Images Of Thailand 2 – Songkran 2011

Here’s my short video of me riding a taxi through Bangkok during Songkran. I had walked down this same street before finding the taxi so I was sitting there soaked. All in all it’s great fun. Songkran is somewhat the equivalent of New Years – but you’ve probably never seen anything quite like this.

I’ve had stomach problems for about 5 days. Turned into a kind of cleansing – I’m sure I lost about 5 pounds.
I went to the pharmacist yesterday and gave me some antibiotics, electrolyte drink and charcoal pills. I already feel much better. I’ve been here in Udon Thani for a couple of days. It’s much more peaceful than Bangkok. I feel very comfortable here, in large part because of the help of my friend Chompu and her sister Nuey.

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Tomas and Family Christmas Video 2010

Starring Jung Doan, Angela Michaud, Melanie Michaud, Joseph Michaud and Tomas Michaud.

Tomas and Family Christmas Video from Tomas Michaud on Vimeo.

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We Three Strings

A few years ago a friend of mine called me and told me he’s putting together a CD for the holidays and he’d like me to participate. “It sounds like a great idea” he said. Then he told me that the other artist besides himself on the CD would be Johannes Linstead, one of my favorite guitarists.

It took a little while but we were able to put together a wonderful selection of traditional Christmas songs along with a few originals. Each of us contributed 4 songs and the blend of our styles makes of a nice variety while still sounding like a coherent project. On the song “Angels We Have Heard On High” Johannes adds a festive, tropical feel. It’s hard to keep your feet from moving. Bryan adds his own jazzy sound on “We Three Kings”. The tone is both soothing and uplifting at the same time.

My favorite contribution of my own is “Little Drummer Boy”. I used a Middle Eastern instrument called a Doumbek (also called Darbuka) to create a subtle, hypnotic groove. When I recorded the song I had neglected to do a search to see who owns the copyright. Many traditional  Christmas songs are  what is termed Public Domain. This means that they can be performed and recorded without paying royalties (legally). It turns out that “Little Drummer Boy” is under copyright. I’m still glad I recorded it since it is one of my favorite songs, even though I pay a small percentage of every CD to the copyright owner.

After finishing the CD our first customer was a chain of craft stores in the mid west that purchased 15,000 CD to distribute in their stores. Not a bad first sales! Johannes, Bryan and myself went on to do a series of concerts in the mid west to celebrate our collaboration. Johannes and I have kept in touch and share music, Yoga, healthy eating and life philosophy.

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The Empty Case

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I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the email on Monday from my friend and incredible guitarist Johannes Linstead. Johannes lives in Canada and though we keep in touch I hadn’t seen him in several years. Along with being a world class recording artist he teaches Kundalini Yoga. His message said that he’s here in the Bay Area for a few days. He invited me to a Yoga class the following evening and asked me to bring my guitar so we could play some music afterward. Sounded great to me.

Tuesday I was being really focused to get as much done before heading off to the city of Campbell where Johannes is staying. I got at least 5 of the 184 things on my to do list done (slight exaggeration) and headed off to vote before getting on the freeway. I realized as I was debating candidates for City Council that I forgot to put my guitar in the car. No major trama! I was still just 5 minutes from home, so I finish my civil duty and swung around my house again, ran up stairs, grabbed my guitar case and headed off to the South Bay.

Stopping by San Francisco on the way I picked up Jung my sweetheart, and when we arrived at the Yoga studio we were greeted by a smiling and welcoming Johannes. “The Yoga must be working for him” I thought. He looks even younger than years ago when we did some concerts together in the mid west. This is the first time I’ve seen him dressed in Yoga attire. He was wearing all white with a clothe wrapped around his head covering his long hair. After a little catching up Johannes asked to check out my “Blondie” – my blond handmade Flamenco guitar made by Jeff Sigurdson in Canada. Proudly I invited him to make himself at home with my guitar. After a few minutes as Johannes unzipped the case I heard “is there supposed to be a guitar in here?”

