Archives for posts with tag: Sharyn Dimmick — recordings
Painting of Christmas cookies on green and red tablecloth.

Christmas Eve. 8″ x 8″ watercolor pencil and white gouache. Sharyn Dimmick

My mother will turn 85 on New Year’s Day 2015. She has begun announcing that this is our last traditional Christmas celebration, complete with tree, wrapped presents, homemade festive meal, assorted guests and family members, cookie-baking marathon, cut boughs of holly, etc. It is time for a change, she says.

I had always assumed that I would step in and take over the family Christmas traditions. For many years I have increased my contributions to the Christmas labor. But, this year, I had an unexpected number of music gigs in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and a wild week where I both attended concerts and played them. I went north to sing on the radio and to visit my best friend. I went to a local party. And amidst all that I stood by to receive shipment of my new “Clueless” CD.

Clueless  CD  CoverThe CD was shipped December 10 from Oasis Disc Manufacturing via UPS with two-day shipping. The first notification I got said it would be delivered on Monday December 15 (NOT two-day shipping). Many emails and phone calls later I got a notification today on December 19 that it was on a delivery truck. Lo and behold it got here this evening and is available for purchase at long last. here this evening. In the meantime, Oasis offered to re-manufacture the CDs at no cost to me and to ship them this coming Monday. This means that I will eventually receive 600 CDs instead of 300, but it also means that I cannot get them to anyone but locals by Christmas or Chanukah: Now that the CDs  have arrived I will carry a number of them around in my guitar case and backpack. I will also offer them for sale at Down Home Music and at CD Baby where you can get my 2009 release “Paris” and hear full-length versions of most songs, plus clips of the cover songs. Soon I will begin the process of getting full versions of the songs from “Clueless” up on CD Baby as well. For now you can hear a couple of the songs for free on Reverbnation.

What I have learned from this is that Oasis comes through for its customers, even in situations where they are not at fault and UPS — well, let’s just say that my brother who worked in shipping for a number of years recommends Fed Ex for deliveries.

Anyway, as Christmas approaches, my participation has been limited to buying a few gifts (in October and November), and making ginger cookie dough (yesterday). When I feel better I will be making my famous cocoa shortbread and possibly a new cookie. Mom beat me to making pfefferneusse, Russian tea cakes, dream bars, apricot bars and sugar cookie dough, but I might make up a batch of Smitten Kitchen’s maple butter cookies anyway because my brother and I fell in love with them the first time I made them. I will put some Christmas music on as I lounge about today, awaiting the arrival of the “Clueless” CDs and hoping to put in a brief appearance at a music party this evening.

painting of pomegranates, limes and December sunrise.

December Still Life. 8″ x 8″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

Saturday morning I have one more gig at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, if it does not get rained out. Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning I will be assisting my friend Elaine in preparing for her annual Chanukah party. I will spend Christmas Eve Day with Johnny, eating salad and tamales from Trader Joes, after serenading the morning commuters with Christmas carols. I return home in the evening to rest before assisting Mom with the last Dimmick Christmas feast marathon the next morning. All traditions come to an end, changing in subtle ways before they become part of the ghostly past of memory. No one can remember what year I started buying Straus whipping cream or what year we stopped making homemade caramels or what year I put candied ginger in the pfefferneusse or what year I invented the shortbread.

Whatever you celebrate and wherever you are, I wish you the happiest of holidays. Happy Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa. Happy holidays I have never heard of or can’t keep straight in my head. May you know the joy of feasting, of companionship, of bright light in a dark time, of joyful music. Best wishes to all who read The Kale Chronicles, whether you have been here from the very beginning or whether you just popped in today. May you enjoy your winter festivities and the love of all beings dear to you. Love, Sharyn

Clueless  CD  CoverPlease excuse the hyperbole — I am practicing supporting my music with better marketing efforts. As I mentioned in the November post I took part in Maia Duerr’s course “Fall in Love with Your Work” this fall for the second time. The signal realization for me this time around was that I had wanted to become a performing singer and songwriter at age eleven and that I still wanted to do that. Maia gives students in this class an opportunity to sell work on the Liberated Life Project Marketplace website, which inspired me to create, “Clueless,” a new EP (reduced length CD) of three original love songs I had written in 2012. “Ingenue” describes the experience of falling in love despite “a lifetime of love gone wrong.” “The Werewolf” talks about “the alcohol werewolf blowing my safe house down,” worrying out loud about potential problems in a desired relationship and “Clueless” details mishaps of courtship where both participants trade off being “clueless” by not understanding one another, not picking up hints, etc. That one, like “Ingenue” has a happy ending — it is always a positive, enlarging event to fall in love because it opens the heart.

