July 09, 2012

Happy is What Happens....

My friend Amy has a saying, "Top Ten Day". When the weather is perfect, the company is great, the venue or event is amazing, when the food is delightful. Amy let's us know - this is a "Top Ten Day". Of course, Amy is so generous of spirit and delightfully optimistic that she probably racks up 20 or 30 Top Ten Days per year. But that's another story.

Yesterday, driving out to the Coventry Regional Farmer's Market, I had my own moment of thankfulness and awareness. The day had not yet turned steamy, so the windows were open, and the bright sun filtered through the canopy of leaves on the windy country road. I had my musical instruments and amps in the car; a cooler of water on ice, and a large tarp to use as a sun screen. I was en route to spending three hours doing something I love - playing music - with some wonderful people and musicians, my beloved Guinea Pigs. And I was headed out to support a farmer's market where local farmer's were selling their produce, grown with sweat and love, to people who appreciate fresh, local, and healthy food.

And as I was driving along the road, enjoying those sites, sounds, and smells before me and contemplating the day ahead, the realization or awareness suddenly emerged that I was happy. For those who have done Enlightenment Intensive work, it was like a tiny little Direct Experience. My life was not blown wide open, but there was a little slice of divine awareness there, and it colored the rest of the day with thankfulness, joy, and delight.

July 06, 2012

Falcon Ridge Folk Fest - Emerging Artist Showcase

Each year, the Falcon Ridge Folk Fest hosts an Emerging Artist Showcase - 24 new (to the fest, anyway) artists who get 15 minutes on the main stage. For many fans, it's a highlight of the festival - they plant themselves out front, make copious notes and comments in their programs, and carefully submit their votes for the three artists to return in 2013 for the "Most Wanted Song Swap" - back to the main stage for a featured set! It's the sort of opportunity that can make an artist or performer - big deal!

The 2012 Most Wanted returnees: Blair Bodine, ilyAIMY, Louise Mosrie, and Pesky J Nixon (think there was a tie, so four artists) - will all be back. I'm busy updating the performer merchandise master spreadsheet (a juggernaut that makes tracking sales and checking artists in and out simple), so they all return from 2011. In addition, here are 2012's Emerging Artists, in alphabetical order:

1 - Brad Cole / Chicago IL
2 - Burning Bridget Cleary / Philadelphia PA
3 - cary cooper / Dallas TX

4 - Chris Kokesh / Portland OR
5 - Dan Charness / NYC
6 - Gathering Time / Long Island NY
7 - Heather Maloney Band / Northampton MA
8 - Honor Finnegan / NYC
9 - Jarrod Dickenson / Brooklyn NY
10 - Jim Hayes / Ringwood NJ
11 - Jon Brooks / King City Ont
12 - Julie Christensen / Ojai CA
13 - Kate Klim / Nashville TN
14 - Kevin Neidig / Etters PA

15 - Miles to Dayton / Long Island NY
16 - Poor Old Shine / Storrs CT
17 - Rebecca Pronsky / Brooklyn NY
18 - Ryan Tennis / Philadelphia PA
19 - Sarah Blacker / Cambridge MA
20 - Sorcha / Portland ME

21 - Steve Chizmadia / Peekskill NY
22 - Sweet Talk Radio / LA CA
23 - The Marrieds / London Ont
24 - The YaYas / Mohegan Lake NY

Last year, I decided to download as many of the Emerging Artist's newest albums as I could find on eMusic.com (a significant financial commitment, to be sure, but about 1/2 the price of iTunes). Did not do too bad this year - found 20 of the 24 artists. The artists in bold font above are now sitting on my iPad. Will listen to them throughout the next few weeks, then they will shuffle during pre-fest set-up in the merch trailer / tent. It's always nice to have a bit of an idea what the emerging artists sound like; it can make an emerging artist's day when the merch person says "hey, I like your stuff!" when they check in. Or better still, if they wander in and catch their own music in the trailer!

Bridge Street Live

Quickie post. I finally made it up to 41 Bridge Street / Bridge Street Live in Collinsville. Zippy (remember him? we're still friends though we no longer cohabitate) wanted to see the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, and since he's not great at night driving, I volunteered to tag along. He takes care of my dog, Elo, when I travel, so it's a good trade.

First off, Bridge Street Live. What a lovely space to see live music! Cabaret seating (last night, anyway, I imagine they change it up for different shows), efficient bar service with drinks and munchies, a great stage with pro sound and lights. It was everything one wants in a concert venue. And clean - even the rest rooms were spotless and new. Much has been made of the Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk (and with good reason, they have great music coming through) - but this place has better seating, and is a heck of a lot closer. Although they seem to be a bit more eclectic / blues in their booking, I see faves such as John Gorka, Patty Larkin, NRBQ, Ellis Paul, and Chris Smither on the calendar. Highly recommended!

The Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars - not someone I would usually seek out, but Zippy is wonderfully eclectic in his tastes, and the group was a winner. Engaging, dancing, uplifting - the sound bounced somewhere between reggae inflected and the music that Paul Simon brought to the public eye with Graceland. I was particularly struck by the  guitarist who played his left-handed Gibson SG strung upside down (not a right handed guitar, the knobs were in the right place, although one can imagine he learned to play a right handed guitar upside down). The resulting sound was so characteristic to African music that I have to wonder if playing a guitar strung this way is common or customary in Africa.