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Grace-Ful News January 30, 2007!!

Dear Friends of Grace(s),
 
Goodness me!  I can't believe I've almost let 2 years go by without a word.  In case you're wondering where we went and what happened, here finally is the inside scoop on what we've been up to:
 
Paul and I are having a sabbatical (root word sabbath -- a time for rest, reflection, honing of skills and rediscovering inspiration) from the music business.  We're still playing music, though! 
 
We have picked a few choice performances in the last year: 
  • A September performance of our Lewis and Clark program, A Campsite Frolic, at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis (The Arch) for the Final Signature Event of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.  At this event, along with our former Discovery String Band mates, we were awarded the Missouri Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Legacy Award for our CD, "Most Perfect Harmony" Lewis and Clark: A Musical Journey.  Cool!
  • We scored and performed the music for the TRYPS (Theater Reaching Young People in the Schools) play, Little House on the Prairie in October.  What a blast! Here I am finally putting my B.A. in Theater to use!
  • We played at First Night Columbia, Columbia's alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration of the Arts.  I was Festival Coordinator/Artistic Director of First Night for 4 years and it was quite a pleasure to see what a great community tradition it has become.  I felt good to see that this event that I worked hard to "grow," sometimes at great personal sacrifice, had become a vibrant and strong festival.  It was almost like seeing a grown child who is thriving! 

    But the concert we played at First Night was very exciting for us!  We played almost all new material -- the songs that we were excited about and passionate about regardless of whether they were highly polished or not!  I also played 3 songs on the piano, which was equally scary and fun all at once.  A sampling of the songs we played: Just A Closer Walk With Thee (my secular humanist version!); After the Deluge by Jackson Browne, written in 1974, with my added 30-years-later verse; When the Doors Start to Open and the Windows Come Down by Bob Dyer; The Hawk and the Dove by Tret Fure; The Hero and the Straightaway by James Keelaghan; I Ain't Got No Home by Woody Guthrie; When the Ship Comes In by Bob Dylan; and last but not least, Fields of Gold by Sting (a special arrangement of the song that was my gift to Paul for our 30th Anniversary last summer).
We will be picking a few choice gigs to play in the coming year as we continue our sabbatical, but if you can't hear us play live, you can always get the complete collection of our CD's from the Grace Family Music Store.
 
And now, you may wonder, why a sabbatical?   We have made our living as touring folk musicians for 25-30 years, with a few part-time jobs here and there to help us over the slim winter times.  We say 25-30 years, because it's unclear when we actually started making it a business.  Was it the first time we played on the street in Crested Butte, Colorado with friends and got tips?  Or was it the $15 gig at the Ninth Street Deli? 
 
Most college professors take a paid sabbatical every 7 years to write, learn, research, and gain perspective.  As musicians, we are self-employed, and while we've been able to support ourselves and our daughters Leela and Ellie, we have always lived financially on the edge.  Quite often we lived below the federal definition of the poverty level, though we never felt that poor since we know how to stretch a dollar.  We live in an energy-efficient home, are cautious about taking on monthly payments and debt, and simply don't buy "things" if we don't have the money on hand.  We have always figured that this was the price we paid for the freedom to be our own bosses.  BUT there is never extra money lying around, and certainly not a whole year's worth!  We have to admit too that after 25 years of uncertainty, we, (Paul especially) got tired of wondering if we would be able to make the next month's bills.  And then we really needed a break to remind ourselves of the joy and inspiration and community we find in music.
 
SO in order to have our sabbatical, Paul got a full-time job!  It took about 4 months and a zillion applications for the right job to roll around, but by jove, I think he's found it!  He is a Home Coordinator for 8 developmentally disabled individuals and supports them in an Individualized Supported Living situation.  They all have their own apartments (two groups of apartments) in the community, and there is a full-time staff for each group.  
 
