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Sail Away Ladies (reworked.) (very.)

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.

Evelyn Glennie, deaf musician

This is too important. Must share.

12 Days of Christmas, Day 1

I know, I know, the official twelve days don’t start ’til later, but I’m calling this MY twelve days of Christmas, because I will post twelve different Christmas songs between now and… um… when the wise men get here. I guess.
So that’s the goal. Creative people need projects and goals. Even goofy ones help!
Enjoy this post, celebrating MY first day of Christmas. Day two might come tomorrow, maybe the next day… And I’ll see which Christmas song inspires me then!

I Saw Three Ships

Chattanooga Times Free Press Podcast

It’s all about me! Well, and about a very cool musical future for Chattanooga. Thank you so much, Sean Phipps!—christie-burns-studio-99-071709/

And for added interest, here’s the post from way back when I first captured the tune “Cockeyed Hen”  from Casey:

Colorado Swedish Tunes Workshop Wrap-up

Thanks, Betsy, for the nudge reminding me to upload these. Here’s “Polska from Solna” and “Polska from Kumla,” the two Swedish tunes we worked on at the Colorado Dulcimer Fest back in February.

Jenny Jenkins

I’m not sure that I get it, but I know I like it.

This kid gets it.  Viva la folk process.

Summer Memory

I stumbled across this on YouTube. I think it’s kind of fun that some tourist happened to capture a piece of this unique day when my friend Helen Gubbins was visiting.

My favorite Christmas gift.


I’ve been on this unexpected musical diet of pure opera for the past 2.5 weeks. And I’m thankful, because if there’s an operatic equivalent to the Celine Dion Christmas album, it hasn’t come up. Gramma’s favorite opera composer is Puccini. So Puccini, to me during this period of folk music fasting, has been like the seaweed juice or whatever that one liquid is that people are allowed to ingest while going through some total system detox program. And if you can follow me down that metaphor corridor, then you might understand how this little clip I’m presenting in this post was like a Haagen Dazs Bailey’s Irish Cream milkshake to my starving musical soul.
These precious little characters jumped the page from el Dia De Los Muertos and smack dab into the center stage of my Christmas. They were like angels from another world coming to tell me that Christmas would be full of color, warmth, and unexpected fun. I wouldn’t have guessed it myself with the way things have been going here in L.A. While it’s nice to sit and contemplate Puccini with Gramma, those are the rare calm moments when she’s not fretting over her own future and the sudden loss of her eyesight. I thought Christmas would be something along those lines, but I was proven wrong, happily.

Before I wrote this post, I thought I would open it with an apology for uploading a totally silly, meaningless piece of video taken after just a few Christmas Eve cosmopolitans… But now it seems I’ve been proven wrong again. This video clip shows my favorite Christmas gift of 2008: the fiddle-and-guitar playing, skirt-and-vest-wearing skeletons from the bead shop in Venice, CA.

No apologies.

This clip is a toast to unexpected color and joy at Christmastime, to the chance to dance and laugh on newly discovered common ground…and to sunshine that manages to claim victory on a gray rainy day, just before nightfall.

Dorothy Kirsten

While I was growing up, there was this mysterious faraway woman we called “Aunt Dorothy.”  She was the opera singer my grandmother worked for, lived with, traveled with, made clothes for, and for whom my grandmother continues to work today.  Although Dorothy Kirsten passed away in 1992, my grandmother has kept herself employed as the keeper of Dorothy’s legacy.  That legacy fills my grandmother’s apartment in L.A. in the form of thousands of photographs, books, costumes, jewelry, paintings, and other assorted momentos of all the decades she and Dorothy lived through together.

Unfortunately, my grandmother (now 97 years old) had a stroke a few weeks ago, and the stroke left her with very limited vision.  So I am here with her now, beginning to unearth these boxes of memories, going through page after page of opera history.  It’s an unorganized archive, a scattered encyclopedia, and kind of walk-in time machine of sound, words, and pictures.  I’ve been getting to know so much about Dorothy and my grandmother by going through these things.  It’s pretty amazing.

Here’s a video of Dorothy Kirsten, the woman to whom my grandmother has devoted her entire life, in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly:

Ekim Beau

I had the pleasure of meeting Ekim Beau in the strange little place called Helen, Georgia.  I was there at the Unicoi State Park for the NGFDA dulcimer festival, and managed to slip away from all the dulcimer madness with my friend Lynn.  Ekim Beau plays a wild “Cross Beau Zither”– an instrument he invented himself decades ago.  He appeared to me like the quintessential American gypsy.  His street performing setup was perfect, his attitude was perfectly confident and laid back.

I found it fascinating to watch how he plucks a note or series of notes with one hand, and then follows right behind with his other hand, damping the notes he just played.  It’s a technique somewhat like the gamelan players use in Indonesia; they play a pattern of notes with one hand, and move through the same pattern with the other hand, damping, exactly one step behind the first hand.  And actually, now that I think about it, Belorussian tsimbaly players use a similar technique.

Anyway, it’s great to see something different, and to meet such kind and interesting characters along the way.