a lot for my brother. I was a cool little dancer then, too.
I do not think that willow ever wept for me; I think I weep now for it and its demise, and all it contributed, and all it saw. It was there when I graduated from High School and Ron, my cousin, and I had a grad bbq party in that yard. That would have been June of 1966. Late that afternoon, I had a car, and I left to go meet up with Reid and Lee and Keith and Mike and we went to Auburn to have a few beers.
It was one of our last times before we all went off to college. I worked those summers at drywall. We would go to Little Green the house in question here, (the one with the willow) and party and relax after work. And we would go to Weedsport to see what we could see. Ah, those were the days – The Glory Days.
As the song says, you Can’t Look Back, except sometimes.
No tears of sorrow just tears of joy from and for the Willow of my childhood: Willow weep no more except all you want, from the willow heaven, up in the sky you so valiantly sought – yet succumbed to, with your own weight – of your own water, only first to droop down for a little boy to take his shears and cut your boughs of tears, down to his size.
June 14, 2017
Bellingham WA.

Posted by: 2russ | August 16, 2014

Scott Cossu Concert

My Octogenarian friend leaned closely and whispered: My friend in Arizona has massaged thousands to “Autumn.” And with that Scott Cossu rocked on! This was the scene at LICC, the church on Lummi Island. Scott mused that some of his Jellyroll and Boogie Woogie was close to Rock ‘n Rolfing! But more than performing Windham Hill foam, sea and new age music-to-unwind to, Mr. Cossu really entertained a full house at the church on Friday, August 15 with variety. Happiness simply exuded throughout, – sometimes with toe-tapping, sometimes with hand-clapping and even some dance was seen.
Rolf and Mambo. Equally influenced by Chopin and Pink Floyd, Scott Cossu came out with a nice mix from his latest Record: Jazz, Boogie & Deja Blues. He lit our fire!
Like me, Scott Cossu thought Jimmy Dorsey was mom and pop’s man! But Scott has given him another chance, satisfyingly discovering that the big band leader could do the boogie, too! Performing Dorsey’s “JD’s Boogie” was one of those times last night that the piano was rocking as much as was the audience! Scott played two sets. Within his sets, He played two-song “mini” sets like connotative word pairs, mostly. Variously each pair would complement; then contrast. In his style he would take the mini to a bridge, the flautist would change instruments, and the second piece would begin. And the endings were tight! And, they were just right. Ringing! Ringing to applause from a most appreciative islander audience. It was an educated crowd. Many remembered the Windham Hill days of the 1980’s. We even had a handful of under 25 folk enjoying the acoustics, the ambiance and the warmth of a church concert.
Two standing ovations later, everyone got to meet and greet Scott and his accompanist (on flute, harmonica, and sax), John Croarkin, in the social hall for some sugar and caffeine, or herbal tea, if you are into new age stuff. Most wanted to get laced up to try to stay up on witticisms to and fro. Scott will be back. He loves islands. We loved his music, this night! Another brick in the wall! Chopin did not meet Pink Floyd this night, and Chopin probably wouldn’t have joined the band: he did not like to perform. He would have enlisted Liszt! Liszt was the Michael Jackson of his day: The first rock star!
We had a little rock star action last night! Scott Cossu and John Croarkin. Rockin’ Salsa and Whipped Cream – and a few other delights! Maybe it should be called Windham Swell, or Windham Sail!

Posted by: 2russ | September 9, 2013


I first met Josh at Blue Jay.  I was walking my dog and he came around a corner of the wooded campground by himself.  He said:  “May I walk your dog?”   I later created a relationship with his mom, and then of course, with him and his brother, who was younger.

But then, it was at first sight, a trust relationship:  “Sure, here you go!” and I turned over the leash attached to a 65 pound red Doberman to a complete stranger!

I felt free!  I was on a camping trip, and now, no dog!  My co-pilot, my immediate family, in the hands of a 15 year old.

And that was the start of my long relationship with Josh!  Nearly 20 years. I think that the kind of encounter could actually be the best summation of what he was all about!  The here, the now!  No pretense was there, ever, with Josh!  Just pure science and understanding or a wish to find out how things worked.  Even dogs or pets he’d never experienced, he was fascinated over.

Josh was born shot from the womb, and he started walking early, and he was skinny, and fast.  He always had a hard time breathing and suffered from asthma, so he used a rescue inhaler from time to time.  He was quick and quick witted and very intelligent.  His inquisitiveness ended up getting him into trouble.  He loved guitar and all of the old Classic Rock from his mother’s era.  And he was good on guitar, although later he complained about tone deafness.  By that time, I was taking lessons for guitar.  I didn’t believe in tone deafness, although I too find it hard, as opposed to natural to pick up melodies and hear changes.  But he said he had to learn and memorize anything he played and ultimately he got discouraged over his playing.  But he appreciated guitars and I remember jamming with him, me on bass and him on guitar, a few times.

