Late March 2017 Updates

It’s spring and the world seems to be waking up all around me.  We’ve had a couple of false starts, complete with a couple of days where the ground turned white, but it appears to be now definitely started.  Fortunately it doesn’t seem like the false starts impeded the return of the spring flowers as the neighborhood’s crocuses are in full bloom, the daffodils have started, snow drops have presented themselves and the forsythia are now doing their things as well.  It shouldn’t be too long until the redbuds bloom.  I’m hoping that the one my wife and daughter bought for me several father’s days ago will finally bloom for its first time.  We shall see as it’s a little early for it to hit its stride yet.  Musically the stride is being struck, however as things are finally moving forward with the bookings.

I have three gigs lined up in the next month or so with the blues rock band I play bass for, have two folkish guitar gigs on the books with Cedes Buck, a local singer/songwriter, an opening gig with the classic rock band, have a web site near launch ready for the trio, and have been added to an original band, The Hurtin’ Kind, as their lead guitarist.  It looks like my first gig with them will be in June.  I’ve also invested in some fingerstyle guitar music to add to my solo bag of tricks so it’s easy to say things have really started moving along.  Next week I’ve got seven rehearsals slated then a gig.  Still looking for that balance between gigs and rehearsals, which I will be attaining one way or another.

My writing has been on hiatus mostly because of the political nightmare I’ve found my country mired in.  It was occupying entirely too much of my working memory to the point where every time I sat down to write essentially the same tirade would start emerging from my keyboard and wriggling itself across the page.  So, I decided to step back from the writing and focus on music and teaching for the time being.  Sometimes when I find myself faced with this type of rutted thought process I find the best thing to do is simply stop, take several steps back, and attempt to get my perspectives under control.  I’m still really upset with what is going on, but stepping back has allowed me to start refocusing myself on the things that I need to do for my music and the other aspects of my life that need attention.

That being said, I do find that I’ve committed myself to quite a few projects, all of which require varying levels of attention.  I’m going to have to make some decisions regarding them eventually in terms of ultimately where I want to be, which definitely leans toward the original line of things.  I do like being busy as it keeps me moving and doesn’t give me time for inertia to set in, but the shotgun approach can only go on so long.  We’ll see what shakes out of the next few months and where it takes me.  I’ve been in contact with a friend in San Francisco whom I’d lost contact with some 20 odd years ago.  He’s experienced some success with the direction he’s taken, kind of a gypsy jazz/Americana mix that keeps him working steadily in San Francisco, and gigging in various other locations as well, such as New York.  Ultimately, I’d like the situation he’s built, but not necessarily in the same genre.  It’s starting to become clearer though, which is good.

So this is my version of an update on things in the world of Christopher Hopper.  The balls are all in the air, and it would appear that more are being added as the days pass.  I’m hoping that I can keep them all up there, and if any are dropped the results aren’t too damaging.  Here’s to spring!

 

They’re Marching Everywhere!

The sun is shining today, of all days, and has been since I hauled myself out of bed. It is well past dawn and on into the mid-afternoon now, and I’ve seen hope today take form in massive protests taking place all over the country. Here in Chicago almost 250,000 people joined the Women’s March today, while numbers came in around 500,000 in Washington, DC. And those were the two largest of many across our nation, and elsewhere as well. Today’s march in DC dwarfed yesterday’s inauguration attendance, and sends a clear message that the people of this nation are not content. They are sending the orange man a clear message that they are uniting to stand up for their rights, and their way of life. They will not cower under his glares and misogynistic behavior.

I’ve been watching the images scroll in from across the country on my computer, and as they have my feelings of pride in my country have been being restored. More precisely, my feelings of pride in my fellow Americans have been as I have watched this movement gain momentum, and the numbers continued to grow. Here in Chicago the organizers had to adapt and then readapt as the people continued to arrive. They were expecting around 22,000 initially, from what I’ve seen, which quickly morphed to 50,000 and some changes in rallying points. By 10:30 this morning the numbers hit 150,000 strong, then, two hours later close to 250,000 people were marching, chanting and showing their solidarity against an incoming administration that seems hell bent on destroying years of social progress, denying people of their civil rights and turning our planet into an ecological disaster zone.

This in and of itself is such a ray of sunshine at this point. Seeing that there are so many folks out there that aren’t blind to what is at stake in our country gives me a sense of hope that somehow we just might make it through this somehow. I’m not naïve; I know that it is going to be a long haul, but these are truly significant numbers of people openly aligning themselves in pushing back against the darkness that is threatening us. It gives me hope that our country isn’t up for sale to the highest bidder, and that we’re not going to go quietly into a lockstep goose-stepping future.

