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Artist Interview

AM Radio

November 9, 2017


                                            AM Radio (Left to right: Mia, Meg, and Audrey)

Can we get an A? AUDREY! Can we get an M? MIA! And that's how the story of AM Radio begins. The two met "via boys and a bar" and discovered they shared musical interests and inclinations, and they formed a duo, performing around Burlington. Along came Meg and her standup bass, and the glorious trio was born. Fortunately, there was no need to change their name because Meg's initials fit right in (their unofficial band stipulation: your name must start with "A" or "M"). You may remember Mia from the Dire Honeys, who played Ode several times. We're so excited to have her back, along with Audrey and Meg, bringing to us all the way from Burlington some North Country Soul. They'll be performing at Ode this Friday, November 10th, from 6-8pm. A perfect cold night for some red wine and some strong, sweet music.

Describe each other in three words: 
Audrey:
Meg—Kind, Enthusiastic, Inspiring
Mia—Strong, Creative, Sassy

Mia: 
Meg—the cool cat of the crew, multi-talented, confident
Audrey—the sweetheart, optimistic, nurturing

Megan:
Mia—Fierce, confident, capable
Audrey—Wise, graceful, supportive 


                                                          (Top: Audrey and Mia. Below: Meg)
     
                                                                                                                                                    

What is your most memorable moment from AM Radio so far?
Audrey: There are moments when our harmonies are so blended that it feels like everything else in the world stops and I am truly present. We played our first house show recently and I was so taken back by the suspended silence when we finished playing. That was incredibly memorable. 

Mia: We performed a very intimate show for family and friends of a women battling cancer- we played acoustic and at first it was a struggle to capture the room- but by our last song we had moved right up next to the audience, and the room fell silent. It was a very emotional event and our last song seemed to cradle the room. It felt like our voices were a blanket laid upon them, or the arms they needed to be held by. I sang the entire song with my eyes closed and when we finished, a beautiful sadness hung in the air and many of the people wept.  It was a validation for making music, to know that just by singing we provided a place for those people to let go and just feel. That's what art is for after all isn't it, to let us feel?

Megan: I loved when we were playing the song "San Francisco" (a beautiful tune with bowed bass that Mia wrote), and there was a lighting storm outside. The windows were flashing and there was a crash of thunder right as the song swelled. 

Fall sounds like:
Audrey: The whistling of a crisp breeze through the dying leaves. 
Megan: Crispiness and crunchiness

What's your stage-wear?
Audrey: Stage-wear depends on the gig, though almost always incorporates denim, floral prints, cowgirl boots, and occasionally some suede. 
Mia: Always something involving cowboy boots.
Megan: Cowgirl chic

Favorite Halloween candy:
Audrey: Mini- Twix bars.
Mia: Kit kat bar/ tootsie rolls
Megan: Almond Joy or candy corn. 



First snowfall, where will you be?
Audrey: I hope to be in my bed nesting with a warm cup of something (tea or a hot toddy preferably), watching the first snow fall.
Mia: Hopefully snuggled up with my animals and a hot toddy. But realistically, I will probably be outside harvesting root vegetables.
Megan: Snuggled up in my room with my cat

The word you most like sung?
Audrey: I couldn't possibly pick one word over all others as a favorite. Though words that resonate for me are; home, see, stay.
Mia: I really like it when people sing long words, with multiple syllables that end in "ally" Traditionally, hypothetically, professionally, confidentially, etc... I don't really know why. I am just always very impressed.  
But for me, I love singing the word "Darling" or "Why" both of which you can spin a real nice twang into. It must be the wannabe southerner in me.  
Megan: "waiting" 

Describe North Country Soul. Who are the forefathers/mothers?
Audrey: ​I'm honestly not familiar with the history of "North Country Soul", though in my own words, I would say it feels like music that is inspired by the landscape. Mountains and wild streams. Fresh cut hay, cold nights, and clear skies. Inspired by love and heartache and identifying what home means.

Mia: Well, it's a genre I sort of just invented, at least by name. Often when we think of country music we think of the South, but here we are, three very Northern women doing our version of country/blues, and I wanted a way to describe it. The music we make can be damp like our forests and mountains, and melancholy like our winters and endless days of grey. It can be heavy like the snow that covers us for months at a time. It can be light like the undying faith in spring, and it can be hot and sticky like the absolute stubbornness of a humid day in summer. The stories that come out of the North are different, as our the people writing them. While the South has football and line dancing and belt buckles and unbeatable hospitality. We've got liberalism and seasonal affective disorder and maple syrup and wood-stoves. Our environment influences our songs; it influences our souls.

