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Friday, August 21, 2015

The Amazingness of MailBox Money

by Steve Eulberg

I can't remember the first time I heard the phrase "Mailbox Money" but it has become a surprisingly encouraging experience.

Many years ago (in the mid 1990s), when I was a pastor and shepherding my youth for a week at the Mid-Missouri Bible Camp in the Ozarks, I had taken some pieces of mail with me from C.C.L.I. (Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc.)

These were contracts offered to help worship music composers (like me) to receive income from the communities and congregations who would choose to use my music all over the United States and Canada.

I couldn't imagine how this could work and part of me assumed that this might be some kind of scam, but it was long before I had any real connection to the internet, and besides, no one was using it very much anyway.  Fax machines were the rage, and neither I, nor my small inner-city church, had one.

I patiently (and laboriously) read through every word and paragraph of every page of the contracts, mostly understanding the legalese (although Greek or Hebrew might have been easier!), and chose, in the end, to affix my signature.

I remember showing these contracts to my friends and colleagues who were there with me who were encouragingly impressed.

I was the musician for the week and they were pretty encouraging, but I was preparing to send these documents off in "faith" or what might more accurately be described as a pipe dream.

I mailed the signed and initialed documents in.

Later I received contracts for agreements that covered other countries (South Africa, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Australia & New Zealand.)

Finally, I started to receive semi-annual reports...that INCLUDED CHECKS!  The surprise of mailbox money was producing joy in my life!

So this week was the week that I received the semi-annual report and payment and once again I am touched by this gentle "surprise" in compensation.

But what truly gives me pause and a sense of awe, are the reports that people have used music that I have composed and published, in their worship services in:  England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and all across the United States of America.  And even more impressive is that the annual licenses they purchased to support the composers, and their careful reporting actually sent compensation to me, which means that I receive more mailbox money to help me to continue to create and share music.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"American Pharoah" The Triple Crown of Dulcimer Festivals

After the marvelous summer I have had touring, I feel like I should be called American Pharoah, because I, too, am a Triple Crown Winner!

My first tour of the season took me to Memphis for a day of workshops and a clinic on jamming together at the home of Betty Dawson in Memphis, TN.  Then a house concert and Nancy and Tom Adams', a workshop at Gilda's Club in Louisville and a house concert at Teri and Larry West's in the south part of town.

Then to Kentucky Music Week, where the copies of my new Playing Blues on the Mountain Dulcimer book had arrived and were waiting for me to have a wedding by adding the Demo CDs.

And what a week it was!  Jean Ritchie Tribute, organized and led by her son, Jon Pickow; stellar concert performances, a week-long class on Resonator Dulcimer, Blues on Hammered Dulcimer, a Noter Style Mountain Dulcimer class and a Dulcimer Orchestra class were highlights.

Captain's Cabin Concert S.E.a
Playing a Backporch concert to the crickets' chirp on a temperate evening in the middle of the week with my bandmates Erin Mae Lewis and Amber Rogers in our trio, S.E.A was memorable and amazing in a completely restored log cabin (Captain's Cabin) that now serves as a B and B!  Then I joined them for their concert set singing our trio arrangement of Hold On.

Steve, Karen Mueller & Heidi Muller in front of
Chief Joseph & Lake Wallowa
I am grateful to the non-playing spouse of a festival participant who gave me an on-time ride to the Louisville airport for my flight home.

The glow had not even worn off in my two-day turn-around at home before I received a "warm welcome" when I landed on the tarmac in Lewiston, ID (where it was 120°) en route to an even better Dulcimer Week in the Wallowas in Joseph, OR.  The relaxed pace and supportive community atmosphere was balm for my weary soul and the magical faculty concert with Karen Mueller, Bob Webb and Heidi Muller remains fixed in the recesses of my memory.

I had amazing classes, the Open Mic revealed talent, commitment, celebration, and laughter that left our sides aching with joy.  (There is a life goal, to be aching with joy!)

My Beginning class in their yurt classroom in Wallowa
Having had two such amazing weeks of musical and educational experiences I was a little nervous about heading east for the final festival of my summer season.

I took a red-eye from San Francisco to Charlotte, NC, had lunch with a friend, then reunited with the parents of my godchildren in Chesapeake, VA, before driving to another Soup and Song House Concert with Charlie and Marilyn Bernhardt in Maryland.

Charlie & Marilyn, Soup and Song House Concerts (10 years!)
Following a short night's sleep, I had a dawn sabbath drive through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and through the northeast corner of Tennessee and down through the Smoky Mountains for a late afternoon arrival at Dulcimer U in Cullowhee, NC.  There is was revealed that my anxiety had nowhere to lay its head!  Larry and Elaine Conger run a fantastic festival in this verdant setting, I was very excited to be invited to return to teach here.  And my time with my classes and two different mountain dulcimer ensembles were marvelous celebrations of people playing beyond their fears to experience the delight that comes when they relax and do this together!

My classes this week were as enthusiastic, attentive and adventurous as the others had been.  The fun and mischief that arises when people create a Brigadoon-like community together bubbled with joy.

Soundcheck view, through Lorinda Jones' harp
I have been part of many faculty concerts which can be a crazy quilt of performances, but this time something of the veil between the worlds of the mundane and the spectacular opened up and everyone's tune choices, transitional stories and the overall flow of both sets let us have a little taste of heaven...and it was a tasty nectar, too.

So..I believe I won the triple crown this summer and am glad to wear the name American Pharoah!
Dulcimers on high in the Wallowas!