Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Just finished a workshop at Idyllwild Arts, a fantastic private arts academy in the San Jacinto mountains of Southern California. During the school year it serves as an arts-focused boarding school for grades 9-12, and adult classes are offered during the summer. The campus is spread over a mountain and consists of about 100 buildings in a breathtaking setting. Last night while wandering around I happened on the ampitheater and was quite taken with six enormous canopies that cover the hillside leading down to the stage. Sunlight was streaming through them and it was beautifully surreal. There are lots of artists visiting here teaching courses in clay, metal, sculpture, painting, Native American arts, etc. I had a great group of people, and look forward to returning again.

When I drove here from Santa Ana airport last Friday and started up the mountain I quickly got a sense of how remote the little town of Idyllwild is -- like going back in time, and I fell in love with the place. Proximity to airports is a bit of a problem, otherwise I wouldn't mind moving here. Today I hiked along Strawberry Creek and took a lot of photographs. Tomorrow it's back to LA area meeting with DaVinci and hanging out in Laguna. Rough, huh? :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

100 Mid-Atlantic Artists

La Vida Breve - watercolor by Nicholas Simmons

La Vida Breve will be featured with several other paintings of mine in a new book by E. Ashley Rooney, 100 Mid-Atlantic Artists, published by Schiffer Books. I'll post a notice when it is available.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Johnnie Bolin!

Tommy and Johnnie Bolin - Mile High Stadium, Denver
August 29, 1976

I was in Dayton, Ohio two weeks ago doing a workshop, and on what was supposed to be my last night in town (Thursday), I was sitting in a restaurant having dinner. I got a call from Johnnie, and without mentioning where I was, asked him where he was off to next:

"We're playing in Dayton on Saturday."

"Dayton? That's where I am!"

I hadn't crossed paths with Johnnie since the NAMM show in January of 2008, so I hung out for a couple days. And glad I did! It was great to see him, especially looking so healthy and happy. Black Oak Arkansas was playing Dayton's rock & roll club, McGuffy's, so I also got to meet rock icon Jim Dandy and the rest of the band. Too good to pass up. :)

This gives me an opportunity to post a few of my favorite pics of Johnnie, such as the one of him with Tommy when they were little kids. Even then, music was obviously going to be the family occupation. I love the photo of them together (see above) many years later when Johnnie was playing drums in Tommy's band, and performed for over 50,000 people at Denver's Mile High Stadium on August 29, 1976, only a few months before Tommy's death. Also on the bill for this show were Gary Wright, Steve Miller, and Peter Frampton at the height of his fame. You can read more about this period of the Tommy Bolin Band on the Tommy Bolin Archives site. There is some rare surviving footage from the Mile High show, where Johnnie can be seen drumming. (it was shot on silent 8mm film, so the audio has been dubbed from another concert)

Johnnie has played with too many bands to list here, and has been pretty much everywhere. He can really tear it up, as you'll see on the video I shot during the BOA gig the other night. Not great audio, but I wasn't expecting to see him or I would have brought a good camera. Johnnie became a sponsored DDrums artist recently, and soon there will be a page for him on that site.

Besides the colorful musical career Johnnie has lived, he has also endured a lot of personal tragedy, and survived. Tommy's death at age 25 devastated not only the family, but the entire town of Sioux City (the whole state of Iowa, actually), not to mention legions of music fans. Johnnie's younger brother Rick died at an early age in the 90s, followed by his father and mother. Johnnie's the only one left, but he has a spirit of optimism and kindness that rubs off on all those who know him. He is blessed with a son, Bobby, who just may have some of the Bolin musical genius in him as well, and must be the best-looking kid in the Midwest!

My frienship with Johnnie is one I cherish, and I think about him everyday.