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The Mutant Mountain Boys, 16X-Day, 7-5-13, Wisteria Campground, Pomeroy, OH

I am planning my eclectic summer – feeling like it’s going to be a good one. Bhakti Dance! is on Saturday –It is one of the events I look most forward to these days.  Dancing, in general, continues to save my life.  My new partner is completely immersed in salsa and African dance – Maybe this New Wave chick will be learning some new moves.

Earlier this season, I was getting traveler’s blues in such an intense way. I didn’t have any major plans for a tour but I was seriously missing being on the road and started dreaming of taking a summer or fall cross-country drive.  I was especially missing my friend Carol in Kansas City, and lo & behold, she wrote to see if I am coming out that way this year.  No official plans yet, but with another call in for a potential show in Corvallis, OR (I won’t jinx it by saying more), I can start to envision something exciting coming together for this year.

Some of the usual fun stuff is on the horizon, with treks to Ohio for kirtan and DEVOlved bluegrass with the Mutant Mountain Boys.  Before then, I’ll be happy to be part of the Hub City Music Festival again.  Val at Rainbows of Healing has set up some more kirtan in the venues she works with in PA, and I feel good about keeping Bhakti Dance! going as a regular thing.  Looks like I may head up to MA as well – Where is my teleportation device?

I still don’t know if this year will look like a tour or a bunch of excursions, but it is sure looking like I’ll be back in motion before too long.  Want to help me in my travels?  If you have or know of a venue, concert series, or alternative space that will host a concert, kirtan, or other event for this summer, the rest of 2014 and beyond, please do let me know ASAP:  bookings@robinrenee.com.  The schedule will be growing, and I’d love to add your city to it.

Saturday, March 15th  7-9pm  1/$15, 2/$20
Bhakti Dance! 
YogaLove
10 N. Main Street, 3rd Fl.
Yardley, PA 19067
For more info: http://rainbowsofhealing.com/bhakti-dance/, About YogaLove: www.LiveYogaLoveLife.com

Come out on a Saturday night for a little bit of chanting and a whole lot of free form movement.  Bhakti Dance! is a fun, transformative, alternative social event – Think of the high school dance only with great kirtan, mantra dance music, an uplifting party playlist, and none of the drama! Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase. 

REGISTER NOW

Friday, March 28th 7-8:30pm  $10 suggested donation 
YogaLove
*kirtan
10 N. Main Street, 3rd Fl.
Yardley, PA 19067
For more info: http://rainbowsofhealing.com/kirtan-with-robin-renee/, About YogaLove: www.LiveYogaLoveLife.com

REGISTER NOW

Wednesday, April 9th  6:30pm
Hub City Music Festival
Crossroads Theater
*concert
7 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
w/ Sounds of Greg D, Adam Bernstein, and Barbecue Bob
benefits Elijah’s Promise

Sunday, April 27th 4:30-5:30pm 
The Peace Center
*kirtan
102 West Maple Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047

July 1-6   
17X-Day @ Wisteria Campground
w/ The Mutant Mountain Boys!
Pomeroy, OH
*performance date/time and more info TBA

Saturday, August 16th
DEVOtional 2014
w/ The Mutant Mountain Boys!
Beachland Ballroom
15711 Waterloo, Cleveland, OH 44110
*more info TBA

It may sound a bit morbid, but at times I practice how to feel when people significant to me die.  I don’t mean to do it in the sense that I set aside a time for mortality drills or something.  It’s that every once in a while I realize how profoundly I idolize certain people.  Somewhere in my mind I recognize that in the event such a person would pass away, I could really freak out.  So I allow myself to think about it, if only for a moment. I let myself feel little bits of the emotion at a time.  I’ll recognize the person’s huge contribution to my life, art, or world culture.  I may even imagine something productive I might do when I hear the news.

I was on a short break from figure modeling yesterday when I saw the news on my cell phone about the sudden death of Bob Casale of Devo.  I had prepared a little for such a moment.  There were times when I’d find myself looking at a classic image of Devo, allowing my mind to wander through how I might feel when not all five of those guys are still with us. Then came the sad news about Alan Myers last June. It took me days before I could even speak of Alan’s passing. However, bad news is just that, and it hasn’t been a whole lot easier to wrap my brain around the loss of another member of my favorite band.  Through all of the passive prep work, I never imagined having to sit for an hour and a half for a painting class before really reacting. The still contemplation time was probably exactly what was needed.

