April 30, 2017

S.E.A. on tour in Kentucky

Captain's Cabin
 The Captain's Cabin, Louisville, Kentucky, was the site of an S.E.A. rendezvous as our trio sped from opposite directions to meet up here for the beginning of our gigs in Kentucky this past June.

Steve had begun his tour in Wisconsin, Ohio and was finishing the West Virginia leg, while Erin Mae and Amber were kicking off their summer driving from their homes in Kansas.

S(teve).  E(rin). A(mber).
This carefully and beautifully restored historic location was also a reunion for us since we had played a fortuitous midweek show on the back porch here after the hosts came to one of Steve's local house concerts and offered the location the following week!

With more time to publicize and invite guests (and with a potluck of homemade pulled pork and ice cream!) the audience was full to the gills with people and the excitement of this community gathering bubbled over to the accompaniment of our old-time tunes and songs.

After a blissful night's rest in the air conditioned comfort of the cabin next door (there are 2-TWO- of them!), we had a delectable morning breakfast on the front porch with our hosts.

Then it was time to pack one car to drive to Bardstown to stash our gear so that we could drive back to Louisville, take instruments, product and band members to LaGrange to the Majestic Tea House for an afternoon of music in that tasty atmosphere.   (Thanks to Hallie Boyer for helping us set this up!)

(The traintracks down the middle of the street reminded Steve of Fort Collins!)

Then, we packed up again (Erin Mae seems quite flexible!) to move to Bardstown once again for the full week of teaching and music mayhem at Kentucky Music Week.

There, in addition to teaching our classes, we gave a DulcimerCrossing Concert Window Show on our open night and we performed together for the Instructor's Concert on Thursday night
Our Hosts at Majestic Tea!

(Thanks to Stephen Siefert for the performance photo below)

And we did have time to squeeze in an additional rehearsal 
while driving to the evening concert location:

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."

Erin Mae Lewis featured in Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast

Here is another resource for mountain dulcimer players!

HeartsofDulcimerDVDcoverWayne Jiang and Patricia Delich, the producers of the Hearts of the Dulcimer DVD, have created a regular Podcast, called Hearts of the Dulcimer.

The most recent episode (#007) features our own DulcimerCrossing teacher,  Erin Mae Lewis, not as a Bond girl, but as the Secret Agent of Dulcimer herself! ErinMaeHeartsofDulcimerPodcast

Each episode features several explorations of the dulcimer, its history, its players, its past and its future.

This episode features the playing of Erin Mae, together with her sister, Amber (from their duo Scenic Roots) and a surprise jam session with Steve Eulberg at the Kindred XL Gathering in Jughandle, California August 2014.

How can you listen and subscribe to this podcast?

1. Click the photo of Erin playing, or follow this link to the Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast page.

2.  Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes

3.  Listen to the Podcast on Stitcher.com

Subscribe to DulcimerCrossing.com to explore Erin Mae’s lessons!

Chromatic Scale Patterns

Erin Mae Lewis teaches a new lesson on the skill of playing what she calls “forward” and “backward” scale patterns.

This is what she uses to move her scales all over her chromatic mountain dulcimer, enabling her to playing the “string-band” keys, as well as the “singing” keys and helps her be not only a welcomed player, but a sought-after player for bluegrass jams sessions!

Her tips will definitely help you, even if you are playing standard mountain dulcimer only.

Subscribe today to have access to ALL of Erin’s lessons!

Working with a Team

Aunt Mabel, who lived next door to us as I grew up, used to say, "Many hands make light the work."

Shellie Baxter Photography
Perhaps because I am primarily a solo touring and performing artist, I have been kerwacked in the best possible way with the awesome joy and power of working together with other partners in a creative venture.

My trio, S*E*A (folkgrass) just completed our 4th tour of the year with a 14-day tour of the middle of the California Coast.  Erin Mae Lewis and Amber Rogers arrived on the 30th Anniversary of my Ordination and we played a Bell Tower Show at St. Philip Episcopal Church in Scotts Valley (near Santa Cruz) to launch the tour.

Amber Rogers Selfie
We had stops in Palo Alto, San Mateo, the beach in Half Moon Bay, Erin and Amber joined Wayne Jiang and Patricia Delich for some Pacifica and San Francisco adventures; we headed as far north as Roseville and returned to San Mateo for an amazing Seasons of Blessing Concert to raise funds for the survivors of the Lake County California fires and give the best-ever Concert Window show.

Then we packed up to enjoy the FarWest Folk Alliance in Oakland for the weekend.  We drew the first slot for the Open Mic at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse on Wednesday night.

