The Hart of South Padre

10430411_736857576429026_7311618442923585049_nEvery town needs a little Hart, Aarin Hartwell that is. We met Aarin at the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance (aka SWRFA) in Sept. We noticed her immediately as she literally floated around the conference from room to room with a huge smile and a welcoming spirit. She came to our midnight showcase and danced the whole set. Afterwards we sat with her for a moment and were impressed by her sense of engagement and her excitement for community. She gave us information on The Island Folk Festival in South Padre Island and made note that she’d love to have us come down for it. We were delighted but our assumption was that she was an intern or on staff with the festival, and so we weren’t really sure how concert the offer was. It wasn’t until after the conference that we struck up a conversation online about a possible Hollands concert with her production company Hartwell Talent and Production, that we realized that this little darling was the founder and operator of the whole big festival. And so, we set a date to perform for her Island Folk Concert Series on Feb 13 and she arranged for us to come down a little early to enjoy her hometown.

We arrived with a welcome text, making sure we were all settled in and the next day she popped by to grab Graciana for a day of Kiteboarding and exploring, while the rest of us10600532_1397175867189728_8344541029171900161_n went to visit the Turtle Rescue and the secluded north shore. Later, we met up for a meal to talk over logistics before our show.

Through the course of our time on the island, Aarin shared her story of growing up in Brownsville, just down the road, surfing South Padre Island (which the locals call SPI) and was committed to SPI as her home. She is involved in city counsel and chamber meetings, and working towards getting her brain child of a festival up and running. Aarin is a self-appointed ambassador of the island and she is most certainly a visionary. If you just sit down with her for five minutes you’ll feel inspired to dream with her, hoping on board and lending a helping hand.

IMG_0657South Padre Island is a barrier island in the U.S. state of Texas. It’s 1.9 miles long and has a population of 2800. South Padre is a beach resort town and every year experiences a large influx of winter Texans, mostly from the mid-west and spring breakers from universities all over the country. The island also attracts a large international population. At its core, its economic focus is on the outsider. So, Aarin’s vision to make it home for folkies all over the country is on par with the ethos of the island. However, her vision goes beyond the tourist to the heart of those 2k plus inhabitants, of whom she knows almost everyone. Her vision is to bring art and music to the island, as well as, give a cultural voice to those local folkies who meet regularly for jams and community gatherings.

IMG_0666Aarin created the Island Folk Concerts to showcase some of the artists that she hopes to bring back for the Festival. We kicked off her spring season at the SPI Birding Center and had about 40 kinfolk in attendance. It was chilly winter night at about 52 degrees but everyone seemed ready for the chill and brought sweaters. We did two solid sets offering our original Folk/Americana sound, including a few new songs that our daughter, Graciana, wrote. She also debut her Nord keyboard on one of the songs. After the show folks were generous in supporting our music by purchasing CD’s and our son, Banjo scored a big profit with his handmade “bottle cap” percussion instruments.

We finished out our last day on the island biking up and down gulf road. We explored the local shops and in the afternoon, Aarin taught us to make a proper sand castle. We had aIMG_0675 blast learning the tricks of the sand art trade. That evening we rode our bikes to the bayside to enjoy the sunset. Aarin and Graciana had some fun doing a little modeling shoot for Graci’s blog, Dutchy Gazelle and then we finished off the night with a bbq at Aarin’s and Valentines Fireworks. The next morning we went to a little Baptist church with Aarin, that was chalk full of Winter Texans. We sang a few songs, shook a few hands and heard a bit of classic fire and brimstone. For lunch we stopped by the local farmers market and met Aarin’s dad and fellow musician, Jack Hartwell. He invited us to sit in for a song or two and we couldn’t pass it up. We sang a few songs, got a few veggies for the road, fired up the bus and said goodbye for now.

We enjoyed our week of Hartwell love. If you’re a beach combing, folk music lover and are looking for the next hot ticket, think about adding The Island Folk Festival, Sept 4-6 to your calendar. You’ll be glad you did!

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Take Me Back to New Orleans

Fontainebleau State ParkWe spent three nights at one of our favorite camp grounds in the US, Fontainebleau State Park. The park costs $18 a night for a paved drive, Elect/Water hook ups and sits on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s about a 40 minute drive from the park to downtown New Orleans. Perfect for a day trip in to the French Quarter for Beignets and music and back out to the quiet of the beach.

Click the link below for musings about our time in New Orleans from our Daughter’s perspective.

Take Me Back to New Orleans.

Outtakes from the beach:

 

Byron Bay And The New Earth Tribe

20140228-190313.jpgI’m a beach girl. The surf and sand call to me in my dreams. Craig has taken note of my intense need for this natural setting and booked us a few shows up on the New South Wales coast.

We made our way up from Melbourne to Wollongong, Sydney and as far north as Yamba. We had 2 days free between shows and had our eyes set on Byron Bay. Only another few hours north through banana and sugar cane fields and we could be basking in the sun on one of my dream beaches. It was a birthday wish of mine, but an expensive wish, at over $200 a night in Byron Bay. So, we needed to find a host, and actually really we wanted to find a host. There is nothing more life-giving than sharing a meal and story with kinfolk. And, even better than that is, sharing in that community, ON THE BEACH!

