season of green

March 23, 2011 in music, work by amy

Recent weeks have seen a distinct greening on many levels.  There are signs of spring in the warmer nooks of the city, indicated with a few daffodils sprinkled about and some trees gingerly allowing their buds out to play in the warm breezes.  However….

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” -  Charles Dickens   (I came across this quote on this lovely blog!)

Yes, we have been fortunate to have some mild days, but in true Cincinnati style, I hear snow is forecast for tomorrow.  sigh.  It will be in the 90′s and humid in no time, so I’ll settle into what this wild season has to offer which is a see-saw of unpredictability.

Grass is not the only green showcased this time of year.  March also brings us the ‘High Holy Season of Irish Music’, the days and weeks surrounding St. Patrick’s day.  Suddenly, if one can play a few jigs and reels, one is pressed into service to play the many gigs around town, serving up the annual dose of Irish music to folks who normally don’t pay it a whole lot of mind.  As musicians of varying levels of skills and reputations, we split ourselves up into groups and hit the town to play and play and play, which is what we do any way!  St. Patrick’s Day itself was a whirlwind of venues and friends and tunes…. Here are some of the highlights:

Gig 1:

A few of us from our beloved Riley School of Irish Music gathered to ring in the day at the Claddagh Pub in Mason. Ohio with a few tunes together.  We played for about 2 hours.

Gig 2:

The next place I headed to that day was a little bar called the B-list, located in Bellevue, Kentucky.  Of all the places to play, the B-list ranks as a favorite among those of us fortunate enough to play there.  The owner of the bar is an old friend of my harp-goddess friend Jeni and we are warmly welcomed as family.  I love it there.  But alas, the show must go on….

Gig 3:

My friend Patrick organized a little gig at the Claddagh in Newport, which is where we like to have our weekly evening sessions.  They too treat us kindly with an occasional pint and access to our favorite corner in which to play.  We were joined here by young James who is turning into quite a fiddle player!!

As the day wore on, things got more chaotic.

The more recognized bands were brought into play at this time with large sound systems (when they could get them to work!) and it was time for the rest of us to go and watch the pros at work….

I doubt the drunken masses had any idea the level of musicianship they were witnessing.  They didn’t seem to care.  But the musicians in the audience did.  The flute player here is John Skelton with whom I am fortunate to study each week.  He is a world class Irish Flute player among many other things.  Dan and Bev of Liam’s Fancy are used to dealing with the chaotic late night bar scene, so they had this wild St. Pat’s crown under their spell in no time.  I simply don’t know how they do it.  In spite of the green-clad crazies, a good day was had by me and all of my fellow Irish music admirers.  My husband asked me at one point if there is such a thing as total saturation of Irish Music (read: “Don’t you ever get tired of playing tunes?”).  The answer is, of course, no!  Never!  Sure we might get physically exhausted by the rigors of pressing and plucking strings, creating a (somewhat) tuned in embouchure, keeping a proper beat, but our souls never really tire of the feeling that a well played tune can bring.  For a good bit of the time on St. Pat’s, I was able to transcend any fear of playing in public, making mistakes, etc and simply play, with my flute or whistle as an extension of myself.  This, I have to tell you, is bliss.  As good as it gets.

And so we have been steeped in green.  Interestingly enough, the green does not stop there.  I have also been getting paychecks (two in one week after months without one!!) and have begun work at my new ‘day job’ at Carroll Concertinas.  For now I am outfitting concertina cases with velvet encased foam which involves a bit of precision and lots of spray adhesive.  It’s fun and I am already learning a lot.  You simply cannot imagine all that goes into creating a well made concertina.  For me, this allows me to breathe a little easier as I go about my fine art work and the work I am doing with the study of creativity and arts-based learning in business.  Someday, sooner than later I think, these pursuits will begin to pay in the form of actual paychecks that can be relied upon to feed us and help with college costs (this notion is bearing down upon is rather quickly I am afraid).  But until they do, it is wonderful to have the structure of a day job.  Especially one where there is creativity and ingenuity bouncing off the walls every day.  Maybe I will even learn a tune or two on the concertina.  I have heard this is something that is expected over time and it makes me happy.  One can never learn enough new things.

One last note before I sign off here.  I have timidly put my foot into the strange pool that is Twitter in recent weeks and have begun ‘following’ folks who are doing similar work to mine or whom I find interesting.  This has paid off with connections and opportunities that I couldn’t have seen coming.  Mary Gordon at Creative Voyage has a brilliant blog about the ins and outs of living and working creatively.  She does not shy away about the green elephant in every artist’s room – money – and her blog has plenty of uplifting and useful advice for anyone pursuing an artful life, part time or full time.  I had the opportunity to be a part of her ongoing series of interviews with artists who have had experience with the series of books called the Artist’s Way. You can read my interview here.  It was great to ponder these questions about my own creative journey which has been so rich and relatively quick in coming forth.

Although I do not spend too much time online with everything I have going on, I do attempt to keep up with artists and writers I find inspiring.  I also try to stumble upon a new one or two each week.  Discovering these fellow artistic spirits in the virtual-ether-inter-world is enriching and creates a feeling of community in a sometimes lonely profession.  For this I am grateful.  I encourage you to seek out other artists who inspire you.  But don’t forget to spend some time with the one most worth getting to know….. you.

*a note about the pictures.  I have been playing around with filters and actions and such in photoshop.  the current craze in i-phone hipstamatic options inspired me to find some ways to do this on the computer.  I love how the photos look a bit like my dads old photographs looked when I was  just a little gypsy child in the jungles of Guatemala…..

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