Stolen Wallpaper

Words but a whisper, deafness a shout

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Location: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

Hi. I wish I had a job selling squirrels. They're so furry, and give you toothy grins. Unless they're rabid, in which case they will eat your face off and then find the rest of your family. That's not so good, I guess.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Harvest Gathering bios, 2020

 I did shockingly little new writing this year, but here's a few.  I think that Accidentals was in place last year, but it wasn't in the blog entry.

Ben Traverse is a young man with a very wide hat who commands a wide array of instruments in his mission to bring the finest traditional folk music into the 21st century. After apprenticeships with the finest musicians in Michigan, Ben is ready to step out smiling. After two years with his electronic project, Hlborn, this will be Ben's Harvest debut with his folk sound. Come holler and stomp!

When Brian Koenigsknecht smiles while he's singing, you can see all the joy and sorrow that led up to that moment in his face: whether crooning or hollering, beating on that acoustic guitar like it owes him money, Brian's music wears his heart on its sleeve. It's a big sound in a small space, asking for your time and attention but not demanding it. Stories of then and now, love and loss, Marquette and Kalamazoo, you and me. The original Earthwork Songbird is back to share his melodies, and probably a few more wide smiles. Available: Sad Ballad Souvenirs (2004), Beautiful Distractions (2013), From The Shallows To The Deep (2017), Roswell (2018), and brand new album Healing Bridges, featuring a collaboration with Michael Beauchamp-Cohen of Red Tail Ring, entitled The Windmill.

Darcy Wilkin is a funny person who writes and sings sad songs. She is a serious and dedicated educator who usually rocks rainbow sherbet hair. There's a twinkle in her eye the whole show, to tell you, isn't this cool? She'll treat you the same whether you're an audience of 20 or 2,000. She has been a member of the roots-folk collective the Corn Fed Girls for over two decades, and has finally stepped into the solo spotlight with a stunning slab of Michigan country music, 2019's Bristol. In the age of laughing to keep from crying, or vice versa, Darcy Wilkin was made for these times.

Frank Youngman is an educator, musician, raconteur, and all around good egg who has been mentor and friend to an alarming number of excellent Michigan musicians. Once or twice a year, he assembles a bunch of them into a ragged band of merry melody makers: no egos, no rehearsal, big fun. This year it's just him and Seth in the barn, no rehearsal, no frills, among the peacocks.

Rachael Davis is a big personality with a huge voice. She might punch you in the shoulder within minutes of meeting you. She might fill a room with raucous, contagious laughter, both her own and yours. And she might bring you to your knees with her astonishing voice as it soars, whispers, pleads and demands your attention. Deep Michigan roots, Nashville's gain is our loss, but music travels everywhere. Albums available: Minor League Deities (2000), Live In Bremen, Germany (2004), Antebellum Queens (2008), Bandbox Jubilee (2014), plus releases with Shout Sister Shout! and The Sweet Water Warblers.

Ann Arbor's Sari Brown joined the Earthwork Music label in 2004 at the age of 17 with the release of her first album, 'For What is the Journey,' a collection of 11 unconventional spirituals. 'The Color Suite' followed in 2009. After several years living in Colombia, she is now serving as a pastor in the small towns of Harbor Beach and Port Hope, near the tip of the "thumb" on the coast of Lake Huron: two heartfelt, close-knit communities that inspire her to be a better person and a better artist. She'll dazzle you with sweet songs that will linger in your heart for the rest of the day.

Bill Chesney grew up with Seth Bernard in Lake City, and there must be something in the water up there, because Bill (with his ever-changing pickup band, Stepladders) can conjure a tune, spin it on its side like a Harlem Globetrotter, and whip it at your head so fast you won't know what hit you. This is friendly/slightly snotty rock n roll for people who remember Better Than Ezra fondly. Primarily occupied with running world class print shop Brownlee Press in Grand Rapids, a Stepladders performance is a rare treat. Two albums available: Stepladders (2016) and Another Chance (2020).

