Over the last 15 months, Soumya and I have been practicing music of the soul by working on bhakti music, blending traditions of the East and West. Our band Sat Song (truth song) has a first event Thursday night in Tempe. We’ll perform for the 10 year Anniversary Celebration of the Arizona Interfaith Power and Light organization. This is an organization demonstrating much needed cooperation and respect in our day of division along religious and cultural lines. I’m pleased to be part of this event. Wish us well!
Soulful Music and Poetry: Back to Marquette
August 30, 7 PM @ The Crib
With Dylan Trost and Greg Ormson, singer-songwriters; Russell Thorburn and Jonathan Johnson, poets
This one-of-a-kind event features the eclectic energy of Dylan Trost, in his brand new compositions, which include “Strangelight” and “Where Is All the Dust?” As well as other Americana-like grinders of the human spirit you will want to hear in a coffee shop setting.
There is also the original music of Greg Ormson on acoustic guitar and sitar, formerly of The Magees, from Wausau, Wisconsin, an innovative Irish-American band. Greg provides fiery vocals in his deep baritone range, and his guitar work sparkles with the Irish tunings. Sitar reflects his meditative nature as a yoga teacher who currently lives in Phoenix. He has come back to Marquette, and sings of it in a newly recorded song.
Dylan and Greg will provide guitar background for Russell Thorburn’s poetry from
Somewhere We’ll Leave the World, Wayne State University Press, and selections from his new work, including poems from the recent anthologies of Undocumented: Great Lakes Poet Laureates on SocialJustice—and Respect: The Poetry of Detroit Music—both Michigan State University Press. Greg has collaborated with Thorburn on songs recorded for a forthcoming CD, including “Back to Marquette.”
Jonathan Johnson, Eastern Washington University and Cheney, will read from his recently published memoir The Desk on the Sea, Wayne State University Press, and May Is an Island: Poems, Carnegie Mellon Press. His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry, published widely in literary magazines, and read on National Public Radio. … read more...
One good thing about Facebook is that every now and then someone reaches from the past and makes contact with us in the present. This is the case from someone that contacted me yesterday and I’m glad he did.
Today (Aug. 13) is Kristen and Greg’s 25th wedding anniversary. Back then, I was the officiant for their wedding when I was working as a clergy for the Lutheran church and my assignment was to Northern Michigan University. Marquette was my home for 12 years, and two of my children were born there. Except for the cold – which I can’t stand – it was the best place I ever lived.
Along with his Facebook note, Greg sent one photo from his and Kristen’s wedding ceremony. I had never seen it, and it brought back many good memories of my time as a YOOPER in Upper Michigan.
Greg reminded me that I played my ceremonial wood duck drum as part of their wedding. Playing a drum wasn’t that far out of bounds -since I started drumming with a set at 14 – but I made the drum I used in their wedding and have used it in many ceremonies. The oak body for the drum came from a large tree that had been struck by lightning. The deer skin on top was from the last deer my dad had shot in Indian-head Country of Northwest Wisconsin.
Text below is from “Anchors,” a piece about drumming.
From early on, I heard text and sub-text in drums and memorized tom-strike patterns, rim hits on snare, and foot work for the high hat.… read more...
Thank you #YOGANECT for publishing yogainspirationals number 74.
During my seventh year practicing yoga I started learning the sitar.
Immediately I realized it was a hard instrument to play and its technology is ancient: there’s a huge gap between frets and the strings which are painful on the fingers; the metal sitar pic winds tightly on the finger and pinches; the instrument’s lightweight strings go out of tune easily and there are 21 of them; but most of all, the traditional playing style requires sitting on the floor with the left leg crossed under the right while the sitar neck rests over the right thigh with the sound gourd perched on top of the left foot. This position is hard on the left knee, back, legs, hips, and both ankles.
At one point during my practice in the last few months, I started doing yoga before playing. I needed to set my legs, hips, and back at ease. When I did this first, I realized I could sit longer and concentrate better and my yoga practice tied directly to sitar practice became my daily ritual.
This two-step approach to sitar practice – beginning with yoga – became my entre into the world of classical Indian music. I now view yoga as my commencement ritual, and I won’t even try playing sitar without first doing yoga, or at the very least, until after breath work. Yoga and sitar, including savasana, tune me up for my day; now I hesitate to go out in public before this commencement.
A NEW TAKE ON AN OLD SKILL
I sang in a boys’ choir at age 10 and once performed with a small group at the World’s Fair in New York at age 11.… read more...
The surprises, somewhere east of Bryce Canyon, UT. Link below
The people, like Rick and Linda from Troy, New York. She was wearing a hat from Superstition Harley Davidson, Peter from Australia, Ron from Hanksville, UT and the unknown fiddler below on Utah state highway 12.
