This section has status reports on the various projects, as well as a place to report new developments.
1. Electic Dulcimer Building
4. PATRON OF THE ARTISTS
5. THE BIG PLAN: BASES, PLACES, AND "SETTLING DOWN"
6. EDU: SCHOOL PROGRAMS:
7. WORLD TOUR:
8. THE INTERNET:
Electric Dulcimer Building
I built the pickup winding machinelast year. I added a whole new section devoted to Pickups. I've finished the first set of prototypes to use for performing with. This set of pickups are 6500 winds, and are being used for the initial experiments with magnet placements and configurations and ways of housing and mounting the coils and magnets, as well as setting up the additional wiring and circuitry to install it in the dulcimer as a working set. The second experimental coil was to be 10K winds, with a loop pulled out every 1000 winds so by using jumpers, I was able to compare the sound as I progress from 1000 to 8,000 winds at intervals of 1000 (two of the sections were damaged so I ended up with 8K instead of 10K). I have posted the results of the step coil tests. as part of an expanded section about pickups. I came up with a "sweet spot" at 5K and 6K, a range that is acceptable with a known variation through that small range. Though I used 6500 winds for the first set, that was really just a guess based on guitar pickup specs. They work, and I have wound a second working set at 5500 winds. I left the winder up north, but I'll spend the winter in Florida setting up the electronic switching and volume/tone controls for the pickups. I can work on building a new series of piezo-pickups as well and testing them.
I still haven't had luck with finding wood for new dulcimers, though I have gotten a listing of sawmills in New England I can contact to look for the wide planks I need. I'll take the electronics with me and see what I can do in Florida. I can start mounting plugs and switches and wiring up the dulcimer body, and testing configurations under working conditions. I'll also keep looking into other tropical hardwoods that have the same specs as maple and might work for pin-blocks, which essentially what the solid body dulcimer is.
I haven't gotten any feedback for the electric dulcimer buildingpage from other people, but the fact is, I can't remember if I managed to write anyone about contributing. Quite a lot of the last few years are a sort of a blur.. helping ma, then a whirlwind trip to Alaska, then learning the Hurley had been sunk the week I got back from AK and going into high gear on that, all the way through April, and then on to the next year's circuit, and repairing the Hurley, then moving it, and working on the house, and moving the Steel boat. I've been just pushing hard for years, eat, sleep, and work. I'll try again, though mailings aren't something I do much with. I'm hoping the new website update and pickup pages will renew some outside interest.
(2009) I have uploaded the rest of the AK2K Video Tour Journals to the internet. As the situation has changed, I am uploading them to YouTube, as Google video phases out as a host and is becoming a complementary video search portal. I haven't quite finished the final episode or two, though I got started on it, there hasn't been time. Of course, other things have been the priority, but now I am moving into the stage where video production is part of the plan. The new website is designed to display video, and the new host has a flash video app so I can serve special interest video directly from my website, like a demo of me and the dulcimer, or private videos just for my patrons. I'll have to see how I want to balance it out. I have started transfering the big archive of DV tape to DVDs where it will be more accessbale for production work. I've even digitized some of the large archive of VHS tape. Everything goes step by step. But my bigest interest is using the renewed site launch to re-launch the Video Tour Journals in their original concept as real time video journals, or video blogging as it has come to be known since I did the first ones in 2000. Though I'll have to get a laptop-based video production setup to really make it work, and that will have to wait. But life is also not so interesting now, so its ok.
(2008) Retrospectively, I made the Video Tour Journals in 2000, when video on the net was really just beginning, but they were never released when the dotcom bubble bust set back everything. In 2006, I uploaded a directory, general and background information and the first half of the series when Google video was in beta. Now, google has bought YouTube, video is common, and I am uploading the rest of the existing episodes. When I first made the videos, Google Video and You Tube didn't exist. When Google bought You Tube they integrated into its model, which is converting everything to flash video at a single size. Original I had to upload 5 or 6 versions of every video in different sizes and formats for different players and machines. So I'll have to delete all the oreviously uploaded videos from Google video and reupload them to You Tube in a single Flash conversion ready format, when I get a chance. I'm feeling it might be better to move forward. I'm also wondering if people are more intersted in what is happening now than what happened in the past, society has gotten so obsessed with immediacy, it seems. That is a cool aspect of the net, but immediacy isn't everything.
Otherwise, I have continued to document the life, though I didn't do so much this year as some. You know, sometimes I think I have a bit of a warped perspective on what constitutes not doing much. Even funnier, though I have documented some wild happenings, like repairing the Hurley sailboat, or gold mining in the wilderness of Alaska, I'm not sure exactly what it has to do with the music! I keep joking that I've shot the video, I just have to write the song now. I'm not sure what I can write that goes with videos of remodeling a house, though I supose it might be a hit song these days, so many people can relate! That's folkmusic, right? I videoed the music that is always part of my life, playing at night after work by the van as dinner cooked, or occasional open mikes, and of course, the fairs, or recording a new song when I wrote it. But recently, I've spent a lot of time dealing with other circumstances, not performing, or even playing.
