Know [on KS Friday]

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There is much an artist cannot know about their own work. They sit on the mountain so they cannot see it. But, in their general blindness, there is one thing they do know: there is a difference between the bulk of their work that is good and the few shining pieces that are great.

Kerri is evasive when talking about her work. I imagine somewhere back in the nether-times of her artistic formation, Beaky taught her a definition of ‘humble’ that now precludes her from speaking kindly of her compositions. I’ve learned that there is a chink in her armor. If you want truth, piss her off. In her anger she just might let slip what lives behind the humble-fortress. Recently, red-in-the-face mad at my provocation, she glared at me and said, “My work is good but This Part Of The Journey is great! It is world class!”

It is. She knows like only an artist can know. It’s her best album. And, the pity of it is – to me, at least – she is now – 20 years later – capable of better. Her artistry has grown. By far. Her unrecorded songs and compositions live in a notebook. They will never be recorded. “Why bother,” she says, each time she opens her BMI statement, looks despairingly at the enclosed $47.00 check while perusing the report that shows well over a million people listened to her music last year.

If you want to hear her play, the route is the same as the path to her truth. Piss her off. I secretly look forward to the day the BMI statement comes. On BMI day, in a fury, she sits at her mostly ignored piano and plays. You can’t imagine how beautiful heart-pain can sound. You can’t imagine how much music is in her. On BMI day, I get to hear her best work.

You can say, “I didn’t know.” I cannot. I do. I know. And, I suppose, more to the point, she is not alone. Kerri is only one of thousands of musicians whose music makes millions for streaming services but are paid virtually nothing for it. Perhaps you should grieve -as I do – that I am the only person on earth who has – or will have – the opportunity to hear her greatest compositions. That should piss you off.

 

I DIDN’T KNOW on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about I DIDN’T KNOW

 

i didn’t know/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Fill It In [on Flawed Wednesday]

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A truism: In everything there is a story and rarely do we know the full story. At best, we see partials, a snippet, and from there we draw conclusions, make judgments, fill in the gaps with dedicated certainty in made-up meanings, interpretations, and projections from our own experiences. Imagination runs rampant whether we recognize it or not.

We laughed when we saw this note. It was lodged in a gutter, having blown from the spot where the last of the 2-4 year olds was claimed. Kerri said, “Darn! I wanted a three year old.”

“Why a three year old?” I asked.

She shivered, shaking a specific memory from her mind and replied, “Anything to avoid the terrible twos.”

 

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Split Your Bark [on merely-a-thought Monday]

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Angels come in all shapes and sizes and Jonathan is my latest proof. Appearing from nowhere, disappearing into the ether, impossible to nail down on what he does each day (“I spent the day packing,” he says every-single-time-I-ask), he has an uncanny way of  dropping a much needed thought-bomb at just the right moment. Boom.

Lately, Kerri and I have been steeped in the angst and frustration of the latest inevitable drought that comes with an artist’s life. The well has run dry. There is no rain in sight. The Artist’s Almanac forecasts drought.  Feeling defeated we showed up at rehearsal wearing hang-dog faces and found angel-Jonathan already there, practicing his bass.  He greeted us with laughter and a smile. He regaled us with hysterically funny stories of his weekly foibles. He got us laughing. He transformed our self-pity and woe into a conversation about necessary change and growth.

That’s when he velvet-hammer-smacked us with the metaphor: trees must split their bark to grow. There is pain. Matter. Of. Fact.

Contrary to popular mythology, angels do not take away your pain. They do, however, help you see it for what it is: an experience of life. They punch through the horror story spinning out of control in your mind and guide you back to the present moment. There is growth so there are unknowns. There is today. “Isn’t it great!” he laughs. “You two kill me,” he says smiling.

Yep. Angel.

 

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Reach [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Someone snapped their fingers and it is fall. Less than a week ago we skirted the Des Plains river trail, hugging the shade. We’d underestimated the intensity of the heat-humidity combination punch. “Are you dying?” Kerri asked. I nodded my head, too hot to answer. This morning, the air is cool and we are pulling out our flannel shirts.

With fall comes a sweet melancholy that usually creeps in slowly but this year, absent of any transition, I awoke fully awash in the seasonal sorrows. It is, oddly, like a warm blanket. An old friend that calls, “Remember me?”