Megan: Well.. I'm new here! Honestly I know more about the soul of the West than the North Country, but would love to learn more!

What song do you listen to while jumping into a pile of leaves?
Audrey: "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by the composer Edvard Grieg.
Mia: Jitterbug- by Wham
Megan: Something bright and earthy like Sigur Ros "Go Do" or an explosive song with a bunch of strings and horns.


 

Artist Interview

Hawthorn Duo

August 25, 2017


                                                                Chattman Photography

If you were hiking in the woods alongside a mountain capped with white snow, and you stumbled into a clearning where a burst of wildflowers greeted you under a spot of sun, it might not be a surprise to find the Hawthorn Duo there, singing. It may be a song about Appalachia, or the moon, or some bird or flower native to a place within the great expanse. And if you do happen upon them, the music will be like honey and streams converging: richly sweet, rushing and soothing. Yes, the Hawthorn Duo, comprised of Heather Scott and Taylor Holland, are that magical. And natural and wonderful. And they filled Ode with their goddess selves one Friday in August. Meet Taylor and Heather, if you haven't already on one of your hikes.

Talk to us about the meaning of Hawthorn to you.
Heather - Hawthorn is sisterhood. It is a platform upon which we are able to see and be seen, where we each can bear our naked hearts to one another, where we can encourage radical openness and passionate strength. Hawthorn serves as a portal to our collective and individual purpose.

Taylor - When choosing a band name, we looked at different plants in the herbal medicine world and so many aspects of hawthorn felt like the right fit. Heather looked at the heart-healing properties of Hawthorn and continues to teach me about that. For me, the most special thing is that according to Celtic folklore, hawthorn is a portal to the spirit world, so the fairy folk make their homes in hawthorn bushes.

How does summer sing to you?
H - Through bird-song. The warm breath of summer night wind, ringing with possibility. Through the sight of the ground and the plans teeming with life, medicine, and food.

T - Summer is a time of bountiful energy! I go out to more shows, spend late evenings on the porch jamming with friends, and revel in moonlight skinny-dip adventures.


Chattman Photography

Describe what your inner goddess wears.
H - She adorns herself only for herself and for no one else. She wears gowns into the ocean and walks in the trees with her body completely bare, save for a crown of birch bark on her head. She is always barefoot. Each things she puts on her body - her temple - has a deep and powerful story. Colors of the earth swirl around her: soft greens and dark blues of night, pale yellows of sunrise and deep hues of wet earth. And she is not afraid to wear red.

T - The adrenaline of a run and coconut oil on my skin after showering, a silk jumpsuit with my hair wild and curly and my grandmother’s silver jewelry from her childhood in India. Or, nothing! I recently learned a beautiful term for being naked—“skyclad.”

What’s on your plate?
H - Local, seasonal, and/or wild foraged food whenever possible. Right now, it’s locally made 8-grain sourdough bread, thai basil pesto that I made from my garden, fresh mozzarella, and heirloom tomatoes. I’ve paired it with a maple syrup-sweetened Chaga tea made from an adaptogenic mushroom called Chaga that I foraged on a recent hike.

T - Whatever Heather’s making! She’s an amazing chef, and we love cooking together. Right now, I’m in my hometown of Portland OR and am loving the access to amazing local food (and sharing that food with family). For breakfast this morning I have fresh Oregon melon and nectarines, coconut milk yogurt, and locally made cardamom granola, along with organic chicken basil sausage made in-house at the neighborhood grocery. I’ve got a full mug of coffee with almond-coconut milk and a bit of local honey.  

What’s your go-to dance move?
H - Anything where my hips can sway.

T - Yes, hip swirls! Hips are the seat of the second chakra--creative energy, so it makes sense that we both like to move here.

What would we be surprised to know about you?
H - I have a great passion for Herbalism. I have various bottles of medicinal flowers, roots, barks, and leaves steeping in various solutions of alcohol, and honey, and other types of natural preservative liquids to create my own medicine. I carry around a medicine bag containing several rotating remedies and aids (seasonally dependent) for the nervous and immune systems, sore throats, sleep, etc.

T - My background is in peace and conflict studies—I worked in both Northern Ireland and South Africa and almost went to grad school for conflict resolution, until I realized my heart was in the creative field and that I could use songwriting and arts education to support social change. I actually recorded my first EP while doing research on student activism in Cape Town last year.
 


Chattman Photography

If you could capture one sound and play it at will, what would that be?
H - Ocean-side rain.

