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Song on the Times

 
December 17, 2015

2015 Year in Review

With the end of 2015 just around the corner, we wanted to share some highlights from our year:

In January 2015, we were hosted by Ricki Carroll for Windborne’s first workshop weekend, which was a resounding success!  The two days were packed with delicious food, delightful fellowship, and, of course, lots of singing in Ricki’s beautiful home. We hope to return for another workshop weekend in 2016, and in the meantime, check out this video from the house concert.

 

Unless you’ve been pointedly ignoring all our emails and Facebook posts in the past six months,recording you already know this next bit of news: we recorded a new CD, our first studio album! Lay Around That Shack is something of a departure from our usual mix of traditional music from around the globe, focusing entirely on folk songs from the US and England, and we are so happy with how it came out.  If you haven’t heard it yet, you can listen to sample tracks and buy it here. Maybe there’s a special someone in your life who would love to get a new CD for the holidays? (Speaking of holiday CDs, Lynn and Will just released a fabulous album of Yuletide songs, Sing the Sun’s Return: Wassails and Carols for Yuletide. Give it a listen and check out their new website, lynnandwillrowan.com!)

We’ve gotten some great reviews for Lay Around That Shack, too.  Fatea Magazine called it, “A gleefully winding path through American music…theirs is a dynamic approach born of genuine and deep-seated appreciation of the tradition in all its aspects” and The Mike Harding Folk Show has played us twice!  Listen to Podcast 145 at 1:10:20 and Podcast 150 at 11:25.

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Thanks to Howie Eskin for the photo!

Springtime took us to the GottaGetGon folk festival in upstate New York, where we were excited to share the stage with fellow American Music Abroad alums the Tumbling Bones. Our world music workshop was especially well received and we got into some fascinating music theory conversations about Georgian tuning.

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Our biggest adventure of 2015 was our summer tour in England! You can read all about those escapades in another post, but suffice it to say we made many new friends, took lots of jumping photos, and sang everywhere we possibly could, from pubs to theaters, castles to street corners. We’re already thinking ahead to a return trip!

 

Lastly, we are on our way to becoming YouTube sensations (well, maybe not quite) with Give Bernie Sanders Your Vote, which has almost 20,000 views!  We wouldn’t get political for just any candidate, but we are really excited about Bernie and hope you are too!

All in all, 2015 was a great year for Windborne, and we can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store!

Thanks, as always, to YOU!  We could not do what we do without your support, and we are so grateful to our friends, families, and fans.  May your new year be full of music, laughter, and adventure!

love,
Lauren, Lynn, Will, and Jeremy

August 26, 2015

“We Need More Chairs!” – Windborne in the UK

Windborne at the Lit and Phil Library in Newcastle

“We need more chairs!”

The Great Hall in Hexham Abbey looked full ten minutes ago, and we are running out of space for the audience to sit. We stand in the back of the room, spotting folks from our Windborne in Hexham Abbeyworkshop earlier that day, singers from the Tynesdale Community Choir who will be opening for us, and our lovely hosts who have generously opened their homes to our music making for the past four days. Volunteers run to storage closets and chairs are brought out, 60, 80, 100 and people keep coming. By the time we start we are playing for our largest crowd (outside of central Asia!) and couldn’t be more excited! We had arrived in the UK less than a week before and this was certainly a grand welcome. Many thanks to the wonderful David Oliver who was a publicity wizard and to Kat Davidson for her incredible singing and conducting!

We had performed the day before in the Newcastle Lit & Phil Library, which turned out to be a beautiful place to sing, amidst piles and piles of books, to a wonderful audience. Banjos, bibliophiles, and books; what more could you ask?

Windborne at the Lit and Phil Library in Newcastle

We packed up shop and spent a few days busking around the North. In Newcastle we played on the Millennium Bridge and were filmed by a French TV crew. In Whitby we played at a drawbridge, climbed the 199 steps to the ruins of the abbey, and had cream tea! Our trips to York and Sheffield brought new busking box, trips to cathedrals, and lots and lots of smiles on the street!

Jeremy and Will busk for WindborneWindborne Busking in Newcastle
IMG_3969The next stop was London, where we had our first encounter with the folk club circuit. We played in Watford and Uxbridge, both to enthusiastic crowds who loved to sing along! We enjoyed the floor singers and realized how fun it is to go to a event where you are both performing and listening to a concert on the same evening. That Thursday we went English Country dancing at the Cecil Sharp House, and played a set at the break, making some new friends.

In our spare time we took a little day trip to Oxford where we busked, feasted and…went punting! Of course, what punting outing would be complete without a Quebecois song on the boat?

We headed to Harwich, a lovely port town on the east coast where we played in the Electric Palace, an old cinema that is now used for performances. Beautiful stage, fun crowd, and one of the best post-concert pub sings of tour! Our host, Mick has been involved with Northern Harmony and Village Harmony for years and we spent a great morning singing a bunch of his original shapenote compositions. We also want to give a big shout out to Larry Gordon and Village Harmony for helping us get contacts for organizing the tour, we couldn’t have done it without you!  It was time to head into our last swing of workshops and concerts, a crazy weekend jam-packed with singing in Bungay, Martham, and Castle Acre. Windborne Teaching In Martham

We also had the treat of singing one of our favorite Corsican songs, Stabat Mater, in the great stone hall of Orford Castle. What a beautiful, resonant space!

