23 June, 2020

Toppling Statues


Sometimes the headlines write the songs. I had a good time writing this. Now if I could just get it out of my head…. Sing it to the tune of "On Top Of Old Smoky"

We're toppling statues
of confederate schmoes
i'd rather see Larry, Curly and Moe

Let’s have Ella and Billie, Sir Duke or Roy Haynes
or Dizzy Gillespie, Rahsaan or Coltrane
Or maybe Aretha or Sojourner Truth
Audre Lord or John Lewis or ol Langston Hughes

We're toppling statues
of old men with no souls
to replace them with heroes like Sun Ra or Nat Cole

Elizabeth Cotten, Charles Mingus or Prince
Barry White, Crispus Attucks or Atticus Finch

Big Mama Thornton, Ruby Dee or Odetta,
Mahalia Jackson or Sister Rosetta

Or Zora Neale Hurston or Nina Simone
Bessie Smith or Slim Gaillard, Monk or Sly Stone

We're toppling statues
those old men must go
To celebrate people
with big hearts and souls

Those thieves they have robbed us
of solace and sleep
They’ve never been heroes –
they just made the world weep

(The Nina Simone statue is in her hometown of Tryon, NC. Sculpted by Zenos Frudakis, it contains some of her ashes in a bronze heart built into the chest.)

17 June, 2020

Is As Does Is – Re-Does!

Greets to you on the cusp of the strangest summer after the strangest winter and spring I can ever remember. Here’s hoping you are standing up and at em, learning lots, and digging in during this most explosive time of social change and growth. Somehow we all are doing our parts creating a different kind of place to live in and there has never been a time like this before.

I am grateful for this place where I live, for the community of folks I know in so many places and the many ways creation continues to manifest as we question everything we’ve been taught and reach beyond it all to move beyond limiting beliefs and conditioned responses. It is a time of big swift change and a deep renegotiating and revisioning of the way we choose to live together.

Amazingly, along with everything else happening this year, 2020 is also the 25th anniversary of Is As Does IsThat 1995 album has just been remastered and reimagined to celebrate its silver year – but who woulda thought we’d be where we are and why do this now? 

I’ve been preparing to do this for awhile. Back in February, I dug out the original master tape thinking it was the perfect time to revisit it and took it to Sky Onion Studio in Portland to have it remastered. It sounds real and 3D now instead of muddy and muffly like when it first was made it into a CD. It hasn’t been available since the turn of the century and for good reason.

The album is a dozen rollicking, relevant tracks recorded simply with a guitar, voice and a bit of harmonica – wound wires and wood meeting the human voice and mind, from a time before pocket phones, email and zoom concerts when I was living in my truck and touring everywhere. 

The sonic difference is startling and the cover has been updated and re-visioned  too thanks to Lampadina Design. As SeƱor Wences said in his famous Pepto Bismol commercial: “It’s the same, just different!” Have a listen, go for a ride, send for a copy or download it. 

Here's two ways: 

• Order it directly through me with a check or money order, just like in the old days by sending me your mailing details. You can send me messages through the Bandcamp page linked in the next paragraph.

• Order it online as a physical CD in its spiffy new wallet design or download it as lossless soundfiles on Bandcamp here. Get the album download free when you order the CD too. Sending for a physical copy supports the Postal Service (and who wouldn’t want to do that these days?). 

Whether you pay online at Bandcamp or write to me, mere days later, a uninformed uniformed government employee will deliver a copy directly to your quarantined door almost like magic – only better. 

I may be fiddling while Rome burns here, but this project has been a goal for the last several years and other folks have continued to ask for it. While I hoped to have a whole new QTN recording together this year, in this locked-down whirld in the brokedown palace with no live music and no gigs, not much is happening that way now, or maybe in the near future either. 

As part of the 25th anniversary celebration, here’s a recently unearthed video of the song Medicine Bow, from Is As Does Is, live and filmed in Zion Narional Park on a tour through Utah about 1997. I’m not sure who filmed this, but it sure is fun to see again. Enjoy.  https://youtu.be/rbofdr1PQW8

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program which is already in progress… Steady steady now…

Your corn forest pundit,
bq

04 May, 2020

QTN Newsletter the Boing of Spring 2020

Hello bright human beings wherever you be these days!

QTN reporting in after a very long pause, far from the crowding mad on the hill over by the way in these strangest of most surreal times. May you and yours all be well and healthy and looking forward. Welcome to the new names on this list.

There are a five brief sections here:
• QTNews
• Is As Does Is
• LOLOLOLOLOLO
• Hibidiville
• And in conclusion...

It is a time of transformation and evolution and this way of unnatural being without shaking hands, hugging, live music and socialization is somehow nearly 100% universal since we are mostly all either quarantined at home or attending to “essential services” (if you are one of The Essentials, my gratitude and eternal thanks).

Emails, messages, texts and even real 3D letters inquiring where and how I be have been coming often and I thank you all for checking in with me. It’s a good to hear from folks even ones I have not heard from in a long time. I still enjoy email and am into letter visits. 

