A Tale of Two Stories

One upon a time there was a girl with stars in her eyes. She had tumbling red curls and a song in her heart. But she realized, she was sad. She had abandoned her dreams. So one day she turned to her charming prince and said “let’s hit the road and be musicians”. And so they did. Across the land they roamed, singing songs and making friends. Tentative and bumpy, but overflowing with passion, was this humble musical venture of theirs. When times were tough, they always had a place to stay. One day, they decided to take the leap and give up their home so that they could afford to take more risks and spend more time on the road doing what they loved most. They were nervous, but they had support and love enough to feel good about taking the plunge. They were in love, they lived a creative life, they travelled the world singing, and were very happy.

Meanwhile, in a parallel reality –

Times were tough. Everywhere you looked, folks were losing their jobs, their homes, their security. Debt was increasing, jobs were decreasing, and people were having a much harder time weathering basic life challenges. Folks who had little to begin with were hit especially hard. Such was the case for our protagonists; struggling to make a living in an uncertain industry, they were eventually confronted with the need to abandon their home in order to stay on top of their bills. They just couldn’t keep up with the demands of daily life, and became yet another statistic in the saga of the dwindling middle class.

Both of these stories are true. One sounds like a wonderful adventure and the other is a hard luck tale. I would so much rather be the person in the first story, wouldn’t you?

As it turns out, I am.  I am also the person in the second story. These stories are both about Winter and I, where we are at in life, and some pretty big changes that are coming up for us. In some ways these changes are brought about by events that could be considered unfortunate. But we are pretty excited about them!

In a nutshell, we are giving up our darling Lake Merritt apartment with the hardwood floors and the bay view, and moving into a tiny loft bedroom in an Emeryville townhouse. We will have considerably less space, for considerably less cost.

This is something that we have been discussing for a few years now. Most of our musician friends have given up their homes at one time or another to live on the road, and saving on rent costs really helped them get ahead. They invariably describe this time in their lives as challenging, but ultimately beneficial. We can’t help but imagine the possibilities for ourselves.

However, we’ve been reluctant to give up our own space. A place that is just ours, where we can let our hair down and not have to be “on” for anyone. Don’t get me wrong – being the celebrated “Artist on Tour” is loads of fun. But sometimes I just want to sit around in my underpants, you know what I’m saying?

So we put off making this choice.

Until Winter’s dentist made it for us.

While we probably could whether this new expense, it feels like the straw that broke the camel’s back. We want to invest in our business more than we’ve been able to. We want to get out of debt faster than we’ve been. And the more we are on the road, the more it hurts to send back a giant rent check for a place we aren’t even living in.

So we are taking the plunge, and for the most part, we are feeling pretty excited about it!

Of course, it could be said that medical bills are driving us into downsizing our lifestyle. There are those who would interpret our situation as tragic. There are those who will shake their heads in pity, thinking us fools for chasing this music dream. There are those who will see the second story as the hard truth, stripped of the romanticism I am known for.

But frankly, I identify with the first story so much more! And since it’s my life, I get to define what is adventure and what is tragic. I have dreamed of being location independent for years, traveling the world as I sing songs for people and work from my laptop. As I see it, this is the best of both worlds! I will get to experience the benefits of location independence, and still have a place to hang my hat. This is freaking awesome!

I can see wanting to have a larger home again someday, where I can spread out and have art projects all over the place. Indeed, owning a home is a significant measure of success to me. But I can do the gypsy thing for awhile and feel just fine about it. I am so thankful to be given this opportunity (thank you – you know who you are) and it really brings home the point to me that community, love, is what makes the difference between whether our stories are tragic or exciting. It is community and love that makes the first story ring true.

It also brings home to me just how much we live in our stories. How much our stories color our world. How many different viewpoints can be simultaneously true, and what it says about each of us which version of truth we choose to live in.

I live my life as an epic saga. Every day is an adventure, and if someone wants to tell me my life is nothing more than a sad newspaper statistic they can kindly piss off.

