Musicians that Will Make the CD Magic – Brad Rehn and Len Crowley

Surround yourself with the right combination of people and magic happens…

Ali Gilmore Music - Brad Rehn and Len CrowleyBrad Rehn (confirmed)
Len Crowley (confirmed)

I met both Brad Rehn and Len Crowley about ten years ago, through Ned and Brenda, an Irish couple who owned and ran our local pub.  Brad and Len were members of Ned’s band “Brehon Law” that played in the pub a couple nights a week.   Ned is a master at working the crowd and can play mandolin in a way that makes you wait for the smoke to rise from it.  My friends and I couldn’t wait to get home from work on Friday nights, change and head down to the pub for what was sure to be a great night filled with great food, music and merriment.  This was before I returned to music myself. I was in awe of them and a quiet student for years.  Besides the fact that they were fun and played really well together, it was easy to see how much they loved their fearless leader, warts and all and I’ve always admired their particular brand of loyalty.

Both Brad and Len are deeply ingrained in my vision of this CD.  There is one song in particular that I hear them in. I always get verklempt when I think of it, because I know how much the story (behind the song) means to each of us.

All of my songs are stories.  Some of them are mine, some belong to others, but most often they’re a blend of moments and memories of mine as well as ones that my emotional antennae have picked up along the way.

Brehon Law

Paul, Brad, Johnny, Ned and Len at the going away party and the final performance of Brehon Law.

My song “See you around” is the latter. It was bubbling up inside me over the course of a couple weeks a­s I witnessed the progression of the impending move of our good friends from our world here in Oceanside to their home land of Ireland.  We knew they intended to return there to retire “one day”, but this decision of “when” came a few years earlier than we’d expected, which left many of us feeling torn between being happy they would be near their families again and sad to see such an integral part of our lives traverse from almost daily to “See you next spring”.

It was hard to keep cheerful under the weight of all that sadness. So, a few days before their going away party, I was home, opened a bottle of Pinot Griggio, poured a glass and started playing my guitar.  I started on A, did some Travis picking to lift the spirit of it and then the words came out…”Got half your stuff stowed in my basement…and your mailbox, well I’ve got a key…so when I see you packing things and tying ‘em all up with string, it don’t worry me…”

The rest flowed out of me as easily as the wine was going in.  I’d take a sip and start playing from the beginning again and then the next phrase would bubble up and out “but rumors are flying…while everyone is trying…to figure out why you’d want to leave…” Then I’d stop,  write down the lyrics, take another sip and sometimes wipe a tear as more and more of what I felt and sensed from the others around me sprang up, out and onto paper.

The night of their going away party was especially intense.  I had been taking my usual cheerful route and saying I wasn’t sad because I knew they were just a flight away, but inside I was struggling.  Especially as I looked through my camera’s lens and into the eyes of the others in our crew like Len who’s eyes looked like they were a damn about to burst.  Such profound sadness.  I imagine like a kid who wakes to find Santa was a no show.

This video is from that night.  We were all about two sheets to the wind by the time I braved the stage, my voice was week from chemo and the recording is from another 2 sheeter in the crowd, so don’t focus on quality of the production so much as the captured moment.  You can’t see Brad or Len, but if you listen really closely you will hear them come in when the story starts to build to…”It takes something so much wider than the ocean…to break the ties of our devotion…”

I listen to it and I know exactly where the song is supposed to go and that these two guys are meant to be part of it.  It is our way of bridging the distance between those days and the next time we are with “the Gibs”.

I am so looking forward to running this song with them and through Alan’s brilliant filter.  I believe the result will be extraordinary.  Mark my words…


PS – Just two days left in the campaign and 2 days left to order your copy of the limited edition CD:

Musicians that Will Make the CD Magic – Justin Helland

Surround yourself with the right combination of people and magic happens…

That’s advice I lived by in my IT management career and have smartly carried over into my musical endeavors. Some of the musicians I’ve hoped to surround myself with are “confirmed” for the recordings by means of “contributing” their time and talent while others are still on the “wish list”, because either:

  • they live live far off and we can’t afford the travel costs
  • this is their livelihood and they literally can’t afford not to get paid
  • they don’t know me from Adam, so once I find a way to contact them, I need to convince them this project is worth their time.

