Tag: Willie Sugarcapps

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!

Whale Dreamer

Whale Dreamer

SimoneLipscomb (7)Whales are back in my dreams. It all started somewhere in the dark, rainy night when storms passed through washing everything clean. In the dreamtime I found myself at my brother’s barn. A large alligator was strolling by (evidently they do stroll) and decided to come inside the barn with me.

SimoneLipscomb (6)Not fond of close contact with alligators, I picked up a large stick and tried to hit the alligator but the bony, armored plates underneath the thick, lizard skin made the stick bounce off him. Since that didn’t work I simply stopped reacting in fear and began to talk to the alligator. He understood that he and I couldn’t share close quarters and thus moved out of the barn and continued his walk.

SimoneLipscomb (8)I awakened briefly and smiled in that half groggy/half awake place. Fear had been dealt with properly. Perhaps it was the Buddhist studies that helped me communicate with reason instead of knee-jerk fear and violence.

SimoneLipscomb (13)Back in the dreamtime I found myself floating in the Ocean with whales. I was in deep communion with them as I hovered with them, weightless in the salty sea. Peace. Amazing peace.

SimoneLipscomb (9)Another dream segment…but this time with musicians I know. The setting was the upper room of a venue that had very unique ways musicians “played.” Sort of the Circ de Sole of musicians. I didn’t know The Mulligan Brothers could fly or that Willie Sugarcapps could glide with grace across the floor on magic skates. In the dream I was videoing them and posting on Facebook.

SimoneLipscomb (179)Finally, I was back on the Ocean looking for whale blows. Gazing out into the horizon I saw the misty, white exhalation of a humpback whale. It was close enough that I could smell the fishy breath, that salty incense that delighted me a few weeks ago when it enfolded me.

SimoneLipscomb (81)I am not certain how to interpret the musicians “playing” in my dream nor how my future and humpback whales will be interwoven. I am certain of one thing though: I am a whale dreamer.

Creative Madness

Creative Madness

Anthony Crawford
Anthony Crawford

He was working twelve to fourteen hour days in a creative surge to build a recording studio. But not just any recording studio…one where Anthony and his wife Savana can create their dream.

As I stood listening to him share his vision, I felt myself resonating with the impulse that grabs hold of artists and pushes us forward in a rush of energy that helps manifest that which is in our hearts and minds. Time becomes irrelevant and we can work for hours without a break. Such is this mad creative process.

 “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant–there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing,”         Georgia O’Keefe

Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

When a person feels called to live a creative life it isn’t easy. The pressure to conform to the schedule and life others live is significant. If you dare live outside the box it can be a constant struggle to stay there as our society doesn’t deal well with those of us who dare to follow and dance to our own inner voice. Whether we photograph, paint, write books or songs or poetry, dance…life lead by creativity is challenging. And many times artists are seen as weird, outcast, strange because we bring forth new ideas and new ways of seeing things.

If creative efforts yield success in the world, it makes it a bit easier for the artist to continue in his or her efforts as the opinion is…time is well-spent. But for those of us whose work isn’t well-known, we keep at it, swimming at times against a current of negative opinion and judgment….’why doesn’t she get a real job?’….’why doesn’t he volunteer and make better use of his time?’……’how come she doesn’t do ________? Many times the negative messages come from within ourselves.

Self-portrait by Simone Lipscomb
Self-portrait by Simone Lipscomb

Accomplishments are constantly being measured externally, where forms are always read from the outside, where comfort and lifestyle are often mistaken for success, or even happiness. Don’t be fooled. Our ideas regarding success should be our own,”   Teresita Fernandez

Over a year ago my friend Jen and I talked about the dilemma and pressure of feeling called to create and not knowing where it will lead or what difference it will make in the world. Of having the resources to devote to the creative process, the inner desire to fully commit our lives to it and serving the greater good but feeling at a loss for how to get the work out into the world.

SimoneLipscomb (6)Several years ago an independent publishing company opted to publish a book I had been writing for years. Sharks On My Fin Tips: A Wild Woman’s Adventures With Nature* was born out of my desire….no, my passion…to help people connect with nature and care about our planet. It contains stories of my personal relationship with animals, oceans, rivers, lakes and how nature is a healing force in my life. After several years of writing and saving stories, the process of putting it all together and seeing it in a book was amazing…finally. 

Then followed two books, a book of photography, Place of Spirit, and a children’s book on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, The Gulf Oil Spill Story. And then a project of poetry and photography with my friend Thomas Rain Crowe, Crack Light. And another project with Thomas with his translations of Hafiz and my photographs, More Than All the Rich Man’s Gold.

Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

But then came the reality of the publishing world: marketing is vital. And I’d rather just tap into inspiration and use my skills to create a work of beauty. Marketing? Really? Sales? Ugh.

And so it goes. The creative process is maddening. It’s wonderful. It drives many of us crazy. And we continue because we truly have no choice but to do so.

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living….I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be,” Joseph Campbell

Photography by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

The energy of building something from nothing inspires us and gives us life, helps us breathe completely, fully…it makes us feel at home in our skin even when people around us might criticize or ignore our work or us.

Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford...Sugarcane Jane. Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford…Sugarcane Jane. Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

Anthony’s in the grip of a creative whirlwind. As we chatted in his evolving studio he expressed a desire to see his kids off to school, to have a family life and be able to do what he and his wife love to do–create music. Rather than give up family or music they are creating the life they want, building their dream.

Cover Rich Mans Gold
Thomas Rain Crowe’s translations of Hafiz and Simone Lipscomb’s photography.

Thomas said this to a class he was teaching: The difference between writers and someone who writes is that writers have to write. They cannot not write. And so it goes with those of us called by some mysterious, inner voice to create. We cannot ignore the urge to paint, write stories, photograph, write songs, draw, play music, write poetry, dance. We must surrender to this creative madness that calls us. There are no guarantees or promises that our efforts will pay off, make a difference or change the world for the better but we really have no choice. To ignore the inner voice, the creative spark that ignites us with inspiration is to die while breathing.

*Sharks On My Fin Tips, Grateful Steps Publishing House, 2008.

Check out Anthony and Savana Crawford’s wonderful music with their duo, Sugarcane Jane and with Willie Sugarcapps.






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.

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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