It's been very cool getting back into the video tour journals, in retrospect, I do have a lot of great scenes and places on video. I feel the same as I archive the collected DV footage. Though sometimes the AK2K series seems a bit stiff and scripted, it was done almost on the fly in pretty short order, and are my first effort. I really want to rethink the whole idea of video, and I have to, to decide what to do next. I do have a lot of footage, and some of it is pretty unique, but how to produce it, how to put it out to people, is still a big question. I still want to experiment with remastering and cleaning up old VHS footage I gathered in the 80's, especially my social action shows from the 1980's. I think of how much good live footage I have. It would be easy to put out video clips of single songs or scenes, compared to the effort behind tour journals or any other mixed production. I'm remembering that the AK2K were meant to be "as it happens" video journals, and how I can now do live video to the internet now, or audio blogs, or both. I imagined such a lot of possibilities, and the rise of internet video at last makes it all possible. I was always years ahead of the curve, basically. I just have to find time for it, now that it has caught up with what I did a decade ago. Though like internet music, it is probably bound to be dominated by the major corps with the big money, or people with time to do nothing but work on the net, but there is always the possibility of getting to people at least, where there was mostly impossibility before.
The plan was to start recording seriously when I got to 1213 in the Fall of 2008, but it didn't happen. There was still too much to do cleaning up and finishing loose ends from the house job, and getting the studio set up and ready to record after so long away. I also decided to focus on the new coil pickups so I could record with them. Now I am down in Florida, where I'm just getting set up in North Florida, with a base in Gainesville where I can spend time with and help out my Dad and Green Cove Springs, near St. Augustine on the east coast, where my sailboat is. The plan was to start performing here, and finding musicians to colaborate with for recording and performing. I was planning on recording my solo tracks first in my studio, then finding musicians to add to those tracks in a studio here. I have real hopes of forming a band out of the studio effort, or form a band and take it into the studio. So now it looks like I'll try to get musicians to play with, and record with them in a local studio, then record the solo tracks up north to complete the new CDs. I have connections now for two studios in the area, and all told, things are looking good, if not swift. There really is only a couple months of season left in Florida, not much time to do much, but I am mostly trying to get set up for next year.
A HOBO'S DULCIMER
I keep distributing CDs whenever I do perform. In fact, I worry that I'll run out soon and not have enough money to put out another run, or more accurately, have trouble with the cost of reissuing them at the exact same time I'm ready to issue the new CDs. I can only afford so much at once. I wanted to get the new CDs of originals done and produced before I run out of the new CDs, but I am not at all sure I will. Having several CDS to chose from should make the existing CDs last longer before I have to come up with the cash to reissue them. Since I distribute them on a donation basis, I have to distribute a lot of them, maybe all of them to both pay off the debt for the first one and get enough ahead so I won't have to go into debt for the next run. I've finally paid off the long-standing debt for the audio and video recording equipment, juggled on credit cards for the last 10 years trying to keep it on low, "introductory rates", but I managed. One reason I have "settled down" to focus on recording is I worry the gear will werar out before I am able to make use of it. It is great gear, but I can't afford to invest in it again. I need to use it.
I am there, now, though, this is the year where recording is the project on the front burner, and I am going to work on it to the exclusion of other things for a while. I have thought of skipping the annual circuit this summer just to focus on recording. The fact is, while I cut back on performing to record, I am living off the gold I mined in Alaska, so it migtht be considered an integral part of recording to make a quick trip up once again to play the fair and mine gold. We shall see.
PATRON OF THE ARTISTS
The Patron of the Artists system is still up and running in Beta, though Waldo at Nowhere Radio is getting the latest version of the NWR.com core online now, a major accomplishment for an indie internet site that is the work of just one really dedicated person. I have been signing people up since I got the new CD out. Unfortunately, except for the two fairs in Alaska and the street here in Alexandria, I haven't really performed anywhere since the CD came out. I have about 25 Patrons, mostly from the fairs in Alaska. It's hard to get anything going if I don't perform, but I really haven't had a choice. I wanted to send out a DVD and or the new CD by the end of the year, but I had to change my plans, unfortunately. Since I have been dealing with these disruptions and delays, I have decided to keep ignoring the "annual" basis of the subscription until I can get some sort of normal production schedule going. I will time resubscription notice with the date I actually release the materials I planned to release in the subscription "year". This means I'll run patron's subscriptions till the who knows when at this point. I am hoping that one day I'll be able to count on as regular an annual production of at least one production CDs and additional private CDs or DVDs for my patrons.
