Tuesday, August 26, 2008

sometimes the best way to get a lot done...

... is to do nothing at all.

At least that's what I was banking on today, after 4 days of functioning at about 30% speed, with low-grade fever and fatigue and just-not-feeling-so-hot...

So today I spent basically within a few meters' radius of the couch - normally not a recipe for a happy day - but I think it was the right call.

Lots to do tomorrow...


Monday, August 25, 2008

it can be done

I got a call last week from Lauren at IndiePool (who I've worked with in the design, manufacture, and distribution of my last two CDs) to let me know that, thanks in part to the persistence of a-certain-musician-who-shall-remain-nameless-but-who-has-been-bugging-him -for-years-about-the-extra-cost-and-hassle-of-using-recycled-paper, IndiePool has leaned on its suppliers and now offers recycled paper and packaging for the same price as the non-recycled stuff.

Good news. It can be done. Persistence sometimes pays off.


Friday, August 22, 2008

admit it

Ok. I'll admit it. I seem to be incapable of watching Olympics - including commercials - without tears coming to my eyes.

They sure know how to tug at these heartstrings, anyway.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


So what do you do when you've written a song that says EXACTLY what you want and need it to say, but is rather hard-hitting and, shall we say, forceful... And it is a song that you love to sing and would like to sing more often, but it is definitely geared for a different kind of context and does not really fit into the format of the kinds of performances you usually do... and would definitely surprise and quite possibly offend...

I opened my set at Cornstalk with it, and it was absolutely right. I used a slightly tweaked version to begin my concert at the music camp on Monday, and I think it was rather disconcerting...

Don't know when I'll get the chance, or the nerve, to sing it in public again...


Labels: ,

Thursday, August 07, 2008

new ideas for this fall...

This fall we're making the shift from my music being the "supplementary income" to it being the "primary income" for our family, as I'll be moving from being the primary "homemaker" to dedicating more time to this music ministry.

An exciting development, and I'm looking forward to it!

This also means that "now is the time" to move on a number of things that I have been thinking about for a long time, but not yet implemented. Here are two (among various other) new things that I have in mind for this fall and beyond... I'm still trying to figure out how this could work... I'd love to hear any responses or suggestions you might have...

1) house concerts

I know this has become a huge trend in some circles, but it's something I've never really done. Last weekend a friend talked to me about Jacob Moon's house concerts - I've visited his site and really like what I see. I'm still trying to figure out just how this could work for me and my music... one issue in particular that I'm struggling with is the "intergenerational" nature of my music (so that I'd want house concerts to be interactive and "all-ages"), and yet also the yearning that I feel for a venue to share some other songs in another mode that would be more contemplative in nature (which would also really lend itself to an intimate "house concert" kind of setting).

I've toyed with the idea of having house concerts with 2 sets - the first set being very active and especially child-friendly, and a second set with a somewhat more reflective feel (which some children would really enjoy too, but for others it would definitely extend the evening past their attention span). Would it work to have a first set, and then child-care available downstairs (with lego, toys, comfy spots for sleeping) for anyone that needs it during the second set...?

Or does that just get too complicated and impractical...? Would I be better off making different kinds of "house concerts" available - one that is a "family concert" and one that is more for the "tall" than the "small"...? But I don't really want to do that... there's a reason I call this "SmallTall Music"...


Do you have experience with house concerts? Any other ideas?

2) SmallTall Member Song-Circles

Another venue that I've wanted to introduce is a special gathering for SmallTall Music members (and friends that they might want to invite). One of the drawbacks of the "CSM" (Community Supported Music) or "membership" system is that it relies on the mechanism of downloading songs and resources, which is a real barrier for some people. And many of us need to experience the song "live" in order to really get "how it works" and to see the potential for how it can be used in different family/congregational/school settings... So I've been thinking about ways that SmallTall Music members can really experience these songs...

So how about this...

