It happened once again. Sitting in my recliner looking out the window at a winter that just keeps on keeping on. I click on my Gmail icon and there it is, Playing for Change Project 112, Pata Pata. It opens up with Grandpa Elliot leading me into an up tempo rhythm straight from the tropical warmth of Africa. My foot gets to patting and my spirit begins to breathe fresh air. Just as I think it can’t get better guitarist Vasti Jackson bridges into oh so familiar musical comfort food, Wimba Way, and a huge smile comes to my face.
Just yesterday I was told by a middle age woman that kids today don’t like music. While I’m not going to argue with her obvious lack ignorance of young people I’ll simply say that I’m one ageing old man who still finds joy, comfort, and warmth in music. P for P is a gift that keeps coming down my Internet chimney. Thank you so much.
It’s March 5, 2015 and I’m looking out my window at a fresh five-inch coat of snow. This winter has turned into one of the coldest and snowiest in several years. Like a gift from on the wings of a snow-white dove, however, came a link to a Playing for Change video that brought sunshine and warmth into our living room. Sit back and enjoy a collage of P for C’s musicians, all located in warm places, playing Cottonfields.
I’ve been learning the ins and outs of building cigar box guitars and other roots instruments for a couple of years now. Some of the earlier ones made better wall decorations than they did music. But as time has passed I’ve gotten better and before Christmas I created a nice 3-string, fretless, instrument made from a common cigar box and three 1/2″ dowels as the neck. Judy Beatty saw pictures of it on Facebook and purchased it as a gift for her son Lynn.
Lynn took a little time getting the hang of it and today sent me a video of him playing the Hank Williams classic, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Die” on my creation. I’m not much of a player and it is just overwhelming to see and hear something you created in the hands of a talented artist. Thanks so much Lynn!
On Tuesday, February 17 Spark is sponsoring a 2-hour parent-child event in which a playable, take home, 1-string roots instrument will constructed. I’ll be leading the workshop and will guide attendees through the process of building a traditional roots diddley bow instrument. The cost is $30 for parent-child team and will include all necessary materials and use of basic hand tools. If the parent would like to build a second instrument the added cost will be $20.
Registration and payment is by major credit card at Eventbrite. Click the payment icon below to enroll.
Ever since George Harrison hooked up with Ravi Shankar I’ve loved the sound of the Indian sitar. I have several Shankar CDs, one of Indian morning ragas, and one he made with the American classical musician, Philip Glass. In the early 60s the music shop in Downey, CA had a sitar and while I never touched it I did spend lots of time staring at it, marveling at its complexity.
In the YouTube era I’ve watched many videos of Shankar and other sitar players and I’m always stunned by how much beauty they can create with this assemblage of a few boards, wire strings, and a gourd or two. Just as magical is the lightning that lives in their fingers. To move so fast lightning has to be somehow a part of it.
Playing for Change seeks out musicians from around the world and makes them know through video recordings. On a recent Asian trip they taped a young Southern Indian man named Rajesh Vaidhya. Rajesh has mastered a type of sitar called a veena.
For a couple of years now I’ve built a variety of traditional roots musical instruments, mostly cigar box guitars. In the past few weeks my attention has turned to a traditional African instrument called the kalimba, or thumb piano.
I’ve made several versions using anything I can find that will produce a vibration. Basically a kalimba is a box of some sort, a bridge to hold the keys or tines, and the tines, which product vibrations when plucked with the thumbs or fingers. I’ve used made pieces, found pieces, and adapted pieces to build these simple music makers.
The builds with metal tines are tuned to a chromatic scale and specific melodies and rhythms can be plucked from them. The wooden tines each produce a different sound but are simply adjusted that each stick is a different length. They are played more as a percussion instrument. Some even call them thumb drums.
For an idea of what an accomplished player can do check out this video of famous American banjo player, Bela Fleck, doing a field recording with a kalimba player in Africa.
My various creations are available for sale and will be on display at Spark Creative Artspace in Greenfield, OH. In the near future I hope to have them available for purchase online.
Here’s another example of an 8-tine kalimba being played.
Spark Creative Artspace has two canvas events on the near horizon. First is an evening of Coffee & Canvas for the area’s home for the holidays college students. It is scheduled for Friday, December 26th from 6-8 pm. The evening will be led by artist Jennifer Wenker and the masterpiece for the evening will be a painting by Georgia O’Keefe.
The $35 price will include a 16×20″ stretched canvas, quality acrylic paints, and use of Sparks equipment. Non-alcoholic beverages and finger foods will also be provided. Participation is limited to twenty-five seats and registration and payment is with major credit cards through Eventbrite.
The second canvas event will take place on Sunday, January 18th from 2-4 pm. This will be a children’s Cookies & Canvas event and co-sponsored by Greenfield Y-Gradale. Eric Salyers will be the
When in college I took a minor in ceramics and in today’s world I’ve become interested in homemade roots instruments. It’s these two interest that attracted me to the following video. It’s 10 minutes long, very interesting, and so joyful at the end. Grab your coffee cup and expose yourself to a bout of creativity and joy.
Recently my wife and I, for the second time in recent months, spent an evening at The Paxton Theater, home of Ohio’s oldest country music jamboree. For fifty years now the Paint Valley Jamboree in Bainbridge, Ohio has staged country music programs most Saturday nights of the year. Earlier this year the Paxton changed hands and the new owners have poured their hearts and wallets into rejuvenating the building and upgrading the technical aspects of what modern music requires; better lights, better sound system, improved acoustics, and much improved aesthetics.
New Orleans’ Grandpa Elliott is one of my favorite musical legends. For several years now he has been touring the world as part of the Playing for Change band. P for C recently released an album of Grandpa’s music and made available this video of Down by the Riverside.
It struck me while watching this Playing for Change video that many of the people involved in this project are probably Muslim. Yet I found zero reason to feel frightful. Why is it we assume so much that’s not founded in reality.
Spark Creative Artspace is now able to accept online donations using major credit cards. Simply click on the donation button and submit your credit card information. You will be purchasing a Spark Patron Ticket for whatever amount you chose and the proceeds will help Spark pay its monthly rent and other expenses. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.
Spark Creative Artspace’s first ever Zombie 1K Walk is scheduled for 4:30 pm, Saturday, October 11, 2014. The costumed walk begins at Felson Park on McArthur Way and ends at Spark’s studios at 251 Jefferson Street. Open to everyone at a cost of $10 a person (children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult) which includes entry, entertainment, refreshments, and a very cool Zombie Walk pin.
To pre register and order your tickets online click on the Zombie poster below. All major credit cards accepted. Tickets will also be sold at the event.
The old general store photo I’ve used as the banner or header of this site was found online several months ago. Recently I was watching a PBS special about one of America’s première photographers, Dorothea Lange, and learned the photo was taken by her in July, 1939 at an old country store near Gordonton, North Carolina. At the time Lange was employed by the US Government to photographically record the Great Depression.
I did a little research and learned that Gordonton is northwest of Durham and the old building is still standing. Here’s what it looks like in recent years.
Cindi Pearce will begin conducting a series of yoga classes she titles Rusty Hinges. The first session will begin on October 6th at Spark Creative Artspace’s facility at 251 Jefferson St. in Greenfield. Cost of the classes are $8 per session. To register simply call Cindi at 937-981-3040.