Neah Bay and Cape Flattery

Neah Bay, Washington,  on the Makah Reservation,  is the gateway village to Cape Flattery, the northwest tip of the Lower 48.  I’ve been intrigued with Neah Bay and Cape Flattery for several years as Joe has traveled there several  times for birding trips.  As it turns out, Neah Bay and the surrounding  area is a hot spot for bird migration in the fall and the spring.  We stayed one night in a cozy little cabin at the Cape Resort.

After a four and a half hour drive from Seattle, including a ferry crossing from Edmonds to Kingston, we found ourselves in Neah Bay, welcomed by the towering painted wooden Makah figures of the Makah Museum.  Neah Bay is a fishing village  and the most prominent feature in town is the marina full of fishing boats, some modern, and some in desperate need of repair or retirement.

As we strolled around the marina, we saw several fisherman hauling in their catch for the day. We chatted with two fish biologists who keep tabs on the daily catch.

I spent an afternoon at the Makah Museum which houses a collection of 500 artifacts dating back 500 years. These artifacts are part of a 50,000 piece collection recovered  from the village of Ozette which was covered in a mud slide five centuries ago.  The mud covering  the precious artifacts for several centuries preserved them until they were discovered and recovered in 1970-1981.

The artifacts  include fishing tackle, tools, wooden baskets, bags,  games, cooking supplies, blankets, and more.  The  display of  artifacts and  printed narrative takes visitors on a journey  through the four seasons while telling  the story of  Makah tribal life,  which centered around whaling, hunting seals, and fishing.

Some of the artifacts are teeny tiny such as fish hooks and small tools the size of a sewing needle. I imagined  someone holding these tools close and going about their day as the deadly mud slide came down centuries ago.  I was  touched that many of the tools were decorative as well as functional such as delicate combs  showcasing  intricate carvings of  fish, and other symbols.  No photographs are allowed in the museum.

The museum has true-to-size replicas of whaling canoes and fishing boats carved from spruce and a full-size longhouse.  There’s also an impressive woven basket collection from the early 20th century made by Makah women who sold the baskets  in order to purchase food for their families.

I spoke to the person at the front desk, a Makah tribal member  who worked on  the excavation of Ozette. He told me the dig was closed up in the 1980’s due to lack of funding, even though he estimates the team only recovered a half of the artifacts.

A short drive out of Neah Bay leads to the  Cape Flattery hiking trail.  The 3/4 mile hiking  trail winds from the parking  lot  through ancient looking  ferns and trees and down a steep and curved  boardwalk which leads to several lookouts including the final lookout point with a stunning, sweeping  view of the Pacific Ocean including  Tatoosh Island,  the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and  Vancouver Island.  The water churns and crashes against the cliffs while Pelagic Cormorants swoop in and out of  crevices and caves.  Breathtaking!

We stayed one night in Neah Bay which really took us out of our normal city life and into another world.  Thank you, Joe, for taking me to  this dramatic corner of the Washington state. Thank you for the beautiful bird photos below!

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Western Sandpiper by Joe Sweeney

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Black Oystercatcher

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Pelagic Cormorants nesting on the cliff at Cape Flattery by Joe Sweeney

 

 

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Wilson’s Warbler by Joe Sweeney

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Semipalmated Plover by Joe Sweeney

 

 

Another Bride, Another June

It’s June, the garden looks fabulous, and exciting music projects are in the works.  Just a quick note to let you know I’ve revamped my wedding and special event offerings page.  I’m available, that is, musically speaking!  Check out my new page here! 

Laura playing Sunday Kind of Love by Louis Prima: 

I want a Sunday kind of love
A love to last past Saturday night
 I’d like to know it’s more than love at first sight
 I want a Sunday kind of love

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Rancho La Puerta 2018

IMG_4642I just returned from a week at the health and fitness spa, Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico.  This was my eighth visit to the Ranch as a  visiting musical artist. The motto of the Ranch is ¡Siempre Mejor! (always better).  My first visit was life changing, and each visit provides inspiration to lead my best and healthiest life possible!  Here are my top 10 experiences from the magical week, in no particular order.

  • Wandering around the brick paths that snake through the entire property while taking in the colorful gardens! 

  • Attending  two concerts from Grammy Award winning classical guitarist, Jason Vieaux! I will never forget his magical playing and commentary in the  intimate setting of the Oak Tree Pavilion.  Here’s a pic of Jason below.

Jason Vieaux

  •  Hanging  out with my handsome husband who worked at the Ranch for thirty-one years before retiring to live in Seattle. I literally took the Ranch home over six  years ago, when Joe came to live with me and my daughter, Ruby.  Now he visits the Ranch  as my guest and gets to relax and do whatever he wants!

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  •  Seeing old friends and making new ones! Below, the lovely Manuela, Concierge Extraordinaire!

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  •  A wonderful hands on cooking class with master vegan chef and cookbook author, Jill Nussinow, the Veggie Queen!  Joe, Ruby, and I  been following a plant based diet for over two years now, never felt better.

 

 

  •  Performing an evening solo piano  program, Across the Borders,  in the Oak Tree Pavilion! I also led two sing along classes in the same space, terrific fun.

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  •  Swimming Workouts in the beautiful fitness pool. IMG_0833
  •  Yoga!