I am looking forward to sharing this new phase of our adventure here on this blog as I step more fully into the life of the touring musician! Will I freak out sometimes? Undoubtedly. Might I fail? Well sure. But you know – when I am on my death bed I am going to be damned thankful that I took my best shot at living my dreams rather than clinging to the (rather flimsy) promise of security and the American Dream.

How about you? What parallel stories do you have going on in your life?  What stories do you claim as yours? What stories define your life?

 

World Domination Summit – Giving to the World, Being True to Ourselves.

Sign

Perhaps this red sign seems a bit ominous for my report on Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, which I attended July 4th weekend. And yet, when I came across this photo, it really cut to the core of what I got out of the Summit.

This world can be heartbreaking. We humans can indeed be very destructive and hurtful to one another. And yet, we can also be incredibly compassionate, inspired, caring, and creative.  This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time with about 2800 other folks all gathered together in the hope of making the world a better place.

For two and a half days I mingled with creative entrepreneurs of all stripes, seeking to live on their own terms and create something truly remarkable with their lives. Every one of them approached life with a sense of artistry, and every one of them hopes to be a force for good in this world. That much concentrated optimism can be pretty potent!

Highlights for me were:

Danielle LaPorte. This woman has just got it. She came across so completely relaxed, in her slinky black dress and bare feet. And as she spoke, a light radiated out from the crown of her head and filled the room. Her words came from a place of such authenticity that it gave everyone in the room permission to be as true to themselves as they possibly can be. She reminded me that yes, we can be successful on our own terms, we don’t have to conform to anyone else’s mold. Which of course exemplifies the entire spirit of #WDS.

Chase Jarvis was also another truly inspiring force, with his lecture on creativity, and how our system dumbs people down and teaches us all to be good little robots, but what we actually need is a whole world of people taught to think creatively. Folks who know how to apply creativity to problem solving will be the ones who find solutions to the world’s many problems. We are hampered by both the style and cost of education. So he and a partner have launched a learning site, Creative Live, where you can take classes on just about anything, for free.

I had a chance to meet Pace and Kyelie, of the Edgewalker Academy, and felt immediately at home. I’ve been admiring their work for years. And bonus – Dyana Valentine was dining with them, so I got to meet her as well.

I could go on and on, but if I had to declare just one takeaway  from WDS, it would be this: I already have all I need, right now. I have a strong sense of identity and mission. While I will always be a seeker, I know what I want to bring to this world, and am already well on my way to doing it. I want to re-enchant the world. I want to be a living representative for what the world can become if we strive to delight each other. To create beauty and wonder and magic for each other. To be kind to one another, and to lift each other up. And I want to sing this from the rooftops, both for you and with you. My mission is clear. My passion is strong. I just need to get the word out about it better than I do.

And that feeling? It made me feel like I belonged there. With these people. With the creative world changers. To be in a giant theater of awesome and feel like I truly belonged there? That rocked.

Neofolk Romantique – It isn’t just for music anymore.

IMG_3641

Beveled bottle seeks exotic liqueur for mutual fulfillment.

Hello friends! I have an announcement to make!

This year has entailed a lot of soul searching as far as how to do my sweet little music career in a way that keeps it fun and creative, so that I don’t burn out. None of us can do our best work when burned out, and it has always been important to me that I craft my career on my own terms, not just for me, but for you. You guys deserve the best music I can make, not music that is rushed because I need to make rent.

At the core of my musical mission is the desire to rekindle a sense of enchantment in our world. The music I make comes from this place, and as such needs to be nurtured in this way. I need to be rested, rejuvenated, and inspired to create music that conveys this enchantment to you. I need to take time with a new song or idea, roll it around in my mind for awhile and let it ripen and take shape organically. For songs to reach their full potential, they must be allowed to reveal themselves slowly, as a lover would. I can’t give this process the respect it deserves when I am trying to slam out product as quickly as possible. Assembly-line music is not what I am here for.

For a while now, I’ve made money only when on tour. Which makes for a stressful time indeed when I am taking time off the road to create new music. As I’m sure you know, stress isn’t all that conducive to creativity either!

So I’ve spent a significant amount of time this year developing arms of my business that can sustain me while I write and record new music. In February, I unveiled the Ring of Enchantment, which in the fall will launch as a full fledged school.

