Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday and All That Jazz

Today's post is about the lovely Helena Hallberg, a composer, musician, beautiful woman with an incredible set of pipes. We first met her face to face in NYC a while back, though our first "meeting" was on Facetime a couple of Christmases ago. It seems at that time she had more than caught the fancy of Son3. She was in Sweden celebrating the holiday with her family and Son3 was here for Christmas break.  Everyday they met via the computer to chat, and by the end of the holiday we pretty much knew the interest was not just a casual relationship.

Since then we have gotten to know and enjoy her wit and personality  as well as her talent. She even came and stayed with us in Alabama  (in July, no less) without complaining any more than we do about the summer heat!

I am so honored to be able to share a little about her today! Hope you enjoy it too!

Where are you originally from
I was born in Switzerland to Swedish parents but spent my childhood in the US. I consider myself to be a citizen of the world!

What inspired your love of music
My mother.

How old were you when you first began playing an instrument and what was it.
Piano, I was about 5 years old.

What is your instrument of choice and how many others can you play
Voice, first and foremost. I play the piano and guitar, my ukulele has a special place in my heart and songwriting. Also, some bass and dulcimer.

How did you know you really wanted to be a performer
When I realized I could make others feel something by singing, dancing and goofing around.

Tell me about your music education? (lessons or self taught)
I trained classically (voice) in High School, then studied Jazz at the University of the Arts in Zurich and now I’m completing my BM in Musical Theatre at Manhattan School of Music! My instrumental skills are mainly self-taught.

What inspires you when you are writing or performing a song
People’s stories, empathy, beauty, pain and of course, love!

Besides jazz what is your favorite music genre
Musical Theatre *vigorous jazz hands*

Can you give us the name of a couple or three albums/songs you would recommend
Alas I cannot Swim - Laura Marling (album)
Arrival - Abba (album)
Sim - Vanessa Da Mata (album) - specifically “Boa Sorte” (song)

What is your favorite or most unforgettable music memory
My last performance in Zurich before I moved to New York, all my friends came and I sang songs I had written about my life with them.

If you were not a musician what would you love to be doing
Teaching or working for an human rights NGO.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years
Realistically? Making a decent income off performing and teaching. Unrealistically? Touring Europe with a Musical Theatre-inspired concert series about American Musical Theatre composers.

What is your favorite food
My Mormor’s meatballs (köttbullar). Also, Swiss chocolate.

What food do you think of when you are listening to the song you sent?
(I’m thinking of “Blind”, the first track on the EP)
A deliciously creamy chocolate cake. But it has no calories, because the song is about no regrets.

How/when can people hear your music
My 2016 EP “Blind” is available here:
Spotify ->
iTunes ->
Apple Music ->
Google Play ->
Amazon Music ->

 This is not the video Helena wanted to share, but I am a technidiot and can't find the one she wanted. As soon as I do I will change this, but I am running out of  hours to get this up on Friday. I take full blame here.  It's still a lovely song! If you have spotify look up Helena Hallberg and you can hear "Blind' right now.


You can order a copy of my EP here:, also look me up on Youtube and Instagram, I often post snippets of new songs or covers!

Any cd's, music videos or ep's coming out?
I’m headed back to the studio in the beginning of August, so hopefully in the fall!

Anything else you want to add or say?
I’m incredibly grateful for all the support I get from Son3, he is my rock. I love sharing my craft with others and telling stories with music, to me that’s what it’s all about!

I do appreciate Helena sharing her time and talent with me today so I might share it with y'all. I think Son3 might have out-kicked his coverage here. What do you think?

Since she mentioned Chocolate Cake of course that is what I am going to have to make for the food section on Monday. I am not exactly sure how to make calorie-less. Maybe I will just have to settle for a slightly healthier version of chocolate cake.

Now if I will just get off my lazy cooking tail and actually make it will be another thing, especially since I have not made the promised jazz meal form last week yet. When it is this hot, the kitchen is the last place I want to be. Of course cake that is chocolate is so much easier to make than a full meal so chances ae better that this will happen before the Southern jazz meal.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Liar, Lair, Pants on Fire

I know I told you to come back Monday for a look at a summer supper, and I truly intended to cook one Sunday night, but___.

