Advent Music on Spotify

Well, it’s almost time. Today was the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Thursday we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day and then next Sunday, will be the first Sunday of Advent. So, it is time to put together a list of seasonally appropriate music.

As a good Episcopalian, that does not mean Christmas songs, and particularly does not mean songs about Grandma getting run over by Reindeer, and other such songs. We are entering the season of Advent.

So, I looked in the 1982 Hymnal for a list of Advent Hymns. There are fourteen in that category, although I’m sure there are other hymns that are appropriate for Advent.

I went out and searched Spotify to see how many of them I could find there. I found eight. As I started playing through them, I found that two of them were on albums of Advent music, so I added the eight hymns and two albums into an Advent Playlist.

I will continue to seek other music to add to this list. Let me know if you have any recommendations.

Panic! At The Le Bataclan

All you sinners stand up, sing hallelujah (hallelujah!)
Show praise with your body
Stand up, sing hallelujah (hallelujah!)

The music from Panic! At The Disco blares in the Connecticut Convention Center. My wife, who is still recovering from sinus surgery couldn’t take our daughter to the concert, so I am here instead. My phone is almost dead as is my daughter’s, so I’ve turned them off and they are in my pocket.

We’ve agreed at where we should meet after the concert. As we stood in line, we started talking with a mother and daughter in front us. The other girl is tall and two years older than my daughter. They have both come without friends trusting in that special sisterhood of Panic! At The Disco fans. They are excited and eager to rush to the front of the giant mosh pit. They are also probably hoping to shed their parents, parents cool enough to take them to a Panic! At The Disco concert, but not cool enough to view this night as the most important night of their lives.

We agree that the two girls can rush forward and the two parents will stay towards the back, out of the crowd.

We learn that the girls have gotten separated in the rush. The mother feels responsible and frequently texts here daughter. I try to assure her that our daughters will be fine. We take turns trying to make our way through the crowd to find our daughter, to no avail.

There are three hours of warmup bands, and part way through some girls help another girl out of the crowd. She collapses at the table next to where we are sitting. Other parents are talking about low blood sugar or maybe dehydration. Medics arrive and help the girl out of the venue. I’m wondering if it is really Molly.

I am worried about my daughter. She has her own health problems and I’m not sure how well she can stand for four hours in a crowd. I make a few more trips to try and find her, but the crowd has grown larger and thicker.

I turn on my cellphone briefly in case someone has been trying to get in touch with me. The only messages I see are about the attacks in Paris, at a crowded music venue, not that much different than where I am at. It heightens my anxiety, but I don’t mention it to the mother of the girl who was going to be hanging out with my daughter. I worry that she has enough anxiety, with her frequent texting, and this might compound it.

Most of the warm up bands aren’t all that exciting, but finally Panic! At The Disco takes the stage. The atmosphere is electric. I feel sure that my daughter is enjoying herself now, and that the long wait standing in the large crowd will have been worth it. The lights are done incredibly well, and thousands of fans hold up cellphones to capture moments of this wonderful experience.

I wonder if the band knows about what has happened in Paris, and if they do, if they will say anything about it. The play one of their better known songs, “Let’s Kill Tonight”.

Let's kill tonight!
Kill tonight!
Show them all you're not the ordinary type …

May your feet serve you well
And the rest be sent to Hell
Where they always have belonged

Are there others struck by these words on this night?

On the ride home, my daughter is ecstatic. It has been a wonderful night. She is very sore and thirty. We stop and get her a large bottle of water, we talk a little bit about the concert and what happened in Paris.

It is now Saturday morning. My daughter is still asleep and I am reading the news. A friend is in Paris and has checked in as being safe. Mixed with all of this are more discussions about freedom of speech and political correctness. The idea of replacing ‘political correctness’ with ‘treating people with respect’ comes back to mind as I read Terry Cowgill’s Op-Ed At Wesleyan, A Shocking Disrespect For Free Speech

“Even by the hypersensitive standards of political correctness that dominate the academy…”

“Even by the hypersensitive standards of treating people with respect that dominate the academy…”

Terry seems upset that people used freedom of speech to express displeasure with criticize a newspaper. I comment,

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as the people speaking say things you agree with. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as no one uses it to criticize a news organization or suggest the organizations funding be cut. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as no one uses that speech to point out that you say things that hurt other people or that you're racist. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as long as it doesn't injure your white fragility.

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, and I’m glad that people like Terry Cowgill and his supporters, as well as those criticizing hurtful, racist, Islamophobic speech shoot off their mouths, and not the music venue.

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, when it asks people to pray for Paris and when it asks people to pray for Beirut whose bombings on Thursday have gotten much less attention in the western media.

Yet in all of this, the beginning of Panic! At The Disco’s song Hallelujah remains

A moment you'll never remember
And a night you'll never forget!

An Ode to Falcon Ridge

You cannot go to the same folk festival twice
The lineup of performers will have changed.
A longtime favorite performer isn’t there
a new favorite performer is emerging.
The performers themselves will have changed
with new experiences
new attitudes
new songs.
Their instruments will have changed as well
the strings will be more worn
or replaced
Their voices will have sung
that many more songs.

You cannot go to the same folk festival twice.
The weather will be different.
No matter how hot
or how much rain there is.
It is always a little different.
The moon will be in a different phase.
The stars and planets will be aligned a little differently.
The shooting stars, rainbows and other little bits
of festival magic
will come at different times.
Even the animals will be different
as the hawk circles above
the workshop stage
and the chipmunks
scurry for cover.

You cannot go to the same folk festival twice.
The crowds will be different.
Broken tents will have been replaced
and new tents pitched in different locations.
The car that broke down last year
won’t make the trip this year
The kids will be a year older.
“How much they’ve grown”
everyone will observe
at the campsites.

You cannot go to the same folk festival twice.
The kids that were at the family tent
will now be at the dance stage
and those that made that change
years ago
will be at the workshop stage
picking up tips
to help them achieve
their dream of being
an emerging artist
on the main stage.

You cannot go to the same folk festival twice.
Each one of us have changed.
We’ve heard new artists, new songs,
that we love.
We’ve experienced successes,
grief, and sadness.
We’ve grown, we’ve changed,
our hopes and expectations are different.

But underneath it all
the folk festival remains constant.
The food and friends
The peace and joy and mud.
and the volunteer at the gate
Welcome Home.

#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)

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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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),


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)


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)


“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)


Katrin (Brookline, MA)


Mason Porter (Honey Brook, PA)


Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (Fayetteville, NY)


Skout (New York, NY)


Jessy Tomsko (Astoria, NY)


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)


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)

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)

Facebook page

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)

Facebook Page
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)


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

Chasing June (Rockaway, NJ)

Facebook Page

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)

Facebook Page
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)

Facebook Page

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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