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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Soup and Song Concert Review

Here is a very pleasant surprise (and a new experience!)

I have sent recordings and sought out reviews since I began working as a musician.  I have received unsolicited and solicited reviews of performances from venue owners, festival organizers and fellow musicians.

But this is the first time I've had a house concert reviewed by a member of the audience!  Mary and her husband joyously sang along with the songs, and told me about traveling cross-country with "a piece of it all" as their accompanying soundtrack in the past year.  I am humbled and deeply enjoy hearing how music that I am a part of has helped to accompany or enrich someone's life.  But I'm even more moved by the words she shares in her blog about my recent concert in Laurel, Maryland.

It turns out that she had written about my first concert in Soup and Songs' house concert series a couple of years ago:

That reflection included references to books by a third-grade teacher...which has sent me shopping to get and read his books.

Music inspires a writer who links me to a reflective teacher who writes, whose stories I want to know (and probably will share!)  These are the re-weavings of the tattered fringes in our broken world that I both treasure and celebrate!

(And I am certainly gonna ask my Kindergarten-teaching sister if she knows about these books, too.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Photos from Soup & Song House Concert

These photos were taken by Charlie Bernhardt, who with his wife, Marilyn, hosts Soup and Song Houseconcerts in their townhome in Laurel, Maryland.  
From Top to Bottom:  Chopsticks Fingerstyle on Charlie's beautiful 12-string guitar.

Girl from Ipanema on Charlie's Ginger Mountain Dulcimer (purchased by his wife and mother for his 25th Anniversary as Cantor of his synagogue.)
A Ship May be Safe (and I feel safe, surrounded by all these wonderful instruments!)
Simple Gifts, by Elder Joseph Brackett, always dances so nicely on the hammered dulcimer!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Destination: Home! (Finale to the 30-Dulcimer-Filled Years Spring Tour)


Up before my alarm at 6 am.  Take my last compartment of daily vitamins, shower, gather up my remaining belongings and leave.  The singing and chirping birds sound so familiar and I realize…these are the same birds as we heard in the pre-dawn in our years in Kansas City!

Driving on the Cimarron Turnpike, then Kansas Turnpike—the familiar return from Winfield.  I talk with Karen Deal at the Walnut Valley office and Jim Pierce as I relive those memories.  

Stop for a chance to journal at the rest stop on I-135 just south of Lindsborg.  The steady west wind is a bit brisk and my fingers begin to get stiff from the chill.  Messages left for my college friend, Meck.  I decide to stop on Kansas Wesleyan Campus and drop in.  He is grading papers but sets them aside as we go to lunch at our second choice:  the student center.

Today I'm listening to Vince Papele’s book, “Invincible.”  Quite a powerful and compelling story.  The drive west does begin to get tiring and long.  My stops have broken it up nicely, but now I am feeling the pressure to finish the final tricky logistical steps with the precision of a finely-tuned Swiss watch.

At the start of this trip, I flew to the Baltimore airport and picked up the rental car that would carry me across the country.  A shuttle ride from Greenride took me from the Harmony Transfer Center to the Denver airport to begin the trip. 

After I left, my wife picked up my car from the Harmony center, so it wouldn’t sit there for 2 weeks.  Now I need to fill up the gas tank before arriving at the rental car drop off, then drop the rental car at Dollar (which has just been purchased by Hertz, while I’ve been on this trip), and catch the Dollar shuttle to the airport terminal, in order to catch the Green Ride Shuttle back to Fort Collins. 

This all works as planned.  I schlep all my gear and instruments into the terminal for a bathroom break, then schlep back out to Island 3 by Door 505 to sit and wait with a white-haired woman who is also waiting for Green Ride.

The shuttle arrives only a few minutes after the expected time, we load up and head north as the sky grows darker.  The woman beside me started her travels in Tampa. The couple in front of us are the winners, however.  They began their travels 24 hours ago—in Cairo, Egypt!

David Schnaufer and Butch Baldassari’s recording and Dan Fogelberg on my iPod accompany the final leg of the trip.  Two spots of road construction slow our progress, but we are finally delivered back to our destination.  

As we turn in, I can see the silhouette of my wife with our little black dachshund on his leash waiting patiently beside the silhouette of a man with his poodle-terrier on a leash.  It is good to be home, and great to be warmly welcomed!

Living on Tulsa Time! (30-Dulcimer-Filled Years Spring Tour)

I arrived in Tulsa after a 5 hour drive from Mountain View, Arkansas that took me through a variety of climate changes!  The tornado-spawning storms that are native to Spring in this part of the world had me keeping a "weather eye" to the sky as I drove westward.  
Dennis Moran gave me "old fashioned" hand-written directions with the warning that my Garmin was going to try and send me on a big loop south of the city to try and stay on the 4-lane roads.  Sure enough, my Australian "guide" tried to get me to do just that...and I was very glad to exited the orange barrel express and drive outside of a construction zone!

