Friday, September 19, 2003
Peter Mayer with Rick and Audrey opening on September 13, 2003 at House in the Woods, Frederick Maryland Area

John Mornini, a Focus Inn supporter we saw last at the Dawson’s, is directing traffic to parking in the field beside the barn as my husband drives in at the House and the Woods. I always think of the Thanksgiving song “over the river and through the woods” which fits the directions to this farm.

We heard that the 100 seats here were promised 3 weeks ago (in commercial venues they’d call that an early sell out), so we arrive in time to claim good seats. The two friends who come with us, Mary and Ann, exclaim about the beauty of the drive and the farmland.

The performers are finishing dinner on the porch Mary and Ann and I approach the house to use the bathroom before the concert. (Women after a 1 hr drive you know). I go first and then I wait for the others outside on the porch, and try to give the performers the private space they deserve before performing. However, I overhear Dayana talking about how her parents choose her name. I tried not to listen in, but is a good story – ask her sometime.

Rick and Audrey open accompanied (how lucky for us), by Dayana Yochim (who still is, as I said in my blog posting 7-15-03, a treasure of a cello player). Ilene, our hostess, recalls how their very first House in Woods concert (maybe even before the series had a name) was Richard Dahl, Cletus Kennelly, and Lea. Audrey was at the second concert. Now Richard (Rick) and Audrey are a married “righteous duo” and as their web site says, “the smiling face of folk”.

Rick plays guitar, mandolin (bouzouki) and bodhran (Celtic drum) , Dayana plays cello, bodhran and shakers, and Audrey plays guitar.

Rick, Audrey and Dayana’s set includes:

Denmark Ain’t So Far Away – a song about the geography of the heart. Right after their engagement, Audrey went to Denmark for 10 days with another man (her Dad). Loneliness is good inspiration for a songwriter. The 10 days gave Rick time to imagine how far or close the world is one a map, and what sights his fiancée may be seeing, all she may be doing. Rick mopes (he hears the 4th fireworks on the mall were good) and writes this song. To give Audrey’s perspective - does he wonder, was she so busy, or was she missing him too?

The Bravest Things – Audrey song - At her grandparents’ house, the kids would jump out of baths and run away wet in their birthday suits, and grandma said “come back, you’re naked as jaybirds”. This song is about risking exposure of a different kind with a lover. Can you stand still and “admit you are not quite sure you turned out right”.

We Are the Grain – A song by Audrey dedicated to the farm. Rick plays bohdran and Audrey guitar (no cello on this one). This is just a lovely song about the cycles of life, giving and receiving, “we come in joy and power” “with sunburned faces….we gather here.” The hosts who are farmers, Ilene and Phil, and who also mightily gift the music community, should see themselves in this song. And may we all.

Followed by another great song, this one by Rick and I am not sure whether Rick has named it yet. Is it “What is Love”? Rick, in writing it, was inspired by Tracy Grammer, Dave Carter’s surviving partner. Tracy has been so brave, so remarkable in carrying on sharing Dave Carter’s music since he left this plane in July 2002. Rick’s song weaves together the summer sun and autumn leaves - “may you have the strength of the weeping willow”. Afterward Rick says he is still working on the words, so I guess he won’t share the song with Tracy until it is completely perfected. As grace would have it, in my zeal to share good music on the drive up I played several Dave Carter songs, including Gentle Soldier of my Soul, for our two friends who are sort of folk “newbies”. And we told them a bit about Dave’s life and death, and about Tracy. I had no idea Rick had written this song. We would have been listening to Peter Mayer CD’s if I had not forgotten to put them in the car. But the pile in the car did include a Dave Carter CD….

For a final song, Audrey sang Shining –. So on this one Rick is one the bouzouki and Dayana on the bohdran. A song about a boat trip and meeting a Canadian boy with a guitar. The audience sings along: “shine shine shine”

Then Ilene introduces Peter Mayer, who has been coming to House in the Woods for 5 years, has 6 fantastic CD’s, and great new one in the works. Ilene also thanks her former employers, Class Acts, for donating the sound system for tonight.

