On Dogs, and the Unquenchable Spirit of Love

While Winter and I were out on tour, heading to New Orleans on a crisp October morning, we pulled off to a gas station somewhere in the South. As I headed toward the door, a very friendly dog came up to me, smiling and wagging his tail. He was obviously comfortable with people, yet his back left foot was injured so badly he was not able to put any weight on it. I wondered what the dog’s story was. A creature this well socialized would have “people”, would he not? People who would take him to the vet. His injury seemed to me severe enough that I would have expected him to be somewhat wild, snarling and baring teeth. Or at least wary.

I stepped inside.

When I came out, a homeless man walked past, and the dog fell in stride with him, looking up at him in absolute adoration. The dog had no concept that he wasn’t being cared for, or that he would have it better with someone else. Just utter adoration for his companion. It  moved me with a mix of emotions. On the one hand, I wondered – is it fair for folks to have pets when they can’t care for that pet? On the other hand, who knows what that dog’s situation would be without this man? Perhaps the dog had been abandoned, and they found each other. Perhaps they fell on hard times together. Whatever their circumstances, they were in it together, and each had someone to share a difficult situation with. It seemed, in that moment, that having someone to love and be loved by was the most important thing to each of them. If they were hungry, at least they were hungry together. If it was cold, they were cold together. If they hurt, they hurt together. The only thing I could imagine would make that dog sad was not losing the use of his foot, nor going hungry, but if his companion were to die.

In a circumstance fraught with hardship I can only imagine, that dog’s unmitigated spirit of love and friendship left a lasting impression on me as to the power of love and kindness to prevail over all things. I hope that we all may remember the power of kindness toward one another. And I hope those two unlikely companions are doing alright.

Contemplating the Artist-Patron Relationship

Wherein I explore the “Hunger Games – Touring Musician Style” video log-fundraiser, and weigh its successes and shortcomings….

Winter and I are back from our tour through the South. We are mostly unpacked and integrating back into our home life, and I thought I would take a few moments to muse on our fundraising experiment, which went on for the duration of our tour.

Including a donation outside the Indiegogo framework, our fundraising efforts yielded a little over half of what we were shooting for. While this was still very helpful, it didn’t get us entirely out of the woods. Also – it was a lot of additional work in an already pretty grueling schedule. Was it worth it? Well – yes,  in that, as we feared, we would have lost money on this tour, and due to the fundraiser we did not. So in that regard I am glad that we did it.

However, I probably won’t do this particular thing again. It required entirely too much hustling just to get it where we did. I never want my promotional strategies to take on the qualities of a henpecking housewife . An effective strategy should take on a life of it’s own, because it’s a cool idea and folks want to share, and want to be part of it. I believe that if you create something that speaks to people, it will “sell itself” more than this did. Of course it is my job to tell folks it is happening and to give reminders here and there, but this one felt like it needed too much push, so that toward the end I began to fear I was bugging folks.  I prefer the voice of “rallying the troops to glory” over “old battle-ax”.

Also – in retrospect I wish I hadn’t posted all the videos on my blog. It isn’t really what my blog is for.  Here is to be my musings on the quest for beauty and wonder in this world, a place of inspiration. When I look at my blog now and see nothing but several videos of us doing this or than on the road, I lose interest. I can only imagine that my readers have as well.

I know some of you did follow along on the whole thing and will probably tell me I am being too hard on myself. Let me  say, I do acknowledge it had some successes. It did engage some folks and it did earn some money.  It was a worthy experiment, and I think in general the artist-patron relationship is something worth cultivating, and indeed a necessary piece of the pie for most artists. It is not my intent, in declaring this fundraiser a bit wanting, to diminish the value of any contributions made. Those of you who did contribute helped us shoulder the weak spots on the tour, the new territories – which were many – and thus you saved us from a financial burden at holiday time. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that! Winter and I felt truly supported.

My only real complaint is that it didn’t resonate with more folks. Since it did not, this particular model created too high a work-to-results ratio.  So we live and learn, we experiment and evaluate, until we find our sweet spot.

