A RASTA FAIRY TALE
By Tina DeCava
Once upon a time there was a little girl with a big voice singing songs for her supper. She wrote uplifting, free spirited gypsy music that reached all the way to the stars. In another part of the country, a tall chef with a big heart was on journey cooking for customers. In the restaurant kitchens he listened to reggae tunes with messages of peace and unity. Way up in the sky, the Universe saw these two kindred spirits and decided to intervene. The chef, you see, grew up living nearby the little singer before he went on his big adventure. The Universe knew it was time to send the handsome prince back home to meet his beautiful princess …………. where they would sing, and cook, together forever.
HANNAH GROWS UP PLAYING IN THE FIELD
Hannah grew up on Fern Lane in the village of Middle Haddam, Connecticut. After school she and her brother would ride their bicycles with the neighborhood kids. Hannah was the youngest in the group and they called themselves the “Fern Lane Gang”. When it was time to go in for dinner, she would tell her mother that they had so much fun playing in Hannah’s Field. It was a large, untouched space filled with wildflowers right next to a graveyard from the 1700’s. It was named after Davie Hannah, the old man who lived in the farmhouse in front of the field. Apparently her mother never knew that and thought the gang had named the field after her daughter. When Hannah eventually began performing and calling on different musicians to be “the band” for her show’s, she needed a name for the clubs to advertise. Remembering her childhood playspot, her mother suggested she use “HannaH’s Field”.
THE LOVE VIBE: HANNAH’S HIPPIE PARENTS
In 1971, the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island broke into a riot. Fans fled in the middle of the concert including Hannah’s mother, Janet and her two long-haired male friends. Three hippies who were now trying to hitch a ride to Hartford, Connecticut while most roads shut down. Thankfully, a handsome bearded hippie named Ken saw the three hitchhikers and picked them up. Hannah’s parents were married three months later and after 45 years, still are. Hannah fondly remembers her parents jamming out to Bob Marley, Cat Stevens and Led Zeppelin records and from an early age she loved to perform. Growing up, her mother would have her stand on the dinner table when they had guests and sing songs from the musical, Annie. Always imaginative, the dining room candles would become Hannah’s microphone. Her house was a “Free to be You and Me” home where she could clearly feel the love and friendship in her parents relationship. Hannah didn’t know then, but the fairytale would repeat itself when she meets Andy…..
CHARITY AND COMPASSION: ANDY’S PARENTS
(in his own words)
“My mom was a nun and my dad was a priest…..not literally but yeah…...My mother went to a high school in Hartford, CT run by nuns and fell in love with the life. Some of her best friends were nuns and her favorite movie is The Sound of Music because she thinks that she is Maria. I sing everyday because of my mothers
love of musicals. My dad, on the other hand, was in the Hartford Seminary to become a priest. Before he started his last year, he was in a bad accident. The head priest suggested that he take time off and in that time he met my mom. Having these guys as parents has made me compassionate. My parents have always been big on charity, helping any way they can. We would volunteer at the soup kitchen when we were growing up to help people in need. Everyone was always welcome at our house. Our yard looked like a skateboard park all through my teens and twenties. When I started bringing my friends over with bright blue mohawks and piercings, my parents never shied away. They always took the time to get to know my friends. My dad, Ted, liked everyone, but make no mistake, we were all deathly afraid of Alice, my mother. She always found out what trouble we were causing and she ruled with a wooden spoon! But we made sure to have the amps cranked up at band practice for our heavy metal band!! They created tough, compassionate, loving thoughtful, people and I am lucky to be one of them. My mission to bring love and overstanding, to inspire, to play and laugh even in the sight of tough times, making funky feasts and delicious rhythms….is because of the foundation they gave me.”
HANNAH’S PROFESSOR: JOHN BOLDUC
HannaH had bought her first guitar at a tag sale when she was 18 and brought it with her to college. This is where she first started writing songs, turning her feelings into poetry then her poetry into music. She graduated with a BA in Communications and a minor in Performance. After a few years of performing in bands, she yearned for more musical knowledge and decided to study vocal performance at the Hartford Conservatory. During this time she met the head of the sound engineering department, Professor John Bolduc. They started writing songs together and recorded a full album, “Inside A Song”. It would be Hannah’s first full length album and professional music collaboration.
