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Monday, September 26, 2011

Playing for Quilters

Quilters, by Molly Newman and Barbara Dameshek, music and lyrics by Barbara Dameshek, is playing at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins Sept 15-Oct 23rd.

The play was originally staged in Denver many years ago, had a run on Broadway which led to multiple Tony awards and is now revived as the opening show for Bas Bleu's 20th season.

"Covered Wagon" photo by Bill Cotton

This production is a marvelous piecing together of vignettes from the actual diary entries of pioneer women from the 19th century.

Under the direction of Morris Burns, the cast of 7 women all play many different roles, held together by the over-arching story of a mother and her 6 daughters, for whom quilting is a bond, a way of life, a process of weaving hope out of scraps and tattered pieces from a hard life on the  American frontier.

While not strictly a "musical" the acoustic music (in which hammered dulcimer plays a significant role!) is integral to the story and the musicians are often helping to move the storyline ahead, in addition to accompanying the sweet harmonies of the cast.
"Log House" photo by Bill Cotton

Why do I keep going on about this in a blog about a touring musician?  I'll tell you!

First, I have often heard about the wonders of this show and my friend and colleague Bonnie Carol recalls the powerful experiences she's had playing in the band for other performances.

When one plays the hammered dulcimer, one is always on the look-out for opportunities to play with choral groups and dramatic performances.  How much more delightful when the dulcimer is intended to be part of the band!

Quilters Band: Jeremy, Marta/Steve, Ben & Greg,
Photo by Bill Cotton
Secondly,  sometimes the best gigs are NOT on the road...but they are right at home!  To play the music that enables these stories to be told today is a treasured opportunity.

However, because of the variety of my schedule, when invited, I was not able to commit to all of the performances because I had previously committed to tours through the midwest and the Pacific northwest.

But one of my "graduated" students, Marta Dean, has stepped right into the opening and together we are piecing it together, filling the hammered dulcimer, guitar II and bodhran parts.

Finally, I want to issue you an invitation to come and experience the hope and fortitude of the stories of strong women who piece together a life for themselves, their men and their families despite facing very difficult situations and obstacles.

And if you're not sure you want to take my word for it, read these reviews in the Fort Collins Coloradoan and the Loveland Reporter Herald.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
The show runs Sept 15-Oct 23rd: 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturdays, 2:30 pm Matinee on Sundays.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

At the lakeshore in north Chicago

I LOVE Chicago.

I discovered that when I lived and worked in the Lakeview neighborhood during graduate school in 1982-1983.

Black-eyed susans in Wilmette
So whenever I'm invited to return, I am delighted to agree.

This was my second time to prepare and present workshops for DSNI (The Dulcimer Society of Northern Illinois), which was preceded by a walk along a new lakeshore nature preserve at Fort Sheridan, then private lessons, and followed by a gig at Uncommon Ground in Lakeview.

Lake Michigan Shoreline, Fort Sheridan nature preserve
Walter and Janet

Sniffing tall wildflowers

Great Horned Owl

The whole weekend was a satisfying delight.  Walter and Janet Swartz are welcoming hosts and together we enjoyed a good hike on Saturday morning.

Sunday, I gave a mini-concert and 2 (very condensed!) workshops to mountain and hammered dulcimer players on playing blues and jazz on these instruments.

Then I followed my friends, Sandy Andina and Stephen Lee Rich, and played my set for the closing crowd at the Uncommon Ground on Clark Street in LakeView (the neighborhood I used to work in!)

What a fun vibe in the middle of the audience, in front of that old exposed brick wall, playing music that the listeners kept wanting to hear more of!

I will treasure these memories for a long time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dulcimer Adventures in Iowa

Bettendorf, Iowa is sometimes considered to be the forgotten of the Quad Cities at the Mississippi River border between Iowa and Illinois. Here is where the "Mighty MO" takes a turn and flows directly from East to West, and was the site of a very delightful set of workshops and musical exploration in early September.

Linda and Reg Shoesmith opened their home to host hammered dulcimer workshops.

On Thursday after a delicious potluck dinner, we explored playing multi-part Christmas carols.

I used tunes from Dulcimer-Friendly Worship Volumes I: the season of Advent and Vol. III: Christmas in a Mellow Mode and from a new collection just published this year, Deck the Halls: Christmas Ensembles arranged for dulcimers.

A spirited jam session rounded out the night.  (Is there a better way to round out a night?)

On Friday we focused on the skills and techniques required for playing Bluegrass on Hammered dulcimers.

An extra bonus:
I was given the opportunity to play a Homer Ledford dulcimer that Linda had recently acquired.

(I shared this experience in the blog last week.)

Thanks again to hosts Linda and Reg for sharing your love of the music!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dulcimers at Streetmosphere 2011

This is my 2nd year to play in Beet Street's Streetmosphere Program that puts artists in the midst of the crowds throughout Old Town Fort Collins.  And wow, it has grown!

Link to Fort Collins Life-Times
Dulci-Bro, photo by Tim Van Schmidt
Beth Flowers, Beet Street's director, said the numbers match my experience:  "Our interns are doing counts of people and interactions.  Well over 100,000 people have stopped and interacted with Streetmosphere artists this summer!"

Local artist, Tim Van Schmidt, stopped by last night and snapped this photo, including it in his Fort Collins Life-Times, "more news-less paper" site.  Click my picture and it check-out.

Streetmosphere 2010, photo by Kaitlin Winter-Eulberg
Sandwich Board at each location
Tim is a gifted poet and award-winning visual artist who is drawn to music and landscapes and has posted what has caught his eye in Fort Collins.  He also writes insightful and thoughtful reviews about his experiences in musical venues.

I have one more slot this weekend--1-4 pm Sunday afternoon beside Ingredient (SW corner of Mountain and College Avenue.)  If you're in the neighborhood, come on by.  If not, take a look at the links above and the photos here and you'll get some of the flavor.

2010 Mugs' corner
2010 Austin's Corner, photo by John Drege
Galax Mountain Dulcimer, Cache Bank corner 2010 photo by Kaitlin Winter-Eulberg