I would  be interested to know your thoughts about this particular endeavor –

Did the Hunger Games – Touring Musician Style videolog fundraiser speak to you? Why or why not?

What sort of supplemental activities or projects would you like to see from me as far as generating fundraising support for future musical endeavors? What kinds of things would you be excited to participate in?

Some ideas I have are:

1) The Ring of Enchantment – a membership area of my site wherein I endeavor to inspire you and your own dreams, which will include 1 essay a month on cultivating enchantment, magic, living creatively, etc., and 1 supplemental practice with custom music written by me to support the practice, delivered as an audio file meditation. This will also include a social network and/or forum area where we can converse online, and maybe some Google hangouts. It is my hope with this to create a community where we can all share and support each other’s greatest dreams for our lives and our world. We’ll have an internal marketplace, and I will also include deep discounts on everything I create, musical and otherwise.

2) A store filled with all things “Neofolk Romantique” – vintage, upcycled, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind, made or found by me, and that brings the flavor of my music into your lives in a tangible way. Store would be online and also a floating market that I bring on tour

3) Travel guides of some of the highlights from the places we visit on tour. Emphasizing the romantic and magical.

4) More chant Cds.

5)Workshops – online or in person. What types?

Please let me know if any of these excite you, what you thought of the Hunger Games video log, and also what types of things you would find engaging as future fundraising efforts. Got an idea I haven’t listed? Feel free to share it in the comments. Ideally, I seek ideas that don’t require constant hustling, because they are things you want to participate in anyway.  So if you have any thoughts or ideas you want to share, I am eager to hear them.

Alright! Back to our regularly scheduled programming of finding the enchantment and magic tucked into every nook and cranny of this beautiful world. I have many things to blog about from tour, and am looking forward writing them up! Stay tuned…..

Artist Spotlight: Heather Dale

Hi Clan –

This beautiful lady is Heather Dale. I first came across her on a compilation CD called “The Secret Life of Celtic Rock”. Her song “Mordred’s Lullaby” was featured, a somewhat sinister ballad of Morgan Le Fay singing her child to sleep. It blew me away.

Several years later, I was invited to perform at SJ Tucker’s Strowler event series. One of the most exciting elements for me was sharing the stage with Heather, who was also playing at 2 of the 3 events.

We have since run into each other several times along the winding gypsy road that is touring musician life, and are becoming friends. This past summer, Winter and I performed in her home town of Toronto for the first time.

Now, in October, we are reciprocating, and bringing her to the Bay Area.

And I want you to come. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Heather will give you a night of inspiration and enchantment that only a world-class musician can bring.

As I have declared many times, my mission in life is to bring more beauty, wonder, and poetry to this world – to seek it out, court it, and then reflect it back to you via music and art. But not only my own art – I want to bring you all sorts of inspiration coming through all sorts of folks. And Heather is one of those folks.

So. For those of you who have a fondness for the Celtic-Mythic-

May I present Heather Dale and Sharon Knight, in concert October 12th in San Rafael (Marin), CA.

Yep we will both be playing for you this evening!  Heather will be accompanied by Ben Deschamps, featuring guitar, cittern, fiddle, keyboard, bodhran, and probably some instruments I am not even thinking of.  I will be accompanied by Winter and Caith Threefires, and our musical texture will be vocal harmonies, guitar, octave mandolin, mandola, mandolin, keyboard, and bodhran.

We’ve set the price at $15 in advance and $20 at the door.  However, if a lower price helps you attend, we do have a 2-for-$20 special. What this means is that you commit to bringing a friend, and purchase in advance, and you both come for $10 each. We help you out with a lower price, you help us get folks in the door. Win-win, yes?

This will be a very special evening of magickal song, or I wouldn’t be giving it it’s very own blog post. I am proud to bring Heather’s music to our community, and I sincerely hope you’ll join us.

