New Music Coming

I have been so busy with writing in the past year that music took a back seat in many ways. It is time to get back into creating new music as well as keeping up with the old. Many of my readers were after me to begin the sequel to my novel. My mind wanted to complete my short story collection. My muse, however, has other ideas and they are all musical!

 

Dan Shepherd and Robin play guitar for congregational sing-a-long. Photo by Pan McCaslin

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have always loved church music. We just completed a wonderful concert at Holy Cross where we also sang with Banner Elk Presbyterian’s Choir. I hope to have a link later this week on Robin’s Radio for you to hear the concert if you like sacred music. Elaine Kallested*, our choir director, has given me a chance to play on an anthem and play with the congregational sing-a-long. Dan, the guitarist who plays with me here, was nice enough to also allow me to play with the Holy Smokes group and sing a few harmonies.  I loved that we sang some songs I grew up singing with my Whitley family.

 

It was great to be able to play my guitar again. I’ve not played as much as I want since moving here. It also makes me want to play and sing more. I will be playing two solo pieces for worship on June 17th if you are in the area. My hope is also to begin singing in Beech Mountain and Banner Elk

Singing jazz and blues at It’s By Nature Gallery in Sylva, 2012.

when I find the right venues. As I practice, I miss playing with my friend David Brewin and The Shepherd’s String Choir. The difference playing with another artist or a band is that the performance pressure is eased with other musicians. I am still new to the area though.

 

I was blessed to have the opportunity to sing at an event sponsored by the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation. My realtor, Irene Sawyer, helped me find a great place to live AND she gave me the opportunity to sing for an appreciation dinner for patients and their caregivers. The event was held at The Chetola Resort lake area in Blowing Rock and will be held again in the fall. I’m going to be able to sing there again, but my hope is that I can find other ways to sing in this area.

 

For those of you who haven’t heard my music yet, let me tell you a little bit. Though my formal training was in voice (classical), I play guitar and sing a variety of music. These days, I usually only get to sing classical music with the church choir. My preferred genres to sing at gigs are folk, pop, blues, and jazz. You can hear a bit of my original music too. Though songwriting is not my strength, I have written some songs. Ordinary Miracles was my first CD and it came out in 2015 after being awarded an artist’s grant from Jackson County’s Arts Council. The CD has a folksy feel which was my goal.

The next CD I would like to put together is one of the English Country Dance Tunes that David Brewin and I played together. There are not many of these songs recorded. They are rewarding to play and relaxing to listen to. You can hear them and buy them online at J. Robin Whitley’s CD Baby site. Since I no longer live in the same town as David, it may be a while before we can get more of the tunes recorded. He is also back working at his blacksmithing job. As he often says, “blacksmithing pays more than music”. While that’s true, I certainly hope that David finds it worthwhile to record a few more pieces. His musician interpretation and skill as a lead guitarist is a gift to all who listen.

 

 

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*Elaine Kallestad is an Organist and Choir Director based in Boone, NC. Serving as a musician at Holy Cross Episcopal Church for 11 years, her church music career spans more than three decades.  She has worked in both large and small church parishes in Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Freiburg, Germany.  Her work has also been ecumenical as she served in many different denominations, including Episcopal, ELCA Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, and Evangelical.  Her studies include the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (Organ Performance) from The University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Music degree (Organ Performance/Church Music) from University of North Texas, and additional studies in Organ and Musicology from Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany.

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Test for blog

Hi everyone,

Bear with me as I try to find a way to put this blog on a separate page. It’s one of those days where I’m not awake and looks like wakefulness ain’t happening.

In the meantime, listen to this sweet song. Lyrics listed below.

 

God bless the tenderhearted
Who will love us face to face
Untempered and unguarded
They see through our mistakes
They have lost and been broken
More than we will ever know
But it’s the tenderhearted
Who let life for the overflow

[Verse 1]
All the pain a world can bring
Bruises more than we see
I couldn’t take another hit
Lights turned off inside of me

[Verse 2]
So I built a wall around my heart
Keep it in to keep it out
And nothing, when surrounded
Survives but fear and doubt
[Chorus]
God bless the tenderhearted
Who will love us face to face
And share the love and kindness
They were given on the way
They have lost and been broken
More than we will ever know
But it’s the tenderhearted
Who let life for the overflow
Yes, it’s the tenderhearted who let life overflow

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Morning Errands

Morning errands seem never-ending. Today, we went towards Bryson City instead of Sylva. We stopped at the coffee shop to ask if Bryson City has a pet store. Of course, I stopped in the coffee shop to ask. I could search GPS, but people have better answers about local places. Besides, I am still training Birdie about being a polite canine in public places. I’ve discovered she REALLY likes people. There were no qualms about tying her to a tree on the porch while I asked for directions and a coffee. She wouldn’t try to escape. I wasn’t in the shop long before she started barking. The bark was the one that meant, “Why aren’t those people petting me?” The bark is happy but shrill. It’s just one decibel lower than the scream bark which is her Squirrel bark.
I go outside to keep her quiet. One of the employees is talking to her trying to assure her. I apologize to her and the one waiting on me. The girl says there are children that make more noise than any dogs. I get that. Oh, and I neglected to mention, there is also a train across the street. A bell clangs and a steam engine hisses to remind me. When I stoop to get Birdie’s leash, I see what appears to be a shiny rhinestone or crystal near the leash. Like a crow enthralled with shiny objects I reach to pick it up.

