I was listening to the radio one Friday morning while in my car driving into Nevada City. I like to listen to Jeri Ann Van Dijk’s show on Friday mornings on KVMR. Every week around 8:30, Jeri Ann invites Joanna Robinson from Hospitality House to talk about what’s going on at Hospitality House and ask for specific “requests” that are urgently needed for her “guests”. Joanna’s sweet voice always makes me want to do something to help her out. (She never has a request for herself, by the way.)
I go with my wife Caryn to the Holbrooke Hotel on Tuesday nights for their open mic, where she sings every week. This town has so many talented musicians, as you have written so many times about in your blog and magazine. It takes only luck and money to be successful in the music business; other than that it’s a walk in the park, right?! When I mentioned my idea to other musicians who come to play every week, they all said the same thing; “Where do I show up, and when do you want me?: Among the musicians who are there on a weekly basis, is someone who has a recording studio in his house. There’s also a professional photographer. ( I am no musician; when I start to sing in the shower a large hand comes down from the heavens and turns off the hot water). After talking it over with everyone for a couple of weeks, the project began to take shape. I arranged for the musicians to schedule their time in the studio ($25 an hour) and from around the first of August until the last week in September all the musicians got into the studio and did their recording. Most all of the players have day jobs, but our recording engineer was very flexible about scheduling. I found a CD duplicating/packaging service in San Francisco, but other than that everything was done locally.
I have no musical background, nor have I ever attempted to be an executive producer of anything! None! I have an electrical construction/engineering background that hardly prepared me for a project of this scope. My experience with a CD has been to burn a copy of one for the vacation car trip. However, as a Union electrician for 34 years, I had heard Utah Phillips organizing and union songs long before I moved to Nevada City, or heard of Joanna or Hospitality House. What a coincidence. My wife and I have donated to the shelter over the years, and being involved with a Homeowners group here on Banner Mountain (Friends of Banner Mountain), we have an annual meeting where we serve food to our members afterward. Somehow we always over order ( I can never add around that time of year) and once a year lots of hot dogs, buns, and waters show up at HH shelter.
My experience in my car that morning has led me here. A compass was handed to me. Joanna and Jerri Ann gave a voice to those kids living in the back of that car. I heard them like they were in my own back seat. I saw them. I could go on about community radio, divine guidance, walking in these shoes because of a Grace and Force greater than all of us, but this story wrote itself. The focus on the homeless shelter getting the help it needs, to help others. To help another individual into housing I think is a noble thing, to help an individual with a family and small kids into housing is nothing short of — well, I keep looking in my rear view mirror at my back seat and 15 square feet-
After committing myself to this project, I donated the costs of producing the first 100 CD’s so that 100% of each CD sale will go directly into Hospitality House’s bank account. After those hopefully fly off the shelves, the next 100 CD’s should return $659.00 per 100 CDs to Hospitality House. By balancing production, packaging, and shipping costs, I’ve been able to maximize the amount Hospitality House will receive from the sale of each CD. This was the promise I made to myself in the car that morning, and I’m thrilled to present the results of that promise to the public for their listening pleasure!