Tag: Grayson Capps

Paradise Right Here*

Paradise Right Here*

SimoneLipscomb (1)It was still dark as I pulled onto the highway and turned east. There, in the lightening sky hung venus while Dreamer’s Sky, Will Kimbrough’s song on the new Willie Sugarcapps CD eased me into the morning. The last sea turtle patrol of the season begins here, in my car, with music carrying me toward the Gulf of Mexico.

A turn south and another song, another turn east and there’s Venus again with Anthony Crawford‘s song, Love Be Good to Me, sweetly sung by Savana Lee Crawford. The planet of love and these lyrics…..”Love be good to me, Fill my heart again. Love, can you still hear me calling out to you?…..Everything happens in its own time.”

SimoneLipscombAnother turn south and more wonderful music. Grayson Capps, Love, surrounds me with soulful words and notes. And finally, a turn west at the beach and the full moon hangs in a perfect square notch in a massive cloud as Will Kimbrough’s, Paradise Right Here, begins to play. For less than a breath the moon is cradled by the towering cloud and then it disappears.

The words of the song touched me deeply the first time I heard it at the Frog Pond. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to Will’s lyrics. Today, they touched me again as I thought of daily abuses to our planet that take more of the paradise away….the paradise that literally is in the palm of our hand, as Will sings. It is totally up to us if it remains or is destroyed.

MagnoliaSophiaI reach the beginning of my sea turtle patrol at the edge of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and grab my camera as I exit the car. The full moon is still bright in the sky and the sun not yet risen. As I reach the water’s edge my faithful dolphin friend swims up and we journey east, toward the rising sun. He, swimming just offshore, and me, walking close to the water’s edge. The past several Sunday’s we have shared the sunrise together and the thought of not seeing him next Sunday saddens me.

_TSL5715The sky is in full sunrise celebration with crazy clouds and colors of phenomenal beauty. Joy leaps up within me as I frolic along the shore which seems to excite my cetacean buddy. As Will sings, “I’m glad to be alive and I’m thankful for this paradise right here, paradise right here. Right here, by the warm inviting water, right now with my bare feet in the sand, right here share it with your sons and daughters, paradise in the palm of your hand. Paradise in the palm of your hand. Paradise in the palm of your hand.”

_TSL5769So grateful for the paradise of this shoreline, the Alabama coast and the greater Gulf of Mexico….all life here…and hopeful that we can make it even better with efforts to be good stewards and approach our walk on this planet with love and compassion for all life.

_TSL5711The end of my walk neared and I saw two of my teammates approaching from their section. We celebrated the beauty of the morning and a successful patrol season and sea turtles. We remembered our loggerhead friends who lure us out each Sunday morning from May 1st through August 31st to chase the sunrise and re-discovered paradise…in the palm of our hand.

_TSL5808*Paradise Right Here is Willie Sugarcapps new CD title and the title of Will Kimbrough‘s fantastic song. Check it out!

The Face of Love

The Face of Love

SimoneLipscomb (3) The sand is cold from a night of darkness. Starlight is still embedded in the crystalline grains. It lingers as the gathering orange orb peeks from behind dark, gray clouds. Lunar fullness…madness… seeps into my bare feet as I walk along the shore, chilled from a wintery morning.

SimoneLipscomb (4)The pre-dawn excursion gave me time and space to freely open to the creative impulse working within and through me. I came away with a synthesis of revelations of late.

Recently, in my morning meditations, I have asked for one-sentence seeds of wisdom to begin the day. Yesterday it was this:

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Throughout the day I contemplated this statement and felt a deeper opening in my heart…and a Buddhist story came to mind. It goes something like this…

An abbot of a monastery sought a replacement. The test given to monks who applied for the position was to stand against hungry ghosts…legions of them. Bravery, courage and wisdom was needed. One by one, they were defeated as they wielded weapons and used defensive maneuvers. Finally, a monk calmly stood ready to face the test. Rather than hold weapons or stand in a defensive posture, the monk remained calmed and opened himself, allowing all the hungry ghosts to pass straight through. By not holding on or clinging to defensiveness, he passed the test and thus possessed the wisdom to become the new abbot.

SimoneLipscomb (13)It’s possible, while trying to maintain an open heart, to become defensive and protective of it as there will be those who are threatened by such joy, such happiness and they will make attempts to put down the light being emitted. Yet those ‘hungry ghosts’ have nothing on which to attach if we remain open, undefended, allowing pure joy and love to flow through.

