CAROLYN WALSH RISING

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As you step into the cafe, a voice beyond angelic carries you heavenward, but it’s a bumpy ride. Not because of the music, but because you can see your reflection in her lyrics . . .

It’s dark inside. The standing -room-only crowd forces you up against the wall. The angel, Carolyn Walsh, is spotlighted center stage. She commands your heart. She spins magic at her keyboard, surrounded by a stream of brilliant musicians.

A short progression of notes kicks in on the keyboard followed by a quick wail of Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner’s pedal steel. Carolyn’s voice has led you Somewhere in the middle, trudging like a buddha down the middle path:

Somewhere in the middle, in the middle of nowhere,  Pulling up roots, breaking my back for the cause, Somewhere in the middle, in the middle of nowhere,

I’m not lost . . .

So, you’re not lost, but you still don’t have a table. Don’t get cozy, you’re about to get All I Can Take. Rob Walsh’s drums, Jeff Waldeland’s pedal steel this time, and Carolyn’s keyboard and voice give you a lesson in deception, love, indecision.

You say I’m the one, and that you’ll never leave, then the next thing I see is your back facing me.

 Drums keep the beat with soft slaps. But the heavenly chorus sweeps away the pain . . .

Soon a pounding minor chord followed by Doug Lakes’s drums and Marc Lloyd’s guitar licks plunge you into the next song. All is not lost, but you’re prompted to plea.

 Give Me a Minute

You’ve got to give me a minute, You know I’m still in it. You’re not a choice I’ve got to make.

As you try to make your way to the other side of the room, the next song unfolds, simply, with Carolyn and her piano. You ponder her words:

 Bars on the windows, doors you can’t get through, and dust on the table  Pictures are faded, hanging on walls that we painted red. Garden needs weeding and somebody’s meeting under the streetlamp. Floors just keep creaking and glasses are speaking of their shattered friend.

 Am I doing this right? Am I making things right as I make my way to the other side?

 All in its Place . . . but me.

You begin to sense that all may well be in its place, but it’s a little short of perfect.

But now Carolyn surprises you and lifts you with an anthem of love, warming your heart a little more with Stephen Hobert’s accordion.

This may not be the greatest story told. It’s not the language Dante wrote, but it’s the promise Burned on My Soul. You make me better than I am. You champion all my plans and I love your eyes. They never forget to meet mine.

Suddenly you discover an empty seat as Da Da kicks in. This time the words don’t matter as much. You want to celebrate and sing how groovy life is. Lilting piano accompanied by what sounds at first like a subtle horn section turns out to actually be Rich Miller on the 12-string.

Your adventure in Carolyn’s world of song now carries you on the Rise, the title cut from her new CD. Her words, beautiful strains on the keyboard, and the masterful work by renowned guitarist Rodney Jones leave you wiser, more experienced, and totally uplifted once again.

If I let go and reach for you, and you reach for me . . . Would we fall to oblivion, or be set free?  and would we rise up to meet the sun?

What you’ve just experienced is my feeble attempt to fill your imagination with the power, grace and love radiating from Rise, Carolyn’s new CD as well as all her music.

The Real Carolyn Walsh

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Carolyn Walsh says, “I popped out of the womb singing, and the passion to compose and perform has been an integral part of my life ever since. When I was a young girl in small town Georgia, I entertained the family in the living room with renditions of my favorite pop songs and show tunes.

“I began classical training in piano at ten, and by fourteen I felt my music so deeply I had to let it out. I started composing. While in college I honed my skills and performed cover tunes at a Gautreau’s Cajun Cafe in Athens, Georgia. I loved Gautreau’s, but my favorite diner to eat in Athens was the Five Star Day.

“I love to perform live and have been fortunate to have done so to audiences as large as 5,000 in the US as well as venues in Germany and Ireland. I put my all into my music, and I’m so grateful any time I have a chance to share it. I write from what Life is teaching me. I hope anyone listening will find insights to help them understand themselves better, too.”

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Find out more or purchase Rise.

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View Carolyn’s Push It Down music video. Hauntingly beautiful, undisguised, yet complex.

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Watch Carolyn’s Nothing music video

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Watch Carolyn’s Somewhere music video

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Visit Carolyn’s Web site

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Woodstock 46th Anniversary. It Was Spiritual, Man!

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This year marks the 46th anniversary of the famed Woodstock music festival at Yazgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. Nearly half a million bodies were in attendance that weekend. I and millions more were there in spirit. This is apropos, because strange as it sounds, this was a pivotal spiritual event in the lives of people around the world. I’d fully intended to attend since Bethel was just a few hours away, but it just wasn’t in the cards . . . until five years later. In the meantime I met Thyme, and by the time we got to Woodstock we were ready for it.

