Hot Tamale Louie the Performance in Iowa City on Thurs Jan 23

As we prepare to perform Hot Tamale Louie back in our hometown of Iowa City for the first time in many months, I give you the words of the writer who inspired the entire piece, Kathryn Schulz in “Citizen Khan” The New Yorker. June 6 & 13, 2016:

“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.”

West High School auditorium on Thursday, January 23 beginning at 10 am. Free and open to the public.

The Soft and Low at Wild Culture Kombucha Fri 12/13 7 pm

The Northside neighborhood of Iowa City is already home to my most beloved bookstore, theatre and my soon to be favorite kitchen store so it was no great surprise to discover that Wild Culture Kombucha taproom and lounge has become a treasured place to relax and enjoy delicious food and drinks.

In September, my almost 14 year old Liam and had a wonderful night nibbling on charcuterie and sipping kombucha while listening to my musical partner Jeffrey C. Capps rock a solo show and ever since I’ve been looking forward to bringing them The Soft and Low, my folk-rock duo with Jeff.

The day has nearly arrived! Friday, December 13 at 7 pm is your time to escape from the hustle of this season, to sit and sip and relax and let us folk-rock you.

ArtFarm19, a festival of creativity hosted at Scattergood from July 4 – August 3

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I’m thrilled to share this information from my friends at ArtFarm19! I will be there with bells on. Bells and heaven knows what else. Anything is possible.

Dear creative friends and collaborators,

I wanted to let you know about ArtFarm19, a festival of creativity happening near Iowa City this July. ArtFarm19 brings together artists, educators, entrepreneurs, healers, and movement builders, to share creative practices, find renewal and restoration on Scattergood’s rural campus, and participate in the launch of new regional arts programming. The mission of ArtFarm19 is to connect people across differences and harness the power of the arts to build a more JEDI (just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive) world.

Throughout the month, ArtFarm19 will gather together creative folks to participate in a variety of creative activities. Check out the opportunities below and RSVP for one or all of them:

  • July 4 (RSVP here)– opening potluck to greet the Swarm Artist Residency hive queens who will be curating 75 artists in residence this summer at Scattergood.

  • July 9 (RSVP) – Art Bazaar to meet the Swarm artists in residence.

  • July 14 (RSVP) – join The Great Parade in the Muscatine County Fair Parade in West Liberty – we will give you costumes, musical instruments, and puppets to play with as we make a spectacle and recruit more people to the creative force

  • July 15-17 – join us as we Build-a-Show in three days. The first day will be for designers who want to get inside the making of the show. The second day will be for people who want to be in the show. The third day will be for people who want to see the show we made. RSVP to join us for Day One-Designers, Day Two-Performers, or Day Three-Final Performance!

Attached is a flyer you can share with your networks. Please follow our social media platforms (linked below!) to keep up on all the events as they unfold. You can also fill out our contact form to be added into our events email.

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#ArtFarm19Iowa

Hot Tamale Louie at Coe College 3/23

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John Rapson is that rare professor whose teaching leaves such an imprint on your mind and heart that you remain indebted forever. For this reason, I agreed to be part of this project well before I fully understood what it was.

Then I read Kathryn Schulz’s June 2016 New Yorker article that inspired John and Nielo Gaglione‘s creation of this multimedia piece now known as Hot Tamale Louie and it was these words that cemented my devotion:

“The history of immigrants is, to a huge extent, the history of this nation, though so is the pernicious practice of determining that some among us do not deserve full humanity, and full citizenship. Zarif Khan was deemed insufficiently American on the basis of skin color; ninety years later, when the presence of Muslims among us had come to seem like a crisis, his descendants were deemed insufficiently American on the basis of faith.

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.”

We leave in just under three weeks to bring this story back to Wyoming where it originated and we invite our community to send us off with your love and support by joining us for a free performance at Coe College on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 pm.

Thank you and please spread the word!

Film Release

Copy of Cinema.jpgOur 11 year old son Atticus has been very busy. He decided some months ago that he wanted to create a live action version of one of his favorite fairy tales. When he decides something, so mote it be.

Atticus is the star of this new film version of Jack & the Beanstalk. He is also the scriptwriter/editor, the director, the cinematographer, the costumer, the prop master, the film editor, and the composer/performer of the musical score. His beloved accordion teacher Jill VanDorpe worked closely with him as a coach on this project and she does a beautiful job of playing Jack’s Mother.

Atticus expertly cast his father as the Giant (don’t miss his impeccable death scene!), his brother Liam as The Creepy Old Man (wearing my favorite costume in the film), and me as the Cow (who looks uncannily like a panda) and also as the Giant’s Wife.

Atticus has created a website that links directly to his YouTube channel to make viewing the film as easy and accessible as possible.

Please consider taking ten minutes from your day to view his film and to leave him some encouragement. You will be glad that you did. We are very grateful for your support of our young artist.

Fun Home at UI Theatre

There are some professional opportunities that only present themselves every once in a blue moon. I find myself in the midst of one right now as we wrap up what has been a pretty terrible year overall.

Please don’t misunderstand. Personally, all is well. My family is delightful. My work is diverse and fulfilling. I have a wonderful set of students who I am fortunate enough to spend time with every week. Taking a broader view though, our nation has voted itself into the idiomatic handbasket. We are in peril.

Living with anxiety offers valuable lessons and tools to me every day. One of the most essential tools has been adopting a terrier-like commitment to releasing all that which I cannot control, which is to say, nearly everything.

From where I’m sitting, art is the only satisfactory channel for processing my human experience.

Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron (based on Alison Bechdel‘s award-winning graphic novel) is one of the most powerfully honest and beautiful musicals ever created. From my perch in the onstage six-piece band, I get to experience it repeatedly with new lessons revealing themselves every time.

I took on this project because of how much I have loved my previous work with director John Cameron and musical director Janelle Lauer but I wasn’t overly familiar with Alison Bechdel when I came on board other than as the inspiration for the Bechdel test. This is actually my favorite way to approach a project; total immersion from a previous place of ignorance. There is so much potential for growth when one has so much yet to understand.

There are still four more opportunities to see Fun Home at the UI Theatre Building. The cast and crew are so talented, so consistent in their portrayal of this beautiful and heartbreaking story, and such kind and invested people. And the band? Well, I don’t mind telling you that the band rocks. No other possibility exists under the music direction of the inimitable Janelle Lauer.

I know this production will change you. What other reason do we have to be here?

I have a very smart and compassionate friend who shared with me this mini-comic that Alison wrote as a coda to Fun Home opening on Broadway. I really hope you click through to Vulture to read the whole thing.

FunHomeVultureSlide 1 of 9. View the rest of the mini-comic over at Vulture.