I’ve been to a lot of Devo shows and since 2004, I have had a number of great opportunities to hang backstage and elsewhere with them.  Bob 2 was always cool, friendly, and even-tempered.  While other band members may have been a little intense to be around, that was never the case with Bob. My favorite memory of him was the time he came to DEVOtional, the fan event held in Cleveland, in 2009.  Aside from being a great musician who had his own unique way of holding together the band’s sound, he was also quite the chef.   He actually prepared a menu, came to our event, and served lunch for a club full of DEVOtees.  How awesome is that?  At the time, I was annoyed that a miscommunication led to him not getting the word on saving aside some vegetarian fare for a few of us, so there wasn’t a lot for me to eat.  But his taking time out to be with all of us was the main point.  I had the pasta, and it was yummy.  Last night, I cooked up some angel hair marinara and remembered a very kind guy.

 

2/25/14 Addendum: My friend and fellow fan Richard J. Anderson just posted a moving essay on Bob Casale @ Sanspoint.com. It is definitely worth reading.

Mark Mothersbaugh autograph, Thomme Chiki lip print

I’m joking in the title.  I doubt there is any real art to knowing how or when to show up to things unprepared.  I generally am a fan of a good plan.  Often when unpreparedness happens it pretty much sucks, but I try my best to pull things together.  Once in a while, though, being unprepared leads to something profound.

For someone who was about ready to throw in the proverbial towel when it comes to music, I’ve wound up with quite a few good gigs this year.  There is something to be said for not worrying too much.  Ohio continues to have some kind of cosmic pull – I have connected with great, loving yoga and kirtan community there, which balances well with getting to perform with The Mutant Mountain Boys there for SubGenius and Devo happenings.  I’ve been to Ohio twice this summer and wouldn’t be sad at all if I managed to schedule my way back once more this year.

I didn’t feel terribly prepared for any of my gigs this last time out.  At Kundalini Yoga & Wellness in New Cumberland, PA, I played music for yoga, followed by a short kirtan with my old friend JD Stillwater.  That is supposed to be freeform and intuitive, so a lack of set list is fine, if not ideal.  JD and I worked well together.  I appreciated the practice with spontaneity and listening.

I’ve been working with a lot of changes this summer – focusing on health, having internal consciousness and intention exploration stuff – and it has been leaving me in a state of busy-brain.  So much was going on in my mind that the long drive to Cleveland didn’t seem to help me solidify the house concert set for that next night.  I mean, I knew essentially which tunes I would do, but I didn’t feel particularly balanced and rehearsed when I arrived and had to quickly set up the sound system (while making friends with the host’s four awesome dogs).  The show turned out just fine.  The people and the energy were better than fine.  I was even surer about this Cleveland-area vortex that has seemed to open up in my life.  Still, I’d like to find a more easeful pattern when it comes to travel and gigging.  It continues to be a work in progress.

The main reason for this last trip was to make my way out to A Not … TOTALLY Dev-o Tribute Night at The Summit in Columbus.  I absolutely love playing with The Mutant Mountain Boys, and when we were asked to do this show, I started working on booking gigs right away to make the unexpected travel reasonable. Well, we made it there, and we played the gig.  We weren’t terribly prepared.  Samantha was jet-lagged after flying in from Tucson and was running on almost no sleep.  I was pretty exhausted, too, so how could Jim exactly get on a wavelength with that?  We all could have played better, so… we were just ok.  We had an amazing, energetic show at 16X-Day.  Perfectionist that I am, I am (almost) ok with not having been 100% for this one.  We talked about it later and hope to plan future shows so we have at least 24 hours in the same place together to rest, regroup, and rehearse before we hit the stage.  We all had a good time anyway, Lieutenant Dance was fabulous, there are some great pics posted, and the impetus for a late August Devo fan event with friends was started again.

At one point relatively early in the evening, Thomme Chiki, the organizer of the event, asked people if they had any stories or pivotal life moments to share about Devo.  There were two disco ball piñatas in the house and I stepped up to tell the story of how I’d been in the audience during the New York portion of filming for the “Disco Dancer” video and how that was an exciting time for me.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think at that time to tell more of the story:

It was at a club called The World.  The band played a few tunes, then prepared to record for the video.  They did several takes of “Disco Dancer” and the audience gave their enthusiasm.  I didn’t quite “get” this particular song or why it was the single, but I was of course ecstatic to be present for anything Devo.  Afterward, the crowd started to disperse and the club turned into a regular dance space.  After a while, I was dancing and turned to see Mark Mothersbaugh who had come out of the dressing room/green room area and was crossing the dance floor.  I went into instant groupie mode, beelined toward him and asked, “Mark, can I have your autograph?”  He said yes.  I looked blankly for a split second, then said “I don’t have any paper.”  Duh.  I asked him to please wait, and I told him I’d find some.  So there is one of my major heroes standing on the side of the dance floor kind of aimlessly while I scurry around looking for paper.  Bizarrely (though maybe not so strange for 1988), the first piece of paper I found was a tri-fold AIDS info pamphlet that had fallen to the floor.  It said “AIDS, Sex, and You.”  I handed it to Mark and he gave me the most bemused look.  I apologized and told him it was just the first thing I could find.  He wrote “No sex is safe and also good.”  I didn’t think that was very sound information, but hey, I had just prompted Mark Mothersbaugh to write something about sex, which I found to be pretty awesome.  He wrote an “xo” and signed his name.  I thanked him.  Then I got even more bold and asked him if he would like to dance.  He said, “No, I have to get back to Jerry.”  Then he paused, looked at me, and said “You’re very beautiful,” before he disappeared back through the door.  I was pretty much in heaven.

~~~

At The Summit last Friday night, the MMB were getting ready to leave and something gave me the idea to seek another autograph.  I picked up a black and white flyer for the event from one of the tables and thought it would be cool to have Thomme Chiki sign it, since he’d done so much to put the night together.  I didn’t know him so well, but always thought of him as a cool and dedicated spud with encyclopedic knowledge of Devo and probably lots of other things.  I asked him half seriously if he’d sign the flyer, and when he said yes, I thought that would be a really great souvenir. The next question was, “Do you have a pen?”  I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t think I did.  I started to dig through my bag.  The first thing I came up with was a tube of red lipstick.  I said, “You could sign it in lipstick.” He made a funny kissy face, but then took the lipstick for real and went to the other side of the club where there was either a mirror or a mirrored section of the wall.  I could see he was putting on the lipstick.  When it started to take kind of a long time, I realized he was doing this quite seriously.  I had assumed that if he did it at all, it would be taken as a big, goofy joke (interesting bit of gender stereotyping I did there).

I was stunned by the image I saw walking back toward me.  It was a simple, sweet and graceful androgynous beauty.  I was basically rendered momentarily speechless.  He returned the lipstick and said quietly, “Thanks for sharing.” He kissed the flyer.  I rather awkwardly vied for a lip print on the cheek.  I had not at all been prepared for this aspect, this physical manifestation of the beautiful in-between to show up in that moment.  I was engrossed – It was moving and exciting to be so taken off-guard.  Reflecting on it now, I see a gorgeous, encouraging reminder that this place/non-place where I live and love and write is absolutely real – and here is another soul, perhaps gliding through a similar journey.

I suppose I would do well to try my best to be prepared for most things.  Virgos prefer order, they say.  But at least when it comes to autograph-seeking in Devo-related contexts, being a bit out of sync has so far worked quite well.

~~~

I am booking concerts and events in Ohio and worldwide!  Inquire at bookings@robinrenee.com and visit me at www.robinrenee.com.

tour bus, back

Yesterday, Glenn Walker posted the last piece on the Robin Renée Blog Tour on his blog, Welcome to Hell.  The original interview @ Biff Bam Pop! the day before ran so long that he rounded up some eclectic bits not included there for Odds & Ends.   What’s covered?  My jazzy version of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind,” a makeshift Ouija board, true holiday sentiments and a bit of parody, some great new Mutant Mountain Boys videos, wighead art, a personal question (with some answers), and a 70’s smooth rock dude named Devo Dan. Odds and Ends –  It’s an aptly-named article, I’d say!

Check it out at The Robin Renée Blog Tour, Odds and Ends

Miss anything?  You can take the tour with this great recap.  It includes a synopsis and link for every stop along the way for the interviews, podcast discussion, videos, reviews, and info on the new single, “All I Am.”

Thank you so much to mastermind Glenn Walker and everyone who helped put this together.  It was busy and engaging and was a way I’d never reached out to new and old friends.  The tour bus is home now, but I’m already psyched for next time.

It’s actually happening.  The finishing touches are finally being put on the new chant recording.  A very brief post about it yesterday caused a little ripple on Facebook; in a way it served as a first bit of encouragement from outside the project. While working on This., I felt much more in a vacuum than during other recordings; I am not being coy to say the response was an honest wake-up moment about the coming of interaction with others again around the music. Soon I’ll be touring my way down to Florida and back.   I’ll be inviting more people than I ever have to take part in helping the music to be heard.  Possibly the most exciting and daunting part for me is that I’ll be working on the second half of the follow-up project, .. and everything else.