SimoneLipscomb (9)As Pema Chodron wrote, “To experience something that liberates us from the narrow minded-ness of our biases and preconceptions is truly wondrous.”

“Don’t worry about results; just open your heart in an inconceivably big way, in that limitless way that benefits everyone you encounter,” wrote Chodron. Yesterday’s meditation included a vision where I climbed through a castle onto the top of it and went on the high roof. As I stood in the winds of this sacred place I saw a light approaching from the distance and heard a deep voice in my mind. Light the beacon, stay open, I am coming. So in the vision I took a torch and lit a huge light and knew that in reality I was lighting my heart’s light..and it would be my task to keep that sacred light burning brightly. There was no other task necessary.

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Doobie and Bucket understand the value of basking in the sun…it’s where most of their wisdom is gleaned.

Yesterday at The Frog Pond Sunday Social, a gathering of musicians and music-lovers who come together to create community, I basked in the winter sun as the musicians warmed up. As I faced the sun and closed my eyes I reflected back to the meditative vision and allowed the light of my heart to meet that of the sun and heard the deep voice in my mind once again….stay open.

After over half-a-century of exploring what love is and more specifically what it is not…I have come to realize that love is the only ‘thing’ that matters. It’s not romantic love or sexual love…although that can be an expression of it…it’s the stuff that comes from having an open heart that breathes-in love, exhales love and in the middle finds a way to experience sheer joy and compassion just for the experience. That’s what I’ve gotten to thus far.

SimoneLipscombThis is the face of pure joy, pure happiness….this then is the face of love.

And this is the face of love……

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 “When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Your world seems less solid, more roomy and spacious. The burden lightens. In the beginning it might feel like sadness or a shaky feeling, accompanied by a lot of fear, but your willingness to feel the fear, to make fear your companion, is growing. You’re willing to get to know yourself at this deep level. After awhile this same feeling begins to turn into a longing to raze all the walls, a longing to be fully human and to live in your world without always having to shut down and close off when certain things come along. It begins to turn into a longing to be there for your friends when they’re in trouble, to be of real help to this poor, aching planet. Curiously enough, along with this longing and this sadness and this tenderness, there’s an immense sense of well-being, unconditional well-being, which doesn’t have anything to do with pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad, hope or fear, disgrace or fame. It’s something that simply comes to you when you feel that you can keep your heart open.” Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are.

May we all be the face…the embodiment…of love.

 

On Being Real

On Being Real

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Manatee

Masks make me uncomfortable. Not costumed masks but those invisible masks humans create to hide the truth of their being. I suppose that’s why my photography has almost exclusively focused on nature and wildlife…until a couple of years ago.

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Billy McLaughlin

A conversation with fellow photographer and Frog Pond Sunday Social attendee about photographing musicians made me laugh and understand something about myself. I made the comment that I was much more comfortable with animals and nature and had never photographed people too much until I began focusing on portraits of musicians. His reply–“Well, they’re not that different from animals you know.” He said it to be funny and we had a good laugh but what he said is very true.

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Grayson Capps

When musicians are really in the creative groove and are connected to their source of inspiration, they appear to be in an unmasked state of being. They seem to invite the audience to witness their journey and meet them in that place from which they bring forth beauty…and magic.

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Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes & Grayson Capps

I’m basically shy and much more comfortable alone in the woods or underwater with my cameras. I discovered, while listening and photographing Robert Randolph, why I like photographing musicians.

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Robert Randolph

I connect energetically with musicians when they bring forth their gifts through performance. It’s as if I can see beyond the outer appearance to their true essence and meet them there through my photography. It’s as if we make an unspoken agreement to share that space of truth.

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Robert Randolph

When I photographed Robert, I squirmed my way to the stage to see the energetic and amazing performer who had a huge crowd of people dancing. He was channeling lightning, or so it seemed. He is a pedal steel guitarist and bringer of a dynamic force to all in attendance willing to meet him. Me? I stood there with a huge smile on my face. How could I not? His smile rocked the festival. As the intensely-loud music bounced through me (I was in front of massive speakers) and I focused on him with my camera, I understood my love of photographing musicians while they are playing.