There we jammed at every possible opportunity, gave Local 1000 AFM in the Networking Center.
Jeanette Lundgren (Mother Hen Promotions)
showcases and represented another part of our team,

I took part in a Panel Workshop on Crowdfunding to talk about another part of my team:  Patreon.

We then gave a workshop called:  Organizing:  The Nuts and Bolts of Touring.

But the best was when we arrived back in my home on Sunday night and Erin exclaimed:  "Let's have a FarWest FollowUp Party tomorrow!"

That sounds a whole lot better than w*o*r*k to me, and you know what, it WAS!

FarWest Photo

And it made me recall how many people's support and commitment helps me to continue making my way in this world as a musician and creative artist.

So Aunt Mabel's words have proven true in my experience, and I just want to say,

Thank-You to ALL OF YOU!

Erin Mae Lewis’ 30 Minute Practice Session Strategy

Here is a question that all of our instructors hear often:  How should I practice?

Erin Mae Lewis (formerly Erin Rogers) gives us insights and her suggestions in this lesson in the Mountain Dulcimer Skills section of our website

Take a look at a preview below:

Subscribe to DulcimerCrossing.com to see the rest of the lesson!

“American Pharoah” The Triple Crown of Dulcimer Festivals

After the marvelous summer I have had touring, I feel like I should be called American Pharoah, because I, too, am a Triple Crown Winner!

My first tour of the season took me to Memphis for a day of workshops and a clinic on jamming together at the home of Betty Dawson in Memphis, TN.  Then a house concert and Nancy and Tom Adams', a workshop at Gilda's Club in Louisville and a house concert at Teri and Larry West's in the south part of town.

Then to Kentucky Music Week, where the copies of my new Playing Blues on the Mountain Dulcimer book had arrived and were waiting for me to have a wedding by adding the Demo CDs.

And what a week it was!  Jean Ritchie Tribute, organized and led by her son, Jon Pickow; stellar concert performances, a week-long class on Resonator Dulcimer, Blues on Hammered Dulcimer, a Noter Style Mountain Dulcimer class and a Dulcimer Orchestra class were highlights.

Captain's Cabin Concert S.E.a
Playing a Backporch concert to the crickets' chirp on a temperate evening in the middle of the week with my bandmates Erin Mae Lewis and Amber Rogers in our trio, S.E.A was memorable and amazing in a completely restored log cabin (Captain's Cabin) that now serves as a B and B!  Then I joined them for their concert set singing our trio arrangement of Hold On.

Steve, Karen Mueller & Heidi Muller in front of
Chief Joseph & Lake Wallowa
I am grateful to the non-playing spouse of a festival participant who gave me an on-time ride to the Louisville airport for my flight home.

The glow had not even worn off in my two-day turn-around at home before I received a "warm welcome" when I landed on the tarmac in Lewiston, ID (where it was 120°) en route to an even better Dulcimer Week in the Wallowas in Joseph, OR.  The relaxed pace and supportive community atmosphere was balm for my weary soul and the magical faculty concert with Karen Mueller, Bob Webb and Heidi Muller remains fixed in the recesses of my memory.

I had amazing classes, the Open Mic revealed talent, commitment, celebration, and laughter that left our sides aching with joy.  (There is a life goal, to be aching with joy!)

My Beginning class in their yurt classroom in Wallowa
Having had two such amazing weeks of musical and educational experiences I was a little nervous about heading east for the final festival of my summer season.

I took a red-eye from San Francisco to Charlotte, NC, had lunch with a friend, then reunited with the parents of my godchildren in Chesapeake, VA, before driving to another Soup and Song House Concert with Charlie and Marilyn Bernhardt in Maryland.

Charlie & Marilyn, Soup and Song House Concerts (10 years!)
Following a short night's sleep, I had a dawn sabbath drive through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and through the northeast corner of Tennessee and down through the Smoky Mountains for a late afternoon arrival at Dulcimer U in Cullowhee, NC.  There is was revealed that my anxiety had nowhere to lay its head!  Larry and Elaine Conger run a fantastic festival in this verdant setting, I was very excited to be invited to return to teach here.  And my time with my classes and two different mountain dulcimer ensembles were marvelous celebrations of people playing beyond their fears to experience the delight that comes when they relax and do this together!

My classes this week were as enthusiastic, attentive and adventurous as the others had been.  The fun and mischief that arises when people create a Brigadoon-like community together bubbled with joy.

Soundcheck view, through Lorinda Jones' harp
I have been part of many faculty concerts which can be a crazy quilt of performances, but this time something of the veil between the worlds of the mundane and the spectacular opened up and everyone's tune choices, transitional stories and the overall flow of both sets let us have a little taste of heaven...and it was a tasty nectar, too.

So..I believe I won the triple crown this summer and am glad to wear the name American Pharoah!
Dulcimers on high in the Wallowas!