For those who have already invested or are considering investing in the CD, here’s an inside look into what your money will be going towards:

Ali Gilmore Music and Justin HellandJustin Helland (confirmed)

Justin is new and still a bit of a mystery to me, but here’s what we know so far and how he became part of the magic that is this upcoming CD…

I met Justin a few weeks back at my friends’ old pub in Escondido (O’Sullivans Irish).  Paul Castellanos (wish list) had invited me to join in an Irish session several times, but I didn’t think I was quite ready to try and keep up with all those fast chord changes, however, as part of this campaign was to “get myself out there”, I packed up my guitar and ukelele and off to the session I went.

There were about 6 of us in the session that night, including my drummer friend Brad Rehn (confirmed).  At one point I thought I heard a mandolin playing, but when I looked over it was Justin playing my Ukelele.  Astounding is the best word for it.  After the session I gave him my card and asked if he’d be interested in playing together.  He came over the following week for a session.  Jim, my upright bass player (confirmed) joined us and well, he said it best last night that when I put down the guitar and Justin picks it up, my songs “Ricochet”, to which I say “Exactly~”  This brings a smile to both our faces, knowing just how good this is all turning out to be…

Justin is young, but he’s an old soul.  He’s been playing music since he was a kid and studied at Berkley School of Music in Boston.  Music is his livelihood.  He has a studio in Escondido, California where he patiently and enthusiastically teaches guitar to students of all ages and when he’s not teaching, he’s performing at local venues.  Oh, and he recently met his musical hero Guinga, the world famous Brazilian guitarist.  Ask him about it and watch his face light up like a little kid at Christmas.

Justin is soft spoken, warm-hearted and the perfect “third man” for our trio.  There are plans for Jim, Justin and I to perform together ahead, but for right now we are focusing on getting the three of us and rest of the magic music ensemble into the studio all at once, which as Alan Sanderson, our engineer says is “like herding cats.”

Musicians that Will Make the CD Magic – Paul Castellanos

I may be humble, but I can honestly say that I do like my songs and I believe they’re good enough to record, but I also know and believe fully that when combined with certain talents, these songs will rise from likability to something far more meaningful, memorable and ready to promote to music supervisors (who will hopefully place them in TV and Film).

Some of the musicians I’ve envisioned are confirmed for the recordings by means of “contributing” their time and talent while others are still on the wish list, because either:

  • they live live far off and can’t afford the travel costs
  • this is their livelihood and they literally can’t afford not to get paid
  • they don’t know me from Adam, so once I find a way to contact them, I need to convince them this project is worth their time.

For those who have already invested or are considering investing in the CD, here’s an inside look into what your money would be going towards:

Paul CastellanosPaul Castellanos (wish list)

Paul is one in the middle. Being a musician is his livelihood.  I met Paul years back when he was playing fiddle for the San Diego based Irish band “Behon Law”, headed by local pub owner and lifelong musician Ned Giblin of Galway.  In his 30 year career Paul has played for more bands than we can count, including; The Chieftains, The Young Dubliners, Highland Way, The Clay Colton Band and one that recently changed their name to “The Mean Fiddler” after Paul’s truest talent.  This guy is a savant, no doubt.  Put any instrument in front of him and he can play it like he was born for it.  It’s uncanny to witness.  With all his talent, you’d expect him to be unapproachable, yet Paul is probably one of the friendliest, most endearing people I’ve ever met.

In a given night, Paul will play fiddle / mandolin / banjo/ bass and most anything with strings, but it was the night at one of our gatherings this summer, when he sat and played my great uncle’s fiddle that got to me the most.  To hear that thing that had been sitting dormant under my father’s bed for over 20 years, come back to life…  Even Paul surprisingly said that it seemed to “warm up” and sound better the more he played it.

With all that and over 30 years of experience, it’s easy to see how hiring Paul to play on the CD would be a brilliant investment.  For me personally, to have him play my great uncle’s fiddle on the CD would be the greatest homage I could pay to my Pop for entrusting me with this piece of family history and to my great uncles who were all musicians in their own right.  I am the apple and they are my tree.

If you’d like to see Paul make it into the studio with us, please show your support by going  to: now and placing your order for CD II, then pass this story on to your friends and encourage them to become part of this very cool experience.

