Posts Tagged ‘folk’

California, Cooperation, Collaboration

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

May was a crazy month!.. Organized and attended the SERFA music conference, went to Switzerland, released the new CD, getting ready to go to California.
One of the things that keeps me sane through all of this is finding the meaning and the wonder in all of it. Here it is: collaboration.

Serfa is a gathering of musicians, venues, djs and more who bond over this broadly defined category of folk music. Most of the people who attend are musicians. We do this for a living and we should be there to network, meet concert presenters, book gigs, get airplay. And we do all of those things. But it amazes me that we also share information, skill, and experience with each other. We really support each other and offer each other advice in this crazy life we live on the road. I never had a sense of competition. For me the best moments were the unplanned and unscheduled. One afternoon a couple of friends gathered in the lobby in front of a big stone fireplace with a view of the blue ridge mountains. I sat back and heard Carolann Solebello and Rob Lytle play some brand new songs and some classics. A small crowd gathered, the circle grew and everyone played, listened joined in. It was magic. Later we met up with an old friend, Tracy Feldman who played violin on our first CD. We hadn’t seen him in about 5 years. We made time to play together and it was really as if know time had passed. He has a gift for knowing how to support a song when he plays.

Right after the conference we got on a plane. Lots of fun, beautiful, interesting moments in Switzerland. (I will post some pics on FB) We went to one of our favorite museums, Musee de Art Brut in Lausanne. Fantastic exhibits. Some people there told us about another museum that they enjoyed that had an exhibit they enjoyed so much they couldn’t wait to tell us about it. So nice of them to share, in detail, what they enjoyed and why we might also find it interesting. Taking a little time out of their holiday to make our experience a little better. At that collection of exhibits there was a fascinatingly curated showing of two painters; one swiss, one America, one living, one not. Their lives had not overlapped but there were striking similarities in their work and in their work over time. Fascinating. The cooperative exhibit brought new people to both works and new insight into both works.

I feel like that ties into our new CD quite nicely. Songs inspired by reading. The authors, whose works we have enjoyed, really opened up new paths in our writing process and took us to places we had not been creatively. They didn’t intentionally collaborate with us, but sharing art is a way of collaborating with the world. I really hope our songs bring new readers these authors.

So we are heading to California. We will play a few shows including one with Michael McNevin. We met Michael through Susan Moss who makes great introductions. She seems to know who will like each other. Haven’t seen Michael in a few years, but when I said we were heading to California he did not hesitate in putting together a show. He’s a great writer and performer, we can’t wait to play with him. He is cooperative. It makes our world so much better.

Crazy month turns out to be all about working together.

From Book To Song

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

So how does a book lead to a song? Here’s the short version of how a few of the books inspired us. These books led us down a curvy path, with a few detours, but each led us to a song.

Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the God Particle
I chose this book after the possible discovery of the Higgs boson in July 2012 and started reading it in September. I was reminded that the Higgs field was theorized in 1964. So for 48 years physicists have been in search of this one particle that justifies the theory. Bazillions of dollars and hours and brain cells expended. And they feel like it’s important work and worth the effort. No one has characterized these Nobel Prize winners as obsessed. I have been looking for the perfect black boots for a few years. They would justify my theory that the right boots could explain many of my questionable fashion choices. Similarly, I bet there are some folks out there who believe there is a perfect pair of jeans out in the universe. I haven’t spent nearly as much money, time or brain cells on it, yet I feel it is important work.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
This book was given to us by Aidan’s friend Joe. I read it while on tour and then took the first, long driving shift. I write a lot while driving. It was election season. Everyone seemed to have a strong opinion and an even stronger desire to express that opinion. The book made we wonder if, despite all our interest and opinions, any of us has any idea of what happens in the capitol, or why. Do we really understand the side-deals, the motivation, the long view? And do we really care? Do we care enough to research, speak-up, follow along for years? Or do we just loudly opine once every few years. And I was driving.

Reading Lolita in Tehran
I wanted to re-read this following the Arab Spring events. I was very drawn to the idea of women actively fighting for their own destiny. The book is not about women leading a loud, public protest. It’s about small, quiet, personal revolutions and how they can lead to bigger things. While I was reading, Aidan said we needed to write another song with Bev Grant and the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus in mind. That was the perfect fit.

Hope you enjoyed these little back stories. Maybe I will share a few more. And I hope that whatever you are reading takes you on an inspiring journey.

Thursday, It’s the new Wednesday

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Thursday is a lot like Wednesday only a day later. I got distracted. Blame it on that whole spring forward thing. Forgot yesterday was Wednesday. the world was not saved. Fortunately we’ve done enough in previous weeks, that the planet lasted an extra day without us.

Aidan and I have been doing a little construction this week. Built a closet in the hallway and took advantage of some unused space (i.e. a wall) and built a pantry. I posted about it on facebook wondering where folks in the 1940’s kept all their stuff. Turns out they didn’t have all that much stuff. It made me stop and ponder. By average American standards I am not a huge consumer. Still, I have a lot of stuff. Why do I have all this stuff? do I need all this stuff? why am I thinking of getting more stuff?

