Dec 012011
 

We all know what “turkey day “is about, right? A day of giving thanks, getting together with family and friends, eating all that food….Yeah! Well, this year, my Wife, Son and I all went to my sister-in laws house, and had a little different kind of holiday celebration. Oh there was the usual…all those fantastic snacks that you fill up on while everything else is cooking, the champagne, maybe a shot or two of Pendelton, a few more snacks, and then finally time to carve the turkey. Oh boy! I often volunteer for that job, because I can stay out of the way of the cooks doing their thing and still help out, plus I get to do “quality control” whenever I see a tasty looking piece that really won’t be missed on the platter. Things were going well until my sister in law put the yams back in the oven to brown the marshmellow topping. We were all toasting with another glass of champagne when somebody noticed a bit of smoke coming out of the oven. Opening the oven door revealed a bit more than smoke, as flames came roaring out the door! We all yelled for the kids to get out of the kitchen and open the back door. I grabbed a towel, pulled out the by now totally blackened stuff out of the oven, and headed for the back door. Luckily I was able to blow out the flames, and my sister in law took a big fork and pulled a huge glob of burnt marshmellows off the top. Hey, what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen, right? Have another glass of champagne and enjoy the “Cajon” yams! We had a great dinner, and spent the night.

The next morning is time to start the turkey soup, so preperations began. Chopping carrots, celery mushrooms, (maybe a little champagne?) Things were going well until I noticed a familiar smell. I looked over at the stove, only to see flames leaping from one of the burners. There must have been something that spilled over and was now sending flames about a foot high. A large pot was placed over the burner and the flames went out, and soon someone came into the kitchen and said “Is something burning?”. What was that I said earlier? What happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen? Yeah. I decided that maybe I should get out of the kitchen for a while!

You may be wondering why I called this blog “Turkey Day Jam”. It just so happened that I still had all of my music gear in the truck, as I had just done a show the previous night. My sister in law’s significant other is a pretty decent drummer, and we had never played together before. My son, who is no slouch on the guitar, just happened to have his guitar and amp with him, so we cleared a spot in the living room, set up enough sound equipment to probably cover a small Woodstock, and proceded to have a jam session. We had a blast, played countless songs for several hours, and I’m happy to report that nothing else caught fire!

Nov 172011
 

Some of you may know from some of mypast blogs that I live on an old farm in SW Washington, and have taken on a seeming endless project of restoring the 1890 era farmhouse. I guess the climate must have been a lot warmer back in 1890, because they sure didn’t build the house with the idea of keeping warm air in, and cold breezes out! The walls are only 1 1/4 inch thick, if you include the old wallpaper. They took rough cut fir planks, about 1 inch thick, 10 to 15 inches wide, 20 feet long, and erected them as the exterior walls. Then they put siding on the outside, and wallpaper on the inside. No studs, no insulation, and all square cut nails. I am pretty much building a new house on the inside by putting in 2×6 studs, insulation, new wiring, plumbing, doors, windows, and trying to live in it at the same time with my wife, son, and of course Moon cat, and Flea, my wife’s Maltese dog. My three big dogs, Romy, Fatso and Zoomer are happy to live outside, except for days like yesterday when I had a gaping hole in the wall where a window used to be, and where a sliding glass door soon will be. At times like that, the big dogs just can’t decide if they want to be in, or out. Or in, again….or out, again. It’s always such a joy to be kneeling down nailing a stud into the wall and have a big, muddy, soaking wet german shepard decide to stick their nose right in your face to see what you are doing. Hopefully the door will go in today! A few more days of working on the house, and then I will be back in the studio working on a new song idea. As long as I don’t smash my thumb with a hammer again!

Oct 102011
 

Thanks to a last minute cancellation, I got called in to perform for the last day of the 2011 season for the Astoria Sunday Market. What a great day! The weather even co-operated, which is unusual for this time of year. It started off kind of misty, and then the sky cleared up and we actually had sun for the rest of the afternoon.

The music stage is right in the middle of the food court, and this market has really attracted some outstanding food vendors. Once again, I couldn’t pass up getting  a “good ol hamburger”! Definitely NOT even close to what you might get at McD’s, or any other fast food place. I’m talking about a real hamburger here, with a real meat patty cooked just right on the BBQ, served while it’s still hot, and requires at least 4 napkins if you want to avoid getting that special cheese sauce all over the front of your shirt. Mmmm…..I would have had another one just for the flavor, but I was stuffed and had to go play some more music!