On Friday night, December 2nd, Jon Shea, Nick Hoen, and I will be playing Irish tunes at Basil in dirty ol’ Weston. The set list includes rebel standards that we played for a years, but in these last couple weeks, we’ve had good laughter while adding new tunes and songs. The lads are still the enfant terrible lads, but this time we’re a little more seasoned, a pinch more cooked, a dash more true.
We thank Jim and Tee Daly and the Basil staff for inviting us, and thank all of you who asked at the Central Wisconsin Irish Fest if the lads Magees were going to play again.
Since our last gig as a band, in August, 2012, Nick has been playing guitar nearly every weekend with Carmen Hoen in Open Tab, their husband/wife acoustic duo. They’ve also been regularly gigging with their 4 piece rock band, The Third Wheels. Nick still kicks Irish rhythm guitar in spectacular fashion.
Jon has been gigging occasionally with his fiddle playing friend Fergus, and over the last four-years, continues wooing forth the pinched reedy notes hidden deep in the sacristy of his uilleann pipes; this in addition to his excellent mandolin, whistle, and guitar playing. Jon is not like everybody else; and nobody plays like him either. Recently, he started teaching the whistle to his son Finley, and while Finley doesn’t know yet how lucky he is to have his pops teach him, someday he will.
HOW THIS STARTED 9 years ago
In December, 2007, Debbie Iozzo invited three Norwegian and German-American guys that were working on Irish songs to play them at Iozzo’s Italian restaurant in Wausau.… read more...
Five days ago, I went to a drum circle attended by about 50 people. It brought me back to my essay in progress.
Drumming takes place through the night until a last tired thumper wanders away in the fog of exhaustion. Their fully-charged reptilian brain shifts to the goal of finding their tent. Some can’t walk away, so they fall asleep on the ground near the fire as the sun rises, lighting up the dawn as shadows drop down from the tree tops.
Taking a path through the woods and away from the drum fire is not new, but our caves are. Tents of orange, green and blue cover the grounds. In the dark, glowing candles from within make them look like Japanese prayer lanterns lit in remembrance of ancestors.
These drummers demonstrate what the new physics teaches: We are all connected. In the drum circle, there is something mystical and unintelligible to senses, but the drummers understand and speak the language of time. They know this language. They’ve learned it by listening.
Listening, according to some experts, is the “most often used but least often practiced communication skill.” But something happens when listening to drums that is more than the sum total of communication. In his fine novel of India, Return to the Source, Lanza Del Vasto once wrote:
“The finest and most complete instrument they have is the drum. It is the voice of all speech, the Aum of all hymns, the foundation of all music. The drum is the bond between the musician’s voice and his body, between his body and the music to which it gives the earthly consistency of the steps it raises.”… read more...
Three sound files include tunes from my Wisconsin Irish Band, The Magees (Jon Shea, Nick Hoen). Five years playing with Jon and Nick remains a warm and satisfying memory.
Song one: Road to Erogie
Song two: Roddy McCorley
Song three: The Patriot Game (Jon)
The following four songs I’ve been writing with Russell Thorburn as we build a collection of songs about rock legends. These back stories reveal stage fright, tender moments on the beach and the unmitigated grief of suicide.
John Lennon haunts with demolition chords; Levon Helm deals with a lifetime of suicide grief attempting to turn back the clock; Rick Danko’s stage fright forces him to borrow a coat and flee into a cold Ontario night.
Samples are single takes recorded on a cellphone; it’s the lyrics that speak in these songs, not necessarily musical talent.
Dylan Thomas is the subject of song four.
Song one: Silver Beatle Come Back (John Lennon)
Song two: Levon and the Mountain (Levon Helm)
Song three: Danko’s Last Song (Rick Danko)
Song four: Send Dylan to the Country (Dylan Thomas)… read more...
Five years with Jon and Nick. We’ve practiced, studied, watched videos, listened to traditional music and now finally put together our first cd. While not perfect, we’re pleased with reaching a new milestone as musicians. We’re grateful for the opportunities to share this music. It’s what we do.
BRIU, by The MAGEES.
It’s a variant spelling of a Celtic and provencial Italian word; it means verve, vivacity, vitality.
It’s how we play it and it’s how we’re trying to give our due to the masters.
It reminds me of Salvador Dali’s comment about how to grow into an artist: “Copy the masters, copy the masters, copy the masters and then do what you damn well please.” And while we’re not doing just what we please, we’re working on following the masters and then hoping to create our own masterpiece some day.… read more...