As the Year Turns…

Hey Friends —

You might notice that we’re sort of cleaning out the space here at the online annex of the metaphorical Ranch. The music is still available, here:

And if you’re trying to find out or can’t remember what we look like, the videos are here:

What we’re doing is, we’re pulling in our horns and taking time out to think.

It’s been two full years and more since we first went public with this version of Ranchers for Peace. Rancher Ray was just 15; Charles was younger too, but it was harder to tell. Since then we’ve played over a hundred shows, released two EPs and a couple memorable one-offs (including “Walkin’ Around Black,” which got national attention via Sing Out! magazine), and met more wonderful people than we have space to mention.  It’s been a blast, an education, and a humbling, gratifying experience. Our sincerest thanks to all who’ve helped us on our way.

Our commitment to this music has never been stronger, nor has our conviction that there’s a place for this kind of thing in the continuing conversation we *have* to be having — all of us — about our collective responsibilities for the creation of a future we might actually not mind inhabiting.  Meanwhile, the rich are getting unbelievably richer, the fracking of North America is only picking up speed, and it’s been formally established by several courts that Corporations are people, and that people in this country have a right to shoot anybody that scares them — as long as the person doing the shooting is white.

So, it’s not like we’re running out of things to sing about.

What we are running out of is ideas for how to extend our reach — widen our circle, amplify our voices.  We love being “locals” here on the Central Coast of California — what we need to figure out is how to be local in about 37 more places, from sea to shining sea, and over the water to the UK,  and beyond.  A project like ours needs to grow or it will die. We don’t mind preaching to the choir — as long as it’s big enough.

We’re asking for your help with this: you Friends of the Ranch are a diverse and intelligent lot, with a wide range of skills and experience. We hope to tap into this Collective Mind to shake loose some new ideas and new connections.  We wonder which of you has friends in this Time Zone (or any other) who might be interested in hosting us for a House Show — or connections at this or that radio station, online hoedown, March on Wall Street, etc. You get the idea: we want your ideas…

Let’s discuss: right here.

And thank you in advance for any and all energy you care to commit to this question: how shall the Ranch proceed? What’s to be the future of doing what we can to make giving a damn cool again? Comments, friends?


23 thoughts on “As the Year Turns…

  1. I wish we could set up a gig here in Sedona AZ and assure you it would be worth your trip. There’s a TV show on FX channel called “Justified” and just started it’s 3rd season I think (maybe 4th). If you know anyone who places songs for TV/movies, your song “Justified” would be a natural for end titles on this. It would be better than the mediocre theme they have for the opening, but that’s not likely to happen.

    • Alexander — it is not out of the question for us to make that trip. We have contemplated a “southwestern swing” that would have us driving from Colorado south to Santa Fe, west to AZ for a few stops. House shows with 20 people or more are all that is needed to get us to drop anchor in any particular spot. Would *love* to get Sedona on that calendar, as soon as Spring… We’ll be in touch — thanks.

  2. Oh yeah. “Hobby Horse” video so they can get the visual presentation, “Tom Joad”, “Banks of Marble”. Going for it.

    • OK, Celeste — go for it! — and thanks — looking forward to seeing what kind of response you get… ¡Gracias!

  3. FarmAid 2014–Durham, North Carolina
    Organized by board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews.
    “Banks of Marble” would go well there….

    • Celeste — I think I speak for the other Rancher when I say: if you can get the FarmAid people to even *consider* including us in their event, in any capacity, you will immediately move to the front of the line for the currently vacant position of Ranch Manager. Damn good idea, I’d say… Think they’d like the Tom Joad song?

  4. Back in the day the folk singers and social justice songwriters played at colleges and universities, to make an impression on the still-impressionable. I can envision a R4P Traveling Bandcamp (maybe partnering with that website) that hosts free song-writing and song-learning workshops before the concerts, working with guitar teachers and choral classes, then filming group renditions of the songs (Tell All the World?). These could be compiled into YouTube videos that might be widely shared and watched because so many college students are in them, singing alone or in groups. Maybe somewhat similar to the “Love is the 7th Wave” video done for Bioneers. The actor Forrest Whitaker has two foundations that work for peace–they could be approached to sponsor the tour. It would be great to have all the chords and lyrics online, with how-to videos, to encourage folks to learn and share the songs.