Other recent news is that TheRealWaldo at NowhereRadio.com is upgrading to a totally new version, NWR 4, and the PA system will be integrated with aditional services that we invisioned but were not possible in the beta version patched into NWR 3. The new version will include the password system for patrons to access a patrons-only "private lounge" where I can post material that I don't want to release to the public. I can really give my patrons an insider's access to my music, material that never makes it to the public. I've been able to produce some brochures for PA to distribute on the street and at shows. At some point I could try rewriting my website at NWR, and the PA pages in general. I installed a DVD burner in the DAW system so I can produce video on DVD as an private release for my patrons, existing and new.
If you don't remember what the system is about, a general introduction to the "Patron of the Artists" service for artists in the NoWhereRadio system, giving a brief general description of the system in principle and practice, for interested artists and public.
My person "Artist's Page" that is the actual offering to the potential Patrons, with a registration button that links to the NoWhereRadio site, where they enter to subscribe and register as a Patron at my page there
(2008-2009)The plan moves into the second stage, as I clean up from the main job on the house and start shifting to the music projects. Though recording th new CDs is my highest priority, I haven't actually done any recording. Instead I have been just getting the studio set up. Also, I decided that I should focus on following through on the pickup building projects and finish the first prototypes set so I could use it to record with, which I did. I also spent a lot of time just getting the studio out of mothballs and set up again, especially linking up the LAN with Linux NAS boxes/DVDs burners. I was able to clear the studio hard drives and archive more of the DV tapes onto DVD disks. I got a deal with Dreamhost for unlimited bandwidth and drivespce so I have a new host and that pressured me to get the website rebuild done. I also really want to work on getting a band together while I am in Florida this winter, and if I record some of the originals with the band, I won't need to do solo recordings for the CD.
(2007-2008)The decision is made. I am here at 1213 to setup the gear and do studio work while I repair and remodel my ma's house. I spent most of 2007 at 1213, but in the long run I'll be back in Florida for the winter. So I have made some progress setting up in Gainesville to continue the recording, focusing on other musicians and the mixing and mastering down there, while I record in my own studio space up at 1213. Though I can't see the DC area in my long term plans, setting up the studio at ma's house temporarily is the best short term option, despite the distractions. Whatever works is what I need to do, and I don't have time to wait till I build or find more permanent bases in other places. Also, I have a lot of work to do on my ma's house one way or another, which means I'd have to spend more time here and it would be a problem if the studio was elsewhere. My Dad (in Gainesville) needs my help over the next few years, too, so I am turning that to my advantage. It is a university town. In the short trip I made last year there, I met several musicians, a promoter, and a recording studio, all of whom were interested in working with me. The basic scenartio is I can record myself up at 1213, then go to Florida to add other musicians to the mixes. With a little luck, I might even use that process to put together a band, first in the studio, then to back me performing in Florida, which I intend to do as well. I'll come back to 1213 in the Spring to mix and master and another round of recording in my studio.
In the end, the decision was pretty obvious, I was just resisting the inevitable because I'd really rather be somewhere else. I am continuing with my plans, both north and south, but they are going on the back burner for now. I am also much more interested in international travel and in being mobile after I finish here, so I can follow the music wherever it leads. But I want to be free of these uncompleted projects. I want to have many recordings completed, even if I have to issue them gradually, or just on the internet till I can afford to print all the CDs. And of course, getting back up to speed on the internet. It really makes me wonder if I will move to mostly releasing my recordings through the internet as downloads instead of selling CDs. Still, the basic plan is unchanged, I want to have the electric dulcimers complete, and all the gear I need complete and ready to go, and a full range of my material recorded and out there for people and for promotion. Then I can head out without all this undone stuff nagging at me.
EDU: SCHOOL PROGRAMS
This took a major hit this year and last year, and it feels like the momentum has really been lost. I didn't have transportation in Alaska again, or my DAW to teach audio/video production with either. I may do a show in Virginia come spring, but that remains to be seen. I got two offers of AIS jobs this Spring, when I was in Florida. Though I seriously thought of flying up to Alaska just to teach for a couple weeks.. if I broke even it would be worth it to me.But there is just too much to do, and I already spend too much time breaking even when I need to be getting ahead. I'm still planning to mix down all the footage of schoolshows I've done into a presentation on DVD to promote the program. There is one positive note. I have managed to get a vehicle together up in Alaska, so there's at least a posibility I can start doing school shows again, if I have the time.
No real progress. Though I still dream of it often. I still see a serious role both as a cultural embassador, and as a sort of aid organization, providing local artists a way to record, teaching people how to do it themselves. Local music is surely a prime economic opportunity for development in many counmtries, and a way to express and channel all sorts of energies, from grief to anger, and both new and old values and ideas, all non-violently, pick up guitars instead of guns, make songs instead of bombs. But the new website, and getting the new CD on-line, is the first step. I am researching contacts and connections, but I have to have a good place to send them. STill, the start f international travelling, officially or unofficially, isn't far away now. That is cool.