Yes, friends, Paul is a boss!  During Paul's second month at work, he was talking to one of his staff members when she got a phone call.  She said, "Just a minute, I'm talking to my boss."  At first Paul kind of looked around, and then he realized that HE was the afore-mentioned boss!  What a shocker!  Of course, he kept his cool and continued to act like a boss.  There is a steep, steep learning curve with the job and as you might imagine, lots of paperwork.  The job does allow for a lot of flexibility and so after Paul settles in, we may get back to more performing. 
 
In the meantime, we are playing music for fun, trying to finish the remodeling project we started a year ago (ack!), and spending more time at home and in our local community.  In December we each (separately) had a 4-day self-directed retreat in a hermitage south of St. Louis.  We both found it wonderfully refreshing to take a deep breath, step back and get a "good view."  

Since one of his clients is deaf, Paul has been taking an ongoing American Sign Language class.  He also recently took an Introduction to Yoga class which he is loving. 
 
For myself, I have a million things I hoped and hope to do on this sabbatical and I've even done some of them, but it's amazing how busy I've been with the pure functionality of life and family and catching up on the "piles" in the music office. Among these things are:  pursuing drawing and making more of my famous magic marker pieces; learning about web design and maintenance - currently I'm taking an Intro to Web Design course; learning new songs, honing my skills on autoharp, voice, accordion, and especially piano; enjoying dance and loving Jazzercise; trying to keep up my French language skills - took a course in Intermediate Conversational French; learning graphic design and database programs on the computer; organizing the house!!; doing some work and learning in the accounting field; and learning how to market our CD's which I have never gotten around to! 
 
We've both been going through a tremendous change in outlook and priorities, and have re-remembered our original desire of many years ago to live lightly upon the earth in a manner that made the world a better place instead of just seeking for our own or for our children's benefit.  We've discovered that we don't need all that much in the way of "stuff" and actually, feel that we have more than enough of it!  How truly fortunate we are!  And how often we forget this!  That's our story for now!
 
May you each walk in Beauty.  May we all find Peace.

With warmest regards, Win Grace
 

Grace-Ful News March 29, 2005:

Greetings Grace Friends and Fans.

       I guess you were all wondering why you hadn't heard from us for a while. Well, life just intrudes sometimes and we can't seem to get everything done that we'd like. But hey, we're still here and ready to let you all know what's happening.

       We've finally put the best selections from our first three albums (from 1984, '87 and '90) on a 77-minute CD and have titled it Fiddle, Folk and Foolishness Paul & Win Grace: The Early Years with Leela and Ellie Grace.  A CD Release and Grace Family Reunion Concert with daughter duo Leela and Ellie Grace will be held in Columbia (Missouri) on May 7th. Hope you can make plans to attend.

       Check out our calendar to see if we'll be in your area this year. Our schedule has us performing in Michigan, Nebraska, Colorado and Illinois as well as Missouri (of course!) with tours to Kansas and South Dakota (and who knows where else - maybe France?) in the works. Come up and say "Hi" if you make it to a show.

       Meanwhile, it's SPRING here in good old Boone County and
green is starting to show all around while the spring peepers are singing nightly. We're actually getting to be home a little more right now and are able to experience the season. We hope you have a lovely and fruitful spring and that maybe we see many of you down the road.

Peace, Paul

2/19/05 NEWS: 

After the original Discovery String Band performance on August 7, 2005, Paul & Win Grace will resign from the Band in order to focus more on their musical pursuits as a duet (including a new Lewis and Clark program that they've developed! See below.).  Not to worry, though -- the new Discovery String Band will proceed on in its grand style, occasionally performing as a trio, but often as a quartet with fiddler Kelly Werts joining in.  

Paul & Win have developed a new program about the infamous journey:  Lewis and Clark: A Campsite Frolic.  This program includes and builds on the Metis fiddle and feet, the French voyageur songs and traditions, traditional songs, and the rollicking hoedowns that Paul & Win performed with the Discovery String Band and recorded on the CD "Most Perfect Harmony" Lewis and Clark: A Musical Journey.  Win Grace is the contact for booking Paul & Win Grace, although she can always pass inquiries about the Discovery String Band on. 