Kerri tells me this melancholy is the feeling of time passing. It is the season of standing still and remembering. It is a reach to the past when the past feels like the autumn sun on your face. Turning toward the warmth, eyes closed, basking.

Haven’t you heard your elders say that the older you get the faster time moves? This morning, pulling my flannel shirt around me, I know that it is true. Time races. Time is relative to “the long body,” the entire span of a lifetime. With so much time behind me, so many memories, the road traveled seems to have passed in a blink. Life happens in the blink of an eye.

There’s no better reason to stand still, eyes closed, and reach for the sun as its rays reach for me.

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reach ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

Be The Storm [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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“It is a sacred art that deals with revelation rather than observation.”~Jamake Highwater, The Language Of Vision

Tom used to say, “A writer writes and a painter paints.” Those are wise words grounded in the mechanics of art. Simply show up. Do the thing. Nuts and bolts. That’s the first step. Show up at the easel, on the dance floor, at the piano, at the writers desk and begin. Tom was a teacher and over his life heard an overabundance of excuses, reasons ‘why not.’ Said another way, he advised his students to stop thinking about it and do it. “Get out of your own way,” he’d counsel. That’s the second step. Horatio calls this step ‘trust-your-work.”

Show up. Do the thing. Get out of your own way. Trust your work.

And, what happens with trust? When the artist can get out of his/her own way, the sacred art, the art of revelation becomes possible. It’s a beautiful paradox. Show up and get out of the way. And, between those two actions, those crackling oppositions, a greater force, inspiration, gathers and releases like a storm.

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inspiration is a gathering storm ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Will It To Happen [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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This is the first face, the first thing I see each morning when I open my eyes. BabyCat, aka Sumo aka ONEBIGCAT aka Scrawny Cat. Let’s just say that he is a substantial kitty. And willful when hungry. The morning ritual goes like this (my eyes are closed): he mews up a storm with no result (eyes are still closed). He pulls books from shelves and then claws the back of the already-destroyed-chair (eyes still closed). He shreds the previous night’s crossword puzzle and any other loose paper on the floor. No movement from the human. The final stage is a cat-leap onto the bed (BabyCat landing on the bed feels like riding a rolling ocean wave in a small dinghy). And then he stares at me like some 19th century hypnotist, willing my eyes to open. No matter how long it takes. None of the ruckus produces results but the silent stare is a killer. It’s unnerving. It makes me open my eyes.

This morning the thunder and rain are at it again. The air is thick, sticky and humid. Wisconsin has gone tropical and, apparently, now has a monsoon season. When my eyes popped open this morning there was something extra in BabyCat’s stare. More than food, he wanted to know where summer had gone. Was it here at all or was is merely a B-Cat dream? A passing fancy?

Blinking my eyes, the best that I could offer was this: “I don’t know, BabyCat. I dreamed it was summer, too.” And then we finished the morning ritual with our customary promenade to the food bowl.

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about WHERETHEHECKDIDSUMMERGO?

 

 

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wheretheheckdidsummergo ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Believe In The Impossible [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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All of my life I’ve been surrounded by people who believed in the impossible. At a school for developmentally disabled children, there were therapists who believed against all odds that they could help a child catch a ball. And, one day, after ten thousand tries, extraordinary therapies on frozen muscles, endless encouragement for the child and for each other, those little hands closed around the ball at just the right moment. A catch. Cheers, celebration dances and tears erupted, this feat greater than winning a Super Bowl. The impossible became possible. And then, as if there was not a moment to waste, the next impossibility was named: ball catching could become routine!

Artists, who go day after day to the studio or the stage, their lives an impossibility of economic headwinds and community disinterest. They create. They find a way. They keep the doors of deep humanity open, mythology alive. In this age of dedicated differences and echo-chamber-information, they reinvigorate the experience of a shared story. The impossible becomes possible, even if only for a moment. And the next day, they do it all over again, refreshed with inspiration and improbability.

Teachers who walk into classrooms every single day, their budgets cut, their student load swelling, their hands tied with standardized-testing-madness, and yet they reach. They try. They inspire. Like icebreakers, they cut new paths through impossibly frozen circumstances to locate and nourish the minds and hearts of their students. To free them from disbelief. To embrace the challenge of an obstacle. To encourage discovery of self and other. The impossible becomes possible. And, the next day, they do it all over again.

Inspiration. It’s all around us. It makes people do crazy things.

 

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inspiration makes people do crazy things ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood