Saturday, February 21, 2004
Tinsmith and Kim Buchanan at Focus Inn - Mount Rainier, MD on February 21, 2004

Rachel Cross introduces Kim Buchanan as her sister (not literally but as in sister in song - sister in spirit). Kim is from North Carolina, a wife and Mom and tells us that getting to go out and tour and leave the family behind is like a mini-vacation. A treat for her and a treat for us.

Kim's Set Includes:
We Belong- “the word’s that really hard to say is I was wrong”. Belonging means taking responsibility and keeping the communication going.

In her next breath, Kim tells us that many of her songs are about her family. Well from her first song we could guess she knows about family life. She tells us she has a husband and 2 girls ages 12 and 14. And she loves being a mother of teens. But when one daughter started dating, she wrote a reality song
Once Upon A Time – a song that says “life will be what we make of it, maybe. There are no guarantees”

The Dress Code Song – high politics for those in high school. This song gets the most laughs – and we in the audience are singing the very ironic chorus with gusto “Three cheers for the dress code. Three cheers?”

The God Game – “they can do as they like as long as they do it in his name” - again high irony

The Strong Woman Song – “buckle up and view me as I am”

Rachel Cross adds percussion on the drum for the White Girl Rap Song – “If only the White House was run by a dame, we’d have a different view from our window pane”

Kim’s amazing songs continue. One song is for deep breathing, for using the breath to get perpetually high. Another song celebrates Harry Potter and talks about what he carries in his heart. In a darker view there are people with Borderline Minds, whose minds meet borders and get stuck; they can’t get across and see outside their own rigid lines. Let’s hope that Kim gets many more working “vacations” in Maryland.

I’ve found recently that there are some uppity Southern women who have a lot to say. Southern women who think. That reminds me of a new friend, Kent Anderson Leslie, a Southern academic I just met and admire,. Her book is titled, Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege, Amanda America Dickson, 1849-1893. (There was also a TV movie, A House Divided).

Southerner artists. So many now are now exploring the negative impact of slavery and segregation on whites. A few weeks ago I heard Michel Bowers sing his song Selma. Michael uses the word shame. And Pierce Pettis has the incredible song, Legacy. Greg Greenway (a renegade Southern) too has several eloquent songs about the South and why he left it.

But I digress.

There is a break and another great act

Next is Tinsmith, at trio. Each member is an extraordinary musician, and togher they share their unique Celtic interpretations. Tinsmith members, Brooke Parkhurst and Rowan Corbett, have a very new band member, Avril Smith, who is also a key player in the powerful all woman band Zeala.

This is Avril’s 2nd gig with Tinsmith (not counting the lst one at a noisy bar). The reconstituted trio will be doing a new album soon.

This music is sort of Celtic. Tinsmith’s web site says “Traditional Celtic collides with American Folk/Rock…Hard”! I am not very familiar with Celtic music so I don’t know most of the song titles. The sound is luscious though.

An instrumental piece combines the penny whistle, guitar and Avril’s mandolin. Brooke Parkhurst “plays a mean banjo”, to quote my husband. Rowan Corbett adds tremendous energy with his guitar, drum like instrument and the bones. Avril and Brooke play guitar too, but also, well it is a long list. As Avril says, “we’re still the band with too many instruments”.

Brooke teases that Avril doesn’t like it when they play songs in D all the time. All the instruments are great harmony with these craftsmen like musicians. The energy is high and we in the audience are fully engaged.

The pieces with words have the Traditional Celtic kind of tragic love tales. Several times the audience sings along to a sailor kind of tune. This is a group to see again and again.

I talk to several folks at this concert about the Six Points Music Festival that was mentioned in a Washington Post article today. Sponsored by the Arlington Music Scene , this is more than singer-songwriter music, it includes many genres. Still what a dynamic concept - music of all kinds every night for a week at venues in one concentrated geographic area! And a musical community which is fairly sophisticated about getting the word out. They have a prominent article in the Washington Post. And article cites their blog!

Sunday, February 15, 2004
Valentine's Day Concert - The Michael Bowers Band with Siobhan Quinn at Moore Music in the House, Rockville Md on February 14, 2004

In an interview in the Gazette a few days ago, Michael Bowers promises a Valentine's Day surprise at this Moore Music in the House concert. He says there will be "romance in the air" and a place for romantic couples to hold hands. Host Scott got an unprecedented numbers of calls about the concert from the article. Was this band hype or what?