Steve Leaf is a restless musical soul with a guitar, a looping station, and a wicked sense of humor. Form Howell to Chicago to Grand Rapids, with the Ex Pats, Brandon Foote, Public Access, or solo, he brings you the goods, whether the goods be ambient soundscapes, tight pop songs, or 15 minute Neil Young covers. An Earthwork Harvest Gathering fixture for over a decade, his scarecrow grin will have to be seen long distance this year, but the future is large. Albums available: We Are Ghosts (2010), Queen's Language (2012), Three Circles & A Speaker (2014), Lightspeed (2015), Come Clean (2016), Go To The Pines (2017), and brand new single Turn Around. Also investigate Public Access and Leaf/Foote.

The Accidentals have exploded out of their native Traverse City, and their Interlochen training, to stride the world with their genre-busting sound and indomitable spirit. Three multi-instrumentalists with the power to do anything, but the pyrotechnic playing is always tempered to serve the song, the melody, the moment. One of the absolute busiest touring acts in America, with over 300 shows played last year, chances are good they have come to your town, or will soon. Savannah Buist and Katie Larson write music of honesty, insight and perception, without relying on love songs or cheap tricks. Michael Dause, the new guy (joined in 2014), is a percussionist of precision and agility, with his own solo career to boot. Guitar, bass, mandolin, viola, cello, violin, banjo, and a whole lotta drums may come into play. This is timeless music by young people, and the horizon is endless. Albums available: Tangled Red And Blue (2012), Bitter Sweet (2013), Parking Lot EP (2016), Odyssey (2017), The Accidentals Live (an album of all new songs) (2019).



Saturday, April 18, 2020

Brek Rosengren, In A Nutshell

(written by Brek, merely hosted here)

1) I have loved music my entire life. I still can remember the first song that I was aware that I liked, I was 3 years old and I walked in front of the radio. A song called The Elephant Walk was playing. I stopped in my tracks to listen to it.

2) Growing up, we were a music loving family. Our stereo was prominently placed in the living room, and was always flanked by a large collection of records, Rock and Roll, Folk, lots of Vietnam War protest music, Reggae (brought back from Jamaica from my Dad - I was the first person I knew who listened to Reggae), and tons of Jazz.

3) My biggest musical influences have been; The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Yes, Neil Young, CSNY, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, John Denver, Jan Hammer, the Michigan Music Community of the late 1970s, which, at the time had a huge resurgence of Bluegrass, Folk, and Country Rock, and the current Michigan Music Community, especially Earthwork Musicians.

4. My first taste of music festivals was in 2006 at Blissfest (the first time I heard Seth and May, and Breath Owl Breath). Then we went to Harvest Gathering, Farmfest and Hoxeyville. Harvest Gathering is by far, my favorite, although I love them all.

5) I had dreams of being in a band, and especially wanted to play the guitar. I never got a guitar until I was 40, and I can’t figure out why it took me so long (probably because I played sports). I did buy a harmonica and taught myself to play by ear, when I was in 7th grade. I’ve kept a harmonica in my car, and play it once in a while, and I’ve done this ever since I could drive.

6) I tried to learn how to play the guitar with books, but playing individual notes didn’t seem right, so I skipped that, and switched to chords. That is when I figured out that I could play some songs that I was familiar with.

7) Then I realized that chord progressions could match up to the melodies that I’ve had in my head since I was a teenager, and I was ok at writing lyrics, Aha! I started writing song snippets, and simple songs about 15 years ago.

5) The first song that I wrote and finished enough to play in front of anyone was called The Respite. I sent it to Chris Dorman in 2012 and asked for a critique (because he seemed like a nice guy). He never responded, but I saw him at Harvest Gathering. He hugged me and apologized for not responding and told me he was busy, but he actually listened to my song on “repeat” while packing for Harvest Gathering. That gave me the confidence to play it in front of people. Later, Paul Geoghan-McWilliams (a friend of my kids) happened to walk by when me and my family were messing with guitars and a ukulele in the parking lot. Paul asked me if I wanted to jam. I said, “sure”. He grabbed his standup bass, and asked what I wanted to play. I told him that I had the words and chords to a song I had written called The Respite. He looked it over, we played it, people seemed to like it, so I put the video of it on Youtube. I told someone that it would never even get 100 views. It has gotten over 3,600 views.

