When I left for California last week, it was roughly -30 celcius with knee-high snow. I returned Monday to slightly warmer temperatures (-18 C) and slightly more snow. As much as I love California, the February flowers, ubiquitous Mexican restaurants and the sun-kept faces, it is great to be home in the city and the land that I love. Winnipeg is fun to mock, but honestly, I wouldn’t rather live anywhere else.
Last night Nance and I joined 5oo others at the New Music Festival where Mike Janzen premiered his composition Bending Hendrix, with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It was a CBC / WSO commissioned piece commemorating the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s passing. Mike’s composition, featuring the guitar mastery of Winnipeg’s beloved Greg Lowe, was delightfully unusual blending three Hendrix classics with an orchestra cleverly mimicking guitar pyrotechnics and Mike’s oddball sense of musicality and humour.
It was fantastic. And it was in Winnipeg.
This morning, as soon as I’m finished writing this, I’ll walk my dog Daisy through the crystaline snows, under a crisp blue sky, through snuggled neighbourhoods guarded by stately barren elms, mighty oaks and evergreen evergreens. I love it.
But California was great to visit and sing to. I wish I had some photos for you, but my camera went missing a few days into the eight day tour, so I’ll have to give you something else for visual stimulation.
The first few days of the tour, I already blogged about and you can read that HERE. After Sacramento, we (Dave Z and I) drove down to Orange County and spent a couple of days at BIOLA University, which is one of the larger U.S. Christian Universities. I taught a class to about 30 students there, who are all hoping to pursue some sort of music ministry. I sang for 2000 students at their morning chapel (which was a riot), and later I sang a house concert at Barry Corey’s home (President of the University.) The house concert was his gift to several key donors of their new building program which provides a new home for the theological department there.
I loved the school, the staff, the students and the gathering at the Corey home. All were extremely friendly, low-keyed, eagerly passionate about life and faith, and unusually open and hospitable to what I had to offer. It makes me wish I did more work on university campuses. It was quite invigorating for me.
Then I sang a concert for a small gathering in Rancho Santa Margarita. What made that evening memorable for me was the presence of dear friends I haven’t seen for a long time. Bob and Elena Bennett showed up! Bob sang several songs for the unsuspecting but delighted gathering. Also, there was Kevin and Barb Ryan with their son James. Kevin is the builder of that gorgeous, beat-up, cedar topped guitar so many of you have seen me play. It has been around the world with me several times, and has delivered countless songs and concerts. These days it is a little worse for wear and is currently in the repair shop having a foot-long crack glued and braced – only one of many wounds this workhorse has endured as a result of the rigors of the road.
The great surprise for me was when Santa Fe based singer/songwriter Diana Gibbs appeared moments before the concert. She and a friend were in San Diego but took a train up to Orange County to come to the concert. Diana and her husband are dear friends to Nance and I. Their son Will is one of my two godsons for whom I wrote the song For the Journey. It is a song I wrote on the plane while traveling to meet Will for the first time. At the time, I was going through some sort of life-stress (can’t remember the details anymore) and I was overwhelmed both by the beauty of his new life, and the thought of the joys and terrors that awaited him – hence the song (Listen below. Click on the arrow to play song.)
From southern California, Dave and I drove up to the San Francisco Bay area where I sang a concert at Central Peninsula Church in Foster City. This is a community I’ve sang to several times in the past – so it was a warm, fuzzy evening with folks who have become great friends.
Sunday morning I sang a couple of services at Menlo Park Presbyterian. I am thrilled to have an inroad into this community as they are a vibrant and large church with their own orchestra. There are many churches in the U.S. with their own orchestras, and I’d love the opportunity to take my symphony concerts to those folks. We’ll see.
Anyway – all in all, it was a great trip and it has produced several new opportunities to return to. I’m blessed to be able to do this work and I want to thank so many of you for your prayers and support.
By way of quick health report – my soft tissue stress in my left arm continues to be a concern. It can be very painful at times, but I’m in extensive massage therapy and it seems to be abating somewhat. Once the flare-up settles down, I’ll need to make some life-style changes (in the area of stretching and exercise) if I want to continue to work as I have in the past. This is not exciting for me, so I’ll need some encouragement to take a more disciplined approach to my ongoing muscular health for sure. Apparently my current woes are a combination of sustained repetitive use and age… AGE?!!
Have I mentioned I’m a grandpa?!!
[wpaudio url=”http://blog.stevebell.com/wp-content/uploads/14-For-The-Journey.mp3″ text=”For the Journey” dl=”0″]
For the Journey
Music and lyric by Steve Bell
Dedicated to my godsons Will Gibbs and Joe Michele Fontaine
May the Lord bless and keep you
May His face shine upon you
May His graciousness be like an endless stream
May the Lord show His favour
To your house and your neighbor
“Till the last remaining strains of striving cease
May He grant you peace.
In my heart there’s a sadness building up
Every turn adds to the cup
As the losses match the measure of my gains
In the shadow of this curse
Where the best implies the worst
If you’re like me, you’ll need to hear somebody pray…
For the Journey appears on Steve’s album Simple Songs. To review album, listen to clips or purchase, click HERE.