Little Big Connections

Little Big Connections

I speak
the message is lost
You speak
I haven’t a clue

I sing
melody meets ears
You sing
harmony is born

I play
rhythm is shared
You groove
the dance begins

-BD 6/28/16

Music has been opening doors in little big ways. In Turin, we played a set to the audience of a mother and daughter. They spoke no English, we speak no Italian. The girl was clapping along to our rhythm and fully present with the music. Afterwards we invited her to approach to pluck the strings of our instruments to see what they were like (mostly by smiling, offering out the instruments, and demonstrating plucking). She shyly and curiously approached with the encouragement of her mother and tested out the strings with her small fingers. The mother thanked us, “Grazie!” and they continued about their day.

Here’s a video from the Parliament building in Genoa and is dedicated to Michelle Hoyt. We have several dedicated videos that will be coming soon as their own separate posts.

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Serendipitude

Serendipitude

We are only
so strong
and so weak
as when we
dream together.

Seven times seven
men could
stand abreast
and cover the
Earth with love,

But just so many
men could
dash the hopes
of nations.

When we strive
for grandeur
we find cages of
bone and
nets of expectation
that might catch
fish if not
for all the
loopholes.

Yet I say,
stand with me,
nod to my dreams
and I will
honor yours
in my words
and my deeds.

BW 06/24/16

 

We’re finally here in Genoa, Italy! We’ve been attempting to get here since Thursday morning…here’s a brief look at our efforts to get out of the UK and to the Mediterranean.
Wednesday night in London:
Ben: “Baylen, look at these flights to Turin!! 60 pounds a seat! We could get 3 seats to Italy for the cost of one Eurostar ticket to Paris!”
Baylen: “That’s awesome, especially considering that the EuroCup, which we didn’t know was happening, is being hosted in France making everything booked up and extra expensive. I think we should skip over France and come back later in life. Let’s roll a handful of 20-sided dice, each assigned to a different element, to see what the fates say.”
Ben: “Would you look at that, the dice say we should go to Turin, except why is the “spirit” die a 2? Apparently our spirits will be crushed?? Naaahhh. Let’s swing by the airport tomorrow morning to purchase these 60 pound flights and get out of here!”
7:00am Thursday morning at Luton airport outside of London:
Ben: “We would like three tickets on the flight to Turin please, one for me, Baylen, and our friend Felicity the cello.”
Blue Air Staff: “Great, that will be 183 pounds….”
Baylen: “That sounds about right.”
Blue Air Staff: “per seat.”
Ben/Baylen’s Mind: “AAAAAGGGHGHGHGGAAGGGGHGGGGHHHHHGGAGGAAGHH”
Ben/Baylen’s Words: “Thank you, we’ll have to think about that for a moment.”
*Ben and Baylen get a nearby hotel, purchase tickets online at 60 pound price for Friday morning and chill out all day..*
Friday:
Ben: “I’m so glad we are finally on this plane! Genoa, here we come!!”
Baylen: “You’re telling me. Uffdah!”
Felicity the Cello: “……………..”
*Plane lands and we make our way to the train station with only moderate confusion.*
Baylen: “Uh, Ben. Look at the departures board. My Italian isn’t the best, but I think I know what ‘cancellato’ means.”
Ben: *Facepalm!* Let’s get a ticket at the customer service counter to see what is up.
*Waiting, waiting, 90 minutes of waiting.*
Customer Service Staff: “Oh yes, no trains to Genoa, or pretty much anywhere today. There is a national strike until 9pm tonight. You can get a train to Genoa tomorrow.”
Ben/Baylen’s Mind: “AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Ben/Baylen’s Words: “Thank you very much, have a lovely day.”
Baylen: “Well, let’s get a place to stay in Turin and see what this place is all about…”

The serendipity of all this is that, without each unfortunate mistake or mishap, we would have passed right through Turin without a second glance and thereby missed one of our best nights so far this trip!

Turin is an old city and used to be a capital.  The architecture is gorgeous. Every building has countless windows and every window has a balcony. The streets are wide and friendly and the cafes have a stylish but inviting design that made even a couple of smelly vagabonds like ourselves feel welcome.

As we wandered we stumbled suddenly into a magnificent church, complete with golden statues and mural domes. It was lavish but tasteful, with perfect marble. We could tell immediately that the acoustics were phenomenal. We were both thinking the same thing, but Ben was skeptical of our chances. I (Baylen) approached the woman on staff and asked her if she was at all open to the idea of some cello and viola music. After an initial moment of translation shock, she smiled and went to see if she could turn off the feint music piping through the speakers. Soon Wormwood played a few sets under the marvelous arches. Ben also played some solo Bach suites. He is quoted saying, “Bach makes so much sense in a place like this!” The whole experience was a bit surreal. Antonella, the wonderful woman keeping watch on the place, explained that the church was built by the Jesuits in the 16th century. Nothing like 500-year-old acoustics to boost your tone! We are so grateful to Antonella for her generosity. She even offered to host a little concert for us if we wanted to come back in a few days! The takeaway for both of us, is not to assume things. It never hurts to ask! (Unless you’re as Midwestern as us; then it is literally painful to push social boundaries, haha.)