Here are the details:

October 12th
Open Secret Bookstore-Cafe
923 C St.
San Rafael, CA, 94901
Doors 7:30 show 8pm
Tix $15 in advance, $20 at door
Special 2-for-1 ticket concession for those in need (advance purchase only)
For advance ticketing – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/271129
www.heatherdale.com/
www.opensecretbookstore.com/

Here are a some videos of two of my favorite Heather Dale songs, to help get you in the spirit! (NOTE: These are fan-made videos so they may not seem “professional” but it is pretty darned cool to have fans who love you this much! You can view Heather’s official videos as well as many more fan-made videos on her site http://heatherdale.com/)

First,  Mordred’s Lullaby. And set to images of the gorgeous Prince Nuada – watching him  move does nothing to diminish the song, nothing at all ;+).  The Second is Joan, written for/about Joan of Arc.

Enjoy, and may music inspire you always!!

Oh! AND I made this spiffy poster for the event!

The Changing Face of Sharon-Winter Music Land

Once upon a time, in a land very far away indeed, where rock icons basked in every excess, and aspiring musicians of all ilks rose or fell on the grace of their corporate-music overlords, there was this mythical thing called “tour support”.  Tour support was that stuff dreams are made of, where an investor (i.e. your record label) made up the difference between the real costs of being on the road and the 6 tickets you sold at your first gig in a new town. The record companies were willing to make this investment because they knew that in most cases, it takes an artist several years to build a viable career.

That doesn’t exist anymore. For independent artists it never existed.

Many of us make up for this lack by funding our tours with credit cards, benefit concerts, Ebay auctions and the like. Winter and I have been remarkably fortunate in that we have had less need for fundraising than many.  We are partners in a recording studio, so we don’t have recording costs to contend with. And in our 6 years of regional and then national touring, we have always made a profit.

Until this year.

This year, for the first time in our musical careers, we find ourselves needing to generate tour support.

In past years, it was not uncommon for folks to buy all our CDs after a show. This year, it was the norm for people to tell us “I love your music, as soon as I find a job-my next unemployment check comes-things get better, I am going to buy your CD.”  Coupled with the rising costs of pretty much everything, not the least of which is gas, the time has come to change our game.

We could give up. We could get jobs (maybe). We could fund our way through lean times with credit cards and hope for the best.

Or we could explore creating a culture of mutual support within our community – those of you who love our music, have felt lifted up by it, and want it to continue.

This is the most empowering route, obviously, and a model that more and more artists are adopting, as we have seen by the influx of Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, and the rise of subscription sites such as Patronism. These trends in the way musicians do business are pretty exciting, because they put the power in the hands of the artists and their tribe.  The time has come for us to explore these models ourselves – because, frankly we trust you guys far more than credit card companies.

SO. Below is my first foray into initiating a culture of mutual support between our clan and ourselves. Let me know what you think. :+)

The Ring of Enchantment

What if I could create ongoing music-meditation-ritual support for helping you actualize your own dreams? A “Members only” portion of my site were we work, via Sonic Alchemy, on overcoming the blocks to your heart’s desire?  This would be our very own clubhouse for creative dreamers. Part secret society, part slumber party, part magickal grove, part personal transformation alchemy lab, part creativity think tank. A place where we can share our dreams and our stumbling blocks, our hopes and fears, our tears and victories and silliness. A private online group, kinda like Facebook but without all the annoying politics and privacy invasion. And with way less people. Just folks on our wavelength, using sound and music and art and ritual to blast through our blocks and support our dreams.

What you would get –

1) Monthly Sonic Alchemy videos with a supplemental essay exploring the philosophy behind that month’s practice. (Sonic Alchemy is my “personal transformation via sound” work. You can read about it here).

2) The “Intro to Sonic Alchemy” eBook, which I am writing now.

3) My personal attention and support via a “members only” online forum. My passion, love, talents, and drive to create a world of beauty are at your service. I commit to checking in at least twice a week to answer questions, witness your vision, and help you realize it.

