In the meantime, I'm grateful to Audrey and Larry for a marvelous weekend in their company and for the music they played in my house.
I am both listening to and sketching an awful lot of music lately, which is a lovely state of affairs. Nine days after hosting my first ever house concert, I hosted my second as well. My friends and one of my favorite local bands the Side Street Steppers had musical friends coming through town, and I have a bigger front bigger front room than they do. So they brought some more great music to my house and opened the show (above).
Their friend Putnam Smith, who not only plays banjo but also owns a printing press, brought his band the Swamp Brothers. Banjo plus letterpress was all that was needed to talk me into hosting them.
I got their name wrong in the sketch below. Putnam was going through all the iterations they had tried along the way, and when I'm drawing I don't always process everything verbal going on around me, so I ended up with Swamp Boys instead in the sketch...
I did a little audience sketching as well, though with three bands in the living room, fully half the audience was also part of the show. That's Ben Hunter on the left and Christian and Vera of the Steppers on the right.
The third act, amazingly playing in my own house, had just won the International Blues Challenge that week. It's a huge competition here in Memphis each year, with two winners, a solo/duo category and a band category. Out of all the musicians who descend from around the world. I was delighted some traditional blues (fiddle, acoustic guitar, harmonica) had won the contest this year and even more delighted to have them play in my home. Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons put on quite a show.
Interestingly, both groups have a printing connection, and I managed to barter for all their cds. Putnam letter presses all his cd sleeves, and Joe's mom is a gorgeous block printer and did all the art for their album. I'd love to do some album artwork sometime. Putnam really liked my recent favorite print, "the Waltz," so my favorite waltz partner and I have now gone to live in Maine. Joe and Ben wanted some letterpress cards, so I got their cd as well, and an invitation to visit the art space they run in Seattle. It was a lovely evening of music and art.
It was the Cabin Fever dance weekend in Maryville, TN, this past weekend, and I drove east early to visit one of my favorite towns. It had been a crazy enough week that I had been having dinner in my car between meetings, so the evening I arrived I went to my favorite tapas place for a lovely salad, a couple of small pork rolls, and a flan. I had thought I was too tired to sketch, but the flan was so pretty I couldn't resist.
I enjoyed walking around town and hitting the book stores and my favorite brocante, the Downtown Market. It's an indoor flea/antique market with several lovely clothing vendors. I found two cashmere sweaters, real silk pajama pants, and red velvet coat that makes me feel like a movie star. I also sketched my favorite trees there while I was wandering around.
For purely self indulgent reasons, I'm going to include this photo from the weekend, taken by Lanny Huddleston. This is my favorite way to find joy when I'm not making art, and Charlie Zisette, with his marvelous dips, made me feel just lovely this weekend. Sometimes it's good for me to move away from the micro movements of carving prints and move my whole body instead. This is the very best way I know how to do that.
.....This time I played. That's my bass, still in its case, with the empty chairs waiting to be filled. I decided sketching was better than sitting around and thinking about being nervous. Andy Cohen sometimes asks me to play bass for him when he's in town. It's always a wild ride, because he usually does plenty of songs we haven't rehearsed and often songs I've never heard before, but it's fun, and I get a front row seat to watch him perform. And it's sweet that he wants me. Usually I just play in a weekly jam in someone's back living room.
It was a double bill, so I did get to sketch for part of the concert. Below are Andy and his wife Larkin listening to his friends open the show. I realized when I scanned this in that I went from dinner on Monday to Saturday night without sketching, but I had a home show to put on in between, so that took up a lot of the week.
Here are the other concert sketches. My watercolor marker didn't work as well as I remembered it doing before, and I ended up soaking through the page and getting more bleed than I normally. Or like to. But it's just a sketch book.
Memphis Theological Seminary is celebrating African American history month in February, and I suggested a series of Exodus paintings for the chapel bulletins. I love how the chaplain, my excellent boss, lets me run with the things that are calling to me. She suggested that the phrase "Let my people go" has special resonance, so I used it as the background for each image, and I like the continuity it provides. It's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to collaborate with. That's been a beautiful upside to this job.
It's chronologically out of order for the book, but I want to do a series of Biblical women for March (women's history month), so I ended with an image of Shiprah and Puah, to bridge that transition between the months. I continue to be amazed that we have remembered and celebrated the names of two midwives several millenia later. Powerful.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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