Saturday, December 31, 2022

New year's eve, and into a new year: 3 songs for company

At the turning of the year, thoughts and ideas of change, of regret, of hope, and many more things arise.

Accept them all, send the ones which need to go, as a friend of mine says, up in the smoke of a new year’s blaze.

Embrace the good ideas, the community, the hope.

With all that in mind, music to accompany you in to the new year

Here’s one to honor looking back and looking forward, and to honor the hope found in community. It is called Just a Lot of Folk, sung by Olivia Newton-John. You will find on an album from the early folk/country days of Olivia’s career, called Clearly Love.

Thrift is a plant that grows at the edge of the sea in Scotland, hanging on through all sorts of weather and circumstance. The song Thrift celebrate hope, persistence, and other good qualities such as that. Karine Polwart sings lead, and in this video you will see her with her musical friends who form the Spell Songs singers: Rachel Newton, Beth Porter, Sekou Keita, Jim Molyneux, Kris Drever, and Julie Fowlis. Engineer/producer Andy Bell, part of the collaboration, is there too. You will find the song on the album Spell Songs II: Let the Light In.

It may have been inspired by the Orkney legend of a witch who sold fair winds to sailors, but...Jeana Leslie, who wrote the song Fair Winds and sings lead, and her friends who form the band Fara have turned it into a song of hope. Kristan Harvey, Caitriona Price, and Rory Matheson -- the other musicians who make up Fara-- join Jeana on the song, which you will find on their album Energy Islands.

Band members tell the backstory of the song ...

You may also wish to see
More about the album Spell Songs II:let the Light In
At Wandering Educators, Music for peace, undertanding, and connection (there’s another Spell Songs video in this, too)
The album Laws of Motion from Karine Polwart,
Thoughtful songs from Ireland’s Cara Dillon: Wanderer.

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Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas eve, Christmas day

Christmas eve. A long night into

Christmas day.

As you find moments to pause, to reflect, to celebrate even through dark times. here are songs to explore.

“...A planet dancing slow, a tree upon a hill.
Star upon the snow, straw against the chill...”

Words which recur in Straw against the Chill. You will find its story sung by Kathy Mattea, on her album Joy for Christmas Day. Among those who join in is Joanie Madden, whose whistle and flute playing you have met along the music road here before, as she is a founding member of the band of Cherish the Ladies.

Had you noticed that there’s not a mention of a cat at the stable in Bethlehem? Odds there was at laast one, though. Shannon Heaton imagined a story of the cat’s part in Christmas eve, which she recorded with her husnad Matt on their winter themed album Fine Winter’s Night,

Emily Smith braids the challelges and uplighting aspects of Christmas in her song Find Hope. It is recrded on her album Songs for Christmas. On this video Emily’s husband and musical partner Jamie McClennan joins her, as does guitarist Anna Massie, and a baby who would not sleep. At this Christmas, that baby is now a happy primary school student.

Wishing you peace at this season.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Fourth Week in Advent

Fourth week in Advent.

Christmas draws near.

There is anticipation -- and thoughts of all must be done, that is still undone, before we make it to Christmas eve and Christmas day arise. So do thoughts what or who we will miss, and what might not go at all as planned.

The fourth week in Advent is a good time for reset and reflection, even through all those sorts of thoughts, and all the activities that come up planned and unplanned.

May the creativity of these musicians help you keep stillness and hope at this time, whatever your situation may be.

From Cherish the Ladies, the song The Castle of Dromore, with Heidi Talbot singing lead. You will find it on their first holiday album On Christmas Night.

Cherish have two more Christmas albums out now. Their guitarist Mary Coogan ahs one of her own as well.

Side note: there are at least two castles of Dromore in Ireland that I know of, maybe more...I think this song refers to the castle in Clare.

A vintage recording of Kathy Mattea with the contemporary Christmas song Mary Did You Know?

You will find it on her album Good News, and she has another fine album for the season as well, called Joy for Christmas Day.