We hung around the lake place until after 5 and I was in no mood to go to the grocery store after 6 then come home and cook everything, so I didn't. Not doing it tonight either. It has been stormy most of the day, and I had broccoli that needed cooking which resulted in broccoli cheese soup. Normally we do not eat soup during the summer, but we have a/c and I have on shorts and bare feet, so I am cool.

I will share this insanely easy method of making this soup which would have been better in the fall, but sometimes I just have to take the path of least resistance and go with what TheUniverse dictates. I am doing that Keto thing and TheHub isn't, but all I have to do is heat up some rolls and he will be fine.

2 teaspoons olive oil   
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chopped broccoli
3/4 cup cauliflower "rice"
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, made into a slurry with 1/3 cup water

Put the oil in the bottom of a large soup pot. Add the garlic and cook on medium just long enough for the garlic to wilt (about a minute) Add the broth and the cream and stir well, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan for any garlic that might be stuck there. Add the broccoli and cook until it is soft. Toss in the cauli rice (raw cauliflower that has been whacked into rice size pieces in the food processor, or stuff you buy in a big freezer bag at Trader Joe's). Cook until soft. Pour the arrowroot slurry into the liquid and stir to incorporate then slowly add the cheese, stirring very well between each addition (I did about 1/4 cup at a time and let it melt and blend before adding the next bit). Serve hot and enjoy!

TheHub added some chips and crackers which satisfied his non Keto eating plan, so we were both fine, the broccoli was salvaged and I managed to stay Keto compliant, plus it tasted good. Oh, I used a super sharp white cheddar (cause that is what I had on hand, so my soup was creamier looking than one made with yellow cheese would have been.

As for me, after dinner I am going to summon my inner Gershwin brothers, put my suit on and swim cause it's Summertime.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday and all that jazz

Jane at Life Begins at Retirement said she would like to see a jazz menu which made me start thinking I need to do one once a month. Because the genre is comprised of so many different sounds, I am going to start with regional jazz. Those of you who read this regularly know I am from the south, Alabama to be state specific and to even reduce it to a smaller geographical area I live in a suburb south of Birmingham. I thought since I live here and know the hows and whys of foods from this region I might as well start my menu here.

Way back in the early to mid 1900's two streetcar lines stopped at turnarounds at 19th street and Ensley Avenue, in the western part of town. Both lines passed through some of Birmingham's predominantly African American neighborhoods and it was a cheap way to travel to and from work. Like any area with a lot of people getting off or changing lines, commerce was not far behind. By the early 1900's that corner and the surrounding area housed stores, cleaners, bars, and restaurants.
(This is an artists rendering of the corner at that time I lifted off a travel website. I have no idea where any credit should go, but this is definitely not mine, but it was a cool image so I put it here. BTW that building with the funny corner was still standing the last time I was in this area)

Now this is where things have a bit of unpleasant history. I was not born and had nothing to do with it so please don't blame me. In the 20's this became the hub of African American entertainment in the city. Jazz arrived in the city and since most of the musicians who played it were African American, it naturally gravitated to the area with the heaviest black population. Soon the places grew and it became the communities go-to spot  for listening and dancing to jazz. In fact due to segregation it was the about only area African Americans could hang out after work to socialize while dancing. Legend has it that the places in the area required a strict fancy dress code and since most of the men were on their way home from some sort of industrial job they were not dressed appropriately. Remember that at the time Birmingham was primarily a heavy industry town and most people worked in the coal or steel industry. The legend continues that there were places for the men to clean up and rent a tuxedo for the night out on the town. So it was a turn-around junction where tuxedos were rented for the night, hence the name. I might be propagating a myth but in the words of Mark Twain, " Never let the truth get in the way of a good story".

Before too long the fun and fame started getting out and people came from all over the state to enjoy it. Then it really boomed and Tuxedo Junction became a hot spot for entertainers and fans alike, with people traveling from everywhere to perform or just enjoy the night life.

