Category Archives: community

Ready, Set, Summer!

Borrowing from my charming, talented and articulate pal Jeffrey C. Capps because it all applies to me too (and why reinvent the wheel?):

Dear Friends,

It’ll be a busy musical weekend for me, and I hope to see many of you!
On Friday, I am honored to join Tara in opening for John Rapson’s must-see Hot Tamale Louie benefit for IC Compassion at The Mill. We’ll be performing a couple of tunes during the 8 o’clock hour and the show will follow at 9. This is a really incredible show and a great cause! More info here.

 

On Saturday, I’ll be performing twice as part of the Longfellow Front Porch Music Festival. Family Folk Machine will kick off the afternoon with a 2 p.m. set at 604 Grant Street, and Jeffrey C. Capps and His Almost All-Girl Band will immediately follow on the very same porch. Grab your lawn chair, and come on out! More info here.

And if you’re one to plan ahead, please mark your calendar for Saturday, July 1 when Tara and I will make our annual appearance at the Iowa City Farmers Market. We’ll play from 9 until 11 a.m. on the temporary stage right outside of City Hall!

Thanks so much!

Sound as ever,

JCC

I also have two other related events this weekend: at 4 pm on Saturday, I am honored to accompany on guitar some of my fiddle students as part of the Longfellow Front Porch Music Festival. At 9 pm on Saturday, the Hot Tamale Louie ensemble will be playing at the Motley Cow. This is a ticketed event and it will sell out so look sharp.

Happy summer!!

Hot Tamale Louie

I don’t know how I got lucky enough to be a part of this project but I am surely grateful.

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“Over and over, we forget what being American means. The radical premise of our nation is that one people can be made from many, yet in each new generation we find reasons to limit who those “many” can be—to wall off access to America, literally or figuratively. That impulse usually finds its roots in claims about who we used to be, but nativist nostalgia is a fantasy. We have always been a pluralist nation, with a past far richer and stranger than we choose to recall.”

Schulz, Kathryn. “Citizen Khan” The New Yorker. June 6 & 13, 2016.

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Left to right: Paul Kalina, Dan Padley, Tara McGovern, Justin LeDuc, Ryan Smith, Steve Locher, Daniel Gaglione, John Rapson and Dave Moore.

 

 

 

 

Boycott

Captain Charles Boycott was a land agent of absentee landlord Lord Erne living in Lough Mask House, County Mayo, Ireland in 1880.

Harvests were poor that year and the farmers working Erne’s land were unable to afford the rent. 

There are vast swaths of context that I’m not including here because so many valuable resources have already covered how the enclosure movement legalized the theft of land from Irish farmers who were then charged rent to work the land they had owned for centuries.

Boycott, showing all the mercy and grace of our modern-day GOP, responded by evicting 11 tenants from the land.

The Irish farmers had no recourse. All they had was solidarity which they employed despite significant personal hardship by refusing to work the land from which their friends and neighbors had been evicted.

Now the harvest was coming in and Captain Boycott had painted himself into a corner. He eventually had to hire Orangemen from Counties Cavan and Monaghan and pay one thousand police officers to escort them in to reap a harvest that was worth far less than it cost Boycott to gather.

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day in our deeply troubled world, I invite you to join me in invoking Ireland’s greatest gift to the world, the boycott

The legacy of our Irish ancestors isn’t luck at all, it’s resilience.

St. Patrick’s Day 2017

17103636_10210165902078216_3920952315772784414_nSt. Patrick’s Day as it is observed in most American cities is a consumerist sham. Sure, it started in the early 17th century as a religious feast day honoring the death day of St. Patrick in 462 AD, but it has devolved to a level of kitsch that deters many from any desire to observe the day at all.

The arguments against the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day are sound. Patrick, or Maewyn Succat according to some sources, wasn’t even Irish, for one. According to The Confession of Saint Patrick, he was a British teenager who was captured by Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland where he lived for six years before escaping. He later became a cleric and then a bishop who returned to northern and western Ireland to spend the rest of his life evangelizing, ordaining clergy, and organizing a new religious order.

The most famous legend attached to St. Patrick also doesn’t hold up well in the light of modern interpretation. All scientific evidence suggests that the post-glacial  island of Ireland never had snakes in the first place so this notion of St. Patrick banishing them can only be a symbolic representation of what he actually did destroy, the Druidry of the native Irish people.