I am so fortunate to have these opportunities to move across this big beautiful country of ours!  The driving gives me plenty of reflection and gratitude time, and in this posture of thankfulness I am delighted to find so much for which to be gratefully surprised.  Once again I am surprised by the beauty of a place that has existed in my awareness only as name, a tag-line in a song that I like.  This is my first time in Tulsa and Dennis and his wife Rosie are great tour guides as we drive through the city, in which he was raised, and I am the recipient of a native's hometown tour.

The oak trees are so abundant and verdant!  I am reminded of their deep green and cooling shade at Oaks Indian Center, where we took the kids from Fountain of Hope, my Kansas City church, on the final adventure of the Summer Youth Program in the early 1990s.  The shade was definitely needed in the dog days of summer back then, and will be needed soon here.  
My biggest surprise was the beauty of the fully-bloomed azaleas that were shouting to the world in brilliant colors of joy.  Dennis and I went to Woodward Park on Monday (in the cold spring rain!) to drink in some more of their beauty.

  Drinking warm Jasmine tea at the Chinese buffet was the perfect coda to the chilly trek through the park.  I learn that April is a busy month for weddings at this park in Tulsa and the upcoming Azalea Festival (next weekend) will draw thousands of people to this park and others.  We even see a bright red azalea hedge that rings a house a few blocks south of Dennis and Rosies!  

If one is selling a house in Tulsa, this is definitely the time of year to put it on the market!

Afternoon Mini-Concert at Ozark Folk Center (30-Dulcimer-Filled Years Spring Tour)


After a day of teaching mountain dulcimer classes my mini-concert set began at 4:05 pm in the indoor theater.

Playing both hammered and mountain dulcimers, I gave the audience of students, their families and the Folk Center visitors a hammered dulcimer taste of Colorado Dutch Hop with the Windsor Special, then O Virgineeia, Ferret Frolic and Soaring on the mountain dulcimer.  I always love to sing with Judy Klinkhammer's rich alto voice (she harmonized with me for Down in the Valley.)

Rick Thum (hammered dulcimer)  and I always have a grand time playing together and he agreed to join me for a medley of John Stinson's No. 2/Hangman's Reel. 

Carl Adkins (Artistic Director of the Folk Center) sat in on guitar and Margaret Wright (co-host of the Palestine Old-Time and Dulcimer Festival) tore up the bass.  Of course, mid-way through Rick yawned broadly at how "slow" we were going (a playful jab at mountain dulcimer tempos) so we put it in warp drive to take it on home.

(Thanks to Ilace Mears for these photos to help celebrate this musical fun!)

"Folk Music Scared me!" (30-Dulcimer-Filled Years Spring Tour)

After observing the live music scene in Toronto, and hearing the witness of my Canadian colleagues, I love telling people "'folk' is not a 4-letter word in Canada!"

But for others it still is.  My friend, Dan Anderson-Little, put together a house concert at the marvelous home of some friends in the St. Louis area.  Dan and Linda's children, who were born while we were colleagues in Kansas City, are my godchildren and I always treasure the opportunity to visit and catch up with them, kick a soccer ball or shoot hoops, or let them kick my butt in some video games.

On this visit, however, they all came to the concert.  Daniel (the eldest) brought his high school sweetheart, Jacob rode with me to the venue and we had a great conversation about possible career paths for one who is very logical and loves to debate.  (any guesses?)  Leah also had a friend come.

The concert was attended by a nice variety of people who responded to Dan's list, the neighbors of the home-owners who hosted the concert, and from my St. Louis area contacts from both the church dulcimer worlds.  The venue is a marvelous home in Overland, Missouri, that was the retreat for some St. Louis luminaries at the turn of the 20th century, situated close to a lake.  Of course, I was so focused on getting set up and tuned up for the concert that I neglected to take any photos until is was all over!

(Not pictured is a 3-rank Hammond Organ that is off-camera to the Left--the host is an avid and accomplished organist!)

The concert was engaging and the audience enthusiastic, as I have experienced throughout this tour, but the defining moment of the night came when Dan and I were recapping the evening.

"As we were driving home, I asked Daniel's girlfriend what she thought of the concert, " Dan related.

"When Daniel first told me it was going to be a folk music concert, I was nervous and a bit scared, "  she admitted.  "But this was fun!"

And so it is!  Folk music (the music of the people) sounds scary to people, until they actually hear it!  Let's get busy folks, we've got a lot of music to share with a lot of people and there is always more music than time!

Concert and Workshop at Robin Run Village, Indianapolis

Thanks to Tull Glazener, I was able to give a full-house concert to the residents of Robin Run Village on the north side of Indianapolis.  This is also the location for his mountain dulcimer club to meet regularly, so after the concert and some schmoozing time, I led 14 members of the club in an Ensemble-Playing workshop using the Welsh hymn, Ard Hy Nos (All Through the Night).

