Category Archives: twist of hemp

A tiny shrew

:::TWIST OF HEMP:::  Week 35

In which John Joe Badger takes a walk in the forest, only to find a tiny door, from behind which drifts a delightful and strange music.

And lo!!  It is a tiny shrew, playing the relatively obscure Northumbrian Pipes.  She is a lovely wee thing, very shy, and so John Joe, being shy himself, merely listens for a time outside her tiny door, then moves on, allowing her to go on playing in peace.

What have you found in the forest lately?  Are you really listening properly?

 

Good Post

:::TWIST OF HEMP:::

It is week 34 of my illustrative journey with John Joe Badger, an intrepid, though somewhat shy, uillean pipes playing creature.  This week finds John Joe discovering that his long awaited B whistle from one Jerry Freeman has finally arrived after much anticipation which will allow him to play along with his favorite recordings.  This will, in turn, possibly improve his pipes playing in the long run.

So much to learn as we await the arrival of the new half-set from Mickey Dunne which will include DRONES.

We are abuzz with excitement over it all to be sure.

Til next week, keep on playing, friends!

Dog and Pony Show

Since the beginning of the era in which we found ourselves in a state of lockdown and isolation, a few of us faithful session-goers loosely affiliated with the Riley School of Irish Music community have gathered weekly on zoom to have a few tunes, check in with one another and have a bit o’ craic (i.e. chats, jokes, catching up, sharing stories – a crucial part of a good session.)  As with all things coming at us on the mycelial network ad infinitum these days, zoom is an imperfect way to connect musically.  But we take what we can get.

Somehow, I have managed to find myself as moderator each week for these online gatherings.  I attempt to keep proceedings least awkward as they can be, making sure those who have something to say or play get a chance to do so.  It’s a good job for one with long internal antennae and I do the job gladly week to week so that our beautiful community will be there when this whole pandemic eases and we can be together properly once more.

I jokingly call it the Dog and Pony Show because sometimes it feels that way.  But at the heart of it all, it’s a sincere offering to my musical mates.  It’s just hard to be social.

There are a lot of people out on the interwebs putting together online shows and bits of shows to put together with bits of other shows to keep the music and the communities surrounding it all alive.  It can be frustrating sometimes to be sure (such as when the neighborhood lawn mower starts when the recording begins! *kevin*) but the gifts in return are wonderful.  I do my small part with our little session here in town (and we sometimes have old friends in from Ireland which has been lovely!!) The professionals continue to do their best to keep us tapped into the tradition properly along the way as well.  And we must support them.

Go donate to Tune Supply if you love traditional Irish music, or any place your favorite artists and musicians might be hanging out online doing their work.   Reach out to them, buy some gift cards or a painting or a song or tune, an essay or a poem.  Artists are still working, making the world a more magical place.

It’s what we do.

Join us at the Riley School for session each Saturday from 4-6 pm EST (message me for the link), or consider taking a class from one of our esteemed instructors sometime!  Hope to see you there.

In the meantime, here is this week’s Twist of Hemp illustration featuring John Joe Badger, and some new friends from the dog and pony show.  It’s week 33.

Fresh Air

Twist of Hemp ~ Week 32

We have been given the great gift of a few days of fine, cool weather. John Joe Badger has taken this opportunity to invite a dear fiddling friend over for a tune at an appropriate distance. Which is still closer and more fun than awkward screen based tunes over the mycelial network (fine as those are when needs must). These strange times do not seem to be leaving us. And so we must adjust, keep safe best we can, and also do the small things which keep our souls healthy in a difficult era. A tune with a dear old friend is just the thing. For today at least.
@johnjoebadger #kidlitart #illustration #weeklyseries #mentalhealth #takecare #visitfriendssafely #badger #uilleanpipes #musicalanimals #fiddlersquirrel #amybogardart #amybogardillustration #pandemictunes #irishmusic #safesession #week32 #twistofhemp

Sweetness

It is summer.  And with summer comes the heat of the season, and if we are lucky, perhaps the occasional cone of ice cream.  This summer brings with it all kinds of new stressors beyond heat and humidity, and decisions much weightier than merely what flavor to choose at the scoop shop.  We all know this.

John Joe Badger is taking a few moments away from all of the weightiness and is treating himself to some ice cream.  Though it is a small thing indeed, he has decided to put his few dollars down behind the big ideas of a good company.  Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

You can read their full statement here (*click*)

I might not be as bold and loud with proclamations and performative (read social media postings for some) as Ben and Jerry’s, but rest assured, I am doing the quiet work over here.  And hopefully, also continuing to make my art which has always felt like the boldest thing I can do in this world.

What’s your favorite flavor?  And what are you doing to treat yourself kindly in between and amidst the very important work which needs doing?  We must be in this for the long game, yes? Yes. Let us know.

ps.  John Joe (and I) love mint chocolate chip and black raspberry chip generally, locally speaking.  In the Ben and Jerry’s realm, Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Therapy.  Yum!!!!!

