stuff to listen to

I just sent this email to a few friends, and thought others might benefit (edited slightly):
I was recently introduced to Rusty James’ “NewGrass” show when Penny Williams told me he had played my CD (“Tamlin Swing” from Twisted Path!)
He selects an hour’s worth of music and it streams for a week, here:
https://wdrt.org/show/the-new-grass-show-with-rusty-james/
(playlists too!)
He likes to work in the “gypsy jazz” so that’s alright with me. Also, yay community radio!!

I’ve been following the playlist and downloading a few things, even a “Game of Thrones” cover, bluegrass style (look it up! The group is Flatt Lonesome).  I bought singles from Michael Hearne & Shake Russell, and a group called Molasses Creek.
But I had to purchase the whole album “Red Grass” when I heard the name.  Ilya Toshinskiy is, you might say, an ex-Soviet Bela Fleck.
http://www.banjocafe.net/forum/content.php?199-New-Music-from-Ilya-Toshinskiy-Red-Grass
The quality’s great. Of course I’m looking for those tunes that meld east and west, but he seems to be orienting mostly West.

And, going backward in time – looks like the artist landed here as a teenager with a band called “Bering Strait”-
there is a youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPjiLUvmyYH-ckzv88LrMvw
and even a documentary about them: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319029/

Well, that’s enough to keep me busy for a while.

-Michi

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For Walt – Until We Meet Again – Also: Corporations Don’t Get It

When we get together at the renaissance festival, often sing “Health to the Company” for this very reason. The second verse gets to the heart of it:
“So here’s a health to the company and one to my lass
Let’s drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let’s drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again”

Shanan Winters

walt_shanan_mediumAt the end of last week, I found out that my old friend and former band mate, Walt, died rather suddenly. As his partner Astrid said, his gentle heart failed him.

The picture here is circa 2002? 2003? It was a while ago. It’s one of the few I have of him. For all the time we spent rehearsing, gigging or just sitting around talking about everything from the people of Scottsdale to the idea of extra terrestrial life to the nature of existence itself…

We took few pictures, and we never did lay down a single track of music. I couldn’t tell you why exactly. We never recorded our time as friends.

We lived it.

That’s how Walt was… he lived and experienced and cherished life. He poured passion into his music, all the way down to the creation of beautiful instruments that sang with his very own…

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Kirtan Fest Milwaukee

What I knew: my girlfriends went last year, and loved it.

Here’s the website: http://www.kirtanfestmilwaukee.com/

If I type “What is kirtan” into google, here is what appears: Kirtan is a group singing and music-making experience, involving ancient Sanskrit chants. It blurs the boundaries between performers and audience, and has been called “Sanskrit Karaoke”.

Why I went? I’ve wanted to make music for yoga classes for nearly as long as I’ve been doing yoga (15 years), but I haven’t been able to figure out how that would work with just a solo violin. So, I decided to go find out.  As an end in itself, I could always use a weekend of spiritual solitude among like-minded strangers.  It was a good sign when I found Wellspring farm to stay six miles away:

Wellspring

Until this weekend, my only prior experience with kirtan was this group: Wild Lotus Band

Sean Johnson led a kirtan at a Yoga Journal conference in Wisconsin, a few years back. I remember sitting on the floor singing and swaying with a bunch of people, and that he later led a yoga class with live electric bass and irish flute (along with the sanskrit chanting). I loved that the musical style had been so opened up to the New Orleans melting pot where the band is from.  So, I figured there must be room in kirtan for me.

Well, I was right!

First of all, that bit up top about “blurring the lines between performers and audience” is absolutely true. The musical style is basically “call and response” – so the leader will sing a few words, and then everyone sings back.  And I do mean Everyone.  Kirtanfest’s attendees contained a weekend’s worth of musical groups, on average 5 members, so the group of folks sitting and singing along was probably more musically in-tune than your average concertgoers. Add to that the fact that they were all attempting a spiritual connection – and truly acting like a community – and I was already having a pretty stellar Friday night. I especially liked seeing that groups kept borrowing each other’s bassists, drummers, aunts, uncles, what have you. Even before I got into the mix, it was wonderful to witness that friendly collaboration.  The organizer’s dad, Fred, saw me sitting by myself Friday night and took it upon himself to introduce me to literally everyone within arm’s reach.

Not that I minded hanging out with my new mat, thanks to a timely gift made by Todd’s mom: behold my flying kirtan carpet!

Mat

Then, of course, the fiddle got into the mix. Saturday afternoon an “open mic” was listed — and I had no idea what that might mean. I certainly hadn’t prepared any chants. So, I assumed that everyone would just “jam” together for the time of the open mic.  This led me to jump up, as soon as people started setting up, and ask if I could play with them. Turns out this was just the first group, but they were actually looking for a “gypsy violinist” – and the leader Shanti lives close to me. What can I say? Right place, right time.

Shanti1After this interlude, other groups played the open mic without my interference.  On Sunday I was invited to play with the organizer Kaita (front left), and again later with her friend Scott Hestekin and his Aunt Joyce (front right – notice – she was also singing with Shanti):

Scott

You may not be able to tell from the photos, but these were completely ecstatic moments for me. Singing, chanting and chatting with a sweet group of people, under a small tent, over a perfect weekend, and then getting to play my violin — it just couldn’t have been any better.

Each morning started with breakfast at the farm, where the ladies of Sacred Waters Kirtan also stayed – we had truly joyful conversation over breakfast with the other farm guests. Once I arrived at the retreat center, I’d attend a physical yoga class accompanied by a truly magical percussionist named Jahmes. On Saturday morning, he played a Native American flute and got a response from a mourning dove (not once not twice but about six times), so it seemed even the birds were doing kirtan-style call and response.

During the three days I spent there, I’d say I spent at least 12 hours singing, with breaks for lovely vegetarian food.  Even though I sat with knees crossed most of that time, neither my throat nor my knees were sore! Blue Lotus Farm, the private property hosting the event, is usually used for children and adults with special needs. What a blessing, to be in such a special place with a group of people trying to do good things for each other!  I felt uplifted just to be there.

On Sunday, we had only one simple “talk about nothing” from David Newman….as with most things of a spiritual nature, description is probably best left to direct experience. So, I will leave you with his words in musical form, for all my loved ones:

A Declaration of Principles for an Ethical and Sustainable Internet

Oh, #7! How I long to apply thee!

The Trichordist

Originally written and posted in 2012, here again for your July 4th weekend…


Technology may change but principles do not. A society that encourages the creative spirit is rare in history and worth defending. The internet and digital technology have opened up many new opportunities for artists, but it has also opened up new opportunities for those who wish to exploit those artists.

We offer for discussion a set of principles as a guide for companies and policy makers to keep in mind. It is our hope that these principles will help build a sustainable online creative ecosystem, one that benefits creators, innovators, and the general public alike.

1. FAIR AND ETHICAL LABOR PRACTICES: RESPECT WORKERS’ RIGHTS
A fair and ethical internet is built on the respect and protection of the rights of individuals to determine who benefits from their labor and creations.

Since the rise of digital utopians in…

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