Without music, life would be a mistake

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…the words of Friedrich Nietzsche. I imagine he used these words to point us toward the exponential growth quality of music to move us in a spectacular way and to ignite us in prioritizing music as a way of life. To be with music, to stand accepting it’s face in ours, shows us about ourselves not just then but forever onward– this may be one of the most courageous things a person can do considering the state of our culture now.

There is no shortage of fitting prose on what music means and I could end this post on that note just fine. What I have to add is that the written word is limited. The more I find words for describing the thing, the further I find myself from it’s nature exactly.

Seven Sounds is an invitation to arrive to your nature in the flesh–it’s all we can say because we haven’t any remarkable words besides. Once you arrive then we may throw words after the thing together. While we cannot approximate presence with words, there are no words needed for the occasion of showing-up.

Without much ado, what does music mean to you? My heart aches with gratitude for Brain Pickings and this synopsis of great writers on music.

Sufficed to say it, I look forward to sharing this moment in music with you.

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A tale of cooking in underwear & food is love

Flickr:Esther Spektor

I love my Dad, he loves me, and we love food.

He worked hard in construction when I was a kid. The smell of dirt and sweat is the smell of hard work to me and for that I haven’t worked hard a day in all my life. He told me ‘no daughter of mine is going to work construction’ and I figured that was something I could abide by and so I did. He left for work before the crack of dawn each morning. I remember the sound of his truck warming up in the dark driveway, and the house door slamming shut a few times as he went in and out, packing.

There is always a sadness to the going. For my dad there is a recognizing of the going so substantial that it brings him to tears. Even now, hellos and goodbyes come in sobs. He tries to swallow the sobs which moves his shoulders to heaving. He is an emotional man apparently. I have all the questions in the world but I never remember having any question of what my Dad was feeling.

His truck would pull away and I would feel the murmurs in my heart of the loss of him for the day, as kids for their parents often do. And then he would return in a few minutes! He had made a trip to his favorite convenience store of his same name, Lyle’s, with a treat to share. ‘The doughnuts just came in’ he’d tell my brother and I as he made a big show of presenting a glistening maple bar to me and a sparkling twist to my brother, warm like the freshly left beds of growing babes.

My dad did all the cooking when I was a kid. Even today in my own kitchen it’s hard to keep him out and from his way. He recently threatened to take his massive ham out of my oven and home to his as things were not going his way. I laughed to myself at the thought of him driving home, the ham riding passenger. He admires my easy way about the kitchen I think, and he doesn’t give me a hard time about making a mess although we all know Julia Child recommends ‘cleaning as you go’.

He left for work early and so got home early to cook. He’d drop his clothes on the way in through the laundry room and move around in just his underwear until he could manage a shower. Sometimes he’d move up to the shower right away, in which case he would cook dressed. Other times he would station himself in the kitchen, just underwear clad with the All-Clad because some dish or another required the time that a shower would squander.

He didn’t mind cooking in underwear and even reveled in stories of how cooking grease burned the hair off his chest in one place or another. Just then someone would come to the door. The possibility of an unanticipated visitor would take my dad by such a surprise each time that at the sound of the doorbell or a knock, he’d drop behind the kitchen island as quick as if he’d been shot down or as if a shoot opened up below him. We would laugh and laugh at the near misses of company witnessing him cooking in his underwear.

Always a square meal, and meat done fancy. Cajun prawns in beer and butter, a large pork loin spiral cut and stuffed with all strong seasonings, juicy steaks as big as my head. My brother and I thought kraft macaroni and cheese was preferable or top ramen. I remember feeling delighted at the plain-ness I had never known. My dad acted like he didn’t hear us say it or perhaps he felt the quality of our statements too low to deserve a response. Away, he cooked. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stand to teach anyone how to cook. He gifted me a series of cooking classes when I moved away to college as a consolation.

Which brings me to my mom: the first female regional meat and seafood merchandizer at safeway. Of course I love her immensely too. When she sets her mind or muscle to something it shows in her jaw. She apparently fears god but I can’t tell. She worked later and sometime late into the night when I was a kid, often making it just into her chair at the dinner table, 6 sharp. She started as a meat cutter and worked her way to the top. Corporate structures don’t work much that way now but I like to consider that people’s capacity to graduate to vaster roles and responsibilities in life haven’t changed much.

My mom regarding meat and seafood for income and also as a way of life had a significant impact on my having reverence for quality food and intolerance for high-margin shit our consumerist culture corporate administers try to trick us into buying now. There is no substitute for one’s connection to food source directly. We argue who is to blame but no matter, we are all responsible for the grave disconnect and finding points to re-connect again.

