Rest in peace, Ginny. We can’t imagine a world without you.

It was with great sadness that Tracie and I learned last night of Ginny Kalmbach’s passing.

From the early 1980s through 2013, Ginny owned the legendary Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon in Austin, Texas.

It was Tracie’s favorite honky tonk when she was going to school at University of Texas in the late 1990s.

And when Tracie moved back from Italy in 2008, she rented an apartment not far from the club, in part so she wouldn’t have to travel far to get there (no joke, that’s how much she loved the place).

By the time Tracie and I met, Ginny was Tracie’s customer: Tracie was a rep for at the time and she asked for the club to be added to her “route,” as we say in the trade.

Ginny’s was one of the first places Tracie took me when I began visiting her in Austin. And it would become the backdrop for our courtship.

It’s hard to convey what a magical place Ginny’s was in those years. The club was a slice of a vanishing Americana where people of all stripes and from all walks of life gathered to hear genuine country music performed by devoted artists.

We saw SO many amazing shows there.

That’s Ginny, right, with her daughters in 2010 when we usually spent one or two evenings a week at the club.

“Ginny, we can’t imagine a world without you.”

I wrote those words back in 2010. Today, I can’t help but be reminded of the lines from Gram Parsons’ song “Brass Buttons”:

And the sun comes up without her
It just doesn’t know she’s gone

That’s Ginny, below, holding Georgia when she was about six months old.

Rest in peace, Ginny. The world won’t be the same without you.

Southeast Texans: please join us for the socially distanced MLK Day Parade in Orange, Texas on January 18, 2021.

The last MLK Day parade was held in Orange in January 2018. We will be reviving that beloved and long-standing tradition next month.

Please join my family on January 18, 2021 as we take part in the Martin Luther King Day Parade in Orange, Texas where Tracie grew up.

We’ll be meeting at Solomon Johnson Park at 10 a.m. and marching over to the Heritage House Museum.

My co-organizer MaQuettia Ledet (founder of Impact Orange) and I have been working closely with the City of Orange to ensure that we can march safely.

We’re going to be requiring marchers to wear masks and socially distance. We’ll be asking people to form groups of no more than 10 persons, ideally from the same household, and then we’ll coordinate the timing of each group’s start time so that they can socially distance from other groups. We will also have free masks to distribute.

There will be no speeches or gathering at the end of the march. We’ll simply disassemble at the end point.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to the City of Orange for their help in making this possible (they have been awesome to deal with).

Heartfelt thanks also to everyone who donated to our GoFundMe campaign to raise money for our special events insurance policy. We raised more than our $500 goal. The extra money will go to masks, bottled water, and hand sanitizer to distribute at the march. The campaign is still active if you’d like to contribute.

I can’t speak to the reason why the MLK march hasn’t been held for the last three years in Orange. It was once a beloved and long-standing tradition. Next month, it will be renewed.

That’s a photo of Solomon Johnson below (it comes from the Portal to Texas History via the Heritage House Museum in Orange). The park where the march will begin is named after him.

According to the Orange Leader, the city’s paper of record:

    Solomon Johnson was an Orange native who served as president of the Civic Betterment League for 22 years and was referred to as the “bronze mayor” for several years. As “bronze mayor” he attended city council meetings to represent his people in the community even though he was not allowed to vote. He also lead delegates to the Texas Negro Chamber of Commerce and the National Negro Business League. It was during his time as president, the first black police officer was hired. At that time, the officer was only allowed to arrest black offenders.

On January 18, 2021, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, we will also honor the many civil rights activists from Orange who have fought for justice and equity over the years. I hope you can join us. (See this Orange Leader article to learn more about some of those community leaders.)

Christmas Songs: “Why Can’t It Be Christmas Every Day Of The Year?” by Lila Jane and Georgia

“Christmas Songs” week continues today with the Parzen Family Singers holiday ditty from last year, “Why Can’t It Be Christmas Every Day Of The Year?” sung by Lila Jane and Georgia.

