When I was a very young child I remember the place mats placed on our breakfast table every morning. As kids we hadn't yet learned that there was such a thing as bad art or bad music so we allowed everything - anything - even something as mundane as the tiny white hexagon shaped bathroom tiles to inspire our attention and awe. There was a natural joy and love of shape, light, shade, color, sound, motion, words, and we had no judgment process to compromise a complete surrender into the beauty, the wonder, and amazement. We let it all in. Don't you remember?
The place mats were prints from Grant Wood landscapes. And I remember day after day being drawn deeply into the paintings, going into them and becoming part of them. As I gazed into my favorite place mat I would walk towards the artist's classic puffy lollipop trees and shrubs. I’d explore the little Inn or general store. I sat by the creek which ran along the stone building and watched a horse and buggy progress toward the willowy bridge. But then I was snapped back to the kitchen table as a glass of milk and a plate of bacon and eggs from Mom would obstruct my view. To this day Grant Wood renderings launch me into a nostalgic transcendence.
One day back in 1982 my wife Holly and I went on a journey to Iowa where I was to perform. We arrived as this quaint little town called Stone City and drove up to this little stone building and went inside to do an early afternoon sound check before checking into our bed and breakfast. On a wall near the stage hung a painting by Grant Wood. Of course I had to stop what I was doing and gaze and connect with that joy. It was that painting I told you about. You know, with the little stone building the horse and buggy. I never knew the title of the painting but I noticed it that moment. It was called; "Stone City, Iowa" It was interesting because we were in the city of Stone City, Iowa and the club I was performing at was called the Inn At Stone City.
I found the women that was hosting me and asked her more about the significance of the painting and Stone City. She pointed out that we are standing inside the stone building represented in the painting. I ran outside and there it was - the creek, a bridge ... and I turned around and there was the little stone building I had just been standing in. I was inside the painting just as I experienced it throughout my life.
I ran back into the club and stood in front of the Grant Wood in a bit of dreamy state that can happen when your mind is blown. With my eyes tearing and the goose bumps taking over, I stared at the painting and allowed my self to be drawn in. I saw a child looking back through the placemat and through the image and right at me. That was me as a young child at the breakfast table looking into the painting in wonder and awe. We waved at each other for a moment until our mom obstructed our view with a glass of milk and a plate of fried bacon and eggs.
My wife Holly and I were putting together “My Travels With Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues” the digital liner note companion for the 2005 CD release; "Corky Siegel’s Traveling Chamber Blues Show." She decided she was going to render a cover that reflects the Grant Wood feel, the story of Stone City and our travels with all the members of Chamber Blues.
So when you play some music on your victrola or iPhone, why just listen? Allow yourself to be drawn into and become part of the amazing play of sound and silence that music offers. And if you are going to play "Traveling Chamber Blues Show" or the newest CD “Different Voices,” we can experience each other through the other side of the stereo speakers.
Hey! Why stop there? Hop into the little white van in the painting and join me and the Chamber Blues crew; Jaime, Chihsuan, Dave, Jocelyn, Kalyan, and my wife Holly (she's a good driver and a great tour guide) as we go from town to town, Cause you know what? - This is also Your travels with Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues. - Corky Siegel