Arts

The Arts section of Orient Lodge

#FRFF Preview, Part 2

Last week, I posted #FRFF Preview, Part 1, providing links and some initial reactions to various Emerging Artists that will be performing at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival this year. This week, I return with the second half.

Camela Widad (Mechanicsburg, PA)

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Camela is one of the performers I’m most excited about hearing at Falcon Ridge this year. I’ve referenced her song, “My Turn” in a previous blog post. Other songs that I really like by her include “Raging Water” and “Candle”. She sings powerful stories to help make this world a better place.

Dan Weber (Vancouver, WA)

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Dan is another perform I’m really looking forward to. His song, “Sarah Ann” was one of the first ones I listened to when I set up my Spotify playlist of Emerging Artists. I listened to the song at the dining room table with my wife and youngest daughter. They laughed at the line “Can’t you see that you’re too young for me” and missed much of the poignancy of the song.

Another song, in a similar spirit is “Goodbye to Dad”. Maybe it says something that three of the first songs I mention are about death.

Jay Hitt (Butler, PA)

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A song that includes a more complete view of life and death is “Love is…” I captures why Jay Hitt is another one of the performers I’m most excited to see this year at Falcon Ridge.

Neptune’s Car (Sutton, MA)

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Songs that I really like are ones that tell stories, and Neptune’s Car has some great songs like this. At the top of the list, for me, is “The 43 (U.S.S. Tappahannock). A couple other songs that I’ve enjoyed of theirs include “One More Glass of Wine” and “Drinking to Distraction”.

Mare Wakefield & Nomad (Nashville, TN)

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I’ve been listing to Mare’s album “Poet On The Moon”. It is a great title and some of her songs really caught my attention, particularly, Clementine and Rattlesnake. I also like the song she shared on Facebook “Take Down Your Flag”.

Liz and the Family Tree (New York, NY)

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It took me a while to find that Liz and the Family Tree is Liz Queler, Seth Farber and Joey Farber. I’ve listened a little bit to “The Edna Project” and haven’t yet found a favorite.

Gina Forsyth (New Orleans, LA),

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Gina’s songs that I like best are the ones that she plays fiddle on. In particular, “Sparrow” and “11 Days” often shows up in the Spotify shuffle of songs and they always catch my attention.

Bernice Lewis (Williamstown, MA)

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I grew up in Williamstown, so Bernice jumped out at me. Probably the song that most catches my attention of hers is “Checks and Love Letters”.

Matt Harlan (Houston, TX)

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“Old Spanish Moss” is the song that has jumped out to me most.

I’ve been listening to the remaining performers, a little bit while writing this post, and at other times shuffling through my Spotify playlist. I haven’t, yet, found songs to highlight for each of them, so I’ll just list their webpages, and where they have them, Facebook or Twitter pages. Perhaps, if I get more time, I’ll add some updates later on.

Teresa Storch (Longmont, CO)

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Katrin (Brookline, MA)

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Mason Porter (Honey Brook, PA)

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Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (Fayetteville, NY)

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Skout (New York, NY)

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Jessy Tomsko (Astoria, NY)

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Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes (Jersey City, NJ)

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#FRFF Preview, Part 1

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been listening to a Spotify Playlist of the 2015 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artists. Here are some of my notes about the performers.

I’ve also set up a Facebook Interests Page and a Twitter list of social media accounts of the emerging artists, as I find their accounts.

I also want to highlight a blog post, with links to some of the emerging artists webpages.

With that, let me highlight some of the performers I’ve been listening to.

Meg Braun (Nashville, TN)

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Meg’s bio includes: “Meg came to New York to pursue a career in community organizing” She is friends with a bunch Falcon Ridge Friends, politics friends, and old NYC friends. She has the plaintive voice of a community organizer influenced by Joni Mitchell, and sings songs that tell compelling stories.

Gypsy Moon keeps grabbing my attention as it pops up on the Spotify Playlist

Josh Brooks (Vergennes, VT)

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His bio says, “Plain and simple, Josh Brooks knows how to write a song… Brooks has evolved into a craftsman and poet-philosopher in the spirit of his idols Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Johnny Cash and John Prine.”

It is the sort of music I really like and he writes, and sings it well. “Queen for a Day” catches my attention as it comes around on the playlist.

Katie Dahl (Baileys Harbor, WI)

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There are quite a few songs of hers that jump out at me. Good storytelling songs: Pier 33, The World As I Found It, Ghosts of Sheboygan Town.

Meghan Cary with Analog Gypsies (Erdenheim, PA)

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Reverb Nation Page

Probably the song of hers that jumps out most at me is “Building This House”. Perhaps some of this is because it makes me think ofMiranda’s BIG Art; Tiny House project.

Mya Byrne (New York, NY)

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I like her music, but have yet to find a favorite song by her.

Chasing June (Rockaway, NJ)

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Any band that record Wayfaring Stranger starts off on a good foot with me. Their song, The Magician catches my attention when it pops up on my playlist.

Annika (Blauvelt, NY)

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For my local friends, it is worth noting that she is Playing at The Space in Hamden on July 25th. She has a sweet voice, and often wins song writing competitions, but I haven’t yet been grabbed by any of her songs, yet.

Mark Allen Berube (Brooklyn, NY)

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Humorous songs about Vampire Women of Jersey City, Bride of Frankenstein Hair, and The Higgs Bosong.

These are my notes so far. There are several other emerging artists that I’m really looking forward to that I hope to write about in coming posts.