Then, once they were warmed up we played the Finale to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony!  In just a short time the group of varied experience and comfort levels were able to play both pieces in 4-part harmony learning and utilizing some different playing skills (like dynamics, plucking single strings, staccato articulations, and "playing" rests by damping the strings.)

Thanks to my host, Susan McNeely for taking these photos from the concert.

Morning Prayer (30-Dulcimer-Filled Years Spring Tour)


The Karanja/Olson I-Group invited me to help plan and lead worship for Morning Prayer at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, my alma mater.  Apparently the seminary is abundantly equipped with students named "Sarah."  (Each one would greet me with, "Hi, I'm Sarah Number 88" or whatever number they chose.)  One joined me picking a mean guitar and the other on piano to help lead the congregation in singing.

The service music was chosen from several of my compositions and was performed acoustically.  Because of construction back-up on the major north-south freeway, I confounded my Australian GPS lady who kept urging me to turn to get back on the freeway as I wove my way on surface streets, angling my way through what became very familiar roads to the campus.

Following the worship service, with "I'll Fly Away" still echoing through the sanctuary, I led a conversation about composing for worship in general and demonstrations on both kinds of dulcimers for the Convocation hour.

Up and Out (30-Dulcimer-Filled Years Spring Tour)

Up and out.  (APRIL 18, 2010)

All is quiet on Tuscany Drive as I finish packing the car with my instruments, gather up my food and drink and taxi down the street for take-off and the drive to Columbus, Ohio along I-70 and I-68 through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.
         Highlights of the early Sunday Morning drive:

I pass “Negro Mountain” Elevation 2740 feet.  I've never heard of this mountain but know there must be a story there.

        My friend and colleague, Eve Goldberg has written and sings a great tune: “Leaving Nova Scotia Blues” that I am working up on Mountain Dulcimer.  It comes up on my iPod and I play and replay it, singing it out loud as I drive along.  The higher elevations are still awaiting the full arrival of Spring.  I listen off and on throughout the 6.5 hour drive and, at one point, pull into a rest stop just to pull out my dulcimer and play through it as the north wind blows a chill through my hunched back while I sit upon the concert picinic table.
Another amazing accompaniment for this trip is an audio book that I purchased last summer but never had the opportunity to hear.  Margaret Cho is a streetwise comedian whose deep reflection and confidence is inspiring in her book “I Choose to Stay and Fight” which she is reading to me.
Time Zone problems.  I wanted to communicate with my spouse that I was getting on the road, but because Colorado is 2 hours behind the east coast, I didn't want to call, so I sent a text message.  When I called her at a more "godly" hour she beseeched me:   “Please don’t send me text messages at 4:30 in the morning anymore.”  (I didn't know that she was keeping the phone close by and the sound of the message did exactly what I was trying NOT to do.)  I apologize and promise to learn!!!
         Connie's dear Aunt Darline is out on her back deck with her little white poodle, and her eldest son and wife join us after a meeting at church as a cardinal brightly sings its song in the back woods.  We have a nice conversation and Bill and Marcia offer their home as a venue for a future house concert.
         After a long drive, my sister suggests a brisk walk through Bexley, north of main street.  It is great to spend the time with her and excellent to stretch my legs.  Both dogwoods and lilacs in bloom at the same time, and gardens are bursting with brilliant tulips, standing tall behind long tresses of green grass. 
         I rehearse at the seminary with Ray Olson and Sarah (Fiddle and Guitar).  She is the first instrumentalist in the Master of Church Music Program at Trinity who is not a keyboard player.  Good picker!  Tomorrow is going to be fun!

         To Mark and Rhonda Peterson’s for delicious dinner (with fresh Dilly Bread) and fun House Concert, their first.  An electic gathering of their friends, and my family and dulcimer friends, including a JamPlay student, Daryl and his wife gather for the concert.
         I play two sets that are mostly like the night before, they offer and ice cream sundae bar for refreshments during the break.  I work the mercantile and, to my delighted surprise, receive more offers for future house concert venues.  (Here the new download cards from cdbaby receive more attention than they have thus far.)
          I  Change the set list for the second set and finish with Kaitlin singing “We Are An Answer to Prayer” with me; Then I choose “Three Times” (a song I wrote in high school which appears on Holy Mountain) for my sister, Nancy and Rhonda to sing the “Beloved” song from our youth, with Kaitlin chiming in also.  It is a fitting finale!  Both Rhonda and I forget to get photos from the concert, so I take one of the instruments after they are packed up.

Soup and Song Photos (30-Dulcimer-Filled Years Spring Tour)

The Door Sign for the Concert

Here are photos from the Soup and Song Concert (thanks Charlie!)
Demonstration of Chopsticks as a Fingerstyle Exercise

Girl from Ipanema
Simple Gifts
A Ship May Be Safe