May 26, 2016

Steve Eulberg: smile-inducing, toe-tapping, folkgrass

Steve Featured in Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast #015
Steve Featured in Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast #015

Barefoot Ballet on guitar. Highlight from Steve's "I Am A Pond" Concert Window Show

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Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast

Steve has been featured in Episode #15 of Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast. You can listen to the conversation from his interview with Wayne Jiang and Patricia Delich here!

Patreon Progress!

Sound the trumpets!  Lay a festive table!  Thanks to my Patrons, we have surpassed yet another Milestone Goal! I am scheduling a private Patrons-Only Concert Window show as a reward, but the work that they support provides benefits for e…

Local 1000 Gathering @ Ashokan

Earlier this month, for the 5th time, I coordinated the gathering of my union brothers and sisters (Local 1000 AFM–American Federation of Musicians) as we gathered at this amazing and historic Ashokan Center in Olive Bridge, New York.

Members Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (pictured here) sang us a lovely song about living in the Catskill Mountains.

This camp is the home of the music and dance camps that they have facilitated for decades, and which gave birth to the famous “Ashokan Farewell” song that Ken Burns featured in his Civil War documentary series.

The topic of this year’s gathering was mentoring.

Remembering who has helped us get to where we are, and also paying attention to who we are currently helping along the way. 

With my good sister, Tret Fure, I led a Crowdfunding workshop which then our other faithful sister, Erin Mae Lewis led in our Virtual Union hall meeting later in the month.

Two insights from this gathering:


My friend and brother, Scott Berwick, shared this story from a classical guitar instructor who demonstrates to student visitors a piece of music, then comments:

“That was correct.
All the notes were played in the right order and with the correct timing.
But that wasn’t musical.”

Then he plays it again with expression and dynamics and the two performances are nearly unrecognizable to each other.

He then says to the students,

“Students come here playing guitar. 

What I teach them is how to play music on the guitar.”

Second is a question upon which I will chew and chew

How do we measure success?

If it is by comparison to someone or something…we’ll probably never measure up.  So I need (and am finding) a different definition.

This commencement address by Maria Popovich of Brainpickings Weekly, underscores that point.

Here is an excerpt:

“…I also practically live on my bike — that’s how I get everywhere — and the other week, on one of those first days of spring, I was riding from Brooklyn to Harlem. I had somewhere to be and was pedaling pretty fast — which I like doing and must admit I take a certain silly pride in — but I was also very much enjoying the ride and the river and the spring air that smelled of plum blossoms. And then, I sensed someone behind me in the bike path, catching up, going even faster than I was going. It suddenly felt somehow competitive. He was trying to overtake me. I pedaled faster, but he kept catching up. Eventually, he did overtake me — and I felt strangely defeated.
But as he cruised past me, I realized the guy was on an electric bike. I felt both a sort of redemption and a great sense of injustice — unfair motorized advantage, very demoralizing to the honest muscle-powered pedaler. But just as I was getting all self-righteously existential, I noticed something else — he had a restaurant’s name on his back. He was food delivery guy. He was rushing past me not because he was trying to slight me, or because he had some unfair competitive advantage in life, but because this was his daily strife — this is how this immigrant made his living.
My first response was to shame myself into gratitude for how fortunate I’ve been — because I too am an immigrant from a pretty poor country and it’s some miraculous confluence of choice and chance that has kept me from becoming a food delivery person on an electric bike in order to survive in New York City. And perhaps the guy has a more satisfying life than I do — perhaps he had a good mother and goes home to the love of his life and plays the violin at night. I don’t know, and I never will. But the point is that the second I begin comparing my pace to his, my life to his, I’m vacating my own experience of that spring day and ejecting myself into a sort of limbo of life that is neither mine nor his.”

Grunewald Songwriting Workshop

Jan Krist, visual artist and song-writer, led us through a powerful creative process at the Songwriting Workshop she hosted at the Grünewald Guild in Leavenworth Washington this Spring.
The Grunewald Guild is named for Matthias Grünewald, 
“a German painter who ignored the classicism and idealism of the current Renaissance style and painted in a more expressive and intense style than his contemporaries.”
The Guild is a retreat center and a community that facilitates the exploration between art and faith/spirituality.
At the beginning of 2016  had committed to set aside some time and resources for my first continuing education time in many years so when my daughter invited me to join her at this songwriting workshop, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
My Assigned writing companion.
For a long time I have felt like my creative voice was being given expression only in instrumental music, with there being little to say of any value or interest in the current climate of wordiness. 
There IS power in nonverbal music, nonverbal communication, which I see daily in my Music Together classes with preschool (and pre-literate) human beings.
However, thanks to the safe (and challenging) container that Jan helped to create and a process which helped to facilitate focus and a timeframe to produce a song to share with the rest of the community at the end of the retreat…I found myself rejuvenated and refreshed!
 My “office” on the bridge and my explorations of the external geography (which paralleled and revealed my internal geography) led me to produce not one but two songs!  

This earned me the title of “overachiever”!  lovingly bestowed upon me by the rest of the group.

Demo recordings of Barefoot Ballet and The Center Calls have been shared with my patrons as rewards on my patreon page  and are in consideration for a new recording project as well.

Three Times

“Three times, you may deny me, as Peter, before the cock crowed two….”

I was still in high school when I penned these lyrics, working the song over and over in the lounge of my home church in Pemberville, Ohio.

As is common with vibrant teens, my heart was longing for a just-out-of-reach love focus, and it was all mixed up with my faith language, in the traditional (although I didn’t yet know it) vein of pietist poetic verse.

And these interchanges between Jesus and his disciple, Peter, had always held my fascination.  In one of the King James Gospels the archaic “thrice” was used for three times and I latched on to that word, and from there the story, not of betrayal, but of denial and disappointment.  I supposed this echoed my own life more than the out-right betrayal by Judas, and seemed a little more “acceptable” even thoguh it was really a “I’m scared and I’m going to try and lie my way out of danger” story.

So after all this is predicted and occurs, we then hear what Jesus didn’t speak in the story so directly.

“…but I’ll still love you.”

Three Times (listen)

As I began playing this song for the worship around the tables in the fellowship hall of the church where my spouse is pastor, my mind simultaneously flashed through 40 years of Maundy Thursdays and other performances of this song:

Singing with Beloved, a youth singing group from my home church, Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran, from beside the choir loft, the first time it was sung in worship—on Maundy Thursday.

In concerts with Beloved, including a set at the Lutheran Youth Encounter (LYE) Congress in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Sharing the song with the LYE team who came and worked with our youth group for a summer week of faith and fun, and then hearing that they took the song back and sang it for the final gathering of all the summer youth teams where it was a hit. (!)

Singing this song on a television interview program, taped in an actual television studio in Columbus, Ohio, (although the interview was for a college class on television production.)

And then (I believe) in every congregation I’ve been affiliated with throughout college and seminary, in Columbus, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Fort Collins and San Mateo for 40 years.

And as we sang the song last night, feet and hands were being washed as a sign of service, which some people call the other sacrament commanded by Jesus in the gospel of John; voices were raised in a reminder that even though we fall away, even though we deny, even though our courage falters…

…that love remains and holds us.

After publishing this post, I learned that YouthEncounter, the subsequent name of Lutheran Youth Encounter, is closing its doors on April 3rd.  While I am sad to learn this news, I am also grateful for their service and inspiration since 1965.

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