Kathy Kallick Band News
What an interesting time for reflection, renewal, and invention! It’s weird that we’re not getting to play any festivals or concerts, or be at music camps; we were looking forward to a wonderful summer filled with all that fun. Our band hasn’t even been able to get together since our
excellent little tour last January.
Thanks to the California Bluegrass Association not only for the terrific 5-part Turn Your Radio OnLINE series (see details of our participation below) but also for being so supportive of musicians scheduled to play the 2020 Father’s Day Festival. I miss everybody — all the conversations, jokes, and music — and look forward to when we’ll get past this pandemic and be able to play music together.
NOTES FROM THE BAND MEMBERS
KATHY KALLICK: I’ve been doing a lot of writing and reading and cookie baking (gluten-free peanut butter with tiny dark chocolate chips is always popular). Peter and I have had the chance to really get to know Finnegan, our adorable rescue pup who came to us in December, and who gets us out of the house several times each day. It turns out that physical (and social) distancing is his jam! I’ve learned that I am a very social musician, and I rely on the conversation with other musicians for inspiration. As soon as that looks possible, I’ll get myself in shape and rebuild my calluses.
ANNIE STANINEC: Spending time outdoors and having cooking adventures with food from our garden definitely helps to keep my spirits up! We really miss seeing people and playing music with our friends and family, but I’m so fortunate to be able to play music with John, and the Whiskey Deaf duet livestream shows have been a fun thing to look forward to every week.
GREG BOOTH: It’s been a good summer here in AK, and there is always lots to keep myself busy on Booth Mountain. My greenhouse has been more productive than ever as I improve the system, and we are enjoying amazing tomatoes and other crops not normally thought of as Alaskan-grown. I look forward to when sharing our music live is feasible again; until then, the live streams and YouTube videos that folks are doing are a terrific upside to our situation! Okay, better get back to the greenhouse … anybody want a cucumber?
TOM BEKENY: I haven’t gone so many months without a gig in at least 40 years! Given what the world is dealing with, my family and I have been incredibly lucky up this point. Besides continuing work as a psychologist and having more family time, I’ve had fun using the extra time to work on new music skills and to hone old ones. I hope you all are doing as well as possible and that you’re finding support in family, friends, and community.
CARY BLACK: “These times” are an ongoing opportunity for me to increase my appreciation of life’s mysterious unpredictability. I’m thankful for the difficult work being done by the medical and scientific community, and by those of us working for positive social change. And, of course, I’m looking forward to our culture’s safe return to live music! In the meantime, it’s good to be able to be at home in Sonoma County in the summer, for a change. Sara and I are enjoying our garden and our cats. We love hiking in the oaks and redwoods, in the hills and along the coast. Wishing you all the best!
Song Lyrics Matter
by Kathy Kallick
I’ve been thinking a lot about my role in supporting Black Lives Matter, and how to be an ally for Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color. There are great organizations I can contribute to, many powerful, brilliant books to read, and conversations to be had with family and friends. There are ways in which I have a deepened understanding of the tragic racist past of our country, and a commitment to do whatever I can to be part of change for the good. This is a wild and beautiful time in our country in many ways. There’s so much awakening, connection, and love in the courage of standing up and saying, “No. No more. There must be an end to the murder of Black people right now!”
When I bring all this back to my little world, and my role in it, I always come back to the music I have loved for the last 45 years. The music I have commited my adult life to playing, performing, creating, and yes, preserving. It’s not easy to explain to some why the music of southern rural white men rocked my world. But it did, it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. That said, it wasn’t always saying things that fit me, or resonated for me, and that’s why I have written so much of the music I play.
Over the last few years, I have become increasingly and acutely aware of the racist roots of much of this music. It’s become untenable for me. I know most of the songs with racist lyrics were cleaned up before I heard and learned them, and I was swept away by the beauty of the melodies as well as the sanitized stories. But these songs have been used in racist settings, and to further the goals of white supremacy in ways that I can no longer tolerate.
I’ll just say it plainly.
There were no happy enslaved Africans. It never happened even once. And to sing songs that present this scenario is harmful. So, that challenges a number of songs and song sources I have loved but was too naive, or ignorant, to see the deeper truth of these songs. I will not sing the songs that tell the false story of happy slaves. There are tunes, instrumentals, that possibly predate their racist associations. But once the racist lyrics were applied to those melodies, they stuck.
I don’t wanna play those tunes.
Also, if I’m ever going to sing a song that comes from black musicians, or enslaved Africans, I will tell that history and give credit.
Will this limit the songs I can sing? I dunno, maybe, but there are thousands of songs in the world, and I’m still writing my own songs, so I feel there are ample choices of songs that will be moving, beautiful, entertaining, etc. This is a completely personal choice, and nothing I would seek to impose on anybody else. We all have to sing the songs that resonate for us, that make us feel the things we want to feel. If I’m gonna ever be able to sing a song from my heart, I have to believe in the lyrics. I may find a song that I’ve sung for years is no longer a good fit. I can choose to stop singing that song while never regretting the many times I’ve loved singing it in the past. Change happens in steps, and sometimes that happens at a glacial pace.
I want to be part of change for the better.
I invite anybody and everybody to consider choices of songs, think about the context and the content of each song, the potential for harm in a song, and sing the ones that feel like the thing you want to say. Say to the people around you and the greater world outside you. Songs that say the things you believe in and want to convey. Sing the songs that fit your conscience, and sing from your heart. I’m excited to come back to music with a sense of purpose and intent in every note and lyric!