My family connected at the dinner table. Everyone was expected unless prior arrangements had been made. We’d hold hands, say a prayer, eat, and share the day’s events. There was no tolerance for tom foolery of any kind. I was taught that good food was a privilege and that the space we shared at the table was sacred, held for our family, in a time and space that would never exist in the same way again. No tv, no phones, no distractions of any kind from the action of love. It was an honor and to be honored.

It wasn’t until many years living away from home that I understood my belief that food is love. To create space with others for the awareness of how food fuels our being physically, connects us to our environment and to each other is one of the reasons we’re here. It’s a reward embedded in our nature that is hard to put in to words.

How do you put into words what food means to you?

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How to make a dream team

flickr: international fiber collective

The festival is the ultimate party. So it made sense when the idea sparked at a bonfire party at my house that as a party maven, I ought to take it on. The fact that no one else had done this before (here) was practically unbelievable to me, even now. All over town (and now the country) I started telling the story, asking questions, and getting referrals.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

#1 It’s who you know

It was humbling to discover how many people I did know through other people, that everyone in the world could be available to me, and that I would just have to do the work to get a hold of them to get this show on the road.

What has taken the most time is dividing the people fit for the job from those that are not. Especially when the job itself is undefined. Enter the advice of lots of people who have experience in the festival and music industry.

The Seven Sounds team is comprised of members from all over the country: Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, New York, and Tennessee.

#2 Be a good person

Creating and maintaining relationships is the most important thing in the world. I present the Seven Sounds vision and qualify people every single day. I’m looking for people that have the same beliefs, which means that I sometimes turn away people with experience. Some motivations can run counter to the Seven Sounds vision and it is my primary job to protect the vision at all costs.

Once I have commitments and agreements in place, I maintain relationships by making myself available to connect with individuals regularly for the purpose of understanding what they care about so I may map them to exactly that and check-in as things may have changed.

Identifying best-fit coverage for holes in the operation plan on an on-going basis provides for a well-run production. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? 🙂

#3 Always make decisions

The two failures I’ve identified are: 1) not making a decision and 2) not doing the work. Wise idioms to lead by: Do or do not, there is no try. Piss or get off the pot. Cut the mustard.

The hardest decision to make as a leader is when to step aside and let others lead. Great leaders understand that the best solutions are bigger than one person’s way, that it’s not about them, and that a dream team provides a mutuality and reciprocity one can trust to bring the thing to fruition beyond any one members’ wildest dreams.

How do you make the team of your dreams? When was the last time you were a part of one and what features made it so?

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“Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.” -John Maxwell

Port Gamble: the town you’ve never heard of

flickr:Chuck PefleyChances are you’ve never heard of Port Gamble. It’s the oldest city in Washington state, it’s one of the few company owned towns left, there is evidence to suggest it’s haunted, and it’s the future home of Seven Sounds. Now you know.

I curate events. It typically starts with a beautiful place, then the event idea and theme follow. In the case of Seven Sounds it was the opposite. What came first was the need for a festival of this magnitude, then the challenge of finding a location. My first choice was Fort Flagler.

As a state park governed by state rules, the Fort Flagler administration denied my request. Their concern was related to the basic park governing rules of providing access to park facilities on a first-come-first served basis for camping and day-use only, and that a my proposal would infringe on their offering. My vision was beyond camping and day-use and regarded the legacy of the parks system. I believe people who use the park are interested in furthering land preservation and stewardship of these spaces for generations to come, and what this requires is exponentially more people be exposed to these places. It’s hard not to stand for something you’ve had a positive experience within. I was offering more exposure to the park in one weekend than it would see in a whole season.

No.

Just short of writing the state legislature, one of the Seven Sounds planning committee members put a bug in my ear about Port Gamble, and then pulled me to the realization that even if we could get past Go with the park for a use agreement, it wouldn’t be enough because there would be other questions along the way, that what we needed to be successful ultimately is people and places equally yolked to bring solutions to make the best festival this side of the sound. That’s what we found at Port Gamble.

When you find the a match in people and places, you know it because your heart sings. It’s that magic where you come with a little spark and leave with more light than you imagined. You may find me at Port Gamble regularly now, walking the greens with a measuring stick on wheels, grabbing a pint at Scratch Kitchen, or meeting the people one by one. I used to say, place didn’t matter over people, but I hadn’t considered how a place can make the people too.