4) All our stuff in digital format. Every musical recording. My upcoming Lullaby Cd. Any future Sonic Alchemy workbooks and music I create. Everything I ever make again, yours, as part of your monthly subscription. (To be released one item at a time, each month).

5) Discounts on all our physical products and live shows.

6) First dibs on anything I create in one of my “artistic whimsey” modes. Faery skirts, art, journals, treasure chests, collectibles, and the like. We’ll have “just for us” insider auctions for these things.

7) A private online community.  Wherein we can share our dreams, work our stuff, and support each other free from critical eyes or the usual distractions of the internet. A place all our own, to share our process with Sonic Alchemy and the various musical rituals I come up with as part of it. Also, you guys will have a major say in what you want me to create next as far as Sonic Alchemy meditations and support rituals.

Does that sound good? It sounds like a lot to me! And aside from these direct benefits, there is more goodness that comes to you, to Winter and I, and to the world at large as a result of your participation –

1) Winter and I are able to continue touring. Which means we can bring our live show to more people, including your town. When we hit the road, all other income stops. Winter’s guitar students get put on hold. Our studio work gets put on hold. We can maintain the Ring of Enchantment while we are on the road, thus alleviating the strain of needing to meet all our expenses by ticket and CD sales alone.

2) We can continue to say “Yes!” to a broad range of events,  even though they may not have much money.  There are a lot of folks whose vision we support, who are still trying to get their feet off the ground, who don’t have much budget, are fundraising for something we believe in, or whom we just plain like.  We want to be able to support these events, but this past tour we said yes to a few too many of them. The “culture of mutual support” that we aspire to create with you guys will enable us to be less mercenary about the choices we make. It will also enable us to take more risks as far as branching into new territories, where we may not yet have a proven audience. Such as Steampunk festivals and geeky conventions like DragonCon.

3) We will be able to write more music more often. I will be able to pursue the craft of songwriting with considerably less stress hanging over my head. I can breathe a little easier about taking some time away from gigging to work on new music. You will be directly responsible for the blossoming of a songwriter, and since you will get everything I create as part of your membership, you will get to enjoy the fruits of this blossoming. This goes for Pandemonaeon music as well as my solo work and Sonic Alchemy.

4) If this goes well, we can hire an assistant. And then we can grow our business and thus our offerings by leaps and bounds! With an assistant helping out with the nuts and bolts, I can wear a few less hats and get down to my real work – creating music and art to inspire you!

5) More music videos! Lots more. Like 2-3 a year rather than one every 5-6 years. We’ve already bought ourselves a little video camera, have some great ideas in the works, and are updating our editing capabilities. A steady stream of income – and maybe even an assistant – frees up a lot of time for this.

6) Pandemonaeon tour support! Oh boy would we LOVE to tour with Pandemonaeon! But so few venues can cover our expenses. Larger festivals probably could. But we can’t get those until we’ve built up our audience. Which means folks need to hear us. A catch-22 that could be overcome if this generates enough support.

So – as you can see, your participation really does keep the music alive and flowing. You become part of our creative process, while getting regular support for your own creative process through the Sonic Alchemy work and private forum.

I am thinking this would be a $20 a month kind of thing, with a discount for signing up for a year, say $200 a year.  I’d need about 50 people to sign up to make this workable. Of course the more folks we have the more grand we can get, but I can get started with 50 folks. I’m not exactly sure how long it will take me to set all this up, but I imagine we’d launch it Dec. 1st or Jan. 1st.

What do you think? Does this excite you? Would you participate? Please let me know in the comments.

Also – to kick this whole thing off – and to make sure we get through our next tour alright – we are launching a (hopefully) fun game/video-log for our October tour. Introducing:

The Hunger Games – Touring Musician Style

“Follow along as Sharon and Winter pit their wits against the rigors of the road!”

Because we will not have time to launch the Ring of Enchantment before our October tour, and because the Southern states are uncharted territory for us and therefore a bit of a risk, we have decided to make a game of it and create  a video-log of the tour, based -somewhat tongue-in-cheek – on the Hunger Games Trilogy.