A CHANCE MEETING: THE BROTHERS JOHNSON
Now performing under the band name HannaH’s Field, Hannah was singing at a local bar with her band when her bassist told her there was a famous musician in the room. Louis Johnson from the band, Brothers Johnson had recorded bass with Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Quincy Jones, and his band had earlier hits with Strawberry Letter 23 and Stomp. Hannah had never heard of the band but invited Louis and some of his bandmates on stage to perform a Sly and the Family Stone song together. He loved her voice so much he invited her to L.A. where they wrote and recorded 7 songs together. It was another successful collaboration and she went on to sing backup on a Brothers Johnson tour at the House of Blues & First Avenue in Minneapolis, the club that Prince made famous in the movie Purple Rain. They became fast friends and he taught her so much about music and life.
MARLEY & RASTAFARI: ANDY BECOMES BLISS-FULL
“Chef Andy” graduated with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales and had been travelling the South learning to cook different cuisines while working in restaurants from the French Quarter of New Orleans to Amelia Island Plantation in the Florida Keys. He had first heard Bob Marley’s reggae vibes while cooking professionally. One of his fellow cooks played it daily in the hectic kitchen and he was struck at how the music put everyone in a cool, easy groove - “able to execute and not get vexed”. Through Marley’s musical teachings “Chef Bliss” discovered Rastafari. “Take your troubles to Selassie”. He wanted to understand what that meant and started getting books and doing serious studying and searching. Bliss realized that what he wasn’t getting from the Church of his upbringing came from within, and he started following Rasta Livity. He believes that performing the music of Bob Marley strengthens a connection to Jamaica, the land of Marley’s birth, and allows him to tap into the islands energy and the Unity (Rastas say Inity) of this musical prophet.
KISMET: BLISS MEETS HANNAH
Chef Bliss had worked his way back to Connecticut to be a baker in the pastry department at the Mohegan Sun Casino. One night, a friend of his attending the Hartford Conservatory invited him out to see a performance at his music school. Hannah was in the same production and it was the first time Bliss saw and heard her sing. His friend introduced them and told him that Hannah needed a drummer for her blues rock band. Chef Bliss was working nights and couldn’t commit to the band. He did, however, commit to Hannah who invited him over to jam on the hand drums and their romance began. She invited “Bongo Bliss” to join her on the drums when she released her second album “Psychedelic Woman” with long time friend and guitarist, Lynn Tracey.
THE FOOD: CHEF BLISS HAS AN IDEA
While Chef Bliss was cooking at a fine dining restaurant called the Pond House in Hartford and Hannah was out performing with her band, Bliss was presented with an intriguing opportunity. A local restaurant, only open for lunch, was willing to let him use it for dinner service. Chef Bliss’ dinner only restaurant Fabadesiac, in Avon, CT was born. Fabulous + Aphrodisiac = Fabadesiac! Good food that puts you in the mood. The creative menu was inspired by Chef Bliss’ travels and changed monthly. Each meal included a main course, a salad with polenta croutons and homemade sorbet to cleanse your palate. For 12 months a different artist would design the menu cover and there would be an art opening, a dessert tasting and live music. During that happy combination of their love for each other, food and music, Hannah and Bliss got engaged!
HANNAH VISITS PORTLAND: EVERYTHING CHANGES
In 2005 Hannah went to visit her musician friend Chuck in Portland, Oregon - the land of dreamers. She fell in love with the funky, original music scene, the double decker bicycles and the local coffee shops on every corner. She had always dreamed of living somewhere with a thriving music scene and while gigging with friends during her visit, she saw opportunities for her and Bliss all over the city. Back home, she shared her vision with Bliss. They decided to take a chance, close the successful restaurant, pack up their two cats and move cross country to Portland. Before leaving, Hannah and Andy also decided to get married! Marley’s “Mellow Mood” became their wedding song. Years later, they would see the movie “Marley” and feel a strong pull to Bob’s homeland of Jamaica. They travelled to the island for their honeymoon. In Jamaica, Hannah wrote many songs, saying “the music literally flowed through the air, ‘a Natural Mystic’. I would jump out of the ocean to write down lyrics that seemed to drop from the rainbows into my mind”. HannaH’s Field was now a committed duo; to each other, the music and their message.