The short answers are I don’t know, no, and I don’t know. But I do know that we have all become voracious consumers. Most of us have more possessions than we require. Some of us have more than we really want. So this week, I ask you to think carefully about what you purchase. Do you need it? Do you really, really want it? Why are you buying it?

I am not against buying things. I am not against supporting businesses. I am against waste. I am against mindless spending that uses up our valuable resources so that we have less left for what really matters. Much of our domestic manufacturing has been moved to areas with lower labor and social costs, lower building costs, lower environmental standards. Big business didn’t do this. We did this… by demanding lower costs so we could have more stuff. I did this. You did this. And we can start to undo this.

We can become more mindful consumers. We can speak with our dollars. We can support local business, organic farmers, unions, socially and environmentally responsible businesses. There really is enough money for all of those things if we choose carefully, and mindfully.

I would give up much of this stuff to have the wealth to supply portable cooking stoves, heaters and fuel to families struggling in Japan tonight. Its not Wednesday. You can still save the world.

March Newsletter

Friday, March 11th, 2011

am proud of myself for keeping this newsletter going for five straight months. I’m not good at getting things done. At least not the sort of stuff that requires me to sit at my desk and do work. And its only going to get harder now that spring is here in South Carolina. I’ve got plants and seeds to get in the dirt, a table to paint, and always more leaves and sticks to rake up!

We had one last show in Florida since my last (very late) newsletter, and it was a good one (the show not the newsletter). The Prairie Creek Lodge in Gainesville is a beautiful place and great for music. The day after the show we went on a nice walk at a state park with friends Elaine and John. Lots of alligators basking on the banks and in the water. They were so close we really could have reached down and touched some. Saw a decent number of birds, including an osprey unsuccessfully hunting. There are also wild horses and buffalo on the grounds. Interesting thing happened while we were there. A ranger asked if we would fill out a survey online when we got home. Elaine thought this might be because funding for state parks and park services is in jeopardy. They are all trying to justify their existance. Support your local parks before they disappear folks!

We’re heading to Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts in April. Check the calendar on our web site for details. We don’t know too may folks in Charlottesville VA so if you know anyone there please let them know we’ll be at C’Ville Coffee on April 1. And no, that’s not an April Fool’s joke. We really appreciate those of you who spread the word about our shows. It really helps us out, especially in areas where we are new or not well known. THANKS!

We are still saving the world every Wednesday. This week Aidan actually blogged. Okay technically he did not blog. But he came up with the idea and editted it before I posted. I did all the difficult stuff like research, but I am the one who committed to doing it. If you haven’t seen it yet please scroll back and check it out. Each week we post a simple idea that will help make our world a little bit better. If we all take a little step we can make a lot happen.

Hope to see you out on the road, we might even have a new song or two.

Christine (and Aidan)

Its Wednesday, time to save the world again.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Another Wednesday, another chance to make a difference in the world by making small changes in our lives. 

I listened to the State of the Union address last night, as I am sure many of you did.  We should really change the name of these televised speeches, as they are more like rallying sessions and really don’t address the state of the union.  But, that’s another conversation.  So today I wanted to tie into at least one of the subjects that President Obama was trying to get us energized about… health care, budget deficit, education…. lots to choose from.  But what sparked my interest was the interest in changing businesses and focusing on new technologies.  The scientist in me wants to be a part of creating an energy efficient new world.  The folk musician in me thinks that’s too big for a Wednesday.

I care about preservation of resources, but the solutions I’m hearing about all seem to involve buying something.  I have a 60 year old furnace.  I should buy a new more efficient furnace.  But that’s not going to happen, especially since my gas bill was less than 30 dollars in December.  I don’t need a new car, and the evidence is still sketchy that electric cars are any greener than an efficient combustion engine.  I doubt my roof can support solar panels, and don’t get me started on CFL’s.

But I have a solution that actually requires buying less.  Less meat and animal products.  Don’t worry, I am not suggesting anyone become a vegetarian or a vegan.  I like a rib eye on the grill as much as the next person, and you are not taking away my cheese.  But the UN Food and Agriculture Organization did a study a couple of years ago about the impact of raising livestock.  It found that large scale operations produce the majority of meat and meat products and that production has tripled in the last three decades.  Further, they found that since livestock requires large amounts of fodder crops, the use of fertilizers and pesticides has also increased dramatically.  The processing operations are much more energy intensive than processing of grains and vegetables, and the cold storage and transport needs of meat and dairy create another drain of fossil fuels.

But we – this small group of 900 committed, engaged, active, intelligent, music lovers – can do something about that.  We can impact energy consumption by eating a little less meat.  If you eat meat at most meals, have a vegetarian dish once a week- perhaps every Wednesday.  Eat a smaller serving of meat and add more grains and veggies on your plate.  When you are bringing a dish to a house concert pot luck, consider a meat free option.  We’re eating vegetarian chili tonight and I predict a quinoa and vegetable casserole in our future.

If you need help, I have lots of recipes for really easy vegetarian and vegan dishes. I even have a few vegan desserts and breakfast bars that I make.  Happy to share, and I bet others on the list are willing to share as well.