Tag: music

The Flute

The Flute

Inspired from an autumnal trip to Ireland and Irish music, I ordered an Irish flute from a Dublin music store and anxiously awaited its arrival. I had already secured a bodhran over a year ago and have enjoyed playing it and a brass whistle so the flute felt like the next step in Celtic music appreciation and cultivation.

I’ve played native flutes for many years so didn’t think it would much of an adjustment but the first time I attempted a note on the Irish flute, the wildlife in my home scattered. My dog Buddy ran to the door of the room and begged to go out. (Sigh).

Many things come easy for me so a growing edge in life is to stick with something that challenges me, makes me dig deep. Enter this new aggravation….I mean challenge…the Irish flute.

My musical expressions are a prelude to daily meditation. The first day I played the new flute I took my frustration into the silence. What have I done? Why would I bring something into my life that makes me so frustrated?

A memory surfaced. I was standing at the top of a very high cliff at the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland. A strong wind was blowing and there were free-standing metal pipes with holes drilled in them. I stood between the pipes and listened as the wind danced through them. Otherworldly harmonies sang out the celebration of life.

After the elemental concert, I sat in deep, fluffy, green grass and wrote in my journal. As I walked up the steep hill, to the ancient fortification, all of my walls crumbled and I became an open channel for Spirit to move through–a flute for the Winds of Heaven to play and bring forth beautiful music to the world.

In the stillness of meditation I remembered so clearly the feeling of being a clear instrument through which the Universe can play melodies that heal, delight, make glad. The Irish flute is a teacher to help me remember to be open and receptive to being a clear channel for love and compassion, power and strength. The new flute and other flutes and whistles are to help me bridge the physical realm and the realm of Spirit.

My playing, in just a few days, has very much improved. As I carefully sound the notes and move my fingers, I imagine myself as a living flute. The notes are the voice of Spirit moving through me. It has become not just a prelude, but an important part of my meditative practice.

All of us can be instruments if we open to the possibility. We can create stillness and space within to allow the music of the spheres to arise within and come forth as beauty we share with the world.

On Being Real

On Being Real

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Manatee

Masks make me uncomfortable. Not costumed masks but those invisible masks humans create to hide the truth of their being. I suppose that’s why my photography has almost exclusively focused on nature and wildlife…until a couple of years ago.

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Billy McLaughlin

A conversation with fellow photographer and Frog Pond Sunday Social attendee about photographing musicians made me laugh and understand something about myself. I made the comment that I was much more comfortable with animals and nature and had never photographed people too much until I began focusing on portraits of musicians. His reply–“Well, they’re not that different from animals you know.” He said it to be funny and we had a good laugh but what he said is very true.

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Grayson Capps

When musicians are really in the creative groove and are connected to their source of inspiration, they appear to be in an unmasked state of being. They seem to invite the audience to witness their journey and meet them in that place from which they bring forth beauty…and magic.

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Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes & Grayson Capps

I’m basically shy and much more comfortable alone in the woods or underwater with my cameras. I discovered, while listening and photographing Robert Randolph, why I like photographing musicians.

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Robert Randolph

I connect energetically with musicians when they bring forth their gifts through performance. It’s as if I can see beyond the outer appearance to their true essence and meet them there through my photography. It’s as if we make an unspoken agreement to share that space of truth.

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Robert Randolph

When I photographed Robert, I squirmed my way to the stage to see the energetic and amazing performer who had a huge crowd of people dancing. He was channeling lightning, or so it seemed. He is a pedal steel guitarist and bringer of a dynamic force to all in attendance willing to meet him. Me? I stood there with a huge smile on my face. How could I not? His smile rocked the festival. As the intensely-loud music bounced through me (I was in front of massive speakers) and I focused on him with my camera, I understood my love of photographing musicians while they are playing.

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Sarah Lee Guthrie

Live music is one of the rare experiences where we can see humans engaged in the creative process. Musicians that are truly in their happy place allow their masks to fall away  to expose a truer self.  That’s probably what separates the really great musicians from the good ones…a willingness to tap into a higher expression of who they are in front of an audience. That’s no small thing. And that’s probably why I think of these same musicians as being like ministers….leaders who invite us all to a deeper yet higher place.

SimoneLipscomb (21)When I am standing in a river photographing elk headed straight for me, I feel a similar emotion as I do when photographing an expressive musician. I am much more comfortable with elk and other forms of nature but that’s because I don’t create a mask when I’m in nature or surrounded by animals.

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Will Kimbrough

Musicians are teaching me to shed my masks and meet them in the truth of the moment, where music melts walls of division and creates harmony of spirit.

 

 

Trust the Light

Trust the Light

simonelipscomb (3)The stage at The Frog Pond Sunday Social was filled with awesome musicians…singer/songwriters…guitar virtuosos….another cauldron of creative genius. I was there not only as a music-lover but as a photographer as well.

simonelipscomb70From my point of view the lighting for photography was great for everyone except Will Kimbrough. He was backlit with a strong late-afternoon sun. As I photographed the group, I accepted with almost certainty that I wouldn’t have any good shots of Will but kept on playing with exposure settings and playing with the light.

simonelipscomb71As the uploading of files from camera to computer began last night I began editing my work and was surprised that some of those shots I never expected to work out were some of my best shots of the afternoon. The images of Cathe Steel and Will at the mic for a Grayson Capps fantastic song, Love, turned out. The backlighting powerfully illustrated the love generated by people dedicated to promoting a better world through music.

simonelipscomb147How many times do we give up on a situation, a person, a place, our passion because we don’t think the conditions are right? How many times do we pass on opportunities because we think it’s just not a good time or situation? Sometimes when we proceed anyway, take the risk, allow the creative spirit within us to keep flowing, something wonderful results.