A friend in the US, went to a school called Deep End School of the Supernatural in Byron Bay and sent out an SOS to friends there. At the same time another friend in Australia, totally unrelated to our friend in the US, sent out an e-mail to a friend named Phil Mason. Phil and his wife, Maria are the spiritual directors at a grassroots Spiritual Community in the heart of Bryon Bay called New Earth Tribe. And get this, the Tribe runs a ministry school, the same school our friend in the US attended, so we knew it was meant to be!

20140228-173627.jpgPhil put us on to Hans, one of the Tribe leaders, who was happy to host us. Hans welcomed us to his rustic jungle surf shack.  There was talk of spiders, lizards and the Boa that lives on the roof of the front house, just above Hans’ room. We also talked about the possibility of sharing a meal and an impromptu house concert, which we were happy to do. However, it was the first week of school and both Hans, Phil and Maria were flat-out getting life in order for the new students. And so, we all decided to play it by ear and see what unfolded over the next 48 hours.

Byron Bay BeachAfter we settled in, we found our way down to the beach and experienced one of the most mystical, beautiful, and joyful places we’ve ever seen. We dined that evening at Orgasmic Food Byron Bay, a Middle Eastern Restaurant boasting the best Falafel around. We couldn’t agree more, even our 12 yr old with his picky taste buds, loved it! After a long stroll on the beach we finished off the night with a gelato from Bella Rosa.

Despite the fear of spiders, we had a decent sleep in the surf shack. We woke the next morning before the sun and hurried down to the beach to watch the sunrise. The air, colors and gentle movement of the waves were mesmerizing and enchanting. We stood in awe and savored the precious moment with praise and thanksgiving.

Byron Bay SurfAfter a light breakfast and nap we were ready for the surf! We had our first lesson in Carmel, CA in October and our son was stoked to give it another go.  The waves were fluffy, that’s really the only word I can think of to describe them. They were like riding on fluffy clouds. The sand was softer than talcum powder and a light brown color.

Besides the 9000 locals, Byron Bay attracts millions of backpackers from around the world.  The beach was packed with crowds, but everyone was kind and had a sincerity about them. They all seemed to be as genuinely amazed as we were by the surroundings. We enjoyed a light lunch and a spent another hour or so in the crystal blue water before heading back to camp to get ready for dinner and the gathering that Hans organized.

Phil and Maria MasonAt dinner we dined with Hans, Phil and Maria. Although, our first time meeting Phil and Maria, it was as if we were old dear friends. We sat across the table soaking up every word they said, taking it all in, and longing to stay. We were encouraged to hear about their work in a community that is a mecca for a diverse range of creative and alternative cultures. Also known as the rainbow region, the area in and around Byron is considered to be the spiritual home of Australia’s hippy movement. With that climate in mind, New Earth Tribe was birthed. They are disciples of Christ who are seeking to recapture the essence, power and relationship with the Spirit that He walked in.  I love it when a ministry is in context to the culture around it, meeting people where they are at and offering and opportunity for folks to truly know God more.

After dinner we drove about 25 minutes into the hills to the Cloverdale house. There were fairy lights and candles lit, wine and nibbles set on white linens and blankets strung about the lawn. The vibe was festive and four beautiful women welcomed us to their historical Queensland home. More kinfolk from the Tribe joined the gathering and we enjoyed a night of festivity, celebrating a faithful God who delights in putting the body together.

One day at a time. That’s become a motto, not so much because we are so laid back and easy-going, but because we have been so stripped back touring here in Australia that we really have had times where we go to bed at night unsure what the next day will hold.

Sometimes the weight of logistics can really take its toll on our little family. But, then there are times where we let go and just allow things to unfold. These have been the times where we have experienced provision, seen the most amazing miracles, connected with hidden community and found deep solace in a God who goes before us.

20140228-174927.jpgBy the way, we were smitten with this lovely little bus. We spotted it in a town called Bangalow along side of the road. And, it was for sale! $21,000 or best offer.

After two months without our bus/home we are missing the conveniences of having a home on wheels. There was a tickle of a thought that maybe we could purchase this darling orange mobile but it was too quick to catch and it fluttered away. How cool would that be though?!

Beaches, The NFL, and Art Museums

Mornington BeachesWe can’t get enough of the beach life here in Australia. After a whirlwind first couple of weeks, performing and catching up with kinfolk, we took a week of core family time to explore and rest.

Auntie Val and Uncle Michael have a beach house on the Mornington Peninsula and they graciously allow us to use it every time we visit the country. Our week there included back beaches near PortSea but mostly we stayed local, walking to the beach nearest their property and walking into the little town. Wifi is limited for us and so we would walk to town and sit at a little coffee shop to work on music stuff, as well as, catch up with friends in the US. On a side note, from our observation, there is a distinct lack of cell phone use here. Virtually no one has a device out when in general public settings. It was refreshing to see people really engaging in conversations. We noted how much we have detoxed from our typical routine of constantly looking at our phones (don’t get me wrong, we look for Wifi when ever we can get to it, but it’s been nice to not have it available at our whim).