Throughout the tour we felt so lucky to be hosted by such amazing, generous people, to sing for such appreciative and enthusiastic audiences, and to be able to travel and sing with such wonderful friends. We are already planning next year’s tour, so we’ll be back soon! In the mean time, stay tuned for news about our fall and winter tours in New England and the East Coast! Bye for now!IMG_3924

 

July 23, 2015

Give Bernie Sanders Your Vote!

Windborne doesn’t get political for just any candidate, but Bernie Sanders isn’t just any candidate! Lyrics Below!

Bernie Sanders 2016
https://berniesanders.com/ | https://www.facebook.com/berniesanders

Download the song! Proceeds go to Bernie’s campaign!
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/windborne3

Give Bernie Sanders your vote,
oh, give Bernie Sanders your vote (give him your vote)!
Health care, education, clean energy
are gonna keep this country afloat.
He works for the people and not the billionaires,
gonna make ‘em pay for what they broke.
Get ready for election day,
Give Bernie Sanders your vote!

Well, health care is a right for all,
and college education too.
He’s a man against pollution and he’ll give us a solution,
on climate change he will come through
He’s fighting to raise the minimum wage
and his voting record’s tried and true.
He’s ready to be president–
Bernie Sanders is the man for you!

He’s busy everyday as he fights for equal pay
for the people all across the land.
But if he’s gonna win, well, we gotta all pitch in–
gotta get out and make a stand.
So help him get the vote: you can donate, get a tote!
Make a song about him with your band!
Get ready for election day,
give Bernie Sanders a hand!

Give Bernie Sanders your vote,
oh, give Bernie Sanders your vote (give him your vote)!
Health care, education, clean energy
are gonna keep this country afloat.
He works for the people and not the billionaires,
gonna make ‘em pay for what they broke.
Get ready for election day,
Give Bernie Sanders your vote! (Bernie in 2016)

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December 28, 2014

Musings on 2014

As one year draws to a close and a new one begins, we are compelled to reflect on the adventures and mishaps of this journey around the sun.  For Windborne, 2014 was perhaps our most eventful year yet, despite often being spread out over two continents and three time zones!  Highlights include:

• Our month-long tour with American Music Abroad, sharing our love of traditional folk music with audiences and workshop participants across Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola. Lots of photos and videos of that trip are on our Facebook page and on American Music Abroad’s page, and you can read about some of our escapades on our blog.

• Speaking of our blog, our website got a major upgrade this summer, now featuring tracks from our various CDs, lots of new photos thanks to Liza Carter, and more!

• Windborne’s first music video: Rollin’ in my Sweet Baby’s Arms, with a cameo by guest artist Pippi.

• Village Harmony’s 25 Year Anniversary Weekend.  It was a great honor to be on stage in front of such a vibrant audience of our friends and mentors, including many of the very teachers that planted the seeds for our love of traditional world music, and who continue to guide us along the way.  For us, performing the Kyrgyz-American medley (video here) that we developed with our friends in Ustatshakirt Plus while touring together with AMA was to see Village Harmony’s living legacy come full circle.  We would not be the musicians we are today without the love and support of the many, many people who make up our Village Harmony family.  

And we’ve got big plans for 2015!  Our workshop weekend in January, recording a CD of all American folk music and performing at the GottaGetGon Folk Music Festival in the spring, organizing a tour in the UK for the summer… and we could not do any of it without YOU!  We are so grateful to you, our friends and family, for your continued support and we are delighted to have you along on this wild ride.  

With love and gratitude,
Windborne
Lynn, Lauren, Will, and Jeremy

Who brought the map?

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April 5, 2014

Some Post-Tour Reflections

I was just contacted by American Music Abroad asking for some thoughts about our tour for their next newsletter, which made me realize… gosh, we haven’t done much writing about tour since we’ve been back. So here are the beginnings of my reflections, a few broad strokes about the absolutely fantastic experience we had. More to come!
-Lauren

Windborne’s experience with American Music Abroad was incredible. I think Will summed it up well in our debrief when he said that it felt like we were not just doing really cool work, but good work, meaning that we could see the positive impact that our presence and our music had on the people we met. Sometimes the moment was brief–a shared smile over an autograph or photo after a concert in Turkmenistan where we were treated like total rockstars, or street kids dancing in the plaza and singing along as we did a sound check for our oceanside concert in Angola–and other times, we got to develop deeper relationships.

In Kyrgyzstan, we were lucky enough to tour with the folk group Ustatshakirt, and the connections we made with them both musically and personally will stay with us for a long time. Whether it was sharing rhythm games while waiting in the airport or sharing the stage in front of a packed audience, we bonded across boundaries of culture and language.

Likewise, when we worked with a church choir in Angola, our mutual enthusiasm for singing overflowed the crowded classroom as we taught them American folk songs and learned Angolan hymns in a song-swapping session that could have gone on for hours.

