by Susan Varnes-Newland
(Guest blogger from Grieve The Astronaut) ~ ~

As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to the turntable….I drop the needle, hear the crackle and …aaaahhh. Peace and serenity. I have a bad habit of holding my breath when I am tired or stressed. Which causes me even more anxiety.



A Secret House Show With Grammy Award Winner Larry Mitchell


I find myself holding my breath, shoulders hunched up to my ears and muscles clenched. Fight or flight mode. I have a new Fitbit that has a breathing exercise on it, so I try to remember to use it. Oxygen is important. Especially after I have worked a long 10-hour international flight. I need to breathe in fresh clean air, and breathe out all those toxins. Just Breathe…

I have not mentioned Raymond Hayden lately, the creator of Grieve the Astronaut, so it’s time to bring his name up! Every so often, Ray and his fiancé Jessica Lynne, will host a Private House Show. They invite friends that they know will appreciate the musicians who will be performing. Everyone brings food and beverages to share, we sit back, relax and enjoy the music. Usually around 30 people or so.

This past weekend was a Private House Show with musician Larry Mitchell. Larry is a Grammy award-winning producer, engineer and performer who has toured the world playing guitar with well-knownartists including Tracy Chapman, Billy Squier, Ric Ocasek and Miguel Bose. He lives in Alabama, and was touring through our area for the Tacoma Guitar Festival, in Tacoma WA.  I was excited that I could attend!

I woke up the morning of the event, anxious. My night had been filled with stress dreams, my shoulders were tight and up to my ears, I was frustrated and not breathing. I kept reminding myself to breathe in…. breathe out. We were running late, and I was a bit cranky.  But that was about to change.

We finally arrived and Larry had already started performing. They had rearranged the performance room from the last time I was there for a House Show. It was Larry’s suggestion, and worked wonderfully!   A very intimate setting, for a very exceptional performance. The speakers were set up perfectly, too. Wherever you sat, you could hear him.


All too quickly, it was time for the show to end. I’m really looking forward to his next visit to the Seattle-Tacoma area this summer! I would like to see him perform at an actual large venue, in addition to another Private House Show.

Oh, and it’s not just musicians who attend shows, photographers do, too! Bill Bungard does beautiful work, and the Tacoma Weekly publishes his concert photos frequently. The 3rd photo on this blog was his. I’m looking forward to viewing his complete gallery of them.


Make sure and check Larry out at

Keep breathing by supporting local musicians and local venues.