The Morning Star – Special Edition, December 2011

December 20, 2011

Celebrate Christmas and the Precious Gift of Life

Pre-show band ritual… Tippulance…  Photo by R. Scott Bryan(more of Scott’s  tour photos will soon be available on the website)

Well, it’s hard to believe, Christmas is just getting into full celebration, but a whirlwind Stars and Promises tour is over for 2011! Thanks to all of our friends who came out to support the 13 shows in 12 different cities. You left us wishing, as we played our last show, that we had another two weeks to go!

This year we tried something completely different and included an old time radio show story called “Joan and Oscar, A Christmas Story” in the program. It is a story, written by yours truly, with a set of songs, also written by us, based around the real life story of my friend Joan Bouise, who was a jazz singer and lived her last days in New York City. While I was a college student, I rented a room from Joan. Brother Jim, Roger Guth, and myself were very close to her, playing gigs, and regularly rehearsing in her apartment. It was during that time that early PM got its start. She eventually moved to New York City in her 50’s. She passed away, so young at 53 years old, of lung cancer. I encourage you to go and look up, and listen to Joan sing. She has done only a few recordings, but one with a group called Spirit Stage has a few tracks that showcase Joan’s beautiful, smokey warm voice. Oscar was her cantankerous cat, and I have always wanted to capture Joan’s smile, and her feisty way of living in a story. This Christmas, the band took on the role of a radio pit orchestra, and Steve Huntington narrated the story (which was pre-recorded). Each of the instruments; Maggie on violin, Marc on bass, Scott on percussion, Mark Holland on flute, and Chris Walters on piano, played one of the characters, in a kind of “Peter and the Wolf” musical embellishment accompanying the narration.

As you gather with your families and your significant others this holiday, my hope is that you have a most wonderful Christmas celebration that gives you time to remember the precious gift of life that we’ve been given, and the chance to share it with someone. And…for all these years of sharing your time with us, thanks for making us part of your song. I count myself a blessed and fortunate person to call you friends.

Peter Mayer

Under Your Spell – The New CD is here with a special offer for our Morning Star subscribers!

“For three dates in July and August 2011, we recorded the band of musicians that I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with for the past five years. With the sonic palette and stylistic abilities of Scott, Chris, Marc and Maggie, each night has been a new adventure. From time to time we’d be playing on a porch, in a living room or before a show and several of us would remark, ‘this feels really good, we should record this.’ We had been releasing our own sound board CDs after shows for several years, but never had put together a complete set of songs that could be recorded well, mixed and released as a full album. “Disc one: The Last Island, Cool Blue Swing, All The Tea In China, Musicbox, Blue Guitar, Heaven Help Us, Dirty Hands Dirty Feet, Singing In Your Cage, BB’s Got The BluesDisc two: Romeo’s Garage, Under Your Spell, Approaching Caroline, The Onion, Moonlight Over Paris, India/Teach Your Children, The One For Me, Chain Of Love, Morningstar Cafe, Piece of Paradise, Suzannah, Faith In Angels/All You Need Is LoveOrder early for gift giving! We will be happy to ship directly to your recipient, complete with a ribbon and a message from you! Please place your message in the “special instructions” portion of the online order form.  As a special offer to our Morning Star readers, we will include a free gift with each CD purchased, as well as a free upgrade to two-day Priority Mail!  Please order by Wednesday to ensure Christmas delivery, at


For Ralph MacDonald

It was in the first hours of Sunday morning that I got the call from my brother Jim that Ralph MacDonald, our friend, song writer, fellow band member and music maker had passed away. Jim had gone to visit Ralph and had spent a day or two there. I had just returned from the Stars and Promises tour and had hoped to go up and pay a visit to Ralph. I will visit him often in the ways that I remember him. For the past months, through Ralph’s illness, all of us have missed him. He carried an unmistakeable weather with him wherever he went. It usually included a wild laugh, and scatchy voice that peeled your bull off a conversation and layered his right back on. It made you smile, it made you mad sometimes, it made you shake your head and laugh eventually. Like the time we talked about dogs. I expressed my affection for my beagle Corky. Ralph’s response, ” Well you know Pete, in Trinidad we never feed our dogs dog food…sheeeeiiiit, are you kiddin’ me, they get the scraps from the table!!” …then another “sheeeiiiit.” I always got the feeling that whether talking to Mother Theresa or St. Peter, Ralph would’ve punctuated his greeting, compliments or opinion with the very same sheeeiiit. I have not known any percussion player or rhythm maker that had the kind of care and respect that Ralph gave to his part in the song. The song always came first, in fact he’d call me out once in a while when he had a question about what I was playing, or not playing. “Hey Pete, what you think you’re doing there…sheeeiiiiit?” Once when a fellow band member had listened to his latest CD, and decided to give him some advice on what to do on a few songs Ralph responded with, “Well you know… when it’s time to make your album, why don’t you go ahead and do that.” Ralph had a strong opinion about most things, and was a kind man too, he loved his family dearly, everyone around him could tell that.I think back to situations like the time in St. Barts, during a rehearsal where, finding himself without percussion, he grabbed a piece of paper and made rhythm with it; the many years we did “Club Trini” together, when we’d roll out to the parking lot before a Jimmy Buffett show and play a set of songs that always included “Where Is The Love” or “Just The Two of Us,” and “Love Is Made Of This,” I count myself as mighty fortunate to have shared these wonderful songs and time with a wonderful man. Here’s to you Ralph!


Uncle Jim Remembers Ralph MacDonald; and then some…

I hope that you will take the time to visit brother Jim’s blog, remembering our dear friend, Ralph. Included in this blog is a previously unreleased version of the PM song, “Follow Me,” with Joan Bouise (of the “Joan and Oscar” story mentioned above)singing, Fingers Taylor on Harmonica, Tony Cedras of the Paul Simon Band on Accordion and Jim Mayer on upright bass. Jim played this song many times for Ralph during his weekend visit.


  1. Hey Peter, I was thinking about Joan Bouise who sang with my group Sound Unlimited back in the 70’s, tried to find her on Facebook, then googled her & found a link to your web site.
    So saddened to read that she passed away – what a voice & what a sweet soul. I’ll give a listen to the songs you mentioned & pass along to my band mates.

    Thanks for posting info on Joan B.


    John Pyatt on January 7th, 2016
  2. Hi, Peter,

    You don’t know me, but I think your brother, Jim does. I was Joan Bouise’s good friend from New York City. We worked together as well as sang together. What a lovely tribute to her in 2011. I’m sure she was looking down and great joy!

    After all these years, I still miss her dearly — her style, grace, professionalism and talent.

    My best wishes to Jim. Please let me know if your group will be coming to New York to perform. I’d love to attend.
    Take care, be well and have a Joyous Holiday Season.

    Nicole Green on December 8th, 2014

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