“Oh oh, I didn’t” I’m thinking as my thoughts race back to the day. But all to quickly I realized that I did. I remembered taking Blondie (a name dubbed by my sweetheart) out to practice earlier that day. I also remember that I neglected to put it back in the case. Oops! In a younger incarnation that would have ruined my evening, but we had a great time regardless. After a wonderful and invigorating Yoga class Johannes pulled out his guitar and entertained us. I was again reminded how much I enjoy his guitar playing. We left that evening in a peaceful state. Johannes and I vowed to get together again in the near future. Of course he suggested in good humor that I bring the guitar with the case next time.

The next morning I checked my email. Among my messages was an email from a guitarist and fan of both Johannes and myself in New York. He thought that it was funny that I brought my case without the guitar. Yes, I said New York! It turns out that Johannes was broadcasting the entire event live over streaming internet and he, and probably many more were watching :) Thank God it wasn’t a concert! I think I will put a sign on my door – “Tomas, check that the guitar is in the case before you leave”.

Write me a comment if you have a similar story of forgetting something. I’d love to hear it.

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Intention – Does This Stuff Really Work?

Stephen Duros reading music

Musician joke: How do you get a guitarist to stop noodling and be quiet at rehearsal? Put some sheet music in front of him. Stephen is posing in good humor for my blog.

I really enjoyed the last series of concerts that I performed with my friend John Gilliat from Canada. Aside from the fact that John is a talented guitarist and a good friend there’s something about playing with another guitarist I enjoy. I actually haven’t played with other guitarists besides John for many years and I began to feel a desire to do it more often. Because John and I live so far apart we are pretty much on the once a year program.

I’ve watched the movie “The Secret” and read the book “The Power Of Intention” by Wayne Dyer and am generally curious. I decided to lightly hold an intention that I would find another guitarist in the area that I enjoyed playing with, even to jam with or perform as a duo. I would visualize having fun trading licks back and forth and really enjoying playing together. I remember reading that’s it’s important to have high intention and low attachment to the outcome. Since I have very little idea where to find another guitarist that plays a similar style and has compatible goals that part wasn’t too hard. One thing that I realized is that it’s important to me that I enjoy the process. Playing with my friend John never feels like hard work to me, even when we practice for hours. I’ve had enough hard work in my life and I don’t want to volunteer for more. My motto became ease and flow. My affirmation became “I am enjoying creating music with a local guitarist that is perfect for me and my music with ease and flow.”*

About a month went by with no real breakthroughs.  Then an interesting email showed up in my in-box. In short it said: “My name is Stephen. I recently moved to Alameda. I stopped by your music school and saw your CDs. We play a similar style of music. We should get together.” I usually wouldn’t take an email like that too seriously, except in this case he mentioned one more thing – ” I just spent 4 years on tour as the 2nd guitarist for Ottmar Liebert”.

Hmmm… In case you don’t know Ottmar Liebert is one of the most famous guitarist in this style and also one of my biggest inspirations (along with Santana and Gipsy Kings). He is associated with coining the term “Nouveau Flamenco” and has sold more CDs than any other instrumental guitarist in the world. I did recognize the name Stephen Duros when I first saw the email, but didn’t think it could possibly be THAT Stephen Duros.

I’d seen Stephen play with Ottmar Liebert and I knew he was a competent guitarist. Since meeting him I discovered that he’s also a talented composer and recording artist in his own right, a dedicated father and husband, and a lot of fun to hang out with. We’ve been meeting once or twice a week for over a month now and have begun recording our sessions just for fun. I’ll keep you posted in upcoming newsletters with some recordings from our “jam sessions” and, hopefully soon, somewhere you can hear us play together live.

Listen in on our 1st jam session:  Stephen Tomas Jam #1

Check out Stephen’s blog: Stephen Duros Blog

*If you have no idea what an affirmation is and you are curious I recommend checking out the movie “The Secret”. Here’s a few of my favorite books on the subject:

Recordings By Stephen Duros

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Giving My Daughter Away

Angela gets her first married daughter kiss.

Seems like just the other day that Angela was running around the house in her diaper. Time flies! Now she’s a woman. I found myself grumbling about how much the wedding cost. I have to admit that when the time came it was a beautiful day and it really touched me to see how happy Zach and Angela.