This new E.P. marks the first time I have released a recording of all original material. I might as well be known as Sharyn Don’t-Call-Me-a-Singer/Songwriter Dimmick because I am always saying that. As a songwriter, I value my own material and I sing it myself, which technically makes me partly a singer/songwriter, but, as a singer, I like to sing all kinds of songs, from traditional Scottish and American ballads, to hymns and Christmas carols, to 19th century classics like Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times” to iconic songs like Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” to lesser-known contemporary gems like Shelley Posen’s “No More Fish, No Fishermen,” a lament for the decline of the Newfoundland fisheries. Because I wanted to present some new music this year and because the songs on the “Clueless” album hang together well I decided to release them as a solo acoustic project, an album with no overdubs or guest musicians.

Photo of cover of Paris CD by Sharyn Dimmick.

My previous recording, “Paris” covers a wider scope of my musical interests. The inspiration for that recording was the title cut, also called “Paris.” When someone I thought might be more than a friend took off for Paris without me and did not send me so much as a postcard from the trip a song was born as I mulled over every visit I had made to the City of Light, from a hitchhiking trip when I was twenty to a visit to a lover’s family in the 1990s. When I wrote the song I knew I wanted people to hear it, including my zen and writing teacher, Natalie Goldberg — I figured if I put it on a CD she would have to listen to it.* The recording features two other original songs, “The Wallflower Waltz” and “Morning Shanty,” which I had recorded previously on a cassette recording called “I Am Your Winter Lover” in 1998. I filled out the CD with songs I had known and loved since childhood: “Barbara Allen,” “Bringing in the Sheaves, ” “Big Yellow Taxi” “When You and I Were Young, Maggie” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I sandwiched “The Battle Hymn” between Richard Thompson’s “We Sing Hallelujah” and Leonard Cohen’s wonderful anthem “Hallelujah,” recording the three songs as “The Hallelujah Trilogy,” backed by a group of singers I called “The Hallelujah Chorus.” I also employed musicians to add fiddle, banjo, second guitar, concertina and harmony vocals to some songs, and dubbed in my own harmony parts on others.

I am pleased to announce that Bay Area readers (or those traveling through town) will have an opportunity to meet me and to hear my music in a live performance at the December 12 Open Mic at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1606 Bonita St.. I will be the featured performer for December and will sing a 20 minute set. If you are in town, please come to hear me. You might even be able to take home a copy of the “Clueless” EP.  I will also be singing the Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Banks of Fordie” on the radio this week on “Traditional Ballads with Sadie, streamed at www.kggv.blogspot.com or live at 95.1 FM on Thursdays 7:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific Time.

Be sure to check out other offerings from the Liberated Life Project Marketplace. Here Jill S. talks about her lovely note cards of architectural details and dahlias.

* After the “Paris” CD was released, Natalie confessed to me that she only listened to the tracks she liked best and skipped the rest. I extracted a promise that she would listen to the entire CD. She did and then wrote me a lovely review on CD Baby. Later she featured the lyrics to “The Wallflower Waltz” and stories about me in her book, “The True Secret of Writing.” She has continued to be a staunch supporter of my music and a good friend.

Clueless  CD  CoverJohnny made the first move: he called me from the hospital on the evening on October 6 to say that the silence between us was over. Two days later he expressed the hope that we could become friends. I spoke about my sadness at this idea and asked for a little time to process it. Then I went to see him in the hospital the next day after little sleep, many tears and several conversations with friends. We did not discuss our relationship that day, but talked about songs and such.

I was afraid that I would suffer from unfulfilled longings if I tried to become friends with Johnny. In our next long conversation I asked if he would share with me his reasons for deciding we weren’t right for each other. He did so and we talked about each one in turn, not trying to resolve things, but discussing his concerns.