    • Celeste — this is a cool “outside-the-box” sort of vision, thanks. Not sure what it would take to get colleges interested in this kind of thing — the present generation is not as inclined to activism as the one you’re recalling. But that could change — in fact, it probably has to, if we as a species are to have a future. And outreach to that segment of the population is very much on our radar — after all, half the band is one of them… Worth further inquiry, for sure…

  5. Freight & Salvage is good. I don’t know how hard it is to get onto “Please Stand By” a Sunday a.m. program on KPIG out of Freedom, CA, but has a feed locally, 94.9 KPYG. I think it would be a perfect venue for you. Also, have you talked with Steve Key, Songwriters at Play, he does venues 5-6 nights a week and it is good exposure. The suggestion of being on Facebook is good also, because that is how I hear about most the music in the area. Best wishes for the future……you are an amazing group…..

    • Thanks for the kind words, Evlyn. I don’t know if you’re in the Berkeley area, but the idea of the Freight and Salvage continues to arise. As with most clubs, there’s this chicken-and-egg equation in effect when they consider booking an act: if they have confidence an act can put people in the seats, they can book them. But a relatively unknown act (like us) can’t blow into town and expect to sell tickets — so, until such an act proves they’re a “draw” locally, they don’t get booked. In other words: you have to play a town to make friends there, but you can’t play there unless you already have friends… It’s a hard loop to bust into.
      I think that people who feel strongly that we should be playing the Freight need to let *them* know — and maybe that would provide the necessary momentum to get us in the door there…

  6. hi-

    wishing you all the best in 2014 and beyond.  you may be aware of ‘freight and salvage’ in berkeley although i don’t recall seeing ‘ranchers for peace’ at anytime on their venue.  ranchers for peace seems like a natural fit for them; it’s a great venue and always a great audience.  here’s their link:  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse

    good luck!


    • Richard — as I said to Evlyn in connection with the Freight: maybe what is needed is for interested friends to speak up on our behalf directly with the venue itself — they can’t book us until they have some idea that people want to see us on their stage. Thanks, amigo — appreciate your participation here…

  7. I agree with Celeste. For the songs that you have with specific themes, contact the organizations that focus on that & see if they are interested in a partnership. Particularly as theme songs for documentaries & video clips of their work. Etc. I have a song that I think would be a good fit for Hospice, & I plan to approach them in a similar manner this year. Also I assume that you are submitting songs to Songwriting competitions left & right? Good luck friends!

    • Thanks, Ynana — we will try to organize some kind of system to identify and follow up on “interest groups” that might align with certain of our songs. ¡Gracias!

  8. Stay open by considering Facebook for your main communication network and keep your website for your base philosophy/purpose, calendar of all past and future events, purchase music, and contact.

    Keep it simple!

    • Good advice, Susan. We were getting kind of tired of the website — decided to strip it down, and start a conversation about where we’re going. Any future version of this site will be basic, “simple” for sure. Thanks!

  9. I have been pondering this very thing. R4P songs are too good and too important to stay local or regional. First thing that springs to mind–send “Tom Joad” song to Nat’l Steinbeck Center in Salinas to interest them in performance? I also feel that people and institutions who keep Woody’s legacy alive would be very interested in this work. If anyone is doing Farm Aid type large scale fundraisers, you should be there. Who on a national scale is out there giving a damn? Find them and maybe find larger exposure. Some big name actors are putting their money into foundations that do good work–research who and what and offer to perform at their events. Many of the songs focus on specific causes, such as “Five Miles to Water “. Find the charities who are working on these causes and send them the songs. That group that is providing rolling water carriers–water wheels I think they ‘re called–they would be a good candidate. Maybe a potluck brainstorming session is in order?

    • All good ideas, Celeste — thank you. And yes, maybe a cup of coffee at the Owl some afternoon might help clarify some avenues for action along these lines… Let’s be talkin’…

  10. Chas & Ray, we’d be very happy to host a House Show for you at the Ranchito. Let me know if and when that works for you. ~ Judi

  11. Check out a relatively new acoustic venue in south west bay area of northern California: The Woodshed in Los Gatos. Less than 3.5 hours away

    • Thank you, Dianne — we remember hearing about that place (but not following up). We’ll look into it, and let you know what we find out… Onward!

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