The internet really is integral to my future plans, so I figure I need to add a section for my general projects in this direction.
I am moving forward here as well. I got a new hosting service, Dreamhost, and got a special deal on unlimited bandwidth and filespace. It pushed me to do the major rewrite of the website, all 120 pages of it, that I had been planning since I had to curtail updates a couple years back when I ran out of file space on my old host, PAN. I am sad to leave PAN behind, it was there at the beginning of the internet, the first site to set up for digital music and serving artists through the new digital network, the internet. I was a small fish in a pond of real greats from the originals of the electronic music scene, and digital music scene that came next. But I made the move just a couple weeks ago, and uploaded the new site, with a new modern look. The old site was designed for the days when everything was dial-up connections and computers were not fast. The new site reflects modern high speed standards and esthetics, though the compact code and quick loading pages are there still behind the menus. But now I can include music clips and video that were impossible before. The site has leapt from 10 Mbs to near 80 Mbs. And it is really the beginning foundation for a lot of new audio and video material, production, non-production, and live.
Now that the new site is up, I am also starting to expand into the internet in general, now that I have the new site ready to recieve responses. I'm now able to start creating an extended presence on other sites, like music/musician related sites I've been invited to, like Our Stage , and creating personal pages at social networking sites like My Space and Facebook,uploading more video to YouTube, all linking back to the new website. I can start introducing myself in the present internet music world, like I was once known well known (#1 for 6 weeks on mp3.com) on the internet when it first started. But I have to be ready to follow up on it, and maintain contact, devote serious time to maintaining a presence, as well as a flow of new material. Not sure I can, till I can afford to invest in mobile computing gear and personal internet access. But that is the plan, for now I'll use the bases I have, and make the switch to mobile computing when I go back on tour full time again.
I have had one good development in distribution. Somehow back in 2000 I got involved in The Orchard, a budding internet-based distributor. At that time it meant providing CDs to the new internet retail CD outlets like CDBaby and Amazon.com (remember when Amazon was a start-up?) as well as standard "bricks and mortar" outlets. I lost track of them, like I lost track of most of the internet distribution and music sites. The dotcom bubble burst and a lot of sites I'd invested on working with didn't hold up their end, or others turned crass, commercial, and expoitative, or became outlets for the big companies and their big bucks and gave the indies who started the whole thing the shaft.
Well, suprise, suprise. I return from Seattle a couple years back and ma is asking about a check that came in from some place she'd never heard of. Lucky the name "The Orchard" rang a bell, so I looked them up, and sure enough there it was. Now they are big in digital distribution to the download retailers like iTunes and Rhapsody. It is a great connection, they got in at the ground floor of internet digital distribution and have worked hard to grow with it, a major task. But they are staying with it and I am glad to be with them. Now I just have to take advantage of what they have to offer.
I wanted to send them the new CD, but I had a major problem. Specifically, one of the Digital Music Services paid the artist only 14 cents a download, and unfortunately, I have to pay up to 17 cents in royalties on that some songs. I can't lose 3 cents for every sale, that just doesn't add up. All the other DMS outlets pay about 50 to 65 cents a download, which covers the royalties. Though I would do better on originals and traditionals, it is good enough. But I can't sell for less than I pay in royalties.
I was trying to work out what to do about this with The Orchard for a couple years. Unfortunatrely they were growing so fast that artist services lapsed as people came and went. And I would have to give up and hit the road and try again months later. But I finally got an answer, which is I can't limit my distribution to only services that pay enough to cover royalties, it is all or nothing. I actually wonder if they are they realize that this can and will happen, and their system better be ready for negative numbers. And they better make sure artists realize that if thet try to distribute a long standard, not odd in jazz, they might end up with a bill instead of a check! But they said I could burn a custom version for distribution through Orchard removing or replacing the songs that are over the limit (about 7 minutes) where royalties exceed payments. Also, beyond that, there was no convenient way to keep track of sales for the purpose of paying royalties.. not a big deal really, but it would help to know whenever a specific song hit 1000, so I could pay the royalties and reset the counter again to start over.
I was thinking I would add the new CD and hope it averaged out in my favor, when it was time to deal with other things again. In the meantime, more good developments at the Orchard. They learned more about the nature of the business from the artist persopective, perhaps from my raising the issue, but they made a deal with Fox agency to subtract the royalties at point of sale and pay Fox agency for me. This also forced them to recognize that they weren't charging enough to cover the cost of royalties in all cases, so they renegotiated their pricing structure, hopefully eliminating the shorts for long songs.
So now I will be setting up the new CD with the Orchard (5 years after it came out) as soon as they let me know how to submit my Fox Agency license numbers to them. Actually I have (once again) been waiting three weeks for a reply, so I might just submit the CD and worry about the royalties later, even if I have to deal with them myself.
