The year 2001, the first bonafide year of the 21st century, and a new millennium (assuming our modern solar Julian calendars are on the mark, which they likely aren’t), is now history. What can one call it to summarize all that happened in 2001? It was the year of September 11, the year of Jason Webley, and the year of the birth of Kari’s Lair. It was also the year that I gave up looking for jobs and began pursuing a living at my true work. The Lair has helped me with this (along with an increased knowledge of website building, HTML code, e-commerce, freelance writing and the Internet in general). Jason has inspired me by pursuing an authentic life as a musician himself, thereby showing me new vistas of possibility. Who knows, maybe even a new world engendered by 9-11 will help me build a new life informed by my true work. Themestream.com went bankrupt and shut down altogether on April 13, 2001, but I salvaged clips of my articles the night before, and now most of these articles are seeking new freelance homes. A couple of them have been republished on their own LairPages.
As for the music scene, I’m still not working yet in concert promotion full-time, though Riz and I have embarked on the odd musical project from time to time, including our long-awaited reunion with Rahat Ali Khan in July. This was the first I’d seen of Rahat since the two of us climbed out on the Paramount Theater’s 4th floor fire escape after Nusrat’s last concert here in 1996. After a stellar performance from Rahat and party (Rahat, at age 28, now leads the group, with slightly different personnel, and his own small contingent of pupil singers), I duly admonished him not to wait five more years before treating us to his presence and music again. World music in the United States no doubt has suffered tremendously in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, as Muslims and Middle Eastern cultures and peoples have been scapegoated and held under suspicion, and American nationalism has been on the increase, with its strange presumption that American culture owes nothing to cultures outside our own society. More musical events—concerts, festivals, and other opportunities for cultural exchange among Americans and people from across the world—are needed now more than ever to counter these tendencies of isolationism and cultural chauvinism. Exposure to music from across Asia, North Africa and the Middle East (especially from Islamic and Sufi cultures) is especially needed at this time to defuse irrational fears and suspicions. There is much we can do in the Northwest region to promote such cultural exchanges. To be a center of cultural and musical exchange for peoples from every part of our planet is a large part of what America is all about, and this needs to be augmented now as never before. Increased networking, online contact, personal exchanges with amateurs and professionals with an interest in International Folk/World music are all critically important right now. To work in this field now means swimming against a nationalistic tide, but swim we must, figuratively speaking, to turn the tide away from war and toward bridge-building across the world. “Together Across the World” is the Lair’s slogan these days, adopted as an alternative to the ubiquitous “God Bless America.” Not that God shouldn’t bless America, mind you, but S/he should also be petitioned to bless Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ireland, Japan, Algeria, Jamaica, and everywhere else, while S/he’s at it—especially for the sake of the world’s treasury of music, both traditional and contemporary.
How about the local music scene? I’m still very much into Celtic music of all kinds, but I am seeking a new Irish session spot right now, as Conor Byrne’s pub came under new management a while back, and replaced the Sunday night sessions with a Tuesday night open mic. Jason Webley jolted me out of depression when he resurfaced in May after his legendary “death” on Halloween 2000, and has also introduced me to the local all-ages music scene, alternative and independent music and theater, and the fascinating concept of “Guerrilla Concerts”, in which I participated a number of times during the summer. World music needs some working on, as mentioned above. I would like to resume study of tabla one of these days (if Tor ever gets my tabla melody drum fixed up); Tor himself is performing but not teaching at the moment, and I would like to talk drums with him more often than I have over the past couple of years. I have resumed playing at Pike Place Market and some open mics, but I need much more intensive and extensive open mic and busking experience. I still struggle with fear of exposure, and perhaps a degree of stage fright, besides struggling to find supporters and others who believe in me and what I’m doing and desire to do. I just finished the short story regarding this issue, entitled (appropriately enough) “Don’t Know What to Tell You.” All the characters (except for the central character, Freyja, who is basically me under an assumed name) are fictitious; however, the story is set in contemporary Seattle, and it names places such as the Space Needle and the Tractor Tavern, and organizations such as Northwest Folklife and the Seattle Folklore Society, by name, and for good reason, which I won’t go into here.
Sometimes I still struggle with depression, dealing with Nusrat’s crossing over, and a chronic shortage of funds, as well as looking for ways to do something about all three. Money is definitely needed to lift my mood, but so are Nusrat’s presence and music, and the dissemination of my own music, art and writing. The original songs “My Only Lamb” and “Come In From the Cold” deal with the situation with Nusrat, and are presented as a kind of wrongful-death lawsuit set to music. This unfinished business needs to be resolved, and the cosmic disjunction caused by Nusrat’s passing needs to be fully corrected and healed; giving up on the stolen dreams is not an option here. Likewise, to get my music, writing and other creative projects out into the world does not require therapy or excessive rumination; the only thing that seems to work on my mental blocks is simply to get up, get out, put one foot in front of the other, and do whatever it is I desire to do. Correcting cosmic disjunctions and becoming known in the arts simply takes doing them, without worrying about anyone’s approval or the lack thereof.