Peter talks about the over the river and through the woods feel of this place. He is from Minnesota, and finds driving in the DC area up to this place challenging. He was on a big road with 6 lanes on one side (270) and looking for the right turn, then a 2 lane road, pass a little village, over a river, on a one lane road (with a mirror) then off road up the driveway to this house and barn. Feeling so charmed and relieved to find this sanctuary here, Peter invites us to one minute of quiet… and then sings Bountiful – a song I have actually danced to in my kitchen. My heart does summersaults of gratitude. Can this night be more magical than the last time I saw Peter. Yes…..

Minnesota has had drought until just before Peter left, and the rain was so welcome he just wanted to strip and go out in it. (Yes, and Audrey remembers as a child leaving the tub all wet and having to be called back – is there a wet and out there theme going tonight!) Maryland had been drenched in water in contrast, though luckily we have a perfect temperate and dry evening. Peter sings a song about water - Ocean Mary

Peter mentions that Audrey and Rick had great autumn imagery going in their songs, and notes that in an agrarian society autumn after the harvest is in, is a time of preparing to rest through the winter. In modern times, we rest in the summer, and the fall things speed up. But still, let us hear something in autumn calling us to rest.. Peter sings Coming Home, “when the summer’s ending…rest will greet me… love will receive me”.

Vern Had to Buy Dorothy’s Pie – There were 5 children in Peter’s family growing up and all the kids and his Mom and Dad picked and sorted apples. There were good ones, “hummers”, medium ones, “ho hummers” and bad ones “bummers”. Over the years the trees at his parent’s house declined. One tree died, and the other was on its last legs and not producing apples any more, until this year. Somehow locally this year was a great year for apples. Peter’s Mom called and told Peter she had a “hummer” for him. This song is a true story about how an apple (in the form of apple pie), played in a role in the relationship between Peter’s Mom and Dad. Not exactly the same as the apple story from our original mythical parental forbearers, Adam and Eve. But Peter’s apple story is also interesting.

Astronaut Dreams - science and space are frequent topics in Peter’s imagination and songs. But not like they are for the woman in this song. For another on this theme, check out the lovely fanciful song “Camping by the Sun” on Peter’s Bountiful CD. I love these images of space and of the earth in the midst of space.

Last song before the break is another new song, inspired by feeling sad, affected and helpless earlier this year on the eve of the war in Iraq. With the continuing middle eastern conflict and tensions so many places, we area still… Looking for the Dove. “she was here…leaving us standing. scanning the horizon .. the clearing skies above…”
I remember being almost in tears when I first heard this song March 29th. It is still moving, and I am so glad to hear he is putting it (and other new songs he sings tonight) on his upcoming Solstice/Winter CD.

At the break, my friend Ann tells Peter she is so excited about his song Looking for the Dove. I talk to some folks who know a lot about the local singer-songerwriter music scene. They turn out to be Ilene’s parents. I wonder later, were they always interested so that her interest stems from theirs, or are they learning from her involvement? In passing, her mother expresses wonder at all the house concert hosts who have so many people in their homes on a regular monthly basis.

After the break, Peter opens with another new song from the Solstice project, Magical World. “life can be hard but” . This song expresses wonder at all we are given. And in a wonderful, magical way…

The Dark – The days are getting shorter, there are longer nights. Peter notes that many people have negative associations with darkness and things that go bump in the dark. Can we see some positives? Why, even encounters with monsters can make you a better person, if you survive. A song of reversals. ”you might find what you’ve been missin, somewhere in the dark”.

I sit here listening to this thoughtful, sometimes funny, heartfelt music. David Wilcox bought my ticket for a Bruce Springsteen show tonight, and he is in a big stadium with a huge crowd. I can see it in my mind’s eye (I’ve seem Bruce Springsteen before) -standing up most of the concert and screaming. It is fun and energizing (in a way), and I could have gone and enjoyed it, but it is also physically taxing and lots of effort. Instead, I am sitting here, very relaxed, very mellow, listening to some of the music I like best in the world. Hearing new songs that amazingly I like as much or better than the old ones. For once I am not resentful about all the songs the singer doesn’t play because “magically”, he plays my absolute favorites and all the ones I particularly want to hear tonight, starting with the first song of the evening, and it just gets better and better. David Wilcox, I hope you are grooving in the stadium. I am so glad I decided to be here.

John's Garden is a request and is about pumpkins and transformation. Peter says “you guys should record the songs here, with crickets/insects chorus. I’m accompanied by a massive band outside”. Is it Ilene who says Mary Byrd Brown did record here and you can hear the insects in the background.

