Monday, December 19, 2011

Update at Winter's Solstice

Days are getting shorter, and I feel us rushing into winter, blown like leaves. On the 21st it will be the dark of the moon nearest the dark of the sun, and the serious candle lighting will begin. After four shows in two days, and a stretch of lessons, student recitals and the like before that, I had a Day Off yesterday. Imagine that! In fact as I write this I'm wearing a red and black checked flannel shirt and Carhartt bib overalls.

Tonight it's back to show #3 of our annual holiday show, my only commitment for the next few days. Then it's time off until 2012. My first show of 2012 will be a triple header at Eugene's Oak Street Speakeasy with a fantastic sisters-harmony group, the Douglas County Daughters, the Low Tide Drifters and the Alder Street All Stars. String band music for the New Millennium.

2011 has been a fun year. It's even fun to say: twenty-eleven, twenty-eleven. Sounds like something a five year old would make up. But how the world has changed in serious ways. Decades-long dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya are gone. The Occupy movement raises questions without seeking to take power. The farther away from the real world our politicians go, the more irrelevant they turn out to be. Despite the failure of anyone in office to even understand, we are closer to universal health care than ever. Look what happened in Vermont. Whoo hoo!

I've spent a couple of inspiring evenings playing instrumental guitar at the Egan Warming centers, where a wonderful crew of volunteers provides soup and a warm place to sleep when the mercury drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Named for Major Tom Egan, a veteran who froze to death on a street not far from my house two years ago, the centers are a great example of a community working together to maximize the effect of limited resources. Warms me just to be there.

My website, is sort of in stasis. The merch page is not functioning and the calendar won't update. I lost my web guy to a real job (tragic loss), but I have a New maven lined up and we'll be back in business as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience.

Hope you're warm inside and out wherever you are, that the holidays bring you some peace and relaxation,  some loving contact with others, and whatever else you want from life. Health and abundance in the New Year! (clink)


Friday, December 9, 2011

Hubert Sumlin Passes

Blues legend Hubert Sumlin passed on December 4 at age 80. While he fronted his own groups and worked with others in Chicago, he is best known as the guitar "voice" on Howlin' Wolf's records and live shows. There was nothing standard or conventional about anything he played. He is instantly recognizable and endlessly inventive. His guitar is like a voice print. Check out the classic Chess recordings and be amazed. Rest in Peace, Mr. Sumlin.
chico schwall

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Welcome to Chico's Imagine Nation

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Imagine Nation, where I'll try to keep up with news and comments on the way it all Looks From Here. Fall flew by in a flash and winter's upon us. In October I co-directed the regional conference for Folk Alliance International's western U.S. region. And last month I released my third CD to a cozy full house at Eugene, Oregon's Culture Shop: Tsunami Book Store. We had snacks and wine and a beautiful evening of music. About the album: mostly what I want to say is, "It's done."

It's recorded, (started in 2010, derailed by real life, and restarted). It's mixed (twice even!). Mastered in real time under my watchful ear. Glorified visually by Dave Snider's artwork. Replicated in fine style at AtoZ media in PDX. And it's ready for you.

"Then What's It For?" is the new CD. It's a big departure from the last one. "Driving by Moonlight" was a real personal album, all but one track were my songs/tunes. And it was a sonic playground: guitar choirs, overdubs, lap steels and doubled parts. This one's real stripped down. Ninety per cent of the guitar is one guitar. One banjo. I borrowed a mandolin.  At the same time its focus is bigger. Five of my songs/tunes join a lot of the music that informs my life. Turlough O'Carolan and Howlin' Wolf. Joe Hill and southern gospel. The old and the new. It's a bit daunting, standing next to classic material, but I think it works. So actually, it's an even MORE personal album. Who knew?

Getting ready, with actor David Stuart Bull and fiddler Linda Danielson for our annual Celtic Holiday show. It's an orchestrated reading of Dylan Thomas' classic "A Child's Christmas in Wales," plus a set of pan-Celtic music, Irish jigs and reels, songs in Welsh and English and the lot with fiddle, guitar and cittern.

Whatever you do to renew at the Solstice Time, I hope it brings you joy, love, enthusiasm for beginning again, and some relaxation. It's a Big World and there's lots to do.