FRANCES: Tim and I met in the Winter of 1979. He always brought his guitar to work, going off into a corner to hone some new song he was writing. Strange rhythms, crooked tunes that got my attention.
TIM: One rainy day Frances brought her violin into the art room where I was playing cello and singing in 5/4 time. She boldly improvised to my crooked Camel Song.
FRANCES: We became friends. We became lovers. We became a musical trio with co-worker, Jan. “The Hat Band” played the coast from Santa Cruz to Mendocino. Then Jan moved to San Francisco. Tim and I got married and became itinerant musicians for a few years. In the fall of 1999 I was in my third semester as Luis Valdez’s Screenwriting student. The last class was at his El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista where auditions were being held for the Christmas show. When Danny Valdez walked into the room I said, “Do you need any violinists?” With a sweep of his arm, he said, “We need everybody, come with me.” 2018 was the 19th season that Tim and I played (sometimes also music-directed) the spectacular Christmas shows in the old Mission San Juan Bautista church, built in 1797. We bought a little house nearby and GallopAway Music moved in. One day I said, “Hey Danny, I wrote a song I want you to hear.” I played and sang “Only The Dream” for him. He went home and made it his own.
TIM: Mom got me singing when I was two, sitting beside her on the piano bench. Dad improvised vocal bass lines in church and whistled old standards while driving, elbow out the window. They made a professional recording of me when I was three, nursery rhymes and Christmas carols. Started piano at eight, cello at eleven; playing cello in high school with the same energy other guys threw into chasing Boise, Idaho, girls. Orchestra years, colleges, side tracks, and back into music, but this time electric and driven by the beat. Providence hailed from Boise. I spent 1971-1973 in an intensive school-of-life: songwriting, arranging, learning new instruments, recording, touring, stumbling and forgiving. There must have been 100 songs written during that time with interesting original elements. My own songwriting was born. We recorded the album “Ever Sense The Dawn” in 1972, released on the Moody Blues‘ Threshold Records label, produced by Tony Clarke. The Moody’s connection took on new life, 1974-1976, when Justin Hayward and John Lodge undertook recording and touring projects that involved the Providence string trio. The albums “Songwriter” and “Blue Jays” appeared. Prince Gabriel’s Fleet was an intermittent band of collaborations in Eugene, Oregon, 1977-1978, while I was a music major at U of O. My songwriting advanced in fits and starts, with many good ideas crouching for later leaps in refinement. Vigorous rewriting eventually followed the critiques of Frances, a wicked editor with a trained ear for poetry, rhythm and a vivid continuous dream.
FRANCES: My grandfather was a violin playing saddle maker. My father was a yodeling cowboy; I still have his spurs and the old banjo uke. My mother wanted a daughter who played the violin. I picked out tunes on my aunt’s piano when I was three and started violin lessons when I was five, practicing in the orchard next to our house. Music laid the foundation for my ear as a poet, composer, lyricist, playwright, and personal historian. I was brought up on old cowboy songs, show tunes, community concerts and Fritz Kreisler, the beloved violinist. Tim and I were raised on much of the same music. We both played in school and symphony orchestras. As an adult I studied violin and piano with several wonderful teachers privately and in college as a music major. I started improvising on stage in 1970 when I met and became good friends with the late great jazz trumpeter, Chet Baker. I enjoy the challenge of making up parts to Tim’s beautiful tunes and twisted rhythms. He helps me with form; I help him with heart line and believable dialogue. It all begins with improvisation: a poetic line, a haunting melody, a wiggly rhythm that grabs you by the throat.