Just needing me some Ry Cooder – peace entwined within rhythm, amid the blues.
The father asked the prodigal…did you hear the angel band?The Prodigal Son
Just needing me some Ry Cooder – peace entwined within rhythm, amid the blues.
The father asked the prodigal…did you hear the angel band?The Prodigal Son
It’s been a hard year.
To borrow the March proverb and apply it to our domestic and worldwide on-going state of affairs, I like to think that as 2021 ‘comes in like a lion’ it will ‘go out like a lamb.’
In the meantime –
I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.Mary Oliver
This 2020 virtual choir video edition of How Can I Keep from Singing makes me feel less alone – its message, its virtual human presence. It seems just what the doctor ordered to usher in a dose of courage, strength and continued commitment to stay the course during these unrelenting times.
Being raised Catholic, and then doing the Jesus People street theatre scene in the 70s, my knowledge of purely Protestant Hymns is limited. Yet, here in the midst of a 21st century Pandemic, it took a Unitarian quilter blogger buddy to introduce me to this encouraging and joyful Hymn (thank-you, Zippy).
My life flows on in endless song above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock, I’m clinging. Since love prevails in heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
– Keep singing –
Can a 66 year-old woman begin her own designated Hero’s Journey? Again? Is it too late? Rather, is there time left in her life to dive into yet another Path that would surely reveal itself during that Journey?
In many ways, 2020 has been the dead-end to end the multiple dead-ends I’ve hit over the past few years in my creative life. One could say it has been the ending of an unconscious Hero’s Journey.
My generation has always championed the idea of jumping over one’s shadow. Elements of a traditional “Hero’s Journey” are hardwired into my everyday life. In fact, they were supported and modeled by my folks even as my life took shape. So, facing more adventures, twisty, turny changes, and making do are all just part of the mix. Mostly, knowing that in the midst of it all, surviving & thriving are not mutually exclusive and is a precious insight.
Somewhere along my (he)artist’s way, product and validation overtook process and creation. As such, the muse all but disappeared, the gift all but withered.
The focus to finish and get my project(s) ‘out there’ became so strong it obscured seedlings of exploration, experimentation and self-expression. And in the end, with little to show for that absorbing focus.
The good part to all of this is that the stubborn ruts I’d traveled were more easily seen for what they were – not an obstacle to the Path, but proof that I’d wandered from the Path.
So I have corrected my focus. I am firmly ensconced in choosing repertoire based upon pure desire to play/perfect what I want to play – not based upon some audience type or proficiency parameter. And the composing! Instead of keeping it in check so as not to overshadow my practice time and/or exploration of tangential instruments, I am fully leaning into those juicy sessions.
Yes, I have project(s) that are screaming to be ‘out there’. Many are in fact 99.9% ready to go…but I gave myself permission to just not angst over all the odds and ends I’m clearly not knowledgeable enough to do right now to finish them*.
In other words, I gave myself permission to do what I was meant to do: create music – play around with sound – and commune with the Giver of the Gift in doing so.
Meanwhile, this year marked the entry into one of my favorite type of birthdays – one of duplicate double digits. It’s just one of my things.
The last such marker was 5-5 Revive.
Surprisingly, this year’s spontaneously spoke forth as Route 6-6.
What? Taking to the road again, in this time of lock downs, life threatening environmental obstacles and lack of connection?
Yep. Maybe not literally, but certainly in allowing the muse, my music, to lead the way…instead of my dragging it along with me. Be the conduit, serve the Gift and enjoy the process.
If I am the only one to hear or see or understand what comes forth, then so be it.
But I’m willing to bet this ‘Hero’s Journey’ change in attitude might alter that solo scenario come 2021.
*That’s the extreme down side of all this DIY stuff that goes along with being an Indie (he)artist – having to do all the business stuff, packaging, marketing, registering, licensing, publishing, etc; and finding/hiring qualified people to do the production side of things. It simply is not as easily available as one would think. Not whining, just sayin’…
As mentioned before: herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality. In other words, this space is reserved for escaping/managing Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!
First and foremost, I just had to show off this piece by my friend, Mariss. I’ve long admired her fiber art – and her curiosity about trying new techniques. After attending a course given at the South African National Quilt Festival in 2019 on Kantha stitching (pre-COVID – remember when?), she decided to experiment with the stitch form by making monthly samplers. As she says, “What has caught my imagination is how the simple running stitch can be used to produce such varied patterns and effects.”
