Pacifici & Brooks

Life Goes On

 

Brian:  Tony memorialized that moment in Gurcheen many years later with a jig he wrote called 'The Sligo Indians', which is also the title track of his CD with Smithsonian Folkways. I think, after we returned, the band didn’t get together as much … probably needed a change after the long tour and the trip. At that time, I got a letter from John Caulfield, saying that he was in Copenhagen and had a bunch of gigs lined up and did I want to join him. So I decided to do that, but first I had to make some money for the trip. I got a job at a macrobiotic kosher restaurant, called The Cauldron. Some of the regular customers were rabbis, who would come back to the kitchen to wash their hands and we would have some fascinating philosophical discussions into the small hours. I worked in their bakery at first where we baked the cake for John Lennon’s penultimate birthday. I finally made enough money to make my way to Copenhagen.

 

Caesar:  During that time, I embarked on a different path that involved a long phase of self-development and education. I picked up the pieces from college days and completed my BA and then went on to get a Doctorate in psychology at the City University of New York. It was an incredibly stimulating time that opened my mind and many doors for me. Towards the early part of that phase I was still active musically. I got into a band called Ground Plan with three young and extremely talented women: Eileen Ivers, an all-Ireland champion, Andi Leahy also on fiddle, and her sister Fionnghuala on flute and clavichord. Tony DeMarco also asked me to back him and Brian Conway on an album featuring those two Sligo style fiddlers. It’s called 'Apple in Winter' (Shanachie Records). After I completed my post-doc at Columbia-Presbyterian I moved to Oregon.

 

Brian:  I ended up playing loads of gigs with John Caulfield in Copenhagen, Sweden and Germany. Then we made our way to Amsterdam, where I shared a room with a guy called Chris Andreotti, a London Italian who had been in a band with Kevin Burke, called Lazy Reel. That was before the Bothy Band. Eventually, I moved to a new house and there met my future wife, Katryn. The three of us, Katryn, John, and I traveled and played quite a bit in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brittany, Normandy, and Paris—where I met Katryn’s parents. I then moved back to London and worked in the post office for a time and Katryn joined me there. I was in two bands during that time - one called An Rinnce that played mostly in London; the other was Shegui, which went on many, many international tours. Later, I joined a group called The House Band, recording on the Topic label. They toured a lot, too. I also worked for a time at Kodak as a graphic designer. That was a nice job, which fit in with my art school background.

 

Around the time you moved to Oregon, Katryn and I got married in Paris and moved from London to Surrey, then back to London, and then lived in Brazil. We lived there for 6 years until 2001. A great thrill for me while living there was working with Sir George Martin on a film he was making called Rhythms of Life. My main source of income was teaching Business English. I also had a band that I wrote a lot of material for. That all started as a dare. Over our usual morning coffee one day the bassist opined, “You know, it’s all been done. There are only 8 notes in an octave…” blah blah blah. I said, OK, I guarantee that for our next rehearsal I’ll have an original song.” From then on we did original material and started getting gigs and recording. During that time, I also did a version of Cool Reggae with studio musicians on an EP. Our version is on our current CD. I left Brazil because my mother had died and my father wasn’t coping well so I moved back to England to support him. We lived in Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, and then found the place in London we currently live in, which also has a studio.

 

Caesar:  Tell us about your art career.

 

Brian:  I’ve always painted and drawn. I had some really good teachers over the years in England and America and went to Pratt and got my BFA. But I had many years when I’d just do music. You really need a steady set up to paint and it’s hard to mix that with music. I had a big studio in Brazil and did a lot of painting there. Then when I came back to England I studied for a Masters degree. Since moving here, I have my own studio, so finally I'm able to combine art and music.

 

Caesar:  When I moved to Eugene, Oregon I went into business with a dear friend who was developing and producing media-based social learning materials for teens and families in the foster care system. It was rewarding work. I wrote grants and researched our interventions, which became widely used in the US. After 15 years in Eugene, I felt a calling to go into private practice. I was licensed to practice and also had a close apprenticeship for many years with my life-long guide and friend, Ann Leon White. There was a confluence of events that motivated that change, including reconnecting with dear heart, Chris. She had been living in New York and had moved back to Bloomington, where we'd first met 28 years ago! On a lark and with a spark, we decided to meet in Bloomington and, lo and behold, we fell in love for the second time in the same place. This time I guess we were ready for prime time and in less than a year, we were married and living in Bloomington, which is where I currently live. I have a wonderful private practice based largely on the principles taught to me by Ann, which we know as A Path to the Heart.

 

Brian:  Which brings us pretty much up to date.

 

Caesar:  You know, you were never out of mind, Brian, during many years where we had no contact. We always touched base with the Flying Cloud by listening to our album and listening to cassette recordings we had of live performances. Chris and I like to travel and she is quite an Anglophile so it wasn’t long before we took a trip to England and that’s when we visited and reconnected after some 30 years. I remember at the end of the visit you expressed the idea of playing music again, this time as a recording project. It had never occurred to me and I didn’t quite get it altogether because I did not have a recording setup. So, it took a while to germinate.

 

Brian:  Well, without the dear old Internet, none of it would have been possible. I’m pretty sure I first looked you up on the Web and found your practice in Bloomington. I saw Caesar Pacifici, Ph.D. and I said, nah, that’s not him! I think I actually contacted you first and you were planning a trip to England. I had an old version of recording software that someone had given me and when I came back to England I started using it. I’d always been in studios with producers and engineers and didn’t get much hands on experience, but I watched what they did and then started to use my own software. I opened a DropBox account, I remember, and I sent you a bunch of tracks, but didn’t get any response. I think you didn’t have DropBox and nothing happened for quite a while. I mean, this is the way things happen in real life, don’t they? Probably a few years later, I tried again with a track of The Morning Dew. By an incredible coincidence, you'd been working on the same tune!

 

Caesar:  Yeah, that was part of a little renaissance I had with playing guitar. I really wanted to get back into playing and connected with a teacher here in town, Atanas Tzvetkov, a Bulgarian guitar wizard and graduate of the prestigious Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He lit my fire and got me back to some important basics, mostly through Flamenco guitar. Since he knew a lot about a lot, I eventually revisited Irish music and flat-picking techniques and that launched a long phase of learning and relearning fiddle tunes. So when I got the invitation for The Morning Dew, I was good and ready. Right from the start of our collaboration it felt like an open invitation to experiment and consciously let in influences of our musical backgrounds, and for me that was blues and rock. Your concept was to take one tune at a time and stick with it and really develop it. In thinking about it that way, it paved the way for bringing in these other musical influences, and it felt easy and started to click. We started to think in terms of grooves and how they fit into tunes. We were able to extend that idea and feel into other medleys and it developed into the sound that we have on our first CD, In Good Company.

 

Brian:  I had been getting into an ambient, rocky kind of style. It’s been interesting to me because you brought more of a traditional rock ‘n roll and R & B thing from the 50s and beyond. That’s been great because my background is kind of a folk-blues thing so it reacquainted me with that kind of vibe as well.

 

Caesar:  Yeah, I think we have a strong basis in derivative music. I’d say we deeply respect traditional music and out of that have tried to thoughtfully shake hands among traditions.

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