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Grayson Capps, singer songwriter wrote a phenomenal song…Love.

This morning, as I was in my pre-writing contemplation, Mary Elizabeth, Will’s sister, messaged me about a couple of shots from yesterday. In the reply to her I said, “Will’s such a special light for our world,” and then realized the images of of Will perfectly expressed how I see him and the gifts he brings to our planet. What I originally thought of as challenging backlighting proved to illustrate exactly what I wanted to express through images of this gifted musician.

simonelipscomb (4)My intention as a photographer is to capture the essence, the heart, of the subject. Usually I am standing in the middle of a quiet mountain stream or on sunrise sands communing with light as it fills the sky or illuminates rushing water. Playing with light is really what I do. Photographing humans is a newer endeavor but it’s really the same isn’t it? Seeking out, playing with light within a person’s face, heart…music.

simonelipscomb1 (6)Creative work and spiritual path are the same in my mind. I cannot separate the two. Photography is the work of my heart, my method of choice for bringing forth more beauty, more joy. It’s never been clear where the Path will lead. Sometimes life seems like a random series of brief moments of insight. And then there are times when a glimpse into the big picture is granted, like the opening of a curtain for a short glimpse of truth, and I see…and it makes sense. All I have to do is trust the light.

simonelipscomb (5)John O’Donohue wrote a blessing for all of us bringing forth our heart’s work.

“May the light of your soul guide you. May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart. May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul. May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light, and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work. May your work never weary you. May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration, and excitement. May you be present in what you do. May you never become lost in the bland absences. May the day never burden. May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities, and promises. May evening find you gracious and fulfilled. May you go into the night blessed, sheltered, and protected. May your soul calm, console, and renew you.”

 

Magic Cauldron

Magic Cauldron

simonelipscomb1 (102)Opening concert of the Frog Pond season and the torrential rainfall, the flash floods, the get-out-your-waders event simply didn’t happen, at least not in Silverhill, Alabama. Where there’s good juju perhaps the storms stay away just long enough for friends to come together after a long summer break to celebrate music, life and all things good.

simonelipscomb1 (121)Willie Sugarcapps opened the season and it seemed especially potent given that it is the group’s birthplace. This group is an example of the kind of magic that happens on the back porch stage at Blue Moon Farm.

simonelipscomb1 (10)Reconnecting with friends, with the music we all love, is a wondrous thing. But it goes beyond that. It’s as if the land itself welcomed us all back…the musicians and music-lovers so the spirit of community was sparkling and evident by smiles, hugs, singing coming from under the tent. We had a revival all right…a revival of the love of music and each other.

simonelipscomb1 (96)If you don’t go, you just won’t know….how sweet the spirit of friendship and the common love of music creates a place of happiness and joy. Witnessing the coming together of musicians sharing new songs, performing them for the first time together, shows us all the potent creative process in action. A lesson not to be ignored.

simonelipscomb1 (69)On a personal note, there’s sometimes a song that goes straight to my heart and creates an opening. Sometimes we all need reminding of the light within….or the star within. Thanks Brother Will…and all the members of Willie Sugarcapps for bringing their hearts and creative spirits to the Frog Pond. You all show us magic in action. And to Cathe Steel…you provide a container for this magic to happen. So thanks for stirring the cauldron of creativity and inviting us all to witness the beauty.

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Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

Will Kimbrough
Will Kimbrough

As I was photographing the musicians at Blue Moon Farm last weekend I realized that I was actually enjoying connecting with humans through photography. What? Surprised at the realization I contemplated it as I sat, transfixed by the jam happening ten feet from me.

Scott Nolan
Scott Nolan

I love music but the draw to photograph humans has never been very strong. Why was I photographing…humans? As I witnessed the outrageous creative process happening last Friday night and Sunday afternoon, understanding dawned.

Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier

Wildlife and wild places speak to me deeply, profoundly. So much so that I often ignore the beauty found in my own species…humans.  My reason for avoiding photographing humans is that we are so domesticated…so disconnected from the spark of wildness that keeps us plugged in to the planet….to the cosmos and my work is really about capturing that spark of wildness, of raw, untamed beauty.

Tom Morley
Tom Morley

The musicians that play at The Frog Pond are masters at creating something harmonious, something beautiful out of thin air. My theory is they are still connected to that primal spark of pure, creative energy. They are still plugged into the untamed unlimited-potential cosmic soup in the creative cauldron of the Universe. They come together to tap into that source. And the result is explosively great music.

Grayson Capps
Grayson Capps

Wild animals are mostly free from domesticated parameters and boundaries. They live without thinking about living. Instinctually they exist on this beautiful planet, wild hearts free to be exactly who they were born to be. I cherish them for this.

Buddy and Lucky are residents at The Frog Pond
Residents of The Frog Pond

Animals that are around humans become domesticated and soon adapt our behaviors. Some wild traits may remain but for the most part, the wildness is bred out over time.

Luther Wamble
Luther Wamble

And just to be clear, I’m not suggesting we go back to caves and clubbing dinosaurs but rather simply remember our connection to the unlimited potential we are born with and not become seduced or conditioned into thinking we are less than what we are…or that we cannot fully express the gifts we were born to give the world.

Corky Hughes
Corky Hughes

The musicians that frequent The Frog Pond stage at Blue Moon Farm remind me that it is possible to tug the tails of stars that dwell in the cosmic soup and bring forth beauty simply by showing up, opening up and being willing to yank on the thread of pure creative energy that is available to all.

Cathe Steele, owner of Blue Moon Farm and Music Mama of The Frog Pond
Cathe Steele, owner of Blue Moon Farm and Music Mama of The Frog Pond