Leaving history aside, there’s also the problems with how St. Patrick’s Day is most commonly celebrated now. Namely, with lots of green beer and t-shirts emblazoned with tasteless stereotypes. Google ‘Irish yoga’ if you’re confused.

That’s the bathwater. Now let me describe the baby.

The music of Ireland, of which I have been both scholar and devotee for more than three decades, is compellingly, heartrendingly beautiful. The same can be said of the dance traditions with the additional observation that Irish dancers are also dedicated and capable athletes. Irish food has never gotten the respect given to other European cuisines but if you’re ever actually had good Irish food, you know as I do how hearty and tasty it can be.

The place to be in eastern Iowa on this coming St. Patrick’s Day (Friday, March 17) is Uptown Bill’s Coffee House in Iowa City beginning at 6 pm. Bring a dish to pass in the potluck and an instrument to join in the open session that follows dinner. Maybe you’ll go on after the festivities and find yourself some green beer. Whatever floats your boat. There’s no wrong way to celebrate but there is more than one way.

Attunement

Joe and I are so grateful to everyone who came and participated in our talk Attunement; Unschooling with Autism this morning.

Here are some related resources that have been very helpful for us:

1) The Sliver by Lori Pickert

2) Allowing Your Highly Sensitive Child to Shine with Unschooling by Anne Ohman

Please feel free to find me on Facebook. We look forward to continuing the conversation.

ACLU Update

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Art Roche, Mary Denmead, William Dutcher, Zach Twardowski and Atticus Dutcher in Richard III. Photo by Andrea Wilson.

I am not the only American to have spent the past week alternately devastated and enraged but I am so grateful to have also experienced flashes of true hope and deep love for how my community has responded.

Between our event on Friday which raised $833.25, Writers Resist! last Sunday, and The Last Night in America organized by Megan Gogerty on Thursday, eastern Iowa artists have raised upwards of $3700 for the Iowa ACLU this week. Many people do not realize that the ACLU is a non-partisan organization that prides itself in upholding everyone’s civil liberties, no matter who they are or what they believe.

We are going to take care of each other. We are going to resist injustice. We are going to pay attention and participate in the democratic process. We are going to use our art to magnify what is going on around us because, as my friend and mentor Ron Clark said recently in a Press-Citizen interview: “It’s our artistic community that most effectively holds out a mirror and says, ‘Look at what we have become.'”

There are many petitions circling. I’d like to direct your attention to this one in particular asking that we preserve the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. When I signed it, it still needed almost 100,000 more signatures to get a response from the White House. This is quite literally the least you can do but is still so important.

Together we rise.

 

RIII gratitude

We had our final rehearsal last night for our pop-up activist abridged reading of Shakespeare’s Richard III coming up on Friday and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

For Ron Clark, for bringing his lifetime of experience and leading us with his characteristic vision and deep compassion, all the while giving us hours upon hours of his time.

For Jody Hovland, who joined us in our final rehearsal to share her amazing talent and mentorship.

For Keith Reins, who will be with us on Friday, guitar in hand, for our musical partnership and for always having my back.

For Nick Westergaard and Meghann Foster who are not only incredibly gifted actors but also run Brand Driven Digital and are sharing their marketing expertise with us.

For Bethany Horning, costumer extraordinaire, and her support team of Jeremy and Chase, for her creativity, cheerful encouragement, and texts that make me snort coffee out of my nose.

For Chris Okiishi, easily one of the most generous and supportive people any of us will ever know, for lending his time to get the script in our actors’ hands.

For my beloved family Carmel and Rayburn Vrabel and Jon and Susie Dutcher who have spread their pride in this project far and wide which included, in some cases, defending us against the criticism of political disagreement among their own Facebook community.

For my friends who have pressed money into my hands earmarked for the ACLU.

Finally, for these beautiful actors who are sharing their time and talent with all of us: including Ron, Meghann, and Nick mentioned above and also Larry Baker, John Clarence Cameron, Aprille Clarke, Mary Denmead, Carrie Houchins-Witt, Art Roche, Katie Roche, Zach Twardowski and my very patient and wonderful men Joe, Liam and Atticus Dutcher.

You all give me hope and that is the most beautiful gift we can share with one another.