He played my old Guild OM model six string acoustic a few times and did a fine rendition of Greensleeves on it.

We moved to Northern California and he came with us.  His brother did too. It was the country.  There were bikers and thus, drugs – Meth!  Josh liked it because it made him seem alive.  Ironic.  It led to his undoing.  He got in trouble with the law.

Josh loved kids, animals, music, photography, cars, cooking and eating good meats and drinking beer.  He was so alive.  We loved it when he brought a girlfriend to dinner with us who he’d met at rehab.  She had a kid and he liked her too!  We had many good times but when he was crashing, we didn’t.  He was sick.

He moved back with his dad when we moved to Washington.  He got a good job with a countertop firm.  Then he was pulled over.  He and his mom were going to go back to the north to take care of it.  With money and time off to take care of it, he couldn’t stand the dread of maybe being back in jail in Auburn. So he stayed up nights.  On the computer.  Not making good choices.  He always said:  “Don’t blame your selves, it’s all me, and it is all about the friends you choose.”  He always knew exactly what to say to his family to allay fears.  He had Halcyon and that is one drug that can’t be mixed, but he did.  He could not sleep.  His pain was overwhelming. On February 26, 2007 a month and a day after his 34th birthday, he died.  Our life ended that day, too.

After that we never looked at life the same way.  We can see carefree people.  Now we sit and wait.  We wait for God’s whispers, as Josh is in our minds and hearts every day.


Posted by: 2russ | September 2, 2013


Keith was a friend of mine and one of about five of us who hung out together in Cato during high school and for a few years after school. There was Lee Jay Boyd, Karl Reid Hotaling, Mike O’Neill and me, and Keith.

I used to go down to Keith’s on weekends during those school years, to either pick him up to ride with me, or to catch a ride with him. He’d usually been working all day. Most guys hop in the shower. But not Keith! I’d knock on the door and perhaps his mother would answer and she’d say he’s getting ready up stairs. “Go ahead on up,” she’d say. So this one time he shouted out that he was in the bath and I said: “Oh I’ll wait out here!” He said: “No!” “It’s ok, it’s a bubble bath!” Sure enough, bubbles four inches thick. You couldn’t see a thing except his hair, mouth, eyes and nose! I thought that was hilarious. It was routine for Keith, he liked baths, baths with soaking bubbles!

I remember that he would get irritated with his grandfather, who we all called, Parm! His name as it turns out was Palmer Titus. Keith’s Dad’s name was Herbert, although I would not have remembered it except that both Keith’s dad and grandpa sponsored the printing of the Yearbooks for CMCS.

One time Keith was mad at Parm. Parm had an old farm, the original Titus Farm, off the corner of the Federal Road, (which I lived on) and Route 134. There was a hillside there and the school bus would turn the, and go by this field of Parm’s.

We noticed that a cow was always sleeping in the same spot for over a week. Finally we asked Keith. He said: “That cow died there, and Parm wasn’t aware of, or wouldn’t do anything about it!”

Keith had an older brother, Steve. I didn’t really know him. He was a year ahead of me. I believe he was taller than Keith. Keith was a good athlete. He was tough on the football field. Keith also had a sweet voice with a cut way of talking that I believe went right to the point. He was a nice guy.

One time, a bunch of us were out racing around and taking-off fast. I had my dad’s Studebaker Golden Hawk, which had a 289 engine and a four speed stick shift on the floor. I decided to take off and go through the gears. With second or third gear, under a load, all of a sudden something broke! It felt like the car twisted in under me. It felt like a sponge and a rubber band working against each other! Somehow, I limped it, the car, quite a ways over to Keith’s.

The more I think about it, the better I feel. Well, I broke the motor mount on the right side and it torque’d the motor every time I hit the gas! So… I had to nurse it, and somehow I got it to Keith’s! Back then it was maybe find a telephone booth, or just show up on someone’s door. Don’t know how it happened. But, starting late, like after 10:00 pm, Keith took the car down to his shop – down in the barn. We ended up staying up all night, and Keith welded the motor mount back to the engine. As far as me staying out all night, I just said I “crashed” at Keith’s. Well: Keith fixed it. I think now, (since now I know that a motor mount is a combo of rubber, steel and bolts), that it probably was ready to go out on its own. ‘Course, I edged it along a little, for sure. But, boy, did I beat myself up over that for a long time, in fact, until now! But the point is that Keith had this built-in kindness, and just knew what to do, ahead of time. I think he was a leader! As far as I knew, my dad never knew the difference about the car. I never gave up the ghost. The car worked great! Problem solved! Thanks, Keith!

