reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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these old boots. [two artists tuesday]

old boots

these old boots.  save for the laces, which were definitely in-beaky’s-book-worth-saving, these boots are now moving on.  looking at them, side by side on the deck, i could hear my big brother playing the guitar and singing, “these boots were made for walking, and that’s just what i’ll do…”

we’ve run out of everest movies to watch.  we have seen all the hollywood movies, all the national geographic movies, all the north face and eddie bauer movies and the rolex movies.  we have watched youtubes and imax-without-the-max-part.  we have sat through short home videos and a two hour and three minute go-pro video with no narration and hardly any talking.  we’ve watched k2 and annapurna and aconcagua and denali.  we have run out.

we have now moved on to the appalachian and pacific crest trails.  these boots – neither pair – were not made for that walking.  we can both vouch for it.

these boots were different.  they were more life-boots.  mine took me through well over a decade of travel, well over a decade of wholesale and retail shows, well over a decade of schlepping, lugging, driving very long distances, more schlepping and lugging.  well over a decade of practice on wooden stages while lighting and sound engineers ran cues.  well over a decade of flatbed trailers.  well over a decade of dreaming and sweating, well over a decade of highs and lows.

i’ve been attached to them.  the soles have separated from the leather uppers and wearing them would be like wearing closed flip flops, but heavy-heavy and flopping around, looking to catch on something and throw me headfirst into the ground.

i’ve been attached to them.  in some way they became part of my uniform, the same way that the black zip-up sweatshirt that no longer has cuffs or a working zipper was.  i’m attached to that too.  somehow, it felt like those kept me safe, kept me going, and brought me back home.  i suspect it wasn’t the boots or the sweatshirt hoodie.

so i’m saving the laces.  they can be used in a different pair of boots.

and i’m wondering:  maybe we should fill these old boots up with dirt and plant some basil.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

download IT’S A LONG STORY on iTUNES

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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where do we go from here? [d.r. thursday]

IMG_4630

“where do we go?  where do we go?  where do we go from here?”

an empty canvas.  a roadtrip with no predetermined destination.  where do you go from here, davidrobinson?

sheet music clean

an empty staff.  a roadtrip with no predetermined destination.  where do you go from here, kerrisherwood?

artists’ journeys, rife with intersections, foist decision-making upon us in our quest to create.  simply starting is sometimes an uphill challenge.  the questions are never easily answered.  the value of what we are doing is never really clear.  or is it – the value assigned to what we are doing is never really clear?

journey synonyms according to google: travel, leg, trek, ride, jaunt, expedition, drive, outing, mush, passage, junket, long haul, circuit, schlep/shlep, digression, transit, pilgrimage, excursion, sashay, traveling, tour, pleasure trip, odyssey, trip. 

i think schlep about covers it.

where do we go from here?

we have a daily decision, a choice to “begin anywhere” (john cage) and speak to the world around us and what we see through artists’ eyes.  we write, we paint, we compose.  we either create or we step away from the canvas, the staff paper, the qwerty keyboard.  we know that nothing we do will change the world.  we know that everything we do, like you, will change the world.

where do we go from here?

last night anderson cooper’s chyron read, “meanwhile, back in the real world.”  the real world.  a world fraught with chaos, trembling with the fever of a pandemic and the disease of racism.  we, as people, turn to the sages of old for words of wisdom.  we turn to art for honest displays of emotion.  we turn to music for expressions of pain and hope, grief, despair, love, action, change, fear, questions.

questions like – where do we go from here?

Every day just gets a little shorter, don’t you think?
Take a look around you and you’ll see just what I mean
People got to come together, not just out of fear

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

Try to find a better place but soon it’s all the same
What once you thought was a paradise is not just what it seemed
The more I look around, I find, the more I have to fear

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

I know it’s hard for you to
Change your way of life
I know it’s hard for you to do
The world is full of people
Dying to be free
So if you don’t, my friend
There’s no life for you
No world for me

Let’s all get together soon, before it is too late
Forget about the past and let your feelings fade away
If you do I’m sure you’ll see, the end is not yet near

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

(peter cetera, chicago – where do we go from here?) 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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poof. [flawed wednesday]

BMI music moves our world

“music moves our world.”  bmi’s tagline: “we celebrate your talent.  we value your music.  we champion your rights.”