Today I reveal to you the third – and final – arm of my master plan:

The Neofolk Romantique Etsy Store!

Why an Etsy store? One of the things that keeps my creative juices flowing is to approach creativity from a completely different angle every so often. I have been known to make my own clothes, draw, and meander aimlessly exploring new things. One of the things I have become enamored of lately is the vintage world. Over the years I have collected, crafted, or otherwise created a collection of goodies that fit the Neofolk Romantique style. And now I offer them to you.

This serves the dual purpose of keeping my own imagination kindled so I can write better songs, and also gives me the means to earn an income when not touring, so that I can develop new songs in a relaxed manner.

In my Etsy store you will find clothing, home accents, art pieces, and vintage treasures all handcrafted, upcycled, or found by me, and that represent the Neofolk Romantique style. A FREE song is included with each purchase.

What is the Neofolk Romantique style, you might ask?

Old world charm with a feisty dash of whimsy and romance. A quirky-sexy love of nature, and a flair for adventure. While we, the Neofolk Romantique of the world, may indeed dress in white lace, it is not without  grass stains on our knees. We are quite content to have high tea in the garden, but we are more than ready to brandish our blades at the first hint of danger. If Pippi Longstocking were to breakfast with Wendy and the Lost Boys, the scene might well be appointed with several items from the Neofolk Romantique Shoppe. Belly dancers with daggers, pirates in eyeliner, eccentric old ladies, brave explorers, epic love, fairy tales and fetish boots, circus acts and re-imagined history; if it seems like something the characters in my songs would have, it will be represented in the shop.

Care to step a little more into the world of Neofolk Romantique?

Then come for a visit!

PS – all proceeds from the shoppe go toward the care and feeding of your very own Neofolk Romantique musicians as we complete recording of the formal release of  our “Neofolk Romantique” album, slated for release at Faerieworlds 2013.

UPDATE: I found a little widget to display stuff right here:

The Ring of Enchantment – coming February 1st

Ring-of-Enchantment-smHey there Clan –

It looks like I will be ready to lauch the Ring of Enchantment Feb. 1st.

So naturally I’d love to get a feel for who is interested!

Please come on over to the invitation page, read what I have to say, and if you’d like to be notified when registration is live, please click the “sign me up” button on the page and answer the questions.

This will give me a feel for how many folks I can expect, and also gives folks who sign up first priority, as I will only be accepting 50 folks. I want to keep it intimate.

You can do all that right here:

http://www.sharonknight.net/the-ring-of-enchantment/

For those who may have missed it, this offering comes out of my desire to create a “culture of mutual support”. As an independent musician, I am always on the lookout for creative ways to continue making music, and always those ways revolve around fan support – you guys really do make everything happen! In exchange for your support, I want to support you in return. Seems fair, right? So I thought, why not offer my Sonic Alchemy work in a private membership forum? Sonic Alchemy uses song and sound, music and ritual to move energy, help us get unstuck, and restore the flow of creativity to life. In the Ring of Enchantment we tailor Sonic Alchemy to help rekindle a sense fo enchantmet in your life. You get beautiful music rituals custom-crafted to support you in this, and I get ongoing funding for my musical endeavors.

We will sing, we will move, we will breathe in sound and music and ride it’s energetic swells , we will share our dreams, goals and insights via a private online forum. If you love the sound of the music I make, and would like to experience it in a ritual context designed to shape your life in the image of your heart’s desire, shake loose the cobwebs in your psyche to work toward a dream or goal, or just want to feel a bit more magic in your life, you belong in the Ring of Enchantment!

Sound intriguing?

Come on over and check it out, and let me know if you’re in!

Thanks, and big giant gooey hugs!

http://www.sharonknight.net/the-ring-of-enchantment/

 

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.

 

 

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-Art

Hey beautifuls –

I have been toying with the idea of creating art that goes with our songs for a while now, and here is a piece I did based on Star of the Sea.

I am curious – if I were to print this up as 11 x 17 posters with the lyrics, would you want one? I’d probably sell them for $10.

