Brown Bag online literary is out today including two of my contributions and many more. This issue, which they’ve titled Jackson, takes readers on a journey through the solar and lunar system in words and sounds; it highlights the individual story – and music in that story – with the complicated tangle in the biggest of big pictures. It is dedicated to Jackson Rose, described as an artist and open soul. Links to click in and listen to “Voices from The Woodland,” which Brown Bag has linked to Mercury, and “Whale Song from the Corners of Eternity,” linked to Neptune.
Music spoken word by Gregory Ormson, Russell Thorburn, Darrell Syria.
Steer Your Way – From You Want it Darker, Leonard Cohen
Diversity, nature’s fail-safe, is rejected by the fearful. The mob thinks they are losing something, but they can’t describe what it is. And how will the rise and fall of a once-great country work?
It will work like humanity and the planet, all three evolving on the same arc where the end is written in the means. And the means of our present say something sinister and deadly about the ends of our personal, corporate, and planetary journey.… read more...
Acoustic guitar and vocal response to radio talk of the northwoods.
WOJB: Radio Talk, Radio Chant
I turn the radio on and a smoky voice greets me, “Good evening everyone. You’re listening to WOJB, 88.9 FM, Woodland Community Radio from the Lac Court Oreilles in Reserve, Wisconsin, broadcasting on the Web at WOJB.ORG.
“It’s Tuesday, and I hope you’re having a good night.” The radio that’s been sitting in the same place for 40 years, goes silent . . . then a jock speaks again to his invisible community. “It’s Tuesday, isn’t it? Wait a minute, let me check . . . oh, it’s Thursday. Ok then, well I hope you’re having a good Thursday.”
Ok then, becomes my north-land talk, courtesy of WOJB, where words break through from another world. His musical voice landing quiet on the microphone, nearly a chant, and the jocks’ idiom camouflages a humor that’s easy to miss. Dead air . . . lots of it . . . and then again he’s on, “You’re listening to WOJB, Community Radio of the Northwoods.”
I sat by the wood burning stove and noted the program change. “Good evening from the mountain state of West Virginia,” someone said. And in seconds, soft notes from a wooden guitar, played on a stage in West Virginia, melted in my ear and met me in my place of dark pines and starry skies. Warmed by fire on a cold Wisconsin spring night, I sipped my drink and wondered what the air waves would bring next.
Opening the stove door to add wood, the restless child of Prometheus took oxygen and rose with the flame.… read more...
“I embrace the certain hurt of this path. At a cabin in the Midwest, I do not feel assaulted by noise; I seek justice for myself and creation. I enter the stillness, listen, and index the anchors of constancy.” Gregory Ormson
Russell Thorburn, piano; Gregory Ormson, words and voice. “Radio On,” composed by Thorburn, and a memoir by Ormson; mixed @ Gummersound, Marquette, Michigan.
“There was something about the way he played his Stratocaster that made it seem otherwordly.” –Eric Clapton on Jimi Hendrix
My sitar flows in 19 bands of light: their names are baaj, chikari, and tarab. Its journey to my hand is a mystery, but its music-medicine came to my doorstep from an old land, gripped me from the eons, and pulled my soul into its orbit. It’s a path unlike any other, bending more than notes. A musician friend and professor said, “Its all angles.”
Saraswati dances, sitar bends, and because I’ve heard its music and felt it in my chest I participate in its step. This step is toward the depths and from them rises a watery siren-song of the fathoms.
Sitar music is a never-ending river, shepherding me to a place close and yet far away. My teacher speaks in common tones and offers up clusters of daring: “Consistency, consistency, consistency,” she says. Her words; the kernel of all learning, teaching, and the core of every guru’s curriculum.
I’ve seen the rivers of India, but I can’t put myself and my sitar on their banks; but once at dusk, on a hot July night, I made my way with this rosewood, gourd, string & steel riddle to the banks of the Salt River in east Phoenix to listen. There, I realized sitar will not accompany me without shepherding along a river of souls.
Looking to the Salt, I could almost see a funeral pyre float past; a desert inspired mirage bobbing with the current, like a lazy raft ablaze in flames, scented smoke and grief trailing behind.… read more...
Hear “When I Get Back to Marquette,” and “Mescalero Territory.”
Russell Thorburn, NEA recipient, is the author of four books of poems. His last book, Somewhere We’ll Leave the World, was published by Wayne State University Press. Currently he is producing and directing his one-act play Bomb Shelter for Black Box Theater at Northern Michigan University, where he teaches composition. It will premiere March, 2020, and includes original music for the end of the world that never happened in the sixties. www.russthorburn.com
Gregory Ormson, writer and musician living in Arizona, has collaborated with Thorburn over the last decade on word and poem projects. He writes on music, yoga, motorcycling, and landscape.
“Mescalero Territory” Lyric and voice, Russell Thorburn. Sitar, Gregory Ormson, engineered at Gummersound Studio, Marquette, Michigan. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7CJeFLGYOO8YVB0NjFQSUFhR0dJV09kSjlVZ2daTk5uYU9Z/view?usp=sharing
“When I Get Back to Marquette” Russell Thorburn, Marquette, Michigan lyric; Gregory Ormson, Mesa, Arizona, music, guitar, vocal, and lyric adaptation; Mike Bjella, clarinet, Montreal, Quebec; Peter Gummerson, Marquette, Michigan, sound engineering. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CiqMkl6W9OOuS82qWe-LASo3ytH_FNLw/view?usp=sharing