I saw a lot of familiar faces, as well as many new ones in the audience, and had a great time all day. A real highlight came towards the end of the day, with a rather large group that came in and played “stump the band” Some of their song requests were really out there, ranging from “Deep Purple” and “Led Zeppelin” to “Amazing Grace” and “Classical Gas”. Jeeze, I hadn’t played Stairway to Heaven or Classical Gas for a looooong time, (maybe years?) but it was sure fun! They were great sports, even feeding me the lyrics to songs as I was trying to figure out guitar parts to songs I had never played before. We were having so much fun that I played almost a half hour after the market had officially closed!

The mood was almost party-like, with a bit of sadness thrown in. This market runs every Sunday, from Mothers Day in the spring, through the second Sunday of October in the fall, so the vendors get pretty close and used to seeing each other every week. The end of the season means they won’t be seeing each other until next spring, but it also means they now have Sundays off to relax for a while too! I have performed at this market for many years, and it’s always kind of sad to see it come to an end. But that’s ok, Spring will be here again before we know it!

 

Oct 032011
 

I cannot believe it is October already….Summer went so fast!

I got to do so many great gigs this summer that it would be hard to mention all the highlights, but there is one in particular I want to mention, because I woke up this morning thinking about it. This was my first year performing at the Arlington Art Festival, and while I was there I got to meet a Native American flute maker named Paul Ninehouse. His handmade wooden flutes were absolutely beautiful, and when you listened to him play,  you were instantly transformed to a different, very peaceful state of mind and body. It was almost magical watching the effect it had on the audience!

Being a woodworker myself, I was also blown away by the beauty and craftmanship of his flutes, not to mention Pauls modesty…..he claimed that the “tree does most of the work” by creating the wood; he just finds the flute within. He also doesn’t sell his flutes, but he does occasionally give them to people if he feels that the flute rightfully belongs to them. Quite an amazing guy!

Since I was performing right after Paul, it was suggested that maybe we play something together. I don’t normally go onstage with out rehearsing with someone first, but this time it was different.  My first thought was to perform “Son of a Seaman’s Daughter”  since I recorded it with some pan flute in a few parts. As soon as Paul started coming in with his flute, the song became almost mesmerizing! I looked out in the audience and saw people getting so emotionally involved that they had tears in their eyes. The whole thing got captured on video, so if it turned out I will get it posted on the video page soon.

The second day at the Arlington Art Festival was also the 10 year anniversary of  the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01. My song, “Faded Old Flag” was written in honor of our soldiers, and was largely inspired by events surrounding that day. It was bitter-sweet to be able to perform “Faded Old Flag” for the anniversary, especially while being able to see a huge American Flag gently blowing in the breeze a short distance away. I was filled with pride, and also with great sadness as I recalled memories of 10 years ago. 

 

Sep 152011
 

Oh yeah, these past few weeks have been busy, not to mention a lot of fun! It doesn’t really seem like it was all that long ago that I was in Westport, Washington for the Pirate Daze Festival, and then back again for a couple of days in the middle of August for the annual Westport Art Festival. Got to take it easy for a few days with some gigs close to home, and then it was off to the Mill Bay Casino on Lake Chelan, followed by Okanogan Casino 2 nights later, opening for Magician/Hypnotist Joe Black. It was nice to see that part of the country again after being away for several years, and I even got to do a little camping along the way! I got home just in time to do a load of laundry, catch a few hours of sleep, and take off for a few more “close to home” gigs, and then back on the road again, up to Arlington, Washington for their 2 day Art Festival. I have put well over 2 thousand miles on my truck, probably closer to 3 thousand these past few weeks. The summer season is winding down now though…..I have a week off, followed by some more local bookings. Maybe I’ll finaly be able to get back into the studio soon to finish my new CD!

Sep 152011
 

   Hey there, Hi! My name is Greg Parke, and I love hearing what   kind of sounds and songs I can coax out of where ever they may be hiding. I play both acoustic and electric guitars,  and a few years ago I started exploring the world of MIDI guitars, which I now use in almost all of my recording and live performances.

Sometimes I play music you can snuggle to while sipping a glass of good wine, and sometimes I rattle the dust off the rafters and make you want to dance until your shoes fall apart. Sometimes I sing about broken hearts, and sometimes I finish a song with a broken guitar string. Doesn’t matter……as long as I’m making music, life is good!