A toddler is removed from the area before he can make a impact on the interesting stage sound equipment he wants to grab. A dog passes by. Peter says, “we got kids, we got dogs…this is a farm.” He remembers another rustic venue he played, with dogs. He shares that while performing he saw a dog enter the adjacent room and out of the corner of his eye, Peter saw the dog beginning to eat his sandwich. He also ruefully remarks that he is tuning to the crickets.

Blue Boat Home – Peter words, using the tune of an old 1800’s church hymn by Roland Prichard – another amazing us adrift in the universe perspective.

Touch The Air Softly – to “write” this love song, Peter wrote the melody and used a poem by William J. Smith.

.Peter, did I hear you comment “the new CD I am working on may be too introspective, too meditative”. Is this like the question, I heard 5 years ago, Will people in commercial venues like the song “Holy Now”? It is like a favorite wherever you play it. I think, people are so hungry for this music.

Another brand new song, My Soul. To understand this song (and others Peter plays) we need some scientific facts. He tells us that at the speed of light it would take us 100,000 years to cross our galaxy. And there are billions of galaxies. 100 billion or so galaxies, they are as plentiful as snowflakes. “Snowflakes in a cosmic storm”. As Peter finishes, I hear a woman seated behind says “beautiful”. Another yells out “Will this be on your Solstice CD?” They are both speaking for me. Peter’s answer is yes.

Saying “Have a great autumn” Peter closes with Holy Now. For me this is a song that takes me from images of childish faith, to wonder and spirit. I breathe deeper when I hear it, sigh, and feel the goodness around me. Check out the Sugarloaf Coffehouse MP3 page for Peter Mayer/Lea duo of this song.

As an encore we join Peter in singing an old spiritual – Guide My Feet, hold my hand, search my heart.

The next morning is Sunday, and I stumble into the same church Peter Mayer is attending! Peter is invited to share a song and sings Birthday Party (another of my many favorites). My husband and I are the only ones there from the concert the night before. Needless to say we are amazed and delighted.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
Lori Kelley and Cletus Kennelly, Cerulean Grove and Bailey Jester at Cellar Stage, September 12, 2003

The opening show for the Fall 2003 season begins with a trio of three different acts as a benefit for the series. The big season opening is next week with John Gorka.

I particularly want to see, as always Lori and Cletus. We bring a couple who are active in Marriage Encounter, and I want them to hear Lori’s relationship song, Sea Glass.

This church basement is dry and comfortable tonight with rows of chairs with names on their back reflecting names chosen by chair donors. The church volunteer sell gooey chocolate desserts that are tempting as always and things appear quite normal. However, Joyce and Kate tell us the story of the last concert last spring before the summer break. Spring floods drove first insects and then water onto the basement floor; the dedicated volunteers kept trying to adjust to the situation and move stuff around. But as the increasingly flows of water approached the sound system, volunteers, concert goers, performers – everyone - pitched in and moved the concert to the sanctuary upstairs.

Tonight, first up though is Cerulean Grove, a trio centered around the voice, percussion and songwriting of Laura Cerulli, with Larry Joseloff on bass and Scott Reiber on guitar. These are some musicians, especially Laura Cerulli. We first saw this group open for Tom Prasada-Rao (TPR) at Baldwin’s Station. TPR and Laura Cerulli seemed to have never met before, but Tom invited Laura to sit in on his set and totally trusted her to add just the right percussion backup to his songs. Watching them together was magical. She totally understood and supported TPR’s music, and she has appeared since as his “band”. This woman can make music! Her voice is another instrument in her band. I don’t know how to describe their music, but their web site says it is an artful blend of rock, blues, jazz, folk and groove”. It is jazzy. Years ago I would have thought of this as good lounge music in a fancy bar (do such places still exist?) Their songs include:
Drive Me Under
Charmed – the percussion does not overwhelm the vocals, and Laura has a lovely out there voice.
She – part of their reggae phase
Possibilities – about a blind date with a happy ending
Sinking – about long distance relationships
Second Thoughts – based on true story of a tragic death and thoughts about the prevalence of violence