Generally though, I think the Orchard deal is a great thing. I have enough trouble making content, and distributing it I don't have time for. Now all I have to say is that my music is available world-wide through most digital distribution services, because it is. It may not work so well for the new CD of standards, since I have to get enough to cover royalties, but it will certainly work for the next CDs of originals and traditionals where I don't have to pay royalties. And I don't have to deal with keeping track of digital sales for the purpose of paying royalties, which is another help.
I was unfortunately way ahead of the curve on the internet. All along, I was trying to do all the things no one was ready for, and that are commonplace now. By the time the general culture caught up with me, I had lost interest, or more realistically, the time and energy to devote to it, and missed the wave. Back in the mid 90's I had an on-line promo package and no one to send it to, and on-line music that people couldn't or didn't want to download, while people at the radio stations and festivals didn't have or use computers. I was #1 on the mp3 folk charts for weeks, and sold 4 CDs, and sold 400 CDs on the street during the same period, the conclusion was pretty obvious. I created video tour journals for distribution on the net to the small but growing broadband community, then the dotcom boom busted and the sites that were going to carry the videos fell through. I basically gave up on the internet for a while to pursue more practical things, and deal with circumstances ma's illness and the sinking of the Hurley, though I've maintained a presense with my website. I had to keep working in more practical and effective directions while the internet grew and matured, and while the platforms and other details got figured out, and the gold-rush craziness burnt out. It is getting there now. Though the big companies are trying to squeeze the indies off the map, they still can't stop people from finding us, so there is still that power in the net to end-run the corporate monopoly on radio and record-stores. I have seriously good content for sites that want to work with me. Broadband access is finally getting to be a big enough community to support video sites, and those sites need content. Or they used to, now I'd be part of the flood.. missed the wave again there by being too early. Though the videos are up at google as of february 2006, I haven't had a chance to see if they have been watched at all. I'm still ready to start producing journals again, but I have to have a reason, a good one, since I have a lot of important projects crowding for my time.. yet all of them are also good material for video journaling! I have the recording gear now as well, so I can provide steady audio content as well. I can maybe realize my old idea of providing near real time content, audio and video. But again, the fact is I need to focus on recording CDs that I can distribute on the street when I play to increase my tips with donations for CDs, rather than providing free content for another dotcom start-up or giant. Seems the artists still don't get anything out of the deal. Though the Orchard can change that. And things are starting to change, thopugh mostly for the lucky few, and those with hours and hours to spend on the internet. I send most of my time touring and performing. I need to look at the big picture and put together a coherent internet presence that can generate enough income to justify taking time from performing or recording to produce internet content. Unfortunately, the music world is full of con artists taking advantage of artist's real need to share their art, and frankly, the egos and ambition of people who want to be "stars", and the internet hasn't changed that! It is pretty sad, and I don't have time for it. I still have to make an effort to spend time on-line searching out what opportunities are available, and seperate out the scams and cons from the real thing, but it is time I don't have. But I'm hoping there are some real legitimate sites and people out there I can work with, like NoWhere Radio. There is the new life in the distributing deal with The Orchard. The problem is wether it will really work and if I have time right now to get a remastered custom version of the CD out to them before I head to head south. Still it is all progress. The final stage is I may finally be moving this website to a new server. Pan got sold to a music portal, and basically, they don't seem to be into maintaining either an artist's site or a artist's network, but are more focused on serving the public. I am really not sure what is going on, except that I've gotten no response to e-mails for info. I had to change billing cards and couldn't contact them, the card expired so I haven't paid for my site for 6 months.. though it is still there. But I suppose it could just dissappear any day. So I have begun re-writing the entire 70-plus pages of the website to ready it for a new server. Or at least think about it! I've lined up some new servers and generally, they would all enable me to do a lot more.. space for audio and possibly video clips on the site. then Perry bought PAN back and returned to its roots, but it just was too small for my site. 10 MBs was big ten years ago.. now I can get a lot more space for the same price, and a lot more server supported options. Though I still think I'll focus my site on what it does and leave all the specialized services like selling CDs or downloads, or streaming internet radio etc, to sites dedicated to that purpose. Generally the model seems to be that people don't search out indie sites, even though Google makes it easy, they work through the big portals and take what they have to offer. So It is better to be listed on those sites, like You Tube, than to try and serve video from my own site, even though I can.
The Plan is working. Though I ahven't gotten all the works in progress making progress again yet, many things are making progress again after so many years on hold due to the over-riding distractions of circumstances. It is good to see it happening. Though there is an awful lot to do, and its hard to find time. I was right to make the decision to temprarily cut performing to a minimumn and get it done, then return to peforming and touring with this work behind me, forming a new foundation for my music. The internet has grown exponentially, and there are great potentials there that I dreamed of when the net was still not there, now it is closer. Hopefully now I can make it really owrk so I can justify the time, and move to working more on producing material for the intenet, audio and video. I can focus more of my energy on recording, and developing the electric dulciemer, and building them to pass onto younger people and musicians who will take it places I won't go, both musically, geographically, and culturally. I really see the possibility to make my dream of openning a window on my life, wherever I am, with the ineternet. Sothe anyone in the world can be in the audience whetehr I am playing on stage, on the street, or beside a campfire in the wilderness.