As promised, the music is definitely about love and relationships. But there are also contests. Michael invites the audience to nominate:
Worst Love Lyrics written
Best Pick Up Lines
Worse Pick Up Lines
The audience votes and winners win a valentine's day cookie

Then Michael shares a pick-up line of his own, and it is quite a story. At NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference), Michael shared a room with Jerry Bresee. NERFA provides live music from 7 pm to 11 AM for several days and music lovers are in major sleep deprivation. Siobhan Quinn was scheduled to meet with Jerry Bresee about an act they were doing, but Jerry was late showing up. Michael found a very tired Siobhan sleeping on the hallway rug near the door to their room (but actually in front of the wrong door). Michael directed to the right door, opened the door, invited her in, and said "have I got a pillow for you"....

Who knows if I got the story quite right. Since this is a serious matter, ask Michael for a perfect version of the story, but I am sure the pickup line he shared with us is "have I got a pillow for you." Paula (the house concert hostess) implies we've only heard Michael's version, saying she won't tell us what Siobhan told her in the kitchen before this show.

And the surprise!
Then in front of all of us, Michael gives Siobhan a ring. He explains that he gave it to her recently. She took it off so he could present it again here. The big surprise is they will be married later this year! (Well, a surprise to me. My husband tells me he is not so surprised - he's been seeing Michael and Siobhan's intense gazing in each other's eyes throughout the concert. My chair was at a slightly different angle and I couldn't see their faces as well.)

In the second half the contests and stage give-aways get racier.
Who has been together the longest Michael asks. The winners, together 34 years, get a bottle of wine and a can of extra creamy ready whip. Michael says the wine is pretty good wine, I recommend you don't mix the two.

Then, who is the newest couple? Oh there's a couple on their first date in the house. The performers did not anticipate a new couple would be quite so new.. The gift they have is another can of whipped cream. Siobhan muses this may not be the right gift. But at least it isn't the extra creamy. Michael quips, well it's OK but they'll have to sign the President's abstinence pledge.

Yes there is also music. The rest of the band includes Focus Inn President Jerry Bresee on guitar and vocals, bass player Maria "Pete" Durgan, Kirby Yarbrough on percussion and vocals, and Wyn Walke on Hawaiian slide guitar (also called a weisenborn). They make a great a wonderful sound, but as usual for me it is the lyrics that go right to my heart.

Some of the songs Michael sings are:
Alive Again
Reluctant Believer - title song of his new CD. Written at a songwriting week at a ranch in Colorado.
This Feeling - from Michael's first CD, written in New Orleans.
Point of No Return
Jackson Marvin Beauregard - and his third reinvention
No Roaming
Never Apologize
Shine On

The music is as promised about love and relationship and being human and about transformation.
Songs to hear again and again.

After an audience poll of the best dump lines or best revenge on being dumped lines, Michael leads us into a song about the other side of love. This is a road song, inspired by a trip in Alaska where there is only one road between towns; Michael was going from one town to another and they are are 40 miles apart as the crow flies but 130 miles apart by road, and there is only one road. Sometimes in relationships it is worse - You Can't Get There from Here.

Selma - Michael heard Jessie Jackson say to take that shame and guilt as a white child growing up in Selma, and do something good with it. In Selma in 1963 there was a population of 29,000 of whom 15,000 were black and fewer than 100 registered black voters. When Michael was 12 they were talking about voting rights. And whites were focused not on what was right, but on their own fears. This is a powerful song.

On My Way - "it's love that holds eternity"

Jerry Bresee sings Riversong, the first song from Jerry's first CD - a powerful song evoking nostalgia for a place where people and jobs "flowed away" and "what this river takes away is never comin back".

Siobhan Quinn shares a song she wrote following the end of a 10 year relationship. The relationship ended 1 ½ years ago, and she finished this song exactly one year ago at Wintersongs in Ashokan, where she coaches other musicians.
This Kind of Love - is about a kind of love you don't give up on. Michael says at one point "she sings and I surrender.." I empathize with this. Gorgeous heartfelt singing and what a beautifully crafted song (and you can hear an MP3 clip of it on her website).

Scott tells us his monthly concert series has been going since 1997 and he's done 65 shows. Jerry Bresee has been here often, and this is Michael Bowers second time. Scott's son made the new stage "backdrop", a wall covering of squares with pink hearts - a great design. Lot's of design efforts in the family - Scott is revamping the Moore Music in the House web site.

Scott is also involved with presenting the Takoma Park Folk Festival (7 stages of great music, free to all, on September 12, 2004). And he's on the board of Focus Inn which has a concert coming up Friday 2/20/04 - Tinsmith and Kim Buchanan, 8pm at Joe's Movement Emporium
3802 34th Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712. And Andrew McKnight and Julie Clark on 3/14/04 at 7 pm in Alexandria. (See Great shows coming up!

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