Augusta Collins: Blending Life With Music

Augusta Lee Collins 


Augusta may be reached here:

He’s performing this Friday July 3rd and the 17th at It’s a Grind coffeehouse in Oakland near the City Center BART, 5 to 7 pm. The 3rd features more of his original compositions.

(corner of 11th & Clay Streets)
555 12th Street Suite 105, Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 268-9902

Augusta Lee Collins has been creating and performing his original music at Café Valparaiso (La Pena Cultural Center) in Berkeley, California as well as dozens of other venues, in the bay area for three years with his partner fellow musician, Toney Thibodeaux.

Augusta is forever pushing his ideas musically and visually and creating new music.  Augusta, hears, feels and visualizes his creative journey bringing a very unique blends of music all original music, written and performed by Augusta Lee Collins.  Augusta is an artist consistently widening and extending his horizons.

Augusta Lee Collins is best known as a very talented drummer that was most prolific throughout the late 1960’s and into the middle 1980’s.  Performing with legends like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Herbie Hancock, Abby Lincoln, Sun Ra, Bobby Hutcherson, Frankie Beverly and Maze,  and the Pointer Sisters to name a few, Augusta showed an interest in all forms of music very early.  Augusta has performed at the U.C. Berkeley Jazz Festival three times and the Monterey Jazz Festival as well as performing with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra – Harold Fiberman, conductor and musical director.

Augusta Lee Collins is currently producing and directing a DVD for his group, “Augusta Lee Collins & Toney Thibodeaux with M-PULSE”.  Here, Augusta returns to his blues, country and folk roots.

Augusta Lee Collins (A.L. Collins) on Film, Albums, Videos, and CD’s 

“A 1,000 Miles from Nowhere” (Albany, California: Agape Records 2004) Music/Producer A.L. Collins

“Life Force Jazz and Blues Compilation” (Oakland, California:  Life Force Jazz Records 2003) recorded at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California 1974 Woody Shaw on trumpet with Augusta Lee Collins on  drums.  Jimmy Witherspoon and various artists can also be heard on this CD.

“The Love Nest” (San Francisco Film Institute, Judy Van Plank 2001) Music & Acting by A.L. Collins  “Cold Ground” (Oakland, California:  Agape Videos 1995) Produced/Director by A.L. Collins

With his creative  approach and concept to documenting the plight of the homeless in his semi-documentary video, an original music view,  “Cold Ground”, Augusta Lee Collins takes us inside their surreal world with his original camera work and music. We see the further evolution of these new instruments to his orchestra. -William Garrett (published Poet, November 1995)

“Polarization”, (Stuttgart, Germany ECM/Polydor 1977) with Julian Priester, A.L. Collins on drums

“Pyramids”, (San Francisco, California: Pyramid Records 1975) w/“The Pyramids”A.L. Collins/drums

“Seeking Other Beauty”, (Berkeley, California:  Fantasy Records 1972) w/Todd Cochran, A.L.Collins/drums

“We put together songs and try out new songs and old songs (all originals) right there on stage just as we hear them (creating new music as we go). Many times creating sounds that are new to us.  Having a place to create these sounds and music and perform these works, works for us.  And, we enjoy it fully”, Augusta told a reporter for the Oakland Post News Group in a featured article about him and his music.: Augusta Lee Collins Local Recording Artist Blends Music with Life

© Augusta Lee Collins April 2006

Spotlight on the Future Leaders Institute – high school social entrepreneurship


Just in the past few years, teenagers at a variety of East Bay schools organized benefit concerts raising tens of thousands of dollars for charity. Others helped build playgrounds with recycled shoe leather, threw baby showers for struggling young mothers, wrote original novels for which they landed publishers and donated the proceeds, and organized successful bike-to-school campaigns.

The Future Leaders Institute (FLI), the Oakland-based nonprofit through which the students devise these projects, goes beyond encouraging teens to perform community service. The yearlong leadership class uniquely involves participants in launching and managing social entrepreneurship ventures.

High schoolers research and work with community organizations to identify local and international issues, brainstorm projects and rank them according to feasibility and social impact, and then carry them out. This involves marketing, recruiting, professional communication, and budgeting a $3,000 seed-capital grant from FLI. Students work in teams to share advice and ideas, but each creates and executes his or her own project.

Editor’s note here, click below for the rest of the article:

Eve Cowen and the rest of the FLI crew encourage people to consider signing up as professional or leadership mentors for teens here:

Also, people can register to host house parties to benefit the Future Leaders Institute:

Students in high schools without FLI programs can sign up for an after-school version of Future Leaders through Project ENGAGE, where they meet regularly and design projects with the help of community leader mentors:

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Friendship, astronomy, and linguistics: Kate Grenville’s The Lieutenant


Kate Grenville’s new novel reads like a visit to a cultural anthropology museum’s long-awaited exhibit. Through a suspenseful tale, we learn much about the Cadigal tribe of New South Wales, as well as early astronomical techniques. Yet, the calm, finely crafted prose creates a sense of distance and timelessness. After building his wooden observatory and hut, Lieutenant Rooke reflects that he has been ‘compressed, like a limb squeezed with a tourniquet…now, at last, he could expand to fill whatever space was proper to him.’ This style befits the work of astronomer concerned with matters on a grand scale and prevents The Lieutenant from sounding like an encyclopedia entry or an Indiana Jones movie.