1948 Chevy:

Well, I went off to college to Cortland College. So, sometime around 1967-1968, I had the “opportunity” to “get” a car! The car was, believe it or not, a 1948, same year as I was born, a Chevy sedan, black in color! It actually looked like a Mafia car, now that I think of it!
Anyway, I bought it for $100, and I am not sure how much I ever: started it, or drove it. But it ended up in the parking lot of the apartment that my roommates and I were renting. What a problem! So, one Fall, I got in touch with Keith!

He actually came down from Cato to Cortland. He had a flat-bed trailer. He hauled it up to the lot to the “right” of the barn, below his house, on the other side of the road. There it stayed! Kind of like Parm’s cow. Well, in a way!

So, after that, I said: Keith: “Market that car for me, if you can.” During this period, my Dad would drive by there, and glance at that car. In fact, during some summer, or spring breaks, I’d go by and see it too! I don’t know how that got resolved! I think Keith sold it eventually. I was glad he didn’t sell it to my dad! Anyway, Keith was gracious!

I remember that Keith had a trucking business. I know that he hauled hay, for one thing! I know that he always worked hard. He was a good football player on the high school team. Keith had a car that he was very proud of. It was a 1963 Ford Falcon. He had put a V8 engine in it and it was a three speed. He had it suspended with a beef-up set of springs. It was light weight, fast and clean. Guys in the ‘60’s liked their fast cars! His was very clean.
Looking through the Yearbook of our school, I found that Keith was very involved. He was in Communications Club, Varsity Football and Chorus. He had a sweet voice and a raspy voice at the same time. I am glad that he found great love in his family and children. He died too young. I hope that these remembrances are received well.

With these sketches and memoirs Keith is memorialized just a bit more.

Posted by: 2russ | July 23, 2013

Loss and Walking On


For a long time it took all of our strength to simply put one foot in front of the other, and walk.

Where were we walking?  We had to perform certain responsibilities; go to work, pay bills, get supplies, cook and eat.

And when your mind is dwelling on loss, what are you really doing?  You’ll never be whole again, or all there again.  And you see others, who you believe – based on their behaviors or their happy-go-lucky looking attitude – have never experienced loss on the level of your loss; losing a child, or a spouse – way too early.  

Divorce is a death, too.  It just symbolizes failure.  It just didn’t work.

We experience our parents and what our siblings endure.  We know our own mortality somewhat more, for it.  Parenting shocks you into realizing your own mortality.  

Having friendly eyes watching over you is comforting.  As I lay down dying, a little each day, knowing my friend’s smile, kind eyes and sharing, caring and memorializing sense of life –  buoys me.  Knowing we are in this together is a blessing – one that churns fondness, fickleness and forgiveness.

It could be said: I love that, or, I love it, or you.  It could be said….

Posted by: 2russ | February 12, 2013

Vinyl Renaissance!

Hey!  Check out my new launch!  Vinyl Spin!  http//vinylspinonline.vpweb

To go to my business card online just add the usual  dot com at the end of the link.  Apologies for any “ads” that may show up!  Ouch!


February 12, 2013….

Posted by: 2russ | August 10, 2012

The FOIL Jazz Festival Noon to 9:30 pm. Saturday August 11, 2012 at the Lummi Island Grange grounds and stage!

FOIL is Friends of Island Library!  I’m bringin’ my lawn chair!

CARE is a consultation association engaged in consulting, planning, publicizing and marketing for artists and others for productions, events and performances.  We are a charitable and education organization that donates a portion of its proceeds to local deserving groups or individuals, yearly.    Our planning fees are reasonable and are based on a percentage of your event’s success.  For information or booking contact:  360-920-5243, or .



Blues Ad 

The Benefit Blues Festival on Lummi Island

The Festival was a success!  Everyone liked Freedom Blues a band brought over for the day by Charlie Johnson from Custer and his Dakota Creek Recording Studio.  Charlie did the Sound for the day and he was Outstanding!  Also, the food by Herb and Deanne was wonderful!  Thanks again everybody!!
3rd Annual on Lummi Island –
Benefits M O R E for change – Features Art and Craft vendors, Food Garden, Beer/Wine Garden, Music stage, Speakers, Music by The Dave McAdams Band, Rhapsody in Blues, The Greg Pitsch Band featuring Johnny Brewer, and Native American Flute artist, Cindy Minkler. Also appearing: Marlee Walker and Eric Freeman & Kenny Williams. Special Instructions: Park on the Gooseberry Point side as available, then use the walk-on ferry. Bring blankets and lawn chairs. No outside coolers/open containers. Sorry, no pets. Very short walk to the venue at the Islander Store.
M O R E for change is an Association, organized around a group of people who share in a common interest and who engage in activities of reform for the incarcerated and for minimizing recidivism in released prisoners.

They are a charitable and educational organization that provides support services and education and which asks for donations from the public for  charitable purposes.

