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Last night, we took a drive to West Linn, a suburb of Portland, located approximately a half hour from our home.  John and I were excited to see a man we met over New Year’s, Peter who was hosting a living room jazz/poetry experiment featuring my close friend, Toni  and her friend, a master jazz guitarist, John Stowell.  What we witnessed was some moving music and poetry that enhanced our evening…and our lives, exponentially.

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Toni Thomas and daughter, Avhen Firth

Toni’s  poems have been accepted for publication in literary magazines in Austria, Spain, New Zealand, Canada, England, Scotland, and Australia.  In the United States, her work has appeared in over fifty literary magazines, including Prairie Schooner, North Dakota Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Minnesota Review, Weber-The Contemporary West, Rhino, Notre Dame Review, and Poetry East.  Toni has published one full length poetry collection entitled Chosen, two chapbooks, and jrt work has twice been nominated for Pushcart Prizes.

This is a picture of one of Toni’s books of poetry.  The cover features one of her amazing ceramic sculptures.

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Since work forced me to have to postpone our trip to Paris this fall, that John was going to give me for attaining my masters degree, he announced last night, that he  is going to buy one of Toni’s sculptures for me.  We are planning to visit her studio before she leaves for Edinburgh, so I can choose the one I want.  I have wanted one of Toni’s sculptures for at least 15 years.  I can’t believe I am finally going to own one!

This is our host, Peter, introducing internationally-known jazz guitarist, John Stowell:

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 John is a gifted guitarist. He  taught around the world  for 30 years in every educational setting, and he has played internationally, with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all times. 

One of the things that impressed me, other than John’s incredible guitar playing, was one of the guitars he used last night.  It is made by a tiny company in Eugene, Oregon, and is called a SoloEtte Travel Guitar.  I had never seen anything like it.  Here is a very brief video of him talking about it:

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The photo above is a different “body” style (even though it has no real body…but more of an outline…)  from the one John uses…but this will give you a general idea of what it is like.  It comes completely apart and fits into a small backpack.  The neck on John’s guitar is made from graphite.

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Below,  is a video of John playing the same guitar without the fabric cover.  As you can see, it has  electronic tubes that outline where the body would be.  When we heard him play last night, he had the velvety coverings over them.

John’s beautiful, albeit plaintiff,  jazz playing paired with Toni’s poetry perfectly.  John is a soft-spoken guitarist who plays his guitar gently, making almost ethereal glides across the strings.  Toni, on the other hand, is a high energy, detailed, fabulous storyteller who seldom slows down….so the two of them were incredibly and wonderfully balanced.

This is Toni’s intro:

And here are Toni and John performing together.

My friends….these, and others… are, to me,  a real blessing.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world.