As time passed I became less afraid: I reminded myself I didn’t control outcomes, that all I could do was be honest and present. I adopted the attitude that I could just take things a day at a time, see what happened each day, take responsibility for my part in present and past interactions.

Johnny and I continued to talk every day. One night we had a deep conversation about the distressing events of the summer, from my moving out to his health crisis and hospitalization. We both cried on the phone. I remembered a saying I had heard from a contemplative nun: “The truth will make you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

Then one night I called Johnny to ask for some advice about sequencing the three songs on my upcoming “Clueless” CD. I had chosen the songs, arranged them and practiced them for a couple of months preparatory to going into the recording studio. I had made a painting for the front cover, featuring a self-portrait with two-tone hair and a portrait of Johnny. Johnny gave me his opinion about the order of the songs, all of which I had written in 2012 when I was falling in love with him (My personal notation for them is “sweet song,””scary song,””funny song” and, collectively, “The Johnny Songs”). Later I decided to put them in a different order and he told me he had independently come to the same conclusion.

Checking in as I went, I continued to discuss the music project with Johnny. I called him right after I left the recording studio the first day to tell him that we had gotten two takes of each song in an hour and a half. He asked me to play them for him over the phone, so I turned my computer speakers way up and held my cell phone to a speaker. Johnny listened and made comments, telling me which tracks he preferred and why. He also identified several potential problem notes in one song and I wrote them down to check with my recording engineer the next day. When I completed the recording and mixing I felt frustrated that I couldn’t play the master for Johnny, but I had come down with a slight virus and needed to rest.

Our many conversations revealed to us how much we cared for each other. Working on my music project together reminded us how well we could work together as a team. It is not that we are in a hundred percent agreement with each other, but we listen and genuinely want the best for ourselves and for each other. Johnny, who had felt torn between his attachment to me and his objections to certain behaviors and traits of mine, came to choose our great affection for one another over his objections. He said that he let go of his concerns about our differences and found more room to love me. I had let go of him earlier in the summer, but it did not affect my love for him, only the form that that love might have taken: I am grateful that he opened up the conversation again, which allowed us to come back together. We announced the renewal of our commitment to one another in classic modern fashion — by changing our Facebook status. One lesson I learned along the way is that the relationship I have with Johnny is between me and Johnny: I can ask other people for opinions, but no one else casts a vote in the relationship.

As I say in the song, “Clueless”: “You might be a clueless woman. You might be a clueless man. ‘Cause love has been confusing ever since the world began.” Love has been confusing and difficult, even wounding, but love finds its way through life’s obstacles if we apply enough patience and self-awareness, and loving, after all, is what we are here to do.

Yesterday I went out to see Johnny and paid a visit to my former vegetable garden, which has only gotten wilder. When I looked out the back door I saw a field of tomato blossoms covering the entire paved area. Buried in the understory were a whole colander’s worth of Principe Borghese and Sun Gold tomatoes. The tepee of Scarlet Runner beans was still standing and the pods were dry — I picked all that I could find. I carted home more butternut squash of varying sizes, leaving green ones and blossoms still on the vines that took up the other half of the yard. Chard had reseeded itself and the kale had never died. I picked leaves from both plants. I have plans to make a butternut squash lasagna with bechamel, perhaps this weekend. The bounty reminds me of the harvest festival aspect of Thanksgiving and the crazy weather in California that has squash and tomatoes blossoming in November.

As December approaches my new E.P., “Clueless,” is at the manufacturer’s, awaiting the final draft of the cover and CD art. When I receive the discs I will make a special announcement here. You will be able to order CDs from CD Baby or from Down Home Music in El Cerrito or from me directly or from the Liberated Life Project Marketplace. The Marketplace will operate for a limited time from November 30 2014 through January 2015 and will feature gifts and services by a diverse selection of artists, musicians and other professionals. Look for cards, metal sculpture, a book about happiness, coaching sessions, classes and more. Buying gifts or services in the Marketplace supports independent artists like me and people who are aligning their lives and their values to offer you the best that they’ve got. Check it out.

I am thankful every week and every month and every day for those of you who continue to read The Kale Chronicles as it transforms itself again and again.