History Sure Rhymes

Just a few years ago it seems, our son Brandon was learning to swim. And now at the same pool he's totally underwater with his own daughter Noli. Everyone talks about how much fun it is to have a grandchild, but few mention what is for me one of the greatest joys: watching your son be a father! It's a dream come true.

Photos are my favorite medium for capturing and telling stories. No wait - music is! 
Well, we pour a lot of passion into both, and we make our best stuff available to you through the links on your left. 
-Bert Keely

Years Past

Dec 2015 - What Would Marcia Say?

Mom gave me my love of music. She gave my sister Cathy her rugged elegance. She gave Ginny her smile and her gift of laughter. And suddenly Mom is gone - gone from our sight.

Excepting those who die young, each of us goes through the loss of a mom. I've witnessed this loss by dear friends, yet have never imagined one could feel the way I do now. It turns out for half a century there has been an umbilical cord. Mom has always been connected. First just nourishing, but in my case she began very early to encourage becoming whatever I wanted. Never once claiming to know what that should be, nor setting any constraints other than being safe, being decent to others, and appreciating the joys that come.

She carried no illusions of wanting or even being able to control others. And yet this woman had a HUGE personality. How can one be so deeply influential without being pushy? Well it helps that she was astute. It helps that she loved simplicity, and thus with a few words she could brightly light subjects that others would avoid. But only as her body became weaker did the essence of Marcia herself fully come to light. Marcia had known from a very early age what matters most in life. She had stayed curious, self-sufficient, responsive to the needs of others, and appreciative how humor helps this world go 'round. Living this way, and being lucky in love, had given her an astonishingly deep satisfaction. Just by focusing on things that are not beyond one's control, Marcia showed us how individuals can - and I believe will - gently make the world a better place.

In our photographs, in our memories, and especially in the words she chose near the end - when each word took seconds to prepare - Marcia showed us how to live. Many questions will remain unanswered in life, and that's just fine. One question we ask often now, to stay connected to Mom and also to light our own way, is this: "What would Marcia say?"

Nov 2014 - The second half...  

Lately we've seen a lot of people turning 50. Not long ago, this was an age never reached by the majority of humans.

50 is a nice round number that's easy to double, and doubling it has now become a target, which people are aiming at with their age! My sister Ginny is a case in point. A brilliant Physical Therapist, she needs to be available to her patients for weekly visits and doesn't get many chances to take days off. But when she turned 50 she did take a few, and the two of us spent those days doing what we do best: driving around and talking. Occasionally we'd come across a breathtaking view, she'd walk, and I'd photograph. At this particular sunrise I caught her contemplating the ups and downs that lay ahead, from Death Valley's Zabriskie Point. 

Ginny is quite simply, and realistically, seeing her turn to fifty as just the start of her second half. Thinking of it as a place to start, with all the wisdom and relationships she's developed and much less of the impatience of youth, she is in a beautiful way born again.

Raising our children I would often say "Life is short". In the back of my mind was the late Robin Williams saying "Carpe diem" to the schoolboys in Dead Poet's Society. Yes, life is short enough that we should seize each day. But to those turning 50, I now say "sieze the century!"

June 2014 - You too can experience this!

Every June, dozens of the world's best musicians congregate in Telluride for the Bluegrass Festival. Some only play the main stage, but all walk around the town, and most participate in "Workshops" and "Nitegrass' sessions where anyone with a little foresight can experience unbelievable music-making up-close.


After the Festival closes, our dear friends Punch Brothers take over the Sheridan Opera House and invite their friends to 'jam'. Here Gillian Welch leads the whole crowd singing choruses of the Band's "The Weight" (Take a load off, Fanny) just before the gondola closes at 2am. Left to right are Sara Watkins, Gabe Witcher, Bryan Sutton, Aoife O'Donovan, Chris Eldridge, Dave Rawlings, Sean Watkins, Paul Kowert, Chris Thile, Gillian Welch, Ronnie McCoury, Willie Watson, Sarah Jarosz, a mandolin player who I don't recognize and looks as starstruck as I would be up there, and finally Noam Pikelny & Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones.

2013 - Can't Stop Designing

Although I stopped working 5 years ago, I just can't stop designing. Here's the green roof, solar trellis, faux-slate, and stainless steel trim with which we recently freshened up our house. The first driver for this project was to make the carport - which is very close to the street - part of the landscape rather than part of the house. Second was to include solar panels in a way that is part of the shelter rather than a tack-on afterthought. Third was to replace the house's shake shingles with something clean, subdued, and substantial. Fourth was to tie it all together with custom-colored stainless steel trim that handles water beautifully (no gutters, no downspouts, and no peeling paint!)

2012 - Getting high in the Himalayas

Earlier this year, as soon as he felt sufficiently recovered from his triple bypass surgery, my running mentor Mike Nuttall asked me to accompany him on a 100mi Stage Race in the Himalayas. I said yes, and to acclimatize I went a week early and explored the Khumbu region around Mt Everest. I carried Mike's excellent new Sony pocket camera and found many nice views in the Khumbu, the race, the Taj Mahal, and the Agra Fort.
To visit Bert's Himalaya Photo Gallery tap here

2011 - Bill Clinton Visits College Track New Orleans

We feel fortunate and so very honored that Bill Clinton joined us to celebrate the graduation of our first 37 College Track students in New Orleans. Bill himself was the first in his family to go to college. He is living testament to the potential for these students, as they embark on their college careers!

Thank you Bill for the insight and eloquence you bring to most everything you do.

2010 - Gone surfing

Having finished construction work on 66 Sanchez for now, I'm focused on learning to surf well, before it's too late. This is my favorite surf spot, Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz. Where the wave wraps a cliff, turning north into a dependable offshore breeze, and runs along the cliff for as much as a quarter mile to Cowell beach.

No that isn't me surfing, it's the day I went to surf and found the Lane was closed for the Surfing America Prime competition. Gave me an opportunity to watch up close the take-off technique of Darryl "Flea" Virostko, the Mavericks legend who was acting as Water Patrol.

2009 - The Wedding Singers

Kids will keep you young.

And if you keep them close, oh the places you'll go!
Here are Megan and Brandon singing Nick Drake's "Northern Sky" for the spectacularly blustery Big Sur wedding of Nate and Katie, a spectacularly calm couple.

Autumn 2008 - Opening BertsEye

This is when I started leaving full-time work behind, to make room for many other passions best pursued while young. Kris Kristofferson said "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to do". To us, freedom is the ability to start each day asking "what am I most excited about today?" then spending that day following that excitement!

After dropping off Megan at the Salt Lake City Airport on our journey west from Ithaca, I drove, then ran, as far out into the lake as I could.
Alone except for a billion sand flies, a tumbleweed, and a refugee from a nearby rave concert. A moment of perfect stillness.