I hope the season finds you well. Debbie and I are pretending the weather has turned cold – we’ve got the tree, holiday decorations are up, and we’re looking forward to seeing neighbors at the parties that are coming up. We do this while we still search for deer ticks after hikes in the woods and gathering stink bugs crawling around the windows – neither of which should be around in December.
I had a busy fall with trips out for festivals and performances – not as many as in years past, but enough for me. I had a great time emceeing at the National Storytelling Festival and performing at the Cave Run Festival in Morehead, Kentucky. Now, I’m home for the next several months, working on various projects around here, which includes working with a collaborator for a movie script for my book Night of the Spadefoot Toads, re-editing a novel on storytelling, looking for a literary agent and/or publisher, writing some songs with some plans for recording. But also…
I mentioned last newsletter that I’ve been working on the solo theater piece An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare – a modern retelling of that ancient story. I performed it for the first time in November in Shepherdstown, West Virginia – just one time -and it went really well. It’s moving and exhausting. I have tentatively agreed to perform it at The Burbage Theater in Pawtucket, RI this spring. It’s a great piece and it feels like something I’ve been pointing towards for many years. I’ll let you know the dates and would love to have you come see it if you’re nearby. This has taken up a great deal of my time in the past half-year – long walks in the woods talking to myself about Achilles and Hector. If it only means that I’m capable of memorizing 100 minutes of speech, it’s something for this old brain – but that’s just the start.
I want to say a word about my agent, who is also, president of our production company and my life partner, Debbie Block. Over the past several years, Debbie has taken a half-step away from sitting at the computer and phone and managing my art career. Of course, those of you who know me and my organizational abilities know that without someone as competent and talented as her, I would have been up the creek – who knows what I would have done for work up there, especially without a paddle. But as she’s stepped away (thus, encouraging me to slow down – all for the better) she’s also become deeply involved in our community – one of the main organizers of a hospice choir that does bedside singing at the end of life, and also as head of the board of Osamequin Farm, just down the street from us – a non-profit farm and cultural center that is growing in a beautiful way. She’s amazing. Don’t worry, she’s still in charge of the calendar, so if you book me, I’ll be there.
A lot of my reading lately has revolved around work on the Iliad, with nothing much contemporary to speak of. I was completely taken with A Fever in the Heartland by Tim Egan, which tells the story of the growth of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States during the 1920’s and focuses on Indiana. At the heart of it is a con-man who plays on people’s fears to gain power. Hmmmm. One side of my family is from eastern Indiana, a hotbed of Klan activity during that period, so it was particularly compelling for me. Hmmmm, again. Tim Egan’s books are always good, but this one hit close to home.
When I write, I usually have some music on in the background – nothing with words – that would mess me up. I’ve been a fan of Arvo Pärt’s minimalist, somehow timeless choral and orchestral works – slow moving, sonorous and powerful. His new recording Tractus is all of those thing. I’ve also discovered a wonderful old Jim Hall recording, Concierto, with great players on it – Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, Steve Gadd, Roland Harris and Ron Carter. Great straight ahead jazz!
Not too late to send Bill Harley
Dinosaurs Never Say Please
You’ve asked and we’re answering: We’re happy to announce that we are re-releasing “Dinosaurs Never Say Please” on CD!
They are on order and should arrive any day now. Order yours now and we’ll ship it to you as soon as they’re in!