Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Lori Kelly, Cletus Kennelly and Dave Alberding with a Cameo by Brian Maddox at the Dawson's House Concert on Sat, August 17, 2003

Two small fluffy dogs, Gwen and Bessie, come running to greet us as we walk in. The cat Oregano, appears when she chooses and moves slowly, not intimidated by anyone.

The hosts, Gene and Sue, may be very busy with plans for their daughter's wedding next month in Baltimore, but their pets are calm and take everything in stride.

We compare notes with people here who have been at the shows we attended this week. . Brian Maddox, who performs tonight, tells us he saw us at Baldwin's station Wed at Piece Pettis's show. And another singer-songwriter in the audience tonight, John Mornini was at the Eliot Bronson concert last night at the 333 Coffeehouse in Annapolis, I think. Don Bridges, another local singer-songwriter, was definitely at Eliot's concert last night, and also, I think, at the Susquehanna Folk Festival. (Don Bridges is also the President of the Board of the Songwriter's Association of Washington. I only find this out the next day when I am doing a web search on his name.)

Brian Maddox's cameo performance - I am not sure of the song titles

The Girl I Used to Know - "had flowers in her hair…knew it all"

There's a Line I Wrote in a Song - a breakup song inspired by the woman he is still with.

Finding Me Again - "I do miss me when I'm gone…" I am so glad this is on his EP.. Eliot Bronson has a song with a different approach to a similar theme. Brian's song is also worth hearing again and again.

It turns out that this cameo is not just a performance to sit through, while waiting for the main acts to come on. Gene Dawson discovered Brian at a song circle and he is a real find.

Next is a round robin where David Alberding, Lori Kelley and Cletus Kennelly each sing one.

Cletus - a new one - Hold On To What You Want

Lori - It Was A Great Day - Not! Not when one is too busy. A peppy song that encourages slowing down.

David A. - Wrestling with Angels theme - In a songwriting group they took on the task of writing about wrestling with angels, but David was the only one who took it seriously. The song is a very interesting fantasy. In this vision, the angels are rough! Lori tells David that the last time she heard this song, it was a slow song. Now the tempo matches the activity David describes.

Cletus - Christopher - Cletus tell us that he wrote this song 9 years ago, and at one point had begun to forget it. Another singer had to feed him the lines. Cletus sings it now because he understands now how much people love this song. It is about Christopher Columbus as child, and how you can't discover a country when 1000's of people already live there.

Lori - Snow Is Falling - about PFC Lori Piestewa the first Native American servicewoman to die in combat Lorie heard that the small town this part Indian part Mexican woman came from left the porch lights on when they heard she was dead, so that her spirit could find its way home. It was in April, and then it snowed the next day (when it never snows in April there), and they took that as a sign her spirit did find its way home. Lori Kelley tells us she cried at hearing this story, and her tears led to this lovely song with a unique Indian-like beat and great harmonies.

David A. - Waiting for the Thunder - This song is about heat lightening where there is no thunder. And just as he says "lightening", there really is lightening visible through the window just behind his head. Someone else sees it too. With or without the incredibly timed special effects, this is a wonderful song.

Cletus - Leavings - Another songwriting tip. Stuck in writing this song, Cletus took advice from a friend who is a poet who told him to look up the title in the dictionary. This song has wonderful word-plays exploring meanings in leaving and leaves

Lori - Eowyn (a song for a woman from Lord of the Rings (Return of the King) . This is Lori's second song about war. Eowyn, is a woman who dresses as a boy to ride with the King and Aragorn. There is a very bad guy who can be killed by no man.... In Lori's song, Eowyn tells us why she rides.

David A complains that Lori's song makes a segway into his next song difficult. The song's title is Life's not fair - such a fun song.

At the break, I find that my husband, who had a 20 year career in the Air Force, has been asking Lori's husband, Brian Kelley, about his Coast Guard career. Brian has been selected for Captain (06)! That doesn't mean he has his stripes yet, but it is a honor to get selected. Congratulations Brian!

After the break the singers reverse the order:

David A. - a new tune - Goin Down to the Ocean - This is the Maryland shore and brings back memories of the days of sitting in shore traffic, bringing back memories of summer in Maryland

Lori - Like Seaglass - As Lori is singing about a metaphor about a relationship being reborn, I look back and see Karen caressing the dog she has lured to her lap. The dog takes it all the attention and then stretches out limp, sleeping. Looking back to the corner of the room I notice that Lori's husband has the house cat in his lap. After this song, the cat jumps down.