"The Way Is The Music, The Music Is The Way"
After my retreat in to the wilds in Alaska I had a simple phrase, as I often do to culminate my thoughts and feelings from the retreat. It was "The Music is the Way, and The Way is the Music." I am a person dedicated to a philosophical-spiritual path, this is "The Way". Without trying to explain it, it means that it is a "how" or doing things, living by a code of honor, living a certain "way", so that it isn't what you are doing, but How you are doing it. It isn't where you are or where you are going that matters, or what road you are on, as long as you are on "The Way", following the Way, living and expressing the Way, following it and going where it leads you. So my "simple phrase" means that for me, The Way has always been the Music, that is my road, and how I express the Way , and in my life they are really indistinquishable, so that if I am following the music, which is easier to define, I can have a certain confidence that I am also on the Way, which is sometime harder to see clearly. The music is a means, a practice and discipline, to reach that higher consiousness and awareness, like other physical arts can be used the same way. The music also includes reaching the people, the interaction and exchange of energy, so that it is not enough t just play music, but I must seek to embody the Way through the music, as a perfect and beautiful pratice to embody and express the Way. It also means that whatever it is I might want in life, or lack, or simply need to go, whether a home and family, a mate, or friends, or social action, or things I can't imagine, they will come through the music, by following the music. That is my road, my Way. My problem in life has been trying to find things through other doors, other roads, not recognizing that the only way I will find any of these things is through the one door that is the music. Like "all roads lead to Rome", all my roads are on the road that is the music, all places are on that road,through that door, along that Way. So to follow the Way, I must follow the music.. "The Way is the Music". And to get to wherever it is I want or need to go, I need to go through the music, because "The Music is The Way".
Of course, I still feel incredibly frustrated in watching plans that have been so clear for so long delayed and postponed again and again by cicumstances not of my making and beyond my control, while knowing I have no choice but to do what is Right. I have no questions about that, no regrets about doing what is Right, am glad to be able, to be capable, of doing them. The central tenet of my philosophy is as simple as just doing what is Right and forget the rest. But it doesn't make me happy about having to put off these too long awaited projects. And it doesn't quiet the insistent demands of these long deferred projects. The fact that I have made the big change, "settled down" to take on these big projects, and the fact that I am nearing completion of the first, does make me feel like I am getting somewhere. Even if the music projects have remained on hold, I have a more solid sense of certainty that I am on track and they are next, and this time next year, some of those projects will be complete as well, and I'll be on track to complete more. It is a good feeling. Though it is still difficult because I am just not used to this. I am used to juggling many different projects and keeping them all going in a regular circuit, and did it successfully for years. But only through constant attention to keeping up with every aspect of the whole, and giving each what it needed in its time to keep everything smoothly up in the air. It in't hard to focus on one project, I am good at workingwith an intense focus on one thing, though usually for only a short period. I have a hard tme ignoring everyhting else and not feeling like I have to keep tabs and do domething about them, I can't seem to accept that I have laid all those pins aside, and they are relatively safely on hold, not about to fall if I don't pay attention to them. I am too used to keeping track of and maintaining a wide range of different things to be able to stop thinking about them without some anxiety that I should be, I just can't help it. It is hard for me to accept unconciously that I really only have one pot on the stove, and that's all I need to stir.
I still do not rest easy. I am troubled. I feel the desire to give it up, to just get back to the simple life of music I once had, not take on these projects to "do more" with the music, when I am not quite sure what I have to do to fulfill that promise, and if what I am doing will be enough. Maybe it's just being alone.. celibacy is no fun and I'm not the type to sleep around, too emotional.. and when it comes down to it, my real need is emotional and spiritual, not just physical. Fact is, I have almost no personal life, though I used to interact with so many people when I play the street, I seldom have time to spend with my few friends, and without the street, I am pretty well isolated in my work. Though the occasional sing-alongs and jams are nice, the people there and I still have so little in common, beyond the music. They are all career professionals who like to play music when they can. I live the music. I walk such a unique road, so it goes. Maybe it is the terrible state of the country and the world, as so much of what I value erodes into intolerance and fascism here in America, and the unsustainable culture of America that I fought against continues into deeper denial and steady destruction of the world, environmental and economic disaster, and a troubled world, while mostly the rich get richer as the world burns.. I guess, corruption, war and destruction is good for business. Though I am trying to fulfill my promisies and have so much to do with family and the music, one of my main life-long motivations has alweays been social action, and I feel like I am disconnected from that, and it troubles me, especially as the times get inevitably worse without major progressive social change.
