Dancing Angels, Fairies & Gymnasts at the Kelley Hunt Concert: Everyday Magic, Day 396

Some of them cartwheeled across the floor while others bent their wrists like figures in Egyptian art and rocked their shoulders up and down to the music. Whatever the moves, the dozen or so girls and one boy who danced right below the stage at the Kelley Hunt concert in the Lied Center last night were in tune with the music and alive in their twirling bodies.

Sitting in the front row, Ken and I got to watch two levels of the show: Kelley and the band above, and the dancers below, some as young as four and probably none past 14. It was one of the most beautiful double shows I could imagine, particularly since the dancers instinctively set their gait, handstands and tumbles to the music. A slow song, and suddenly we would see three sets of feet rise into the air, several dancers rolling onto the floor and back up, and two sisters who couldn’t seem to stop doing cartwheels, but slowly and with feeling. A fast tune, and everyone would jump, run, swirl, and link elbows into groups of three and four so they could spin themselves into ecstasy and the floor.

Some moves like fairies, some like angels (a wee one who paused at the dance floor, holding her ears because of the volume of the music, even wore wings), and some like circus gymnasts, ready to leap for the crowd. Whenever the crowd would applaud, particularly during the stand ovations, many of the girls would splay their arms, life their chests and smile in appreciation of their adoring public. One girl did a split, spreading her arms wide to accept the acclaim and her next Olympic medal.

All were beautiful. All were shining. All were poetry in motion, mesmerized by the music, catalyzed by Kelley’s boogie-woogie piano playing, Shawn’s fall-over-backwards-in-amazement guitar solos, Sam’s soul-astonishing bass playing, and Victor’s powerful drumming that held all the music together. The dancers rode the love at the core of all this music, embodying all the facets of life they heard and felt so we could see it more vividly. As Kelley said at one point, “Let’s hear it for the dancers!”

Thanks to all for the kind words on the poem I read before Kelley performed. Here’s the poem in print, Seeing in the Dark.

"These Are the Best Days of Our Lives": Everyday Magic, Day 362

Last night, right in the middle of Kelley Hunt and her band performing “These Are the Days” (a song we co-wrote), time stopped and the moment sealed around me. Kelley was singing her heart out, her band — an amazing bassist, drummer and guitarist — were playing to perfection, and a giant fan to my left blew wind across my face as I sat with 5o or so others in the giant warehouse-type studio of the gracious, kind and talented Stan Herd. The dim light of the coming evening, offset by the warm orange glow from lamps situated around the space, and the people there — arranged on chairs and stools of all stripes and stops — all seemed encased in the beauty of Kelley’s singing, her clear tones ringing through us and clearing our minds of clutter.

Kelley's new album, which features this song (and we co-wrote 8 of the 12 songs). Click here to buy the album.

Soon she would move onto a boogie-woogie rollicking buy cialis generic online cheap song that brought us to our dancing feet, people coupled, singled and tripled in the dance space in front of the band, and eventually rising in the make-shift aisles and corners because they couldn’t help but dance. Soon the heat of the day would completely dissolve, the concert would end, and we would disperse. But at this moment, precisely when she sang  “These are the days/ These are the days/ These are the best days….of our lives,” I suddenly realized the song was about right now.

Not to privilege the present over the future or the past, there were and will be many more moments that make us realize we’re living one of the best days in our lives. Yet in the center of that moment last night, I felt more than ever how close we are to waking up our sleeping hearts to what we are given, again and again, by the generous voices and visions all around us. All we need do is stop and listen.

The Magic of Brave Voice: Everyday Magic, Day 172

On the first day of the year I brunched with the BVDs — the Brave Voice Divas & Daredevils,  people who attended past Brave Voices, the 6-day retreats Kelley Hunt & I have been offering in the Flint Hills of Kansas since 2006. A bunch of BVDs had come to our fair city to dance in the new year the night before when Kelley played Liberty Hall with her band. As way of catching up, of course we ate and visited, but mostly, we sat in a circle and sang, read, made up poetry, drummed and jammed together for several hours as is the way of the BVDs.

When Kelley and I started designing the Brave Voice writing and singing retreat about seven years ago, we envisioned a clearing, a place where people could gather and have enough solitude and community, enough spaciousness of being, enough inspiration, humor and tenderness so they could create what called to them freely. What happened surpassed our imaginations. As we head into our sixth Brave Voice retreat — May 8-13 in the Flint Hills of Kansas — we bring with us layers upon layers of witnessing magic.

Yes, there is the magic that can come when writing, singing and songwriting workshops are well-designed and facilitated, but there’s a magic that met us both at the site of the retreats and in the souls of those who come. We do the retreats at White Memorial Camp, which is located on an arrowhead-shaped peninsula in the middle of Council Grove lake, surrounded by rolling hills in all directions and held in very big sky. The location of the camp is also where tribes from throughout the plains would meet in council (thus the name “Council Groves) for hundreds, probably thousands of years.

The people who came are drawn to immerse themselves in Brave Voice from near and far. While we often have a contingent from Kansas and especially our hometown, Lawrence, we’ve had people come from British Columbia, Florida, California and Vermont too. BVDs are writers, singers, musicians, artists, yogis, ministers, community leaders, and people who’ve lived quietly while creating wildly in their lives through homemaking, parenting, contemplating and reading. I’m sure if you could look up the phrase, “the ones who show up are the ones who should be here,” you would see a picture of BVDs at the end of a retreat, falling into each other while laughing and hugging. The community that emerges each time is so rich and life-giving that it cannot help but to support everyone in taking creative leaps in their art, writing, music and lives….and it cannot help but continue over distances all year long.

So here’s to the magic that we create together when we open our voices. Thank you, Brave Voices!

Thanks to Julanne and Danny for the photos!

When Kelley Hunt Sings: Everyday Magic, Day 167

Last night, once again, I was transported along with many others on and around the dance floor when Kelley Hunt and her band brought us over the threshold of 2011. As we danced, people yelled in my ear things like, “We’re back in the vortext,” “I feel like we’ve always been here,” and “It’s all happening again.” We sang “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” with her, we were bedazzled by an electric guitar player who brought us out to Jupiter and back home, we were astonished by Kelley on piano, her voice loud and low or fast and wide, and we truly came home to something far more real and alive than everyday life usually shows us. Here’s the poem I wrote last year about it all:

When Kelley Hunt Sings

The night is made of song in this moment, the chords ringing

through our bones in harmony or dissonance at the end of one world

and the beginning of another. She closes her eyes, leans forward, sings.

The first velvet words land right in the center of whatever we thought

we knew. By the time the next words arrive, we’re ready: hips tilting

to one side, shoulders to the other, the drum beat an ocean of rhythm,

a hummingbird in the center of our chests. The fire warms us

across the distance, from the CD player in the car on an icy day

or right here, in Liberty Hall, on the last night of a decade.

When we inhale, we’re down at the riverside. When we exhale,

it’s clear that it’s not over when it’s over. The band explodes

at the top of the mountain, her hands dizzy across the keyboard

or the red guitar, each low note catches sun right below horizon.

Then the sudden rise of voice and bass, horn and drums,

following us into the dark, falling away but always near, light

as the strongest wings, heavy as the siren calls of all we’ve lost

but still love in our lives. She sings this, here, a new shade of blue

that rushes us back toward the dance floor right into music

that chimes our hearts open, boogy-woogies our muscles

into the lone star road of twist and rise, lifts our sights above

the blue notes and uncertainties so that finally, maybe forever

nothing holds us back from how we were meant to move.

***Thank you, Kelley!***