i don’t blame bmi.  as an royalty organization, it is trying to keep up with an industry imploding on itself.  the very same opportunity to ‘get music out there’ using online platforms is what is destroying opportunity to make a living ‘getting music out there.’

as you might guess, i just received a bmi royalty statement.  the check, which will come later in the mail and stamped with a 55 cent first class stamp, will cost them more per penny paid for the stamp than i will receive per performance play of my music.

because i am a specific-detail kind of person, here are the details of that:  if you take my check of $71.57 and divide it by the (just shy of 100,000) performance plays this particular quarter, it amounts to an average of .00074 of a cent per performance play (you read that 7/ten-thousandths of a cent).  it you take a 55 cent stamp and divide it by the check, it is .00768 of a cent per penny of the cost of the stamp (you read that 7/thousandths).  that’s 10 times as much as i receive per play.

to cite some examples:  there were 7530 youtube views of my piece ‘last i saw you’.  the royalties i earned for that are 66 cents.  CENTS.  the piece ‘i didn’t know’ yielded 49,085 plays counted on a few digital music services, which averaged $.00025 of a cent.  that is 2/10-thousandths of a cent.  way to make a living.

i’m not really sure anymore why i’m telling you this, except for the big word “awareness”.  i think most people are not aware of the explosively-good-explosively-bad impact that all these music services have had on independent musicians.  headlining musicians and independent musicians – a schism of differences.  yet, i’m not a person with one or two albums, new to the industry, eager to do anything to ‘spread the word’.  i am an artist with fifteen albums, multiple singles, in the industry for decades and who did all the eager-stuff for many, many, many years.  and like you, i want to believe that all the time and energy and writing and practicing and recording and sacrifice and thought and perseverance and education and experience and drive and hard work i put in might yield something in return now – dividends – kind of like how a retirement works.

in these times of chaos – a pandemic, an uprising of protests striving for equity in race, in gender identification, in sexual orientation, in all manners of humanity – it seems that one of the most unifying calls is that of music.  music does move our world.

why, then, is this so inequitable for us?  because i don’t know about you, but there isn’t one bill in my bill folder that totals $71.57 over the course of a quarter.  dog food alone costs $73.16 for a quarter.  there isn’t a bill that is merely for $71.57 for a month.  not the phone bill, not the mortgage, not home insurance, not health insurance (don’tgetmestarted!), not the gas/electric bill, not student loans (again, don’tgetmestarted!), not car insurance, not groceries, not wifi-cable.  too much information, i suppose.

with thousands of cds in boxes in storage in the cds-have-gone-poof world, i wonder, as i have written and you have read before, where to go from here.  most professional careers keep building, arcing in some positive direction.  i try to remind myself that this music is played hundreds of thousands of times, millions of times a year.  i try to remind myself of all the times i have heard that some piece, some song, some album, some concert, some performance has resonated with someone, that it has given them a moment of reflection, of peace, that it has buoyed them.  i try not to be jaded by people who burn copies of cds for their friends or who change their email every three months to access apple music streaming for free.

but as i write checks or click ‘pay’ online for the accountant, the doctor, the mortgage, the water, the gas and electric, the health insurance, the phone bill, the wifi and cable, the car and home insurances, the student loans, the groceries, i wonder what would happen if somehow each of those things went poof and there were free ways to access all of them.

and yet, it’s true.  music moves our world.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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exit. stage right. [merely-a-thought monday]

exit

metaphorically speaking, the gravel hadn’t even settled after we pulled out of the parking lot and our newly-created-recently-released website had already been changed.  david warned me about this, telling me how tom m used to tell him this very thing about the moments – even just mere moments – after you leave a position.  you are forgotten, your ideas are left behind in the dust; you are the person who used to do the job.

i had spent hours and hours and hours and weeks and months designing, branding, carefully trying to portray this unique place in a fresh, interesting, vital-to-the-community way.  i painstakingly chose fonts and always included “xoxo” in posts.  i pored over hundreds of pictures i had taken there, looking for the right imagery to represent this performing arts center to which, just over a year ago, i had felt an instant attachment.  TPAC, a beautiful 253-seat theatre on a tiny island.  i added a small heart to advertising, social media posts, communications.  my heart was attached and it seemed apropos to subtly include love from TPAC in everything to the residents who have shared their island with it.