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#BabyAaden

Last night, they found the body of the seven month old baby thrown from a bridge by his father when his father attempted suicide. How do you make sense of this? I’m not sure you can.

In the evening, I stopped at the vigil.

Perhaps art can help us as well. I’ve been listening to the playlist of 2015 Falcon Ridge Emerging Artists. One of the songs that jumped out at me was Camela WIdad’s My Turn. It reminds me of another moving song, David Silva’s It Will All Be Perfect.

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Rent: What Would Jesus See?

In the 1980s I lived in New York City and attended an East Village church with many friends who were struggling artists. I would go to off off Broadway shows to see them perform in Israel Horowitz’ ‘Line’ where the cast often outnumbered the audience made up of friends of the actors, and if they were lucky a potential manager who had already seen Line forty-three times but wanted to see how well a potential client could really act.

The adult Sunday School classes were often on topics like Christianity and literature and we would discuss Christian themes in the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, W. H. Auden, and Flannery O'Connor. We would talk about what it means to be created in the image of our Creator. We would talk about the Gospel in the contemporary context of AIDS and drug addiction.

Years later, I saw a local high school production of ‘Rent’ and thought back to those days, those friends and their struggles. Four years later, after Sandy Hook, the local high school produced Sweeny Todd and a group of townspeople organized against it, led by a local priest. They were concerned about the depiction of violence. I attended a Board of Education meeting, and spoke in agreement with those concerned with the depiction of violence I encouraged everyone to attend the musical, and then to gather with friends to discuss it and broader topics of violence in society.

Another person who testified at that hearing was Howard Sherman, and I started following his blog. Recently, he wrote about church leaders in Tullahoma, TN criticizing a production of Rent there.

I shared the following as a comment on Howard’s blog post:

As a devote Christian, I agree with part of what Pastor Wayne says, "Jesus should be our moral compass". If we look at the New Testament, we find Jesus healing and breaking bread with characters not much different than the characters in Rent. Personally, I believe that one of the best ways to get a richer understanding of the Gospel is to attend Rent, asking yourself, when Jesus told us to love or neighbors as ourselves, who did he have in mind?

As I suggested when our local school produced Sweeny Todd, go see the play, and then get together with friends and discuss the underlying themes. In the broader context, I’ll take a phrase kicked around a bit and apply it here. “What Would Jesus See?” I suspect Jesus would see plays about suffering, love, and redemption. Rent would probably be high on that list.

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The Politics of Adopted Identity

For the past few days, I’ve been very focused on the story of Rachel Dolezal, the woman in Washington who has passed for a black woman for many years. You can see this in my recent blog posts. Why are we, as a country, so interested in this? Some suggest that it is because she lied. However, politicians lie all the time. So much so that there is the old joke:

How do you know if a politician is lying?
His lips are moving.

So, I don’t buy that it is because she is lying. Some of this may be because it is manufactured by conservative bloggers, who seem to dislike anyone who works for civil rights. Conservative blogs appear to be really enjoying this. Some of this may be because of issues of cultural appropriation. Although, when you look at it, it appears as if her she has appropriated much less and is much more friendly to the culture she is adopting from than so much cultural appropriation we see today.

For me, perhaps the biggest issue is one of identity. How do we identify ourselves? Black? White? Male? Female? Straight? Gay? There are many labels we can use on ourselves. There are many labels we can use on others and others can use on us. Yet these labels may not always feel right. We may feel that our real gender is different than our biological gender. We may feel that our sexual orientation is different from what is dominant in the culture. Perhaps, we may feel that our race or ethnicity is different from the race or ethnicity we were born into.

As an aside, it is curious to think about how social media is feeding this. As I write this, my youngest daughter says, “Can you guess what decade I belong in?” She had just completed one of those many quizzes that suggest our identity might be different from how we were born. Social media is telling us about the fluidity of identity.

Add to this, advertising. If we want an identity that will be accepted by others, all we have to do is buy the right products to look darker, lighter, have straighter or curlier hair, wear the right clothes, etc.

Recently, I’ve had some experiences that have gotten me thinking about my identity. Who am I, really? What do I desire? How does this relate to how people see me? How does this relate to how God sees me? How does what I desire relate to what God desires for me?

In one book I’m currently reading, “The Wounding and Healing of Desire” has a great line, “It is the wisdom of Christianity to understand that we are so wounded we do not know who we are.”

Now some people will suggest that at least we know who someone’s parents are. To go back to Rachel Dolezal, her biological parents are both white and say she is white. Yet this comes back to another idea from Christianity.

In Mark 3:33-35 Jesus says, ""Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.""

I would imagine that for her, and for many of us, doing the will of God means, at least in part, fighting for civil rights. Who is Rachel's father? Whoever fights for civil rights. Yes, Rachel perhaps has many black fathers.

Here, I will go to another verse. In 1 Corinthians 9:22 Paul says, “To the weak I became weak in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some of them.”

So, by becoming black, Rachel is standing in the tradition of the Apostle Paul.

Then, there is the artist angle. Rachel received her Masters of Fine Arts from Howard University as a white woman married to a black man. One aspect of art is to get people to look at the world around them in a different way. As a piece of performance art, intentional or unintentional, Rachel has excelled in this, propelling the discussion about the social construction of race into the limelight. This is an area I’m especially hopeful about. By getting more people to think about racial identity, she may do more than all the handwringing Facebook posts about police brutality.

This gets to why what she has done is so radical. It joins with a great Christian and artistic tradition of challenging the way we see the world, in the way we understand our identity, and ultimately, in the way we live.

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