Keeping in Tune – Summer Playlist

April 9, 2015

We curated the best albums for our favorite warm weather activities. Check out these five collections that provide the perfect summer soundtrack.

For a Weekend at the Shore…
Beach House: Bloom – I’m a sucker for (and crave) any sort of dream pop with lots of harmonies, and this album satisfies that desire perfectly. Add beautiful female vocals into the mix, and you have me hooked. Bloom is Beach House’s fourth album, but I didn’t give the band much notice until this album. The first track I heard was “Myth” and it gave me an insatiable desire to hear more from them. I loved it so much it gave me chills! The rest of the album did not disappoint. I think the name of this band is extremely fitting. When I listen to Bloom I feel like sitting at the widow’s walk on top of a beach house listening to the sound of the waves crashing and feeling the salty air around me. Have a listen, and see if you agree.

Clutch Album Recommendations

For a Camp Fire…
Lost in the Trees: Past Life – The title track of this album just makes me want to close my eyes and soak up the warmth of the sun. Echoey drum beats and airy vocals dripping with gorgeous melodies and harmonies create the perfect recipe for music magic. Released this February, Past Life finds the band experimenting with a sound stripped down from their past ventures. This new direction is a fairly drastic departure from their indie orchestra past, but there’s still special magic to be found. This album would be the perfect accompaniment to a camping trip out in the woods. Turn up the beautiful tracks, let them echo and bounce off of the trees and get lost.

For a Quiet Night On the Porch…
Mew: Frengers – This album is a wonderful roller coaster ride of amazing tunes. Here Mew provides thoughtful, some beautiful, and even some heavier guitar driven tracks to take you for a loop. The vocals especially make this album so special. Heavier songs like, “Am I Wry?” and “156” start out the album with a jolt, and the last track, “Comforting Sounds,” begins quietly and builds and builds to a perfect end. One of my favorite tracks is “Symmetry,” which features the soft and delicate voice of a young girl layered over a gorgeous melody. So just roll down your windows, and see where Mew takes you.

Summer Soundtrack Recommendations

For a Cook Out…
Black Moth Super Rainbow: Eating Us – If the name of this band immediately transported you to the 1970’s, you’re kind of right. If you already love the sounds of that era, this is definitely an album you should check out. The band toned down their psychedelic flare a bit with this album, although you still get some of that 70’s analog along with dreamy electronic atmospheric sounds. Confused? You still might be after listening to this album, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t have fun while doing so. Invite some friends over for a cookout, put this album on, and I bet someone will ask you where they can find the music.

For a Road Trip…
Chequerboard: The Unfolding – Oh, this album. Be still my heart. I absolutely love this album. I never knew how much of a guitar fan I was until I heard it. Maybe it’s because John Lambert, the face of Chequerboard, knows exactly what he’s doing and has a wonderful gift. My husband introduced me to this artist while on a road trip, and I was driving when he played The Unfolding. I didn’t speak a word the entire duration of the album because I was so mesmerized by the sensational guitar lines and atmosphere of it. When it was over, my only thought was that the melodies went exactly where I wanted them to go. From one note to the next, it was perfection. With each track I was excited to see what he would come up with next. If it sounds like I’m being dramatic about how much I adore his album, see for yourself. I’ll be sitting on the beach this summer with The Unfolding playing, being grateful for life and all of the beauty it possesses.

Special thanks to Deidre Stone, our Urbane Folklore columnist, for these great recommendations! 


Lessons Learned from High School Theater

July 8, 2013

I recently traveled up to Maryland for a very special occasion. In 1993 one of my older sisters convinced my mother to gather together a group of home school students and put on a play. This past May, 20 years later, my mother retired from high school directing. She has transported her audience all over the globe from the streets of River City, to the Russian village of Anitevka, to an attic in Amsterdam, and finally this year to the small town of Grover’s Corner. In the process she taught her students about theater, but more importantly about life. Here are a few of the lessons I learned from high school theater peppered with photos of me playing Anne Frank my senior year.

Joy as Anne Frank

*Everyone has a role to play.
Being the director’s daughter I often had a unique perspective of theater. Because my mom’s best friend built the sets and my sisters were often stage managers, I saw theater from multiple sides. I learned early on that the sets, the costumes, and the stage crew were just as vital to telling the story as the actors on stage. Without all these other people the characters didn’t have a world to live in. The simple fact has affected how I see so much else. Everyone has a role to play in a family, in the work place, in the community, in the church. No story is about just one person. Life isn’t just about me.
*Don’t let your mistakes stop you.
Take a group of high school kids, give them lines to memorize, and put them on a stage. It is inevitable someone will forget their line, their blocking, or their entrance. The gut reaction is to stop everything and freeze. But, as my mom always pointed out, the audience isn’t holding a script in their hand. They don’t know what line is supposed to come next. The only way they know a mistake was made if you tell them. How you recover is far more important than the mistake. You will mess up; the important thing is to keep going. This applies to so many other areas of life in general.

Joy as Anne Frank

*Be yourself.
We did a lot of comedy, but even in the dramas we preformed my character was always a free spirit. I had to do a lot of things that made me very uncomfortable. I wore costumes that made me look ridiculous; I spent one show dancing around the stage in a tutu the entire time. I also had the opportunity to play one of the most wide open characters I have ever encountered when a landed the role of Anne Frank. Ironically, in losing myself in these characters, I found myself. Each of these characters was so comfortable in their own skin that it was hard not to have that rub off on me. Stories are most interesting when people are unique. Life is most interesting when you are yourself.

Sharon Abbott

*Everyone has a story (and every story has beautiful moments).
Over 20 years and 18 shows my mom has told a lot of stories. Some are plot driven, but many are character driven. Often the plays we did didn’t necessarily have a “plot”, rather the story was about the lives of people; the every-day-ness of their existence. When she decided to retire she chose Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. It is a story about living, and dying, and all the small things that happen in between. In a crucial moment of the play, one of the main characters, Emily, asks the stage manager if any one sees every moment of life while they are living it. The stage manager’s response is one of my mother’s favorite lines in the 14 different plays she has worked with. “No. Saints and poets maybe… They do some…” In immersing ourselves in someone else’s story, my mother has taught two decades worth of students one lesson… above all, to truly embrace and live and see our own story. To see the world through the lives of saints and poets.

So congratulations to Sharon Abbott. Thank you for the thousands of hours you put into rehearsing us. At the time we thought you were just rehearsing our characters, what we know now is that you were helping us rehears the people we would become.

~ Joy