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Sarah Lee Guthrie

Live music is one of the rare experiences where we can see humans engaged in the creative process. Musicians that are truly in their happy place allow their masks to fall away  to expose a truer self.  That’s probably what separates the really great musicians from the good ones…a willingness to tap into a higher expression of who they are in front of an audience. That’s no small thing. And that’s probably why I think of these same musicians as being like ministers….leaders who invite us all to a deeper yet higher place.

SimoneLipscomb (21)When I am standing in a river photographing elk headed straight for me, I feel a similar emotion as I do when photographing an expressive musician. I am much more comfortable with elk and other forms of nature but that’s because I don’t create a mask when I’m in nature or surrounded by animals.

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Will Kimbrough

Musicians are teaching me to shed my masks and meet them in the truth of the moment, where music melts walls of division and creates harmony of spirit.

 

 

Living Out LOUD!

Living Out LOUD!

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Robert Randolph and The Family Band


With a foggy head from an after-midnight arrival back on the coast, I sat processing images at the iMac control station. Images from LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) and autumn colors from the Smoky Mountains had me dancing in my chair but it was the friendly elk photos that made me stop and wonder, How did all of these amazing experiences happen in three days?

Receiving the ticket for LEAF was nothing short of amazing. The event was sold out for months. I had a feeling the weekend was divinely unfolding….and it did. I’ll begin this tale on the way to the festival.

SimoneLipscomb (290)I left Atlanta before dawn and made my way in the darkness through the North Georgia Mountains. As sunrise was still an hour away, I found myself in Clayton, Georgia with 36 degree temperatures causing me to grab a vest when I stopped to buy a cup of coffee. Burrrr! Onward and up to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a short little climb up from Waynesville, North Carolina to see the sweeping views…of ice and hoar frost and feel temperatures below freezing. When I exited the heated seats, harsh wind whipped over the ridge and made short work of photographing anything.

simonelipscomb (2) copyBack down I went to get on I-40 east toward Asheville….Swannanoa…Black Mountain. LEAF! I arrived in time to enjoy breakfast from The Corner Kitchen and rosemary potato wedges that made my eyes roll backwards. The chilly but sunny morning had everyone is good spirits. Children were playing, nearby parents were enjoying morning coffee. It was a beautiful atmosphere of love, kindness, joy and…peace.

Ready for a bit of Sunday morning gospel I strolled to Eden Hall to hear Church to the Nth Power. AWE-some!

The sunshine called so I stepped outside and watched monstrous bubbles entertain energetic kids…and adults who were too self-conscious to run after them…but I saw the gleam in their eyes.

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Gee’s Bend, Alabama Quilter and Singer

Then it was time for Willie Sugarcapps…the home-grown super-group from coastal Alabama. I entered their venue early to get a good seat for photographic opportunities but a large section was filled. Almost as soon as I sat down two women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama were introduced and they started singing gospel songs. Then Asheville kids they had worked with during the week joined them and sang and I’m pretty sure most of us in the audience were singing before the music ended.

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The women are part of a group of famous quilters and singers from south-central Alabama and helped the youth learn quilting. A mosaic of intense-color was presented to wild applause.

simonelipscomb (64)Then it was time for Willie Sugarcapps…and they put on a great show. Wow-zers!

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Robert Randolph and The Family Band

Barley’s Pizza for lunch while listening to Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I couldn’t stop moving my feet…luckily I’m relatively coordinated so chewing and keeping time with my boots didn’t cause any difficulties. As soon as I finished lunch I wormed my way into the front of the tent and stood mouth-agape at this pedal-steel-guitar-playing light-bulb-of-a-person. Or spotlight-of-a-person. Forgot my ear plugs and even though it felt like my ears were ripping apart from the speakers, I couldn’t look away…couldn’t do anything but connect with the energy of this dynamic performer.

simonelipscomb (110)As I stood photographing him as he played, I felt his strong love and immense passion for what he was doing. It felt as if he was a pure channel for joy and laughter. It was church for the soul. It was very difficult to stop dancing as I focused and squeezed the shutter on my Nikon. But I managed to get some good shots.

simonelipscomb (142)With an encore that lasted deliciously long, I knew I needed to push a bit to make the next Willie Sugarcapps set up at The Barn. I arrived in time to hear David Wilcox’s final song and even got a few images of him. His music has been an inspiration for many years…geez…I hate to say it but…decades.