T - The way the wind sounds in the mountains above the tree line in the Pacific Northwest.

How have your mothers influenced you?
H - My mother taught me about selfless compassion, for the self first and then for others. To trust that my path is no one else’s but mine. That the way I experience grief, confusion, joy, and challenge are absolutely my own and for no one else to claim. Simply by living the ways she does, she instilled in me that comparison is futile if you wish to honor your Self. And - she gave me my passion for food and cooking, for which I will forever be indebted to her.

T - My mom exposed me to music from infancy—she was always singing around the house, playing guitar in the other room after tucking me in, teaching me songs. She put me in dance classes, brought me to every violin lesson I had, and advocated for me to go to a school that was full of arts and movement (Waldorf). More recently, I’m learning from the thoughtful and compassionate way she’s gone through her divorce…showing me how meaningful relationships can end with grace, how people can go separate ways yet still have love for the life they shared together, and how change that seems terrifying can also be rich with opportunities for growth.


Chattman Photography

Talk to us more about the “sacred reclamation of wild feminine power” you refer to when describing your song, Salt.
H - When I began writing this song, the ocean served as a sanctuary during and after heartache. As Taylor and I started to write it together and clarify the melodic and lyrical themes, the purpose of the ocean in this song crystallized as a healing place that supported reflection, transition, and renewal. This process of radical and unapologetic transformation is something that Taylor and I would like to reclaim as sacred, as a part of the identity of the feminine force.

T - I think writing Salt was the first time Heather and I fully realized the power of baring our hearts to one another. Heather brought the first verse of Salt to our session, with its questions to a past lover: “In your dreams of the salt and waves, do you see me there?” As we spoke about the relationship and how it had impacted her, our desires to understand and heal our heartaches brought our writing to an archetypal space where women step into their power by connecting with nature and the goddess—“wild abandoned rituals burning high in the wind / where the ocean takes it all to the ash to the sand.”


                                                        Chattman Photography

What’s on the horizon for Hawthorn?
H&T - We’re working on an EP of songs and poetry celebrating the moon, the divine feminine, and the body as sacred space. You can catch us performing next at the last of the Barn Show Manomet series or at Club Passim’s Labor Day Campfire Festival. And save the date for our show September 26 at Atwoods Tavern to celebrate the release of our ‘Appalachia’ music video (shot by the amazing Jo Chattman)!

Artist Interview

Poet Dora Malech

April 11, 2017

                                      
                                      Photo credit: Chattman Photography

Dora Malech might just be Ode's spirit poet. She loves wordplay as much as we do; She cares deeply about her participation with the world through art; and she can't say no to the perfect blazer. She is the author of Shore Ordered Ocean and Say So, with her third book on the way. Speaking of "on the way", soon-to-be-mother Dora Malech will be making her way to Ode for a Night of Poetry on Friday, April 14th, from 6-8PM, also featuring poets Debora Kuan and Amy Dryansky. Join us in celebrating National Poetry Month!

What poem have you read recently that we should be reading?
At this time of year, I often find myself re-reading Jill Alexander Essbaum’s poem “Easter” from the January 2011 issue of Poetry. I love her sense of pacing and phonic echo throughout, and I’m always moved by what the poem can pack into such short, spare lines. Like many poems I love, I revel in the paradox that the author’s poem about feeling alone in a certain season actually makes me, the reader, feel less alone in that season.

Easter

is my season
of defeat.

Though all
is green

and death
is done,  

I feel alone.
As if the stone

rolled off
from the head

of the tomb
is lodged

in the doorframe
of my room,

and everyone
I’ve ever loved

lives happily
just past

my able reach.
And each time

Jesus rises
I’m reminded

of this marble
fact:

they are not
coming back.

     Jill Alexander Essbaum, Poetry, 2011

If you could make one word a piece of gum, what would you be chewing today?
The word “orrery” has been stuck in my head lately, and saying it out loud even makes the mouth move a bit like it’s chewing the word. It means, “a mechanical model of the solar system, or of just the sun, earth, and moon, used to represent their relative positions and motions.” It was named after the Earl of Orrery. I like the word’s “mouthfeel,” but I also just like very specific vocabulary like that. I finally worked the word into a poem recently, which I look forward to reading out loud, especially since I surrounded it with other “or” sounds (“ornery” and “orbit”).

Favorite line of poetry about Spring:
Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Spring” is another darkly satisfying take on the season, like Jill Alexander Essbaum’s “Easter.” It begins:

     To what purpose, April, do you return again?