Maybe I just as much a need to play more, to keep from getting down. I try to take time here to play the guitar or piano, and the jams do leave me upbeat often enough. Music does that for me, a real endorphic charge. I could also be more creative, more progressive with the music, instead of just doing the same things I've been doing so long. I mean, I still love doing the old songs, but I think I need that other side, not just playing, but also where I am creating and learning new songs, new styles, continuing to evolve and grow musically. I am looking forward to treating it as a "9 to 5" job and shutting myself in the studio for 8 hours a day and working.. then doing whatever else in my "spare time" like other people. As soon as I complete these projects, the music will probably demand more touring and performing. I cannot let my energies be diverted and distracted by the land and the boats, by anything. I need to keep to a patient philosophy of keeping those dreams on track, making steady progress, but not letting them take priority from the music and the spirit that drives me. Like buying the land, as long as I can feel satisfied I am working towards a better future, a time I can settle down, places I can be more productive in things that require me to settle more, then I can turn my attention to other things. I can focus on the things I feel are important, which aren't what I can do for myself, but what I can do for others, to serve the music, to serve the people, to try and make a better world. And the fact is, that no matter what is happening and what I am doing, if I am playing and singing a lot, I feel better about everything.
Maybe I need to finally get back to my CLA work, my conciousness/raising social action aspect of the music. Lost causes aren't so bad as long as you are fighting! Though really, it is never lost untill you give up or die, and even then you are just passing the torch. Perhaps it is that is my lonely and solitary life, I have always felt my comrades in the struggle, through all time and around the world. I stood with great company, and was never alone. Its not really about how bad it is, I always knew America would probably never change its ways quickly or easily whatever reason and rationality indicated, the entrenched forces that profit by the status quo are too strong. But when I was actively resisting, at least I felt better about it. Its easier to accept the hurts when you are fighting back, even indirectly. The world is definitely heading into tough times, and "I told you so" is remarkably unsatisfying. I just have to do my best to deal with the disasters they have accomplished by refusing to listen to us long-haired hippie-type environmentalists advocating peace, freedom, and justice, truth and rationality, love and compassion, sensitivity, consideration, and unselfishness. It somehow pains me when the ideas we promoted 40 years ago are being discussed as if they were some amazing new ideas no one ever thought of, not ones long suppressed. While the counter-culture that raised the cry of sustainability, alternative energy, environmentalism, etc were subsequently persecuted. I have to admit, I did consciously decide to give up personal excape to an economic ark (and a haven of peace and rationality) in the form of a organic homestead back in the mountains in favor of activism on their ship of fools, though I'll be on it when it sinks. Well, as I say, at least they haven't burned us at the stake lately, though I'm sure they would like to. But there's nothing like being a persecuted people to inspire good folksongs.. as the saying goes, they may have all the guns, power, and money, but we have the songs. And we were (and are) right.. always one of the worst of crimes. Unfortunately the reality isn't much fun, and I'm afraid I sort of lost the amusement somewhere ten or fifteen years back. I find it an added strain to deal with the daily news of corruption, stupidity, and disasters that could be avoided, the irrationality and lies, the whole pathetic mess. Watching the old karmic wheel come around as the consequences of all the things we warned about slowly bear their bitter fruit is pretty harsh. Especially when I am so far from any chance of doing much about it. It makes me too angry, too harsh and hard, to disgusted and discouraged.. not a good place to make art from. I have spent my life trying to help people get it right, but it's like trying to stop the inevitable. They are bound and determined to wreck the boat, and the rich are having a field day running things, and at least half the people are either totally oblivious or sucked into their fantastic illusion of lies and outright denial and arrogant ignorance and stupidity. It is very much a pain. Time go sing some blues!
More simply, perhaps I just want to be free of plans. I once lived in a very pure zen stte of being. Free of the unrelenting pressure of promised to do things so long delayed in happening, things that should have happened years ago. For most of my life I accomplished so much, in a very practical way, juggling a lot of things, without really being locked into "plans". It was like an unchoreographed dance. It worked, everyhting flowed smoothly as I focused on the smooth flowing, on following the way, and everything happened that needed to, when I needed to do it, without trying to, effort without force, forcefull but not forcing, neither pushing ahead nor holding back. I want to go with the flow of energies, not this constant over-drive I've been on, and more, the rigidity of all these nescessary actions.. agenda ("that which must be done") after agenda, pages of lists of things I have to get done, and I do, every day, but it is a mountain that takes me away from that old spontinaity, the intuitive, mystical life I once had. I want to be free to go where life leads me, where people need me, where I can serve best. That is the way. I am not happy or comfortable focusing my energy on my own life, in serving myself. It is not my way. I have focused on what I have to give, not what I get, and I can't really change now. And yes, I am tired, and scarred, but I can't stop now, I am just as determined as ever, just as dedicated. Social activism is the one thing I haven't really felt I've gotten back "on-line" again since the personal disasters of the 90's, and that mystical, magical, spiritual life and discipline I once had, from doing my strtches and forms to wallkabouts in the wildlands. It was once the very center of my life, and the work of conciousness raising was part of it. Music started out really as a means to that end, tho I had no "end in mind, but it was what I was, where I was, when I was just being there (if that makes sense at all). I lived in a strange mystic dream-time, a whole different world of perception I can't really explain, living totally by "intuition" or some "other" senses, and it worked to amazing perfection on a practical, pragmatic level, with none of the "supernatural" la-la land stuff.
