Sunday, January 10, 2010

Banging on the Walls of Time

This is the kind of day I’ve known was coming. The rush of the holidays, the frenetic re-organizing to put everyone back on a schedule for work and school gives way at the first opportunity to the gentle unpacking of things hidden in the mind’s boxes.

This has been coming. Coming on for a while, perhaps. Little signs, like my surprising if slight disdain for the distinction of “Comedy” for “It’s Complicated,” the holiday movie that should make every happily single woman wonder.

Then there were other things, like a couple of friends who spotted a Top Ten Bluegrass Albums List for 2009 – this slipped by me like a greased pig. I was touched that they both mentioned it; Doc even took a minute to type it up and send it my way. (I don’t think he really needed the Bluegrass tutorial that followed but maybe he can pass it on to a banjo fan or something.)

Little things, like putting away the Christmas decorations to a bluegrass album and having to stop every few minutes, tune the mando, and sing along.

Little things, like pulling out a few old poems to send to a friend who is holding down the fort, making a last stand for a poet laureate of my hometown.

Little things, like how long its been since love came calling, or since I sent her out to play.

I opened my eyes this morning after a great show at The Kent Stage last night and the sun was bright. I slept much longer than usual since I stayed up past my bedtime watching videos of first-run Sondheim shows. In my mind I was already going back in time. Today I went back further and it knocked me on my ass for a while, but it was needed.

It’s been coming on.

I believe I spent the last year entirely engulfed in some sort of numbing state, under the spell of survival. I also got into a very comfortable place that put a lid on the amount of exploration I allowed myself in almost every area of my life. I blame this on a false preoccupation with many things, none of which is ever as important as nurturing the authentic self.

After today, I realize that the exploring I need to do is not necessarily the kind best shared. Some of it is about the path forward and what to bring along. I thought I was done unearthing all that in 2002 and 2003; it turns out I wasn’t finished.

All things in the perfect time, is what the Dalai Lama would say. It’s all perfect; things happen when they need to and because we’re ready. Even the bad stuff is “perfect”. Whatever we do, where ever we are at the moment, is what it is and therefore perfect in that way.

So I guess in that regard, today was a perfect day. It was the perfect day to acknowledge that I have a fireplace that goes unused and unshared too often. It was the perfect day to acknowledge that after spending the last several years pimping bluegrass, I have friends who now want to indulge and that I need to get my ass in gear to do that. It was the perfect day to acknowledge that I need to find a way to sing, long and loud and blue. It was the perfect day to retype up old poems and send them to a friend, acknowledging the process that went into those, the person I was then. Resurrecting the author.

So I guess I spent the better part of the day knocking on the Walls of Time. I am not one to look back; once it’s done, it’s done, and most of the time for good reason. But this was different; I peeked inside boxes I had not looked into in a long time, and it was purposeful. Rather than shuffling the boxes around to suit my routine, I opened them up, and pulled out the contents. That stuff has been in there since long before bluegrass stole and then broke my heart. Now it’s all together, out on my table, and I am piecing it together so that this year I can put forth the most complete person I can.

I’ve been in and out of my CD collection this weekend since I still haven’t settled on an appropriate dock system for my iPod. One of my favorites is the Pete Rowan/Tony Rice recording of a couple years ago, “Quartet.” Some small part of me is in love with Pete Rowan, his shadow and his beautiful unique voice, and his long love affair with the music. He formed his first bluegrass band in high school when he was thirteen. In the mid-1960s he played and sang with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. He’s the real deal with a side of Just Be Yourself, a traditional sideman with a side of groundbreaking for progressive bluegrass players.

This is probably my all time favorite Monroe era song, “Walls of Time.” As Rowan tells in this clip, he wrote it with Big Mon. Its mournful and almost seductive trail has that high lonesome sound imbued with a longing and desire that belies the roots of bluegrass, not as Sunday Jamboree playlist fodder but as the music of a people who lived and loved hard and long and were not easily torn apart. This is a wonderful rendition by Rowan supported by the unmatched Tony Rice.

If I recalled anything today, it’s that I come from those people. My family came off the boat from Cornwall and then crawled up from the tidewater of Virginia through the hills and mountains of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This was their music, and now it is mine. Maybe they’ll hear me through these walls of time, and help me as I try to reach back through time to make myself whole and useful and unapologetically loving in this world before I go.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Winter's Come and Gone (if only)

Clearly I am getting back into this blogging thing in fits and starts. I suppose it's better than none at all, and it feels fun when I do finally set myself down and write a word or two.

Not seven or eight feet away is a heap of Christmas lights on my floor, and the cruel winter wind is howling outside my window. But I got distracted. Some of you who are parents may be familiar with the children's books based on a little mouse..."If You Give A Mouse a Cookie," "If You Make a Pig a Pancake" and so forth. Well, I'm a bit like that little mouse. I had Donna Hughes in the CD player, and started singing. Then I started trolling the web for Donna Hughes. When I found a short vid of Donna Hughes at an IBMA showcase, then I wanted to see all the videos for IBMA showcases. When I saw the IBMA showcases, I saw a video for Dailey and Vincent. When I played the Dailey and Vincent IBMA performance from the last IBMA I attended, I got curious about a list my friend Dr. Don and my neighbor both mentioned about the Top Ten Bluegrass Albums of 2009. When I remembered that, I wanted more Dailey and Vincent, who made the list with their second Rounder release, "Brothers from Different Mothers." And then I wanted a song from the CD to share with all of you.

Today was the first snow day of the year -- and it was a big disappointment. My daughter was desperate for her first night of skiing, but with school canceled, no ski club. And while the wind is howling and we did get fairly pounded with snow last night, there's little swirling around now. Just the cold and the drear as the Christmas lights lay in a heap on the floor.

But this little old much recorded tune will warm you right up. Dailey and Vincent are tops in harmony singing; I've often said here and elsewhere that Jamie Dailey has one of the most beautiful voices anywhere let alone in Bluegrass. Paired with Darrin Vincent (Rhonda's brother), they really have hit the mark. This probably explains how they swept the IBMA awards in 2008.

Enjoy this short, sweet little tune, "Winter's Come and Gone," something most of us can only dream of. And if you have the chance to catch this duo, you won't be disappointed. And if you hear Dailey and Vincent, you'll probably want a little more bluegrass. And if you want more bluegrass, feel free to circle right back here and check out some of the older postings on this blog.