I’m thrilled to be invited back to teach hammered dulcimer at MuziekMozaiek’s music camp in Gooik this August. It’ll be my fourth time in Belgium, and every time I go back, I do a little bit more, connect with more musicians, see more of the country, (try a few more beers) etc. Last summer, there were several young musicians walking around in Gooik with this funny glow all around them, and these were people who had recently participated in “Flanders Ethno”– a music week for people ages 16-30 where musicians from all over the world bring one traditional tune to teach to the whole group, and they all form this international folk orchestra, performing the music from the countries represented by all the participants. Apparently last year’s Flanders Ethno was a transcendent experience for these musicians, and so this year I’m heading over to Belgium early in August to check it out. And I’m bringing two of the best musicians I know, John Boulware and Lon Eldridge. These two fellas are also instructors at the Folk School of Chattanooga, so I’m pleased to consider this trip something of a “Folk School Teacher Training” excursion. There’s no telling how our musical worlds are going to be opened up by this experience, and what tremendous value this will have as we continue to teach our students here in Tennessee. We’ve set up this Kickstarter page to try to raise some funds that will help us as we travel. We already have our plane tickets sorted out, so now we’re just looking to raise some cash so we can afford to see and do a few cool things while we’re in Belgium, such as the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels.
If this is something you think you could get behind, please let me assure you that no amount of support is too small.
Been listening to recordings of Clyde Davenport playing the tune “Five Miles to Town”, working really hard to copy his phrases on my fiddle. There’s no question I’m still much more at home on the hammered dulcimer… So after putting in a few hours on that tune last night and some today too, it was fun to sit at the ol’ dulcimer and see how it laid out for those two hammers. It’s a crooked little fella, innocently peeking out from behind the corner every time that Bminor rolls around.
Here, I really paid no mind at all to tempo, just tried a few different things. Didn’t care at all about the low D being out of tune, or “rich”, as they might say. I was just diggin’ on the tune, figuring out different places for little accents and pulses… Might be one to take to the studio on the next trip… Monday!
**Your support of my CD recording project is greatly appreciated! Pre-ordering instructions below.**
It was Matt Evans who first made me stop and smell the poetry in the old familiar “Wildwood Flower”. This girl weaving roses, lilies, iris, and oleander into her hair, desperate to make herself feel beautiful again after being left by her lover. Thinking about that, I started to consider what the song (usually very happy and upbeat) would sound like if the musical setting matched the mood of the words. A late night session with Matt Richardson yielded this new chord progression, a tweak in the rhythmic phrasing, and some sweet harmonies. Then fast-forward to the start of this summer, where I’ve been spending more and more time with my new friends, Brian and Kara Miscio, playing music at their house on Sunday afternoons. I finally make a move to begin recording a CD (yes, old fashioned, I know) at Charles Allison’s Spanner Sound studio, and the Miscios are right there, ready for action. We recorded this just last week, mixed it this morning, and now here it is, the very first finished track of the forthcoming “Christie Burns” album.
I’m sending this out into the world as a representative of the whole project along with a request for your patronage. It’s been nearly five years since my last recording (“Hear to Play” with Butch Ross), and although I know CDs are becoming a thing of the past, I’m finally ready to make one of my own. And it’s one of the most exciting things my artistic self has gotten to do in a long time. It’s true, I’m involved with more music now than ever before, playing fiddle in informal social gathering settings several times a week, playing dulcimer (or piano or guitar, or whatever) at churches all over Chattanooga, occasionally getting the opportunity to play in a quiet living room session with one or two of the many amazing musicians in this city, teaching dulcimer workshops at festivals all over, teaching lessons on a daily basis here at the Folk School of Chattanooga. This is all great stuff, but none of it has really prepared me for the kind of work that goes on in a recording studio. Over the past month of working with Charles at Spanner Sound, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation of the skill set a musician must have if she wants to truly express herself through recorded sound. Though the studio sessions are challenging (like any learning experience would be, and I’m oh so thankful for challenge), the results make me feel like I’m ready for this work. By the end of this summer I hope to have a finished product, ready to be shipped out, downloaded, passed around among friends, and sold wherever I perform. So far so good: the creativity is flowing, ideas and visions are coalescing into actual music you can hear and enjoy, I’m working in a truly professional studio complete with expert recording engineer, the other musicians are all ready to contribute their parts, and somehow there’s just enough time in my schedule right now to be working on this. The only thing lacking is funds–hence the call for support.