That’s a photo of the sisters, below, from earlier this year when the weather was still warm enough for them to perform their “pandemic flash mob” concerts on the street outside our house.

They go to a music magnet elementary school. Across our neighborhood, at the same time each week, kids from their music program would set up and play songs from their Suzuki Method books for neighbors. It was a program organized by Lila Jane’s awesome cello teacher, who’s also our good friend.

The health crisis has been so tough on kids, our own girls included. But music has been such a great balm for them: They both take piano lessons, Georgia plays violin and guitar, and Lila Jane plays cello. And on many weekends, we jam together, write songs, and I teach them about the recording arts (something I enjoy immensely).

All the photos in the video above are from last year. It was wonderful to revisit them and to remember what life was like at our house before the pandemic. It’s still going to take a while but it will be like that again…

I hope that their song and video can bring a little bit of sunshine into your lives today. Thanks for listening. And Merry Christmas from the Parzen Family!

Christmas Songs: “(General, Please) Keep My Baby Safe This Christmas Eve”

“Christmas Songs” week continues on the blog today with a Christmas song I wrote together with my Nous Non Plus bandmates in 2011. At the time, Tracie and I were still living in Austin where we wrote, performed, and produced our album “Freudian Slip” (a track from that record recently appeared in “Emily in Paris”).

Austin music legend David Garza helped us produce the album and played on nearly all of the tracks. Another Austin great, Kyle Thompson, played drums.

The song was inspired by a Southern Californian blogger who called herself “Marines Girl.” Tracie and I followed her as she wrote about what it was like to be married to someone who was stationed overseas.

My loyal and ever-ready bandmates, always ready to embrace my crazy ideas, lovingly helped me flesh out my original idea for the song. It’s one of the few English-language tracks we ever recorded and David plays an amazing guitar solo on it.

I’ll never forget the moment we played it for our record company: They were like, “you wrote a sad Christmas song?” Needless to say, they refused to release it.

But it’s one of my all-time favorites from our catalog and I loved writing, performing, and recording it.

Those are lead singers Céline and Jean-Luc with David in the photo below (at EAR studio where we did most of the live tracking).

Here’s a short clip of us rehearsing with David and Kyle in our living room in Austin. Most of the band was stayed with us while we were making the album and we did some of the tracking in my home studio. It was one of those really great times in our lives. Tracie and I were still newlyweds and we were just beginning to try to start a family…

And here are some random images from Nous Non Plus over the years.

I sure miss those times but it’s also wonderful to listen to these songs. It’s like each one captures a moment, a memory, and a feeling that could have only happened at that particular place and time.

Thanks for letting me share it with you here. And I hope you like the track. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Christmas Songs: “Nothing Good Rhymes with Santa Klaus”

From the department of “you can talk about your Donald Trumps and Rush Limbaughs”…

Like every songwriter who happens to be a nice Jewish boy from a nice Jewish family (read: my mother’s other sons are both lawyers), it’s always been a lifelong dream of mine to write a great Christmas song.

In keeping with the holiday spirit this year (and with the knowledge that so many of you are stuck at home chained to a computer screen and thus might be more open to some hokey Christmas jingle divertissement than in a normal year), today I’m sharing one of my favorite roasted chestnuts, “Nothing Good Rhymes with Santa Klaus,” a song I wrote, performed, and recorded with our friend and writer extraordinaire Gwendolyn Knapp in Houston in 2018.

December 2018, you ask? It feels like a lifetime since we wrote the lines:

I read the Sunday Papers about the world’s faux pas
You can talk about your Donald Trumps and your Rush Limbaughs
When you’re eating at your drunk in-laws
Talkin’ ’bout the war on Santa Klaus

Please note that the plural of faux pas is pronounced foe paws.

That’s me and Gwendolyn, below, playing a gig as The Go Aways (iTunes link for our one album released) in the time before the time of the pandemic and what a good time it was.

Thanks for being here, thanks for listening (and for helping to make my childhood dream come true), and most importantly, MERRY CHRISTMAS YA’LL!

More good Christmas music (well, I guess “good” is a relative term) is on its way!

