I love sharing music through house concerts. Each event is as unique as its attendees, its hosts, and the visions we create together! An especially fun one took place in Fort Wayne, IN, two weeks ago. Families have allowed me to post videos and pictures here. Thank you to Whitney and Jared for being willing to host!
Intentional concerts help strengthen the fabric of community we need, and I’m doing them across the country gradually as I go. Write me to book one. What strengthens community for you these days?
Nonviolent Communication (NVC)’s persistence—in trusting people’s desire and creativity in meeting their own human needs and illuminating the potential for compassionate collaboration—roots my musical efforts. This week I was interviewed about NVC on my friend’s Quaker radio station. I welcome you to listen to the episode, comment on it, and share it with others. https://northernspiritradio.org/episode/primer-nonviolent-communication
Between Michigan and North Carolina: 25 hours down and 36 back. During an 11-hour layover in Greensboro, NC, I recorded the below song.
First, let me explain the context:
Train travel is more carbon-efficient than plane or automobile travel, which I’ve known for awhile. (Here are online writings – 1, 2 – capturing trains’ superiority for delivering freight.)
After a year of considering this, I finally got my life to a point where I could spare time to travel by train.
A little about the experience:
Pros: Nearly everyone was extremely kind and friendly. I felt like I was traveling not among strangers; I made new friends. The scenery was beautiful. The bathrooms were clean. My conscience felt clean in line with my own ethics. I found the rhythm of the rails soothing, which almost everybody says.
Cons: The train ride back took 36 hours. A few days later, I was still tired from that. The wifi was intermittently available.
During my 11-hour layover in Greensboro, NC – at 4:00 in the morning, in fact – I recorded this song to express the need for increasingly sustainable, high-quality means of transportation, and other aspects of sustainability. Hear, hear! to a Green New Deal!
Places: Specific events listed here. Roughly: Michigan & Indiana in late 2019, North Carolina & Florida in early 2020, a brief trip back to Northern Michigan in late March, and hopefully out west after that, including to California. Shows to include house concerts, small venue gigs, song circles, and open mics. If you are interested in hosting a show, please write me.
As water takes the shape of a container, I have been striving to allow this trip’s plans to unfold to fill the space.
I love these quotes about water from a spiritual book called the Tao Te Ching:
“Nothing in this world / is as soft and yielding as water / Yet for attacking the hard and strong / none can triumph so easily / It is weak, yet none can equal it / It is soft, yet none can damage it / It is yielding, yet none can wear it away / . . . the soft overcomes the hard / and the yielding triumphs over the rigid” (Lao Tzu, trans. Jonathon Star, 2003, v. 78, p. 91)
“The most yielding thing in the world / will overcome the most rigid” (Ibid, v. 43, p. 56)
“The best way to live / is to be like water / For water benefits all things / and goes against none of them / It provides for all people / and even cleanses those places a man is loath to go / In this way it is just like Tao” (Ibid, v. 8, p. 21)
I’m very sad about the recently unfolding Kurdish situation. I’ve heard reports of families with children being killed. I’ve heard reports about thousands of people identified with ISIS who’ve been detained by Kurdish people, whose oversight may be uncertain. I’ve heard many concerning likelihoods. My friend, Travis Moe, explains a critical heartbreaking element of what is unfolding, which I’ve reposted on my personal Facebook page. I ache today with this situation.
I wish I had art to contribute to the situation somehow but I don’t have much. Based on my personal experience interning and working with military veterans and refugees I feel certain that each person impacted by the delicate and harsh balances we call military conflicts will never be the same. Here’s one piece I’ve shared recently: this song expresses sadness over lack of peace and the lack of a trajectory toward care in the world. If you have ideas about how to be of service as we experience this hurt and pain please do share.
Please consider ordering one! Modeled off veggie shares, this program allows me to share consistent doses of song with people in my world, at prices or trade set-ups that work for you! Membership information here.
My July 17 post listed challenges to societal well-being in a description of Mackinac Island (consumerism, militarism, unjust immigration policy, racism, and rural poverty). You could get the impression I was against them. I still am . . . .
Partway through this summer I became convinced loving life is as important as is protesting it, perhaps more so. When I say “loving life,” for me this does not mean sitting beside a pool with a favorite drink in hand and cucumbers on my face, sighing, “I love life.” I mean cultivating within myself a spirit of celebration, tenderness, effervescence, nourishment that makes life more worthwhile, worth fighting for. I am shifting out of living from a spirit of disgust and desperation about certain aspects of society around me into living out a try at lively counterbalancing.
Quakers (I am one) are rooted in protest and also in the idea of listening to and living into “the virtue of that life and power that [takes] away the occasion of all wars” (George Fox, 1650).
Midsummer, I began working on cultivating in me softness and creativity which, transmitted around the world, would make life more worthwhile. (For me, here, “more worthwhile” equates to more freedom and less sadness and pain for each person.)
I still protest. I aim to live in protest of that with which I disagree. And I want this protest — including through song — to be in a spirit that itself helps to shake off shackles of enmity and fear. As Rev. angel Kyodo williams writes:
“We cannot have a healed society, we cannot have change, we cannot have justice if we do not reclaim and repair the human spirit. We simply cannot” (2016, p 97).
Where were you on October 6, 2018, as Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Senate?
I was at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, singing along with Ani Difranco‘s timely punch back toward our patriarchal system. I was also sitting in a bushy area that would give me a tick bite to plague my next six months. I was also experiencing the beginning of a bad concussion (from hitting my head on my apartment ceiling twice hard) and thoroughly questioning my life.
Human services had been the focus of my career for about a decade. I’d secured a Master of Social Work degree the year before, focused on community systems. I’d next moved to Northern California and was working on a peace-related community organization project. I care about peace very much, but I felt like I was fighting against the grain. I’d always loved creating music, but I had long been holding it to the side of my life.
Following that fall day at Hardly Strictly, months of a concussion and infected tick bite symptoms transpired. With this sickness, it was hard to focus on computer work, logistics, and driving in the peace organizing work I’d been doing. I got headaches easily; simple things made symptoms worse.
However, I wrote songs at a fast pace. I meditated to make sense of this time. I aborted my focus on my human services profession and began a dive into sharing music as a way of interacting with life. I focused energy on this desire I had set to the side for years.
Significant support from people dear to me made my transition easier. The past year, I have picked up the pace on musical writing, practicing, performing, identifying my musical goals, and finding my way in music business. I have experienced internal wind in my sails. I look forward to embarking on a tour late this fall.
I’m encouraged remembering other musicians – I’m thinking of Kate Rhudy, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and Joe Pug – who at some point chose to set another goal to the side: creating music is now the direction for each of them. I share my own story in case it has any wisdom in it for you . . . in case you some time feel called to change directions, and turn so you can feel the wind in your sails.