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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

25th Anniversary Year

When I was a child and my parent's friends celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary, that amount of time was simply unfathomable.  It was often three times my own age.

Now, 25 years ago was the birth of my eldest child, and it was the beginning of Owl Mountain Music.

At the time I was working as an innercity pastor of a cross-cultural, store-front ministry on the eastside of Kansas City.  As we gathered and nurtured a community of faith and hope, music was a prime organizing tool.

Each year I would re-read my journaled writings of the previous year and each year a single theme always arose.

"What am I going to do about this music thing?"

I had been called to serve as pastor of this community.  It was an amazing community!  And... I kept being drawn deeper into music.  I was composing music for use in our worship, to support our educational programs.  I was composing and arranging music for synod-wide youth events, and tapping the cultural power of music to help envision a church that did not abide racism, and nurtured resistance to everything that would bring death to the most vulnerable members of our society.

I was co-coordinator of the Religion and Labor Dialogue in Kansas City, which brought and interfaith group of religious and labor leaders together to bring deeper understanding and mutual support on a monthly basis.

Our congregation was involved in church-based community organizing, actively meeting our neighbors, forging relationships of trust with those in other faith communities as well as those with no faith community, to bring pressure on municipal structures to provide basic services for our under-served and over-looked neighborhood, which I later learned was red-lined (few real estate loans, or at exorbitant rates), and our zip code was considered the most violent in the whole metropolitan area.

This was the crucible in which my young children and our young family was being nurtured, in the midst of some pretty amazing (and eccentric!) neighbors.  This was the battlefield of the War on the Poor, the field of frustration after the acquittal of the officers who so publicly brutalized Rodney King, it was the vineyard in which music found ways to help neighbors grieve the loss of children to drive-by shootings, to hold hands in hope as city officials closed and boarded up drug houses.  These were the porches on which people gaped in amazement as city street sweepers appeared for the first time in long-memory to clean our avenues, just like in the rich part of town!

It was here that, while working on a project for the church my knee was damaged and I learned of the wonders of Workers Compensation and the strange award of money for the partial loss of mobility.

That money is what I used to start Owl Mountain Music and produce my first recording on this freshly hatched Indie Label, not even knowing what an indie label was.

Nor could I envision that in 25 years I would produce, co-produce and record 17 recordings, publish 12 books, another dozen Dulcimer Orchestra Arrangments, compose 5 different liturgical settings for worship, in addition to several choral and instrumental arrangements.

It has been a fantastic ride, and I am eager to see what the next 25 years bring!

If you'd like to be a part of that adventure, check out my Patreon Campaign here.

(And, if you want to check back, I'll be offering some retrospectives here as well throughout the coming year.)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Support Your Local Artist-Happy 25th Anniversary!

The title of this post is a parody of  the title of a series of westerns that featured James Garner (Support Your Local Sheriff) and (Support Your Local Gunfighter).

I remember these movies because my mother was a fan of James Garner and proudly announced that fact whenever these (or others) of his movies and TV shows would appear on the TV set.

As I recall the general theme of the movies is that Garner is put in impossible situations where confusion about who he is and what he is there for is the stage, behind which Garner's character is using wits to win the day, rather than force or brawn.

Maybe that is what Mom liked about Garner. Well, that and he was easy on her eyes.

Artists of all stripes use all of our wits to be successful in what sometimes seem like impossible situations today.  And just when we figure something out, it changes.

(Most likely his is really no different than any other time in history, although I've only known this particular time, so I can't really tell for sure, but things DO seem to change pretty quickly these days.)

Happy Anniversary to Owl Mountain Music!

2015 marks the 25th year that I've been working at James Garner's way of using all my wits in the field of music to thrive.

It was in my upstairs home office on Kensington Street in Kansas City that I began to formalize the work that I had already been doing most of my life in creating, performing, recording and publishing music.

Today, three addresses and two states and 25 years later, I am still working in this vineyard and you know, I wouldn't trade it for the world!

So, to honor this occasion, I've launched a new Venture:

You can check out the details of the campaign here:

Support Your Local Artist
The purpose of this campaign is to help keep me focused on creating new music, archiving and documenting it so it can be shared.

To do this I've chosen Patreon, a crowd-sourcing platform that aims to support artists to fund their on-going work.

I first learned about this from my friend, Bing Futch, whose campaign began last Summer and which is helping him to record and finish his first all-blues recording!  (Click on his name to check out and support his campaign.)

But what IS Patreon?   Begun in San Francisco in 2013, here are two videos that explain how it works and how it came to be.

Here's a video that Patreon uses to describe the model using funding per project:

Because the support I need for my ongoing work is less-project driven, but which will result in more projects and products, I have chosen the monthly subscription model.  

(It would be more than way cool if you could support the project, and invite your friends to do so as well, but if you can't, that's just fine.  I'll still keeping creating and be sharing joyfully!)

In this video, Jack Conte, Patreon Founder, describes how the whole idea and model came into existence:

13:30 is where Jack describes his realization as a songwriter, performer and video artist of what the other half of his job is.

It seems to me that this model is very similar to how I recall James Garner's characters foiled his adversaries, saved the town and got the girl in those movies.

So, that's how I got the title of this post:  Support Your Local Artist!