The new Discovery String Band will continue to perform the program of original, traditional and period music interpreting the journey:  Lewis and Clark: A Musical Voyage of Discovery.    Beginning February 15, 2005, Bob Dyer (660-882-3353) will be handling booking inquiries for the new Discovery String Band. 

Grace-Ful News - Dec. 15, 2004

Hello to all -- 

        I hope this finds you all enjoying the true spirit of the season and the delicious give and take of Love.  Paul and I are hunkering down a bit after a wild year of touring. 

        But before I forget... it's not too late to order some Grace-ful Music for Christmas presents.  We ship by First Class Mail on the day we receive the order or on the next day if it's later in the day.  Please feel free to contact us by e-mail to have CD's autographed or inscribed in a special way.  Here is a listing of the CD's.  We're also running a special SALE on two titles -- a free cassette with the purchase of CDs by the same title.  To order:  www.GraceFamilyMusic.com/shop.

     But I digress, back to more Grace-ful news:  These days, we're thinking of family and friends, planning get-togethers, eating too much (putting on that winter coat), trying to stay warm, trying not to accumulate so much stuff in our house (and lives) that there's no room for the people, and trying to learn how to slow down and find balance in our lives (my current greatest challenge).  

    We had a fabulous time performing last Saturday for KOPN Community Radio's Lee Ruth Everybody's Got Love Tribute Concert.  See www.kopn.org -- CD's are still available!  Oh my -- 24 acts performed Lee's songs.  What a range of styles, what a body of work Lee has!  We are proud to know him!  Especially notable were performances by Chris Vallillo (http://www.ginridge.com) and by Pete Szkolka, (http://radioranger.org/LeeRuth/OhBeJoyful.htm) who also happens to be the ace recording engineer who we worked with on the Lewis and Clark CD, Most Perfect Harmony. 

        Paul and I did research on Mark Twain's favorite songs for underscoring the Mark Twain Birthplace video, and our interest in Twain was really piqued!  His writing, his life, his taste in music -- we are totally intrigued!  We have recorded 18 songs to underscore the video, with a few more still to go. 

        We look forward to performing at First Night in Springfield, Missouri this year.  For those of you who don't know about First Night:  these are alcohol-free community celebrations of the arts that take place around the world on New Year's Eve.  They almost always include a participatory procession, hands-on public art, fireworks, and entertainment of endless variety AND for all ages.  Families, singles, teens, and couples ALL will find something fun to do.  I am dedicated to this concept -- I spent four years as Festival Coordinator/Artistic Director of First Night Columbia (MO), but left the position to dedicate more time to playing music.  Look at this web site (http://www.firstnightintl.org) to find a First Night near you.  If you don't find one, think about getting one started! 

        Last, but not least, at the following link is an Open Letter from me written on November 8th in response to the election results.  Included after my letter is an excellent article by our friend Paul Stamler.    

Open Letter: http://www.gracefamilymusic.com/paul-win/post-election

        To all of you who are able to see the inter-connectedness of all of us on the planet: Thank you for all you do to take care of more than just yourself and to make the world a better place.  You may not believe that you have made any difference, but I see a change.  Keep honoring what you are called to do, and following that calling.  Even a small act of kindness makes the world a better place.  Thanks especially to all of you who worked so selflessly on the November election. 

        Last week I was able to hear Tibetan Lama Younge Khachab Rinpoche speak.  He spoke of the great desire for world peace, and said that was a worthy goal, but that a way to attain it was for each of us to find personal peace.  And so my wish for all of us in this season and for every season --
May we all find Peace, Win

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Grace-Ful News on Oct. 17, 2004:

Hello Friends --

 

        Whew!  What a beautiful day it is -- think of me in a little while walking along Cedar Creek in the bottom field basking in the crisp October sun, avoiding the cow pies (she said hopefully), saying hello to the curious calves, their protective Moms (who seem to understand me when I tell them, "I don't eat you.") and the deer who stare curiously at me for a minute and then leap across the field over fences, into the woods, in great bounds higher than I can believe, white tails flying. 