One of Birmingham's own, Erskine Hawkins, began his performing days there, later made it out in the world, and became part of the nation's jazz scene.  He wrote this lovely jazz classic remembering the music of those days and later added the lyrics. I thought it only fitting to have his band's instrumental recording, followed by the version with lyrics.

And what might an early summer 1920's Alabama meal prior to some great music and happy feet be?

iced sweet tea
black eyed peas
fried fatback
either fried corn or corn on the cob
sliced tomatoes.
green beans,
sliced peaches,
sliced cantaloupe

This was before the days of a/c and the women did most of the cooking early in the morning, so the night time meals could be warmed  and the only heat would be from the stove top.  Some of you might think I am just kind of inventing or read about this meal, but trust me I have eaten it all my life. Until I was a pre-teen we had no air conditioning and my mom cooked early and re-warmed. Come back Monday for recipes and a glance at what a Southern summer supper (yeah we don't really call it dinner here) looks like.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Perfect Steak

Last week's Friday and All That Jazz post was all about Dan who said you can't beat a perfectly cooked steak. Since I did not take the time to cook anything to go along with the jazz day and because it was Father's Day yesterday, I decided to cook TheHub a steak and kill two birds with one stone.  So here I give you my interpretation of a perfect steak.

Your favorite cut steak

Compound Butter

4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dry red wine
dash salt

Have the butter at room temperature in a small bowl and stir it with a fork until it is silky smooth. Add everything but the wine and mix well. The add the wine and a dash of salt and stir like mad to incorporate the wine into the butter. You can make this early in the day and chill it in a covered container in the fridge until the steak is done, but I always forget about advance prep. It works either way but pre-made is definitely easier.

Steak Topping
1 carton button mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup beef stock
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a sauté pan and wilt the mushrooms and onions. Add the beef stock and thyme. Cook until the onions are tender but not mushy, then add the wine and salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid reduces by half.

Cook the steak on a grill until it reaches the perfect doneness. I am a mid rare type of gal but I understand everyone has their personal preferences and will not dismiss anyone's choice. Immediately when the steak is don plop about 2 teaspoons of the butter on the steak. We generally let the steak rest about 5 minutes so the butter will begin to melt, then I lightly spread it over the entire steak.

 Serve with a portion of the steak topping on top of the meat and enjoy. Delicious!
                             And this is my interpretation of a perfectly cooked steak!

                           (I forgot to take a picture until the steak was partially eaten. Sorry!)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday and All That Jazz

We had the privilege  of meeting today's featured artist, Dan Chmielinski, in the fall of 2012 when he was a beginning student at Juilliard. Son3 and Dan had met previously at a Juilliard summer camp in Utah and we had heard a great deal about him before the formal introduction. We visited the school regularly and saw many sets over the years. It was great fun watching Dan perform from the beginning to the end of his school career. 

We have since had the pleasure of seeing him in Birmingham a couple of times when he was touring as the bassist with a young pianist. (Truth be known, we went to both performances just to see Dan play!)

He is quite an accomplished musician as well as a genuinely nice guy!  So meet and enjoy the music of this very talented, over-all great guy, Dan "Chimy" Chmielinski. Also check out his schedule. If he is ever gigging near you or you are near a venue he is playing go see him. You won't be disappointed.

Where are you originally from
I grew up in the suburbs just north of Chicago.

What inspired your love of music
A variety of things. My parents were (still are) huge music enthusiasts when I was growing up. They exposed me to so many different genres. Everything from folk music to prog rock, it was always playing throughout the house and in long car rides.

How old were you when you first began playing an instrument and what instrument was it
I picked up the bass at age 3. At that time, it was a half size cello strung with bass guitar strings, but it did the trick.

What is your instrument of choice and how many others can you play
Bass is my main, both upright and electric, but I am proficient in keyboard instruments and do a fair amount of work on synthesizers.

Tell me about your music education? (lessons or self taught)
I studied classically ages 3-16, but I was originally self-taught in jazz. I went on to pursue a jazz degree at the Juilliard School, both undergraduate and masters.

What inspires you when you are writing or performing a song
I love the idea of spontaneity. There are constantly little moments of interaction or unrehearsed events in a performance that always inspire me. When writing, I try to think of specific people; not only the specific people who will be performing it, but specific people in my life that embody the spirit of the pieces.

