Take Another Step [on KS Friday]

my best friend with frame copy

We spent some time last week talking about our beginning. We’d written a post and it prompted us to remember. It was surprisingly necessary to recount our story. To revisit our genesis.

In the guest room in Kerri’s parent’s house was a wall of family photographs. Many were pictures of weddings. A proud man in a uniform about to leave for the second war to end all wars, arm-in-arm with his bride in her wedding gown. A generation back in time, stiff collars, seated brides. There were more recent grooms and brides, too. Kerri’s sister and Bill. Wayne and Jan. Wendy and Keith. Heather and Brian. Beaches and rains of rice. When we stayed in that room, I’d sit on the bed and study the pictures. People standing together on the threshold of a new life. All of the unknowns, the triumphs and tragedies, the obstacles and stories of overcoming, waiting to be lived. But, in this one photographic moment, the vow, the unsullied togetherness, shines: we will walk hand in hand through thick and thin. I promise.

I loved looking at those photographs. The people in them are focused on all good things. There is not a hint of future fear. It’s as if the camera crew at the edge of the mystery was taking snapshots of the bold adventurers on the day the expedition set sail. Anticipation. Hope.

Our photograph is on a wall now. Not Beaky and Pa’s, but on our wall. In our picture, we stand toe to toe. In another, we are skipping out of our ceremony just as we skipped out of the airport the day that we met. Ours, we remembered last week, is a story that began with skipping. With wine on a roof top. With burgers and champagne. With a mystic Taize.

Kerri wrote this song for her niece’s wedding a decade ago. So much life is being lived! So many roads walked. So many adventures ahead.  What would the camera crew at the edge of the mystery capture in their photographs today, at this stage in the adventure? Anticipation? Hope? Holding hands, squeezed in affirmation. Let us take another step together, my best friend.

 

 

the single, MY BEST FRIEND is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MY BEST FRIEND

 

wedding pic with website copy

my best friend ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Give Over To The Music [on KS Friday]

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Kerri earns her daily bread as a Minister of Music. Each week she plays two services. The early service is “traditional” and she plays the organ. The second service is “family friendly” and she plays the piano with her band. Music, I’ve learned, serves as the great mountain range between the traditionalists and those seekers who are friendly as families. Just try and play contemporary music to a traditional crowd. I dare you [wear protective gear].

Partially, I suppose, the great divide makes sense. Music opens the door to the inner life, to memory and musings. It can reach beyond reason and language to the heart.  In other words, if you associate your spiritual life with pews, the pipe organ and a hymnal, then even a hint of a guitar provides reason to snap a lock on your door.

Navigating musical entrenchment is, I think, the hardest part of Kerri’s job. There are a few dedicated complainers dug in on both sides of the divide. They miss the greater experience. Lying in wait to find offense they actually miss the music. The divide, after all, is never in the music. It is the creation of the listener.

More than a few times I have opened the door to the organ and stepped inside while Kerri plays. It’s a very big instrument and there is literally a door on either side. If, like me, you desire to be inside an instrument while it is playing, seek a big organ. You will vibrate with the music (…well, you vibrate with every note you ever hear but the intensity of the inner-organ experience makes it obvious). I used to have pals that played the didgeridoo and standing within a pipe organ has a similar feel. Ancient. Deep rumble. It shakes the gunk from your soul.

And then there is the piano. There is the player. And, in Kerri’s case, the piano becomes an extension of the player. Playing the piano is how she shakes the gunk from her soul. I’ve written about this before so my old-guy-apologies for telling the same story again and again: the first time I heard her play I was standing next to the piano and the energy that came through her almost knocked me down. She is little and she became a giant. Vast. Deep. It was so powerful I had to hide my weeping. The irony is, of course, that, being in the center of all that power, she has no concept of what happens when she plays. These days, all she really knows is that when her heart hurts or she is hurtling into despair, the only parachute available is to stand at the piano and play. It breaks her fall. The magic comes through and provides lift. The gunk falls off. Her personal divides disappear. That is art.

And, that’s also the greater point. Give over to the music, let it come through, and the dedicated divides disappear. The gunk falls off. The door to the deeper place opens. We vibrate.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE PIPES

 

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find all kerri’s albums on iTunes

organ pipe people website box

 

Noodle [on KS Friday]

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It happened again. We’d just finished rehearsal. Kerri began to play and guitar Jim joined. As the non-musician in the group, my job is to listen and bask in their playing. It’s tough duty but I’ve resigned myself to it. I take my role seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I always make the same mistake. I always assume they are playing a piece that they know. They aren’t.

I can be forgiven for my mistake. First, they are effortless. Easy. Secondly, they appear to know where they are in the piece and also know where they are going. They don’t. They are making it up as they go.

There is a guiding rule in improvisational theatre: say ‘yes’ to the offer coming your way. Go with it, not against it. Listening to Kerri and guitar Jim is like witnessing masters of the rule. Their ‘yes’ is so complete, that they cease being two players and merge into one river of sound. In my mind, this merging is  the very reason, the ultimate purpose of art. When the audience falls into the world of the play, the soul of the witness enters into the soul of the painting, the listener gives over and becomes the music. The tribe knows who they are by the stories they tell. Shared experience. Say ‘yes.’

When they play their final note together, I always ask when they last played the piece. I don’t remember hearing it before. They smile and tell me “Never.” They were noodling. Making it up as they go. Playing together.

It’s like a sand painting. here for a moment and then gone. “No one will ever hear that one again,” Jim and Kerri laugh.