 

 

Soon after we dined on cured meats and a bottle of Chianti at a little meat and vino cafe at the heart of the city. The salami and ham, which was served on a wooden board, tasted just as good as we imagined it would. With stomachs full and cheeks flushed, we played music on one of the main thoroughfares of the town. Thousands of people walked by and many really enjoyed our sound. One gentlemen threw a crumpled note into our case that we mistook for garbage, but later realized was 10 Euro! The generosity of the evening was unprecedented.

After a bit, we packed up our cases and followed the tide of faces towards the main piazza and the grand castle. We began hearing fireworks as we approached, and what we saw when we arrived drove home the magic of the city. Thousands of people were gathered on the piazza and down a street for at least a half-kilometer. The sea of people must have been at least eight thousand! Everyone was watching the fireworks on the river, laughing and smiling. We could only guess as  to the cause, but it was certainly a Friday of celebration. We smiled the whole way home.

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Did we mention our hostel room had air-conditioning? Yeah, we slept like kings…slightly sunburned kings.

Solstice at Edinburgh Castle

Solstice at Edinburgh Castle

Familiar faces
in foreign places.
Spirits seeking outward
hoping to find
the essential within.

All have questions
actions
convictions
more questions
overflowing from sincerity
and an earnest hunger
to understand
one’s place
in the unfolding epic.

We are all lost.
Together.

Words can only hint at the energy of that evening. New friends who in many ways were total strangers came together with their souls on their skins. The city had grown silent as the moon rose full. The music of the spheres, of an aged city, and of present seekers was thick in the air.
It is times like these that I do not feel like a musician, rather a primitive human hoping to use this strange, yet powerful gift of music as a conduit connecting things and selves which so frequently give the illusion of separateness.
To all that were there, thank you for your presence and full participation in shared time and space.

-BD 6/23/16

Here is a video dedicated to Duke and Carlyn Wagner from atop Arthur’s Seat. Wormwood’s most adventuresome performance to date!

We Did That on Purpose!

We Did That on Purpose!

No, we really didn’t. We haven’t done much of anything as planned the last few days. We’re calling these days “Strugglefest 2012!!!” More to come on that soon. We woke up at 5:00am today to catch a train to take a bus to get on a plane to get on another train in a different country. The first few routes were successful (trains are ridiculously comfy in Europe!) but the plane travel was a bust. We opted to wait another day for non-last-minute prices to Italy. While none of this even remotely resembles any kind of plan that we’ve had before the last 12 hours, it should end up saving us about 500 US Dollars! Good life choices.

Now we are camped out at a hotel in Luton, just outside the airport. The WiFi is exceptional, so that’s a plus, and the hotel staff gave us breakfast for 2.5 pounds a person! Very generous. We must look disheveled 🙂

But we have tickets on a plane! Three of them. Not to Venice, but to Turin, where we will hop a train and get to Genoa for our Mediterranean fix. In the meantime, we will shower/bathe and probably wash our clothing in the bathtub. Should we use hand soap or shampoo???

P.S. Continuing with the theme of unplanned happenings, we stumbled upon the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

Here is a video of Wormwood in Edinburgh. This one goes out to Adam Conrad. Somewhere along the Royal Mile there is a hidden garden known as Dunbar’s Close. Its immaculately trimmed hedges reminded us of Adam’s Royal Beard.

When in Rome…go to Venice

After a fantastic first week in the miserable foggy chill of the UK, Ben and I have decided we’ve had enough. While originally we planned to spend some days in London and Paris, our blood needs warming and we’ve committed ourselves to whatever travel is necessary to get our gooses to the Mediterranean. Ben has found he can’t really sleep on a bus, but maybe trains will be different. Or MAYBE he’s committed himself to a future state of sleepless delirium. Either way I’m proud of his leadership in this spur of the moment planning. There’s a good chance we will buy plane tickets to Venice.

We are a bit haphazard in mood after our first week. Sitting in a non-moving bus outside London for 40 minutes at the crack of dawn did not help. Thankfully our emotions went silly instead of sour. We think either some huge accident blocked the highway or London itself decided to play a joke on us. Prayers for the former. Curses for the latter.

