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…..

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!

To Re-enchant the World

The re-enchantment of the world is a big theme for me.  I talk about it a lot. I haven’t yet blogged about it much, but I’m gonna. So I probably ought to explain what I mean right out of the gate.

To re-enchant the world implies that it has been disenchanted. The concept of disenchantment appears to have been coined by a turn-of-the-century German Sociologist named Max Weber, to express the loss of mystical, magickal, or religious worldviews in favor of purely scientific, mechanistic, and capitalistic worldviews. During an admittedly quick search – because ultimately I am not so interested in where these terms come from as their ability to captivate our imaginations in this moment – I came across an article written by a fellow named Albert J. Raboteau, which sums this concept up nicely. Here’s a little excerpt:

“The world became disenchanted (Max Weber’s phrase, I think) at a certain point in the history of Western Europe — victim to the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the triumph of rationalism in the Enlightenment. …The world becomes flattened, surface, ordinary, spiritless. And in response we succumb to the pseudo-enchantment of addiction to entertainment, to food, to alcohol, to sex, to possessions — out of our deep innate hunger for mystery, for spirit, for glory. Like Esau, we trade our birthright. We settle for glittering treasure, dragon bait, but then the dragon wakens and eats our souls. We become the hollow men and women that T. S. Eliot described. We may not know how to name it, but we are no less deprived, impoverished, hungry. The gnawing feeling that our lives ought to be more possesses us. And we are right.”

(Note: this entire article is well worth a read and can be found at  http://www.crosscurrents.org/Raboteau.htm) –

The crux of the matter seems to be that we lost a sense of magic and wonder as the scientific worldview took over. We came to trust only what could be proven. It now seems, however, that we have paid a steep price for this “either/or” thinking. There is so much that simply cannot be measured let alone proven, and many of these “unprovable” experiences  appear to be crucial to our well-being.

There are a whole lot of mysteries in this word, and if we discount them simply because they don’t coincide with what we can prove, right now, we may be missing something. A whole lot in fact.

Am I betraying science, to say these things? I don’t think so. My stance is, it doesn’t have to be either/or. To give up science in favor of magic is to become superstitious. But to give up magic in favor of science is to diminish our humanity. To cut ourselves off from the parts of the world we can’t explain. And therefore to narrow our vision.

No one has a corner on the “truth” market. No matter what worldview we adopt, we are seeing the world through colored glasses. Science itself reevaluates positions that once seemed rock-solid every generation or so. As we speak, the Theory of Relativity is being called into question by the discovery of neutrinos that appear to be moving faster than the speed of light.

Rationality is very useful, and a very trustworthy mindset upon which to make decisions. But it is not everything. Intuition is a just as valid, and oftentimes proves itself to be more useful. I have frequently gotten better results solving problems by NOT thinking about them, i.e. during states of meditation.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to go all “religious nut” on you, and argue that science is false and that my God is “The Truth”. The point I am making here is, there is a whole heck of a lot of mystery in this world, and a willingness to consider the potential wisdom in relating to the world as mysterious may behoove us in a lot of ways.

Also – do we need our worldview to be “true”? Or just useful? Maybe any kind of absolute truth is ultimately unknowable. And maybe this is okay.

I am a Pagan. (well, sort of a Zen-Pagan-Buddhist at this point but that is a story for another day). Which means I have chosen to anthropomorphize forces of nature. I do this because to poeticize natural processes, i.e. science, in this way kindles something in my brain. It opens doors in my mind that make me feel inspired and expansive. I do not do this becasue I believe literally that there is some dude named Thor hurling thunderbolts down at us every time there is a storm. In other words – I don’t need Thor to be literal. But having him there in my imagination is useful to me, in ways that I don’t even fully understand. However, I don’t necessarily need to understand. I can make my peace with mystery, knowing that for whatever reason, this poeticization of nature’s workings inspires me. And an inspired mind is a creative mind, and a creative mind solves more problems than a closed mind.

What we believe shapes our experience. Our experience becomes our truth. Our truth becomes the world we live in. What kind of world do you want to live in?