This video has visible captions of the lyrics, in case that’s of use to know

From Carrie Newcomer comes the song The Season of Mercy. It’s not a winter holiday song, but then again, it is. You will find it on her album The Beautiful Not Yet.

Whether Christmas is your holiday or not, give a listen to the song Waitin’ on Mary, from Gretchen Peters. You will find it on her album Northern Lights.

May the creativity of these artist be good companion to your reflections in the fourth week of Advent this year, and beyond.

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Sunday, December 11, 2022

Third week in Advent: Music, friendship, connection

Winter can be a season for connection of many sorts.

There could be gathering with friends and family we see often, and with those with whom we visit just a few times in a year, or do not see for several years.

It can be a time for thinking of an connecting with freieds at distance, too, those we may not see in person but whose love and connection yet is a vital presence in our lives.

Whatever form connection may take, the winter season is a good time -- a good excuse, if one is needed -- to connect, to reconnect, to reach out to people you’ve not seen in some time, or that you see of and say: I was just thinking of you.

Music to go along with these ideas

Carrie Newcomer’s song Gathering of Spirits is an honoring of friendship, of lasting love and respect.

Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh wrote a song in Irish (she is from Donegal and a native Irish speaker) for her daughter called Mo Nion O. Cathie Ryan, who is also a mother, translated the words into English and uses both languages in her version of the song. In both languages, it is a blessing for the present and an idea of hope for the future.

In Shannon Heaton’s song Fine Winter’s Night, she contrasts the cold bright of stars and snow with warmth and connection beckoning within. Shannon and her husband Matt, who joins her in the song. chose the song for title of their winter themed album.

On her album Songs of Christmas. Scotland based musician Emily Smith brings in a lively version of a contemporary carol you may or may not know. It is sure to bring a smile though, and perhaps you will join in singing it with thosoe near and far. It is called Little Road to Bethlehem.

You may also wish to see
Second week in Advent
Gifts of Winter
Gift ideas in music, at Perceptive Travel

While you are thinking of gifts, if you enjoy what you are finding here, consider -->

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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Second week in Advent: Music from Spell Songs, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, Ruth Keggin and Rachel Hair

Celebration in winter months may be lively. It may also be quiet. Music can align well with both of these circumstances.

In the second week of Advent, here are ideas to go along with your lively celebrations and your quieter ones.

This song, Oak, is a good one to get thinking about nature, about time, about connection -- all good things to contemplate in the winter season.

Kris Drever, who comes from Scotland, sings lead here, accompanied by other members of the Spell Songs ensemble, who are Jim Molyneux, Seckou Keita, Rachel Newton, Karine Polwart, Beth Porter, and Julie Fowlis. You will find Oak recorded on Spell Songs II: Let the Light In. Learn more about the here is a way to do that, Spell Songs albums and artists in this story

Whether or not you like the drink hot buttered rum or indeed if you have never heard of it, there is good reason to listen to the song of that name.

Hot Buttered Rum the song celebrates and reminds of the healing possibilities of friendship, love. connection, and hope in the midst of dark and cold. New England based band Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem (who are, in addition to Rani, Scott Kessel, Andrew Kinsey, and Anand Nayak) recorded on their album Wintersong.

Arraneyn Cadlee is the name of a set of two Christmas lullabies which start off the album Lossan from Ruth Keggin and Rachel Hair. Ruth is the singer for the track; Rachel plays harp.

The words of the songs are in Manx Gaelic, the language of the Isle of Man. That is Ruth’s native place. Rachel, who is one of the top harp players in Scotland, has been visiting the Isle of Man for a number of years to perform and to teach. The women met at a session some ten years ago and from time to time performed together, eventually deciding to create a duo album. Lossan is the result. Look for more to come about Lossan here along the music road.