I’m asking you, my friends, family, fans, students, teachers, partners in music and dance, random lovers of all things dulcimer, folks who get a kick out of it when someone shines a new light on old music… If you think this is something you can get behind, your $15 advance purchase of a CD will help get the project finished on time. You can send it to:
524 East 18th St.
Chattanooga, TN 37408
or if you want to send money though Paypal, use this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just make sure to send your mailing address so I can send a copy of the new CD when it’s ready.
Thank you for the friendship and encouragement that has gotten me this far! I’m excited to bring my music to life in this way, and excited that my personal community can be part of it too.
Well here’s the latest on one of my all-time favorites. This is me and Kara Miscio practicing a whole new set of chords, harmonies, and rhythms for Sail Away Ladies. We’ll take these ideas to the studio this week and see if we can get a good take! My new CD is coming, slowly but surely! I think this one will be a sweet addition.
This is my last day at this wonderful week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV. I’ve been teaching the intermediate hammered dulcimer class, and really enjoying my hardworking students, and getting to know all the other instructors here. The music has been wonderful!! Definitely a highlight has been playing fiddle next to Gerry Milnes (who knows more notes per tune than anyone else I know!) and getting to jam some with John Rossbach. The Thursday night concert was held in the chapel, which is something like a cereal bowl with stained glass sides. Molly McCormack and I had performed “Cool of the Day” earlier in the week at one of the afternoon concerts, but decided an encore was necessary, and it was critical that we include Maddie MacNeil this time (a serious omission on our parts the first go-around!). Thanks to Rob Brereton for holding the camera and capturing this video. It was a great night of music, and I’ll say it again, a really fun week! I feel SO fortunate to have these opportunities!
Actually, it’s hardly a lazy afternoon… In fact, I’m enjoying what feels like a miracle that I can take a moment to play a dulcimer and have fun improvising a bit with a tune, in the midst of all the folk school work. I’m pretty much obsessed with the Folk School of Chattanooga and all its potential (mixed with actual momentum, which makes it exciting). But still, like a meditation, it’s sweet to come back to the dulcimer once a day, and remind myself that if it weren’t for this trapezoidal magic plinko box, there’d be no folk school, no Chattanooga (for me, anyway), none of the friends I know and love… I know CDs are a bit passe at this point, but I’m forging ahead anyway. It’s time for a new shiny little CD to have my name on it, and with that in mind, I’m starting to consider all my favorite–really most favorite–tunes.
But it’s a good one!!
Chattanooga is a great bicycle town. Now that my office at the folk school is pretty much put together (I’ll be having to haul less stuff back and forth), and now that the weather’s getting better, I’m looking forward to daily bicycle commutes– And counting on my bike to be the official vehicle of my spring and summer nighttime ramblings around town. In a daydream about riding around town, this song bubbled to mind. It’s exactly the kind of happy little melody I like to sing when I’m on my bike. I hope it helps summon the warmer weather and a cheerful spring in Chattanooga!
I just recorded this here at my desk, using Lisa’s handy Zoom H4n. Nothing fancy… Just a simple little song about the city I love, with a nonsense chorus, “Chicky Run”!
What a wonderful surprise in my mailbox a few days ago, right in the dead of winter, a cd reminder of a summer week spent in Gooik, Belgium. I’ve written on this blog before about working with Maarten Decombel, and what a pleasure it was to get to know his music. This recording is from the concert we gave inside Gooik’s giant church. My favorite track is still this one: “Dodecamedita”, a piece composed by Maarten himself. I love the main melody, the harmony that goes with, the interesting rhythm, the improvisation sections.
Maarten Decombel, bouzouki, and Christie Burns, hammered dulcimer, August 2009:
I bought a book of Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poetry at an antique book store in Vienna, back in 2007 when I traveled there with my grandmother. It was in English, and had a really pretty velvety suede red cover, so I bought it for something like 10 euro. Just happened to be flipping through it the other day, and started experimenting with singing the poetry, instead of just reading it. This is one that came out:
If you look up Ella Wheeler Wilcox on google, you might find the wiki page that mentions her being listed as one of America’s worst poets. But still, I find it fun to have “met” this American midwestern woman during my visit to Austria. Her poetry is realistically optimistic, and she’s a real straight shooter when it comes to matters of romance and relationships. I don’t know much about what makes poetry good or bad, but I do know it’s neat to be able to make up a melody and sing it to the verses of a poem written over a hundred years ago.