Back when I became completely immersed in kirtan, I spent almost a year listening to nothing else.  Life was a constant meditation on the drone of harmonium or tampura.  I absorbed mantras and melodies and the stories of Hindu deities at such a rate that when people asked me where I learned this or that, I truly had no idea.  During that time I wasn’t sure I’d ever write another song.  It only seemed relevant to talk about the totality of things.  Life stuff was happening, but Om was the only relevant response.

Somewhere it became clearer to me that my path continued to be one of staying engaged in the day-to-day and writing down the stories.  But by then I’d been through a kind of vortex that made it a strange exercise.  I was frustrated over this for a while, but now I am giving myself a break over the times I wasn’t writing.  Yes, some of that time away has probably been about avoiding pain or focusing on the minutiae rather than any larger project at hand.  I suspect most of us do those things.  But even more than that, I’ve been in a relearning pattern.  Life feels a little different having been through this particular spiritual vein, and I am ultimately grateful for the shift.  While grasping onto stories is still not as easy, they do feel rich and relevant. Lately, I’ve been in a primordial soup of happenings:

My home ashram has been steadily coming into fruition; there was an intense weekend with visiting Tantra teachers (Ran Baron and Monique Darling, with Edie Weinstein on Cuddle Party duties) and more and different events are in the works.  Friends have been around sunbathing, picnicking, and enjoying the space.  Some old friends seem to have left my life unequivocally, while others remain stuck in uncomfortable balance or misunderstanding.  Other old friends have been reappearing in wild, wonderful, wacky, sexy ways. There are stories to fill a volume or two in these changes alone. I’m startled at how physical I want daily life to be these days – I can groove on hours of yard work with pruning, hauling branches, mowing, then swimming or running or tennis or hiking – it’s nearly all I really want to do.  That is, if it weren’t for booking the upcoming tour, hopefully through D.C., Raleigh, Asheville, Atlanta, Miami, and back again.  Meanwhile I have kept an eye out to see if there’s any way in the universe I can get to the UK for Robin Gibb’s memorial service, and I have met online friends who get why this continues to mean so much to me. I was sad to learn that I will be in FL on the day of a plaque dedication, but there may be another time to gather.  I’ve been true to my promise to self to not let summer fun pass me by. Rocking out (well, blue grassing out, anyway) with The Mutant Mountain Boys in oppressively hot Southern Ohio on the 4th of July was a blast, as was rediscovering my love for the strangely wise absurdity of the Church of the SubGenius. I have had some joyful days at Gunnison Beach and a good peaceful time at this year’s Northeast Naturist Festival. Oh, and my friend LauraLynn Jansen and I are planning to co-lead a chant and yoga retreat in Nicaragua, January 2013.

At first, I thought it was ironic that the chant CD is on its way as I feel itchy for a full band, wanting so much to step back into the role of rocker chick.  Really, it’s just typical artist stuff, I think. Project done and my being is moving onto the next, to be painted in singer/songwriter/rock sounds and maybe some spoken word. I do ultimately trust that when it’s time to be in the midst of any of these expressions, I’ll show up and be present. I hope This… and everything else together will tell more of the story as an exploration of life – or at least as extrapolated from this particular life – in something close to 360o.

www.robinrenee.com

The wild, scary, beautiful storm kicked up by taking on 30 poems in 30 days is still very much alive in me.  Expeditions for love, for cord-cutting and letting go, and for spiritual center run through it all.  So much is going on in ideas and emotions that it can begin to bring on a kind of paralysis.  I am not allowing that to take hold for long.  There is too much to do.  All of my projects – Robin Renée singer/songwriter, Robin Renée kirtan, The Mutant Mountain Boys, and various other creative drives are all clamoring for time.  Plus, some character named Devo Dan keeps bugging me to work with him.  ;- )  The many hours’ drive to and from Ohio this weekend for Mountain Boys rehearsal and kirtan at The Yoga Place was a welcome time for contemplation and decompression.  

 Writing daily forces me to get through my own crap- the lies it is convenient to tell myself- and I eventually have to get to something real.  This is where I want to live.  It is the middle of the well from which these creative impulses seem to spring.  I can’t say that I wouldn’t welcome a stable ledge on which to rest in this period that feels like a long project in unconditional truth-seeking.  Right now I am tumbling in the midst, and I choose to be ok with tumbling for now, capturing bits of the experience along the way.