For all you do, thank you~


PS – Little known and recently discovered factoid for you soap opera fans…Paul isn’t the only talent in his family.  His brother John played Attorney John Silva on The Young & The Restless 😉

PSS – Here’s an old clip from June, 2012, of the first time I played the song “See You Around.”  Written just 3 days before our friends Ned and Brenda’s going away event, my voice still a bit weak from chemo, knees shaking from stage fright and holding back the tears/emotion at saying goodbye to dear friends.  Ned Giblin (wish list), Len Crowley (confirmed), Brad Rehn (confirmed) and Paul all joined in, so naturally following me on every disjointed twist and turn, even though this was the first they were hearing it.  John Dawson’s (wish list) son Justin even joined us on stage with his air guitar 🙂


Step 29: The Currency of Kindness…

Do you remember my photo session with Brazilian photographer Osni Omena? It was a good three years ago now and I don’t think I’ve willingly posed for a camera since, but if you want a refresher, you can find most of the shots in an album on the aligilmoremusic facebook page.

From that session came the infamous “peek” image you see on my website, facebook page, etc., and the one on the campaign’s front page, among many others.  I was scruffy that day and sicker than I knew, but somehow, even I’ll admit that he got some pretty great shots of my not so photogenic self.

Osni Omena photographerI met Osni through his wife Jan, who is one of the good friends I’ve met and made during my IT career. She was living in NY and traveling back and forth to our Seattle office, where I was head of IT.  Since then we’ve both moved around a bit, but for the past few years we’ve been in the closest proximity ever.  They in LA and me just a couple hours south, in Oceanside.

Jan has a keen interest in visiting missions while Osni and I have a keen interest in photography, so we meet up on occasion and combine the two which of course ends with a meal and invariably a great series of conversations and much laughter. Yesterday was no exception.

san  luis ray mission

This time we met up at the Mission San Luis Ray just east of Oceanside.  We had a late start and didn’t get there until after 4, so I skipped lugging along my Nikon.  I regretted that decision within moments of arriving.  The place is a hauntingly beautiful kind of eye candy for the soul.  So much work and love has gone into every detail of designing and preserving this historical place and how somber slipped into whimsy when I noticed the overly tinseled Christmas tree shining proudly in the midst of the graveyard left me wide eyed and euphemistic.

But I digress.  Then again, what story is singular in itself?  I think the best ones are usually intertwined with others…  The reason I mention the mission isn’t just that it’s worth a visit, but because it also became the location of another pivotal moment in the making of my music CD.

While Osni wandered off to get in some last minute pictures of the grounds,  Jan and I got to talking…I had mentioned the music CD campaign/project and how I’d hoped to hire Osni for it, but with only 10 days to go and only 13% of the goal raised I would have to re-think how I was going to make it all happen.

I half-assed and rather sheepishly said “I would offer you guyz 2 VIP passes to the event in exchange, but…” and before I could finish that thought she cheerfully accepted on his behalf, which was great, but I was doubtful he’d be pleased when he found out his talents had been traded in for peanuts and a party.  This is a man that can command copious amounts in just a day’s work.


Moments later we hopped in our cars and headed out to the Flying Pig for our after-excursion meal.  Once we were settled in, the subject was broached and I said “Oh, yes…did your wife mention…?” to which he equally, cheerfully responded that he knew and he was delighted.

Before I knew it, I was introducing him to Roddy (the owner of the place) as “the photographer that will be covering the event” and those two went on to chat about lighting and such while I looked on, savoring the words and feeling pretty pleased with myself I will admit.  Jan even made a tongue in cheek comment at one point of feeling like she was dining with celebrity.  Ah, go on.  Let the girl have her moment.

So, the point of today’s story is for those who are running a campaign to fund their dream or are just thinking about it; don’t measure your success by whether or not you make 100% of your financial goal, but by how much actual support you receive and never assume that the mighty dollar is the only form of currency accepted or even wanted by the talent needed to make it happen.  When you create a campaign, you are asking for votes of confidence, not permission.  The response is not and answer to IF you will do it, merely HOW.

So, to recap, I’ve got the design of the cover, covered, a photographer for the studio and CD screening event, the following musicians secured: Brad Rehn on drums, Len Crowley on Bodhran, Jim Steiner on upright bass, Justin Helland on guitar, ukelele, vocals and possibly accordion and David Sias on guitar, vocals, drums and something else quite spectacular…

On our wish list to add is: Russell Ramo on strings, Paul Castellanos on banjo, mandolin and my great uncle’s fiddle and Dermot Mulroney on cello (and those are just the local ones).

What else do we need?  Oh right, a studio to put all the talent in and an engineer to record them.  That would be rather crucial to the success now wouldn’t it?  Good thing I’ve got a meeting setup for this Wednesday then eh?

Stay tuned, more on that to come…


Our goal is to get 720 pre-orders of the CD to pay for the talents to produce a professionally recorded, full length music CD.  To order yours, go to:

Campaign ends December 24, 2013~




Step 25 – Pay attention.

