Bliss Bowen’s little wooden house, snuggled against the Sierra Madre mountains, is lit with perfumed candles. The little yard, scattered with plants and assorted garden chairs, is lit by Christmas lights and scattered with all sorts of garden chairs. The little stage, at one end of the garden is lit by a big full moon, so bright it looks like a blue moon. The night air is warm and is scented with leaves, spiderbwebs and home-cooked cornbread. There’s a long wooden table indoors laden with Bliss’s homemade food. Bliss’s houseparty-concerts are like fairytales, with music as well as words. There are no tickets, instead a hat is passed around and the contents handed over to the performers.
I’d been invited to share the bill with another delightful woman whom I’d come to know through writing my book on Leonard Cohen, and whom I’d also run into in Nashville on my book tour there: Julie Christensen. Julie, the backing singer on two of Leonard’s tours, has been touring with her new album, ‘Weeds Like Us’, raising money to pay for studio time so that she can go back and redo the album. When it comes to the music business these days, it’s like the Wild West, but there are still people like Julie, and like Bliss, who still hold to the old ways of doing something for the love of art.
Here are a couple of pictures Bliss sent me. One’s of me singing a few of Leonard’s songs with my uke and with fellow-writer and musician Michael Simmons shanghaied into playing guitar. The other’s of Julie and I, telling tales of Leonard Cohen (there was one, I recall, about a naked piano player, but I’ll say no more…) Julie also sang harmony when I sang Sisters of Mercy. Wish I’d brought a movie camera.