Besides jazz what is your favorite music genre
Big fan of late 90’s hip hop, but classical music is a never ceasing journey of discovery. There’s such a diverse and huge body of work to explore.

Can you give us the name of a couple or three albums/songs you would recommend
I’ll try and go from different genres:
-Jazz: I recently re-discovered the album “Cedar Walton - First Set.” This was a record that was recommended to me by bassist Rufus Reid when Cedar passed away in 2013. It’s such an amazing album full of those spontaneous moments I was talking about earlier.
-R&B: “Gumbo - PJ Morton.” I love this album. In terms of structure and overall flow, it’s one of the most thoughtful, high quality productions in the genre.
-Classical/Folk: The Goat Rodeo Sessions - Musicianship at its finest. Such an incredible group.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable music memory
So many to choose from! The one that comes to mind immediately is playing the Hollywood Bowl. When that stage turns around and you just see a wall of 10,000+ people, an indescribable feeling washes over you instantly.

If you were not a musician what would you love to be doing
I love aviation, so I could see myself being a pilot. Maybe slightly more likely would be a professional photographer.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years
I’m hoping to be in a situation where I am able to create frequently in a multitude of genres, mainly jazz, classical and scoring films. I hope to have built a network and rapport among piers that allows me to take on whatever projects inspire me most.

What is your favorite food
Depends on what course, but nothing beats a perfectly done steak.

What food do you think of when you are listening to the song you sent?
Well I definitely think of Gumbo when listening to PJ Morton! Cedar Walton is something hearty, like maybe a slab of baby back ribs. Goat Rodeo Sessions always make me think of a picnic for some reason, so maybe a PB&J sandwich.

How/when can people hear your music
I’m touring pretty regularly, but you can also find me in NYC most often as well as on the web. (YouTube, Soundcloud, Facebook etc See links below)

YouTube Channel:
Four by Four Trailer:

Any cd's, music videos or ep's coming out?
Yes! I’m most excited about an album that I recorded back in January with Chase Baird, Brad Mehldau, Nir Felder and Antonio Sanchez entitled, “A Life Between.” I just heard the final master and it is without a doubt more than any other project I’ve done, the thing I’m most excited about. That release will be in September 2018

Anything else you want to add or say?

I think that just about covers it all!

Thanks Dan for letting us enter your world.  Please enjoy this video, it's fantastic!   Can't wait to hear the new album!

And yes I know I should have a recipe to go along with this, but I am headed to the lake for the weekend and just don't feel like cooking. Come back Monday and there may be a recipe for Gumbo or perhaps a perfectly cooked steak with a couple of surprises. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

New Recipe Week 23

This is the recipe that I intended to go with the Friday Jazz post, but Mom had other ideas for my time. Instead I am posting it today and calling it the new to me recipe for the week.

When I think of jazz music I almost immediately think of New Orleans and when I think of New Orleans one of the foods I think of is crayfish. TheHub and I have been  eating some pretty basic meals lately and I wanted something a little different with some nice and spicy heat. (optional, of course)

Crayfish Toast

1 loaf french bread split in half longways
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet onion (Vidalia's are perfect) chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 5 ounce pack frozen crayfish tail meat, thawed
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons cajun spices
4 ounces shredded monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
sliced green onions (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Split the french loaf in half, place on a baking sheet and set aside.
In a medium sauté pan melt the butter and add the onions and peppers. Cook until they are soft then add the garlic and cook for about a minute just to wilt it. Stir in the crayfish tail meat and the cream cheese and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melty and combined. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl combine the mayo and the cajun seasonings. (If you don't like heat reduce the amount to 1 teaspoon) Using about 2 tablespoons of the mayo mixture spread it on the cut sides of the french bread. Add the cheese, red pepper flakes  and chopped parsley to the remaining mayo. Stir to mix then add the crayfish mixture.  Blend well. Spread on each of the bread halves and pop it into the oven. Cook for about 12 minutes, turn on the broiler and let it broil for a couple of minutes (I did not do that) then sprinkle with the green onion slices (I did not do that either because I had no green onions)

Cut each long half into 2 servings. This will serve 4 for dinner. Add a green salad and call it a meal. This was insanely delicious. I am not sure if frozen crayfish tail meat is available everywhere, but in the south no self respecting store would be without it. You could easily substitute crab, lobster or shrimp for the crayfish or you could get live crayfish, cook, and shuck them if you like to spend hours getting a cup of tail meat. Call me lazy.