So, what have I done in the way of getting things out there? As mentioned before, I am doing more outdoor performing, but I need more venues in which to do so besides the Market, since they don’t allow drumming down there, and I want to perform with the bodhran in all its various guises. Check out Broadway, the U-District, UW bookstores, Westlake Plaza, and the Seattle Center, among other places. Keep track of neighborhood markets and street fairs, and play at all of them. I am also playing more open mics these days, but there are many venues I haven’t yet visited, and I need to find the best ones for acoustic performance, that are not too smoky to boot. Dust and smoke do nasty things to my throat and vocal cords. I need to work on my performance style, the way I connect with listeners, and the way the songs speak for themselves and guide my interpretation of them. Jason, Nusrat and Liam Clancy are my primary role models in performance these days, and I want to see more of all three of them (a tall order, indeed). Connection with other musicians and music crowds is also important, but I need to get the message out that I am serious about doing better performance, and doing my own recording and MP3 production as well. I need money to liquidate my remaining debts and to finance recording and performance projects, and I need all the help I can get to find out where and how to obtain such funding. Personal, written and online contact with all the crowds, bands, promoters, organizations I can find on these issues is of key importance. I still want to promote folk and world music throughout this region, but I have decided to focus on my own music first for the time being. My young website, Kari’s Lair, and my online persona, known as “The LairMistress”, can be and have been very helpful in this area; the LairMistress, existing only online as she does, is a heck of a lot better at shameless self-promotion than I am! The LairLinks Complex that I have been working on includes links to a lot of organizations, people and online communities that may be helpful in steering me toward a stronger financial footing. Get posts online and in hard copy explaining your needs and asking for help and advice on getting them met.
What other things have gotten moving, after a long depression-related hiatus? Well, there’s the Lair, with the published writings therein, that is being splashed all over the Net, though the Lair is not an extraordinarily high-traffic site so far (2,345 hits to date, in its first nine months or so). I also have my Epinions pages still up, though I haven’t written any new Epinions in quite a while; I have links to all the pages in various parts of the Lair. Riane Eisler just paid a visit to Seattle a week or so ago, promoting a new book; I talked with her a while, and gave her the link to the current location of “Genesis: Notes for Research.” I emailed it to her office at the Center for Partnership Studies quite a while ago, but I haven’t heard if she ever received it. Moreover, I have gotten into a sort of e-commerce, since Shannon Kringen introduced me to her Cafepress e-Stores, and I got bitten by a new bug and set up a few of my own (four to date). This required me to learn how to scan images (with the help of CorelScan 7.0 programming), since I don’t have a digital camera yet. This provided a new use for old photos from my Irish Studies experience, as well as the opportunity to learn to use Photoshop to create and enhance images to be used in the e-stores. I also know enough HTML code by now to be able to make most aspects of a normal website (including tables, photo albums and column text) look as I want them to look. I haven’t earned tons of commissions on the e-stores yet, but I like the way the products look with my original images. I plan to order a teeshirt or two myself as soon as I can afford to; wearing your own products is a cheap and easy way to promote them. The stores are now being promoted via online directory/search engine submission, links and hyperlinks, and hard copy flyers plastered around Seattle. More such activity is needed and will follow.
Likewise, I have in the past expressed an interest in making and selling original craft items. New ceramic and beadwork ideas are now in the works. Direct marketing is needed, but so is e-commerce and other forms of online marketing and promotion, for my music, crafts and writing. Money-making opportunities abound, if I can keep my energy levels up and keep creating. Riz and I now have our own (separate) accounts on eBay.com; I am administering both of them. We just tried (unsuccessfully, so far) to sell some very valuable antique Indian jewelry that Riz acquired from somebody a while back; we may try selling some less expensive items in our next listing. I myself am making three new Sculpey ceramic ornaments with Neolithic-themed motifs which I hope to list once they’re finished and scanned. Ditto with some beadwork ideas that I need to purchase new materials for. Get up, get out and do it!
So, what in particular still needs to be done? Get cracking on the following:
- Find funding for debt liquidation and recording projects.
- Finish the LairLinks Complex (well, at least make progress on it).
- Finish the short story, “Why Must My City Be Burned?”
- Finish the long poem, “Anamchara” (part of The Nuallain Verses).
- Write more Epinions when you have time.
- Practice voice and instruments, get new strings on the fiddle, find and occupy session spots, and work on performance style and personas.
- Perform inside and out with the focus on getting paid gigs.
- Publish songbook.
- Publish short stories and poems, possibly in e-book form.
- Make MP3’s of old demo, and look at making new CD or at least new and improved studio demo, also to be made into MP3’s. Establish account with MP3.com (preferably the paying type).
- Get a press kit together.
- Travel more to out-of-town open mic and club venues.
- In music promotion, time to promote yourself first. Work on promoting others’ music too, but preferably in productions where you are also actively involved.
- Look for any possible performing opportunities: Celtic, songwriting, Indian, worldbeat percussion, ecumenical performances, classical, folk, alternative/independent ensembles.
- Events of interest: street fairs, festivals, drum circles, healing drumming circles, neighborhood markets, weddings, renaissance fairs, independent theater productions, fringe festivals.
- Market crafts on eBay, online craft malls, on the Lair, in eStores (Cafepress and/or independent), and local shops and galleries that buy local work.
- Everyone you know should know what you’re out to accomplish. If they “don’t know what to tell you”, ask them to direct you to someone who does.
- Finish all projects started in the past year. Refer to questions and issues raised on the hardcopy version of Goal Scenario 2001.
- Get back everything you lost, get restored all that was taken.
Return to the Home Lair.