Family Folk Machine; Calling Me Home

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Participating in the band of the Family Folk Machine is one of the great joys of my life and my husband Joe equally loves being a member of the intrepid bass section.

I will only be able to participate in the Sunday concert but my fellow fiddlers Caleigh Stanier and Ben Sauder will have the fiddle situation well in hand at the Friday concert also.

If you’re not yet familiar with the Family Folk Machine, we are a non-auditioned, multi-generational community folk choir directed by Jean Littlejohn. We are all devoted to and in awe of our wonderful director. She brings unmatched musical integrity as well as boundless joy with her to every rehearsal and performance.

The art for this poster is by one of our fellow choir members, Susan Stamnes. I love it so  much.

Please join us!

Friday, November 17, 7:00 pm at the Iowa City Senior Center
Sunday, November 19, 3:00 pm at the Old Capital Senate Chamber

Vote for Meghann Foster tomorrow (Tues 11/7)

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Citizens of Coralville, tomorrow is the big day for you to cast your vote for Meghann Foster for Coralville City Council! The polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. If you’re unsure of your polling place, it’s easy to confirm by following this link.

Meghann has been endorsed by The Gazette, the Iowa City Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Local 1260 and AFCSME Council 61. You can also read a number of endorsements from private citizens on Meghann’s website, including my own enthusiastic endorsement.

I have found this year to be very discouraging politically and I have desired at times to find a way to unplug from the whole system. It has been a battle to not allow my cynicism to take over my dedication to do whatever good I’m able to do in this world.

“I cannot do all the that the world needs but the world needs all the good that I can do.”
-Jana Stanfield

When my husband Joe and I marched in the 4th of July parade in support of Meghann for City Council, I felt such relief and true pride to be supporting to be a candidate who is so smart, so richly experienced and so equally committed to all of the citizens in our community.  I remember saying to Meghann’s husband Nick that I had never felt so patriotic on our nation’s Independence Day as I did that day.

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As stated on her website: “Meghann Foster is a mother, community volunteer, and small business owner who is running for the open seat on the Coralville City Council. Meghann is committed to ensuring that Coralville is an inclusive place for all its residents.”

Please join me in casting your vote for Meghann Foster tomorrow.

Congratulations to Stella!

Introducing Stella, my featured musician for November and December!

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How awesome is the self-portrait that Stella provided for her featured musician poster?!! I hope you can tell that the shirt she is wearing reads “Be Who You Are”. Stella embodies that message so well.

It also delights me to no end that Stella’s mother Katie captured a photo of our very first fiddle lesson together 4 years ago when she was just shy of her fifth birthday.

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Since that first lesson, Stella and I have learned so much together. We sing in nearly every lesson because two people who love to sing as much as we do just can’t help ourselves when we get together. We are also both shameless multi-instrumentalists. The more music, the better! I’m actually quite jealous of Stella’s collection of musical instruments and I highly doubt the collection is complete.

Stella draws deep inspiration from performing and I believe it stems at least in part from her generous spirit. She truly understands how much joy a passionate performance brings to the audience and she loves to spread happiness. There is very likely a genetic component as well, given how richly blessed Stella is on both sides of her family with a legacy of performance and music making that goes back many generations.

Please join me in wishing Stella a happy birthday and a hearty congratulations on all her musical accomplishments past, present and future!

Fall Concert 2017

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Jennifer Masada and I were thrilled to produce another successful Fall Concert at New Song Episcopal Church in Coralville!

Special thanks to all of our wonderful students who worked so hard and played with so much energy and passion and to their families who helped them to achieve their goals.

We knew already that Rey was a Force prodigy who brought new hope to a galaxy on the brink of war but did you know that she’s also a great fiddler?!

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Has a box of noodles ever before performed Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King so expertly and with such musicianship? We think not!

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A very special thank you to my studio parents for providing those wonderful photos!

The Ninth Doctor performed his own theme song on the accordion. We were surprised he knew of the theme at all!

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Thank you so much to everyone for attending and supporting us with your wonderful energy as we performed. We love you and we look forward to gathering again next year to celebrate the FUN in making music!

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Sandburg Songbag

The Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School team has been quiet for the last couple of months. Keith battled a walnut and the walnut bested him, taking a broken wrist as payment for being trodden upon.

Keith has proved to be the tougher nut and his healing is proceeding well so we will be back in action soon.

We are very much looking forward to returning to the Carl Sandburg Historic Site in Galesburg, IL on Sunday, November 12 at 4 pm. Galesburg is a lovely town and we are always happy to be among fellow poetry aficionados.

I have long admired Sandburg’s poems but the last time we visited, I learned so much about the man that I had never known before:

  • He won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry and one for Abraham Lincoln; The War Years, his biography of Abraham Lincoln (1940).
  • He was honored by the NAACP with their Silver Plaque Award as a “major prophet of civil rights in our time.”
  • He is regarded by some as the first American urban folk singer, accompanying himself on solo guitar at lectures and poetry recitals, and in recordings, long before either of the major folk revival movements.
  • His 1927 anthology The American Songbag has inspired countless musicians for decades, including but not limited to Dan Zanes and Sufjan Stevens.
  • He won a Grammy in 1957 for his recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic.
  • Sandburg was the only American poet ever invited to address a joint session of Congress.

If you’re not near Galesburg, please spread the word to family and friends. This is a very special community event and we’re so honored to be invited back.

Congratulations to Dannye and Rob!

Introducing Dannye and Rob, my featured musicians for September and October!

There is a special place in my heart for family music-making so it’s an extra thrill to be featuring a mother and son for the first time in my featured musician series.

In addition to making music at home, in school ensembles and at church, Dannye and Rob as well as Rob’s two sisters regularly bring their musical gifts to enrich the guests and staff at The Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. I find it truly beautiful that they are so committed to using their talents to share joy and inspiration.

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You can follow some of Dannye’s other creative pursuits at her writing website DannyeChase.com.

Little Village Magazine Review

Many thanks to Little Village Magazine and to Kent Williams for his kind review of Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School.

Some of the best musicians in Iowa City and environs are not chasing a career in music. Keith Reins, for example, is a player and collector of folk songs who also works as a professor of English at Kirkwood Community College. After hours, you’re likely to find him at folk music sessions around Iowa City: at Hilltop Tap, Mickey’s or Uptown Bill’s Coffee House.

Reins is the guitarist at the session who slips jazzy passing chords into traditional Irish and Scottish tunes — verging on folk heresy — but always in ways that deepen and add texture. Reins approaches the depth of virtuosity and artistry of performers as revered as Bert Jansch and Nic Jones. There’s a nonchalance and ease to his playing that comes from countless hours sitting in a circle, playing with others just for the joy of it.

Click to read more…