It has always been a part of my program to be playing music, and to be playing with as many folks as possible. Part of this has been fear-based—if I don’t make a blistering pace of performances, practice sessions, and teaching gigs, I will forget my craft, fall behind, and not survive. Another part of this is proven strategy. To throw yourself in different mixes regularly, and especially with those who are “serious,” as my friend Georges Bouhey says, makes you a better player. You overcome fears and deepen wisdom, through musical dialogue.
In addition to my ongoing engagement in The Mostest, lately, I’ve been working with some mentors—all jazz masters: George Bouhey, Rich Hurdle and Andy Armer. Rich has been a teacher to me for 25 years—and I still go to him for a lesson every now and then. I learn via osmosis, just being around him—and by playing without question whatever he shows me. George, who has been a band-mate at different times, and ongoing creative inspiration, introduced me to Andy a while back, and since then, Andy and I have been doing a weekly jam.
Part of my research on feeling function education has to do with the musician’s ability to differentiate subtle variations of feeling through the quality of chords played and the manner chords are juxtaposed against one another. Being around Andy—who is a master of expressing emotion with chordal structure and movement—has been a blessing for my arts-based academic inquiry, and for my growth as a musician. We talk psyche and music, and then we play music. As a by-product of our discussions, jam-sessions and friendship, a musical partnership is taking shape. Ransom-Armer Duo debuted New Year’s Eve in Bend, and will be announcing more dates soon.
In recent years, I have become a part-time “Journeyman,” a guest player with Greg Botsford’s group, GBOTS and the Journeymen. This too has been a blessing, because like The Mostest, Botsford’s outfit is about serving the music and having fun. I am exposed to new perspectives, and focus my energy on guitar & voice. I’m grateful to support a musical vision other than my own. Exploring Greg’s work keeps me opens as songwriter and performer.
Finally, I’ve begun work in a trio with Tyler Mason (bass) and Orion Carriger (drums). Although we don’t have a name for it yet, as a place-holder I am calling it The Tumalo Project. Tumalo is the little “almost-town” just outside of Bend, Oregon where I live with my wife Shannon and German Shepard, Rexin, and where our barn has become a practice studio. For now, the focus of The Tumalo Project is original music—and whatever tunes the group gravitates toward. Though we are reluctant define it, in hopes of letting it become whatever it is, I see potential for material close to my heart which has not found expression elsewhere—80’s hits, folk songs, ballads, blues and country tunes—Johnny Cash, Willy Nelson, Guy Clark…
Cheers to all and Happy 2020!