Painting by Bill Gramley (which is hanging on my kitchen wall)
There once was a farmer who had several piglets. The piglets loved apples, so the farmer would take them out to the apple tree and pick each piglet up and let him bite the apples directly off the tree. A neighbor noticed the farmer feeding the pigs in this way day after day, so one day he asked the farmer, “Wouldn’t it be more efficient to shake the tree and let the pigs eat the apples off the ground?” The farmer shrugged his shoulders and replied, “What’s time to a pig?”
This little piggy has been contemplating the nature of time a lot lately. On rainy days like today, when I’m home feeding the wood stove and watching the dough rise, it feels like I’m not doing too badly with how I spend my time. The truth is, I’m gloriously busy making music…how cool is that? But yesterday, Pat went out shopping and found a half price sale on canning supplies. He brought home 17 dozen jars and 30 dozen lids! The entire Volkswagon was full. When will I find time to can that much? Who knows, but I always seem to find the time. One of my favorite treats as we travel is drinking homemade tomato juice from Mason jars. I guess it’s time to start those tomato seeds. And speaking of apples, we put in the new orchard of ten trees about a year ago. We lost two of them to voles over the winter, but the others are starting to bud. It’ll be about four more years before we get apples, so I have plenty of time to wait. Two of my favorite songs: Time the Revelator (Gillian Welch) and Time (Pink Floyd). Both are long and slow, like eating apples off a tree.
You may have noticed on my calendar that I’ve picked up a regular Wednesday night gig called Roots Revival. Some of you have emailed to inquire, so let me tell you all about it. I’ve teamed up with a young woman named Sarah Howell, fresh out of Duke Divinity School, who has joined the staff of Centenary Methodist in Winston-Salem. We’ve been charged with the task of creating a community based on exploring faith through music and the arts. Sarah and our senior minister, Mark Ralls, share in leading the services, and with the help of my band members, Sam Frazier and Pat Lawrence, I lead the music.
I’ve been involved in church music for most of my life, and RR is very different from anything I’ve experienced. We’re very informal, multigenerational, and open to people of all faiths or lack thereof, which to my thinking includes everyone. I wouldn’t call it contemporary, but it’s not exactly traditional either. The music is Americana/roots-based, hence the name, and the content is inspired by the music rather than the other way around. And there’s a lot of music. If you visit us, you can expect to have a mini-rehearsal before the service to learn songs you might not know, and to encourage harmony and part-singing. So far the music has included folk songs, spirituals, traditional hymns, Shaker music, and pop songs from artists like The Rolling Stones, Mumford and Sons, Leonard Cohen, U2, Bob Marley, and my band’s original songs. We’ll be including many guest musicians as well, sometimes having a concert after the service. The first concert (free, by the way) will be on March 6 when we feature Rhiannon Giddens, Grammy award winning singer/fiddler/banjist from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Pretty cool, huh?
So if this sounds intriguing to you please pop in and join us on a Wednesday night soon. We meet at 7:30pm in the auditorium, just inside the door of the 4½ Street entrance. Many of us walk over to Foothills Brewery afterwards to continue the fun. Consider yourself invited.
It seems like yesterday that I was telling you of my new Christmas disc, “Magnificat.” Last December we sold out before Christmas even arrived and I vowed to be better prepared in 2012. We just received a brand new shipment of discs, so if you were left out last year, or need new copies for your gift giving, just place your order now and I’ll send them directly to your mailbox. If you prefer to pay by check, download this form and mail it to me with your check. If you’d like for me to send your discs to other folks as gifts, either state that on the form, or if purchasing from the site, send me an email giving the name and address of the recipient, and any personal messages you’d like to send. Or you can simply come to a show in December and buy them in person.
In fact, I even have a NEW new Christmas disc. Many of you have attended the Swingle Bells concerts at Gray Auditorium in Old Salem. For the past couple of years we’ve been recording the shows and this year are releasing a live disc of our best performances. On the disc, I sing songs such as “Sleigh Ride,” “White Christmas,” “Have yourself a merry little Christmas,” and “I’ll be home for Christmas,” accompanied by the Giannini Brass and the Christmas Jazz All-Stars (Matt Kendrick, Federico Pivetta, and John Wilson). The lush arrangements are by Roger Pemberton, who was the music arranger on the Merv Griffin show. Where can you get this new disc? Right here on my site, at this year’s Swingle Bells concert on December 4, or at any of my other live shows this December.
As I gear up for Thanksgiving week, I’m grateful for a wonderfully busy year of music-making, for you my friends and family, and for a new year brimming with possibilities.