Cletus - a duet with Lori - The Gate - A soldier 100 or 200 years ago come back blinded and is not sure his wife will want him back this way.

David A. - Peace of Mind - this song continues David's earlier ocean theme, but in a more serious vein. "stand…at the rising of the tide".

Lori - Falling - Another chapter from Lori's life at the movies. In Raiders of the Lost Ark the hero has to cross an abyss on a bridge he can't see. Taking a step feels like falling. This song is much more interesting than the movie. This reminds me of Peter Mayer's song about the Dark, in that Lori's takes what may be seen as negative, "falling", and explores the more positive aspects too.

Cletus - Jessie Knows - Jessie is an illegal immigrant who is dreaming about making a better life across the border. He has heard of the Statue of Liberty - "he is in love with the one who holds the flame."

David A - Yes I Am Heavy - a clever response to a thoughtless comment

Lori - Four Windows

Cletus - Walter Mitty song - a great song for the Walter Mitty in us all.

David A - I want to ride in the Way Back - oh this brings back thoughts my childhood and it is a great sing-a-long.

Lori - More Than Enough - Lori shares that she was working on a song with the Michael Moore songwriters group and got some feedback that prompted a rewrite. The result was this song - about some people who aspire to more than life would give them easily. Isn't it OK to want more?

Cletus - Celestial Dance - Cletus calls this a "serenity prayer" kind of song. Maybe an unconventional serenity prayer, more dancelike - and about accepting what is…but serenely?

Though Lori and Cletus usually back up each others song's, with David Alberding, now there is a trio of friends backing each other up. All three where in a song writing group with Michael Bowers and David and Lori have mentioned songs that came from the group. I love hearing the performers talk about how they write their songs, and the people and things that inspired or changed their songs.

Highlights from part of the Song Circle after the Concert (we stayed only a bit)

Gene Dawson - It's Not What It Seems - inspired by the ups and downs in his niece's life

Brian Maddox - Every Girl Wants Me - But not the way he would like! This is a fun view from a guy's perspective. This song only mentions Ally Mcbeall in passing (of course Da Vinci's Notebook have a whole song about her).

Don Bridges - Healing Flow - a wonderful song that came out of a songwriting camp exercise (was that Summersongs?)

Karen Tupek - Antarctica Dreams - Karen's grandfather an Antarctic explorer and was there I think when the South pole was first reached. Her father was also an Antarctica explorer, her mother was the first woman there, and she has been there six times. This song is about a place Karen knows; she shares vivid images from her rare experience of an otherworldly place.

Brian Maddox is a find for us. We had already heard of David Alberding. Now we can really appreciate has a deep beautiful voice, and well crafted songs. We definitely want to hear him again. And of course Cletus and Lori's songs are always worth hearing again and again.

I missed the Falcon Ridge Song circles, so I finally get to attend at least part of a song circle (and mostly stayed awake). Just before we leave, one woman is curled up on the sofa, and another draped over a chair. It is a relaxed comfortable end to the evening.

This is one of the last weekends before school starts, so the crowd is respectable for August, but less than usual. It is fun being at this house concert with the sparser August crowd, fun meeting so many new interesting singer songwriters in the crowd.

Sunday, August 17, 2003
Eliot Bronson and Christina Muir, August 15, 2003 -
At the 333 Coffeehouse Annapolis Md

There are big round tables, long rectangular tables and rows of chairs - lots of seating choices at the 333 Coffeehouse in Annapolis Maryland. Too many seat choices tonight.

It's been a traumatic week, what with electricity blackout in the NorthEast, and the loss of coffeehouse address files from Max Ochs' computer. Admittedly, two urelated events but both stressful. Because Max's computer crashed, he was not able to send out a reminder about the concert tonight. There was such a wonderful crowd here last month, but although there are many zealous Eliot Bronson and Christiana Muir fans here tonight, this large hall is not filled and it should be. I meet a woman who is a huge fan of Eliot Bronson and others like him and who drives from here to the Iron Horse in Northhampton MA to see people like Eliot.

Coffeehouse Host Max is a lover of both poetry and the blues. Acknowledging what happened in NY, he opens with a poem about Electricity. Then he shares a few James Agee poems. And tells us that Agee was probably the best ever American film critic. (My husband whispers to me, yes and he wrote the screenplay for the African Queen!)

