Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Music prowling

Because it's Thanksgiving Eve and food is important, it's pretty critical that the food turns out right. And when it doesn't, you default to music prowling. After hours of this you hope your return to the kitchen yields the food looking better than when you left it.

The new David Byrne / Brian Eno compilation Everything That Happens Will Happen Today can be heard in its entirety by clicking here. It includes a synopsis by the two artists of how the music came to be.

When I listen to music, I hear the rhythm and melody and shape first. I don't listen to lyrics. So Strange Overtones was instantly interesting because of the pairing of punctuated rhythm and Byrne's sailing voice. After several listens I finally read the lyrics and concluded the song is damn near perfect. It's available as a free mp3 download here.

Andrew Bird is releasing his next work Noble Beast in several formats. The Deluxe Edition features two discs, one of which is purely instrumental titled Useless Creatures. Purely instrumental! I know! One track from each disc can be heard by clicking here.

Bird's lyrics are always fantastic swirls of wordplay. He has admitted to approaching words / lyrics in an unconventional way and not caring for instrumental music. I'm anxious to see how he came to terms with each in this new release, which you can pre-order here; the formal U.S. release date is January 20.

And finally, in his aching multi-loop and perfect-pitch glory, using only violin but wearing the guitar just in case, Bird during a soon-to-air appearance on "From the Basement."

Update: The food looks better... and tastes amazing. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Art space

Over the years I have struggled with whether to devote my time to art or music. But trying to choose between -- or among, as other art forms have been added to the mix since then -- is time wasted; they are inseparable, all part of the same voice.

I've finally created an online shop through Etsy after getting over the idea that I don't have enough similar items to put in it. Though not excited about the fees, they are minimal compared to other online shops. Etsy visits have exploded as we value others' skills and abilities and turn again to handmade and unique creations. So though I prefer to be contacted directly for anything I have to sell (!), without Etsy many wouldn't know I exist. It's a true joy to browse through the Etsy website and see what so many are creating!

he above advent calendar was a fun challenge due to the size of canvas I chose to use. The original idea came from a felt and velcro version I made while attending a Waldorf grade school. This version should last longer than that one! See the Etsy store for a more detailed description and additional pictures. A larger version of the advent calendar (sold) also appears here, though it's an example of an older painting style. For fun, also check out my Floorcloth Design Gallery for pet mats and other items -- amazing what you find on your own website when you go looking!!

This heather grey afghan sold immediately. Another in light tan / caramel / camel (how to adequately convey color over the internet?) is available, and another in rich garnet red is coming soon. Working on these is the perfect way to while away the dark hours listening to music while keeping warm. The pattern results in a blanket with good heft and the pattern is classic and timeless!

It will be interesting to see decisions around giving / buying this holiday season. Predicting is pointless -- I have more harp jobs this season than I expected. It's a time of hope and joy and thinking more creatively than ever.

Monday, November 24, 2008

October's Luceys Maze Trio

A few weeks ago the Luceys Maze Trio / Luceys Maze Acoustic performed at Espresso Yourself Music Cafe in Powell.

My eyes are glued on Michelle to ensure I literally don't miss a beat -- too bad the camera caught it. Michelle Lucey, vocals and keyboard; Tammy Wallace, vocals.

This photo and others are posted in the scrolling album on our MySpace page, as are some of the pieces we performed that evening. Of the six listed on MySpace, four are the trio; Moonlight (featuring Tammy, joined by Cathy Wicks and Michelle), Polar Bears, Garden Song, and Evolution. Moonlight is the newest tune -- Michelle and I are now working on pieces for just piano and harp.

Working on my own material has continued to involve incorporating jazz theory into my performances. I am very interested in what BW is doing over on her blog -- she designated November as a month to compose at least 8 bars of music each day and post them no matter how they turned out. BW and I were at the first Deborah Henson-Conant workshop and I love how committed she is to what we were exposed.

Typealyzer offers a way to determine your blog's Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The idea is to determine whether your blog and personality are the same MBTI. How seriously do I take Myers-Briggs anything? I have a very good friend who, because of her massive position as one of the top Human Resources gurus in the nation, takes this test frequently. Her MBTI often differs from the previous time she took the test. My MBTI (determined years ago) is an INFJ, and my Typealyzer results for my blog is an ISFP. The Typealyzer revealed this MBTI after picking up this post. Prior to this post, my blog was an ISTP. Um, yeah. For the Typealyzer to work, your blog address must be the main web address.

