musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: January 2017

Introducing… Sarah Beatty (and Belle Starr)

Sarah Beatty

In her new album Bandit Queen, Sarah Beatty tells the story of 19th-century American outlaw Belle Starr, who provided the inspiration for this sultry new music. By all accounts, Ms. Starr was one tough lady, convicted as a horse thief in 1883 and shot dead under mysterious circumstances in 1889. She’s pictured in her Wikipedia entry wearing long skirts and holding a revolver. This title track, the lead single from Beatty’s upcoming album, conveys an appropriate mood of danger and moxie.

Based in Hamilton, Canada, Beatty’s debut album, Black Gramophone, was released in 2012. Her style is a smooth blend of folk music and country with touches of jazz. Her delivery is bluesy, soulful and a bit wicked. You can hear the devilish gleam in her eye. On the new album, she’s joined by co-conspirators Matty Simpson on electric guitar and Justine Fischer on upright bass (both are from The Fred Eaglesmith Band), plus Dave Clark (Rheostatics, The Woodshed Orchestra) on drums.

Beatty’s mission on Bandit Queen, and in particular on this first single, is to help listeners discover their own “inner outlaw” and to share the historical account of a woman who was both powerful and flawed. It’s the kind of story not frequently told about women, even now. As she explains it, “I wanted to invite the dark parts into the storyline and inspire listeners to be their whole, real, bodacious, outlawed selves.”

Bandit Queen can be ordered on iTunes.

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On Making the Unknown Known

Alone with Friends

J. Stoller

Alone in the company of friends. These are strange times. I’m ashamed of the weariness I feel, worried by the emptiness and the confusion. I find I’m forcing myself to make smalltalk, feeling like a fraud as I do so. Bereft of what was once familiar, I wander around the ornate rooms as conversation swirls around me. But maybe that’s exactly the point and what must necessarily come before progress?

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing — and keeping the unknown always beyond you.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

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Clinging To What No Longer Serves

Clinging to an old blanket

by J. Stoller

In times of trouble, people cling to the mundane and to the familiar company of family and friends. They gravitate to comfortable surroundings, to deeply-entrenched ideas and attitudes. They hold on tightly to old and tattered possessions to which they are accustomed, even if these objects no longer serve a purpose.

When feeling challenged and under siege, people will embrace what they already believe to be true, speaking in the same language, however tired or inappropriate for the new situation at hand.

Surrounding oneself with the theatrical props of stability is not the same as feeling stable, safe and secure in your heart. What is needed is a paradigm shift.

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What if… What then?

What if, just like MySpace, Twitter suddenly changed their code or shut down completely, and all of those clever things you thought up, all the people who “liked” you and made you an internet sensation for 24 hours, all of that disappeared into the ether. Erased from Earth’s fragile history, you’re left alone in your basement room, with your dusty books and hardened mind, while the real people you shut out of your life have drifted away to find more satisfying conversation and a more reciprocal love. What then?

These are false communications, as transient as a Tibetan sand mandala. But unlike the mandala, whose essense remains in the collective unconscious, your clever thoughts, in the morning light? No one will remember them.

Indeed, we are all fleeting, we are all grains of sand, though we disappear without a trace or our essence remains based upon the decisions we make — whether to truly communicate, or to build an emotional wall.

As you slowly discover that the old proverb is true, you reap what you sow, betray and betrayal, abandon and abandonment, disregard and disregarded — What now?

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