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Willie Sugarcapps…Corky Hughes, Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Savana Lee Crawford, Anthony Crawford

Then Willie.… Corky Hughes, Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford. The Barn was a perfect venue for their wonderful music. The second set was a bit softer and the songs took the audience a bit deeper in this smaller, more intimate space. They were having fun and so of course, we were, too.

SimoneLipscomb (8)The darkness of The Barn with filtered light and hints of turquoise, blue, and orange accent colors seemed to weave a sort of magic around the notes, words and harmonies they created. During Grayson Capps song, Love, tears rolled down my face as the words found a deeper place to touch. And yet the energy didn’t get heavy…or sad. It kept getting sweeter and lighter as they played to close down that particular stage of LEAF Autumn 2014.

Love this shot...Grayson Capps and Will Kimbrough having FUN!
Love this shot…Grayson Capps and Will Kimbrough having FUN!

Reviewing over 1500 images wasn’t something I looked forward to but as I progressed through them, frame-by-frame, I saw the energy of life and love and laughter shining through faces. Moments of sheer joy reignited within my heart and I realized I was smiling…and laughing as I worked.

The photography portion of the trip ended yesterday in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I ducked into a corner of the park to capture some autumn colors and saw elk near the visitor center. Of course where twenty elk gather, masses of humans follow.

I started to drive on to avoid the crowd but something made me slam on the brakes and pull into the full parking lot. I waited for a car to exit, parked, grabbed my camera and 70-200mm lens and walked toward the masses. It was very crowded and the elk were really too far away to get any decent shots so I walked down to the river for some quiet time before leaving the mountains.

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I can honestly say this mother and baby elk blew my mind….

Absentmindedly looking at rocks on a sand bar in the river, I didn’t notice the elk cow and calf wading in the water, headed straight for me. I gathered my wits and backed away, giving them space to cross uninterrupted. They weren’t stopping regardless.

Once at a safe distance for all three of us, I started photographing them and couldn’t believe my good fortune, luck…or divine providence. Ansel Adams once said he thought he sometimes arrived at a place just when God wanted someone to snap the shutter. That’s how the encounter with the mom and baby elk was for me. The only reason I believe it actually happened is because I have photographs to prove it.

SimoneLipscombELK (1)Three days, three nights and I feel exhausted but like life bestowed upon me some magical window of time. I visited with friends from my old neighborhood, participated in an amazing festival of love and life, heard music that filled me with joy and love, connected with a mother and baby elk in a gentle and respectful encounter….saw brilliant colors of leaves and blue sky. I think over the past three days I was living out loud. And it felt marvelous.

To the LEAF ticket fairy…or fairies…THANK YOU! So much….

 

Magic Cauldron

Magic Cauldron

simonelipscomb1 (102)Opening concert of the Frog Pond season and the torrential rainfall, the flash floods, the get-out-your-waders event simply didn’t happen, at least not in Silverhill, Alabama. Where there’s good juju perhaps the storms stay away just long enough for friends to come together after a long summer break to celebrate music, life and all things good.

simonelipscomb1 (121)Willie Sugarcapps opened the season and it seemed especially potent given that it is the group’s birthplace. This group is an example of the kind of magic that happens on the back porch stage at Blue Moon Farm.

simonelipscomb1 (10)Reconnecting with friends, with the music we all love, is a wondrous thing. But it goes beyond that. It’s as if the land itself welcomed us all back…the musicians and music-lovers so the spirit of community was sparkling and evident by smiles, hugs, singing coming from under the tent. We had a revival all right…a revival of the love of music and each other.

simonelipscomb1 (96)If you don’t go, you just won’t know….how sweet the spirit of friendship and the common love of music creates a place of happiness and joy. Witnessing the coming together of musicians sharing new songs, performing them for the first time together, shows us all the potent creative process in action. A lesson not to be ignored.

simonelipscomb1 (69)On a personal note, there’s sometimes a song that goes straight to my heart and creates an opening. Sometimes we all need reminding of the light within….or the star within. Thanks Brother Will…and all the members of Willie Sugarcapps for bringing their hearts and creative spirits to the Frog Pond. You all show us magic in action. And to Cathe Steel…you provide a container for this magic to happen. So thanks for stirring the cauldron of creativity and inviting us all to witness the beauty.

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