😎 I love Harvest Gathering. I’ve been going for about 10 years and volunteering for about 6. It’s the most special place and community EVER. I knew that some day my first open mic would be played there. I got up my nerve and signed up. It was 2018. It was magical! I played in front of an actual audience, on an actual stage with a real sound guy, in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Earthwork Farm, Harvest Gathering, on the Hill Stage! I happened to have met my friend, Serita Crowley just a few weeks earlier, at my register at Trader Joe’s in Grand Rapids, and she was my stage announcer. She is a beautiful person and I’ll never forget Serita introducing me. I’ll also never forget that, Sierra Sky Baker played at that same open mic. My second Harvest Gathering open mic was a year later, in 2019 on the Cedar Stage. I have told Seth that my dream is to play in the sacred Barn. He is so nice, he said something to the effect of “I am holding space for your dream”. Seth always says the right thing.

9) For quite a few years, I called myself a musician wanna-be. My adult children were always really encouraging, but I always kind of thought they were just being nice. Then, I started getting encouraged by some of the musicians that I admire most, many of them Earthwork Musicians. Little by little, I’ve started to believe that maybe my stuff is not terrible. I have to thank the following people for saying really nice and loving things, and helping me say, (although still a little hesitantly), yes, I am a musician, I am a singer/songwriter… Chris Dorman, Paul Geoghan-McWilliams, Joey Schultz, Jason Wheeler, Seth Bernard, Bruce Ling, Mark Lavengood, Nicholas James Thomasma, Dede Alder, Josh Holcomb, Brian Koenigsknecht, Bob Hausler, Lee Kitzman, Serita Crowley, Jo Serrepere, Sam Cooper, Wil Maring, Brenden Stark, Da'Veonce Dee Washington, and I probably missed a few, sorry.

10) My most inspirational and encouraging musical moments:
a. Playing The Respite with Paul Geoghan-McWilliams
b. Playing my first open mic at Harvest Gathering in 2018 and my second open mic in 2019
c. Recording two of my songs with Mark Lavengood (that made me feel like an Earthwork Musician, because Mark’s style is so recognizable)
d. Playing one of my songs with Josh Holcomb accompanying me on the violin, then later, Sam Cooper said she would like to play it with me some day
e. Being accepted to the Earthwork Musicians Songwriters Workshop for Resilience and Resistance at Circle Pines
f. Hearing Lee Kitzman play one of my songs on WXTF Radio
g. Finding out that Chris Dorman played my song on repeat while he packed to go to HG in 2012
h. The time that I got the nerve up to play at a bluegrass circle at Rockford Brewing, and Joey Schultz told me that I did a good job playing and staying in time
i. The time that I really wanted to play one or two of my songs at the Songwriters retreat at Circle Pines, at our late night jam. I just sat there in awe of everyone’s playing. I was feeling too shy to offer up a song. Then Nik Thomas put me on the spot and said to me, “hey Brek, you got anything for us?” That was my chance. I played two songs, and it felt GREAT!
j. I wrote a song to help people grieve, after losing a loved one. It was inspired by the loss of 5 really good friends at different times in my life. When I finished the song, I found out about another friend who died tragically at 31, so I named it after him (Alex’s Song). His sister shared the song on FB and 300 or 400 people listened to it and it seemed to help a little. One person even commented, “I really needed to hear that”. That one comment showed me what it is like to write a song that is directly connected to my heart, that connects to another person’s heart. And I think this is why I’ve always wanted to be a musician. It was a beautiful moment.

11) I have been a graphic designer since around 1980. That is what I spent most of my career doing. I worked at Meijer in their advertising department, owned a graphic design studio that evolved into a full service ad agency with employees, and worked in the creative department at Wolverine World Wide. Now, due to age discrimination, I work at Trader Joe’s in Grand Rapids. I still do freelance graphic design, but much of my creative outlet is satisfied with songwriting.

12) More than one person has told me that my music reminds them of Neil Young, James Taylor and John Denver. I don’t hear it, but I am honored.

Here is a link to some of my songs on SoundCloud…

Some of my songs on Youtube…

My first open mic at Harvest Gathering…