Many have asked when there will be a live streaming a QTN set online. Well… cellphone connectivity where I live is dubious at best, so while playing a live concert again is a fun idea I would definitely love to do, it’s not an option to do it from here. My phone doesn’t even ring most times, doesn’t tell me anyone calls and I hafta call in a couple times a day just to see if there are voicemails...

I made it back to Oregon in mid-October and in January, decided my new full-time job would be to spend several days a week without going to town to get life projects back on track and to learn to just be again. Right about then, the boom got lowered and the multiverse said “Several days a week?! How about you stay home EVERYDAY and for the next several months?” – so here I am, here we all are, and even though I’ve really been looking forward to more social time after the last several years of a different kind of quarantine and isolation. I guess social time not happening anytime soon. This will be the first time in more than forty years that I will not be in Texas for a spring visit. Kerrville has been postponed until October and no one knows what comes next.

Around the world, there is trepidation and fear about the most basic touching and communication and this distorted shelter in place and live music is suddenly gone. The ways we connect socially and deeply as humans is meaningful lifefood to me and it feels so odd and unnatural to be separated this way. 

On another hand, who would ever think that the year of 2020 perfect vision would actually stop the Big Machine and allow us to pause altogether? Perhaps that’s what it means. The only other time in my life I recall everything stopping like this was when Yoko asked the world to be quiet for ten minutes together in honour of John’s passing. Many the world over complied, including radio and television stations that broadcast ten minutes of dead air.

Even with the craziness of it all, this time to me feels sacred; a time to reset and assess, to revision and think about how to move forward. We are changing how things are going to go by looking at process and changing ourselves. As the Heron Moon song says, “There’s nothing to return to, only to proceed...” What does that look like for you?

Here in this contracted place, time and projects proceed because this is what I have always done. Perhaps it seems like fiddling while it all burns down, but having time to be still and write, play my instruments and be home is a huge gift, so here on the hill over by the way, I am proceeding with a couple cool endeavours:

• IS AS DOES IS - Just before lockdown, I dug out the old master tapes of this album and had a new freshly remastered version of that out of print 1995 album made. It sounded okay as the original cassette, but the first CD sounded mushy and muddy to me. Early digital mastering was not very good in the 90s. Thanks to Gus’ masterful remastering job at Portland’s Skyonion Studio, it now sounds clear, wonderful and new. 

This year is the 25th anniversary of Is As Does Is too, so I am manufacturing a short run of CDs for those who’ve continued to ask for it. Discs will be ready by May and preorders are happening now. If you’re interested, let me know asap.

•  LOLOLOLOLOLO, the QTN colouring book is again available. Laugh and get the crayons or markers out now that there’s time to colour. Order a book and I’ll send you a 2 1/2” button of the cover image too, both postpaid for $8 (paypal or check). If you’d prefer a contactless version, I can email a printable pdf instantly.



• My other albums and strange recordings are online at brianQTN.bandcamp.com  Since this crazy world is shrill and there are too many loud voices, I made Guitarred and Feathered, the ten song, wordless guitar album, free or pay-what-you-can to download from Bandcamp. 

If you can’t make a donation, just put 0 in the amount box and hit the download button. It’s my way of saying a big thank you for all these years and to send a rollicking instrumental soundtrack back to you to accompany these times. Physical CDs of my albums are available too by mail via Bandcamp. Every little bit helps to keep the wolf from the door…

• HIBIDIVILLE is the QTN youtube channel where I post my videos. More are coming soon as I’ve been converting my old VHS performances into streamable vids. Subscribe to the channel and you get notified as I post new treats. My other links are listed below the signature at the letter’s end. All feature various QTN content.

It’s true at times like these that we need our artists and creatives to bring new forms into being and many I know are busy alchemizing and creating. It is a time as well when folks who’ve wanted to get more creative are doing so and who knows what will come out of all this. Along with everyone’s lack of work and resource and commerce, I (and many contemporaries) are wondering how to proceed. There is something beyond what we knew as “normal” before this and it is my hope that whatever proceeds from this, it will be better than normal and that we will find a more humane and inclusive way to be on this swinging sphere.

So for now, in answer to queries, the best way to support me, and your favourite artist creatives during this time is to see what they’re up to via websites, social media etc, to order their work online, watch virtual concerts, and make them a donation if you can. Take care of those in your immediate community, especially those who are older and most vulnerable and alone. Even curbside visits from across the yard can be good contact medicine.

Historically in times like these (there have been other times like these) the world has come back reset and reinspired with a new sense of humanity and purpose. A recent essay I’ve enjoyed and passed around is The Coronation by Charles Eisenstein. I find it objective and wide ranging, containing many things I’ve been thinking these days even way before I read it. Do with it whatever you will.

Thank you for making it this far. As Ken Nordine would say: “ How are things in your town?” Drop me a line and let me know what’s happening where you are. If your email has changed, let me know that too.

Your corn forest pundit,
bq