       Paul and I have just had a whiz-bang year -- actually, it's been our best year ever.  In the midst of it, we had a wonderful 5-day respite by the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, taking a guided canoe tour on an inland lake led by naturalist Alan Wernette, a great campsite jam with Max and Ruth Bloomquist (www.RuthBloomquist.com) that created quite a stir, gorgeous walks in the Michigan woods, long and longer walks along the beach, a 130-step climb to the top of the Lighthouse for an amazing view including the curvature of the earth (Okay, I admit it -- I only made it halfway.  The see-through steps got to me.  Paul just told me about the view.), and -- my favorite part -- great rides on the waves of Lake Michigan.  I can't get enough of that water!  It was freezing cold, but I just waded in gradually waiting until I was numb all over, and then I had a great time.  We played in Sioux City, IA (a fabulous arts community there!!) and at the National Museum of Music in Vermillion, SD.  What a great place -- we saw the biggest playable accordion (So big that only Shaq could play it, or maybe Ella Ewing.) and the smallest playable accordion (about 3 1/2").  

        We performed at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO for 3 weeks -- the longest job we've ever had as musicians.  We were honored to be part of a 30-minute presentation performed 3 times daily: A Musical Journey with Lewis and Clark.  We sang songs as part of the script to carry the story line along.  The show was conceived by producer Marty Schmitt and written by incredible actors Richard Young and Jim Waddell.  Sets, lights, costumes -- the whole thing!  What fun!  Since I have a degree and have worked in theatre, this was a joy to me. 

        It looks like a Mark Twain theme is developing in our lives:  We will be underscoring a film on the life of Mark Twain for the Missouri DNR and in late 2005 we'll be developing and performing original and traditional music for a children's theatre [Jill Womack and TRYPS (Theater Reaching Young People in the Schools)] production of Huckleberry Finn in Columbia. 

        The Lewis and Clark theme still lives on, though, as we just finished several extremely well-received concerts with the Discovery String Band, with another Grand Concert coming up in November. 

        Well, enough about us.  Now -- how about the rest of the world?  We DO live in interesting times.  Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you who you should vote for.  My only thought as you make your decisions, and it is something that I try to live by (not always successfully), is to BE NOT AFRAID.  Don't let fear be your guiding light.  Listen to your heart, be guided by love, trust your instincts -- don't let others tell you how to think or make you think that you don't have what it takes to make the right decision.  I would love to see neighbors and friends and politicians return to a time of being able to respectfully disagree.  I believe that true strength and a balanced course of action is found in listening to each other, in learning from each other.  

        Paul and I have recently experienced a threat to our career and attempts to silence us simply because we helped organize a fundraiser for a mainstream Presidential candidate (See www.GraceFamilyMusic.com/fundraiser).  We have chosen to forgive, move on, and continue to do what we are guided to do.  We believe in democracy and will continue to work appropriately to make this a better world.  We do not believe in forcing our political views on our concerts attendees, but we will continue to actively participate in the democratic process.

        I find debates for the elected offices to be the best tool for determining how to vote.  They aren't completely ideal, but watching an entire debate -- NOT just sound bites, NOT just reading an excerpt, NOT hearing the spin machine on it -- gives an excellent idea of the integrity, honesty, intelligence, character, experience, values, stance on issues, and knowledge of the candidate.  The issues facing our representatives are, at all levels, extraordinarily complex, and 30-second sound bites and smear ads or one-issue litmus tests simply cannot begin to inform us of what we need to know to work together to solve the crisis that we find ourselves in as a country and a world today.
 

    My wish for ALL:  May we rest in the Grace of the world and know that we are Free.  