I propose that we can relearn to see this world as a glittering jewel of infinite miracles. And in seeing the world this way, we begin to take actions that shape our world accordingly. What kind of person do you suppose is going to have the most positive impact on the world? Someone who beleives in infinite possibilities? Or someone who accepts only what can be proven to the rational mind?

I want to live in an enchanted world. Where fairy tales just might come true.  Where synchronicities do exist. This is my great thought experiment. What will come to pass in our lives, what doors might open up, if we make it a habit to believe 6 impossible things before breakfast?

As I see it, to re-enchant the world is to shift our perception to one where we see the world as alive, and ourselves as part of a connected whole, rather than a discrete part in a mechanical world, where nothing is alive and we are separate, disconnected, and isolated. To re-enchant the world is to learn to see between the cracks of “accepted” reality into a place where there is wonder, light, beauty, and infinite possibility, to rekindle that sense of  magic we had as children,  to remember that our imaginations can open up windows in the mind, the soul, and in nature.  And that through these windows can flow an inexhaustible energy that feeds us, inspires us, and gives us a direct experience of the Infinite.

Will you join me in keeping our minds open to the improbable, the impossible, the infinite? Will you experiment with me, and see what happens when we believe 6 impossible things before breakfast? Will you leave a door in your heart open to the infinite mystery of life? Shall we re-enchant the world together?

Neofolk Romantique – New Music!

We have new music, which was just unveiled last night at our show with Wendy Rule at Serpent’s Kiss in Santa Cruz.  Just in time for our cross-country tour. Yay!! This is a collection of traditionals and new originals that have yet to find their way onto a “formal” album. It also introduces our self-proclaimed musical genre, Neofolk Romantique. After years of  listening to the staunch Celtic traditionalists proclaim that my music is “Not Celtic”  I have decided to create my own genre. Neofolk Romantique is what I like to think of as an innovative and fresh interpretation of folk music; it contains a goodly dose of stark melancholy and reverence for ancestral tradition that one thinks of when one hears the term Neofolk, but also has a romantic and fanciful spin. Romantique, in fact, for our love of antiquity and old world charm. Rather more flattering than “Not Celtic”, wouldn’t you say?

Neofolk Romantique gives me far more flexibility to reflect my own world without getting bogged down in annoying trivialities such as facts. Facts have very little place in art, as far as I am concerned. Give me Steampunk over Reconstructionism any day.

So – reinventions having been thus proclaimed, let me tell you about this album.

It is indeed romantic and fanciful. All acoustic and very sparsely instrumented. A highlight for me is a song I wrote for a storm, who’s beauty swept me away completely. It’s called Mistress of Maclyr, and the vocal performance is one of the most emotional I have ever given. It isn’t technically perfect, but that is part of the charm of this album, and left this way intentionally. Enchanting performances by Winter and Tim Rayborn are also featured.

It also includes Saucy Sailor, a feisty English traditional about a carefree sailor lad. I have always loved the spirit of this song. Then there is an A Capella poem by William Butler Yeats, and a fun little tune I wrote called The Captain’s Flask. And of course we had to include Henry Martin, one of our best loved songs when we play live.  We also recorded an acoustic version of Pandemonaeon’s Queen of Shadows which came out surprisingly well. The album contains 10 songs in all.

We consider this a pre-release, which means this:

These particular versions of the songs will only be available for a limited time.

Some of these songs – particularly the traditionals – will only be released on this album and not on the formal release. Therefore they will only be available for the duration that this pre-release is available.

These songs represent a sparse, paired down interpretation of our music that is much more akin to our live shows than our full-production albums. They contain the flaws, vulnerabilities, and intimacy of a live show and as such give a different feeling than our lushly crafted studio albums.

You can listen to the album in it’s entirety – and if you like, purchase it – on our bandcamp page. Folks who purchase this album will get $5 off our formal studio release, due out within the year, simply by mentioning they bought the Neofolk Romantique pre-release. We beleive in the honor system because we believe you are honorable.

Enjoy!