Five Years Ago…


Five years ago, we were still in our little Red House in the village of Cambria, CA. Ray would soon be moving to a place of her own, 30 minutes down the road, and I’d be headed further south to start a new life in the Ojai Valley. But as 2015 got underway, we still had our studio set up in the dining room, ready to roll. So, when news reached us of the killings in Paris at the satire magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” we were able to act quickly. Ray had gotten an accordion for Christmas, and she’d already cooked up this lovely set of chord changes and melodies. It sounded “French” to me — like some kind of sweet street music. I asked her if I could try to hang some lyrics on it, and she said Yes, of course. And so, a few days later, this tune went up online.

It’s a little thing, perhaps, in the face of such a large tragedy. But it’s what we do. And I think a song can help us somehow to “feel” our way into the meaning of events that so often seem to have none. These days, it’s important for us to use whatever “tools” we can to retain our perspective, keep hearts and minds open, and maintain our connection with that which makes us human. Which I’m pretty sure is *not* our capacity for violence — though that has certainly been made plain enough — but is rooted instead in our ability to look beyond anger to the pain behind it, as well as the pain it causes, and find compassion and understanding for both.

Five years on, as the world seems only to descend deeper into chaos, and “liberty and justice for all” starts to sound like a corny bumper-sticker from the Model T days, the truth is: that *is* the prescription. “Liberty and justice for all” — for everybody — is our only way out of a future too grim to imagine and too inhuman to bother attending.

This is a song to help remind us of our debt to one another — and our connection, as members of one family. “Je suis Charlie” — yes, definitely, as are we all. Or we are — all — lost.

One More Time: BVN in SLO

Life — and music — have their different chapters, and Ranchers have been turning pages in new places, new directions, for most of the last year or two. But, reading ahead, we see that “the story” brings us back to the original starting point for a reunion of sorts:


Sunday, Dec. 16 @ Linnaea’s Cafe

1110 Garden Street, SLO

The evening begins at 5:30 and runs ’til 9:00 or so. Admission is free. Both Ray & Chas will perform short sets of their own music, then combine for a set of R4P favorites, including their original version of the song “The Light Of Christmas Day,” featured in the 2015 movie “Love The Coopers” in a version produced by T Bone Burnett and sung by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant — any of whom are welcome to join us on stage, if they happen to be in town.

It will be a sweet and “Peaceful” way to celebrate the season — hope to see you there.


“Protest Song Celebration” @ Ecologistics Collaboratory: Oct. 22, 7:00 PM, Rancho el Chorro, $10


Yeah! As part of their 3-day “Deep-Ecology Collaboratory” Ecologistics have invited us to help with their celebration of “Protest Song” — and present the winners of their song-writing contest. The whole event is very much worth your attention — but if you want to get a good look at what they’re up to in a shorter time, come out to Rancho El Chorro this Saturday Night at 7:00 for the concert — just $10. See you there!

Deep Ecology Collaboratory Overview

New Solo EP by Rancher Ray

Yeah — she’s written a batch of dynamic and powerful songs and packaged them in her own dynamic and powerful way in a new collection called “THIS ROAD.” Come celebrate with us:

EP Release Concert: Sunday May 22, 7:30 PM, Steynberg Gallery

1531 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo. Tickets, $10. For reservations: (805) 547-0278 

Further info:

Audio previews at Ray’s new site:

“Walking Around Black” still a crime…

It’s more than four years now, and Zimmerman is in the news again — auctioning off the gun he used to do the deed. Words fail — but music still works, and it’s a nice Spring day (for those of us still breathing) so: let’s all sing along — one more time!

“Big Variety Night” @ Linnaea’s: this Sun., Feb. 7

We’re joining the local singer-songwriter crowd for this edition of the long-running series, hosted by SLO icon Ted Waterhouse at Linnaea Phillips’s original oasis of sanity on Garden Street. Music starts early — sometimes before 6:00. Ranchers for Peace usually close the show, 9:30 or thereabouts. But come earlier for solo sets by individual Ranchers Charles and Ray — and to catch up on the range of crafty and creative artistes on the bill. “Big Variety” — guaranteed.

No cover. 1110 Garden St, San Luis Obispo, 805-541-5888

“Art of the Protest Song”: in SLO 1/31

We’re joining some new friends from up north — and old pal Randall Lamb — for an evening of song-swapping “in the round,” with a focus on the kind of songs that have inspired social activism, in the past and here today: come on down and get your New Year’s dose of “give a damn.”

SUNDAY, JAN. 31 — 7:00 PM, Steynberg Gallery, 1531 Monterey St., SLO.

Details here: