Spectrum CORSE at Gym-Nest


Please help our youngest son Atticus (tallest child in photo) spread the word about a wonderful new class for autistic children at the Iowa Gym-Nest. Atticus was involved in the pilot class and loved every minute of it.

Click through to the Iowa City Autism Community to learn more about this unique gymnastics course and please share the good news with your own communities.

Congratulations to Lucy!

Introducing Lucy, my featured musician for July and August!

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One of my favorite aspects of producing these featured musician profiles every other month is what I learn about my students and how that new knowledge relates to what I’ve already seen from them in the context of working together each week.

I knew of course that Lucy has been taking lessons since May 2015 because my studio software keeps track of these things for me. When I consider all that Lucy has accomplished in just over three years of study while at the same time establishing a thriving acupuncture, Asian bodywork therapy & Chinese herbs practice, I am overwhelmed with adoration and pride.

Lucy regularly attends and fully participates in various Irish music sessions around town. She has also performed locally many times and a recent successful open mic performance culminated in her being invited to open for a touring folk band. I’m going to pause there and let you take that in. Amazing.

Lucy has listed “collaboration with other musicians to make music that inspires others to move and dance” and that inspires me to fondly remember that Lucy and I first met in a dance class. Her innate love of moving to music comes through so beautifully in her playing.

I also love what Lucy has to say about the rhythm of the seasons, community and the importance of embracing the beginner’s mind. These are all deep values for me as well and are the roots of where I find my purpose as an artist.

Congratulations to Lucy for all she has accomplished, for all she brings to our community, and for her sheer courage, determination, and dedication to playing her important part in our miraculous musical ecosystem.

Hot Tamale Louie on the Main Stage at Iowa City Jazz Fest

17990668_10158527592675453_9164810119306617296_oWe first performed John Rapson & Daniel Gaglione’s Hot Tamale Louie just days before the 2016 election. My heart breaks at the degree to which democracy and compassion have degraded in our nation in the meantime.

Hot Tamale Louie is a project that defies description but I quite like this one from that early performance’s marketing material:

“A genre-bending tale with lilting Western ballads, gentle Mexican waltzes, folk melodies from the East, evocative tone poems and raucous ragtime melded together by Jazz”.

Hot Tamale Louie is the story of a remarkable man, Zarif Khan, and also a commentary on the history of immigration in the United States.

As we ready ourselves to bring this important work to the Main Stage of the Iowa City Jazz Fest tomorrow evening in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent devastating decision to uphold the travel ban, Senator John Lewis’s words ring in my ears:

“I never thought I would live to see a day when the Supreme Court of the United States would again make a decision as inhumane as Dred Scott v. Sandford or Korematsu v. United States.”

Later that same day, Sen. Lewis gave us some words of encouragement about the outrage that so many of us are feeling:

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

I also want to 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.”

I hope you will be inspired as I am to remember our history and to make good, necessary trouble when the situation calls for it. May we listen and remember. May we answer the call.

The Sanctuary in Iowa City


Jeff and I loved playing for you at The Sanctuary! Special thanks to Aaron, JD and the spectacular Sanctuary staff.

The Sanctuary is Iowa City at its best.

Congratulations to Trapolin!

Introducing Trapolin, my featured musician for May and June!

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Every teacher knows that you learn at least as much from your students as you could ever hope to impart to them. This has never been more true than in the case of Trapolin.

Trapolin has a huge breadth of knowledge in so many interesting and uniquely connected topics. His profile posted above is an excellent example of the innumerable ways that music is enmeshed in a dedicated musician’s individual spectrum of interests.

Please also notice Trapolin’s answer to the “best thing about being a musician”. He has already at the tender age of 16 authentically embraced the therapeutic benefits of music making.

We could all learn from Trapolin’s wisdom in honoring how music blooms in his individual experience. I believe that originates at least in part from the unconditional support and enthusiasm that I see in his family as they each pursue their own and celebrate in each other’s creative interests.

I see a long and happy musical future for Trapolin and I’m so grateful for all that he continues to teach me.


St. Louis Tionól 2018

This was our 13th year attending the wonderful St. Louis Tionól! We look forward to it every year.

I have several videos to upload from our Friday night performance so I’ll be back with those once more pressing household responsibilities have been attended to but in the meantime I leave you with some photos from our weekend.

IMG_2571Here we are walking to my favorite event of the weekend, the Sunday morning brunch/session at McGurk’s.

I really love this panoramic shot that Joe got at the session. I have known, loved, and played music with many of these good people for years and years now.

The kids’ favorite part of the trip is having special grandparent time in St. Louis while Joe and I are busy with music but on the way home, we also had a memorable day together at the fantastic St. Louis Zoo. This zoo is a world leader in global conservation efforts.

We eagerly await our 14th Tionól in April 2019!


I didn’t know what to expect.

I’ve sat in on touring shows before but never for a band that lit up the soundtrack of my childhood.

Here’s what I learned from being lucky enough to serve as a violinist in the Dave Eggar Orchestra for two tour stops of the Foreigner Orchestral Tour: kindness begets curiosity about the stories of others which in turn begets enthusiasm. The result is an energetic, joyful experience with a high level of excellence and the capacity to touch hearts.

Credit for creating a positive working environment is due to Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer who arranged the orchestral parts and fostered an environment of fun and mutual respect in their music director/conductor roles. Every person in Foreigner also made real efforts to connect with all of the other musicians, including those of us who were only there for a short stint of the tour.

This tour was the answer to all of the hundreds of times in my life I have scream-sang “I want to know what love is…!”

I will always look back on this as an example of the magic that transpires when people set out mindfully to lead with love.


Top left: Kelly Hansen from the band Foreigner rocks out at the Sioux City Orpheum accompanied by the Dave Eggar Orchestra conducted by Chuck Palmer.

Top right: A radiant backstage photo of Iowa musicians Matt Manweiler, Marita May, Caitlin Thom, Natalie Brown, Maggie Williams, Kristian Svennevig  (and me) and touring musicians Evie Andrus and Katie Jacoby.

Bottom: my fellow University of Iowa alum Natalie Brown and myself or, as Natalie has dubbed us, “Iowa City’s own rock fiddle chicks!”