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Listening: Bohemian Like You by The Dandy Warhols

We are not like the social insects. They have only the one way of doing things and they will do it forever, coded for that way. We are coded differently, not just for binary choices, go or no-go. We can go four ways at once, depending on how the air feels: go, no-go, but also maybe, plus what the hell let’s give it a try. We are in for one surprise after another if we keep at it and keep alive. We can build structures for human society never seen before, thoughts never thought before, music never heard before.” – Lewis Thomas

 

 

 

Doing The Rad Thing

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“It really boils down to your forecasts and estimates, and the likelihood of them happening. With the 20+ years of historical data I have at my fingertips… we still can’t perfectly estimate how the coming year will pan out. We’re always above or below the mark by a significant margin. Especially on the expense side which shouldn’t change much year to year; it changes a lot year to year. But, we have flexibility because we have an entire year to make adjustments from one quarter to the next or month to month, rather than everything happening in 3 days. Some years we blow the profit goal out of the water and others, well we’re way below it. I think your budget prep is right on point…”

This is the kind of brain fuck I submit myself to regularly as a creative layman creating a business to draw world-class talent where there wasn’t one before.

I create events, different from an event planner in that I don’t plan the things you’ve done before, I plan the stuff that you haven’t dreamed of yet and then get an invite to regarding an r.s.v.p. (I know!) I’m obsessed with creating space for people to connect, which is the only way I can explain my ability to press through otherwise entirely intimidating prospects like asking for money from people I don’t know. It’s my perspective based in a singular obsession that carries with an an authenticity so powerful… I’ve tried to ignore it, I can’t and no one else can either. It’s electric.

So, the moment someone else sat through a meeting of this caliber, they wanted to back out. I was at once stunned and realized the level of risk I was tolerating, even to the extent of discussing ideas, wasn’t mainstream. Really? Back out of the volunteer engagement? Volunteering has nothing but upside, no? I considered volunteering by definition up to that point as: Not a heady life-altering commitment to the fruition of the thing, but some futzing about, finger-licking, possible back-aching work when and where the volunteer chooses to have it for working toward their vision and copious amounts of craft beer and love…WHAT ELSE COULD YOU POSSIBLE WANT FOR WORK. This is my rhetorical question.

I have attempted to get a couple of people under contract. So far, half have not responded and the other half have said No. Presumably the No people work for free as closeted Yes people and so I have deduced that 100% of my sample is fucked up. It is also possible my sample size is not sufficient to deduce a conclusion about the population. I am an optimist in the morning and a pessimist by night.

I digress.

The moment my first card-carrying volunteer wanted to leave the endeavor from the off-gas of a meeting I willy nilly invited them to, I learned: a) Building something that has never been done before requires that you leap entirely into a different brain space and be dogged about seeking and accepting all knowledge in and about the thing you want to build which is separate from b) what you actually employ–people, ideas, strategies, feelings, process–these are an entirely separate deduction, c) it is possible to hold both simultaneously and d) the visionary is probably the only holder because it is a far out way to be and e) to be within their right mind, the visionary understand this and protects people.

To shepherd a rad thing is to hold your vision up, invite people that believe in the same thing into it, and to take care of them both.

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Listening: Carry the Zero by Built to Spill Reading: Built to Spill’s Keep It Like A Secret is the sound of harmony between extremes

Dear Moby (The Bald Musician, Not The Whale)

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Dear Moby:

Coming to you from a small house in the woods on an island.  I do hope this reaches you well. I’m starting a music festival on the West Puget Sound in Washington State and I’m writing to let you know about it, get your advice, and understand what it would take to have you attend.

Seven Sounds is a lifestyle festival and the plan is to make it the best experience for everyone. We are a few people who believe in treating people with dignity. We love music and hate crowds. We believe online social platforms aren’t actually social and suck our time and energy to show-up to actually social spaces that we need to survive as social animals. We want to connect with people doing what they love because it inspires us to do more of what we love too. We want not to be for the money but be for the heart. We scored the venue of a lifetime for a festival in our backyard.

There aren’t any major festivals on this side of the sound. The festivals I’ve been to, while the artist performances on stage tend to be transcendent, the whole of the experience has been crap. Basic, basic things.

We pay money we don’t have to wait in line for many hours to get through the gates while the performances are in progress because the security detail is understaffed. Water is expensive even although hydration is a thing humans fundamentally need. Porta potties are gross and even if you may avoid using them, you’re not likely to avoid smelling them.

My thought is that this life is too short for crappy/expensive experiences. Why suffer? It takes very little to make events extraordinary and people need real connection now more than ever before.

I attended your festival Area:0ne in 2001, I bought the shirt and the albums, and I’m still talking about it. The live performances exceeded my expectations and excited me to create events that bring people together like your music and aesthetic does. Collaborating with other artists to create works entirely new and speaking out about what you believe in resonates with me especially too. Tell me more. 🙂

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to making something super for everyone and I appreciate any advice or participation you may provide to the process.

Kindest,

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