It will be our own little reality show in the “arena” of musician life. You can follow along with the challenges, fun times, magick moments, silliness, serendipy, and whatnot that is life on the road. And, you can choose to sponsor us a la Hunger Games should you find us deserving or wanting.  You’ll pledge your sponsorship via an Indiegogo campaign. And yes, there will be perks. Some of which will be a trial membership in the Ring of Enchantment.

This campaign will launch October 1st, and we’ll post a link to it here on the blog, on our social networks, and via our mailing list. You’ll follow along right here on the blog, where we will post daily reports of a written variety, with video-logs appearing every 2-3 days. (A daily video may be too ambitious, as I will likely be editing them from the car as Winter drives!)

SO. I hope this all sounds fun, intriguing, inspiring. It does to us, and we can’t think of a better way to generate support that to pour everything we are into supporting you in your dreams, and bringing you along on our journey.

We love you. We want you to thrive. We want to thrive. We want the whole lot of us to bring our best selves to life and live the epic adventures we were always meant to. Thank you for sharing the journey with us! Stay tuned as these adventure unfold…

 

Faerieworlds Review

One of the many enchanting creatures to be found at Faerieworlds.

You Guys.

Faerieworlds was freaking epic. Seriously. It was the coolest festival I have ever been to.  It combined the best elements of California neotribal/hippie festivals with Rennaissance Faire and mythology.

I should say, I personally am not all that moved by standard hippie-fests. Too much techno and pretense. Not enough real substance. But the mythic element at FW really brought tradition and folklore into play in a way that deepened the whole experience for me. Certainly not in keeping with any sort of historical accuracy, but it’s not about that. It’s about dipping into our collective unconscious, and drawing forth our myths and legends to inspire and imagine our current world into being. And at that, Faerieworlds succeeded spectacularly.

Perhaps I am biased, because I want to live in a world full of pixies and pirates. But so be it. I got to, and therefore I will wax poetic for the rest of this post. :+)

Things I loved

Warming Up - Faerieworlds 2012

Playing on the main stage!
The sound was good, the audience was appreciative and fantastically dressed, we played well and were well received, and it set a lovely tone for the rest of the day. We performed early, which was nice because then we got a full day to play, unfettered by the need to be “on”.

Tricky Pixie

The bands –
Tricky Pixie are always a favorite of mine. They are all three of them fantastic people as well as consummate performers- SJ Tucker, Alexander James Adams, and Besty Tinney. They play a whimsical yet gutsy style of folk rock that they call “Myth-Punk” and are one of the more original bands in existence today. I frankly adore them.

Donovan
played as well, which I enjoyed. I have been seeing some less than stellar reviews of his show around the internet, and at 66 years of age I suppose it could be said he wasn’t really in his prime, but considering I’ve been listening to him since discovering my dad’s folk albums as a kid, and that he was my first introduction to any sort of fairytale folk music, I enjoyed him for the legacy he represents. (View the complete line-up).

(Side note: when I am 66 I fully intend to still be in my musical prime, touring around and playing all the time. Just so’s you know. I’ll be the eccentric old Pirate Queen.)

Zero Waste Policy –
The FW crew were really on top of recycling. They had recycling bins as well as compost bins all over the site. You couldn’t walk 25 feet without finding another one, it seems. As someone who spends several months a year traveling around to these things, I can say that Faerieworlds blew most of them out of the water in this regard. I hope this is a policy that will be widely adopted by events producers everywhere. (Learn more).

Phoenix Rising Designs

The artisans and their wares– There were truly some spectacular goodies! I always go right for the clothes, and there were all manner of ways to dress as a mythical creature! Such as this: >>>

Want to see some more cool FW vendors? Click here. 

Electronica temple – Not being a big electronica fan, these are usually in the “pretentious-yet-empty” category for me, but this one was really tasteful. The music they were playing was very down tempo and chill and actually…good. I did in fact feel like this was a good place to relax and do some yoga. It was nice that this was provided as a vignette one could visit without having it be the dominant theme of the fest.

