Thursday, August 27, 2009

my new favorite band

Each year I block off the weekend of the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival over at Planet Bluegrass. This is one of my favorite music events of the year with three days of non-stop music from 11:00am until the last set winds down at 10:30pm.

The folks over at Planet Bluegrass never disappoint with the lineup. There are the tried and trues that play late in the day and draw the crowds and there are the bands I've yet to discover. The lineup this year stuck to the aforementioned formula...crowd drawers and new discoveries.

This year was an amazing blend of the must sees:
- Don McLean - Who got the entire crowd on their feet to sing and dance to a ~20 minute rendition of 'American Pie'under the stars. Never mind that there was a fallen climber rescue going on just across the creek (thankfully she got away with minor injuries).
- Madeleine Peyroux - Not your typical Folks Fest set. There was a moment of feeling like I was in some small cafe in Paris listening to a funky jazz artist.
- Brett Dennen - A discovery from a Folks Festival a few years back when he played an early afternoon set. He has since taken the main stage at Telluride Bluegrass and blew the crowd away this year with his full band during his Sunday early evening set.

Which leads me to the 'discoveries'. I've been going to the Folks Fest since 2001. Haven't missed a year yet, and don't plan to unless some amazing travel opportunity just gets in the way. Each year without fail there is a find. An act that shows up on the lineup that I've never heard, but just blows me away. And theirs is the CD I buy for the weekend. Yep, I just buy one for the entire weekend. Previous years finds have been the likes of Brett Dennen, Missy Higgins, The Waifs, and Darrell Scott to name a few. They have remained personal favorites and I have seen them all develop their sets and presence over the years. It is fun to witness in which direction the success takes them.

In the tarp line Friday morning, a conversation with a Bob Dylan fan (identified by his concert t-shirt) from Colorado Springs turned to who is the new must see act this year. We talked about Over the Rhine (who when all was said and done were my runner-up), Joe Pug, and Will Hoge. They were all awesome and worth putting on the rain gear for (which was done multiple times).

The Dylan fan told me about an act he heard about on NPR. They did a tour along the West Coast riding their bicycles. Kinda cool, huh? I was curious and marked them in the schedule as a 'don't miss'. Good thing, too. Turns out Blind Pilot, the band in question, was the hands down find of the weekend.

Now the tough part. Why were they the find of the weekend? In the moment, sitting in a sea of tarps with my festivarian glow I was wowed by how tight the band played and the use of 'not everyday instruments' such as the trumpet, harmophone, xylophone, full size base, and non-bluegrass banjo. Their music filled the senses in a good way. It may sound fluffy, but that it is. I like the feeling their music evokes for me. And, that feeling keeps coming each time I listen to their CD. Over and over and over.

You can get yourself a dose of it here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a guiding mantra

I am a big believer in affirmations. The words we use (internally and externally) become our reality. It is but a matter of time before our world is manifested from our thoughts and our words.

Today, I stumbled upon a Jared Matthew Kessler's blog that spurred some thoughts and uncovered what he calls a mantra. Feels like a pretty darn powerful affirmation to me and I'd like to share it with you. You can check out the entire post here.

“I believe I’m always divinely guided, I believe I will always take the right turn in the road, I believe God will always make a way even if there is none.”
courtesy of Jared Matthew Kessler's blog

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

celebrating the irish

On St. Patrick's Day those of us that have even a wee bit of Irish heritage become fully Irish for the day. We talk of the luck of the Irish, wish each other well, perhaps share a pinch for those not sporting green, and celebrate further by lifting a glass or two.

At our home we often celebrate by watching John Wayne rediscover his Irish roots in 'The Quiet Man'. It's a love story and a story of a Yank coming home to discover what he is really made of. Here's a clip of the big fight scene. And, of course, some drinking.

I wish you and yours a Happy St. Patty's Day and a bit of that luck of the Irish.

May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Monday, March 9, 2009

life's for sharing

This was posted on a friend's Facebook today (you know who you are!). It made me smile. Not just that across the face smile, but the heart and soul smile. I love that fun and silliness is something that pulls people in, connects us, and makes friends of strangers. Even if for a moment.

