Take Me to Art 5/9/19: Mavis and Friends (Mavis Staples’ 80th Birthday Show!)

Mavis Staples, Valerie June, and her wonderful band!  (As always, not-great concert photo by yours truly.)

After we saw Amazing Grace, we decided we’d be total fools if we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to see national treasure, living history, wildly talented musician Mavis Staples perform live for her 80th birthday at the Apollo Theatre. And we weren’t disappointed, of course; in addition to Mavis herself, she was joined by a coterie of other terrific musicians (like Valerie June in that fabulous lime-green number at left).  And it was more than a show; in both the songs and the stories Mavis shared, the evening was a testament to the power of music to change hearts, sustain social movements, and bring meaning and purpose to life over eras and generations.

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Take Me to Art 3/21/19: Hozier in Orlando

Hozier performs in Orlando, 3/21/19.  I don’t take great photos during shows, but I thought this one was aight.

This __________ will change your life!

Will it, though?  Probably not.  At least not the way you think.  Change is hard and slow, and it usually isn’t a single process.  To really change your life, you need to rewrite your programming, and if you operate on Shame.0 (there are no other versions; Shame.0 is a primitive, miserable program upon which improvement is not possible), coming out about who you really are and what matters to you is especially difficult.  But I’m becoming convinced that it’s the only real project, I who do love a good project, at the same time that it’s dawning on me what a long project it has been and will continue to be.

This (***waves hand vaguely***) is part of the project.  About a year ago, I realized I couldn’t last much longer pretending I didn’t write, pretending it wasn’t still so important to me.  I couldn’t let my words sit unread and unremembered in my journal anymore.  I had to try to put them out in the world.  I prayed about it (and still do); I read The Artist’s Way and started doing morning pages; I took time off from work specifically to finish a book I started writing in 2013; I finished a 50k first draft of a new book during NaNoWriMo; I asked Dakota to help me set up the domain name he bought for me a few years ago so I could have a website.  And when I wondered how in God’s name I could get into the spirit of publishing something cohesive with regularity and rhythm and accountability, I figured I could start blogging about church (and cheekily name my church posts after a Hozier song fairly critical of organized religion), since I had been taking notes on church services for years, and share poems from time to time.  At the beginning of the year I also started to make a concerted effort to write about art.  And here it is: an occasionally awkward project, still a fairly small project with a fairly small audience (thanks everyone), but a project nonetheless.

So: I’m not going to tell you that the Hozier show in Orlando changed my life.  And I’m not going to write about it like a music journalist; this isn’t a “review” of the show, per se.  But it still felt like a cairn along the path of change that told me I was going the right way.

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