            May we all live in Peace, Win

Click Here: Win's "Quotes" (and Poem)
of the Month - Oct. 17, 2004

Click Here: Win's "Quote of the Month" 8/21/04

Grace-Ful News on July 21, 2004:

Hello Friends, 

        The Discovery String Band had a great tour of Kansas and western Missouri -- no vehicle breakdowns and great audience response!  What could be better?  We are really, really proud of our Grand Concert, which we present mainly when we have an indoor concert/theatrical setting.  It begins with Cathy Barton's amazing piano overture, and includes readings from the Journals of Lewis and Clark by Bob Dyer to "set the stage" for each song.  We proceed loosely in chronological order, from the Louisiana Purchase (Bonaparte's Retreat) to bringing the Corps home (The Way Home).   Here is a link to some photos taken of the Grand Concert that we presented at the Crest Theatre in Great Bend, Kansas:   http://bartonarts.org/photos/20040705/index.html.  Thanks to Don Shorock for organizing and spearheading our appearance in Great Bend (a town that must shoot more fireworks per capita than any town in the nation!) and for taking these photos!
 

        We had a fabulous time at the California Traditional Music Festival that takes place at Soka University south of Los Angeles.  The whole concept of the festival is to encourage the audience to become part of the music, and there is ample opportunity to learn just about any acoustic instrument you can imagine.   Thanks to the amazing Clark and Elaine Weissman for conceiving and carrying out this grand design and to Entertainment Director Kathy Qualey for her vision and caring!

    As far as the flight to California goes, I cannot say that the airline industry cares a bit about musicians and the potential career-damaging disasters that they can (and have) inflicted on us.  Frontier Airlines was about as difficult as they could be, having oversold the flight and being faced with four Graces who had checked everything we had except for two instruments each.  I know that the Folk Alliance has made some attempt to negotiate an agreement with the airlines, but the 19-year-old at the Frontier Airlines desk said that this written agreement did not apply.  He also flatly refused to let us speak with his supervisor, said he didn't have one, they were in Denver, couldn't be reached on the phone even. 

    As folk musicians, we live on the edge financially and in many cases, we must fly to do our job.  Paul and I believe we have an idea of how we could do things differently next time we fly, but our fellow folk musicians who fly more often tell us that the rules are CONSTANTLY changing, and they have never figured it out.  It's simply dependent on the whim of whoever is at the counter.  We put our livelihood in their hands every time we fly.  
Enough bellyaching -- sorry!!  

  
      We're looking forward to voting next week.  Missourians, if you've ever put your hand over your heart, faced the flag and said, "With liberty and justice for all,"  I hope that you find it in that same heart to vote NO on Amendment 2 which seeks to put discrimination and injustice into our state's constitution.  Here's hoping that here at the heart of the Heartland, we come through for liberty and justice on August 3rd!

    The best of the summer to all, Win

Click Here: Win's Quote of the Month

7/21/04!!

Grace-Ful News: June 16, 2004

Hello Grace-ful Friends --

        No time for cleaning out the garage or really to do anything but music.  Paul and I along with the Meriwether Pranksters (Paul, Win, Cathy Barton, Dave Para, Bob Dyer a.k.a. The Discovery String Band) are on the road playing lots of music! 

        There have been some really nice articles written about us recently.  One was written by Matt Watroba in the highly-regarded national magazine of folk music, SingOut!  Here is a link to the table of contents:  http://www.singout.org/482toc.htmlAnother was in a local paper written by a journalism student: Go to this link and search for Discovery String Band and the article published 6/3/04.

        We're heading out to perform in California next weekend at the fabulous CTMS festival along with Leela and Ellie!  This will be our first performance in California AND first experience flying with ALL our instruments.  We're flying Frontier Airlines and since there's a total limit of 3 pieces of "luggage," checked or carried on, and given the fact that each of us has two or three instruments to bring, we've decided that we don't have any room for clothes.  So this should be a good performance to catch!  We'll have 6 folkies on one Frontier Airlines flight -- Leela, Ellie, Cathy, Dave, Paul and I -- so given the general level of song and merriment that we tend towards when we go out to eat, we could be either very beloved or....  by our fellow travelers. 

        We'll talk atcha later.  Come up and say hey when you're at a show...  Enjoy, relax, breathe!!  

Peace, Win


Click Here: Win's Quote of the Month
June 16, 2004

 

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