Hang Player – speaking of vignettes, there was this hang player just sitting up on the Neverworlds stage round about midnight, just jamming away and creating the most delicately beautiful bell-like tones. It was utterly mesmerizing. Haven’t heard a hang? Here’s one.  Just imagine him under a grove of trees amidst a lush meadow under the full moon:

Freaking Amazing Light Show, with Jellyfish in the Sky – 
Blue lights radiating out from the stage, rippling across the expanse of sky in waves, accented with emerald circles creating a harmony of patterns, and papier mache jellyfish on tall sticks lit from within with colored lights, so that the entire sky looked like a great cosmic sea.  ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Have I mentioned the moon was almost full? Sadly, I have found no pictures to even remotely do this justice, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations. It was spectacular.

Pirate Tavern!
Yep, right there in the woods. Complete with Tricky Pixie as the house band, cutting loose with the bawdy songs and ribaldry. Many others shared songs as well, and I spent the majority of my evening there. Regrettably, I didn’t contribute much myself because, earlier in the evening, I had made other decisions as to the night’s recreation.  Now I know there’s a Pirate Tavern,  I will make more “lyric-remembering-friendly” decisions in the future. But I had a lovely time nonetheless, singing along to choruses and whatnot, and I don’t regret my earlier decision. There were jellyfish in the sky after all.

All in all, Faerieworlds was an utterly magickal awakening of the imagination on so many levels, levels that I deeply resonate with. If indeed festival culture exists to give people a chance to imagine a better world by living it for a weekend, as many claim, then Faerieworlds hit the nail on the head as far as the kind of  world I want to live in.  This is now my “can’t miss” summer festival, and I will be organizing all other touring around it. My own quirky brand of magick so belongs here!  Fans of myth and legend, this is your inner world come to life!

Musings from the Road

Hey you guys!

I finally have a little down time to write a bit for you.  We are peacefully ensconced in a Marriott hotel in upstate New York with our friend Kellianna, enjoying some much needed down time and a chance to use fast internet, to wash ourselves thoroughly and sleep on a cushy bed.

I enjoy the extremes of first being in festival mode, getting dusty and sweaty, and living closer to the land where everything is just a bit more difficult, and then shifting into a few days of luxury.

Of course, it may be a bit rich to describe our modest hotel as “luxury” but that is part of the beauty. Compared with standing in line for a cold shower and then being sweaty and dusty again in an hour, it really is luxury.

The dusty festival of which I speak was the New York Faerie Festival. This is truly a magickal event, and the closest I have yet come to running away with the circus. Based on the Renaissance faire model, but much more fantasy than period,  this festival is a fine example of a group of people coming together to create a magickal alternate world for folks to hang out in. It was on a gorgeous piece of land with lots of trees, a river, and little glens everywhere.  It had the usual “day pass” vibe, with vendors and performances of all types – we played 4 shows on several stages throughout the festival – and also had the camping/after party element, with folks sharing stories and arts,  jamming together and showing off their talents. Being part of the performer’s camp was really a treat, with hundreds of costumed festival goers spontaneously entertaining each other into the night.

We had the luxury of camping with the swankiest camp, which made for a very “gypsy wagon around the fire” feel. It was so much fun to get myself dolled up in front of a mirror propped up against a huge apple tree amidst a circle of huge tents and hanging candle holders of colored glass.

One of my favorite pieces of this is the traveling musician tribe that we find ourselves a part of.  We end up at similar shows by sheer luck of the draw, hang for a while, tell stories and make fun, watch each other’s shows and often sit in, then we are off to our respective adventures until serendipity has it that we end up in the same place again.

We find ourselves travelling with Kellianna for the next week, as we were booked at consecutive festivals. Wendy Rule was also at NYFF, and we will rejoin with her later in the year for the New Orlean’s Witch’s Ball.