Coincidentally, she began her samplers in January 2020 and they have since become a form of meditative creation for her as this year of the Pandemic has persisted & progressed. (click here and here for photos of each month’s sampler thus far)
Changing gears: How about a little help with my poem WIP? Below are two versions of Making Bread. If you feel so inclined, please read through both and then in the comments below let me know which word you prefer. I waffle between the two of them. Oh and, anybody notice the relationship between the Kantha piece above and something else on this blog post? If so, let me know about your discoveries in the comments.
Making Bread – poem WIP version #1:
Making Bread - poem WIP (LBL - MMXX) Making bread I become a Builder. Hands kneading. Yeasty gases expanding. Making bread. I watch as it shapes a story.
Making Bread – poem WIP version #2:
Making Bread - poem WIP (LBL - MMXX) Making bread I become a Builder. Hands kneading. Yeasty gases ballooning. Making bread. I watch as it shapes a story.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:5
This link goes to a short excerpt of an NBC interview (it’s only 2 minutes, please click and ponder) with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1967…still strikingly relevant to these times…(full interview here).
“White America must see that no other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil. That is one thing that other immigrant groups haven’t had to face…America freed the slaves in 1883 through the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, but gave the slaves no land or nothing in reality…to get started on. At the same time, America was giving away millions of acres of free land in the West and Midwest. Which meant there was a willingness to give the white peasants from Europe an economic base. And yet it refused to give its black peasants from Africa – who came here involuntarily and in chains, and had worked for free here in chains for 244 years – any kind of economic base…”
Dr. Martin Luther King
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
John 8: 32
I’m finding it very hard to focus on much of anything these days. How about you guys? I really think it’s a COVID-19 shelter-in-place/isolation induced thing – but that irritation is much better than the actual COVID-19 infection itself, so I’m not complaining really. Just noting it.
I’m not a fast food type of gal, but the other day I craved, just craved, a Burger King Whopper and McDonald’s French fries. Hubby obliged by sitting in each of the two respective drive-throughs to indulge my primal need.
Yeah, he’s a keeper.
In keeping with the French Fry Theme, here is a snappy, happy Celtic inspired piece, Danse des Duex Pommes Frites (aka The French Fry Song) by Steve Baughman and performed in duo with Robin Bullock*.
Musical French fries have zero calories, guys, so enjoy!
Speaking of calories.
About 8 weeks into sheltering-in-place, I glimpsed my reflection in the sliding doors entering the grocery store and my Lord! Forget about that masked (wo)man staring back – is that huge-hipped, thunder-thighed lady, me?
*Hubby and I had a date planned to take in Robin’s show at The Isis Music Hall & Kitchen in Asheville, NC on March 29th, 2020 at 6pm. Guess what happened instead? As I re-looked up the concert venue today, lo & behold to my delight and surprise there is a re-scheduled concert set for September 17, 2020 – we’ll see if we can keep that date!
– continuing with the musical pokes and prods – re: “…David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov who lead to Gavin Luke” –
After a trip down snowy Raton Pass memories, my musical (re)search landed me at the merging of a folk/classical piece performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in conjunction with contemporary folk-pop artist, Gregory Alan Isakov. Thus introducing me to a new-to-me younger generation of folkies.
Note: the YouTube featured here is the only media readily available on-line with the CSO/GAI arrangement-performance of this piece. That said, watching it isn’t as important as just listening to this IMHO.
Isakov’s The Stable Song, as performed with the CSO is the type of musical collaboration that excites me as a musician.
Performing in and composing for mixed ensembles has been and continues to be one of my deepest passions as a working musician. Back in the day, it was more unusual for instrumentalists of differing genres to play together in performance or to hear ensembles of unlikely instrumentation in concert outside the University music department recital setting.
It appears these types of cross-over collaborations are becoming more mainstream* – to the delight of musicians and audiences alike.
But that has always been my bent. And upon my life’s reflection, I’m thinking I was perhaps even born into it.
My Dad as a professional jazzman on sax and clarinet was always up for a jam session with me, his daughter, on 12-string acoustic and/or classical guitar. For awhile there we even made the rounds in small performance circles as 3D: Dad Daughter Duo. Our set list comprised of standards, show tunes, contemporary pop, Latin, country, classical repertoire – you name it – with my classical guitar solos and/or 12-string acoustic folkie riffs alternating with his show stopping improvised tenor sax and/or clarinet solos dancing rings around my chordal vamps…Yeah I was born into this.
