Musical and Personal News
WEBSITE NEWS UPDATE OCTOBER 2012
It has been a long time since we sent you news. The biggest change in our lives since we last wrote has been the addition of our beautiful grandbaby, Vivian Jo McGloin-King .
Our annual local Duopalooza concerts are flourishing. 2011 featured Ben Tousely and Sue Kranz
& in 2012 our duo partners were the fabulous Rebel Voices.
For 2013 we’re thrilled to be hosting & performing with Magpie.
We love this tradition of forming a quartet with our favorite duos and raising funds to support activist groups in our area.
We organized a joint concert with British songwriter legend Leon Rosselson, on his last North American tour, and had a few days to visit as well.
Did we mention we had a new granddaughter?
January of 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the Bread and Roses Strike led by immigrant workers in Lawrence MA. We put together an hour long performance piece called “Occupy Lawrence: 1912,” which we performed at the national Bread and Roses Centennial Symposium in Lawrence in April, as well as other venues around the country. We’d like to find more opportunities to share our expanding repertoire of historical performance pieces. It’s a creative way to share progressive history through images, dramatic readings and songs. We love doing these hour long shows, and are eager to share them in classrooms, museums, labor conferences, public libraries, community centers, senior centers and progressive gatherings. Please contact us if you’re interested in bringing us to your area.
Or perhaps you would like us to bring our new granddaughter to your area!
We’re working on a songbook update that will include all of original songs and parodies that Charlie has written since 1997, when the Two Good Arms songbook came out. We expect that songbook to be out by the end of 2012.
Every November one or both of us head down the east coast with concert stops along the way to sing at the School of Americas Watch vigil (www.soaw.org) in southern GA
Our year will end up with our annual holiday concert at Haley House in Boston with an exciting mystery guest, and Charlie and Rick Burkhardt will offer another special show at the Peoples Voice Café in New York City.
See our calendar for upcoming events
We’ve also put together a list of songs for a new CD, and expect to start work on that in the early winter. We’ll keep you posted about its progress. Also about our slightly punky and worldly wise granddaughter, Viviana Jo!
Up Close and Personal News
I begin with what may be news to some of you, and this is not the ideal way to share it, so I apologize for that. In June I was diagnosed with bile duct cancer, I had major surgery in July,
and spent several months recovering. I’m now engaged in a multi-faceted treatment plan to try to prevent a recurrence. You can read about the entire journey here http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/karenbrandow. This diagnosis put our fall touring plans on hold and my future possibilities of performing were unclear. As of this writing, I’m feeling fine, and am looking forward to touring with Charlie through March 2013. After that, I’ll spend more time at home and will do support work for our music biz. I have a pretty balanced life that includes many healthy practices, so my primary task these days is to tweak that life so that it best supports my continued health and healing.
I’ve been involved in two organizing efforts recently. One was the formation of a social justice Spanish interpreters’ cooperative to serve progressive groups in our local community. The other was to revive a local chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Both have been going great.
I paid another visit to Omar Blanco who is on death row in Florida. He lost two major appeals, and now has one step to go in the appeals process before being given an execution date. I’ll be visiting him again the first weekend of December.
For quite a while I’ve wanted to travel south to assist in hurricane/tornado relief efforts with the Latino community. Then a tornado came to us and impacted the city of Springfield, MA. I spent several days and nights at one of the shelters, doing Spanish interpreting for the Latino victims so they could access the services offered. It was great to be able to offer something concrete to the folks who were affected by that disaster.
I had the honor of doing Spanish interpreting at another national Jobs with Justice conference, and at a summer Women’s Institute for Leadership Development. I’ve also been learning a lot doing website translations for a national organization called 1in6 that provides information and resources for men who experienced sexual abuse when they were young. I’m always looking for more Spanish translating and interpreting work, so keep me in mind for your organization or movement work.
