As we move along from state to state, a conversation is continued among those we meet; the theme is one of perspective and another of perseverance. I am reminded of a lyric left on my chest back home – “from where I’m standin’ you all seem like you’re waiting for your love to return.” In Illinois, I was told that making others believe that you are, indeed, an artist or important supersedes the act of creating. Hence, it doesn’t matter what you make as long as people perceive that what you’re making is grand. This trickery involves imagery, slogan making, branding, and the conquering of social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Although undoubtedly powerful tools in the game of garnering support, I believe that these mechanisms are doing nothing more than creating “fans,” a term now rebranded as, I guess, “likers.” The trouble with this is “how much thought goes into liking something?”
Any time spent advertising is time away from creating and of course one may argue that the marketing process is and can be part of the creation, but I disagree. A few years ago the buzz word was “artfully” or “artfulness,” so then each task aside from the actual creation of art could be managed “artfully” therefore cleansing one’s conscience of that dreadful sensation which corresponds with selling oneself.
Many artists continue these conversations ad infinitum for a lack of understanding - reaching out as if within the plethora of social networks and among countless “friends” they remain answerless. Where is the community, where is the support – if the questions are still being asked and some still feel hopeless?
Maybe the community was never there, maybe the support has been stolen, maybe the infrastructure is corrupt and maybe the route is wrong.
Unless it is your route.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
We have spent the last few days traveling around the Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. We made some new friends but we also got to spend a good amount time with some dear old friends. People who live in this part of the US and the way people live out here feels much different than back home in Massachusetts. Our friend John commented that he frequently misses turns because many intersections lack any sort of character to distinguish them from other because they all look the same. Which is true. Corporate chains have invaded much of this landscape but in contrast to where we are from it is not in replacement of small town main streets, the chain stores are everywhere because there was not anything at all around before they came in. It is a strange concept for us to grasp because Massachusetts has such an old and rich heritage but much of the land in the Midwest was not settled until much later. There are not many houses or buildings older than 100 years at the most. It is also strange (compared to New England) to see a landscape so flat and expansive where you can see for miles and miles but this land is all cultivated. It is all being used to feed America. The other day we drove through a section of Indiana where hundreds of acres of farm land also hosted hundreds of wind turbines all turning away slowly. A doubly industrious use of the same land. I feel a strange sort of energy here. Part of me is proud and awestruck by the immense expanse of cultivated land but another part of me wonders how necessary all this corn is. Not to mention all this land that has been altered to serve that purpose. Was this all trees before?? Where are all the animals?? What was this land like before the farms??
In the stockade neighborhood of Schenectady, NY, amidst structures that have stood since the late 1600’s, there is a wonderful café called the Moon and River. Part coffee house, part restaurant, part bookstore and part market the Moon and River nurtures it’s patrons body, mind and soul. Delicious food, great ambiance, live music, local art and healthy items to stock your pantry with all contribute to the warm welcome of this space that owner/operator Richard strives for. This is one of the few shows we were able to set up over the phone because Richard does not own a computer nor does he use the internet. The town of Schenectady itself seemed to support our art as well through media. We were featured in The Daily Gazette thanks to avid music writer Brian Mcelhiney who seemed genuinely interested in our current method of touring to more small towns than cities to achieve more intimate and memorable performances. Also we are able to phone in an interview with Gary Goldberg on his weekly radio program called “In the Spirit” which features many local musicians, artists and healers who are doing interesting things in the Schenectady area.. Gary gave us a wonderful interview and as promised he came to our performance because he so enjoyed our records and interview and then even gave us a further shout out in his weekly newsletter the week after our performance just to try and reach those who were unable to come out to the Moon and River. We met some very nice folks mostly due to our new friend Brian Alvarado who shared the bill with us that night. Schenectady had a lot to offer but Moon and River is what made it really great.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
In an attempt to recap from our inability to keep up and in accordance with the themes of some earlier blog posts I would like to recognize a few special rooms we have had the pleasure of performing in during the last two months. The first one Elysium Arts in Rollingsford, NH is a place that stands out in our memories of our recent regional tour in September. Joe Simes, owner, operator and music lover has a wonderful Folk club that is contributing to preserving and continuing the legacy of an old mill building in Rollingsford, NH. This is not our first experience with these types of places where enough motivated individuals decided to enrich their community by converting an old mill building into a once again useful space full of boutiques, artisan shops, art studios and galleries as well as Folk clubs or (in this case the Public Library as well) rather than allow the building to be reclaimed by its natural surroundings until it must be torn down. Elysium Arts Folk Club offers a truly authentic listening experience and intimacy that artists and listeners alike seek out and covet. Elysium Arts has had many great and widely known performers grace the stage and many unknown but still great performers grace the stage as well. Aside from the wonderfully unobtrusive listening environment the room itself contains so much vitality from its rich historical industriousness and the lifeblood of the river still flowing just outside the back windows. Joe Simes, owner/operator is a true music appreciator and he has created an ideal environment to listen as well as share.
Photo Credit: Ron St. Jean -- http://www.ronstjean.com/