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Wildwood Flower

**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:

Christie Burns

524 East 18th St.

Chattanooga, TN 37408

or if you want to send money though Paypal, use this email address:

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.

Chicky Run (bicycle song)

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”!

Dodecamedita, Gooik, Belgium, 2009.

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:

Wishing, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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.

Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry

Here’s a brand new Christmas song I made myself!  With a little help from my new toy, the Boss RC-50.  Fun Fun Fun Fun Fun.



I have to take a break from this Christmas program to show off this clip I found today!  Thanks to my friend David, who mentioned the famous Youtube “piano playing cat” to me, right after his daughter drew a picture of a cat playing the piano (which now lives on top of my piano!).  As if it wasn’t crazy enough that this cat named Nora–from Cherry Hill, NJ, no less!–truly plays the piano, and is an internet star for it, then this Lithuanian composer comes along and features Nora as his soloist in a concerto written around her music.  You people have got to be thinking I’m just crazy obsessed with cats by now, but seriously, this is really special!  I applaud the composer, Mindaugas Piecaitis, for recognizing the potential of those homemade video clips, and hats off to Nora’s family for appreciating her music as they do.  And ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a big hand to the internet for putting all of these pieces of the puzzle into a common pot, from which we can all find inspiration!  This composition is like the product of a worldwide Art X-Tractor, just like the one we had on Main Street during MainX24.

Rehearsing in Belgium

What a gift, to be set up on a musical “blind date” like this.  I’ve been paired with Maarten Decombel to perform at the Friday night concert in Gooik.  Maarten and I hadn’t really met before yesterday, but we did exchange a few mp3s of some good tune candidates.  This one, “Dodecamedita,” is one that he wrote and sent to me.  It’s been my happy tune for several weeks now, as I’ve been looking forward to Belgium.  Yesterday, Maarten and I treated ourselves to a full rehearsal day, and we put together arrangements for a full set of music.  It’s so wonderful to meet and work with someone who has such compatible musical sensibility.  Right from the very beginning, we were thinking very similarly about what to do with all these tunes, a very natural flow.  I think it’s going to be a respectable performance on Friday, if not downright enjoyable!

Here’s Maarten and I practicing his tune, “Dodecamedita”– although it cuts off near the end, right in the middle of his improv section… camera malfunction.

Thanks to Jan and An for hosting our rehearsal in their paradise of a garden!