Another cool thing that has happened on this journey is that www.couchsurfing.org rocks! If you like to travel and meet folks, you have got to know about this. It is a website whereby people offer their homes to travelers. And it isn’t just couches, it is often a spare bedroom with a private bath.  This has saved us a lot of money as we’ve gotten started on this musician road, and has many times made the difference between whether we make a profit or not.

We had a fantastic experience in St. Paul with some folks from couchsurfing.org. They had a beautiful home with wonderful soft, clean pets to snuggle with. They came to our show, and even organized a couch surfing meet-up group at a charming rooftop sake brewery.  We would have never discovered this place if they hadn’t taken us there, which is a big part of the beauty of friending some locals.

It renews my faith in humanity that people are willing to extend such trust and goodwill to one another that they open their homes to strangers. It hearkens back to a more innocent time, and bears witness to the possibility that the world can be a friendly place where we all look after each other and strive to make life better for each other. Certainly there are those times when you need down time away from people, but if you are up for an adventure in meeting new people, couch surfing is a very cool way to do it.

Well, it gets late, and we are off to Canada again tomorrow, so time to close the computer. I am glad I had a chance to jot a few things down before internet access gets dubious again. I am so glad to have had a chance to share this part of the journey with whomever may be reading.

All the best to you, and may your journey be sweet and full of unexpected gifts.

 

 

Where the Wild Things Are (AKA Winter says Hi)

He wasn't even drunk yet.

Winter has acquired a new hat on this journey.  Here is Winter in his new hat.  Winter got this hat from our friend, Mojo (of the Wigglian Way podcast), who hosted us for our first ever Canadian show just outside of Vancouver.

I am not sure how Winter discovered the hat, but pretty much from the moment we stepped foot in Mojo’s house, Winter and the hat were inseparable.

So eventually Mojo said, “It’s yours”.

Then Winter said “Oh no, man, I can’t take your hat”.

So Mojo said “Well you’ve already worn it more than I ever have”.

We all agreed that the hat suits Winter perfectly.

I ma not sure what it says about Winter that he finds his soul-hat and it has horns and ears. But there you go.

In Service to the Song

This is Montana. The whole freaking state is this gorgeous. I wish I took this pic but I didn't. I tried, but my pics came out crap. (Note to self: Learn to take better pictures.)

Greetings fellow travelers! I am writing from the road, as we wind our way through the gorgeous mountains of Washington and Montana. We have completed the first leg of our journey, playing 3 shows in the Pacific Northwest and venturing into Vancouver for our first show ever in Canada. We spent the night in the foothills of Mt. Rainier, nourishing our souls on good conversation, soft rain and starlight, hot tubs and feline hijinks. We spent a long day of driving yesterday, through Montana and into North Dakota, a spectacular drive filled with rolling green hills, jewel-like rivers, and downright Tolkienesque rock formations in places. Now we head into what feels to me like a desolate part of our country, long stretches of plains, flat and parched, unsheltered by shade, just the sun beating down mile after mile on a soul that yearns to be quenched.

The changing terrain reflects our mood, sometimes desolate, sometimes lush and full of promise. Not unlike this life, or any life lived outside of the safe and known.

Truly, this is a life lived between the cracks. It is so hard to know what to expect, what to plan for. One show will be packed to full capacity, with most patrons buying a fistful of Cds. The next show will have four attendees. Always, we are reminded to surrender all in service to the song.

I am reminded of Cuchulain’s journey through the Plain of Ill Luck. In order to prove his worth as a warrior and thereby win the hand of the beautiful Emer, Cuchulain was set many impossible tasks. One such challenge was to cross the Plain of Ill Luck, a field of spikey glass blades, sure to impale all who crossed. Cuchulain could see no way across, and no way to outsmart this trickery laid before him. But he refused defeat, and before long a mysterious youth appeared, as if summoned by Cuchulain’s determination, and gave to Cuchulain a wheel, which rolled across the grass just ahead, flattening a path for him to cross. He followed this path, step by step, never knowing where it led, but trusting to the path that opened before him, until he came to the dwelling of the warrior-woman Scathach, who became his great teacher.