I always wish that I had a recorder running and then, I remind myself that point is not to capture it. I am greedy in wanting to share all that I am fortunate enough to experience. The power of the moment, the potency of the sand painting, is not diminished, rather it is increased, when the wind joins and sweeps the sand away.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on NOODLING

 

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go here for all of kerri’s albums though you’ll find none of her noodling in these many, many albums (there are more albums than seen here).

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Laugh [on KS Friday]

In our ongoing effort to bring you quality programming on the creative process, we offer this insight to inspire you to greater and greater creative heights. These 7 steps are the secret key to your artistic fulfillment and ultimate success. Watch at your own risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

want to watch again and again? Go to see Kerri’s blog post on THE CREATIVE PROCESS!

 

go here to hear real recordings of my brilliant wife’s music

 

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

Write A New Song [on KS Friday]

you're here songbox 2 copy

In the final week before the holiday, Kerri was preparing for a band rehearsal. She wanted to go over the music for the schmear (her name for the cantata). She played  through the pieces as we waited for Guitar Jim to arrive. I was setting up music stands and mic cables when I saw her wrinkle her nose. “I hate this piece of music,” she huffed. The pages were unceremoniously hucked from the piano.

I’m generally a slow study but I’ve worked with enough artists to know when something new is about to emerge. Artists are often like volcanoes. They rumble and grumble before the lava finds its way to the surface.

With the piano now free of the offending song, she started noodling on the keys. She made up a lyric. She sang a phrase. Played it again. By the time Jim arrived she had a snippet of a new song. “What do you think of this?” she asked. He nodded his musician nod of approval.

The next morning, after about an hour of playing and scribbling notes, she had a new song to replace the schmear-offender. She shaped it a bit over the remaining few days of rehearsal. It’s gorgeous. She debuted You’re Here at the schmear and she sang it again at the holiday services.

Just like a volcano, an artist needs to create, needs to make new earth. The creation feeds the creator and vice-versa. I can think of no better celebration for the solstice return of the light than for a composer, a singer-songwriter to write a song. To bring new light.

The technology on my phone made it possible to record it. Left to her own devices she might have never captured a recording of You’re Here. She is fairly despondent about recording these days. Like a sand painting it would have existed for a moment and then returned to the earth. But, thanks to my trusty phone, it’s possible for you to hear it, too. New earth. Go here to listen.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about YOU’RE HERE

kerri’s albums on iTunes

kerri’s albums on CDBaby

whitetree website box copy

you’re here ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

Invite Some Joy [On KS Friday]

joy songbox copy

David and Molly are taking their amazing young son, Dawson, home to Seattle for the holidays. Margaret, Dawson’s equally amazing grandma, adores them and will heap huge joy on them.

Quinn’s daughter wrote after his death that she is who she is in the world because her dad delighted in her. It’s true. His intense delight forged a joyful intrepid spirit.

We walked with our son in the bitter cold from Ogilvie Station to Lincoln Park Zoo to see the lights. Kerri threaded her arm through Craig’s and I could literally feel the joy, mother and son, walking together.

Last night we went to 20’s house and tried a new soup recipe. We laughed and drank wine and talked about…everything and nothing at all. Late in the evening 20 said, “People don’t get it. This is what the holiday is about. Being together. It’s not about the stuff. It’s about time together. That’s what makes life rich. Joyful.” Sounds like a cliche’, doesn’t it?  It will until you, for whatever reason, spend a holiday alone.

Kerri was missing Kirsten. The holidays come with a hot yearning to be close and Kirsten is far away. And then, a text binged in. Mother and daughter are deeply connected. It is a joke in our house that if Kerri speaks Kirsten’s name, inevitably, within a few minutes, we hear from her. It’s uncanny. With Kirsten’s text, a simple ”hello” to her mom, Kerri’s despair flared into huge Joy. I wrote to Kirsten, “Best gift ever.”

It’s true. What could be better than the gift of presence? What could be better than Joy?

Joy! on the album Joy! A Christmas Album is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about JOY!

 

 

by the fire in breckenridge website box copy

Joy! A Christmas Album ©️ 2004 Kerri Sherwood

Sing A New Song [on KS Friday]

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If there is anything certain about we human beings, it is that we are uncertain. We are a festival of questions and doubt. The good news is that our questioning, our doubts and uncertainty are also the epicenter of our adventure impulse. Creativity begins with equivocation.

No explorer, sailing into the unknown to find the edge, brought along a barrel full of answers. No artist ever stood in front of a blank canvas with a brush loaded with certainty. A good relationship with the mystery necessitates a healthy ambivalence. We follow the impulse to an unknown, often unreasonable expectation.

Kerri was preparing for a final rehearsal with the band for the Christmas program.  She played one of the selections  and exclaimed (just as she did during the previous rehearsal), “I don’t like this piece!” Most of us would simply make peace with it or go to the drawer and find a replacement. Not this time. I watched the muse tug her. She got that far away look in her eyes. Some inner horizon beckoned. She stepped back  and then returned to the piano and began to play. She scribbled notes. She sang a few lyrics and wrinkled her brow. Sang again. Muttered, “That’s no good.” Played some more. Scribbled.

She sailed her ship into the vast ocean of promise, a new song. By the time guitar Jim arrived at the rehearsal, she was smiling. “What do you think of this?” she asked.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about HOLIDAY SONGS

 

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It’s a gorgeous song and someday I might convince her to record it. In the meantime, you’ll just have to take my word for it.