Y2K was an interesting year, and a bit of a jumpstart from creative inertia, even as depression has threatened to shut me down on more than one occasion. In part, it was the Year of Themestream, as I fulfilled the goals of putting "Genesis: Notes for Research", "A Renewed Society", and numerous other articles out there on the Internet for widespread consumption, while getting paid for hits on each of 20 or so articles that I submitted to this site. Unfortunately, the folks who run Themestream had trouble dealing with their contributors' success, announcing in late February, with virtually no advance warning, that payment would be made only for hits by registered users of the Themestream site (and who wants to register at sites and get emailed a lot of junk to their inbox much of the time, anyway?), and the per-article earnings cap was sliced down to $150.00.
Needless to say, the contributors were up in arms, and rightly so. Themestream definitely suffered a loss of goodwill (a critically important business commodity) and reputation among Internet-based freelance authors. But still, my writing was out there, each article with its own URL! But alas, even with this truncated payment system, Themestream could not make a go of it. On April 12, we the contributors were given 24 hours to copy or print out our articles before the site officially closed down on Good Friday, April 13, 2001. So now, the onus is on me to remarket a collection of previously published articles, poems and essays the best I can among highly competitive paying and nonpaying freelance writers' markets.
The music scene is in much more critical shape right now. Much of the time, I don't have the money even to go out to Irish sessions, and, for some time, depression squelched much of my desire even to listen to folk and world music on the radio. This had to stop ASAP. I need money in my pocket; apparently my brain associates money with power, vitality, health and inner strength. Depression in my case needs cash and fulfillment of goals for treatment, as well the standard medication route. In 2000, I did virtually nothing in the way of attending Irish sessions or open mikes, or even much in the way of collecting new music or attending others' concerts. I did volunteer at the summer festivals as usual; and as usual, nobody seemed to "know what to tell me" in the way of guidance to increase my visibility as a performer, songwriter, story writer or concert promoter. My satirical short story on that issue ("Don't Know What to Tell You") is now underway. Riz and I did host Rizwan and Muazzam's group again for a long weekend in August, shortly before I became homeless for the month of September (and that's a whole 'nother story).
My primary shutdown factor continues to be the loss of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in my musical life, and the lack of response from our Higher Power as to how this loss can be remedied. This tends to result in a long-running loss of interest in musical and other pleasurable activities--a classic symptom of clinical depression. How to get Nusrat back? That's a mighty good question. Folks don't come back across the Divide with visible physical bodies too often, but I would still appreciate a kind of selective clairvoyance/clairaudience in order to interact with him.
However, in mid-May of this year, a new muse appeared in my life in the person of Jason Webley. Something about him and his music has shaken me out of the depressive doldrums. I went to see him perform in the Seafirst parking garage during the University District Street Fair the weekend before the Northwest Folklife Festival, and saw several of his famously impromptu performances with guitar, accordion and new Magic Theater. When I came out of one of these shows, I suddenly realized that I no longer felt depressed. Jason the Sacred Clown, the Holy Fool, the Accordion Guy persona or whatever, somehow pulled off some serious healing magic on me. Not long afterwards, I began going to Irish sessions again, finished a new song for the first time in more than a year, and suddenly felt good about waking up in the morning. I have been railing for years at God, asking and often demanding that my dead muse, Nusrat, come back from the dead. And what happened? I got introduced to a young independent musician who allegedly died and rose again, Christ-like almost. Something very ironic and even corny in such circumstances. But hey, if it works, don't knock it! Apparently a bit of creative wackiness is just what I need in my life right now, and I am highly grateful to Jason for bringing me what I needed most. I would like to work with him musically in a serious way in the near future. As to other goals generally...
I want to revive interest in world music in Seattle, to produce concerts and help produce festivals in the Puget Sound area. I want to be connected to international promoters of world music, in order to bring international artists to North America and to bring North American musicians to the visitors' countries of origin, laws and political situations permitting. This most likely will require the formation of a small to medium-sized organization, and the recruitment of underwriters and development of fundraising events to finance world music cultural exchange projects. The Indian music scene in Seattle is reasonably healthy, considering the small audience size relative to Californian and East Coast cities (and now, increasingly, urban Texas), but I also want to see more Qawwali and other Sufi artists appearing here. Working through festivals seems to be a viable option, if I can sign on as a regular employee of festival organizations, or as a publicity/marketing consultant to multiple festival organizations. I may also need to work independently as a consultant, and frame my aspirations in terms of bringing in individual acts (aside from just "promoting world music", which sounds a bit too vague and broad). In any case, do not listen to people who are discouraging, and get the discouraging voices out of your own head. Certain people have the agenda to discourage me from anything I want to do and get me to resign myself to doing any old thing that will put $100K in savings in 10-12 years. Keep dreaming big, and fuck the naysayers! After all, if I can't succeed at the stuff I want to do, how the hell am I going to succeed at stuff I don't give a shit about? I need to get online and stay there until I can generate widespread interest in such a project. Perhaps I can better get to know the Direct Action Network, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Voices in the Wilderness, Reclaiming, Interfaith Alliance, World Percussion Society, World Music Institute, Folk Alliance, Ruckus Society, Independent Media, whatever. Part of this project is promoting global peace and community-based trade through cultural exchange. More direct email communication with individual acts, fans and acquaintances outside this area is also very important.