In different areas where there are concentrations of STM members (and where I happen to be travelling), I send out an invitation to a "SmallTall Member Song-Circle" event, hosted by one of the members. This is not a "concert"... it's a chance for us to gather (with our guitars and whatever other instruments people might want to bring) and sing through songs from the recent deliveries, and "try them out" with some of the activity ideas, etc. I would spend some time sharing and leading the different songs, and we could explore them together. And there would also be time for different folks to share their own song(s) - whatever they want to bring (in the spirit of the annual "STM Members Jamboree").

And, of course, like at a house concert, there would be some food/snacks and chit-chat time too...!

This would not be a "concert" though - it's a "song circle" - and in thinking about the economics of it, I'm thinking that there would be no price of admission or anything (again, the invitation goes out to existing STM Members), but members would be welcome to invite a friend, and this could also be an opportunity for people to interact with and "discover" this CSM system for themselves, and hopefully it could help to grow the membership circle as well.

And this kind of "STM Song Circle" could also happen in places where I am not present (which, of course, is most places on the planet at any given time!). That is, an STM member, or group of members, in any given place, could host a "Song Circle" on their own, and try out these songs and have a good time with a group of friends (some of whome might say "hey, this is cool, I'd like to get access to these songs and resources too...").

What do you think about that?

I get quite excited about both of these ideas (house concerts and STM Song Circles)... but as you can see there are also a number of things that I can't seem to be able to figure out, and I'm having some troubling getting these ideas to the stage where I can "roll them out" and get started.

Any help you can give - thoughts, critiques, suggestions - would be much appreciated.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

new song for cornstalk

Wrote a new song on the weekend to open my set at Saturday's Cornstalk music festival... A different kind of song for a different kind of performance and venue... Looking forward to it...

And I was more than a little surprised when I picked up a pizza in town yesterday and saw who's mug the local paper is using in it's story about the event...

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

what about worship...

Does anyone else find it strange that in 12 or so pages of Canadian Mennonite's coverage (print version) of this summer's Mennonite Church Canada Assembly and MCCanada/MCUSA "Summit" there is virtually no mention of our time spent in worship?

The opening editorial reflects on the theme text from Deuteronomy 4:1-9 and Tom Yoder-Neufeld's "keynote address," and there is an article outlining the content of Tom and Christine Sine's sermon... but I could find no other mention of any of our plenary worship times and "the work of the people" (that is, the "liturgy") that was, it seems to me, central to what we did during those significant and meaningful days.

In fact, when one article refers to "the last 90 minutes" of the MCCanada Assembly it mentions a number of items/issues that were addressed and discussed, but it's as if the concluding worship time (including an annointing service) never happened... and similarly, another article refers to the "final session" of the Summit as Thursday afternoon while neglecting to mention that the "final session" was, in fact, our concluding worship service on Thursday evening, including a communion service of covenant renewal.

It's no surprise that I'm particularly alert to this, given that I served for 10 months on the national and bi-national planning teams that planned the worship, and given that I was involved in leading singing during 14 worship times in 4 days (10 "plenary worship" times and 4 with the children's assembly).

Part of me asks if the worship was not meaningful or memorable enough to warrant mention. Or, on the other hand, perhaps there was such an effective weaving of worship into the agenda and work of the assembly/summit that the whole time was so imbued with the spirit of worship that it doesn't need to be mentioned, any more than that we would mention the (delightfully fresh, to these Toronto lungs) Winnipeg air that we breathed and the (absolutely excellent) food that we ate, even though those are clearly vital and worthy of mention as well...

And then part of me asserts that, meaningful or memorable or "effective" or not, our worship together is indeed the "work of the people," and important and essential in its own right, while also providing the context and framework that enabled the gathered people to prayerfully discern the many significant issues that we need to be dealing with together.

In any case, I find it troubling that one can read through the pages of (otherwise excellent) reporting on the event, and wonder whether worship was even part of the proceedings.

Here's a link to a bunch of stuff from the assembly/summit, including some of the resources used in worship. I'm still trying to find links to some of the songs... if I manage to find them, I'll post a link...


Three of the songs are now posted online here.