rhonda sue fry giles

i love my mom.  she has done so many wonderful things for me.  she has endured my angst-riddled teens (and twenties) (and thirties), teaching me countless life lessons as i go. my musical memories with her are limited yet exceptional. she threw a big family reception at our house, allowing me to sit at the head of the table after having fronted my 5th grade band with a saxophone rendition of "hello, dolly!"  i also accompanied her on my casio keyboard while she sang the oak ridge boys classic "thank god for kids" during a children's time session during church.  pretty sure that we are both glad that there is no video footage of that.

that's my mom on the cover of one of my records, holding a cake that she baked & decorated specifically for the photo shoot.  she is always in the kitchen, creating culinary concoctions after having internalized recipes.  i'm not quite there yet as an amateur chef, but my approach to musical improvisation is often similar in that regard.  i find myself kinda eyeballing the forms and my contributions instead of sticking to what it says on the back of the box.

my mom roused me out of bed only twice in my life (not counting the numerous times she pounded a hole through my door with her fist, trying to get me to wake up in the morning).  being a lifelong st. louis cardinals fan, we began to go to games every summer during my 9th spin around the sun.  she wanted my sister and i to watch bruce sutter slam the door on the lowly brewers in the '82 world series. he hurled his untouchable splitter for the final strikeout, and the three of us jumped into each others' arms.

the other time she allowed me to stay up was to watch george benson perform on the johnny carson show.  i don't remember what george played, but he killed.  he did that sing-along scatting thing with his guitar.  i was blown away, both at what he was doing and because my mom was letting me watch tv this late on a school night.  i've always held a soft spot for george since then, despite his fruitful forays into smooth jazz and the pencil stache. the wife and i played his version of here, there and everywhere off his 1989 album as one of our wedding songs.

you know that joyfully cautious feeling you get when you discover that two artists you dig have collaborated on a project, and that relieving happiness you revel in once you hear it and have your unfair expectations met?  yeah, well that happened to me when i first heard kneebody & theo bleckmann join forces to reimagine tunes by charles ives for winter & winter.  my favorite cut is songs my mother taught me.  i'm not so sure that my mom taught me any per se, but she was a wonderful storyteller to us kids.  she would take common vignettes and twist them around, personalizing them for me & my sister while gobbling up the entire block of time that the story often served to stopgap.  ask her to give you the cliffsnotes version of "rapunzel".  her creativity with childhood stories has had a long-lasting effect on me as an artist.

thanks mom, and happy mother's day