I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
January 14, 2018 - 12:23 p.m.
Last night I did something I rarely do, I went to see performers I had never even heard of. It was at the Jenkins Family House concerts on the upper west side. I went because I hadn't been there in a while and Sandy and Richard have incredible taste. Some people that have played there that you might have heard of are; Tony Trishka, Bruce Molsky, Bela Fleck, and Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile. Perhaps more to the point of trying someone unknown they've booked so many of my friends and favorites, Brittany Haas in multiple configurations, Kristin Andreasen, Aoife O'Donovan, Mike + Ruthy, The Amigos, Miss Tess, Mari Black, Jefferson Hamer, etc.
Richard is a pianist and he gets the ball rolling by playing the piano to let people know the show is about to start. I was good and was one of the first to sit. The usual openers are their children, Stephanie and Reed, but they were in Nashville recording Stephanie's album. I know Steph independently of her parents. Their third child is Cassandra Jenkins, who I hadn't seen but had heard of independently of everyone else. It's a common name, I had no idea they were all related.
Once everyone was seated Richard introduced Moira. She entered the room singing and performed the first song in the midst of the audience. I couldn't figure out what language it was in; it was Bulgarian. I'm not sure if I had ever heard Bulgarian before. Moira was in town for the APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) conference as are approximately a zillion other performers. She was joined by many of them; there were as many as eight musicians on the stage at the same time. I'm not using stage to signify the area of the room acting as a stage, they have an actual stage a carpenter friend of theirs made. It's modular and can fit in a closet when not in use. On the second song Moira sang a Capella and was echoed by a voice outside the room. That had a haunting effect. The second singer then joined her on the stage. I wish I remembered her name. I'm going to have to write Moira and ask the names of the other artists; they were all exceptional.
Her music is varied, it's not all in Bulgarian, just that one song. Some are originals and some, creative takes on traditional songs. I'm listening to her most recent album on Amazon Prime now and see that Robby Rothschild of Round Mountain joins her on one song. That makes so much sense; Round Mountain has as broad a range of music with innovative approaches. I have very rarely been as impressed on a musician on the first hearing as I was last night. My reaction was, "Where have you been all my life."
After intermission the Jayme Stone Project came on and Moira remained center stage. She's the lead singer. The project was going down to the Smithsonian field recordings at the Library of Congress and making new arrangements of the songs. Some are well-known but transformed while others are obscure. All were great. Most were done with instrumentation, banjos, fiddle, upright bass, accordion, guitar, and this small 10 stringed instrument that I've seen before but whose name I can't remember. Can anybody help me out? A few of the songs were done a Capella, at times with the close harmony of typical a Capella groups and on others like a gospel choir.
The music in both sets was complex and beautiful, the kind of music I close my eyes to listen to. That was unfortunate as Moira is a showman and there were often visual elements to the performance.
I was so excited about the music that the first thing I did this morning was write to John Platt and suggest that he listen to, play, and book Moira in some configuration. She has recently joined the already amazing Vermont music scene; any of my Vermonter friends know her? She moved there just about when Anaïs Mitchell moved to
Now to eat brunch and go food shopping. I'm going to APAP showcases tonight and tomorrow. Maybe I'll discover more music that I love. The paradox is that despite the fact that I don't like most music there's still an endless supply of musicians that I love. Like Vermont, my quota always grows and never shrinks.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
High Anxiety - January 19, 2018
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