But I don’t want to make stuff no one wants, so I figured I’d ask. ;+)

Star of the Sea

For that matter, I could also do something with these two, for Fierce Black Soul of Night.
I would print 25 each of one of them, with all or part of the lyrics. And I’d print 25 of the Star of the Sea. Or just 50 of Star of the Sea. Whichever most folks think they’d like best.

Let me know if you like this idea enough to buy one. If enough folks are interested, I’ll get them printed. And I’ll gladly sign them for you too, if you like. :+)

Fierce Black Soul of Night

Muse of midnight, rise within - rip the soul right from my skin - I take refuge in the fierce black soul of night!

Song-A-Week Songwriting Challenge – March Review

Whew!

I did it. I got my songs written for this month’s Song-A-Week review. I was hoping to write 6 to catch up from last month, wherein Hexenfest (our first annual self-produced festival) ate my life. But frankly it is all I can do to write 4 a month so I think I am going to have to change my perspective a bit. Rather than making up the songs I missed, I think I need to be okay with the idea that I fell down, but can can get back up again and resume where I was.

On that note, here they are. Enjoy!

(One quick reminder – please don’t share these, as they are very rough sketches, just meant for my community here as a way to share in the artistic process. I’d hate to develop a reputation as a sloppy musician were these released into the wild, as it were).

Slippers of Rose – This one is the belle of the ball for me, and will be on my next album for sure. I wrote it as part of a songwriting challenge I came across online called Song Fu. I figured, since I was already doing a songwriting challenge for myself, I may as well participate in a larger group. Amanda Palmer issued the theme for this challenge, and it was “Write a song about something you lost that you know you’ll never get back. Have it be about an object and then veer into the metaphysical if you want”. So this song is about a pair of ballet slippers I had when I was a young girl, and how they have come to represent my connection with my Dad, and wanting him to be proud of me.  It is about lost chances, and the passing of time. Now that my Dad has passed, anything that was left unsaid can never be spoken. Writing this was very powerful for me, and Winter liked it enough to want to add to it right away, so you’ve got a bit of his mojo here as well. Here t’is: Slippers-of-Rose-033112

Porcelain Princess – Here is a song about being invisible, something that we all feel from time to time. It is the story of a marionette who comes to life each night when her puppet master brings her out to dance on the stage. His attention makes her feel alive, and if only he could truly acknowledge her, see her for what she is inside, she would come to life permanently and be his love. I think this song needs a bridge and one last chorus before it is album-ready, but this is what I’ve got for now. Porcelain Princess

Freedom of the Fall – Here is a Pandemonaeon song written especially for the Pagans. We debuted it at Hexenfest, and in our minds it’s sort of the “anthem” of Hexenfest. It’s about our worldview as Pagans, how we reject the notion that we fell from heaven out of sin, but in fact find our “fall” quite liberating. Our manifestation on this earth is cause for celebration!  Does this song describe you? If so, then I raise a glass of strong wine in your honor. Freedom-of-the-Fall-031712

Sonic Alchemy Alignment – Hell yeah I’m counting this as a song! It is a composed piece of music after all, and took me well over 10 hours to create it. Check it out and read the instructions for how to best experience it. I think you will find it quite relaxing and centering. I am excited about developing this dimension to my work! Listen here: http://www.sharonknight.net/mp3/Sonic-Alchemy-Alignment.mp3

Speaking of Sonic Alchemy – I created another Sonic Alchemy meditation specifically for anxiety relief. So really I managed to write 5 pieces of music this month. (Maybe I will catch up after all!) However, I am not releasing this one yet, as I’ve created it for Veda Sun’s Anxiety Busting Virtual Retreat, and want that group to have it first.  (If you struggle with anxiety and want to make a commitment to getting it under control, check out Gina Rafkind and Veda Sun. If you sign up for the virtual retreat, you’ll get the Sonic Alchemy meditation as a bonus).

Alright lovies! That’s the news, them’s the songs, and as always, I invite you to let me know your impressions of them in the comments, and also offer ideas for songs for the next month. Thanks for playing the game with me!