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I would love to someday return to Scotland and especially Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic city with a unique layout. We didn’t do many museums, but we got a very good sense of the culture and the layers of history. I’ve never seen so many ascending and descending streets that passed over and under one another. Then there are “closes” and “wynds,” which are essentially hidden courtyards and winding staircases. One such staircase was our preferred busking spot (for acoustics and charm). Walking through Edinburgh almost felt like stepping into a Dr. Seuss book. There are countless twists, turns, and underpasses.

We tried some excellent whiskies, and even smoked some “old Toby” tobacco, courtesy of Bob Latchaw, on the slopes of Edinburgh castle. The food was nothing exceptional, but we didn’t go out of our way to find any affordable fine dining. Mostly pub fare and grocery stores kept us fed. We found Tesco had the best selection, but a little co-op had the best fresh foods and gluten-free options. The beers on tap at pubs were very good, and there are many ciders available at most places. It seems to me like a city for all ages. Many generations could enjoy living in or visiting that place. That goes double if you consider the dark age and how defensible the castle remains to this day, haha.
The UK was good to us. Don’t mistake our mock cynicism for true unhappiness. We had one great day of sun and many great days of drizzle, and we enjoyed all our time. London is a bit busy for Wormwood’s artistic pace, but it’s quite impressive. Just the same, let’s see if we can’t get to warmer climates!

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(I didn’t actually forget a toothbrush, haha.)

 

First Two Videos!

First Two Videos!

Finally!!! We have spent the afternoon taking care of some business at a cafe which gave us the time to upload two of our five videos so far. The video files are large and take approximately an hour to upload. So, I imagine the videos will likely be a little bit behind our current whereabouts as the trip continues. A huge thanks to Gino, owner of The Coffee Mill Cafe, who allowed us to enjoy some coffee, chips, and bum around for the afternoon. Enjoy our first two takes!

Here is a shout-out to Jared Shulz, our good friend and first backer on our IndieGogo campaign. This was on day 1 in Glasgow, Baylen’s cello, Felicity, was freshly purchased from the shop with a brand new set of strings. (Please forgive her temperment.)

 

Next, is our shout-out to Bob Latchaw! This is the castle in Edinburgh. You’ll notice an unladen European swallow flying by at 1:07. After we finished our set, many strange French-men popped their heads over the castle wall and began hurling insults at us. (Monty Python reference, everyone.)

 

Attuned

Attuned

Through faults of stone
These human hands
Reach out with
Eager
Calm.
Every face a city
Unto itself.
Every heart a song
With harmonies
Transcending lifetimes.
The cracks that divide
Are interesting
To find
To film
To study
But in the end
We rediscover bedrock
Or the human soul
We never should have
Forgotten.

-BW 2016

Having spent a few days in Edinburgh and run into several types of great human beings, I’ve found a feeling of kinship in new faces that I hoped for but did not expect. Wormwood played a set of music on the top of Arthur’s Seat. Ben insisted we make the trek up that winding path, and I didn’t argue, but I complained heartily whenever appropriate.
Thankfully, it was worth the effort. Playing for a private audience of tired hikers (fifty people or so) with a bird’s eye view of Edinburgh was magic of the first order. It may have been Wormwood’s most satisfying performance to date.

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Arthur’s Seat

We connected with a group of Germans travelling for school and several American’s as well. We’ve spent a couple evenings chatting with those wonderful people. They are young and smart and complete strangers except that we share one noteworthy experience at the top of a very small mountain. It’s the kind of connection Ben and I hoped we could make via our music and our honesty.
We also found great conversation with a brother and sister from Australia. We sat in the lounge of our hostel and shared a few stories and tips as we all organized bus/plane tickets on extremely slow internet. When traveling it seems planning is a good portion of daily work. Ben and I have discussed feeling pressure to “make every moment great” when on vacation. That isn’t possible or healthy. Just because we are traveling doesn’t mean living stops. Still have to eat. Still have to plan. Still have to take a shit once and a while. Maybe the key is finding joy in every activity. (Yes, that’s right, I relieved myself in two dozen scattered cafés through Edinburgh! What did you do with your summer?)
We spent some time with a pair of women visiting Edinburgh from London. They saw the cello and viola by our bunks and “demanded” that we play for them. So we got the common room bar to shut off the music for a spell and we played a few rounds. The Londoners told us later that they honestly expected us to make up excuses or dodge the situation. We told them that would undermine the purpose of our trip. We came to share our craft with anyone who cares to listen. We hadn’t really stated that explicitly until our two, new friends initiated, though. Thanks, you two, for helping us realize our project! Also, thank you for encouraging us to try haggis. It is quite tasty.
I wish this post came with a video. We have many to share,but they are rather high quality (as we prefer) so it is painstaking to upload them! As soon as we find public WiFi with sufficient speed, we will begin sharing our joy on the interwebs. Until then, stay in touch and enjoy your own magical, everyday moments.