In honor of our 41st anniversary of Woodstock, here’s a peek at what happened when Thyme and I finally got there. It appears as chapters thirty-five and thirty-six in the novel By the Time I Got to Woodstock: or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis by D. E. Munson.

Woodstock at Last   The dirt road to the campground was steep, rocky, and rutted. It was in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, which loomed above us. It was pitch black and pouring rain by the time we arrived at the campground. We checked in at the main building, which was also the kitchen. We had no idea how to find or even to see our site.

“Welcome.” A smiling, dark-haired woman in sweater and jeans approached us. “I’m Katherine. I don’t think we should send you out in this tonight. Why don’t you just spend the night in the loft. It’ll be much drier that way. You can find your site and set up tomorrow. Did you have a good trip? I bet you’re exhausted.”

We introduced ourselves and thanked our welcoming host. Following her advice, we dashed out into the rain again and grabbed our gear. We set ourselves up in a corner of the loft and crashed. A woodchuck outside the building mumbled and scratched. Trying to get out of the rain, no doubt. These were the last sounds we heard as we drifted off to sleep.

Thyme and I awoke next morning to clattering in the kitchen. On our return from dreamland, we discovered we were near the original intended location of the famed festival. It was an hour away from Yazgur’s Farm in Bethel.  The air—and everything we touched—was damp. Looking outside, we could see a mist still enshrouding the clearing in the trees. People started setting up tables, folding chairs, and a huge clear plastic dining fly.

We rolled up our bags, stowed our gear in the car, then Thyme found Katherine and asked, “Can we help with breakfast? We’re so grateful to you for letting us sleep in here last night.”

“Oh, sure,” Katherine replied, “there’s plenty to do. We’re still working on the duty roster. According to Sufi doctrine, for want of a better word, there’s a clear delineation between male and female roles in the chores at the camp.” She turned to me. “You can help with the eggs for the time being. But this will be the last time you do kitchen work here. This, as well as watching the children, will be the responsibility of the women.” I wasn’t too heartbroken.

After a tasty camp breakfast of oatmeal with nuts, scrambled eggs, and orange juice, Thyme and I set out to find our site. We met someone along the way who said they had wooden pallets available. We could use them as platforms to keep tents high and dry. I found the stash, got two of them, and set us up nice as can be.

That afternoon they called all the guys together to erect a huge geodesic dome. We bolted two-by-fours together at each end. In teams, we created large pentagons, triangle by triangle, on the 1600-square-foot wooden platform. We erected scaffolding to handle the height. Within a few hours, we had a twenty-foot-high dome to keep us dry as we danced when it rained outside. Two deja vu-like thoughts passed through my mind at the time, too. I’d admired Michael at the UNH commune for his ability to help build a geodesic dome, then, there I was, able to do the same. Also, as I’d walked the trails to the platform that morning, I noticed there were yurts! In fact, I’m quite sure Pir Vilayat Khan stayed in one of them. Cool.

 

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Dancing with the Sufis   We discovered, once we’d assembled the dome, that it was not centered on the platform. Teamwork, again was the answer. We all spaced ourselves out, grabbing hold of the two-by-fours forming the great circular base of the dome.  On cue, we lifted then repositioned it where it belonged. Two things happened during the procedure. First, it blew me away that together we could raise and move that gargantuan structure. Second, while we still held the dome suspended, across from me in the circle, I saw Atlantis . . . and he saw me.   I was so stunned, I didn’t know what to think.

We all cheered once we set it down, then we bolted it to the platform. I shot him the peace sign. He smiled and waved back. Neither of us approached each other. I let it go with a sense of relief. That evening, I finally got to be with Thyme again after she’d finished kitchen duty. We relished our well-earned rice and beans, salad, and watermelon. Vegetables never tasted so good. Pir Vilayat welcomed us that evening, then we broke into dance and song. Music, dance, and body movement are integral to the Sufis in helping to make a connection with divine spirit. It was a beautiful experience.

Next morning, and every morning thereafter for the rest of week, rain or shine, we rose at first light to do yoga. We started the hour with the greeting-the-sun asana. This we followed with a mixture of other asanas and eye exercises. The instructor said he used to wear glasses, but after practicing the eye exercises, he wore them no more.  After breakfast, the men gathered at the dome for work detail. Ahmed, a bearded Sufi who looked a couple years older than me, spoke to the assembled. “I need a volunteer who is not afraid of heights.” My hand shot up without a thought.  We reassembled scaffolding in the center of the dome, from the platform, rising to the apex. Ahmed walked to the scaffold and started climbing.

