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  • Writer's pictureGregory Allison

I'll be driving north next week to do some recording and a video shoot on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The peninsula is one of my favorite places in the world and October is a dynamic and inspiring month to be up there creating art. Last year I was on a fall tour in the Pacific Northwest with my band RAQIA and we made a stop on the Peninsula where we created wild sounds in the bunkers at Fort Warden State Park in Port Townsend, meditated in the deep silence of the Hoh Rainforest, and walked the bleak and other-worldly beaches at the western-most point of the Continental United States. Upon returning home I wrote this travel poem, inspired my the ever changing environments of tour life. I nostalgically share it now, with a feeling- a longing- to get back out on the road and share the art, the music, the show.

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I am an explorer of mountains and forests

oceans lakes and rivers

cloudy skies and sun-baked deserts

of roads and highways

and the spaces between

of cities buildings archways concrete overpasses

subway stations and tiled walls

cement jungles and tall buildings

tall trees and mossy groves

the great crevasses of my soul

and the cosmos far into the imagination

the darker and deeper the better I can't stop.

I. Can't. Stop.

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  • Writer's pictureGregory Allison

I'm talking about my lovely piano, of course. It has been at my old apartment since I moved out in January and I've been missing it! I bought this piano five years ago at a shop in Portland that no longer exists called the Immortal Piano Company (if the name stands true then I do believe it to exist somewhere). Owner Martha Taylor is a wonderfully eccentric person and her knowledge of pianos, especially American pianos, is vast. Every time I walked into her shop I felt as if time stopped and nothing mattered but the tones and inner workings of these huge instruments. She was always excited to educated anyone who was willing to listen about the inner workings of a piano. She had pianos in various states of repair and would always bring me to her latest project, cursing at the number of joints that had to be aligned just perfectly for a single key to function. She closed her shop around 2018, claiming to me that she was done fixing these ancient beasts and that she was offered a book deal to write about the history of pianos in America.

Excerpt from Mad Rush by Philip Glass

The piano I bought from Martha is a Mueller & Haines console upright from around 1920. When I sat down to play it in the shop, I fell in love immediately and knew I couldn't leave the shop without it. It was the dark varnish, the stately legs, and the brightness and clarity of tone that sold me. I played and taught on this piano in Portland for two years before moving to LA, and when I settled I had it shipped down to my apartment. It was a perfect fit in that South Pasadena apartment, but my stay did not last. I left it there until I could find a permanent spot for it and now, after seven months apart, we've reunited in my rehearsal space in downtown LA.

An improvisation from the day my piano arrived at the rehearsal space.

An instrument is a tool and something with which a musician builds a personal relationship. This piano and I have composed together at all hours of the day and night, and I have touched those keys in all emotional states. The instrument never fails to aide me in finding what I'm ultimately seeking, which is a place of rest in the present and freedom from the mind that is so keen on keeping us in the past or planning for the future. I'm happy to have my baby back.

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  • Writer's pictureGregory Allison

Back in Los Angeles in early August the neighborhood birds are not as active as when I left on the last day of May. Before I left, this is what I heard:



A sparrow hops along the edge of a rooftop

with the inertia of a pebble skipping over a glass lake.

The wind meets a tree and it’s branches sway

greeting the wind with spinning leaves

and together,

wind and tree,

they sing.

The sparrow listens and hops once more

this time off of the rooftop into the arms of the wind

and together,

sparrow and wind,

they sing.

The sparrow lands on the swaying branch,

mid duet with the wind,

and the branch sways with the inertia from the sparrow

and together,

in three part harmony,

tree, wind and sparrow,

they sing.

I sit up and look around

curious if there are others in the audience.

I see a man pushing a stroller,

a woman delivering food,

a young couple

walking hand-in-hand.

It seems that no one else

caught the show.

I feel the wind stop

and I look up at the branch.

The sparrow is gone.

And yet I hear singing still.

I look back toward the street

and together

a man, a woman, and a young couple


I smile,

sip the last of my coffee,

and walk inside my apartment,




©2020 Gregory Allison

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