for the last year – until the end of the day yesterday – we, two people with lifelong immersion in the arts, have been the co-managing directors of this theatre.  on this island-you-cannot-drive-to, across death’s door from the mainland of door county, we weathered our way through waves of challenges.  we were brought there to create, to bring TPAC into next, to carefully elicit change in a place that pushed back against change.  we made dear new friends; we gauged our days and our progress by the greetings at the grocery store.  my fondness grew.

managing a performing arts center is not for the weak of heart.  it is not, as some would think, simply about booking performers into the space.  instead, it is weaving the place in which it exists into its very fabric, acknowledging the importance of the local arts organizations and forging relationships with their people, listening, working together to make the theatre accessible and intrinsic – necessary – to all.  it is fundraising, addressing personality issues, graphic design, ad sponsorship, strategizing, gently and firmly guiding.  for us, it was seeing the infinite details (i’m the detail one) and the arcing scope into the future (he’s the big picture one).  it was sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-wooden-stage-dreaming at its best and cleaning-the-backstage-refrigerator at its most practical.

we lived in the littlehouse on the water, a place we still cherish.  every morning i took a photograph over the lake; every night we marveled at the million stars in the sky.  we walked on quiet roads and hung out laundry to dry.  in the middle of enacting progressive forward-moving dreams, we had also returned to a simpler place, a simpler time.  washington island is indeed away-away and the ferry that makes it possible to come and go dictated our few comings and goings.

there were moments, as you would suspect, of difficulty, for no tiny place is immune to that, to agenda or powerplay.  indeed, no dense urban city is immune, so a somewhat homogeneous island with generations-long-standing residents proves no different.  when we accepted this position we put on our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats and, with more objectivity than those who have been immersed in the politics and life of a place for most of its tenure, we were determined to leave those hats on, despite all odds, regardless of any pressure to bow differently.  we brought heart to TPAC and we leave pieces of our hearts behind in it.

every journey has meaning.  today i grieve the inevitable exit from this place.  they will continue on, outsiders-be-gone, with one of their own at the helm to take them into next, the island way.  TPAC will continue to grow and change; there is so much potential there.  we can see it.

and today, as i close my eyes and see the traditional red-cushioned theatre seating of the house and feel the wooden stage under my boots, i know my heart will mend a bit as the dust settles.  and the key sticks in the lock of the backstage door just as it always has.

(a farewell video post to TPAC)

read DAVID’s post this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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©️ 2020 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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batting averages and painting. [d.r. thursday]

the story of a miss

ty cobb’s career batting average over 24 seasons was .366.  this is the number of hits divided by the number of at-bats.  i know that is an extraordinary batting average and yet my math-brain looks at that and thinks, “wow.  that’s shy of 37%!  only 37%!”  what if only 37% of my recordings were complete?  or 37% of dinners cooked all the way?  or 37% of the work for our employers done?  or 37% chance of wearing appropriate clothing outside our home?  disregarding the possibility of grading on a curve, my school-brain thinks, “37% does not look like an A!”  so when david went on about how his painting has been a miss, i thought, “well heck! you need to lower the bar a bit!”

artists are harsh.  we are generally not self-congratulatory, although there is definitely a percentage that defies that.  we have a vision of where a project is going and we will jump at the chance for perfecting it every time.  there is a point when you know; the time has come to stop, start over, wipe clean the slate.  (pfffft – can you hear lifting up the cellophane on those cool vintage magic slates made of cardboard and equipped with a plastic stylus?)  david walks away from the easel, huffing.  i walk away from the piano, sighing.  the muse has left the room before us.  at least that is what we invariably think, when it’s our own work.

and yet, it’s so often the case that i will stare at his work, downstairs on the easel and think, “wait!  stop!  don’t do ANYthing!  it’s perfect!”  but it’s his project and his creation and he fought with the vision he had in his head.  they disagreed; they went to battle and the easel reigned supreme time and again as he walked away, disgruntled.

