Greetings from Sitka. It's raining. It rains a lot here. In fact, the town is technically considered to be underwater. And yet, somehow, Sitkans manage. These are hardy folk. No matter the weather, you'll find them out running and gunning, hiking and biking, lugging and shrugging, hunting and grunting. As for me, tender city creature, I'll take this weather as a fine excuse to sit in a cozy cafe, sip a hemp milk latte, and finally write this post.
First things first: music. I return to Seattle on September 6th for a week of gigs. I'm here to tell you about three of them. These are three very different performances, and I think they represent a nice balance. A range of musical styles, and levels of preparedness. One jazz club; two living rooms; three all-ages shows funded by donation. I hope you can make it to one, two, or all.
1) Sunday, September 9th @ The Maple Leaf Music Space - LaVon Hardison, Ev Stern, and Jonas Myers
Doors at 1:00 pm - Music at 2:00 pm - 1060 NE 100th St
LaVon Hardison, Ev Stern, and Jonas Myers are "Vegan Tunafish." Or maybe they're just three good friends. Whatever they are, they've performed so much together that it isn't fun anymore. Their music is lifeless, soulless, reckless, feckless, and consistently out of tune. Not one person has been observed attempting to dance to their errant rhythms. Several respected businesspersons have actually paid them to stop playing. While they would like to promise you a fun afternoon, there's really no reason to expect this performance to be any different than past ones.
Let's gather anyway—to bathe in the living room acoustics of The Maple Leaf Music Space, to make small talk, to bite tentatively into mysterious potluck contributions, to proclaim our humanity, to while away an afternoon, to leave early and get to bed at a reasonable hour.
You are encouraged, though by whom it is unclear, to bring a donation for the artists, who wish to dance gladly through life where others trudge. Please also consider bringing some food, a beverage, your favorite mug, and several children. Oh, and wear a hat.
2) Tuesday, September 11th @ The Royal Room - The Walking Hat Trio with The Hiromi Project
Doors at 6:30 pm - Music at 7:30 pm - 5000 Rainier Ave S
The Walking Hat Trio swings again! Wayward bicycling pianist Jonas Myers missed his buddies Cutts Peaslee and Ryan Donnelly, so he's briefly back in town to get his jazz fix. This seasoned trio brings you catchy, inventive originals and an eclectic selection of jazz and pop tunes, always keeping things grooving. And they'll be debuting some new original music!
The WHT are joined by another fine trio. The Hiromi Project is Collin Provence, Dune Butler, and Max Holmberg, coming together to explore the music of Hiromi Uehara in an ongoing project featuring selections from throughout her career.
Don't miss this exciting musical evening! To guarantee a good seat, make a dinner reservation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All ages; cover by donation.
3) Thursday, September 13th @ The Home of Deborah Dewey - "Road Stories: Piano Improvisations"
Doors at 7:30 pm - Music at 8:00 pm - 1814 E Highland Drive
When I perform, I am nearly always playing formal, structured music. My vocation, I'll admit, is to supply this music as a commodity for sale. In fine restaurants, make it classy; at wedding receptions, get them dancing; in church, dress it up and aim for the spirit. Arrive on time, play what you're hired to play, collect your fee, and head home.
But the music I love most is not commodity music. It is the music I play for myself, or for gatherings of friends. Often, I have no particular song structure in mind, and certainly give no thought to genre. I just let go and play.
You are invited to a concert of piano improvisations at the home of Deborah Dewey on September 13, 2018 at 7:30. The theme will be "Road Stories." I'll draw inspiration from my ongoing bicycle journey around the western US, as well as other, earlier road trips, all of which conspired in leading me to the present one.
All are welcome. If you wish to make a donation, $10 is fairly standard. Please bring a snack or a beverage to share.
* * *
When the sun does come out, Sitka shines, and we are drawn to the water. Eagles soar above, watching all. Whales spout towers of mist. Otters loll and splash. Salmon leap near the mouths of streams, in a frenzy to fulfill their mission.
Sometimes, we hike way up high to get a different perspective. If we're lucky, the mountains shed their jackets of mist to reveal majestic robes of old growth and muskeg.
Sitka is barely a town. It hugs the thin skirt of one tiny stretch of Baranof Island's coast. You can walk half a mile from the commercial district and cross into wilderness. When Erin and I go out for a run, we bring bear spray.
One run took us through Totem Park. We stopped on the foot bridge over Indian River, and looked down into the water to see if we could spot some spawning salmon. At first, I couldn't tell if there were any fish. Then, I realized: the whole thing was fish. They covered the river bottom from bank to bank. Thousands of them, in just this one stretch we could see. They faced upstream, holding in place, waiting for some subtle signal to spend that next little burst of precious energy.
In this moment, it was easy to forget that the salmon are in trouble, their numbers way down. Around the world, life does its best to go on at is has, while the fires burn longer, the oceans suck up more carbon, the sprawl of industry takes more land.
What's more: the humans who presently helm our global enterprise of destruction are heavily invested in its continuance.
I never know what to do with the weight of this knowledge. There are, of course, many available avenues for concrete action. Each is an act of faith; we have no guarantee that any of them will suffice. Sometimes our efforts even backfire. There is so much we do not know.
For now, I try to maintain my trust in what feels right: that healing begins with loving, and loving begins with seeing; that every bit of healing anywhere is a step toward healing the whole world; that it all counts.
What do you think?