It is titled 'Life's for Sharing'. Hope watching it brings you a heart smile, too. Now, go forth and create some sharing and happiness in your day. :-)

Watch the moment Liverpool Street Station danced to create this special T-Mobile Advert. Life's for sharing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

*Not* Dark As A Dungeon

John Cowan kicked off the Wildflower Pavilion 2009 concert series at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons last night. Being a big fan of who I refer to as John 'Oh My Gawd' Cowan, I have seen him many times - from 3rd row at the Boulder Theater to a sea of tarps with 13,000 festivarians at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Last night John was at his best. Lyons is a warm crowd that loves John, and at the lack of sounding all gooey, John loves this crowd back. Doesn't hurt that he has a stellar band that is able to crank out traditional bluegrass tunes, some funky bluegrass jazz, and put their own twist on rock covers such as Tuesday Afternoon (Moody Blues) and Going to California (Led Zeppelin).

One of John's signature songs is 'Dark As A Dungeon'. The song tells of the life of a miner. What it is like to be below the earth without sunshine or rain. Without connection. With destruction of health. With risk of death.

No one does a better delivery of this standard than Johnny C. I've heard him belt it out many times. Have always loved it. But, last night sitting in the 5th row in such an intimate setting, the song struck a cord beyond appreciation of music.

It is this darkness and physical risk which is the everyday reality of a mining life that motivated my Mamaw (Grandmother) to be adamant her boys *not* follow the family business and enter the mines at an early age. That they not sign up for later years of black lung and a crippled body. That they create a life based on another livelihood.

Not sure she knew she was signing up for her eldest son, my Daddy, to be a career soldier and travel the globe. That his family would be far away from her and she would not have the joy of spending more than the infrequent vacation with her only grandchild. Even so, I believe she would have chosen it if she had known. Mamaw wanted a better life for her sons and their children.

With her encouragement my Dad created a life different than the one John sang of. He chose instead a path that lead away from the coal mining hills of Dante Virginia, to many duty stations across this country and world, and eventually lead to his daughter being in the Wildflower Pavilion last night listening to Johnny C sing about what about *used* to be the family business.

I am thankful to both my Mamaw and my Daddy. She for having the courage to see and encourage a better life for the generations to come. He for having the courage to make it so.

You can check out an early recording of John singing 'Dark As A Dungeon' with New Grass Revival...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

may there be peace within

I came across this quote yesterday via a friend's Facebook post.
And, loved it. I knew immediately that I had to share it.

May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.
May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content with yourself just the way you are.
Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Being that I reference an author when possible, a quick Google search lead me to a prayer of St. Theresa (below). No doubt the secular version finds it roots in this earlier prayer.

Choose the version that speaks to your soul.
The one that inspires *you*.
And, may there truly be peace within.

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
And pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones
And allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Celebrating a New Beginning

January 20th marked the end of eight years of the same US administration. As George W. Bush walked through the halls in his last moments as President of the United States, I couldn't help but feel a bit of sorrow for him. I believe he loves his country, but that somehow, he did not know how to leave behind the old school traits of corruption and excess that he is familiar with in order to lead this country in a new way. He was unable to make the changes that needed to be made to take our country forward. Worse yet, I am not sure he believed change was in order.

The job he accepted 8 years ago and again 4 years ago was not an easy one. Tough choices were faced everyday and the choices his administration made have lead to a time of high unemployment, extended war that has members of our troops deployed for repeated tours, and a low in national confidence and pride of country. Perhaps he served his country in the best way he knew how. But, it was not enough and it is time for change.

Yesterday that change came to be. A new President was sworn in and now takes the reigns of leadership. We know the challenges his administration will face in early days. There will be other challenges that we do not yet know of. President Obama himself has said that the road will not be an easy one.

The one thing we can count on is a leader that views the world differently. A leader that searches first for those things that we have in common and that bring us together as Americans. A leader that expects the citizens of this country to come together and work together on weathering this storm and being once again the leader we and the world expect us to be. A leader that is asking us, each and every one, to be involved. To be part of the solution.

I do have questions. And, if I am honest, a doubt or two. But, more than anything, I am hopeful and ready for the start of the new. For all of a a country.

The video is "End of the Old Times" by local Boulder band Something Underground.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dreaming of Mexico

This morning I came across a post on A Cowgirl's West about her holiday trip to Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita.

Ah - just what a girl needed (or at least what this girl needed), a reminder of the surf, sand, and off grid time that awaits us in February. Dave and I will be heading out for our annual 'toes in sand' trip with its promise of warm days, calming waves, and a little adventure. It is this annual trip that gets me through the final winter months.

Last year we made the trek to PV, followed by a few days near Sayulita. More on that at The Best Trip Ever! The PV Chapter and The Best Trip Ever! The Beach Chapter.

This year we'll be heading straight to Sayulita. While I am sure there will be plenty of reading time on the beach, I am beginning the research for our days of adventure. Our last trip took us to San Sebastian in the Sierra Madres, so my thoughts are turning to the trips we *just* talked about last year up the coastline to San Pancho (aka San Francisco) and the fishing village of San Blas. Just thinking about the adventure that lies ahead inspires me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Resolution Game Plan

Here we are five days into the New Year. A few weeks back, I heard someone refer to 'new' as improved, better, something more than what we have now. It seems to be that this applies to the hopefulness with which we human souls enter a New Year. It is with this hopefulness that we look toward the coming year and call out what it is we want to achieve, what we are hoping our lives will look like in the year to come.

My resolution setting has taken a journey of its own over the years. I've set my share of the typical resolutions. You know the sort - lose 20 pounds (which I have done and undone several times), quit smoking (which after a few false starts actually stuck), exercise (some years I make it so, other years not so much). While this format may help others get the jump start they are looking for, frankly I struggled with greeting the New Year with a list of rigid goals.

Then, a few years ago my resolutions shifted to broader sweeping goals. With more introspection, I found myself setting goals for the year to include being kind, being less critical of myself and others, setting aside judgement. These guidelines worked for me. I was able to regularly affirm what I wanted to achieve. "Be Kind". That is an easy goal to remember. Not always easy to deliver on, but certainly easy to remember. Maybe it was a bit of a cop out as there was nothing to measure, but there was a large amount of change going on in my life and it felt like progress was being made.

But, there was something missing.

Part of it was the absence of really reflecting on the past year as a whole - the dusting off the memories and taking a look at the significant, and sometimes insignificant, moments of the year. What am I thankful for? What did I learn? What did I accomplish? What would I do differently the next time around? Maybe more importantly, the flat out stating what it is I want to achieve in the New Year was also missing.

This year, I've updated my resolution game plan. Three days of peace and quiet in the mountains and I have come away with those things I'll be getting after in 2009. Some of them are daily commitments - sit in silence at least 10 minutes each day. Some are less structured - blog regularly. Others are things I'll be kicking off this year - learn to play an instrument. Still others are open ended - use what I am passionate about in my daily work.

For someone who tends to be a nose to the grindstone girl, my intention is to tuck some cool life stuff into the daily grind. To find ways to achieve my goals and to give back. To check some things off my list and, yes, to still be kind.

Got Lijit?

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with a member of the Lijit team.

As a Boulder area technology enthusiast, I have been aware of Lijit for sometime. You can't live here, be interested in technology, and not have come across the Lijit folks at a tech meet-up, via a Tweet, or a local publication. They are nearly 3 years into their business, recently raised a significant round of funding, and come across as a team that is passionate about what they are doing - and they do it well.

Or at least that is what I have heard. I had not experienced what they do first hand. It was not for lack of interest. Being someone who is curious about how things work, I had been out to a few Lijit supported sites and tried out the search function. Even went as far as to understand how their advertising model works.

But, I am relatively new to blogging and have yet to have gotten my groove on, so to speak. I thought that I'd be better suited as a Lijit publisher when I reached the status of consistent blogger and had a following. Not so, this Lijit man told me. He said "Install the widget now."

I figured I'd give it a go and installed just before we headed out for a New Year's break in the mountains. Took minutes to install. Really.

Now, I have this widget on my blog that shows at a glance where readers are coming from. Frankly, it is pretty cool to see that there are folks other than my Mom that stop by. You can take a look in the right hand column (just click on recent readers). And, more importantly, readers have the ability to easily search my site and those that are in my community. Add to that ad revenue share. I don't blog to make money, but for those that do, this should be a no brainer.

Those Lijit folks even push a Weekly Stats Report your way. My first landed in the inbox yesterday and includes details like daily visits, source of the visit (direct or via another blog), searches that brought readers to the blog. Of course, you can view stats real time via your Lijit account anytime.

But, don't take my word for it. Check out what others are saying about Lijit right on their home page. Or, you can try it out first hand. If you do, I'd love to hear your take.