for me, the third iteration of this painting (see above) is the moment.  he could have stopped right there and i would have loved it.  it had a dreamy,  surreal quality to it.  it was graceful and lovely.  i’d say at the very least a .375.  ty would be proud.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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meander-er. [k.s. friday]

meander

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  (Robert Frost)

a product of sunday-drive-parents, i am a meanderer.  i’ll choose a backroad.  i’ll choose the woods.  i’ll avoid the six-lane interstate.  i’ll avoid the leader-led-coach-bus-travel tour group. i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in an obvious life metaphor, choosing to be an artist of any medium -for the long haul- is choosing to be a meanderer.  it’s choosing to live life looking for and celebrating layer cakes – a layer cake of work.  it’s a continual wracking-of-the-brain for the next idea, the next project, next pitch, the next initiative, the next validation of your artistry.  it’s continual exploration and continual growth, surprises and intrinsic rewards of the heart.  and it’s continual worry: how will what you earn equal or be greater than that which you owe.

my parents encouraged my every musical moment.  neither of them was a musician, but their steadfast support reinforced the decisions i made that were more out-of-the-box.  their prideful applause inspired and fed me, lighting a fire even when the embers were falling to ash.  times i would rise and fall and rise again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in somewhat recent days, when i was bemoaning the exponential cost of healthcare, someone asked me if i needed to see a financial counselor, someone who could ‘teach me’ how to budget.  i was stunned at the lack of sensitivity and actual empathy.  “no, thank you.” i responded, while trying to maintain the sound of calm in my voice, “i am actually quite good at budgeting and truly love math.  this is not rocket science.  it is simply a case of not having enough income, even from several jobs, coming in.”  a meanderer.  those sunday drives.

i’ve read plenty of ‘being the youngest child’ articles.  it seems that my profession, lean toward autonomy, artistry, careful rebellion are all because of my place in the sibling line-up.  so, once again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

the urge to be off-the-beaten-path, literally and figuratively, to quietly sit in the middle of the woods or i-wish-more-often the top of a mountain, to stand on a wooden stage with a piano, a boom mic, a few songs and a story to tell:  things that are part of my very soul.  the core.  i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

and i thank them from the bottom of my heart.

download MEANDER on iTUNES

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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always. with us. [k.s. friday]

always with us prayerflags

my emotional well was full when i woke up today.  thinking of us, our children, our families, our dear friends, our community, this world.  i desperately want to gather our beloveds in, hold them close, protect them.

i have no words for all of this; i have too many words for all of this.  i fear that none of them are helpful, none of them are wise.  it’s just me.  and, like you, carrying the weight of the world one step at a time, one quiet minute at a time, staring out the window and wondering.

always with us

we are alone

 

download ALWAYS WITH US on iTUNES

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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ALWAYS WITH US from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 


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lost. [d.r. thursday]

Peri Winkle Square copy

lost.

in these times.  the emotional upheaval is exhausting.  worry is the crux of insomnia.  we measure every step, every decision.  we look to each other for reassurance, for a fast-receding touch of normalcy.  we feel…lost.

in these times.   we remember other times we felt this way.  other times of confusion and fear, of social responsibility and adherence to new rules, new realities.  too many calamities to name, it seems.  too many times…lost.

this little book Peri Winkle Rabbit Was Lost was the product of such a time, as david created it – a one-of-a-kind – in response for a call for a children’s book that addressed the tragic hurricane katrina, a book given to children that offered empathy for the plight in which they were standing, their lost.

we, as artists, do what we can to offer comfort, to bring a little solace, a moment of breathing, a slice of hope in darkness, a tiny map in lost-ness.

we, as people, look to the arts for a little solace, a moment of breathing, a slice of hope in darkness, a tiny map in lost-ness.

in these times.  standing in the darkness with each of you.  maybe together we will not feel as lost.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 4.09.09 PM

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PERI WINKLE RABBIT WAS LOST ©️ 2005 david robinson

 

 

 

 


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laugh. [k.s. friday]

creativity is not always a serious thing.  songwriting isn’t always serious.  today we offer you the attempt we made on washington island to record our brilliant and profound song SITTING HERE IN THE SUN.  we understand, with 7 takes, if you can’t bear to watch it all.  and we understand if you are underwhelmed by the song (not to mention the angle of video recording) – when you finally get there.  but right now – at the very beginning of a new year and a new decade – we are thinking maybe the laughter is the most important song of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jaunt over to DAVID’S blogsite to see if he added anything esoteric to my meanderings

for real recordings, go to iTUNES: kerri sherwood here

www.kerrianddavid.com