Today was cold and rainy and dark, so while I didn't have time for it given my teaching schedule, it was the perfect day to curl up with my new favorite Yogi tea, a blanket, and a good book.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Diving in

The holidays are approaching fast -- playing harp for weddings is giving way to the tide of seasonal celebration performances. The (possibly) last wedding of this year took place in this room of the relatively new Creekside Conference and Event Center in Gahanna, Ohio. The reception was held in an adjoining room so guests never had to leave the building prior to vaguely wondering how to safely get home.

Diving headlong into any live or recorded performance is now unavoidable despite a myriad of distractions. Below -- undeniably, irrevocably, achingly relatable.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My vote

One of my favorite places to play harp is the Darby House in Galloway / Columbus, Ohio. This is a great location for all parts of a wedding ceremony, even when the ceremony moves indoors due to cooler temperatures and the boatman can't.

The Crystal Ballroom in Newark is another all-inclusive site -- get married on stage, step down and greet guests sitting at their tables, several of whom will have already acquired food.

My vote is that we obliterate the time change. We actually enforce earlier descending darkness?

After several stressful weeks -- I won't even go into Halloween, it's over, but wait... election day tomorrow -- it's time to act. I requested an absentee ballot so I could sit with my decisions in the comfort of my own home vs. in the discomforts of a Polling P(a)lace. This morning was the day I predicted I would finally know what oval to fill in for President.

Delivering the ballot entailed driving into town before this morning's lessons. Of course the Board of Elections is in the new building across town, the one with the all-glass atrium and escalator and shiny new everything, and not the older building in the middle of town I first visited whose pay-for parking lot is a block away. Within minutes of entering the double doors of the correct building, I'm typically yet inexplicably fielding questions. A woman politely demands a clipboard with a sheet of paper to fill out because everyone before her and after her seems to have one. A man asks if he was supposed to bring the documents with him that contain errors in need of correction. The woman in front of me, a newborn snuggling under her chin and another beautiful small child at her side, explains she is in line because she has to see someone in person to correct the last name on her ballot. It was beyond misspelled, a different name entirely. What kind of system requires a mother with no childcare to stand in line for this?

Why did she wait until today to take care of it? I don't know, why did any of us wait until today, or even tomorrow? Maybe we were all still hanging onto the unrealistic hope that we could chuck the entire current system and start over.

Ohio, and in many cases Columbus specifically, has been touted as THE place to watch on several national news broadcasts. Can I be okay with myself if the candidate I support less than the other wins because I cast my vote for a party that comparatively speaking gets no press/money, no matter how in line that party is with my true ideals? How ridiculous is it that I make my decision this way?

And, really, we vote like this??

Risking ridicule for stepping out of line, I hold out my sealed envelope to the man directing citizens to what he hopes is the right place. The envelope reflects, for various reasons, an incorrect last name that matches other incorrect last-name documents, all of which I can finally alter after election day without creating an identity stir. The man steps back, refusing to touch the envelope, pointing to a blue box. I throw it in, turn and join other voters exiting the buildling looking stricken. That's it??

To further my attempts at self-empowerment, I go to the bank to deposit and move money. Having worked in a bank in my former life, at the drive-thru (wait, no drive-thru voting?) I throw several tickets at the teller and wonder if the process I'm using is out of date. No, but cheerily I'm informed that my account with the smallest amount went dormant.

Dormant? To reactivate it, I must come in and fill out some papers. Papers? Or close it.

But I'm very attached to this account! It's the very first one I ever opened, the one I used to squirrel away earnings from jobs that had nothing to do with my college degrees. The pot where I collected enough so I could move out on my own, purchase my car, my harp, my own house, and run my business. I have the account number memorized. We've been through everything together. It doesn't earn any interest at this point, doesn't serve me in any possible way, I've outgrown it. Money is sitting there that would serve me better if I moved it. I can't close this account!

From which space do I make this decision -- practical or emotional? If it's not serving me where it is, and is many ways now inaccessible, why elect to keep it there? One morning I will wake up and know.

On the way home, I drive the road along the river. I stop to walk out on a stone slab I can now access because the water is so low; I'm in the middle of the river, where I can see clearly upstream, or down. The water simply flows past. That's where I want to be.

But I go home and ready my studio for students, one of the rooms awaiting a flooring decision.

My students tell me how the election causes racial fears in their school. Upperclassmen elected to sell candidate-name headbands to raise money for prom. But the student body is afraid to purchase them for fear they'll be jumped after school for being racist.

Times are chaotic -- can we afford to settle?