Please help us raise just $150 for MLK parade 2021 in Orange, Texas.

Please donate to our GoFundMe here. Just $150 to go until we reach our goal! Thank you for your support!

Tracie and I have joined forces with our friend MaQuettia Ledet, founder of Impact Orange, to organize the 2021 Martin Luther King Day parade in Orange, Texas where Tracie grew up.

On MLK Day 2021 (January 18), at 10 a.m., marchers will walk from Solomon Johnson Park  to the steps of the Heritage House Museum in Orange.

All marchers will be asked to wear face masks and to social distance. At the end of the route, the marchers will be asked to disassemble. There will be no speeches or presentations at the end of the parade.

All necessary permissions have been obtained from the City of Orange and the Orange Mayor’s office. And the Orange Heritage House Museum has agreed to let marchers disassemble in front of the museum.

This fundraiser will pay for the special events insurance policy, which covers the marchers and the City of Orange. The insurance is the only element not yet in place.

The historic MLK Day Parade, a beloved Orange tradition, has not been held since 2018 (that’s a photo above from the 2018 parade).

Repurpose Memorial, our ongoing campaign to repurpose the neo-Confederate memorial in Orange, and Impact Orange are pleased to revive this cherished event and to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thank you for your support. We hope you will be able to join us as we celebrate the life and work of Dr. King.

Please donate to our GoFundMe here.

“The time is always right to do right.”

—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”
June, 1965

Read the speech in its entirety here.

NEW SONG: “I Can’t Wait For The Eight Nights Of Hanukkah.” Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

Please consider giving to our GoFundMe to raise funds for the MLK Day 2021 parade in Orange, Texas where Tracie grew up and where we’ve been protesting a newly constructed neo-Confederate monument since 2017. Thank you for your support.

In a normal year, the Parzen Family usually hosts 2-3 blow-out parties a year, each with a kids music recital and parents jam session (sometimes lasting late into the evening).

Everyone — and I mean, EVERYONE — is invited and welcome and there’s always plenty of great wine, food, and music to share.

But over the last few years, our Hanukkah parties have become the pièce de résistance. That’s because of Tracie’s (now) famous latkes and jelly-filled donuts which she makes on the spot, sometimes for 50+ people!

We’re really bummed that we can’t have our holiday party this year. So instead we made this video with images from years past. The superb photos from last year’s party come by way of the amazing Annie Mulligan, our friend and fellow Parker parent.

Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Raise a glass to freedom!

I Can’t Wait For The Eight Nights Of Hanukkah

From the album It’s So Easy In America Tonight (November 2020)
available on the Terrible Kids Music label
Written, performed, and produced by
Parzen Family Singers at
Baby P Studios
Houston, Texas
Engineered by daddy.

Something’s happening soon
And I’m over the moon
And it’s going down tonight

You know it’s gonna be fun
Cause it’s the number one
It’s the Festival of lights

I can’t wait
For the eight
Nights of Hanukkah

Dreidel I will play
As you light
The menorah

Way back in history
Judas Maccabbee
set his people free

And then miraculously
The oil burned more than a week
It was so beautiful to see

I can’t wait
For the eight
Nights of Hanukkah

Dreidel I will play
As you light
Your menorah

Light the candles
Sing the songs
Say the prayers
All night long

Watch the candles glow

Another great new wine bar in the midwest.

Please consider giving to our GoFundMe to raise funds for the MLK Day 2021 parade in Orange, Texas where Tracie grew up and where we’ve been protesting a newly constructed neo-Confederate monument since 2017. Thank you for your support.

Giving a heartfelt shout-out today to Sunday Vinyl, the new Denver wine bar by the Boulder-based Frasca restaurant group.

I had the opportunity to visit early this year before the pandemic lockdowns while on a business/fun road trip with Paolo Cantele, one of my best friends.

That’s the venue’s signature turntable, above. Pretty friggin’ cool, right?

The folks at the Frasca group just know how to do it right.

That’s the lobster pasta, above, at their (newish) Tavernetta restaurant, adjacent to the wine bar.
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