And it ends:

     It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
     April
     Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

I also love the first lines of Phillip Larkin’s poem “The Trees”:
     The trees are coming into leaf
     Like something almost being said . . .

Give us a writing prompt (please).
Inspired by Essbaum and Millay, write a take on the month or the season that Hallmark would refuse to publish. Like Millay, who speaks to “April,” include a direct address to something that is not a person. While you can, of course, include beautiful details too, don’t hesitate to describe both things and emotions “as they are.” Bonus points if you go outside and gather specific details from direct observation. 

                       

Artist Interview

Poet Debora Kuan

April 11, 2017

                                        

In the Artist Interviews we sent to our three featured poets, we ask for a favorite line of poetry about Spring. Well, we might just have ours. It's a line from Debora Kuan's poem "Pastoral". And although it may not have been intended to refer to Spring, it somehow feels perfect for it:

                             To shepherd. To pause. Where things begin grazing.
                             This is some silo for storing. This is some green. 

Debora is a poet and writer who works at an educational nonprofit in New York City. She is the author of Xing and the newly published Lunch Portraits. We're so happy Debora Kuan chose Northampton as one of her stops on her book tour. Join us for a Night of Poetry on Friday, April 14th, 6-8PM. Debora will be joined by poets Dora Malech and Amy Dryansky. 

April is:
National Poetry month!

What poem have you read recently that we should be reading?
Any poem by Anais Duplan or Danez Smith.

If you could make one word a piece of gum, what would you be chewing today?
I hate gum, so probably Trump..?

Favorite line of poetry about Spring:
“Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote.” I totally butchered the spellings, sorry!

Give us a writing prompt (please).
In my new book, I wrote a list of 121 memories of my American childhood. Write 121 of yours!

Artist Interview

Poet Amy Dryansky

April 10, 2017

                                    
                                   Photo Credit: Trish Crapo

Amy Dryansky is not only a poet, teacher, mother, and blogger, she is also the newly crowned Poet Laureate of Northampton! (Or, as she likes to call it, "PoLo of Noho.") Award-winning author of two books, How I Got Lost So Close to Home and Grass Whistle, and supporter of so many of the organizations and causes that Ode holds near and dear (Center for New Americans, Northampton Arts Council, and The Literacy Project, to name a few), Amy Dryansky is the perfect poet to be helping us celebrate National Poetry Month. Please join us for a night of poetry on Friday, April 14th, 6-8PM at Ode. Amy will be reading alongside poets Debora Kuan and Dora Malech.

What poem have you read recently that we should be reading?
I’ve been rereading Laura Kasischke’s book, Space, in Chains, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. I feel the book is an amazing inquiry into our state of human frailty, and as Linda Gregg says, “all things huge and their requiring.” Or maybe it’s the “we are here,” of Horton Hears a Who, our tiny voices calling out in the enormity of existence, hoping someone hears us. In any case, the last poem I read from the book is, “At the Public Pool.” 

At the public pool
by Laura Kasischke

I could carry my father in my arms.
I was a small child.
He was a large, strong man.
Muscled, tan.
But he felt like a bearable memory in my arms. 

The lion covers his tracks with his tail.
He goes to the terrible Euphrates and drinks.
He is snared there by a little shrub.
The hunter hears his cries, and hurries for his gun. 

What of these public waters?

Come in, I said to my little son.
He stood at the edge, looking down.
It was a slowly rolling mirror.
A strange blue porcelain sheet.
A naked lake, transparent as a need. 

The public life.
The Radio Songs.
Political Art.
The Hall of Stuff We Bought at the Mall. The plugged-up fountain at the center
of the Museum of Crap That Couldn’t Last
has flooded it all. 

Come in, I said again. In here you can carry your mother in your arms. 

I still see his beautiful belly forever.
The blond curls on his perfect head.
The whole Botticelli of it crawling on the surface
of the water. And
his sad, considerate expression.
No, he said. 

--from Space, In Chains
Copyright © 2011 Laura Kasischke

If you could make one word a piece of gum, what would you be chewing today?
INTERSTICES. It’s a word I never get tired of having in my mouth. And I always have to think before I say it, even to myself. Also, I have a thing about negative space--what’s not there, the pause—so it’s also a great idea word.

Favorite line of poetry about Spring:
“Keep still, just a moment, leaves.”
--Robert Penn Warren, Deciduous Spring

Give us a writing prompt (please).
Write about the first anything: marriage/divorce/flight/accident/molecule/mountain/insect/whale, etc.