Living in Waves

Bert's always been preoccupied with sounds and sights - and the waves they're made of. That preoccupation has made for some fine musical collaborations, photographic journeys, and even some of the technologies we use everyday.

Life too comes in waves, and this year Bert is playing more music than ever, with a series of shows in Northern and Southern CA celebrating jazz trumpeters and rock guitarists who've been major influences.

Our Next Deep Dive: Stanford and Psychedelia!
Friday Oct 18 at Angelicas Dinner Theater Redwood City, get tix here

Earlier Deep Dives:

Just posted: video of our entire Stevie Wonder show last Fri! 

Here's a quick taste of the all-Latin show we played on June 6: Mambo Raro⁦‪ (‬⁩

"I've found some great collaborators in jazz. With Puerto Rican pianist Izzy Tanenbaum, a group of us have been taking monthly dives into a different style or personality that has helped shape the wonderful American invention that is jazz. Here's a bit of video from our Deep Dive into the Blue Note Records catalog:"

Our very first Deep Dive focused on Izzy's own journey from Puerto Rico to Colombia and Boston and now - lucky for us - to the Bay Area. Featuring Charlie Channel on bass, Tio Pabon on congas, and the incredible Curt Moore on drums. 

Last Year
"In 1959, tenor saxophonist Lester Young died from "alcohol use disorder". His bandmate Charles Mingus wrote an elegy, and 20 years after Mingus died the Mingus Big Band was still touring in his honor. Last year my pal Tommy Occhiuto used Seamus Blake's intro as a springboard to kick off this beautiful rendition we performed at a place called SharePath. This live recording also features Chris Cortez on drums, Charlie Channel on bass, Jansen Verplank on keys, and yours truly on guitar.

July 2018 - Channeling Chet Baker

In 1950, a 20 year old kid living in SF's Presidio and playing in the tenderloin was asked by Charlie Parker to fill in for Miles Davis on Parker's west coast gigs. The rest is history.

Tap Doug Klein's photo to play video:

March 2018 - Dark Side of the Moon performed by a trio

One of the crazier things to come out of last year's total solar eclipse was the trio of Bert Keely, Larry Marcus and Roger Bourland imagining they could perform Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon from start to finish - with nothing pre-recorded other than the alarm clock and the cash register. Here's a sample of how it was done live at Angelica's Bistro in Redwood City CA. 

Tap Lex's photo to play video:

Audio samples:

Cinema Paradiso (Main Theme)

Jimi Hendrix' Angel

While My Guitar w solos by Bert & GE Smith

Steely Dan's Black Cow

More music and photo books are in the links at left. 

For more visuals here's the BertsEye photo blog:

Feb 2018 - The Philippines (Finally!)

Cynthia was born on th island of Luzon, in a tropical paradise with 10 thousand islands and 100 million inhabitants. For decades her mom told us not to go - too disturbing, too dangerous. This year her mom can hardly remember anything, so we finally flew to Cynthia's birthplace and got to know just five of the islands: Luzon, Corregidor, Mactan, Bohol, and Cebu. Just as we felt visiting India, we found the natural settings to be marvelous, the urban settings filthy, and the people incredible, with much more energy and civility than we could possibly expect. But what impressed us most were the natural wonders and people's celebration of them. Here Cynthia's trying her best to summon courage to jump into a canyon pool (she never did - but seemed happy to watch her kid-husband do it over and over!

August 2017 - Howling at the Sun

This year's total solar eclipse was quite a thing to witness. But what I found most enchanting was the behavior of the witnesses. Tap the photo of Beth Setrakian for my favorite thing I've done with a video camera to date:

July 2016 - In Over His Head

Just a few years ago it seems, our son Brandon was learning to swim. Now at the same neighborhood pool he's underwater with his own daughter Noli. Grandparents talk about how much fun this is, but few mention one of the greatest joys: watching your son be a father!

Dec 2015 - What Would Marcia Say?

My love of music came from my mother. She also gave my sister Cathy a rugged elegance and gave our little sister Ginny her gift of laughter. And suddenly Mom is gone.

Everyone eventually loses their mom. I've seen it many times, but never imagined feeling the way I do now. It' suddenly clear that for half a century there has been an umbilical cord connecting to Mom. The nourishment included her persuasion that I could become whatever I wanted. With no constraints other than to be safe, be decent to others, and appreciate the joys that come in life.