We have so been looking forward to seeing Eliot Bronson here, aware that we saw him so much more often when he lived in Baltimore. We sit at a large table with a friend who came with us and is excited about seeing Eliot for the first time. Also here are Eliot's parents, Richard and Grace and their friend Tina, and another wonderful Baltimore singer-songwriter, John Seay and his wife Martha. John is going to be appearing in a new venue, Aletha's Fine Art Gallery, in Monkton on September 5 (8 pm) , with Paul Iwancio and Lea Jones.

Woolen Socks - about wearing the clothes of someone you love when they are not around. This sets a theme for the evening - each of the other groups also, coincidentally, has a song about someone else's clothes.

Patron Saint of the Lonely - a new song, and I am not sure of the title. Eliot says it's about someone who appears on the surface to have everything figured out but to some degree this is not true. Of course, this could be any of us. Is this a loving indictment?
"you give away what you believe".

You Don't Even Know the Way that You Move Me - another new song. As Eliot says, a bit more straightforward than the one before.

Songs That I Can't Play - Eliot says this is his car crash song. It is about the feeling when you are about to crash, time slows down, there is amazing clarity and absolutely nothing you can do will change what is about to happen. When it's a relationship and not a car, you can (1) do nothing, or (2) do nothing and write a song about it. My friend whispers that this song reminds her about Eckhart Tolle's work on being in the Now. Where does Eliot find the wisdom and perspective in the songs he writes with such warm melodies and catchy words. This is a great Eliot song, and I have never heard him sing it with more passion.

Cookie Cutter - Eliot's anthem about the suburbs.

Guru - an almost true story.

Throw Me Over - this was a request. Eliot wrote this song when he was 18, and it is the earliest song of his he still performs. An awesome song about risk taking.

Calling Yourself - This will be on Eliot's new CD (but what about the earlier new song I love?) "who you are is not who you have been".

Cathedral Pines - one of the first song's Eliot wrote when he moved from Baltimore to Western Massachusetts about a year ago. "your body's made of stars, and the dust of dinosaurs" - this is about being ageless and interconnected. Yes.

There is a cameo appearance by a group called Echo Mutt from Arlington Virginia - Julia, John, John, Jeff and Mike who has a rocking sound. When Max asks them where they got their name, they say - from a game of darts. Their song, Not my Boxer Shorts, continues the theme Eliot started about someone else's clothes.

And there are poems, from a new 333 Coffeehouse Poet in Residence, Shirley Brewer, who writes of the Tire and the Toreador and a fantasy meeting of 2 stars - Marilyn and Shirley.

Christina Muir's accompanist for part of her set is Carolyn Anderson Surrick, of Ensemble Galilei, who plays a viola de gamba. So is this a new trend in folk music - viola or cello? Rick and Audrey now have a lovely cello accompanist, as does Lisa Moscatiello. Christina and Carolyn do an exquisite instrumental piece together. I am not sure I have heard Christina's moving song Moonchild before. And It is a New Day is great, and really speaks to people who are not morning people.

Christina proves she can delight and nourish without the "Soup" (the incredible group "Hot Soup"). The Hot Soup Trio will be at the Takoma Park Folk Festival on Sunday, September 7 - . And Christina is doing another solo show at Vic's Music Corner in Rockville Md on Wed, Sept 10 with Eric Schwartz. What a contrast. Our innocent looking angel Christina with Eric? Well he isn't a devil, but he can be risqué. It should be quite a show; we've already paid for tickets and are looking forward to it. Eric, when you see Christina's sweet face will you be able to sing that song you sang at Falcon Ridge this year?

I am so grateful for people like Eliot Bronson and Christina Muir, Carolyn Anderson Surrick, and Christina's partners in Hot Soup, and other performers I write about.

Lewis Hyde has written I book I just read and am rereading: The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property. In the title, by the word erotic, Hyde means, helping to establish bonding, a community feeling. Lewis Hyde discuses gift and creativity and . says: "Once an inner gift has been realized, it may be passed along, communicated to an audience…Sometimes, then, if we are awake, if the artist really was gifted, the work will induce a moment of grace, of communion, a period during which we too know the hidden coherence of out being and fell the fullness of our lives." Hyde is talking about what Eliot and so many others bring, and what makes time with these artists so very special

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