It melts on my fingertips because it was a drop of pine sap rather than something solid. I’m disgusted by the feel of the slimy sap and annoyed because I know pine sap can stay on one’s skin for days. Then, as I try to rub the sap off of my fingers, there’s the wonderful smell of pine. The sap comes off easier and I see that the tree itself is a different species of tree, though I can’t identify it.

Birdie hoping for a bite of my bagel.
A nice tourist comes up and pets Birdie. I watch the other tourists looking at the train and taking pictures. Several squeaky cars drive by because the coffee shop, Mountain Perks, is near the stop light. A service dog comes by and Birdie is offended that he didn’t even see her. She doesn’t understand that the german shepherd is working. At least she doesn’t bark at it. Birdie does turn to me with a questioning look. A woman in the group smiles at Birdie as though she understands the small dog’s confusion.
There’s not particular reason for this writing. It is merely a beautiful day in the mountains where pine sap becomes diamond and the light coming through the forest dances. People smile at each other. A train conductor waves to a woman walking across the tracks with a yellow Dollar General bag in hand. A car drives by and someone is laughing. It’s a good day to be alive.
 
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Happenings in my Writing

Fiddle GuitarsThis was supposed to be a photo of my puppy. I clearly clicked on the incorrect icon. Web design and writing blogs takes a lot of time. So does writing books. I’m excited to say however that my muse has been busy!

Last year, I came out with my first CD, Ordinary Miracles. It was a dream come true. I may have rushed it more than needed. The death of my dad at the beginning of the year muddled my thinking in unanticipated ways. I wanted him to be able to hear it, but at least he knew that I had won an artist’s grant to get it completed. Dad was the one who first helped me start guitar.

 

I’m not sure where my love of writing comes from, although I know another cousin who loves to write poetry as much as I do. I recently completed my first novel and excited about it truthfully. It’s only taken me twenty years to get it finished. My characters are as stubborn as I am. When first starting it, I had a love story in mind. You know the type, typical girl meets girl and life ends happily ever after. Ha! If only that were the truth of it all. Then a character took over my book. I mean really, who

CC0 Public Domain Pixabay
CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay

knew that could happen. The characters and I kept arguing about how to proceed until finally all of them went on strike. The characters wouldn’t talk to me until after I completed the memoir and the poetry. Okay, so I decided to do it THEIR way! It’s a pretty neat story that will be told. I have two more readers’ edits to complete and then it’s off to the publisher.

Of course, the main character is not as young as once anticipated. There are no sexy scenes because, well…it just didn’t happen. The one place I had tried to make something happen seemed forced. That’s just not right to do that. Who wants to put in gratuitous sex anyway. I always want to write about love and how we can be better humans together. I’m hoping that happens in my new book. Check back here to see when you can get your own copy.

If you’ve been to my site, you have noticed that I’m also working on creating a place about music. I’m calling it Robin’s Radio.

Learn Guitar
Learn Guitar

When I get finished creating Robin’s Radio, it will be a place to learn about music and hear tunes that make you happy. Support women musicians. That’s the other thing I hope my new “station” (I use the term loosely) will foster, love of women’s music. Life is too short not to hear women singing about other women.

Creativity is an energy that gets me moving. Whenever and wherever creativity is involved, is the place where I want to be. It’s exciting to be able to focus more on my art, music, and writing now that I’m older. A life lived creatively is the only life I’ve ever wanted. How amazing that it’s now MY LIFE! Because I also support creativity in your life, here’s a cool article I’m going to read when I finish this blog: How to Unleash The Great Perfection of Creativity by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

 

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
― Rumi

 

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Finding Joy

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This Sunday, I will be playing music and telling stories with my good friend, David Brewin. We will be playing at the UUF in Franklin North Carolina. They’re a great fellowship full of love, compassion, and welcome. The last time David and I were there, we talked about death. Not a cheery topic, but something we all have to face at some time. As they say in one of the shows I like to watch on Netflix, “…nobody gets out alive.” That being said, it doesn’t mean we always have to focus on the sadness in life. Because of the seriousness of the last event, we decided that we would present something more joyful. As a result, we talk will be on music and finding joy in life.

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Finding joy in life may seem like an odd topic after recent events in Orlando. However, life does go on while we work for the good of others. Even when life is difficult we must also work for our own good. If we don’t find the joy in every day life, it is hard to carry on even if we are working for issues of justice. I do want to say however, that Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Joy is being able to see the beauty in the ordinary. Joy may not bring happy feelings to us, but it does bring us to the hope we need to carry on.

 

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Joy can be as simple as a flower blooming in your garden. Joy can be as simple as a stranger’s smile that catches you off guard. Joy can be a song on the radio, a special word from a friend, a note or letter in your physical mailbox. Having time to read brings me joy. Sitting on the Couch with my wife and kids brings me joy. Silence always fills my heart to overflowing.

Taking time to notice joy, to listen and remember the things or people that matter to you is a vital way of energizing goodness in yourself and the world. What is it that brings you joy?
________________________________________________ Continue reading Finding Joy

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