April 30, 2017

Lent Musical Devotions

Lent Musical Devotions…

by Steve Eulberg

Imagine this:  A twice-weekly email playing gentle music of instrumental ensembles featuring dulcimers, gentle vocals and guitars and videos with instrumental music, together with a message of preparation that is serene, clear-sighted and hope-filled–an anti-dote to the dazed Spring atmosphere that is the backdrop for LENT.

LENT is the 40-day season in the Christian tradition that precedes the celebration of Easter.  Traditionally in the church year this is a season of preparation for baptism, or a season of fasting and giving something up, or, for taking up a new discipline, a season of reflection, repentance and renewal of faith.

This is free and available to you and anyone with whom you share this.

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Farewell to Fort Collins (or How to Start a Musical Career)

(Here is the original edit of my Farewell to Fort Collins "Soapbox" Article for the Fort Collins Coloradoan.  You can read the shorter, Soapbox edit here.  If you'd like to explore making a living in music, come to the workshop I'm hosting Dick Weissman on February 1, 2014. More info here.)

When we moved to Fort Collins, about 40,000 citizens ago, I had no idea what I was going to do  with my time and skills, other than parent our two children.  After a dozen years of serving as a pastor in the innercity of Kansas City, I was exhausted and ready for a change, and I was feeling a vocational tug in the direction of music.  To be honest, this was the tug that had been there since my earliest memories as a child.  I didn't know exactly how to go about starting such a career, although I felt confident in both my performing and teaching abilities since music had been a key organizing tool for our multi-ethnic congregation in Missouri.

The short story I like to tell is this: I threw every line into the water and pulled on the ones that bit.

I played special music for worship at an ecumenical set of congregations, I gave programs for   Church Women's United, the CSU Women's Association, Rotary and Kiwanis.  I contacted the local funeral homes and provided music for several funeral and memorial services.    I led music for Brownie and Girl Scout Day Camp at Lee Martinez park for two years.

I walked a block from my house to meet Russ Hopkins at KIVA studio, and he became my recording engineer, mentor, co-producer and peer.  With him I recorded and produced many records which have gone on to win awards and acclaim and continue to find the ears of appreciative listeners.

I went weekly to the Bluegrass jam at Avogadro's Number on Wednesdays, and was warmly welcomed into the experience of learning, playing and sharing music by ear.  I played the weekly Open Mics at Avo's and Lucky Joe's, and several others as they cropped up around town.  I auditioned to play at Barnes and Noble, and landed a Wednesday lunch-time gig at Deja Vu (at the time, the oldest continuously running coffeehouse in town) that lasted for 10 years!

I auditioned for the accompanist job for the Rainbow Chorus, and didn't get it.  But I filled in when they needed a sub and then was commissioned by them to create and arrange a suite of songs for their millennium concert and recording.

I've played Noontime Notes in Oak Street plaza and on the Old Town stage, all the stages at the Lincoln Center, the Fort Collins Museum in both of its locations, several locations on the CSU campus, Walrus, Ben and Jerry's, Stone Lion and Starry Night for First Night, and most Old Town street corners with Streetmosphere and countless weddings all across the Front Range.

I was the guitarist for Agua de Vida Luterana, the Music Director of First Presbyterian Church in Loveland, the choir accompanist for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins and the Director of Music for the Lutheran Campus Ministry at CSU.  I have been a Substitute Teacher and para-professional in the Poudre School District at Lincoln (then-) Junior High.  I have taught well over a hundred students in my private music studio and have watched some of them go on to music careers, while others enrich their lives with their musical participation.

I started and ran the Colorado Dulcimer Festival located here in Fort Collins for 10 years and have passed the mantle of leadership on to an able and dedicated crew who are preparing for the 11th one next Feb 7-8. (coloradodulcimerfestival.com)

Fort Collins, it turns out, was the perfect location for me to root and expand a new career that has taken me to perform and teach across the USA, Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland and Germany.

And now It is time for us to pull up the tent stakes and move. 

My spouse, Connie Winter-Eulberg, has been pastor of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at CSU since 1997, and has accepted a call to become the pastor of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church on San Mateo, California.  So that means it is time for me to re-establish Owl Mountain Music in a new nest.  But I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for all that the citizens and community of Fort Collins has meant to us.  I will be back, and in fact have some events already planned early in 2014, so I look forward to seeing many of you then.


If you would like to bid us farewell, come on by our Bon Voyage Hootenany at the Community Creative Center at 200 S. Matthews In Fort Collins on Saturday, Dec. 14th from 6:45 to 8:45 pm.


Farewell to Fort Collins (or How to Start a Musical Career)

(Here is the original edit of my Farewell to Fort Collins "Soapbox" Article for the Fort Collins Coloradoan.  You can read the shorter, Soapbox edit here.  If you'd like to explore making a living in music, come to the workshop I'm hosting Dick Weissman on February 1, 2014. More info here.)