Bailey Jester – their name looks familiar because they are on the Moore Music in the House schedule for November 22, 2003. Scott’s site says they are a “Georgia duo -- brothers Matt Jordan and Young Stryker -- that weaves folk, bluegrass, rock
and country into an instantly likeable roots sound”. They tell us tonight that they are really half brothers (they have the same Mom). This is their first time in Baltimore.
Their songs include:
Slow Water
Hard Rollin Home
Music Box – story inspired by the Twilight Zone. So realistic, one fan said, I don’t remember that episode.
Floating on the river in the sun (what their Dad will do when he retires)
Candice Stone (another creepy song)
She’s Two of a Kind (my husband and maybe other men in the audience were roaring at this song about how the sweetest woman can seem sometime to have an evil twin.)
Above the Misery Line (a request – and a song that won a best roots song of 2002 award)
Traveling Show - “you treat love like a traveling show”

When they sang the creepy song Music Box I kept staring at the big box on the table by them, but it was only the box holding many harmonicas, which they play along with the tall bass and the guitar. I love the harmonica sound. My husband, who rarely buys CD’s, rushed to buy the two available. Scott was right about the instantly likeable roots sound – at least for people who like my husband, who grooves on both country and singer-songwriter music, and who can get also get turned on by bluegrass.

Our favorites, Lori Kelley and Cletus Kennelly, are on last. See my previous articles on this dazzling duo (postings 8-3-03 and 8-20. They only have 1/3 of the show tonight so we only hear a smattering of their incredible songs.

Cletus Gunshy Girl – about that period after a breakup where you don’t want to date.

LoriIt Was a Great Day – NOT! Not when you can’t do what you want to do because of what you have to do.

Cletus Christopher – in this song, even as a child Christopher Columbus is a ‘burglar” and bully who says “looks at what I found” and steals my bike

Lori – Snow is Falling about PFC Lori Piestewa the first Native American servicewoman to die in combat in the Iraqui war

Cletus – Looking Up; Three Days in September - about the day before, 9-11, and the day after

Lori – Four Windows

Cletus – Leavings - Cletus took advise 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 – Sea Glass (my friends do like this song. Really who wouldn’t!)

Cletus – Jessie Knows - what a line in love with "the one who holds the flame"

Lori – I Want More Than Enough - life can be more than circumstances seem to offer

Duet – Cletus wrote a duel for them Open Now the Gate – about a blind soldier returning from the Civil War not sure whether he is a worthy husband now that he’s been wounded and her response “I can see the light that is you”.

More more! But we’ve had 3 acts tonight. More must be later. Check out Cletus’s MP3's on this site and Lori’s July appearance at the Millennium Stage

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Eric Schwartz and Christina Muir with Ann Mayo Muir on September 10, 2003 at Vic’s Music Corner, Rockville, Md

“What kind of girl do Vic and Reba think I am” booking me with Eric Swartz. These are some of Christina opening words. Reba response was quick: “Is that why you brought your mother along?"

Of course Christina says, at the Takoma Park Folk Festival they booked me to play my modern dulcimer music in a set with Robert Lee Smith, a very traditional dulcimer player. That was a divergent combination also. This is a lead in to Christiana’s song on dulcimer that goes about outer and inner space which begins I don't know much about black holes… and contains the question – what does a black hole do with all that light?

On a larger dulcimer, Christina plays a song she wrote for her sister by marriage, Andrea In 1986 when Christina wrote this song, she hoped the song could help recall her sister to come home to herself. Since then, Andrea has passed on, but lives in the memories of her family – Moonchild.

Christina is wearing one of the dresses I call her “goddess” dresses – golden and shimmering in the light and as she explains, very long so she can sit modestly on a tall stool while holding the dulcimer in her lap. Her glamour is in contract to the rustic BBQ place – on the top right of the back stage dark wooden wall is a buffalo skull.

Christina introduces her mom, the famous Ann Mayo Muir of the trio Bok, Trickett, and Muir. Ann is now studying to play the fiddle and nickel harp (a 13th century pre-violin instrument).

Ann Mayo Muir tells us that as a little girl, Christina upstairs while Ann was working on the following song downstairs. Later, out of the blue, Christina tells Mom, wouldn't this go with that song and sings a lovely harmony to it that others later recorded. So this child with great musical instincts is now our melodic Christina. They sing the song: Cousin Emmy's Blues, and then the now classic, Two Fine Friends.