20140206-144249.jpgBesides beaches and coffee shops, we did make our way into the city for the NFL Superbowl. Craig is a huge sports fan and had organized a whole day around the event. It’s a funny thing to watch an American sport in another country.

ESPN hosted a party at Federation Square, set with a large screen TV, dancers, a small pep band and a hot dog eating contest. Of course, there was a fella in the crowd who was picked for the contest, boasting he could out eat the other contestants because he was American. Good grief, that got the crowd riled up. Of course, he failed miserable as the hot dogs were raw and he could barely keep them down. It was all pretty gross. We missed the commercials but other than that, there were plenty of jersey’s and well versed football fans in the stands. We saw lots of Green Bay Packer gear, and the icing on the cake was a Bears fan working in a food cart. Made us feel right at home.

20140206-144209.jpgOnce the game turned into a blow out, we decided to branch out from Fed Square and  explore the city. Melbourne proper is a pretty fantastic city to visit. Architecturally, it reminds us a little bit of New Orleans mixed with Seattle.

We visited St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral. We love the Anglican’s and although it was a beautiful constructed church, it had a bit of a spooky vibe.

Later we explored the National Gallery of Victoria to check out one of Craig’s friends work. Juan Ford, aka Jane Fonda, was in a punk band called Pet Earwig with Craig back in the 90’s. He has blossomed into a fantastic, world renouned artist! One of his installations at the museum was You, me and the flock, a special commission for kids which invites viewers to add birds to a growing flock set against a panoramic sky-scape.  We love birds! If you are an art collector, his work is worth your time.

Although it was a week of rest, we found plenty to explore. We are refreshed and ready to get back to work. Tour starts Feb 8 and rounds out March 4. For details on where we’ll be visit www.thehollands.org

 

 

Happy Anniversary

WordPress just sent us a little “Happy Anniversary” note, stating that we started out blog  3 years ago. It’s hard to believe, that three years have passed since we first started dreaming about this life.  And, since then we have traveled over 30,000 miles through out the US and visited Australia twice, including our current visit.

map3I’m sitting at a cafe in Mornington, Victoria, Australia. It’s a warm summer day and just a few blocks down the street is one of my favorite beaches of all time. My children are working on blogs for home school and Craig is reading the local newspaper. We’ll head to the beach later this afternoon.

In the meantime, thanks to the note from wordpress, I’m looking back over all the memories we have made, so many amazing people we have met and awesome things we have been able to try. We dreamt of a simpler life, a more creative and cohesive life, and one with deep meaning from a spiritual and philosophical perspective, practicing reconciliation as a daily discipline. We dreamt of a life that included visiting and encouraging community on a broad scale and we have found such a rich tender of kinfolk around the globe.

We have found a genuine faith on this journey. This faith is not our own, but a gift. One that we cherish and hold dearly. A gift that continues to inspire us forward. And one that keeps us humble, knowing that there is no way in the world we could have humanly made this all happen. It’s a beautiful thing, this life. Hard to the core, but we are free!

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Summer Beach Days

IMG_2025Every year we make our annual pilgrimage to one of the most beautiful bodies of water on the planet, Lake Michigan. Between our summer touring, we took 5 days and rested along the shore in Muskegon, MI at Pioneer Park.

Pioneer Park is a safe, family friendly county park with over 2,000 feet of white sandy beach frontage. They also have tennis courts, volleyball, fire pits, and bathrooms with showers. It costs $25 a night, plus $5 parking (or $20 annual pass). It’s close enough to local shops and restaurants. The only draw back is no wi-fi but who needs wi-fi when you’re at the beach!

While there we found solace, respite, refreshment, joy, reconnection, laughter, and time to reflect on our past adventures as well as what may lay ahead.

Door County Days

DoorCounty.jpgDoor County Wisconsin means lazy beach days in Egg Harbor, visits to the local library, the FARM, Door County Candy and Ice Cream Shop, Java on Jefferson, The Whitegull Inn and the Used Book Store. Besides all of the fun little small town things to do, Door County really is one of the most beautiful places on this planet, with cliff side beaches, winding roads and fantastic hikes up and down the peninsula.

BrummelCottage.jpgEvery summer we make our pilgrimage back to this area to enjoy the beach, friends and to perform. This year is no exception. We arrived Thursday evening for a weekend of welcome from family and friends. Our first stop was the Brummel Cottage, where we enjoyed the respite of the water at this uniquely designed home. We also had time to take in a concert at Woodwalk Gallery, where we saw our friends Buddy Mondlock, Katie Dahl and Jeanne Kuhns perform. Followed by a lovely evening of conversation over drinks.

We are looking forward to performing in the county over the next two weeks. For all our local Kinfolk you can The Hollands! at:

July 3 – 3-5PM Sister Bay Concert in the Park

July 8- 6-8PM Ephraim Concert in the Park

July 12- 5-7PM Bailey’s Harbor Concert in the Park

July 14 – The Gordon Lodge

Summer isn’t really summer until we’ve seen our Door County Days.

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