Mom never had any interest in controlling others. And yet this woman had a HUGE personality. How can one be so deeply influential without being pushy? Well, she was astute. But it also helps that she loved simplicity. So with a few words she could brightly light subjects that others would avoid.

Only when her body became weak did Marcia's essence become fully clear. She had always known what matters most in life. She had stayed curious, self-sufficient, responsive to others' needs, and funny - knowing how humor helps this world go 'round. Living this way, plus being lucky in love, had given her an astonishingly deep satisfaction. Focusing on things naturally within her control, Marcia showed us how an individual can easily make the world a better place.

Especially in the words she chose near the end - when each word took seconds to prepare - Marcia showed us how to live. Big questions will remain unanswered in life, and that's just fine. A little question we like to ask each other now is this: "What would Marcia say?

Nov 2014 - Life's Second Half  

Not long ago, 50 was an age most humans didn't reach. It's now an age some of us aspire to double. And many of us now think of 50 as the start of life's second half.

My sister Ginny is a case in point. A brilliant Physical Therapist, being available to her patients means not getting many chances to take consecutive days off. But when she turned 50 she took a few off with me, just driving around Northern California and talking. Occasionally we'd come across a breathtaking view, she'd walk and I'd photograph. Just after sunrise at Death Valley's Zabriskie Point, she seemed to be contemplating the ups and downs that lay ahead.

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. Even if 50 is only half way.

June 2014 - For venues, smaller is better!

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 through the town, and many participate in "Nitegrass' sessions where you can experience astounding music-making up-close.

This is the tiny Sheridan Opera House, where for several years now our friends Punch Brothers have closed the festival with a late nite jam. Jammed together around Gillian Welch are many of our very favorite musicians: Sara Watkins, Gabe Witcher, Bryan Sutton, Aoife O'Donovan, Chris Eldridge, Dave Rawlings, Sean Watkins, Paul Kowert, Chris Thile, Ronnie McCoury, Willie Watson, Sarah Jarosz, a mandolin player I don't recognize (sorry!) and finally Noam Pikelny & Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones.

2013 - Can't Stop Designing

I stopped working full-time in 2009, but can't stop designing. Home remodeling is an easy way to get a fix, Megan's new degree in Landscape Architecture drove this project: a green roof, solar trellis, and faux-slate roof with stainless steel eaves and gables. One goal was to make the carport - which is very close to the street - part of the landscape rather than part of the house. Another was to include solar panels in a way that feels integral rather than a tack-on afterthought. A third was to eliminate the fire hazard of shake shingles by re-roofing with something lightweight but also substantial. Fourth was to have no visible gutters or downspouts.

2012 - Getting high in the Himalayas

As soon as he felt recovered from triple bypass surgery, my running mentor Mike Nuttall asked me to accompany him on a 100mi Stage Race in the Himalayas. It became the trip of a lifetime, including a week exploring the Khumbu region around Mt Everest. I guess this was a 'selfie' (before the word became popular). I took it at 18200ft atop the Kala Patar ridge,  showing Mt Everest and Nuptse above and Everest Base Camp below.

2011 - Off to College in New Orleans

On graduating high school, our first 37 College Track students in New Orleans were able to meet Bill Clinton (also the first in his family to go to college). Great inspiration to aim high, as these students embark on their college careers! Thank you Bill for the down home eloquence that's in everything you say.

2010 - Gone surfing

I'm going to learn to surf well, before it's too late. This isn't a selfie, it's Darryl "Flea" Virostko, the Mavericks legend who was acting as Water Patrol at my favorite surf spot - Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz. The wave wraps a cliff, turning north into a dependable offshore breeze, and sometimes continues for up to a quarter mile before ending at Cowell beach.

2009 - The Wedding Singers

Megan and Brandon, singing Nick Drake's "Northern Sky" during Nate and Katie's spectacularly blustery Big Sur wedding.

2008 - the opening of BertsEye

In 2008 started transitioning out of full-time work, to make room for other passions best pursued while young. Kris Kristofferson said "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose". Well even then there's something you don't want to lose, and that's TIME.
We now start each day asking "what sounds most exciting today?" and jumping up to follow that excitement!

This is the edge of the Great Salt Lake. After driving Megan most of the way home from Ithaca after she finished college. I ran as far onto the lake as I could, and found a moment of perfect stillness., alone except for a sun worshiper, a tumbleweed, and billion sand flies.