 

  •  Watching a barn owl swoop into a tree at sunset like a  winged white ghost from another world.  Joe and I experienced this together.  We also saw a family of 7 skunks the same night- luckily, they kept the family party moving!  click here for some magnificent bird photos

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  • Returning Home.  Good to go away and oh so happy to return home to the yellow house.  There’s no place like home.

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HEAR IT! SING IT! MOVE IT!

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Hear IT! Sing IT! Move IT! is  available as a Pre-K or  K-5 Residency! Laura will visit your school and teach the songs and dances in a classroom setting! 

Hear It! Sing It! Move It! is my latest project, the online package includes a booklet and recordings featuring 15 North American folk songs drawn from English, French, Latin American, Caribbean, Canadian, and Sioux traditions.  The complete recordings and the PDF booklet,  bursting with lead sheets, a teacher’s guide and links for further exploration, are available gratis on this dedicated page!

The project, funded by a Teacher’s Enrichment grant from the Music Teachers National Association, was originally intended for preschoolers, ages 3-5.  However, I think anyone, young at heart, will enjoy the recordings and the booklet!

Go ahead, dig into the guide, sing or play your way through the songs on your own, or share them with a special person in your life. Feel free to pass on the link to children, grandchildren, teachers, friends, musicians, librarians, or your next door neighbor.   It’s up for all to enjoy! 

Below are a couple of the 15 songs you’ll find on the page:  Hear It! Sing It!  Move It! 

Up in a Balloon

Tía Monica 

Merry Christmas from snowy Seattle

Snow is starting to fall.  Looks like we’ll be having a white Christmas in Seattle! Here’s to  peace, love, music, health, and joy today, and every day. Here’s my daughter, Ruby, and I  playing Christmas Cookies (Dec. 17, 2017 at Music Center of the Northwest), originally  recorded by George Strait, written by Aaron Barker. Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Strait To Vegas

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Rodeo queens, show girls, casinos, hustlers, Texas hold ’em, slots, swanky shops, and mile after mile of neon lights, oh my! Last weekend, Joe and I took a trip to Las Vegas, my first time. Why Vegas? Two words: George Strait.

I’ve been listening to and singing George Strait songs for over thirty years. I love his soothing voice, the beautiful songs, his personality, and his old- school country sound. What’s better than George singing more than thirty of his greatest hits, accompanied  by the Ace in the Hole Band?  Amarillo By Mornin’, Check Yes or No, The Chair, Easy Come Easy Go, are some of my favorites. I also enjoyed the two songs tribute to Merle Haggard, including, Are the Good Times Really Over, now that’s some old-time country!

I can’t stop thinking about the show,  what a delight to experience a stage full of  seasoned musicians who effortlessly and elegantly tossed off hit after hit. I think musicians of all genres would find inspiration in watching these professionals at work. Some of those guys were in their late 70’s if not 80’s.  Definitely not their first rodeo.

While in the big AT&T  Stadium, the concert had excellent sound with amazing views  of George and the band no matter where he was standing on the square-shaped stage, thanks to the Jumbotron.  For the encore, the George and the band played a perennial favorite… All My Ex’s Live in Texas, the Milk Cow Blues, and an old-time swing number, Take Me Back to Tulsa. Here’s George Strait singing Old Troubadour.

We also took in Cirque du Soleil’s One, featuring the music of Michael Jackson.  A stunning show with death-defying acrobatics, creative staging, brilliant costumes, amazing performers,  and dazzling lighting.  Standouts of the show  include, Billy Jean danced in the dark, the dancers (and flying acrobats),  outlined by a tiny lights,  the sexy, Dirty Diana, danced by an athletic, and incredibly flexible woman, the fierce female bass player playing all those memorable riffs such as  Beat it and Smooth Criminal,  and a hologram of the King of Pop himself, dancing the grand finale of the show.  Absolutely mesmerizing. Here’s the trailer for the show.

Below are some shots of the strip and check out George Strait singing Old Troubadour.

My version of Amarillo By Mornin’:

 

 

 

 

 

Heart and Place at the C.M. Russell Museum,Great Falls, MT

 

 

Fourteen performances in four days in six different venues!  (Sounds like a country song)  I’ve just returned to Seattle after presenting my program, Heart and Place, Music of the Westward Expansion, in Great Falls, MT last week. The week involved hauling around a guitar, fiddle, Cheyenne Courting Flute, and sometimes a full size keyboard, and amp along with samples of C.M. Russell artwork.

The C.M. Russell Museum sponsored the residency which included programs in middle and high schools, as well as an evening performance in the museum.

The highlight was playing a concert in the intimate setting of the museum for around eighty people on a beautiful Yamaha grand. There was something magical about playing 19th Century music surrounded by Russell’s artwork and artifacts from the same era.  Many people in the audience were from my hometown of Choteau. Choteau is 50 miles down the road from Great Falls. Thanks to all who made the journey down the road!

I can’t say enough about the dedicated arts professionals in Great Falls including the music and art teachers in the classrooms, along with the Music and Art Supervisor for Great Falls Schools, Dusty Molyneaux and Eileen Laskowski, Education and Programs Manager for the C.M. Russell Museum.

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I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.

-John Steinbeck