SHAPING THE SOUND: REGGAE VIBES IN PORTLAND
The cultural vibe of Portland was open and organic. Chef Bliss expanded his cooking education as he learned about healing foods during his time as a personal chef and at the Hai Shan Healing Center. Musically, everything inspired them; the drum circles under the Hawthorne Bridge to the wise Rasta men at New Born Tribe, and the acoustic folk players at Artichoke Music. There were always many music celebrations to attend, connect and dance at. The natural surroundings were breathtaking. The massive waterfalls sang songs of peace and the mountains helped them stay grounded and be brave. They were evolving and the Portland culture connected them to reggae lovers where Bob Marley’s February 6th birthday(Rastas say: Earth Strong) is always celebrated with dancing to a live band. Their hearts and minds were expanding as they studied Reggae music. They recorded their first album heavily influenced by this new knowledge, “Warriors of Love”, at the Big Red Studio with producer Billy Oskay. The video of their breakout track “Puff Puff Give” directed by Tim Cash, was shot on location in Portland, won 3 American Marijuana Music Awards and was featured in the Adult Swim show, Hot Package on Cartoon Network.
HANNAH GOES TO NASHVILLE: RECORDS A SONG
A year after moving to Portland, HannaH was approached by an entertainment company connected to many record labels out of Nashville, Tennessee. Recognizing her talent, they wanted to produce and record some of her songs. She flew to Nashville and recorded a few of her songs including “Gypsy Girl” at Sound Emporium Studios. It was thrilling for Hannah to sing in the same studio where Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Taylor Swift and Willie Nelson had recorded as well as the movie soundtrack for O’ Brother Where Art Thou was made. The Nashville session players were some of the greatest skilled musicians she had ever worked with and they said she reminded them of Rickie Lee Jones.
MISSING HOME: BACK TO CONNECTICUT
A few years had passed since moving to Portland and Hannah and Bliss realized it was not easy to live far away from the family you love. While they were waiting in line at their local Stumptown roasters on a Sunday morning, they received a clear message to move back to their New England roots. The woman in front of them, out of the blue, turned around and said in a French accent, “This is the land of dreamers. You came to get inspired and now it is time to bring that inspiration and love back to the East Coast”. Believing in signs and being guided by the divine, Hannah and Bliss packed their things and headed back to Connecticut.
MASSI PHONIC STUDIOS: INTENTIONAL COLLABORATION
About a month after returning from Portland, Hannah received a phone call from her friend and early collaborator, John Bolduc. He was getting ready to build his dream recording studio and asked for their help in exchange for studio time once it was finished. They worked with John, putting time, sweat and energy into building what is now Massi Phonic Studios in Manchester, CT. (http://www.massiphonicstudio.com) HannaH’s Field was performing monthly to a growing fan base at a wonderful cafe in Middletown, CT. Their next album, “Live at Javapalooza” was recorded and mixed by John Bolduc. John has been a cherished friend and mentor since the days of being Hannah’s college professor. He has produced, engineered, mixed, performed and collaborated with HannaH’s Field on lyrics and vocals.
THE COOKBOOK & THE ALBUM: MUSIC, MAGIC, MEDICINE
Cooking professionally, Chef Bliss had discovered that a lot of great tasting food was not actually very good for you. He was on a personal mission to create delicious and healthy food. As Hannah and Bliss travelled in their V.W. Eurovan they cooked their our own meals. They knew the power of healing foods and know it is important as performers to stay healthy. Their fourth studio album “Music, Magic, Medicine”, combines 15 musical tracks with a vegetarian, wheat free cookbook written by Chef Bliss. The inside album jacket reads “The food we ingest is the medicine that heals our bodies. The music we listen to is the magic that heals our spirits. Everyone and everything carries a vibrational frequency so fuel your vessel with love, light and positivity! We hope you feel inspired, as we do, to share Jah Love around our community! Many blessings on your journey. Thank you for supporting good vibes.” It combined and included all the experiences and teachings they had learned since beginning their journey together. The music, the food and the love via original music and recipes. But something was missing …..