Listen

Listen.

:::Twist of Hemp Week 30 :::

I debated even posting a John Joe Badger drawing this week.

Where does my work illustrating anthropomorphic creatures even fit in to the fabric of things just now?  I went for a long walk to do some thinking, and I kept coming back to the idea that the music that John Joe, and I, play is steeped in at least a couple of concepts connected to the times at hand.

And so, I sat down to draw a badger.

Irish music is joyful to the ear to be sure, and yet when you read Irish history, there is so much strife, oppression and “troubles” along the way.  Music may have provided some solace to a country facing dark and challenging times.  The tunes are a small something.  Sometimes.

Perhaps.

The troubles of one country aren’t the troubles of another of course.  But maybe musical solace is something we can share.

The second concept I keep coming round to is that of listening.  In the world of Irish music, there is no greater skill really than to listen.  You can be a fab player of all the lovely tunes available to you, but if you don’t listen to the other players and to the players of history, your session experience will not be a successful one.  The best sessions, the ones where we feel that deep sense of community and tuneful camaraderie, are the settings where each member of the musical community are listening, deeply listening to one another, while also listening to the history that got us here.

We find ourselves at a time in the United States where deep, communal listening is necessary.   There are many ways to do this.  There are many ways to protest recent atrocities and to amplify the voices of African-Americans who have for too long been sidelined.

Since John Joe Badger is primarily an illustrated character, I share with you this:

Here is the link: https://www.embracerace.org

Children’s literature can shape young minds who will shape the future.  Let us feed their minds with books that inspire a future we can be proud of.

I’ve barely published a thing. So I barely have a voice, really.  But I believe in the power of story and of the drawn image.  I believe in the idea of change and that this change can be driven via inspiring imagery.

This weekly John Joe illustration is my small offering, in this space, just now.

If you read this blog regularly and want further reading and deeper ideas on how to dig in and do the hard work, I suggest digging into the following:

https://sojo.net/articles/our-white-friends-desiring-be-allies?fbclid=IwAR0H2eaXoa9KrcmpBQHd0G2fng49J-Jty8eBDsfpBf480qLLc4LF_cJehTo

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hpub-jkm9cLzJWqZSsETqbE6tZ13Q0UbQz–vQ2avEc/preview?fbclid=IwAR3TBQvG2A0RagdMjltfsvLAoV6cfNHMhZD8x3MZEv4OsZjXi3uDvWY3ol8&pru=AAABcqEADEM*MC6i5_NRAcTanK1bAEQlHg

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/?fbclid=IwAR045Qg2fo7lfMHA9vLWU8sarQTBx_EJQG8e7oDQOp7uWPC7f_jXbtisuLk

This is Week 30 of my little series.  Depending upon the state of things, John Joe and I may go on a bit of a hiatus until fall when things like velvet waistcoats, hot tea and strolls in the forest come back into fashion.  But we may surprise you and keep going.  I do not know.

Either way, through it all, the tunes and the tea will still be flowing. In hard times, joyful tunes and aromatic tea are a balm for the senses of a sensitive creature.

I thank you for reading…..

 

On Feeling Small

:::  TWIST OF HEMP ~  Week 29  :::

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?

Yes.

Cake in the Time of Corona

::: Twist of Hemp ~  Week 28 :::

I have heard that “stress baking” is a thing.  And sure enough, in these strange times, we find many taking to the kitchen to remind themselves that every little thing is going to be ok.  John Joe Badger is no different.  He’s so very grateful for everything Frank and Flora from the world of Wisteria the Wise have baked for him in recent weeks but he felt it was time to repay the favor and do a little kitchen chemistry himself.

After all, baking for others has been proven to soothe a worried mind, and chocolate can keep the dementors away.  Or so I’ve heard.

What is your favorite kind of cake?  I like lemon when the weather is warm.  And rich, dark chocolate all of the time.

 

The Key of C

:::  Twist of Hemp ~ Week 27  :::

It is said that “C” is for ‘cookie’.

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.

We will get through this.  Eventually.

 

 

 

Gathering

:::  TWIST OF HEMP  ~ Week 26 :::

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.

 

gath·er
/ˈɡaT͟Hər/
verb
gerund or present participle: gathering
  1. 1.
    come together; assemble or accumulate.
    “a crowd gathered in the square”
    Similar:
    congregate, convene, assemble, meet, collect, come/get together, muster, rally, converge, cluster together, crowd, mass, flock together, foregather
2.
bring together and take in from scattered places or sources.
“we have gathered the information”
Similar:
collect, get together, put together, accumulate, amass, assemble, garner, store, stockpile, heap up, pile up, stack up, hoard, put by, put away, lay by, lay in, set aside, stash away
~~pick up from the ground or a surface.
“they gathered up the dirty plates and cups”
~~collect (grain or other crops) as a harvest.