I am also out to work with national and international artists as a fellow musician, composer, songwriter, instrumentalist, vocalist and recording artist. Full recovery from depression is critically important here. I now have my own databases on Excel for clubs in which to perform in solo/group gigs and open mikes. I will deliver demos to all clubs listed, and hope to prepare another demo in 2001, as soon as it can be arranged. Direct communication with folk and world music societies will be required, explaining the issue of depression/shutdown and requesting help in getting jumpstarted all over again in performing. Get online with these ideas as well. Post flyers in the usual places with plans in detail, and advertise in the weeklies. Say what you are looking for, and what you yourself can contribute. I did make ads in the weeklies last year, and got better than expected responses, but was not well enough to interact properly with more than a few folks who responded. I must have looked like a major flake. This just points up a need to recover my full health and energy level as soon as possible, which, again, will require income, medical attention and the proper muse/inspiration. I want to record all originals on home tapes and Finale 98 files. I also need more practice on fiddle, guitar, tablas, bodhrán and voice; and to decide whether to emphasize Celtic music, originals, joikhs, American, world beat percussion, Indian/Pakistani, or a combination of the above. Investigate performance opportunities for Middle Eastern percussion, Celtic bands, solo vocal gigs, choral or other group vocal events, alternative acoustic/electric ensembles involving trance vocals, violin, percussion, other world beat drum ensembles, ecumenical musical performances, African/Celtic/Middle Eastern performances needing nylon string guitar; orchestral or chamber ensembles currently holding auditions; medieval/ renaissance/ baroque events, music needed for weddings or other occasions. Again, don't share this with anyone aiming to turn you into Dilbert.
In writing projects, Themestream articles helped make some major changes in my life as far as getting my articles out into the world. I now know just enough HTML code to create links to my articles all over the web, wherever they're allowed, anyway, and I submitted the articles hither and yon and got lots of junk email as a side effect of this (including porno stuff!!). Riane Eisler got emailed a copy of my Genesis article, but I haven't heard back from her yet. I am laboriously retyping and final-editing "The Young Clan Mother's Tale" on the Agape Chapel hard drive, and moving copies onto disks as well. A fellow Mary Mackey fan has requested it; hope to finish it soon. Keep researching Genesis and reading in preparation for paradigm shifts, WTO events and possible emergencies (all the more likely under Dubya's administration…yukk). Keep in touch with Sacred Source, Reclaiming and the Gimbutas website. Find all the info about emailing articles, song lyrics, poems and polemics to publishers, webrings, self-publishing resources etc.
I still want my radio show on KBCS-FM, and I need to solicit funds to pay for the course in the next few quarters. Nobody doing shows seems to be interested in helping me get started, so it'll have to be via Basic Broadcasting. Make proposal to KBCS management now, and see if you can goad them into sponsoring your tuition or getting you a scholarship. Get to know the new management at KBCS and ask to audit the course if money is not available (Why do I keep switching between first and second person here? Beats me).
I want to see if I can make sales of ceramic crafts and beadwork. Ask Paula and anyone else you can find about selling crafts at Pike Place Market and other craft venues. Check out Sound City Beads, Bead Bazaar, the Monsoon Shop and La Tienda, as well as (possibly) Alhambra and Ten Thousand Villages. Anyone who buys local and international crafts. Call University District Street Fair and Vendor services at Northwest Folklife. Again, don't cast pearls before swine. Avoid telling unsupportive people about these plans; they'll just tell you that you can't possibly succeed at this, either. Get to know more styles of beadwork besides necklaces and earrings.
On the promotional front, working with promotional firms such as Tasty Shows and Cloud 9 is also a viable option, but I want to be one of those conceiving of events and contributing ideas. I'm not out to become a ticket seller. CSC, as it turned out, has production/promotional contacts (especially with the Seattle Center), but they weren't much help in getting into promotion. About the best they could do for me was free Sonics games and festival admissions. Seattle Center Productions has a new performance program going on, so I've heard, so naturally I will have to find out more about this and keep in touch with them. I will have to brush up on my skills in mail merge, mass mailings, press releases and contact of local press and radio stations. I will need tutorials in Access, PowerPoint and html. I will also need to network with international festivals and promoters, and I may need further volunteer production experience. Include promotion firms in your discussion of cultural exchange projects and producing/ promoting folk and world music acts. All interviews with temp agencies and job placement agencies must have this line of work as the ideal. Likewise interviews with advertising firms; talk in terms of them working with you, not you working for them. You are the producer, not the word processor.