You may also wish to see
A reflection on the first week in Advent
Learn a bit more about the Isle of Man and its traditions
Another album from Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem
Music for lighting the path, at Wandering Educators
A recording from Julie Fowlis

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Thursday, December 01, 2022

Berry Song

At the edge of a wild wide sea, up in the far north, a young girl is learning from her grandmother -- learning about how to live on and with the land. Learning about how to respect the land and the plants and animals with whom we share space.

That is the underlying story of illustrator and author Michaela Goade’s book Berry Song.

The berries in the title come on for exploration and discovery as part of this.

“Salmonberry, cloudberry, blueberry, nagoonberry...” and other sorts of berries are named several times in a recurring way that brings out the rhythms of Goode’s story.

Illustrations of the berries, of the forests in which they grow, of the edges of that wild wide sea, carry the story too. It is a story which includes bringing those berries home and making food to share with family and friends.

That aspect of sharing aligns too with the ideas of connection to forest, shoreline, sea, night sky. The gentle yet firm and songlike way elders share respect for the land and the way that younger generation folk come to know it is right to past this knowledge along are present, too.

This a picture book, to be sure, a short book which young children and early readers will enjoy. Adults and older siblings could have fun sharing it with those younger ones, as well.

Berry Song is not just for children, though. Goade’s illustrations are thoughtful, beautiful and engaging. They offer as much to contemplate as do Goode’s words; together they are even more powerful.

In notes at the end of the book, Goade shares some of her story of having grown up at the edge of the wild wide sea in Alaska. That story continues: She still lives in Sitka, and is a member of the Tlingit people.

“All year long I excitedly wait for berry season, for the juicy salmonberries that strum the first notes of berry song, and the cranberries after the first freeze that signal its end,” Goade writes. “Every time I wander back into the forest, I am a little kid again, spellbound by the magic and joy of the berry song.”

Magic and joy come through clearly in both word and art in Berry Song.

There is inspiration in those end notes, too, as Goade offers ideas on ways to take some of the themes of Berry Song into action.

Speak to the land, take care of the land, we are part of the land are the lessons Goode offers ideas about in this section. Learn names of the berries, take only what you need, work to respect wild lands are but three ideas you will find here. There is also the chance to learn a few words in Tlingit language.

Berry Song is a picture book for young readers, to be sure. It holds words, illustrations, and ideas that young children, their older siblings, and adults of all ages will enjoy as well.

You may also wish to see
Music, nature, art, mystery, poetry: Spell Songs II: Let the Light In
Another children’s book not for children only: Build a House from musician Rhiannon Giddens,
Music inspired by the Cairngorms forest in Scotland: The Woods from Hamish Napier

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Saturday, November 26, 2022

First Week in Advent: Music and Reflection

Advent.

It is a season of preparation and celebration, of quiet reflection and gathering.

Gathering presents and decorations, gathering together with friends and family, gathering of experiences.

It is a time of change of season, too, autumn to winter up here in the northern hemisphere.

The quality of light changes especially across thos time of seasonal change.

All those things are -- or can be-- catalyst for reflection on community, or change, on connection.

Many faith based holidays this time of year include stories of and invitation to thinking about these things.

One good way in to, and companion for such reflection, is music.

As Advent begins, have a listen to these pieces of music. Allow the creativity fo these artists to inspire your reflections in this season.

The Point of Arrival, which you will find recorded on Carrie Newcomer’s album of that same name. Newcomer is based in the US state of Indiana.

The set called The Old Collection, a set of tunes members of the Scotland based band Breabach found in 18th century collections along with an original peice by band member Calum macCrimmon. You will find it recorded on Breabach’s album Fas.

Singing in the Land, from the recording Wintersong by Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem-- an album which remains one of my favourite evocations of winter. Members of the band are based in New England in the US

You may also wish to see
First week in Advent: music and quiet a reflection from a few years back with more music to explore
Have a read about Northern Lights, a fien seasonal album from top songwriter Gretchen Peters. with some fine piano work from Barry Walsh also
Music if Harvest and Home, from the ongoing Music for Shifting Times series at Wandering Educators
Season of Giving: How to Help ideas at Perceptive Travel

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