Finding that sweet-spot key where the natural intonation of disparate instruments sound good while playing together is a greatly rewarding endeavor.
I find it deeply satisfying, stretching the sonic boundaries via unconventional instrumentation and encountering others who explore that same territory in myriad ways.
Included with that exploration is my fascination with anything related to ‘prepared’ instruments. A technique I first encountered during my music school days, John Cage‘s forays into this altered soundscape has since given birth to a wide range of instrument manipulation in the name of New Music. Again, there is cutting edge and then there is what is palatable for mainstream.
Enter Gavin Luke, composer. More of a New Age pianist/composer, I stumbled onto his piece, In Search of Home, while perusing a composer website. The main theme of his piece is compelling, but what I found most interesting was the simple use of felt sheets in his ‘prepared’ piano as central to his composition.
Note: the YouTube featured here is a short 2.5 minutes long in which Gavin demonstrates his process in the creation of this piece.
While I appreciate the creative process as shared by compadre (he)artists regardless of genres, the take-away for me in this case was a surprising appearance of my poetic muse…
*In order to keep this post shorter and to my intended points, I did not go into depth on the well-known, well-received and highly successful collaborations between unlikely genres & musicians over the years such as The Beatles & orchestral musicians/eastern instruments just to name one example.
One of the things I do on a regular basis is search and discover ‘new’ (to me) music via a myriad of ways…all part of being a working musician – seeking, learning, creating.
A fine example of this occurred recently. As noted in a prior post, CNN’s short video in tribute to David Olney lead me to seek out more of his music. Which lead me to two other seemingly unrelated musicians/composers. I say ‘seemingly’ because I haven’t a clue as to how I arrived at their respective websites/youtube channels/streaming stations but some invisible google-ly algorithm guided me based upon something related to its way of calculating.
I know standard streaming sites routinely offer up an ‘if you like X, then try Y’ approach to new music seekers. However, my pokes and prods seem more organic, focused, personal – with a touch of human (mine) direction in the seeking. In addition, it is not limited to a particular platform.
Anyway, David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov * who lead to Gavin Luke.*
And then I discovered an unexpected related theme – that of home.
David Olney was an itinerant wanderer, Gregory Alan Isakov is a transplanted Boulderite (my hometown) and Gavin Luke is a composer whose style draws deep home yearnings front and center.
Olney’s cover of Snowin’ on Raton** reminds me of all the traveling back and forth between hubby’s and my family homes…driving over Raton Pass in all types of weather from Colorado to New Mexico and back again from New Mexico to Colorado.
Specifically, two significant snow times come to mind.
And those are the snowy times when we drove Raton Pass and where listening to Snowin’ on Raton many years hence intersect – hitting squarely through my heart –
Missing home. Missing our baby daughter.
*will discuss these two in a later post
**composer/lyricist: Townes Van Zandt
David: I didn’t know your songs until you passed away and I watched a CNN short video in tribute to your life and contributions to the musical world.
Dying while doing what one loves most is a blessing, but still hurtful for those left behind.
…Wish I had ‘known’ you sooner…
David often draws inspiration for his music from classic poetry and literature as well as The Greatest Story Ever Told a/k/a The Bible. A true troubadour, many of his tunes touch on social issues of the day. This track is one of ten on his album, “This Side or The Other.” While not a concept album, David alludes to several recurrent themes. One of which is the frequent reference to walls.
His essay, “Taking Sides and Building Walls” begins, “The Wall is in the news.Trump’s Wall.”
Then David continues to touch on various other walls, “…the infamous Berlin Wall…the Great Wall of China…Hadrian’s Wall…In the Middle Ages, cities built walls around Jewish ghettos. The rationale on the part of the State was that the walls helped protect the Jews. The Holocaust put an end to that particular line of logic.”
‘DEATH WILL NOT DIVIDE US’ was co-written with Abbie Gardner (of Red Molly). David says, “I wanted to catch the spirit of Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 38 and 39*. I love Abbie’s line, ‘There’s a moment of decision when the ground comes up to meet us.’” The new music video echoes our ever-changing world with one constant, opening with a young girl joyfully dancing as she leads a parade of the past into the future. Her movements are whimsical, flowing and childlike while she dons a jester hat. Others follow her “blindly” dancing through town, wandering through historic sites and Romanesque buildings, trusting their fearless leader.
Personal Note: the bookstore in the video is a landmark in Nashville – McKay’s Used Books. A really cool place!
* Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”