Spring Report 2000


Its Spring, I'm preparing to head north. Follow the geese once again.

I tried to sell the boats, but it didn't happen. The sea is part of my life, like the mountains and deserts. But I though to liquidate and find a new boat somewhere, or go farther in "Further". At the end, I really wanted to sail away in the smaller boat, "Perseverance", which was ready to go. I just wanted to get away from one world and back to another, as I did with Further last year. And chalk up an adventure for this year. But I decided that I needed to stay dedicated to the music at this point, and right now doing anything with the boats is a distraction. I got here too late in the winter to begin with, and now Spring is here. I need to focus on getting the next CD out by this summer. Get a second Electric Dulcimer built, since its my full time instrument, and I have to have a spare. It is potentially a problem when the instrument you play is the only one in the world! Next year I'll have time to cruise. Right now I'm still just trying to get everything back on track and together after four years of being crippling chaos and trouble.

I had the opportunity to set up the recording equipment at a friend's apartment, so I focused on learning to use it and producing material to create a library to burn custom demo CDs from. These takes don't have to be perfect, the exceptional performances I want to capture for the next CDs. Though I might catch a few stellar cuts, I don't really expect to. This place is hardly an inspiration for great music, in fact, just the opposite. This is still all part of the process, to have my own equipment and record enough to capture those moments eventually. Also, to be ready to set up the equipment whenever I have the opportunity, to make it part of my routine. I didn't have internet access at the place, but I have thought of doing a studio journal, actually posting clips of the ongoing work coming out of the studio, like snapshots. I'll be able to do this in May and June potentially.

I haven't come up with much for festivals this year. I don't have much interest in pushing it really, never have. Most festivals are still not ready to communicate and book through the net. The old machinery is still solidly in place, and the people doing the booking are often not into computers or the internet, really. But a year ago, nobody had heard of .mp3 and I had a hard time getting anyone in the entertainment field, from radio to festivals, to even install a player or take it seriously.

One success is I'm going to stop in at a traditional dulcimer festival, Summerfest in Carthage, MO; fulfilling my resolution to try to start connecting with that community. Otherwise, I'm going to play at the Tanana Valley State Fair in Alaska again. They are happy to have me back. I'm not performing at the Palmer State Fair this time, though, and I haven't heard from any other fairs in Alaska. At this point, I'm planning to head out into the bush up in the Brooks Range again and get away from it all for a while after the fair. I'll probably stay out till the snows turn serious. I'll be looking for festivals on the West Coast for the late fall and early winter, but I'm tempted to just come back to the boats instead and have enough time to get them ready and go cruising again for sure next year.

Everyone loves the music when I play, but I still don't seem to be able connect with the venues. There is such competition, and I'm just not the competitive type. Personally, I'd rather head out on the boat or out into the bush, and play for the people who appreciate the music and not bother with the business. I can make enough just with the street to get by, really. I'm not sure what the point is in struggling for recognition. Especially in a world where I don't really want to be part of, the one of promotion and image and pretense that dominates so much of "show biz". I am not driven by ego or ambition to seek fame or fortune, I just have this gift for music and want to share it. Every time I play, people gather round and tell me how great it is, so I keep doing it. But I don't really care if I am unrecognized by the business, I don't really consider them as being involved in recognizing exceptional artists. They create images and illusions, reality isn't really a big part of the equationh. I trust the people, and little children. Everywhere I go, they tell me I'm great. That is enough for me. I feel more sorry that the music industry has becomea force that actually discourages and obscures artists instead of recognizing and developing them. There are plenty of great recognized talents out there, yet you never hear them through the music industry anymore. The industry has got the voices and the bodies and faces, but not the heart and soul. While the real artists dwell in the shadows, maybe even giving up pursuing their gifts for something more rewarding, or less frustrating. It is a loss to the world. I'm not interested in beating my head against their ivory tower. There's too good a life out there calling me to singing my way around the world, to bother with them

I am seriously considering giving up on the promotion of the music, really. I'm not sure it isn't a waste of time. I can go to Alaska and play all summer at festivals and small venues in a casual and appreciative atmosphere. I can spend the winter cruising on the boat, playing for people along the way on the docks, beaches, and waterfront places; just like I did last year with "Further". I can travel the world playing on the street, and at people's houses, and small places that invite me to play everywhere I go. It's not that hard. Its worked fine for 20 years. Maybe I can still find a ladysinger who is more dedicated to music, who can be satisfied with living a simple life of playing music for the people instead of chasing dreams of stardom in the music industry. I will keep working on international tours, that seems worthwhile. But again, while I may not be able to get anywhere officially, I am sure if I just go I'll do fine among the people. I'll have friends and places to stay, food, rides, and pocket money to spend; and probably even make enough to pay for most of or all the cost of the ticket there. Wherever there is. Now that I have the recording equipment, I can leave a record of my music, if anyone is interested.

I am still thinking of implementing an idea I had a long while back. I may try to form a "club" of people who wish to subscribe to my music, be "patrons of the arts", and getting a direct line to my work. I'll be able to provide not just finished work, whether it is released on CD or not, but works in progress as well. I hope they will even enter into the project by providing me with early critisism as I shape the project, recieving multiple versions of a song and sending back opinions and comments. I want not only to build a group of people who want direct and continuous access to my music, but allow them inside the process, the whole life of music as well, able to be part of the story if they like. Just as in the real world, one of the problems with connections is establishing some type of continuity. The net seems to lend itself to this by allowing easy automation of the processes of maintaining communication.