Posts Tagged ‘music’

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.

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)

It’s a Spring Wednesday

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

I’m sorry, I know it may not be spring where you are but my crocuses (croci?) are blooming. I spent some time wandering around our small yard and thought it would be a good time to chat about it.

We are on a big lawn reduction campaign. Honestly it is because we hate to mow. Its loud, it uses fuel, and mostly we’re lazy. While we are being honest I should mention that I have never mowed the lawn here. Aidan does it and when we are away our neighbor mows it. So I can’t really use that as my reason to hate the grass. I just find it useless. We don’t throw a frisbee around out there, or picnic on the ground. It is just useless green stuff that requires too much water so that it will grow and you can mow it. Seriously a nice lawn requires way more water than native plants and if you want it to look fantastic, you probably need to use some questionable weeding and feeding products. You know lots of fertilizers are petroleum based right?

I will also argue that it is not as pretty as other front yard options. We planted some azaleas, as they grow quite well here with no care. And we planted some grape vines, blueberry bushes, apple and plum trees. Talk about useful. Instead of re-seeding the front lawn this year I’m adding creeping phlox, an evergreen ground cover that blooms in summer, spreads a lot, and is drought tolerant. I’ll probably throw in some spring bulbs because the early blooms make me happy.

One of our neighbors has a vegetable garden on the front lawn. I think its great, not sure how the other neighbors feel, but he has stuff growing there almost year round. If i didn’t have big oak trees up front I might do the same thing.

So lose the lawn. Save on water. Reduce pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers, reduce fuel use and noise of mowing. Just a little lawn reduction each year goes a long way.

What’s in your yard?

Got a minute? Save the world.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Want to help me save 119 million killowatt hours of energy this year. It will only take a minute.
I was making pasta last night. About a minute before it was done I turned the burner off. I always do this. I always have. To me, it just seemed obvious that this would save energy. Not much, just a little, just doing my part. Just 119 million killowatt hours per year. Okay, that’s not the amount I save, it is the amount we can save if every household in the United States does this just once a week… and that assumes that every american uses the small burner and has an efficient stove. So really we’ll be saving more than 119 million killowatt hours each year.
Don’t worry about the pasta, it will turn out just fine. Trust me. The pot is hot, the water is boiling, all that heat will stick around for another minute.
How much easier can it get. You do nothing for a minute you save 119 million killowatt hours of energy a year. Have I said that number enough? Its huge !
We can do this. You and me. And all of our friends and family. Spread the word.

Another Wednesday, another world to conquer.

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

We’re taking on health-care.  Don’t panic, there is no political content this time, no nationwide consensus to be reached. No equations, complicated formulae.  

Forty-one economists, includind a few nobel laureates, filed an amicus brief in Florida arguing that the health-care bill is not unconstitutional.  They argue the unique characteristics justify the congressional mandate.  I am quite sure there is nothing I can do to influence a federal judge.  However, I am also quite sure it is not unconstitutional for me to tell you that if we all try to be a little healthier and help others to be healthier we can go a long way in solving the health care crisis.  And, I don’t think it is an over-reaching, over-confident assumption.

Again, don’t panic.  I am in no position to talk about your eating habits when I share a pie a week. I am not a fitness fanatic or in any way medically schooled.  Nope.  What I am is happy… and healthy.  I’ve always thought those two things were related and now I have found some support in science.

An Australian study of 9981 people found that folks who described themselves as happy and satisfied with life reported good health for the following three years and a much higher rate than folks who said they were not happy.  A Columbia University Medical Center study of 1700 people found that people who called themselves happy were 22% less likely to have heart disease.  (The study was on Canadians, but I think its still valid !)  So, if we are happier we will require less medical care, and put less strain on the health care system.  Simple.

So how do you get happy?  Less sciency studies seem to indicate that happiness is mostly a choice.  For me its always been my default state so I wasn’t sure I was qualified to tell you how to be happy.  So I hit the street.  I smiled and said hello to everyone I could.  Some people ignored me. Some nodded.  Some looked puzzled.  And some smiled and said hello. I asked that later group if they described themselves as happy and they all agreed that they were, to some extent, happy people. I followed up by asking if they ever did things to help themselves be happy.  Surprisingly, the folks that were the most sure about their happiness did modify their behavior to amplify their happy state. So from that pool of experts:  “when I am having a difficult day at work, I look at a picture of my kids”  “if I am feeling down I call a friend who tends to be upbeat”  “I take a few deep breaths when I first start to feel stressed.”

I engaged a few people in deeper conversations and found a few surprising similarities.  They had a good understanding of what mattered to them as individuals… and what didn’t.  They were focused on others, giving and sharing of themselves in service to others.  And finally they had hobbies and interests.

No one said music.  What?!? Music makes me happy.  Especially live music. When I hear other people play and sing, share that experience with a group, I feel energized, transformed and happy.  And that makes me healthy – I have the science to prove it.

Do you have ideas on promoting happiness?  Share them.  And smile, you’re fixing the health-care crisis.

January Newsletter

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Happy New Year. Seven days in and its seems like a good one.
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way… the first pie of the year was an apple-cranberry-walnut tart.

Last month I carried on about the bliss of returning to New York for a few weeks. We lived there for nearly three years, met amazing folks, made good friends and felt like we were part of a great community. Going back made me realize that none of that goes away just because we moved. THANKS!

So this month we head to Florida. We lived there longer than anywhere else in our lives and still feel very tied to it. Can’t wait to see friends, visit favorite places, walk in the ocean. We’ll get to see our favorite camper John Rozett, hear how much Benny has learned on guitar, and wish our friend Mark Klein a happy birthday in person. Come out and see us – have a new CD since we were last in Florida.

About that CD… we have never really been happy with any of our previous recordings. But we actually like this one! We want to thank all the DJs who have supported us and especially Wanda Fischer from Albany for giving us a nice quote and John Platt in NYC, Lilli Kuzma in Illinois, Gaye and Randall Auxier in Ohio, Ken Connors in Jacksonville, Craig Huegel in Sarasota, Diane Crowe in Massachusetts, and Harlon Joye in Atlanta who played the heck out of the CD.

Center Stage (seriously, not stage left this time!)
Also last month, I said we’d solve all of the problems of the world this month. Its sounds a little ridiculous, even for me. But I’ve really been thinking about this. I keep hearing folks lament about the state of our environment, economy, healthcare, education. I hear people saying they don’t have confidence in the ability of government to fix things. But I remain positive, rose colored glasses firmly in place.
Who better than us to enact change. Really. I think about the individuals on this list, about nine hundred of you last time I looked, and I see a group of intelligent, educated, well-spoken, dynamic, engaged , energetic people. So really, who better than us. If we make small changes, lead by example, and communicate, we can create a sea of change.
Here’s the deal. Each week I am going to post small changes that we can make to improve our community. I invite you to share ideas on this blog as well. Individually our actions are small, but as a group we have a lot of sway. We may not fix the world, but we will improve our community. Are you in? My first post will be on Wednesday. But you don’t have to wait for me.

Have a great weekend. Hope we see you out on the road.
Christine (and Aidan)