And since we are doing a little New Orleans Jazz meal enjoy Professor Longhair's Big Chief

Friday, June 8, 2018

Friday and All That Jazz

This is a really cool look at the origins of jazz. The videos are quick little blurbs starting with Africa and ending with the New Orleans sound. Hope you enjoy. 





Sorry, had a little emergency with Mom. The recipe that was supposed to accompany this post didn't make it. It might happen tomorrow or it might not. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Joy List update

This is the May joy list update. Some successes and some non- successes. Such is life.

1.  Expand my horizons
     a. read 4 books (1 from a different genre. History perhaps?) Bastard Out of Carolina (painful to read but very good), Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead,  Children of Nazis, Another one I forgot and have already deleted from my Ipad
     b. read articles from 4 magazines I do not normally read. Done. Read articles in Afar, Backpacker, Dwell, and Midwest Living. Before Texture I had no idea these existed!
     c. listen to that opera I keep skipping yes i did skip it again
     d. listen to a Ted talk each week I have heard some really great ones about: Alzheimers, How to Tell a Story, Critical Thinking,  Habits of Original Thinkers, Narcissism in the Workplace
     e. try a new beverage weekly tried 2 but also had an unusual Bloody Mary that I am calling a new drink also.
     f. try a new food weekly tried many new things this month
2.  Quit being so tragically unhip and explore instagram tragically unhip and evidently uninterested
3.  Find a podcast to listen to regularly Thanks DIL! "Watch What Crappens" is my new favorite guilty pleasure 
4.  Visit Vulcan and take a photo of his bare butt Nope
5.  Finish planting everything Nope
6.  Visit family members I haven't seen in a while. Done. Had SIL, Niece and Great Nephew to spend the weekend with us. The following week My uncle and cousin came for the night.
7.  Have a small dinner party Done, done again and done another time just because.
8.  Have neighbors over for drinks and/or dessert Undone
9.  Take flowers to someone Done
10. Listen with full attention Sometimes and sometimes not so much
11. Take food to someone having a hard time Done
12. Learn a new song for the piano Done
13. Have an at home theme meal Does a Memorial Day BBQ  theme meal count?
14. Volunteer Yes! I forgot how much I love doing it!
15. Paint, draw or sketch with charcoal Had a great finger paint day with niece's 5 year old son, plus I have been having a lot fo fun with charcoal
16. Take a seriously old clothing item and remake it into something "new"nope
17. Try an unnatural hair color this month not
18. Swim No but the pool water is ready
19. Send sympathy and thinking of you cards as situations dictate Done but need about 4 more thinking of you cards.
20. FaceTime 5 times with the most beautiful girl in my tribe Yes and love every single second of it
21. Go to a movie by myself (popcorn optional)  Nope
22. Reconnect with someone who has been out of touch Nope
23. Forgive everything that needs forgiven Yes
24. Apologize and ask forgiveness as needed  I think I have, but there might be something I did unintentionally     
25. Read a psalm each day (King James Version because the language is so beautiful) Slacker
26. Have the first cup on coffee on the screened porch as much as possible Most days!
27. Try to get more sleep (Note to self: Go to bed by midnight) I just suck at this. I love late, late night
28. Have a few hours each week for some self pampering Did not carve time out for this
29. Have Mom up to eat, weekly Had her up 3 times
30. Take Mom to visit some of her friends Done more than once
31. Practice patience with Mom. This is dicy. Some days I am seriously patient and other days not at all.
32. Visit a small town near me No
33. Start exploring restaurants from one of 2 lists: the best restaurant in each county or the 100 best          dishes in Alabama  Started with 100 best dishes since many of them are local hope to begin a best restaurant from each county tour soon soon. (BTW The best restaurant in my county was just awarded the James Beard Best Restaurant in the Country Award. We go there a couple of times a year but reservations currently are almost impossible to get unless you are willing to take a 10 pm seating)
34. Be kind I almost always am                 
35. Do something for someone, expect nothing in return (anonymous is best) Done, but not anonymous
36. Learn a new craft Nope
37. Eat something chocolate every week I am so good at this
38. Keep a list of everyday unexpected joys I am so bad at this
39. Tell my closest friends how much I appreciate them Some of them
40. Marvel at a glorious sunrise 5:37 am  watching the lake turn from silver to light light pink, to red, then orange and finally gold.
41. Enjoy the quiet beauty of a moon rise Done and it was breathtakingly beautiful
42. Be grateful for huge sky expanses both at home and at the lake. Both expanses are stellar (literally) at night. 
43. Practice gratitude Trying
44. Write stories for Pip Have begun a couple but I am still editing and rewriting them