On the spiritual front, I have taken classes in Reiki, and will become a Reiki Master at the end of October. After several years of not going on a retreat, I attended a five day Buddhist retreat with Vietnamese monk/teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, and since he’s now 85, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to be with him in upstate New York. During that retreat I participated in what I believe was my first religious ritual of my life – I publicly received the 5 Mindfulness Trainings along with another 250 retreat participants, and wept through the entire ceremony. These trainings essentially affirm my lifelong commitment to live in an ethical way and to practice nonviolence. After returning from the retreat, I decided to enter a two year path towards ordination in the lay Order of Interbeing that is part of Thich Nhat Hanh’s community. I have been meeting regularly with two Buddhist mentors, doing reading, and attending a local meditation group, called a sangha. I helped to organize a one day retreat for our sangha in May. It has felt great to finally find a spiritual home and to delve deeply into it.
I continue to offer spiritual and emotional counseling to activists, and will be pursuing other avenues for that work in the coming year. I was asked to officiate at a wedding, and in order for it to be legal, I acquired an ordination certificate from the Universal Life Church (you, too, can do this on the Internet for under $20!). It was a lot of fun to do and I got many compliments on my role after the ceremony.
My exposure to the continuum of life and death was marked by several events. One was the passing of my friend Felice Yeskel, who changed this nation through her groundbreaking work on LGBTQ issues and on classism. Another was the passing of Shirley Goss.
Aunt Shirley was my mother’s best friend for 72 years – they met in the 5th grade when my mother offered to share her seat with Shirley, who was a new student at the school. I attended her memorial service, and my brother and I sang Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn” at the request of the family.
And of course, there has been the joy of spending time with the beautiful Viviana Jo. Her smiling face and easygoing disposition put all other things in perspective. I’ve had fun knitting baby clothes (they get finished so much quicker!) and having Skype dates with her and her mom and dad, Jessica and Jamie. We’re doing more of that, as the entire family moved to Louisville in November of 2011. However, we rejoiced when Elliot and Joy, my nephew and his partner who live in Boston, had a baby girl, Penelope Evelyn, in early January of this year.
Lastly, I will say that Charlie and I have taken great delight in watching as many Boston Celtics basketball games as we can. This is a challenge when one doesn’t have television service, but we’ve found a way to live stream them onto our computers from other countries’ broadcasts (ask us when we see you in person!). And, we sometimes invite ourselves to the homes of friends who have large flat screen TV’s who get the pleasure of our company in exchange for our watching the game with them. Although I grew up as a Philadelphia 76’ers fan, it hasn’t taken much for me to switch loyalties. No matter what the team, I just love seeing those big men show off their extraordinary athletic talents!
Well, as you can see, I’m learning to wear life like a loose garment… or a loose screw, or something. The picture was taken by Karen as I was gearing up for a first birthday Skype call to Viviana Jo. I made all the hats myself!
As we spend more time at home I find myself getting into a routine that’s relaxed & pleasant. I’m catching up on my reading, auditing a course at a local college and feeling very grateful for my pension & social security. This year I added Medicare to my list of support systems. And to celebrate that 65th milestone Karen, daughter Nell & I flew to Louisville to celebrate with Jamie, Jessica & their by now familiar to you daughter, Viviana Jo.
I’ve loved working on our historical performance pieces, most recently the Bread & Roses strike. It takes us 6 to 8 months to research and construct one of them and I find the work completely engrossing. And when they’re finished I enjoy performing them and love the places they take us – schools & senior centers, conferences & symposia, prisons & job training programs. We even put on a private performance for Pete & Toshi Seeger at their homespun home on the Hudson.
Songwriting has been slow, mostly parodies. I joined the Y and have been shooting hoops 3 times a week. I also do a lot of walking in the early mornings and here in Shelburne Falls everything is uphill so I’m trimming down & shaping up. I’m grateful most days for the life I have, the work I’ve been blessed to do and the friendships I’ve made with so many of you traveling over the years. And we get to blend our voices with some of our favorite singers...
like John McCutcheon,
Teresa Healy, Tom Juravich& Si Kahn.
By my reckoning 2013 will mark 50 years since I started performing with my high school folk trio, the Goliards. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a half century. Thanks!
Posted: to General News on Wed, Oct 3, 2012
Updated: Thu, Oct 11, 2012
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