My sister’s dance recycle was held this afternoon
The open was a fresh take on the classic “Brigadoon.”
The ballerinas stole Act II updating “Claire de Loon”,
Next came a Modern version of “The Ballad of Rocky Raccoon.”
Throughout it all I snacked on extra crunchy Lorna Doones,
Which the Tap Dance Troop’s clicks covered to a new “Angelina, Zooma-Zoom.”
From where this event got its name,
at first I had no clue:
There were no boogeying bottles or can-canning cans.
But after seeing the old songs
rethunk, reduced, and reused
“Dance Recycle” is now a name I understand.
My latest project is an independent film co-produced with @WeaverNFLF It’s a short feature coming later this week. Here’s a sneak peek. We hope you enjoy the show.
A dream is a living thing. It doesn’t stay still or remain the same. It changes shapes, changes directions, looks different at different stages. It’s not always possible to say where a dream originates, or to predict where it’s headed next. But in the end, the best dreams are vibrant, singular, and unforgettable, much like the best music. Especially like the best jams.
More than a dozen years ago, it was Phish jams that inspired Holly Bowling’s still on-going dream – which in its earliest stage, resembled a concert she feared she’d never be able to attend. When the group returned from hiatus, Holly’s dream took on the shape of a ticket to her first show; then time off work; then the chance to follow the band.
Over and over, the classically trained pianist-turned Phish lover touched what seemed like the ceiling of her musical dream, only to have it rise and expand again, becoming something bigger and more dynamic. This was a cloud – a natural, inimitable thing. At first Holly admired it, then she chased it. Then after witnessing an iconic Phish performance in July 2013, she decided to try and catch it.
Once more her dream transformed, this time taking on the shape of sheet music that captured the more than thirty minutes of musical magic and light that had become instantly known as “The Tahoe Tweezer.” Holly put it on paper, then the cloud moved again, suddenly appearing as the vision of a crowd-funded album of her jam-scriptions, the first real recording of her life. In the summer of 2015, Holly held the CD and vinyl prints of that very album, which she appropriately titled “Distillation of a Dream.”
“Distillation” might have been a destination for some aspiring artists. But for Holly it was merely another milestone, along with the night that recording artist Marco Benevento unexpectedly invited her on stage to perform with him, or the afternoon Holly played a Steinway in Golden Gate Park – her sound filling the same famous hills on which her jamming fore-fathers, the Grateful Dead, first played a half century earlier. Holly fittingly joined their history in the same month that the Dead said, “Fare, thee well,” and it was a great moment. Then, the dream expanded again.
Its next shape was an opportunity three thousand miles from Holly’s San Francisco home: a Philadelphia venue that she dreamed her piano playing could fill with patrons. Just like Phish in their early years, Holly took on the risk of renting a room and the burden of selling tickets, all in the hopes that her self-propelled dream would continue to grow. Whether it moved directly or via detour, how the song might end, or what famous faces would appear in her Philly show crowd, Holly wouldn’t know until long after the lights went down at that first ever East Coast gig. The next turn in her journey, like that in a jam, was not something anyone could fully forecast back then, and it remains that way today. She’s still writing the roadmap, transcribing the sound, distilling the dream as it spontaneously woos, wheezes, and breathes.
Certainly, different folks need different guitar strokes to reach their own happy place. Music is funny that way, one tune evoking distinct notes in every ear. Be they upbeat or quirky or somehow humorous, lots of songs make me smile, but none in the same way as one by Warren Zevon. Not the one about the hair-raising manster, but about Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.
That’s the title of a unique piano-driven rock song story that I heard for the first time during Zevon’s final appearance on The Late Show. Before then, Werewolves of London was all I knew of the man. Not even a lick of Lawyers, Guns, and Money. But after that night, during which Zevon spoke candidly with his old pal Letterman about the terminal lung cancer that would take the musician’s life within six months, Roland has remained in my brain as an auditory monument to happiness, because it reminds me of how Warren answered this question from Letterman:
DAVE: From your perspective now, do you know something about life and death that maybe I don’t know? The original question and answer is at the 3:18 mark of this clip.
As with any artist, Zevon generally gives the sense that great happiness springs from doing whatever it is you love. But in this moment he explicitly suggests, I think, it’s even more important to love whatever it is you’re doing – no matter how mundane it may seem. Put another way, keep a song in your heart, but also, enjoy every sandwich. Beneath my own funny hats, like the song of Roland Warren played that night at Dave’s request, that sounds happy.