I have a frantic June so I am abandoning the written joy list. I am just going to experience all the joys I can while hanging on to the knot at the end of this rope I am calling June!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Friday and All That Jazz

The nicest thing about doing this jazz post is my relationship with the first featured player.  For those of you who may not know, I gave birth to this fellow 24 years ago, so I know him fairly well and could have done a reasonable job without involving him. Even so, I sent him the questions I will ask everyone else.  For the sake of a true q and a, pretend I don't know him and I will pretend like  I am surprised by his answers.

This week's featured jazz artist is Red Hawley (even though I still call him Will, or either of his brothers names, 'cause yeah, I am a mom and I do that.). He was given the nickname Red because his beard grows in a bright copper color, in spite of being a natural blond. The name stuck and the beard, (which covers his cute face ) is still red and it grew. In previous blog posts he is most often referred to as Son3, because he is the last of my 3 sons. He currently lives in Washington Heights in NYC and works as a musician/ trombone teacher.

Where are you originally from? Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Quite far from where you currently are :p. (Smart aleck comment since he knew I was sitting at the kitchen table at home)

What inspired your love of music? My mother and brothers! I was surrounded by almost every type of music imaginable as a kid. Looking back now, I'm not sure how I ever thought I would be anything other than a musician. 

How old were you when you first began playing an instrument and what was it?  I believe I was 5 years old playing the piano, but I've been picking at the keys for as long as I (and others who raised me) can remember. 

What is your instrument of choice and how many different instruments can you play? Trombone is my primary instrument (as of now). I can also play piano, drums, euphonium, tuba, and a little bit of saxophone. 

Tell me about your music education? My music education started at home with my family. All of the music that went through my ears set me up for a lifetime of diverse music. But I started official piano lessons at 5, then at 12 started playing the trombone in Middle school. In 2012 I moved to New York City to study Jazz at The Juilliard School from where I graduated in May 2017.

What inspires you when you are writing a song? This is a tough one, because inspiration comes from so many things. I've written songs inspired by sorrow, pain, and loneliness; but also from love and joy. The song that I have sent was inspired by a soccer chant from a team I support (New York City FC!).

Besides jazz what is your favorite music? I really love so many different types of music. If I had to pick something other than jazz right now, I'd have to pick 2. (1) Cuban music. Buena Vista Social Club is one of my favorite albums, and also Juan de Marcos' Afro-Cuban All-Stars. The 2nd one I would says is funk/R&B from the 70's. Anything from Parliament-Funkadelic, Bootsy's Rubber Band, Curtis Mayfield, The Stylistics, Marvin Gaye. I'm so infatuated with the 70's in general and especially the music.

What is your favorite or most painful music memory? My favorite music memory is a tough one. I’m going to go with a moment that really showed me what the New York jazz scene is all about. 3 or 4 days after I moved to New York, I got called to sub at a sound check for the Ron Carter big band. Ron Carter, the most recorded bass player in history (certified by Guinness book of World Records). From playing with names like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, even Paul Simon, and A Tribe Called Quest. 
So I show up to the soundcheck at The Jazz Standard; in a colorful button up shirt and white pants - a stark contrast to the generally black and green ensemble of the band. The first song was “The Eternal Triangle” and it was played at a BURNING tempo. As the tune is counting off, somebody says to me “watch bar 123, it’ll get ya.” And get me it did. Baptized by fire in New York. 