Here’s a copy of the my wish list that I read to her and Zach on their wedding day.

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“Dear Zach and Angela,

I wish you many years of happiness and love together. When the times come that you are not particularly feeling loving, please be kind to each other. There is no higher calling then to practice kindness in the face of feeling unloving, or especially feeling unloved.

My wish list for Angela and Zach

As the years go by and you grow in wisdom and life experience I wish for you to open your hearts a little bit more and more day by day. Learn to let go of grievances quickly and put your attention on what really matters. As you get older may your eyes get a little bit weaker so that you have difficulty seeing the faults in each other.

I wish for you both an abundance of material wealth, and every happiness that money can buy. I especially wish for you both to wake up each day with gratitude for what you have. Know that to those that are grateful for what they have more will be given.

father-daughter dance

I wish you an ever expanding capacity for patience and compassion, not only for each other but for yourselves as well. Remember that you can only give to each other what you truly have to give. You can never really “make” the other person happy, but you can choose to appreciate them in even the smallest ways. By doing so you help your life companion to get in touch with their own source of happiness and joy.

Zach, may you always see in Angela the beautiful, loving young lady that you saw the moment you first fell in love with her. At times when she seems overly emotional or unreasonable, see this as an opportunity to practice patience. Don’t depend on her for all your approval and your feelings of self worth. From time to time she will test you, even push you away to see what your made of. This too will pass. It’s especially important at these times that you have a strong sense of your inner strength and who you are. It also helps to have conscious man friends that can validate you without bashing your spouse.

Beautiful Brides

Angela, may you always see in Zach the strong, brave and kind hearted man you fell in love with. Know that he really does want you to be happy and take responsibility for teaching him how to please you in a loving, gentle way. When the urge comes to criticize take a deep breath, then ask yourself the question “how can I really bring out the best in him?”

Finally, above all I wish for you each to know deep in the fabric of your being that you are loved and you truly deserve to be happy. Not only can you

Playing while my sweetheart Jung sang in French

be happy, but you deserve to be happy. Of course I’m not talking about happiness like eating an ice cream and then afterward feeling guilty that you went over your calorie allowance for the week. Those moments of pleasure come and go. I’m talking about a deep,

lingering joy in your heart that you can feel whenever you put your attention there. It’s this kind “happiness” that I sincerely wish for you, no, that I deeply long for you – as your father and someone who loves you both. You both deserve it.”

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“Moving Mountains: the Sierra Foothills Wine Experience” Comes to Blackhawk

I’ll be performing at this event.  Use discount code “morsefan” to get a $30 ticket price.

- Tomas

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September is California Wine Month, and what better way to experience the incredible diversity and richness of California winemaking during the heart of the grape harvest season than by joining us at Blackhawk on Sunday September 19th from 3 to 6 p.m. for a tasting of wines from throughout the legendary Sierra Foothills Gold Country.  The event will feature over 40 high-elevation wineries from Calaveras, Amador and El Dorado counties pouring a fascinating array of wines – from great-old vine zinfandels to delicious varietals and blends crafted from classic French, Italian and Spanish varieties – paired with scrumptious, Mediterranean-style finger foods and live flamenco guitar music by recording artist Tomas Michaud.

Sponsored by the newly formed Sierra Foothills Wine Alliance and the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano (which will receive 100% of the proceeds from a silent auction at the event), the “Moving Mountains” tasting provides a rare opportunity for wine lovers to explore and savor the Sierra Foothills American Viticultural Area, which encompasses 2,600,000 acres along the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and a magnificent diversity of elevations, microclimates and soil types ideal for winegrowing. The majority of its over 100 wineries are located along Highway 49 in Calaveras, Amador and El Dorado counties, where grapevines were introduced during the early days of the Gold Rush by European fortune-seekers.  Vines dating from the late-19th and early 20th centuries still yield grapes for the region’s intensely flavored red wines.

Tickets for the “Moving Mountains” tasting are $35 in advance (at or $50 at the door.  Come celebrate the harvest in style!

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