Last year I attended the Sisters Folk Festival for the first time. I was completely enthralled by the event. The fantastic performances, beautiful venues, friendly people, and wonderfully inclusive spirit all combined to convince me that this was the festival I needed to be attending. And I knew about the songwriting camp that precedes the festival every year, but as the mother of a school-age child, I never could justify leaving him during his first week of school.
Until this year, that is! My son is now in 7th grade, and he’s in his 2nd year at his school, and is very happy there. I knew my husband would be fine single parenting for the week (as he’s done many times when I’ve left for work or to visit my Dad), so I signed up for the camp back in December, and it did not disappoint! I arrived knowing one or two people, and I left with so many new friends, and having not only learned so much about writing, playing guitar and singing, but also having had a huge creative and emotional breakthrough.
My new album was not named World on Fire on a whim. The name really reflects both the literal smoke and flames that have affected me, and also the chaos (by way of illness, economic insecurity and more) that has impacted both me and my family over the past few years. One of the biggest realizations from my camp experience (and specifically, during a session by the wonderful Martyn Joseph), was that I’ve been stuffing my feelings down deep for the past few years. Yes, I have written some songs about them, but more often than not, I’ve been taking the pain and emotions and locking them in a little box so that I could go on with my day to day life. That’s just not healthy, and it doesn’t lead to creativity.
Over the past year or so, I’ve written only a handful of new songs. During the past week, I’ve already written or started 5 new songs, and finished two. I feel open and unlocked in a way that I haven’t felt for several years, and it feels good. I feel like I can breathe again.
Here’s a video for one of the new songs I wrote this week. I was invited to play a short set this coming Sunday for a Listen, Learn, Lead Town Hall sponsored by Nasty Women Get Shit Done PDX, and I think this will have to be one of the songs I play!