This is often how I feel, having committed to this life. It feels so utterly right, and yet impossible at the same time. And yet, by taking the steps before us to take, the impossible becomes possible. We don’t need to know all the answers. We just need to see the next step. And take it, of course.

I believe we all have an epic journey to make. As certainty and security are stripped from our society, this becomes more urgently apparent. Many of us have no choice but to undertake an epic journey, for we have been thrust upon one by circumstance. If we must reinvent ourselves, why not reinvent ourselves in harmony with the deepest song of our soul?

In service to the song, I grow more sure-footed with every step. With every step I grow more committed to this life – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is not a trial run, this is my life, and I will take what it offers me, give it all I am, and trust that it is enough.

What song calls to you, beckoning as a siren from the deeps of your subconscious to step away from your safety zone and live?

Song-A-Week Songwriting Update

You guys.

I’m not pulling it off. In fact, I am flat-out tanking on this “one song a week” bit. In April, I managed to write two chants, one of which those of you on my mailing list received as a mermaid kiss in early May.

But that is it. And so far, no new ones this month.

It’s not that I am a flake. Honest. It’s that touring season is now upon us, and I am balls- to-the-wall with tour details. Winter and I do this entire operation ourselves – every phone call, email, inquiry, finding of new venues, promoting of shows, finding places to stay, answering questions, mailing posters, creating Facebook events, plotting out routes, picking up band members from airports, booking hotels, asking folks to help spread the word, etc. etc. etc. is on us.

Not to mention this time out, preparing two separate shows for the same festival. And getting the new songs I have written up to performance speed.

Not that I mind any of this – I love my life and there is nothing I would rather do. But I bit off waaaay more than I could chew, saying I could write 4 songs a week AND be on the road.  I wondered, when first I declared this Song-A-Week bit, how it was going to play out during touring season. Now I know. I am laughably overcommitted!

So there we go. I told you all I would report each month, and report I am. Apparently that report is going to read FAIL at times.

Does that mean I am quitting? Hell no! Believe it or not, I am still going to strive to get as close as I can to 4 songs a month, even during the summer. I am just not going to beat myself up if I fail. I will just pick myself up, dust myself off, and dive back in. And of course, I’ll keep you posted.

Speaking of tour, I will write up a full report of this first leg in the next few days. Beltania was downright epic, and it was great to travel with all of Pandemonaeon for our first time out of the state. I look forward to telling the tale – for now, off to the next gig!

Love to you all – Sharon

Song Magic – Star of the Sea

Star of the Sea

Heya cutie-pies!

Since some of you have asked about the lyrics to my songs, I have started this Song Magic series, where I feature a song, the lyrics, and bit about what inspired the song.

This time I am featuring Star of the Sea, off of Song of the Sea.

This song is about following one’s inspiration, dedicated to Venus, the star that guides the sailors, inspires poets, and drives lovers mad.  This song is an ode to  following that which compels us and brings beauty into or lives, that for which we would give all.  Enjoy!

 

Here she comes, soft as a whisper of wild things
Bringing her siren songs for me to sing
Her charms ensnare me, they capture my senses
As twilight unveils the secret that stirs the hearts of kings

What praises I wouldn’t sing
For the bright star of evening

While there’s a song in my soul that’s worth singing
While there is passion to quicken my blood
I will follow the star of the sea
Until all her songs are sung

I’ve dipped my toes in the madness of muses
Who spin their tunes with strands of their shining silver hair
Now I dance, untamed, drunk in the houses of God, yea,
Singing until my voice is raw

Delirium has me in thrall
Is it freedom or folly

While there’s a song in my soul that’s worth singing
While there is passion to quicken my blood
I will follow the star of the sea
Until all her songs are sung

I’ve kept my dreams frozen too long
Waiting to wake them with song
It’s a tune I have known all along

While there’s a song in my soul that’s worth singing
While there is passion to quicken my blood
I will follow the star of the sea
And I’ll rise up singing
Until all her songs are sung