“Follow me,” he instructed. I followed. I’d noticed a little old man who’d been hanging around, staying in a little old trailer. I could see him far below us as Ahmed and I set to work. “The rain last night rotted the joint in the crown of the dome,” he explained. “We need to replace these six two-by-fours, bolt them back together, and cover them so this doesn’t happen again.”

We each used a wrench and screwdriver to undo the bolts on the ruined lumber. I then held each new replacement board in position for Ahmed to bolt and fasten. As we sat there working, I looked down below, “Who is that old guy who’s been hanging out in the trailer down there?” I asked.  From the look on Ahmed’s face, I knew I’d goofed up.

“That’s my dad,” he said. Through the embarrassment I learned a lesson about judging others that I’d never forget. Ahmed was gracious and didn’t hold it against me. I’m sure my profuse apologies didn’t hurt.  At lunchtime, they’d announced that showers were available. There were specific hours for male-only and female-only showers. And this surprised the heck out of me—there were also coed hours, should anyone so choose.

“Hey,” I said, “If we go during coed hours, we can shower together.” Thyme smiled, seeing right through me.

“Okay, we can go then.” And so we did, and it was fun. There were a couple other pretty girls in the shower, too, but of course I didn’t peek.  Then, while we were toweling off, Thyme said with a wry smile, “I didn’t know you needed to wear your glasses in the shower.”

We left, and as we descended on the trail back to the main encampment, Atlantis approached us. He wore a black T-shirt with an inverted silver pentangle on the chest, black jeans. Black silk cape and hair flowing behind him, he smiled through his signature pointy Vandyke beard. He greeted me like an old friend. I could feel Saturn rising. I didn’t trust it, but I tried to be as gracious as I could. He entranced Thyme. I could tell.

“Hello Space,” he said, giving me a quick, slick New Age man hug. “And who have we here?”

I grimaced and forced a smile. “Atlantis, this is Thyme.”

“Powerful magic, Thyme,” he said. “You look familiar. Haven’t we met somewhere before.” Then he kissed her hand.

Damn! I muttered deep inside, Why did he have to go and do that?


 

What was your Woodstock or Woodstock/Not Experience? 


 

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The many faces of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H.

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Sherlocks (clockwise from upper left: Cumberbathch, Miller, Rathbone, Downey)
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Watsons (clockwise from upper left: Law, Freeman, Lu, Bruce)

Hands down, my father-in-law’s favorite author was Conan Doyle, as he called him. And his favorite character was tied between Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes.

Myself, I relied on Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce to give faces to the names. I confessed to Dad that I hadn’t actually read a complete Sherlock Holmes story.

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Dr. John H. Sprague

Dad remedied that the day I met him. We’d just turned into the driveway when I admitted I was nervous. Thyme, my wife-to-be, his lovely daughter, reassured me, “You and my father have a lot in common, you know?”

“For real?”

“Yeah. You both smoke pipes and love history, love to read, love to talk—a lot. And you like Sherlock Holmes, right?”

“Yeah, of course . . .”

“That gives him a captive audience for hours. Besides, he loves All in the Family. And you won him over already by planning to ask him for my hand, and asking if you could call him Dad.”

Suddenly before us, my father-in-law-to-be stood in the doorway.

“Hello, Meathead!” he greeted me with enthusiasm.

Strange as it sounds, that was music to my ears. I dug this guy. He was no Archie. Every room in the house except for the bathrooms, I think, had a bookcase. The upstairs hallway as well as every alcove had a bookcase. This was the beginning of an oddball reunion of two kindred spirits. . . .

“How about a glass of Port?” Dad offered.

Thyme laughed, “We’re here less than an hour, and Dad’s got his captive audience for the grand tour of the house. It starts with the musty old Port, you know. Okay,” she said with a wave of the hand, “See you in an hour then.”

“This way, Meathead,” the good doctor poked as I followed him out of the kitchen and down the short hallway to his office. “Welcome to my lair,” he intoned. Dark-stained oak desks, a tall cabinet, bookcase, and two heavy wooden armchairs lined the walnut-paneled walls.

“Office hours are over, so let us pay homage at the altar of Bacchus,” he said. He stepped out of his office for a moment, then returned with two smallish fluted glasses and a decanter of port. He filled them and offered me one.

“Join me in a smoke?” asked Dad.

“Don’t mind if I do.”

We loaded, tamped, lit, puffed, tamped, swigged, and sat content.

“She’s a bright, talented girl, my little Persephone.”

“I noticed that, too,” I said.

“You know why, don’t you?”

“Why’s that?”

“I fed her stars.”

“I see,” said I. “Got any left?”

Dad laughed. “Get your own.”

“Okay, okay . . . I’ll do that. But she’s my star, now. I’ll bask in her radiance.”

“Ah, that’s right. I’ve heard you’re a poet. Who are your heroes? Shelley? Keats?”