When we moved to Fort Collins, about 40,000 citizens ago, I had no idea what I was going to do  with my time and skills, other than parent our two children.  After a dozen years of serving as a pastor in the innercity of Kansas City, I was exhausted and ready for a change, and I was feeling a vocational tug in the direction of music.  To be honest, this was the tug that had been there since my earliest memories as a child.  I didn't know exactly how to go about starting such a career, although I felt confident in both my performing and teaching abilities since music had been a key organizing tool for our multi-ethnic congregation in Missouri.

The short story I like to tell is this: I threw every line into the water and pulled on the ones that bit.

I played special music for worship at an ecumenical set of congregations, I gave programs for   Church Women's United, the CSU Women's Association, Rotary and Kiwanis.  I contacted the local funeral homes and provided music for several funeral and memorial services.    I led music for Brownie and Girl Scout Day Camp at Lee Martinez park for two years.

I walked a block from my house to meet Russ Hopkins at KIVA studio, and he became my recording engineer, mentor, co-producer and peer.  With him I recorded and produced many records which have gone on to win awards and acclaim and continue to find the ears of appreciative listeners.

I went weekly to the Bluegrass jam at Avogadro's Number on Wednesdays, and was warmly welcomed into the experience of learning, playing and sharing music by ear.  I played the weekly Open Mics at Avo's and Lucky Joe's, and several others as they cropped up around town.  I auditioned to play at Barnes and Noble, and landed a Wednesday lunch-time gig at Deja Vu (at the time, the oldest continuously running coffeehouse in town) that lasted for 10 years!

I auditioned for the accompanist job for the Rainbow Chorus, and didn't get it.  But I filled in when they needed a sub and then was commissioned by them to create and arrange a suite of songs for their millennium concert and recording.

I've played Noontime Notes in Oak Street plaza and on the Old Town stage, all the stages at the Lincoln Center, the Fort Collins Museum in both of its locations, several locations on the CSU campus, Walrus, Ben and Jerry's, Stone Lion and Starry Night for First Night, and most Old Town street corners with Streetmosphere and countless weddings all across the Front Range.

I was the guitarist for Agua de Vida Luterana, the Music Director of First Presbyterian Church in Loveland, the choir accompanist for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins and the Director of Music for the Lutheran Campus Ministry at CSU.  I have been a Substitute Teacher and para-professional in the Poudre School District at Lincoln (then-) Junior High.  I have taught well over a hundred students in my private music studio and have watched some of them go on to music careers, while others enrich their lives with their musical participation.

I started and ran the Colorado Dulcimer Festival located here in Fort Collins for 10 years and have passed the mantle of leadership on to an able and dedicated crew who are preparing for the 11th one next Feb 7-8. (coloradodulcimerfestival.com)

Fort Collins, it turns out, was the perfect location for me to root and expand a new career that has taken me to perform and teach across the USA, Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland and Germany.

And now It is time for us to pull up the tent stakes and move. 

My spouse, Connie Winter-Eulberg, has been pastor of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at CSU since 1997, and has accepted a call to become the pastor of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church on San Mateo, California.  So that means it is time for me to re-establish Owl Mountain Music in a new nest.  But I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for all that the citizens and community of Fort Collins has meant to us.  I will be back, and in fact have some events already planned early in 2014, so I look forward to seeing many of you then.


If you would like to bid us farewell, come on by our Bon Voyage Hootenany at the Community Creative Center at 200 S. Matthews In Fort Collins on Saturday, Dec. 14th from 6:45 to 8:45 pm.


Our Prayer is in the Practice of Our Trade

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When I served as pastor of an innercity church in Kansas City, I was a semi-skilled laborer, building patios and decks throughout the metropolitan area.  This was a good fit for the pastor tending to a congregation of poor and working poor congregants.

This also led to me being appointed by the Bishop of the then-called Kansas-Missouri Synod (now Central States Synod) of the ELCA to be his representative to the

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Religion and Labor Council of Kansas City.

This organization brought together union business reps and inter-faith religious leaders on a monthly basis for a round-table dialogue, the first of its kind in a regular, organized fashion.

Eventually I became one of the Moderators for the dialogue and was asked on many occasions to provide music. (The first photo is when I represented the Religion and Labor Council of Kansas City at the Missouri State AFL-CIO Convention; the second is when I chanted and 2 of our Sacred Dancers from the congregation I served interpreted for the Father’s Day Celebration in Kansas City, beside the Leeds Auto Assembly plant that was being idled.)