MISSING MARLEY: HIGH TIDE, THE TRIBUTE BAND
When Hannah and Bliss moved back to Connecticut, Bob Marley’s February 6th birthday just came and went. They missed the live celebrations in Portland, the connecting, the dancing and the positive shared vibrations. They decided for the next year they would gather some friends for their own Rasta Earth Strong, a Bob Marley birthday party where they would perform his songs for joy and upliftment. Their first celebration at Higher Grounds in East Hampton was sold out and everyone asked when they would perform his music again. The band, High Tide: A Tribute to Bob Marley was born and now includes Hannah, Bliss, Aidan Moore on guitar and John Pitblado on bass. High Tide jams and shares Bob Marley’s “One Love” songs of freedom message in a live setting where audiences can dance and let go of their worries. They have been featured at the Harvest Ball at Harry Brown’s, Collinsville Hot and frequently perform at Arch Street Tavern in Hartford, CT.
HANNAH’S FIELD GROWS: THE NEW ALBUM RELEASE
Hannah and Bliss were having so much fun performing with their cover band, High Tide: A Tribute to Bob Marley, that they asked their bandmates, Aidan Moore (Little Lion) and John Pitblado (Jah Pits), to record their next HannaH’s Field album with them. They already had great chemistry playing as a full band, the two players were passionate about the music and really understood the message they were going for on the new album. With the release of the “Revolutionary Soldiers” album, the core four perform original music together as Hannah’s Field. The songs again showcase the award winning voice of Hannah and the heartbeat of Bongo Bliss’ drum kit. Aidan’s melodic guitar and the funky rhythms of John Pitblados bass complete the duo’s sound with upbeat reggae, soul and rock jams. Brett Wilson of Roots of Creation guest vocals on the title track “Revolutionary Soldiers” and a variety of special guests, including various members of the Rhythmic Circus, add party vocals on the last song, "Consciousness and Love". One reviewer wrote “If you were old enough to be at Woodstock or young enough and wish you were, give this album a listen. Or join the band when they play at the original site of Woodstock in NY this summer, Yasgur’s Farm. Support the band and your own inner Revolutionary Soldier!” Another states, “HannaH’s Field brings love, spirit and organic fresh flavor to the people with their modern hippie Rasta folk. In a time where connections are made with clicks and tweets, their songs encourage people to lead with their hearts and love their brothers.”
FACEBOOK LIVE SHOWS
(In her own words)
Many of our fans would email us or ask us at live shows, “how do you stay so positive?”. Bliss and I get through the hard times in life with our spiritual practice, meditation and by helping each other stay in a positive mental state by always communicating with each other. Consciousness Conversations on FaceBook Live started organically as a way to connect with our their fans on a deeper level. We wanted to share our insights and hold space for friends and fans that inspire the community around us. We feel we are all here to lift each other up and together we can positively raise the vibrational frequency all around us.
As touring musicians, we know how important it is to consciously eat plant-based, energizing foods. It is the Rasta concept of Ital living. We shared some vegetarian recipes in the cookbook included with our fifth album, “Music Magic Medicine”. Chef Bliss has been on a food mission to make creative, delicious and healthy foods that don’t make our fans ask “where’s the beef”? He currently specializes in Macrobiotic and Ayurvedic cooking styles with a focus on the nutritional healing properties of alternative baking such as wheat, dairy and sugar free recipes. Recently we were home cooking and decided to post it on FaceBook Live. More than 300 people tuned in within a few minutes asking for more shows. It reminded us of the monthly events at Chef Bliss’ restaurant Fabadesiac. We are excited about the possibilities of a video show intertwining our cooking, music and spiritual practices. We would invite musicians, artists and healers to dinner for some upbeat healthy messages and to share their art. Contact us know if this is something you would like to support.