If you were not a musician what would you love to be doing? I think I'd love to be a teacher if I couldn't be a musician. Somehow I've managed to find the best of both worlds! 

What is your favorite food or what food do you think of when you are listening to the song you sent? Hmmm this is a tough one. Since I've moved to New York it's really hard for me to find comfort food like I could in your wonderful kitchen :).  I'll say my favorite food is a plate of pulled pork with collard greens, fried okra, and mac n cheese.  What I'm thinking when I play the song I sent? I'm thinking about a pollo con queso empanada from Empanada Monumental; a New York City empanada shop.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Who knows! I think I'd most like to be able to live someplace comfortably and play music that I love.

When/how can people hear your music live:? I'll be playing shows coming up in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Winston-Salem, and Birmingham. For more info go to! 

Any cd's or ep's available?: I just recorded my debut album. I'll be releasing it by the end of the year. Check to stay in the loop, and follow me on social media! Facebook: Twitter: @redhawley. Instagram: @redhawley.

                                                      "Why Bag" written by Red Hawley

I do not make empanadas like he mentioned so I am sharing the recipe for our favorite homemade empanada. Trust me when I tell you Will has eaten more than his fair share of these.

                                                           Picadillo Empanadas

(I forgot to take a picture of there before most of them were gone, so all of the pretty ones were eaten. These are the Old Maids that were left behind. Sorry!)


2 pounds ground beef
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 bell peppers, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
3 bay leaves
5 tomatoes peeled and chopped in a small dice ( can substitute 2 cans diced drained tomatoes)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup raisins minced
1/4 cup pimento stuffed olives, minced
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup burgundy

In a large pan, cook the ground beef until it loses its pink color.  Add the onions and peppers and cook until they wilt but are not browned.  Add the garlic and cook until it is golden. By now the beef should be browned.  Tilt the pan and, with a spoon, remove as much of the beef fat as possible.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the burgundy. Cover the pan and cook on mid low for about 20 minutes.  Add the burgandy and cover the pan again.  Cook for about 20 more minutes on low.
Traditionally this is served over rice and it is delicious that way, but in empanadas it is almost to die for.

*Pie crust (2 crust recipe) 
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
*For 25 empanadas it takes enough dough for 4 pie crusts so you will need to double this recipe if you want that many.  I don't re-roll the cut pieces  more than once because it gets tough.

2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon shortening or lard (I use half shortening and half lard)
about 1/3 cup ice water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium bowl stir the flour and the salt.  Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles cornmeal.  Add about half of the water and blend it with a fork. Add the remainder 1 teaspoon at a time using your hands to work it into the dough.  Stop adding when it feels like a nice consistency pastry dough.  If it requires a bit more add it. Pastry dough is not a precise recipe so you have to go by touch.  If it is too crumbly it will fall apart and if it is too wet you can't roll it well.
When the dough feels "right" and gives a bit when pressed, put it in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.  On a lightly floured board or pastry cloth roll the dough out to pie crust thickness.  Try to roll it in a rectangle for less waste.  I use a large yogurt container to cut my dough into circles.  It is about 3 inches in diameter, but I have made them smaller for appetizers.  

 To make the empanadas

On a large cutting board or cookie sheet lay out the cut dough circles. With a slotted spoon place about 1 tablespoon  and a half of filling in the middle of each circle, being careful to get none on the edges.  Fold over the top half to the bottom half and crimp the edges. ( You will have half moon shapes with crimped edges.) Transfer these to a clean baking sheet. ( I spray a very light coat of Pam on the baking sheet)  As long as they are not touching you can put as many as you can cram on  your sheet as there is virtually no spreading when they cook.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is dry and lightly browned.  Serve and enjoy!

Side note: This makes a boatload of filing. Freeze the leftovers in 2 containers, label it then thaw it to make more of these on another day or serve it over rice. It is delicious both ways.