Pay attention, because the answer could be standing right in front of you.

Case in point, I was at a friends’ holiday party the other night soaking in all the crew goodness, snuggling with the new baby (who was dressed in a Santa suit, how cute is that~) and catching up with friends.

My mind was running in a thousand directions as usual…Is this dress too short? How long can I stand in these little flats before my feet say “For the love of Pete, no more”?  What if i don’t make my goal on the CD campaign? and at least a dozen more.  When this is going on I tend to fade in and out of the conversations going on in front of me.  This night was no exception.

It was only as I woke the next morning that the image of the moment came to me like a lucid dream.  There was Ana, holding her little Santa in one arm and gesturing with another at Nat.  The exact words I probably don’t recall, but the message I did.  “You need to get back into art.  You’re really good at it and you really enjoy it.”

Nat is a great artist.  Some would say a “closet artist” because she rarely talks about it, but on select walls in certain people’s homes hangs proof positive that she is indeed a talented artist.  My home is no exception.  Only, instead of her work sitting in a frame, it is cleverly displayed across the front and back of  Kala, my ukelele.

People often comment on it and I often tell the story of how it came to be.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, there was an out pouring of offers to help from friends and family.  When Nat asked “Is there anything I can do?”  I blurted it out without thinking “Paint my ukelele.”  The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea.  I handed Kala over without ali gilmore musichesitation, then she asked a series of questions to determine what I’d like the end result to be which shaped the vision of “Imperfection at it’s best” in the form of  a naturally imperfect daisy missing a petal that the wind had blown out of place and across to the other side…

I loved it and since then the daisy has been my signature image of imperfection at its best, a term that’s been used to describe me on more than one occasion…

That also explains why “Imperfection at its Best” is one of the choices for the CD title, but for some reason “Piece of Cake” is the title that leads the way by a pretty comfortable margin.  Unless we have a massive influx of voters over the next 14 days who say otherwise, I’d say it’s going to be the title of my first full length CD, but I digress.

Back to the morning’s wake up call.  I poured myself some coffee and mulled over the conversation a few more times in my head to decipher how much of it was wishful thinking that my project will inspire others to dust off their dreams and set them back in motion and how much should be taken as “a sign” of how things are meant to be.

harborview park, port gardner bay

Harborview Park, by Port Gardner Bay, Wa.

I decided to take it all as a sign and asked her if she would design the cover of the CD.  I am extremely pleased to say that she agreed to and said “I think that would be great!”  This time I just sent her a photo of a park by Port Gardner Bay and the lyrics and am leaving the rest up to her creative mind.  Of course if another title wins over then we’ll start from scratch, but either way, this time I am leaving the design to her creative mind and resting easy knowing that it is in capable hands.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be receiving sketches from her and as they come in I will share them with you all on the facebook music page or should we keep it a surprise till the end…?

Oh, and one more thing.  A good friend made a notable point this morning when she said “It’s not how much you have that matters as how much you give.”  When good fortune such as this smiles down on you it’s important to recognize that someone very real probably had a hand in it. In this case it’s dear Miss Ana who was the facilitator of a very positive shift in this campaign, so Ana, check your fb inbox.  There is a VIP pass to the CD screening event there, with your name on it 🙂

Thank you both for your support, inspiration and friendship~


Please join us.

To order your copy of the limited edition CD or get your VIP pass to the CD screening event, go to:

Every contribution counts~

Piece of Cake lryics

By Ali Gilmore – © 2009

Sitting on the bench the other day

Over there by Port Gardner Bay

She looked up and she asked us what love is

We looked at her and then we turned away

We both had very different things to say…


It’s a walk in the park

It’s a stab in the dark

It’s a piece of cake

One you shouldn’t have ate

But it’s just too late


It’s a willingness to walk 500 miles

It’s a failure to see past someone’s guiles

It’s like waking up and glad to greet the day

It’s like a blinding light that just won’t go away


It’s a walk in the park

It’s a stab in the dark

It’s a piece of cake

One you shouldn’t have ate

But it’s just too late

It’s too late


Now anyone can tell you what love is

But, it’s something you must experience yourself

Now there’s one thing we agree on and it’s this

Never leave your heart long on the shelf


Cuz It’s a walk in the park

It’s a stab in the dark

It’s a piece of cake

One you shouldn’t have ate

But it’s just too late

It’s too late

It’s too late

It’s too late…