Christina thanks Eric for letting her open, saying she warmed out the place, and look out because now with Eric things will boil.

Eric's retort is, your set was so beautiful. I almost hate to ruin it (by singing). But he launches anyway into:
Tell Tell Kitchen - if you want to keep her, keep her out of your house

Sharing just too much information Eric tells us the "sword of Reba" is hanging over his head. He promised Reba he would not do a very "blue" night of songs. So now we in the audience get to worry too whether he will step over the line. He doesn't in the next song:

Is It Wrong To Be Loved by Someone as Lovely as You

Oh now Eric is pointing to the buffalo skull on the wall and saying, that guy is the last one to do a blue show here. Reba says something and Eric protests: "it's now fair Reba, you can say anything". He is having trouble watching his words...

Hattie and Mattie

Eric has a new CD, Sunday Blue, co-produced by Jack Williams. He sings some songs from it.

No One Said It Would be Easy (at the keyboard)

Lady Lilah
My Great Big World
- a peppy song that get a great audience response.]

The song about Eric's grandfather's trip to court - when you hear this song, you know a bit about where Eric got his attitude.

The Things Stoned People Do - now why do Christina and her Mom sing back up on this song?

Written from President Bush's perspective - I'm gonna piss on the hornet's nest
It's Charlie Here - this one written from the perspective of Charlie Brown (Eric the complex man of many personas!)

Eric thanks Vic and Reba the best known folk couple in the country. Ok, is he buttering up Reba. Because the audience is chambering for the one song that may offend her.

Instead Eric does
I'd Love to Go Where there is Nowhere to Go

Now it's time for the encore. The audience is still requesting - Who Da Bitch Now. I have to admit that I am part of this audience, and although this song make me queasy, I don't protest Eric singing it and I do always laugh (nervously). Reba finally accedes to crowd pressure and gives the nod and Eric sings this song.

A night of witty retorts. Lots of laughter. A very satisfied audience. I think Reba will invite Eric back.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
September 6, 2003 - Joanne Juskus, Brian McQuade and The Dharma Bums and Zeala at the The Creative Alliance at the Patterson Theatre Baltimore
The refurbished Patterson Theatre sparkles and shines like a new building. The music area we are in has a friendly café feel. We bring in drinks (sodas, snacks, wine or beer are available) and popcorn from the adjacent "bar" area. There are rows of chairs in the front but we choose a cute little tables in the rear. Every seat is not taken, but there is a very impressive turn out for a new venue. I estimate at least 75 people but there could be more.

This new venture is committed to promoting live arts in all media for Baltimoreans. It is the Orpheum Theatre reincarnated; it will present classic films.

Joanne Juskus hopes this singer songwriter series will be monthly. But the second one isn't until Saturday, November 15 when Elliot Bronson, Brian Gundersdorf, Victoria Pratt Keating, and Lisa Cerbone will be part of a songwriter night (7 pm Phone 410-276-3206)

The Joanne Juskus trio opens with a few songs the include A Good Thing, and Within You Fire. This music has passion!

Brian McQuade and the Dharma Bums are a local group of 3 guys and a gal. In the intro Brian confesses he may have been socially shunned because he plays the accordion, and the group doesn't venture out beyond the Baltimore beltway because of a fear of wide open spaces. Their songs include:
I Don't Want to Be Anything When I Grow Up
The Sky is Bleeding
Seventeen Syllable Blues - about beat and zen poetry
On the Beach
To An Empty Sky
I'm Through Feelin Sorry for Myself

This group has fun instruments - the accordion, a mandolin, lots of great sound and some clever lyrics.

Zeala is the all woman big band sound band I heard first at Scott Moore Father's Day yard party (folkfan post 6-18-03) - but this time Lea is present. We had no idea Lea was such an accomplished bass player.
These are women with a lot of sound, great vocals and lyrics with an attitude. Their songs include (and I am not always sure of titles)
You think you're lonely, I think you're lazy
Fat Man

They Really Ought to Know Better
Long Time- I notice a couple are dancing.
Love and Vitamins
It Means a Lot
Let it go
- a new song

This is a great venue for band music, for any music. I look forwarded to sing-songwriter night here. Wonderful start to a new series Joanne Juskus. Thanks.

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