This also led me to read the scriptures with different eyes.  When I came upon the Wisdom of Sirach, in the Apocrypha, I was moved to set the following words to music:

Chapter 38: 31-34

[31] All these rely upon their hands,
and each is skilful in his own work.
[32] Without them a city cannot be established,
and men can neither sojourn nor live there.
[33] Yet they are not sought out for the council of the people,
nor do they attain eminence in the public assembly.
They do not sit in the judge’s seat,
nor do they understand the sentence of judgment;
they cannot expound discipline or judgment,
and they are not found using proverbs.
[34] But they keep stable the fabric of the world,
and their prayer is in the practice of their trade.

When I heard the lament of a roofer from Shawnee Mission that his children were prevented from learning labor history in school because the district had a management bias, I thought of these words.

When I heard the pain of auto assembly workers whose jobs were being moved outside our borders to the Maquiladoras, I thought of these words.

When hard-working people would watch people drive foreign-made vehicles to church, talk and pray about justice around the world and be unable to connect their concerns with their own personal choices, I thought of these words.

When I heard an old preacher say that we had lost our sense of “value”, remembering a time when we thought of how long a product would last, rather than just seeking the cheapest price, I thought of these words.

And so I wrote this setting, Prayer is in the Practice of Our Trade, which we continue to sing every Labor Day in the churches I serve.  (You can listen at the link and even download a sound file and sheet music so you can sing it, too.)

How to Prepare for Booking Conferences

When one is a self-booking musician, finding one's audience is the top priority (after mastering the craft of music creation and performance, of course).  [NOTE:  An important preparation resource is available via the link below.]

The next challenge is finding the places where one's music will be a good fit with the audience that will be receptive.  The other challenge is being paid a just, living wage for practicing one's art or craft.  This post will focus on the first of these challenges.

The two best resources that I can recommend are the Folk Alliance International, and the musicians union (American Federation of Musicians)

I've been a member of the Folk Alliance for almost as long as I've been a member of the Musicians Union (Local 1000 AFM.)

Booking conferences are one avenue that I've found very helpful.

The Folk Alliance sponsors a massive annual gathering in February which is chock-full of showcase opportunities (both official and private "guerilla" ones.)
It is also features many panels and workshops and informal ways to connect and interact with colleagues, venue owners and festival booking agents, artist representatives and radio DJs who report to the FolkDJ list.

Next year's conference is in Toronto, Canada.  (2013).  In addition, there are many, more accessible regional gatherings across the US and Canada, which take place at different times throughout the year.

Southwest Regional (SWERFA)  Sept 27-30, 2012, Austin, TX

Far-West Regional (FAR-WEST)  Oct 18-21, 2012, Irvine, CA

Folk Alliance Region Midwest (FARM)Oct 11-14, 2012, St. Louis, MO

Southeast Regional (SERFA)  May 16-19, 2013, Montreat, NC

Northeast Regional (NERFA )  Nov 8-11, 2012 Kerhonkson, NY

These kinds of events are an investment in one's career, and are not like slot machines where you put in money and eventually win a prize.  They ARE a way to meet people and develop the relationships which can guide, support and further your career.

To use an Olympic analogy, when preparing for them think Long-Distance Race, rather than Sprint.

Here is the most thorough and very helpful list (First Time) of preparations that I've ever seen for:

1)  making the best use of the conference,
2)  not being overwhelmed by the conference,
3)  coming home from the conference energized and ready to take the next necessary steps

As I read it through today it reminds of me all the ways
I've benefited from the past conferences I've attended,
and I can trace bookings and career-advancing opportunities
from them, but even more,
I am finding myself sifting through memories
and faces
and stories
and conversations
that enrich my own artistry,
but even more importantly,
tie me up in a web of relationships
which is the community of musicians
who wrestle with our art,
who wrestle with our lives,
crafting songs and music
that we then pour from our hearts to our listeners.

And being fully present for these conferences helps me refresh, renew and connect in order to find the audience that will most welcome and receive my gifts.


Views from “Duci-topia”–The Nikwasi Dulcimer Club

My friend, Bonnie Carol, always celebrates my travels throughout dulci-topia* and inquires about the state of the dulcimer world as she remembers her dulcimer touring across the USA and beyond.


Following lunch with Phil Myers at the Open Air Cafe, along the creek in Franklin, North Carolina,

This tour began with an afternoon of workshops for the Nikwasi Dulcimer Club which meets every Thursday afternoon at 1:30 pm at the First United Methodist Church.
This was the beginning of the "homecoming" season when many of the migrating dulcimer players who live further north or south are returning for their season to live and play in the lush green hills of western North Carolina.
Following the workshops, I was able to capture this snippet of members of the group playing "The Boatmen", a tune from the canal days.  I celebrate this circle of friends sharing music they enjoy, as they prepare to share it with the wider community for the Airing of the Quilts celebration in the town square to be held the following Saturday.



From Left to right:  Kathy, Phil, Sally, David and Ben.  

Special thanks to Phil Myers for putting this afternoon together.
*[For non-Latin scholars: "dulci-topia" is Bonnie's term for the dulcimer places or dulcimer world.]