 Last week, I really wanted to share the Phoebe Snow interview, so I preempted the NaPoWriMo poems.  Here are the rest of them.  Thanks for reading, for sharing your thoughts, for tumbling through. 

April 21, 2011

The New Trees Take Their Places

Evergreens stand over the yard’s back edge
And there is happy naked dancing for all seasons.
Summer will contend for the witchiest season of them all
With festival love and people who really like drumming.

I wonder what happened to the pissed off trees
And shame-riddled women clutching towels to hide themselves,
persecuted Pagans and the winter that never goes home.
No such luck for the erstwhile King and Queen of Angst.
Some of those folks never lived here, and the rest have flown back
to their lovely realms.

There must be words spoken
like tsunami, earthquake, and revolution.
I wonder what happened to those words.
They must have moved beyond the property line,
but they are remembered daily.

Evergreens stand over the yard’s back edge
Holding gallant space for solid ground,
Keeping watch over quiet growth and loud passion,
And there is happy naked dancing for all seasons.

April 22, 2011

Face the sticker-splattered wall,
part mural part disdain.
I would have endured.
Finding empty letter,
noting missing friendship ring
would have been too hard.
You’ve done me the favor.

April 23, 2011

World Café

The camera
The bit part
One toe in the drink
The harp
The sword
A pen still mightier
The listening corner
The open ears
A reverent envy
The rivalry
The spur
In the side of
New songs
Whatever it takes
To dive in

April 24, 2011

Toes recall wild grass,
Bare skin, sun, and air make love-
Nature’s Easter prayer.

April 25, 2011

A Different Ring

Regarding the ring:
You must wear it well
as you wear shifting speech.
Once your head is turned, flowery protest? Useless.
White gold or semi-precious, I don’t know. I’ve not seen
your finger or your face
in almost long enough.
Who would I be to stand
in the laced path
of the marriage of crisis to victim?
On the New Hope bridge,
you asked for my blessing on a ceremony.
It was another love, declared before meat-eating
Straight-acting, and the face of tradition
Took you on, a code of opposites.
Teacher, point your own way home.
Or not.
Who would I be to stand
in the overgrown path
of separation, mind from knowing?
Bodies- yours and mine
are not to touch again.
I take up scissors to cut the barky vine
can’t help but drop them still
thinking “Have it your way.
See you next life, then.”

I remember, to those who leave
I wave goodbye.
Somewhere in the dredged earth
is the reason to thank you
with a smile.

April 26, 2011

Which pointed buds give way to splayed white flowers,
Which dots will soon be leaves-
On the outside, there are teachings.
Inside, the chair before the desk-
Which wall needs waterproof steel blue paint,
Which bent-page piles most urgent.
Love released, received among proud dandelions,
First order of business.

April 27, 2011

If Found, Do Not Return

Empty shell
almost repaired
left for traveler
willing to give up
dense center
for hollow-handed love
or for king’s horse
in need
of sight gag.

April 28, 2011

Chocolate, Wine, & Porn

First thing I see are bed covers unraveled, like they’ve just enjoyed the ride, then there’s you, crimped brown hair, as avant garde undressed as in leopard print and vintage clogs,
I wonder if you’d let me really see you this way were I not imagining your story and you were not hiding in the arms of academia. I may be deep in the house of mistrust still
at least I imagine you, alone with dark chocolate, red wine, grainy porn, still-no-silicone video, hairy, hot and real. My brain stops here, I want to know what you do by yourself
and what with, times I’ve known you there is love and doors that close
on making love, sudden, no warning, no formula to break barriers.
Still, I believe you, once mistress of three classic pleasures, exciting
and dulling nerve endings, in your endorphin cocktail haze, lover,
may you have remembered me.
I remember your backpack at the bus stop, what your intent eyes knew,
your sleeping beauty on post-collegiate futon, how the three of us, that one time,
barely fit in the shower.
Want to fast-forward this stuck cassette, see what is now, what unstuck passion together might come beyond memory, beyond numbing, beyond the endorphin rush of running.
Pour me a pinot, I’ll bring the raw cacao.

April 29, 2011

Radius

Chant and dance move this night
Circular motion time intended
A love not actionable
Comes back around
A slow burn
Toward flame or fizzle
At any point
There is a straight line
To center

April 30, 2011/May 1, 2011

Garden earth green and floral
or warm city rhythm
If we do not drop our armor
on the eve of Beltane,
we lie by omission.

I plan to wed the summer
hand-held or solitaire,
make love in the field
of clover and thorn

www.robinrenee.com

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