One of the most powerful experiences was performing a local folk song at the end of our concert program. For us, an important part of being cultural ambassadors was to learn about the traditions of the countries we visited, as well as sharing the music we brought with us from the United States. Our goal was to learn a folk song in the local language of each country and perform it in concert, which was definitely nerve-wracking at first… to stand on stage in front of hundreds of people and sing our arrangement of a well-known song in a language we had just begun to wrap our heads around… but each time, the response was incredible. The audience would erupt into cheering and applause as they recognized a familiar refrain, and then they would sing along with us. In Turkmenistan, we were even asked to leave a copy of our arrangement with the national conservatory. It was humbling to be so warmly received as musicians and individuals everywhere we went, and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to share our little slice of American folk music and culture with audiences, student groups, and fellow musicians from around the world.

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February 2, 2014

Salam Kyrgyzstan!

So this was the view down the street in Bishkek on the first day we got there. Then the clouds rolled in and it started snowing, so it feels like home, but we can’t see the mountains anymore.

I had my birthday in Bishkek and I went out to a Georgian restaurant and had lots of wonderful food and Georgian wine.

We’ve been collaborating with an awesome Kyrgyz folk group called Ustatshakirt. We corresponded a little bit before we left for this trip, and so when we got into the rehearsal room, they started playing Going Across the Sea on flutes and Komuz. We have been making mashups of American and Kyrgyz songs and making up harmonies.

Ustatshakirt are incredibly talented musicians. They have all been playing traditional instruments since they were three years old and they all figured out how to play the banjo in about ten minutes. Aizada, the oldest is my age, Sherkul and Askhat (the boys) are around 21, but Aisaana is 16! They all play every instrument in their ensemble including an incredible jaw-harp quartet.

Before the concert tonight, they burst into our dressing room and said “We have a surprise for you.” What followed was a very vigorous hatting. Jeremy and I received excellent tall felt hats, and Lynn was given a nice round embroidered hat.

Lauren wasn’t in the room at the time, and when she came back, Askhat stopped her in the hallway and made her close her eyes before bringing her in and ceremonially hatting her.

The show in Osh went amazingly. We introduced ourselves in Kyrgyz, and we had everyone clapping and singing along. There was a huge block of Kyrgyz soldiers on the left side who reacted audibly when we introduced Poor Soldier.  Everyone cheered when I started playing the jaw-harp. Ustatshakirt played a set after we finished, but at the third song from the end we came on one by one and joined them wearing our hats to much applause.

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January 23, 2014

Turkmen Banjo Adventures

So the bridge on my homemade banjo broke in transit on the way to Turkmenistan. It’s not that surprising, and now my dad can say I told you so on my choice of wood. I guess that’s what you get for making bridges out of random scraps lying around the shop.

So, of course we had to come up with a solution (I did propose finding a piece of wood and a knife and carving a new bridge). So Meylis, our local embassy staff guy, translator, and all-around crazy guy took us to a shopping center. The bottom floor was basically just a grocery store, but under the stairs up to the clothing stores, there was a little glass-walled closet filled with Dutars, Gidzhaks, drums, and guitars. When we walked up to it, it was filled with three men all looking at a guitar. When they cleared out, I showed the shopkeeper the broken bridge, and he told me he could glue it back together, but there were no guarantees. He had violin bridges in his glass case, and I thought to myself, what if we just cut one of those flat? Meylis was an incredibly good translator for all this, because he’s a musician, so he knows how to talk about music and instruments.

The shopkeeper measured and marked and we had several debates about how tall it should be, and rounds of “no, don’t cut there, the strings will break through” (all of this through translation, of course), before he just pulled out a pair of clippers and snipped the top off the bridge. A bunch of work with a file, and we had a working banjo bridge for 10 manat (about $3.50)!

The new bridge with the old re-glued bridge next to it.

After that, the shopkeeper was eager to show us his electric Dutar. There was a little door in the side of the instrument, and he tried every nine-volt battery in the place until it finally worked. Meylis proved himself to be a pretty good Dutar player, and I ended up buying three little jaw-harps.

Well, that’s about all I can get online with the internet here. I promise we’ll get you some actual pictures of Turkmenistan soon (maybe once we’re in Bishkek).

-Will

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January 17, 2014

Starting to Get Real!

We just had our orientation at the Department of State for our impending ambassadorial tour of Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola. Sitting in the meeting I was struck by just how much my own values about cross-cultural communication were reflected in this briefing. Above all, this program is about person-to-person interaction.

The amazing thing about this program, is that we’re being sent with the specific agenda of going there and just being ourselves. And when I think about it, I can’t imagine a better way to be ambassadors.

I remember when touring Germany with Northern Harmony, I met a man who had never met an American before. He told me “You are not what I thought an American would be like.” And, to be fair, he wasn’t what I expected a German would be like. In that moment, we both saw each other as people not that different from each other, both with the same needs for safety, love, food, and comfort. Unfortunately, the power of media to convey an image of a country is wrapped up in its power to distort that image and dehumanize the people in it. This trip is going to be full of opportunities to make those connections both ways.

Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola, I can’t wait to meet you!

-Will

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