When I was twenty-three, I finished a computer consulting contract at Bell Laboratories, which at the time was known as the best paying graduate school in the nation, and hit the road. I spent four months hitchhiking around the States followed by four months hitchhiking around Europe. It was my own version of a walkabout, trying to trace my own songlines. Nearly three decades later, after good years on Wall Street and tough years on my own, I’m still trying to trace my own songlines. Hopefully, some of this comes through in my blog.
I am touring the U.S.A. this summer. I purchased a greyhound bus pass and I am traveling the country, performing now in California coffee houses...
I am a 22 year old acoustic fingerstyle guitar player. I travel all over the U.S.A. with my guitar, amplifier and a backpack with my few personal belongings. I work really hard practicing, performing, networking etc. and I never give up. I am very spiritual- not religious, but thoughtful of the world and of others. I strive to be a positive influence and a "helper" to other people. I believe music is a beautiful and healing gift to us.
Yeah, I can imagine my days on the road, stopping in at a coffee house and hearing someone like Kyle play, or perhaps sharing a bottle of cheap red wine with him at a youth hostel somewhere along the road.
Kyle’s fingerstyle guitar playing is really good, but instead of my trying to describe it, it is perhaps best to let Kyle and his music speak for itself.
Various stops on his summer trip include the Canadian Guitar Festival and the Overgrown Music & Arts Festival. Both look like really great events, but if you’re really lucky, perhaps you can find a small coffee house where Kyle is playing.
You know, there are a lot of things really messed up in this world right now and there are a lot of things that we should all be doing to help make this world a better place. One of those things just might include getting a few friends together to listen to a great emerging fingerstyle guitar player at an unknown coffee house somewhere on the road in this great land.
Harpeth Rising is simply a joy to listen to. They were one of the first bands to submit their music to the Orient Lodge Music Review Page on SonicBids. I listened to their music and decided they were one of the bands that needed to be highlighted.
Perhaps the song that appeals to me most is their song, “Can’t Find the Revolution”. It talks about a woman who “used to be a rambler...now she’s trapped inside a swivel chair”. The final line of the chorus is something like, “Can’t find the revolution, but I’m looking every day”. Another verse talks about a guy who
...used to be a poet and a minstrel by his trade
I strum along beside him when I could
Now he’s pushing the assembly line
and my strummin’ don’t do no good.
Another line that jumped out at me towards the end of the song was when the singer was told that she changed more than she knew.
Another song that particularly appealed to be was “Abraham”
Where you goin' with that knife in your hand?
Why are we lost in this foreign land?
Where we goin now Abraham?
It made me think of the great work by Soren Kierkegaard, “Fear and Trembling” which presents another view of the great story of Abraham.
In looking at their website, I found a link to a very interesting music video that one of their fans had made:
I was glad to see that they we’re highlighting such a creative remix.
Their calendar lists them as having performed at the 8th Annual Niles Bluegrass Festival in Niles Michigan this last weekend. It sounds like it was a rainy weekend there and I hope they got a chance to perform. Over the coming days, they will be performing in Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin. Then in July, they head off for the United Kingdom. They recently did a tour of the Northeast and hopefully will be coming back soon.
Every Sunday evening, bloggers gather on Twitter for a #blogchat to talk about blogging. These chats cover many different topics, and last night @alisonlaw asked, “who are/were your blog mentors?”
I replied with my typical response of E.B. White. His essays for the New Yorker brought personal observations to political issues. They had an authenticity that good bloggers are striving for today.
This came back to me this morning as I prepared to write my Orient Lodge Music Review post for the week. One person who submitted his music was Randy Burns. In my book, Randy Burns is up there with E.B. White as one of those writers that bloggers, and for that matter singer/songwriters should look to as a mentor.
His biography describes the start of his career this way:
In 1966, Randy Burns was dropped off on the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal Street, with a bag over his shoulder and a guitar in his hand…ready for anything Randy had gotten his start a year earlier at The Exit Coffeehouse in New Haven, Connecticut but soon left to join the Urban Folk Revival in Greenwich Village. The first three months he slept in flop houses, on subways and park benches in Washington Square Park. Every week he played the open mic nights at the original Gerdes Folk City, The Gaslight Café and The Bitter End. Impressed by his talent, Clarence Hood, the owner of the legendary Gaslight hired Randy as the permanent opening act. At only eighteen he was opening for the biggest folk stars in the country, artists he’d only heard on records.
Frustrated with the music industry, Randy returned to his folksinging roots and hit the road again as a folksinger. For years he was literally homeless – ‘It would have been a waste of money,” he says, “I was singing so many places that I’d leave a bag of clothes wherever I usually played so I could travel light.” A headliner at Kenny’s Castaways, in the late 70s, owner Pat Kenny arranged for Randy to tour Ireland. It was off to Dublin, where he played coast to coast two years in a row.
It wasn’t until the early 80s that I started visiting the clubs in Greenwich Village, so I probably missed him there. A little over a year ago, he did a concert at the First Presbyterian Church in New Haven. I missed that concert as well. It was my loss, but it did stop the hall from filling up to capacity.
The first song in his Electronic Press Kit is “The Simple Things”. It starts off, “I’ve always loved the simple things. And I guess I’ll always will”. I’m with Randy on that. Reading some E.B. White, listening to some of Randy Burns songs, these are parts of the simple things for me, and are also important factors shaping my writing.
It’s time for a new generation to discover Randy Burns. He has a new album coming out next month, and he will be participating in the Folk City at Fifty early next month. They are well worth checking out.
Jill Cagney is the ultimate Mommy Bloggers’ Folk Musician. I came across her music as I was reviewing the Sonic Bids Submissions to the Orient Lodge Music Review. In terms of music, hers was not my favorite. It was not the most polished best written material out there, but it had a feeling of edgy authenticity that could not, and should not be overlooked.
I guess this is part of the reason I think of Ms. Cagney as the ultimate Mommy Bloggers’ Folk Musician. There are many Mommy Bloggers that I love to read on a regular basis that are also not the most polished best written material out there, but also have a feeling of edgy authenticity that needs to be paid attention to.
Beyond this, Ms. Cagney describes herself not only as a musician, but also as a “social worker, mother, writer, and surprisingly good pool player!” I tend to think that any good mother, or sufficiently involved father is likely to feel some kinship with Ms. Cagney. While we might not be professional social workers, once our kids get to the point of play dates, Queen Bees, and first crushes, we end up doing a little bit of social work as part of our parenting, and if we write authentically about what is going on in our lives, we just might echo a little bit of Ms. Cagney’s voice.
Anyone with kids is likely to recognize themselves saying words like Ms. Cagney in her song Kids:
Trying to keep up with you is like trying to run a marathon in a high heeled shoe
It's like trying to catch a dragonfly with a fishing pole
What goes on in your head I just don't know
Those of us who spend a lot of time online are also likely to find some of the words in her song “Facebook” about fifteen hundred forty-three friends and photoshopping ones overbite sound very close to home. You can become a fan of her on Facebook.
On Facebook, or Jill Cagney’s website you can find out that she will be playing at the City Ale House in Danbury, CT on June 11th and then at Rockin Joes in Westfield, NJ on June 17th. Later in the year, she will be appearing at Indiegrrl Conference and Festival in Knoxville.
So, if you like edgy authenticity, take a moment to check out some of Jill Cagney’s music.