Grenville intersperses subtle critiques of the British Empire’s methods from the book’s first few pages. Sailors are publicly hanged merely for verbalizing disagreement with official orders. Military leaders blast rifles to force the attention of New South Wales’ wary natives, botching their first impression. Even the main character’s name, Rooke, suggests a chessboard, as he is still a player in someone else’s game even when he believes he has earned some personal autonomy.


Socially awkward, possibly somewhere on the autistic spectrum, Lieutenant Rooke forges a connection to humanity through observing the island’s natives and gradually learning their language. His platonic friendship with a native girl, Tagaran, eventually brings him to question his role as a representative of the Empire and to make independent moral decisions. Grenville shows how Rooke’s scientifically minded character prepares him for this kind of independent thinking. He watches, learns, and takes notes on the people and places he sees, then acts based on his observations rather than on preconceived assumptions.


 Sixteenth century British astronomer and abolitionist William Dawes inspired much of this novel, with fictional narrative to fill gaps in the historical record. This book provides plenty of historical background, with information on construction techniques, military justice, meteorological forecasting methods, timekeeping, and navigation of the day. The language and appearance of the Aboriginal people also come directly from Dawes’ actual notebooks, as do the astronomical data and some of the interactions between the British officers. The Lieutenant requires some thought and attention, especially in the first third of the novel as Grenville sets the stage for her drama.


Yet the developing story pulls readers along, watching the gentle personal connection of Rooke and Tagaran as they learn each other’s languages. Set amidst the backdrop of empire building and violent cultural clashes, their friendship turns a corner when Tagaran teaches Rooke not just the Cadigal equivalent for another English word, but something signifying a unique concept. Putuwa, to warm one’s fingers by the fire and then take the hand of another person, comes to the elderly Rooke’s mind again during the final chapter, when he reviews his situation and the changed course of his life. The word comes to symbolize the mutuality of his connection with the indigenous people – they bring each other warmth and knowledge.


Scientific field observations as literary narrative hark back to centuries ago, to the days of the Origin of Species and to Captain Cook’s descriptive logs. An educated person could be a writer, scientist, sailor, and humanist with opinions on a variety of topics, and everything would come through in his or her diary. Grenville’s The Lieutenant draws upon and builds on that tradition, with historical and technical information enriching her distinctive, human characters’ journey towards intercultural understanding.

The Lieutenant is available through Canongate Books, Edinburgh – and also at Pleasanton’s Towne Centre Books. Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s leading and best-loved authors. Her website has a section where she discusses the making of The Lieutenant in detail:


Tara Lou Knutson: Friends of Imaginary Friends (wire sculptures and paintings)

Taralou Knutson loves dogs and other animals, and enjoys both painting and creating her unique wire sculptures. She may be reached through her website at

Dog Paintings:

My late-great dog Milo revealed he was my best subject. I had this great black and white photo of him and thought it would be a good exercise to paint him since I wasnt feeling like I knew what to paint, I was still in the mood to paint. That was my first dog painting in 1997 and then I continued to paint Milo and Annie (my parents’ yellow lab) when I was away in New York for Grad school. I was pretty homesick and definintely was jonesing for my furry companeros . So, painting them was paying tribute and also a way to ‘visit’ with them. Then my friend asked me to paint her dog, Vegas, in 1999 and it dawned on me that is what I enjoy.

I paint in acrylic. Using a photo of the dog in mind I make my sketch in chalk pastel and go from there. The photo is either provided by the owner , or I can take pictures of your dog. It’s always great to meet the dog, or find out about the personality of the dog so I can capture some part of that dog’s essence.But, I seem to do okay on just a photo too.

Most of the images you see on this site already have good homes. If you are interested in getting your dog painted, or a loved one’s dog, please contact me and we can discuss what you have in mind. I also enjoy helping out non-profits or fundraisers that help our animal friends by way of donating art to raise money at auctions , raffles, or what have you. My favorite animals to support are elephants, whales , dogs of course, and bears. But , they’re all important.

Wire Sculptures:

I create sculpture from Black Steel annealed (mostly) and copper wire. In 2005 I had the privelage to have a show, ‘Drawing on Wire’ also at the Bolinas Museum. The majority of the wires I make are small, but I do make large fish in copper wire as well when commissioned or just in the mood sto make something big. What I enjoy most about making these is how simple line creates form and expression, much like a pencil drawing, but three-dimensional.
Because the wires look different at every angle, you will see several photos of the same sculpture on this site.


