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Feb 11th
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In the Now

music DonovanDonavon Frankenreiter reminds listeners to live in the present

Start Livin’, Donavon Frankenreiter’s newly released fifth album, consists of exactly the sort of music that fans have come to expect from the singer/guitarist/songwriter-cum-pro surfer: laidback acoustic surf-folk much akin to that of Frankenreiter’s friend and mentor, Jack Johnson. But Frankenreiter tried some new recording tactics this time out.
For one, rather than bringing in a full band, he enlisted the talents of just one other musician: his longtime bassist, Matt Grundy. The two musicians used all kinds of instruments never before heard on a Frankenreiter album—along with banjo, lap steel guitar and ukulele, they made creative use of percussion: In lieu of a drum kit, Frankenreiter and Grundy used pots and pans, Zippo lighters, singing bowls, bells and good old-fashioned hand claps.

Frankenreiter says these were the most fun recording sessions he’s ever done. “Nothing was planned; there was no preproduction,” he notes. “Matt didn’t even hear some of the songs [before the sessions].” This spontaneous approach allowed them to tear through the sessions in just seven days. “We would do two songs a day—sometimes three. It wasn’t like we were rushing anything; we’d just get a song finished, and there was still time in the studio.” He adds that they stayed fully in the here and now while recording the album. “We started a song, finished it, moved on to the next one and the next one.”


This methodology exemplifies the message of the album’s title cut, which Frankenreiter describes as a call to begin “living in the moment, enjoying what you have around you right now, not worrying about the past or what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week.” This is a principle that the musician puts into practice both inside and outside the recording studio. “If I didn’t do that, I think I’d go a little crazy,” he offers. “I’m out on the road eight months out of the year, so I can’t really think about, ‘Oh, when am I gonna be home again?’ or whatever. I never look ahead and go, ‘Oh, my gosh—I’ve got 30 shows in a row coming up, and I’m on gig No. 2.’ I just embrace where I’m at that day and that night, having fun at every show. I like to be surprised when I wake up: ‘Where are we now? OK, here we go.’”

Further encouraging listeners to embrace the present moment are Start Livin’s reminders of life’s impermanent nature, as heard on “Same Lullaby.” Frankenreiter explains that the song was born during a day off from touring, during which he passed some time in a bar in Western Australia, watching the tsunamis and earthquakes in Japan on live TV. “I thought about all the other things that happened: all the wars, people fighting. It’s crazy that things can be taken away so easily.”
Arguably the album’s most touching track is “A.I.,” written for Frankenreiter’s longtime friend, fellow pro surfer Andrew Irons, who died of cardiac arrest in November 2010. The singer says he saw Irons just a couple of weeks before his death. “I just remember standing in the gas station parking lot with him,” he recalls. “I gave him a big hug, and I said I’d see him when he got back from Puerto Rico. He was so close to [the time when his wife would deliver] his baby, and he was so happy and healthy.” The singer expresses his feelings poignantly in “A.I.”: “Wish I had one more chance to give you a hug and shake your hand … Every morning I see you there reflecting off the sea.”

Such unforeseen circumstances serve as reminders to make sure we live life to its fullest. By all appearances, Frankenreiter is doing just that, remaining fully present as he rides the waves, be they aquatic or sonic. “In surfing or in music, I’ve never, ever felt like, ‘Wow! I’ve got it!’” he says. “It’s always changing. You can just learn about it forever.”

Donavon Frankenreiter plays at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7 at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $23/adv, $25/door. For more information, call 479-1854.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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