“Yeah. And the Transcendentalists,” I said.

“Aha. Have you read Conan Doyle? He dabbled in the beyond a bit.”

“I like the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I confess, I’ve only read Hound of the Baskervilles. Part of it, anyway. But I’ve seen the entire movie . . .”

“Oh, now. You’ve got to read the stories to get their full worth. Come with me.”

Dad led me back into the house, through the kitchen, and upstairs to a bookcase around the corner from his writing desk. He lifted the wood-framed glass door fronting the top shelf of the case. He pulled out a red volume, opened it, and handed it to me, pointing to the title, Hound of the Baskervilles.

“Read,” he commanded.*

From that day forward, I devoured every story recorded by Dr. John H. Watson. Those memories of adventure and intrigue couched in brandy and pipe tobacco smoke as I churned through the pages in my easy chair.

The reason for Holmes and Watson’s neck-in-neck situation as Dad’s favorite character was that Dad admired Sherlock Holmes, but he identified with Dr. Watson. After all, my father-in-law, too, was a doctor named John with a middle name of H. Dad was Hibbard and Watson was Hamish.

Since Dad’s passing, years ago, I sometimes see his face in Bruce’s place. Much to my delight another face has arrived to fill that space.

In 2010, Dr. Watson appeared once again, but this time as Martin Freeman in latest BBC production. What a great choice. My favorite actor is one of my favorite people.  And a blogger to boot.

The face of Dr Watson has become multi-gender, and diverse. Lucy Lu has joined in on Elementary, CBS. And of course there’s Jude Law in the recent movie version.

Now at last to the face of Sherlock Holmes, whose very nature is elusive, eccentric, and disguised. Who could fill it better than the old Basil? I ask you.

The answers resound from hearts true and pure: Benedict Cumberbatch–No argument there. Robert Downey Junior–fall off your chair. Johnny Lee Miller? I’m asking myself. Then I just heard this morning it’ll be Gandalf!

*Excerpted from By the Time I Got to Woodstock or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis by D. E. Munson

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IMAGINE A UNIVERSE OF INSUPERABLE DEPTH AND BRILLIANCE . . .

Erik & Chan  

Erik Munson & Chan Chau

Now double it!

You’re about to have a close encounter with Chan Chau and Erik Munson, two fast rising stars of comic art in the Twin Cities.

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Arcus, their most expansive creation to date, will be unveiled at the upcoming Autoptic Festival of Independent Culture on Saturday, August 8, 10am-6pm and Sunday, August 9, 11am-6pm at ARIA, 105 n 1st Street, Minneapolis. They’ll populate Table 73. Drop what you’re doing and go see them. This is history in the making!

Both Chan and Erik are graduates of the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and have a shared interest in boats, birds, clouds and petty people. Craftily, they agreed that all of these elements would combine to make a decent story. They’ve each studied and/or interned under two renowned Minneapolis comic artists, Zack Sally (Table 34) and Zander Cannon, author of the critically acclaimed graphic novel HECK.

Erik is a 6’4” comic artist and illustrator living in the Minneapolis area. He has one comic out and was published in Rock Ink Roll, and several anthologies. Erik is a musician as well. He plays drums, banjo, and guitar. He played rhythm guitar and bass for In Spite I Might, a rock band in Tucson, Arizona. Erik, in his spare time, bikes all over creation and longs to throw on his backpack and head back up to the Superior Trail. He loves any kind of good hamburger, Crescent Moon pizza, Chipotle, fried rice and sushi.

Erik says he creates morose stories that alter the familiar into the unfamiliar. This is an understatement to the enth degree. Sure it’s true, but the journey of each of his stories usher us from that familiar of which he speaks through layers of the subconscious to wrest free unsuspecting truths that leave us with headspin, depending on how deep you dare pursue it.

Chan’s work reaches its own lofty heights. It is at once quietly complex and intelligently accessible. You so want to go to there. Her repertoire, in addition to her own comics, includes a number of anthologies as well as a host of covers for My Little Pony comics. She also enjoys product and packaging design and illustration. She confesses she’s not crazy about cold Minnesota winters, despite living here her entire life.

Chan says her life revolves around comics, taking care of her friends, biking, hiking and even camping on occasion. I know for a fact she plays a mean ukulele to entertain her pure white parakeet. She loves ramen (everybody loves ramen), plus she enjoys sushi, Ze’s Diner in Eagan, and a good Flameburger now and again.

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Arcus is the story of two shipmates: a disturbed captain and a bored communications officer. They pilot a flying boat over a sea of grass. To subsist, they forage through shipwrecks. But when they discover a wounded passenger in the rubble, the two must decide whether to help him or save themselves.  Ultimately, they save themselves, but how they do it is interesting.

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