  • BA in art from University of Oregon 1995
  • MPS in Creative Arts Therapy from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY 2000

Shadowscapes: Stephanie Pui-Mun Law


Descriptions, from the top left:

Like a strange blossom, or a butterfly emerging from its cocoon with crumpled and still-damp wings; she stretches out her tendrils. Uncoiling, unfolding, unfurling so slowly you might not notice it. She shakes her filaments, and reaches to the firmaments.

She tilts her head up. She closes her eyes. She feels the pulse within her: no ends, no beginnings.

The first spark of life:
a murmur
a thought
a wish
a hope
might bes
the swelling of dreams
the thrill of potential tucked in a seed

Sunworship and Moonbathing (companion pieces)

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law has been painting fantastic otherworlds from early childhood, though her art career did not begin until 1998 when she graduated from a program of Computer Science. After three years of programming for a software company by day and rushing home to paint into the midnight hours, she left the world of typed logic and numbers, for painted worlds of dreams and the fae.

Her illustrations have been for various game and publishing clients, including Wizards of the Coast, HarperCollins, LUNA Books, Tachyon Books, Alderac Entertainment, and Green Ronin. She has authored and illustrated Dreamscapes (2008, North Light Books), a book on watercolor technique for fantasy. Her work also regularly appears in Realms of Fantasy Magazine.

In addition to the commissioned projects, she has spent a great deal of time working up a personal body of work whose inspiration stems from mythology, legend, and folklore. She has also been greatly influenced by the art of the Impressionists, Pre-Raphaelites, Surrealists, and the master hand of Nature. Swirling echoes of sinuous oak branches, watermarked leaf stains, the endless palette of the skies are her signature. Her background of over a decade as a flamenco dancer is also evident in the movement and composition of her paintings. Every aspect of her paintings moves in a choreographed flow, and the dancers are not only those with human limbs. What Stephanie tries to convey with her art is not simply fantasy, but the fantastic, the sense of wonder, that which is sacred.

While most of Stephanie’s work is done with watercolors, she experiments with pen & ink, intaglio printing, acrylic, and digital painting as well.

::Contact the Artist::

 Artist Blog

Stories Growing Up Portuguese – Didacus Ramos

The Lesson


Didacus Ramos


(Best read with a Guatemala “Casi Cielo” (“Almost Heaven”) and a maple oat nut scone.)


Uncle Frank was pissed.


He slammed the gearbox of the ’41 Pontiac coup and it lunged forward across Winton Avenue.  Richard and Craig grabbed the back of the front seats and the hand loops next to the doors to hang on.  I fell back into the front seat, my feet flying off the floor boards.


Richard and Craig.  I always said the names together—Richard n’ Craig—like it was one word.  My cousins’ names were more an idea than just people’s names.  We all had been raised together more like brothers and sisters than cousins.  But, our homes were named after who we played with.  I called it Richard n’ Craig’s.  My sister called the same place Kristine’s.


Early that day I left home to walk around the block to their house.  My mother admonished, “Be home by dinner.”  Now I wondered if I’d be late.  Didn’t make much difference.  There’d be hell to pay today.


Craig saw them first.  His arm shot past my head like a spear, finger sharply pointing.  “There they are!”  The punks had upturned a wooden baseball backstop.  The one with the mouth was bouncing on it trying to break it.

You may read the rest of the story here:

Didacus Ramos’ writing is loosely based on stories from his family, friends, and childhood, dramatized for the full effect. He lives, and grew up, in Hayward, California (then a blue-collar, mostly Portuguese area of San Francisco’s East Bay Area.) Didacus may be reached at and is writing an entire book of these stories and would love to hear from interested agents and publishers!

Katie Quenneville – dream-inspired artwork

Katie Quenneville, on how she creates her distinctive images:
My creative process, hmmm, that depends on what I’m doing.
For my 3D work, I generally go off of something I’ve seen, either a picture or a dream. From there I do research and rough sketches. Once that’s done, I start the modeling. Everything is done in Maya, with the occasional exception of textures and bump maps, the aspects that make everything look pretty. Otherwise it’s a gray model.  I personally choose to model everything in a separate file, then combine it all into one once each piece is finished. The last stage is adding lights and cameras and rendering it out to composite. As easy and simple as it all sounds, the whole process from start to completion can take up to three months.
My photography is generally spur of the moment. I always keep a camera with me, so if I see something interesting or the sunset/sunrise is particularly beautiful, I take a photo. When it comes to pictures of people, I’ve tried the “create a backdrop, fix the lights just so and pose the person” route; but I find that the best photos of people come when the person is comfortable, in their element and not aware of the exact moment I take the picture. 
Katie Quenneville is on Deviant Art here: and also on Facebook under her name.