Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Every gig lately has involved successively more sky spillage.

Even if the harp did fit under the umbrella, this is no protection in a deluge.

I happen to love rain. I just don't enjoy getting caught in it, nor solitarily moving gear after gowns and heels and tuxes and leather have run for cover. Harp and bench and stand and amp and DI do not move quickly, especially when there is mud in which to slip, yellow-jacket-infested electric boxes from which to unplug, and the only real cover -- the car -- is a good half mile away.

But I love the rushing of the river after a good rain, the way the mist rolls in over field and fence, the renewed ethereal intensity of nature's palette, and the way music floats more readily over dampened landscapes -- chamber piano and horn and strings from the looking-glass home on the river, Freebird and other guitar solos from the rock band rehearsing somewhere in the woods, violins readying for this weekend's Dublin Irish Festival in the white farmhouse squatting roadside.

When certain news hits out of nowhere, and it's difficult to discern if it was better not to know at all, what remains is to notice the rush of what comes up and either edit or allow the flood.

Maybe it results in pulling out harp versions of a bluesy Janis Joplin
"Summertime" and a free-form "Stairway to Heaven" at a church concert when the audience least expects it, even when the tunes need a lot more work. Maybe pushing them out unpolished is worth the surprise and joy they elicit from fellow musicians who have a certain affinity for music from that era.

Maybe it results in excessive talking when it's obvious there can't possibly be anything left to lose.

Maybe it's diminishing the haunting by finding new homes for possessions
that quite suddenly no longer have weight or meaning.

Maybe it's trusting that you will know exactly what to do at exactly the right time.

Where and how do you safely spill?

Listening to: Imogen Heap, Canvas (perfect lyrics and video), and the gripping Hide and Seek

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lemon Chocolate

This weekend I played at one of Columbus' most beautiful venues, the Southern Theater! And irritatingly, my camera crapped out and died just as I was trying for the first shot with my harp. So, no pictures (yet).

I love this place and am eager to play there again -- the staff was so helpful and knew how to move the harp, i.e. not grab it out from underneath causing me to lurch into some subhuman twist to keep it from falling. Of course the acoustics are amazing so amplification for solo harp was unnecessary. This greatly affected how I played the harp and confirmed two Very Important Things that I may (not) expound upon later.

Some of my favorite artists have played at the Southern -- out of necessity and because time is always an issue, I quickly located and made use of the restroom just off the stage that probably many artists have occupied for various reasons before their performances. I have no idea if this decision broke rules. In that space I was reminded that no matter what we do and at what level, we are all simply human with similar needs. And oh yes, I played on the birthday of a certain Mister Andrew Bird, who was the last person I saw there and am eager to see again in October.

Playing a wedding on July 4 inevitably entails fireworks. Just over this hill at the Longaberger Golf Club (yes, just a few miles past the basket building), and after the kiss, an immense amount were launched. Because it wasn't yet dark, the goal was to create a lot of noise and vast amounts of colored smoke. Almost too-predictable comments followed about the power of that kiss.

I occasionally write about food and exercise here because they greatly influence how I show up for, execute, and recover from performances. A friend says that as musicians we are also athletes. This was put to the test at the wedding that immediately followed my playing the Southern this weekend. Rain, wind, intense sun, distance walking in dress shoes, moving the harp without a dolly (lifting!), complete setup and tear-down in two different areas, and smiling professionally (captured forever by photographers!) despite looking like a drowned river rat in black -- oh, and did I mention prettily playing unconventional music I transcribed specifically for harp? -- in a matter of two hours at the second gig of the day would leave me grim, silent, and in pain. I don't hurt today, aside from still having "Endless Love" playing in my head (truly it was endless). It also didn't hurt that I was able to play Radiohead's Fake Plastic Trees for part of the ceremony. The lyrics are entirely inappropriate but I wasn't singing and it was... Radiohead. On harp.

I have put running on hold. Pain in the left knee, hip and back aren't subsiding -- the fantastic gripping spasm that seized my middle back during a run last week had me hobbling home for several miles and rethinking the necessity of sprints. So it's back to walking and biking. My new shoes arrived and perhaps they will make a difference. Today I rode the bike earlier in the day and thus the scent from the grove of pine trees on my route that carries me back to Colorado wasn't as intense. But I had a delivery to make (no, not on the bike).

Today is my parents' fortieth wedding anniversary. FORTY years. I made chocolate and lemon (lemon added to this recipe) cupcakes, no eggs or dairy (= vegan) since I haven't had those ingredients in the house for quite some time. The chocolate are topped with a simple ganache and the lemon with a glaze that may or may have not turned into a type of lemon jelly. I wouldn't really know, because I didn't sample. It's hard to sample cupcakes when you are making one dozen. Eleven just looks suspicious. In case it's not obvious, one likes lemon and the other adores chocolate, and combining the two flavors in one cupcake would be something maybe only I'd enjoy. Symbolic cliches about this combo abound -- a long marriage requires a balance of sweet and sour, bitter and sweet, two very different entities coexisting in one happy piece of tupperware...

I am perfecting my artisan bread recipe. I'm getting closer to the bubbly pockets and crisp crust I crave. There is nothing like hot organic whole wheat bread fresh out of the oven. There is also nothing like breaking your best largest bowl that used to be your mother's as evidenced by its glowing orange color and hilarious 70's flower print. While it wasn't an heirloom, it was a relic from childhood that I'll actually miss. I guess they call these pieces "vintage" now. *SIGH*

Continuing my computer / internet fast means that if there is more happening in the world on which to comment, I don't yet know about it.