Their objective is to present educational discussion groups, forums, panels, lectures or other similar programs regarding the Justice System and issues relating to incarceration trends and practices.

Their current goal is to develop and maintain a Speaker’s Bureau through which the above stated activities of Support Service and Education will be implemented.

M. O. R. E. for change is Mothers of Offenders and Others Rallying and Educating for change.

They act as a Beacon, shining light on the epidemic of over-incarceration of citizens and others in the United States.

Please support their activities!

Sponsors: NC4RSO from Blaine WA, Care Associates,, Copylicious – Poster printing, – graphic design, The Islander Store, Lummi Island Gourmet, Costco, Budget Septic.

Support our Sponsors for the Benefit Blues Festival and M.O.R.E. for change seen on the poster below:  long download…BenefitPoster

Posted by: 2russ | October 24, 2011

A “Wild” Concert on a Small Island

Pianist Jonathan Levin took an amazed audience of 30 through 300 years of music, which included Beethoven’s epic Hammerklavier  Sonata.  Other composers whose work he played included Bach, Scarlatti, Liszt, Griffes, and Mcleer.

This recital concert featured stories, background and narrative of the pieces and their composers told by Mr. Levin prior to the performance of each piece.

Mr Levin started with Prelude and Fugue in C – sharp Minor from WTC  Book I by J.S. Bach.  The contrast in tone from that piece – to the Domenico Scarlatti composition to follow, Sonata in D major L. 164, was a refreshing and uplifting experience highlighted by the harpsichord feel crafted by Levin at the Grand Piano.  The audience was on the journey from Bach to an unknown.

Franz Liszt’s Transcendental Etude #8, Wilde Jagd was the next uncharted island explored.  Translated “Wild Hunt,” the piece featured a less than romantic “hunting” scene that was more haunting than hunting. The low bass evoked a screaming wild beast; the tenor horn sound, or call of the horns, warned of the hunters’ advance; the soprano interplay with the bass told the story until the final low thud of the beast’s demise sounded finality. It was advantage hunter in the 19th century.

Mr. Levin moved us along and played a short piece by a contemporary and friend, Christian Mcleer. Titled Thank You, the composition served the audience well, as an interlude both complex and interesting  – and questioning and dark.

The last piece of the first part of the program was by composer, Charles Griffes born in 1884. He died in 1920.  The piece, Piano Sonata, told a story open for interpretation:  Part I “Feroce – Molto tranquillo” and Part II, “Allegro vivace. ”

Written in 1918, you could feel the effects of World War I on Griffes.  It was as though Part I was a volcano waiting to happen with a full eruption and Lahore.  Part II, the allegro, was two lovers running first left, then right, trying now in disbelief, then later in panic, to save themselves.  This piece seemed to bridge the Romantic period and the Modern period, albeit through the chagrin of the end of innocence that was the “Belle Epoch,” and the stark reality of modern life represented by the advent of  “modern” 20th Century warfare. Mr. Levin efficiently “killed” the Griffes!

After intermission, Mr. Levin ended with music’s milestone epic, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Opus 106, the Hammerklavier.  Written at the end of Beethoven’s life, after his “Heroic” period, this dark and semi-tragic piece featured the opening “Allegro followed by the “Scherzo Assai vivace where two differently keyed voices were introduced.  One was in B-flat and the other was in B Minor.  The 18 minute “Adagio sostenuto” with its sweeping beauty lulled the audience to quietness.  The “Largo – Allegro risoluto” shook and evoked black meeting white, as no doubt Beethoven must have planned when writing this while deaf. The ten minute long Largo ended with a cadence of full-throated baritone chords ringing like sustains from a pipe organ.  The forty-five minute Hammerklavier was played with virtuosity.  Mr. Levin’s lengthy narrative introduction of the Hammerklavier seemed a bit tedious; but, upon the conclusion of its performance, the preview of the story proved necessary – considering the state of the story of lost love, and the state of Beethoven’s health and mind at the time the Hammerklavier was written and first performed.

This concert was no walk in the park filled with the sounds of Strauss waltzes and the sound of the Moonlight Sonata: It was a tour de force filled with wild hunts, volcanic eruptions, resounding thuds, trumpeting horn calls, lovers on the run and other 17th through 21st Century quarrels for the ears. Before there were movies, there was the visual story telling of this kind of music:  sounds producing sights!  Jonathan Levin treated us, and tricked us with a polished autumn concert of masterful works, performed masterfully. It was a sight to behold!

The concert was held Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm. at the Lummi Island Congregational Church

Mr. Levin, a resident of Brooklyn, N Y. was a finalist  in the 2011 Seattle International Piano Competition this year, in the professional category. He is the founder of the North Carolina Piano Festival held in February in Clayton, North Carolina.

Reviewed by Russ Thompson, October 24, 2011.  Lummi Island WA.

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