But through it all, there was still the music, from the very beginning. Only recently have I recognized that my music had a real value, and made it an end in itself. I think about the cultural exchange program, and the local school programs, or even the street as being a goodwill ambassador representing the other side of America, the progressive left that is responsible for so much that makes America great. More specifically, I want to take the old, low fi VHS recordings of my old social conciousness raising campus shows and digitize them so I can re-master them to release on DVD and the internet. Perhaps it is the last part of my life to come back simply because it is so deep. It isn't as simple as the other things, what I need to do is not so clear. It also makes the greatest demands upon my heart, mind, and spirit, which are all still in the process of healing, of having what it takes to shine. Often I still feel very far from recovered.. I often feel like I may never get really over it, never be the same. So be it, I can still manage to do a lot, despite my problems.
I also want to be practical, and perhaps it is time to start building an ark, so to speak, but I can't even see that saving myself is that important, that my personal life is important. Selfishness is just not something I really am cognizant of, even in the most basic terms. Though I am also very strict about always being totally self-supporting and self-reliant, never dependent or beholden to others, never in need, never asking for anything, never needing to. In fact, I am so to a fault, having to struggle to accept what people want to give without feeling indebted. So while I am not interested in building myself a personal retreat, I want to be ready to take care of myself, and not be dependent upon others, a burden if times get hard. Still, I have bought the land in Alaska and I keep the sailboat simply to still that small voice of practicality within myself that says I should have a place to go if I need to where I can get by on a little, living off the land or the sea, and not be a burden to anyone. When in fact, my skills could make me a provider for others in a subsistence situation. Oddly enough, I have the knowledge of how to survive, and homestead, how to live off the land and the sea, how to make do, and get by. People need to survive and it is true that I could lead some people to safety so to speak. Though don't get me wrong, I really don't buy into all the disaster fantasies or armagedonist philosophies. Life will go on, but times could get harsh, too. Though really, I am used to living without the "comforts of civilization" so I won't miss them so much as others. My earliest plans where to form a cooperative self-reliant community of homesteaders to build a sustainable lifestyle blending voluntary simplicity and appropriate technology. Maybe its time to try that again. I do not know what to do, really, though I feel a mounting frustration as I start to have the energy to do something, so I look for someplace to start at least. Some small ways to start that energy moving again in my life. Yet honesty, I don't see myself doing anything but travelling and playing music and trying to talk to people and raise conciousness
Though I must admit, the situation is not good! My hope is that disasters of the magnitude America is achieving will finally force the American people to recognize their responsibility, and the nescessity, to build a sustainable economy, a just and equitable one, instead of an exploitive one run for the benefit of the few. It will force them to recognize the environmental unsustainablitiy of their consumptive, exploitative, un-sustainable and irrational systems. It is a world I invisioned so long ago now, when there was a chance to avoid the cliff we were headed for, though I knew somehow they would not. I've often said we had the solutions long ago, the answers, but nobody wanted to listen, and nobody did anything as the corporate rich who's profits would be effected crushed us. My great fear is that the enormity of American resposibility will just keep feeding this guilt-driven denial, make it impossible for them to admit their mistakes till it is way too late, even afterwards, like addicts. It may already be way too late as far as that goes... The American people are really ignorant, deluded, misinformed and manipulated to the the highest degree money and power can manage. It would be almost funny if it weren't so frightening and the consequences so dire. But there is still lots of hope, if people only come to see, if reason overcomes ignorance and superstition, if compassion overtakes greed. The younger generations are often amazingly misled and ignorant, at least we had access to a lot of knowledge they have been denied. Still, like most people, they still have good hearts, though also so often, like many people, twisted and warped. They are also young and rebellious, and have a almost instinctual knowledge, or just the clarity of vision that is the strength of youth, to see things as they really are on one hand, and to see things as they could be on the other. They at least have somehow maintained a healthy skeptisism of "authority" and the wit to search out the real answers, the real questions.. not "just say yes, or just say no". There is hope in every person, that they will see. Its not the end of the world, I know that. It's just the slow, dark, painful beginnings of a world. It's been a long, hard road to make it as far as we've come in the struggle.. singing all the way. "...deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome, one day...","and all that you have is your soul...","and you know, the darkest hour, its always, always just before the dawn..", "these songs of freedom, are all I ever had..."
"living for each day, and traveling on the way.."