I’ve seen so many photos shared by my friends of the marches in their areas across the country. Smiling faces as they held their signs with their friends at the staging areas and along the march routes, hand made signs that some had obviously spent some time creating. These were people DOING something about the situation we are faces, people who care about the direction of our nation, and its policies both at home and abroad. Women from all walks of life, many there with their families, came together and made a massive statement for everyone in the world to see. Smiling faces filled with determination to do the right thing and stand for justice and all that is good here.

I’m thankful to all of them. And I’m thankful for the folks who, while they might not march, contribute to the cause in their own ways, whether it is writing letters to their representatives, volunteering in their communities or whatever they can do to help move this forward and keep hope alive in this country, particularly hope that we can continue to move forward as a diverse country, filled with a rich cultural heritage that welcomes difference while guaranteeing equality for all. I don’t want to see that wealth squandered by despots, nor do I want the principles that this country was founded upon to be lost. There is too much at stake for us to let that happen.

I’m hoping that this is a sign of things to come and that the American people will continue to stand up against corruption. We should be that shining light of freedom, equality and justice that we have dreamed to be and so many have come here to find. We are capable of so much good, so much more than the incoming administration represents. We have the ability, the strength, and the knowledge. Now, with the advent of these marches, I’m also seeing that we have the motivation to take the steps to make ourselves heard and to keep driving forward, not set the clocks back fifty or sixty years to the halcyon days of the straight white male. We are ALL Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, religious creed, gender or orientation, and every single one of us will be heard. After all, in this country the government is SUPPOSED TO WORK FOR US.

I’m Back!

Here we are and it is mid-September with my first blog post in over a month. Many things have occurred since I last posted running a gamut of experiences, both positive and some not so positive. One of the not so positive things is how far behind the power curve I am on my blog posting, which I must rectify!

Currently I’m in the middle of a period of major changes. The band I’ve been performing with for the past several years just lost its front man due to conflicting goals and various other issues. This has resulted in several gig cancellations and a current search for a replacement, as well as a switch in direction and renaming of the group. All of this takes time, and other factors, such as life changes for some of the members coinciding with this regrouping are also impacting the rapidity of the band’s recovery, but this is one of the challenges of life.

The upside of the band situation is that we still have all the necessary parts to make a band and we can get by vocally for the time being, but none of us have really spent significant time fronting a band vocally. This, of course, provides the opportunity for personal growth for everyone, which is always welcome but does increase the learning curve. We’re also exploring new music for the repertoire, which is a welcome change since some of the material we’ve been performing has been in the stable for quite awhile. My personal view of the situation is that we’ve been handed a huge opportunity to make the band even better than it was, but there is a sense of loss being experienced simultaneously because we were very good at what we were doing.

School has started once again and with that has come my return to teaching college English courses, both writing and literature this semester. My workload is up this time because I’m teaching a lit course I haven’t taught before, which requires quite a bit of reading. Thankfully, I enjoy both reading and the material, Contemporary African American Literature, so I don’t mind the additional prep time. It keeps my brain engaged and provides for a good deal of fun in the classroom discussing ideas and storylines. Good stuff! My kid is also slaving away in her classroom, so she needs to be shuttled back and forth to sixth grade. She’s spending a good hour and a half on homework every night along with her dance classes and other after school projects.

My health saga continues, but at least I finally now know that my heart situation probably won’t be terminating me any time in the near future. They’re still trying to figure out why I have polyrhythms going rather than simply 4/4, but I’m not worrying about whether or not I’ll be around tomorrow anymore which is a relief. I have started a new diet, which eliminates wheat, almost all sugars, and various other things from my meal plan. It is designed to stabilize insulin uptake and drop weight while establishing a very healthy eating practice. I’m also supposed to eliminate milk products, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, etc. I’m still having my coffee, yogurt and honey but trying to adhere to everything else as much as I can, as well as taking the recommended supplements and omega-3s. I’ve just started the 2nd week of the process and already have noticed that my clarity of thought and general feelings of well-being increasing, so it has been worth it so far. We’ll see after another couple weeks without the pizza food group.

The classical guitar quartet rehearsals continue and it’s another season of participation with the Chicago Community Classical Guitar Ensemble as well, so things are starting to pick up again musically. Hopefully this will lead to an increase in the number of blog posts I’m churning out, as well as a surge in bookings as well as more to prime the blog writing pump. I guess my month on essay writing in July created a need for a break! Here’s to the Fall of 2015 and more news to come!