The most beautiful Sunday at CoSM with Allyson and Alex Grey

Spring, as we all know, induces the release of intoxicating pheromones and pollens. I always find myself stumbling around at this time of year feeling as through I have ingested some type of mind altering substance but am also able to access an unwavering clarity. On Sunday, CoSM was swathed in golden sunlight melting in through its high arched windows and tantalizing all of the fragile, but boldly opened buds, along its path.

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During the course of the day Jemal, Alex and Allyson Grey, and I did a talk/dialogue about being hit with major physical trauma and using music and art as healing tools. Allyson and Alex were recently in a car accident in which there were spinal injuries (including broken bones), and Allyson’s ankle was also broken. Despite the pain they suffered and have continued to suffer, they have been absorbing themselves in their visual art which seems to have only expanded in its wealth of content and aesthetic. As many of you know, less than two years ago I went through brain surgery to have a tumor removed from my left frontal lobe (in my language center). In both dealing with the hallucinatory seizures that I was experiencing before the surgery and needing to relearn my language skills after the surgery, music was an essential tool. The dialogue was incredible that we shared. There were a number of people in the wonderful audience, that attended the day’s events, who had their own awe-inspiring stories to share.

The concert was also quite magical and seemed to be steeped in the spring’s glory. Jemal and I were joined by Robert Oakes (keyboards, bass), and Mathias Kunzli (percussion), and Sarah Jezebel Wood (dance). We did some things that have never happened before simply because the audience was listening so intently and because they were aware of the writing process behind some of the material that was being performed. For example, I first wrote ‘Trespasser’ on a retreat during the time period in which I was having hallucinatory seizures but did not know what they were. It was a very challenging time for me. I recorded a version of it that was very slow and was of me playing piano as singing…it was blatantly depressing. When I sent it to Jemal I told him that it could be a song for the garbage can. He was inspired to put a rock edge behind it and increase the speed significantly. In the end, we kept everything intact that I had written (melody, chords, lyrics, etc.), but added those elements that Jemal was inspired to bring into play. It was the transformation that the piece, and I, needed and was empowering on numerous levels. So, for the performance at CoSM, I played a chunk of the original version (just me on the piano) and then we did the full band version.

Later in the day we had the tremendous honor of Alex bringing us into his and Allyson’s studio/bedroom and we got to glimpse some of their current works in progress. I dare not try to summarize what was seen, but was very inspired.

Here are some photos from the day. These photos were taken by Susan Buck and Brian James.