In this brave new world of zooming here and there and everywhere, we are confronted with the giants among us, musically and culturally speaking. We have opportunities to hear from them about their musical journeys and to learn from them in classes in the online sphere.
These opportunities can have a badger feeling rather small sometimes, but take heart John Joe! We must all start somewhere, yes?
It is also for ‘cute’, and maybe ‘cuddly’ (to look at maybe).
To John Joe Badger (and to me, his ‘c’reatrix) “C” stands especially for ‘community’, which is at the heart of this music. So many of the early days are spent in the woodshed, alone, learning our way around a new instrument. But in the end, the tunes are meant to bring us all together. The goal is to elevate a simple tune into a momentary, never-to-be-repeated magical thing that reminds us that we are all in this life collectively, come what may.
And what a May has come.
This week’s illustration (while, of course remembering that “C” does, indeed, stand for ‘cookie’) is dedicated to two other “C”‘s. Caitlin Warbelow and Chris Ranney, the brains and brilliance behind an amazing project called Tune Supply and who put together a concert featuring 45 artists from around the world this past weekend in celebration of Mother’s Day.
In the comments of the video from this virtual concert are a variety of links to support individual artists involved in this heartwarming project. Or one can just go here to donate to the project as a whole and the artists ‘c’ollectively, in ‘c’ommunity.
Give it all a listen. It’s wonderful. It’s hopeful.
Also in the interest of ‘c’ommunity, but a bit more close to home, I personally have been leading/moderating an online version of a session each week with the folks from the Riley School of Irish Music. It’s not sleek, and it’s imperfect, but we take turns leading tunes or sets of tunes and we play one musician at a time, knowing that somewhere in the world, our mates are playing along with us. We can see them, but not hear them as we play, and we all go unmuted then to chat in between sets. Mostly, we catch up with each other, just make sure we are all playing a bit week to week, and not spending too much time staring into the abyss of a global pandemic. While not an ideal situation, it beats a blank. And let’s face it, few people are in an ideal situation these days.
The same goes for monthly Urban Sketchers virtual outings, both locally here in Cincinnati, and all around the world. (pssst! There is one here this Saturday!! Come join us for a zoom throw-down!) It’s not about the drawings so much as it is about the ‘c’ommunity that can come together again eventually to draw as a group. For now we do our drawings from an online prompt on a mutual theme, then we “throw down” our drawings all together via a zoom call (noon this saturday). Not sleek, not perfect, but it keeps us ‘c’onnected.
These adjustments may need to be in place in some form for some time to be sure. But in the meantime, I am thankful for the virtual world to keep things at least ‘c’onnected. Send me a comment or a message if you are looking to join a virtual session or sketch group and I hope we can connect.
In which John Joe Badger takes to the spring time forest in search of a snack. He discovers woodland based culinary treasures so fleeting this time of year. It is difficult to gather with loved ones just now and so, we take to the quiet end of the woodlands to gather food, and otherwise stick close to home in our hut or possibly out in the woodshed when it’s time for practicing music.
The tune in this little film was newly composed just for John Joe himself by Andrew Finn Magill. John Joe and I are deeply grateful for this beautiful gift.
Occasionally, between tunes over in the woodshed and foraging for food in the forest, a day must be taken to clear the decks about the hut a bit. To sweep the dust from the floors, the winter’s grime from the windows, and send the spiders back outside where they belong. It is a time to craft piles of books, clothes and maybe ideas that could use a bit of shifting. Until we can be with our friends once again to play a merry tune, John Joe Badger mindfully considers what might be worth keeping, and what perhaps can be let go.
I think this is something perhaps many are doing, yes? And it’s not all about stuff either.
How has this slowing down changed your view on things in general? What will you keep from this time when it is just a memory? Being a badger, John Joe likes his solitude, and the slowness of this isolation; the pace of things and the nature of the day to day in general. But he does look forward to meeting his musical mates one day again soon.
These are hard days indeed. Even the most solitary creatures miss their dearest friends more than words can say. Each day a new ‘cup of disappointment’ is served on large and small scale. No one is spared. And so, like many, John Joe Badger must occasionally recalibrate and reset. He makes his lists, some to get him through a day, this day, the now day. And other lists for the hopeful some day. Which will come.
He ponders what will stay and what will go when this strange era has passed. He seems already to have it fair figured out. Music, tea, plenty of rest, always. Then eventually, in a better time, tunes with friends once more.
At times we must turn our backs upon all that shouts at us—- the opportunities for engagement and improvement, learning and even loathing. We can, for a few moments at least, turn to what contents us (transitive verb: to appease the desires of).
………The beauty of an old tune, the turning of a newly drawn line, the scent of a lovingly cooked meal, the sight of a newly sprouted seed.
This is the content I seek.
There is SO much coming at us just now, vying for our attention. Suddenly the notion of a “talking head” seems to apply to everyone. We must resist. Or at the very least, do it all in our own way.
This will all pass, and with it will come a great onslaught of ways to content ourselves and jump back on the hamster wheel. We must be ready to make the right choices. To go within, to our hearts-self and find the juice of what matters.
For after all, Contentment is Wealth….. (music from Mary Bergin)
The woodland is quiet all around. Everyone, sheltering in place. But if you listen closely to the ground, and in the trees, you might hear the whisper of music and conversation….
It would seem that the magical mycelial network has been working overtime making sure that all our animal friends are counted and cared for and have enough company, even for the most solitary among them.
The kettle is on, the tunes are being practiced, and we all merely….
wait. Patiently. Kindly. alone, but together.
*author’s note. This is WEEK 20!! Thank you for following along on the musical misadventures of sweet John Joe Badger. As you may have guessed, he’s a bit of me combined with the best bits of others as well to become his very own self. I am really enjoying this series. JJB’s world reflects our own, of course. But hopefully with a bit more whimsy and sweetness in this dark and uncertain world of our own.