SERFA

20130520-223147.jpgThis past weekend we participated in community and song at the Southeastern Regional Folk Alliance Conference in Montreat, North Carolina. “Community” was the buzz word going around all weekend and as community seekers and encouragers, we were taken with the genuineness of that sentiment. We met so many beautiful and engaging souls, had life-giving conversations, shared lovely meals with each other, enjoyed late night jams and heard so many amazingly creative and inspiring songs.

SERFA is a chapter of the International Folk Alliance. We have been to a few other regional conferences as well as the International in Memphis and they all have their own flavor. Some are more hustle and business focused, but it’s folk music for goodness sakes, and at the end of the day it really is about community.  Not gonna lie though, we do look for ways to present our talents in hopes of finding work. This year when we were accepted as “official showcase” artists, we were overjoyed and looked forward to showcasing our families latest body of work, ‘Over Land and Leas.

Being a family first, we aren’t the typical band. And so, there were all sorts of dynamics and things to take into consideration as we prepared for this event. Including rehearsals, home school, meals, bus logistics, sleep schedules, attitude adjustments and basic marriage maintenance. As a mom, there were a few thoughts that went through my mind this weekend regarding our children’s participating at SERFA. First, I was absolutely humbled by their general willingness to engage at the conference, including going to their first business meeting. Second, the poise and graciousness that they offered to those that would approach them or that they would approach was beautiful to watch. There was such a joy listening to them engage in conversation with all these adults.

20130520-212256.jpgBy the time we took the stage on Saturday night, the pride this mama had towards her children was brimming. We were performing but the whole while I could barely take my eyes off of my children and husband. During our second song, Graciana took the reigns and it was all I could do to not break down in tears. This was the image that washed over me.

We are on a mountain: I imagine an elder (me) and a child (Graciana), they are yoked together and the elder is pulling the child up the side of a cliff, strong footing, carrying the burden and pouring into that child with everything she has. It is a healthy yoke, meaning not manipulated for either parties personal gain. It is a long journey but the elder is committed to the youth and near the top of the mountain the child finds a firm footing and begins to move on dependable legs. For a moment, the youth and the adult are neither lifting or pulling but balancing each other. Both looking out over the glorious valley below.  There is a subtle shift and the focus begins to change. The weight lightens for the elder and the strong footing that the elder once had becomes unstable. For the first time, the youth recognizes the weight and makes a choice to share the load. The youth offers a brace to the elder as they enjoy the view a bit longer. There is no resentment, only an understanding that this journey is not their own, that they are connected to the core of their marrow.

20130520-212223.jpgI can’t describe it any other way, but while on that stage, I could feel the balance between my daughter and myself, it was a mutual respect and delight. I could feel our energies working together in harmony. The picture was of an elder lifting up while the younger helps her elder down.

I wonder if this ideal of reciprocal respect and support is possible in our greater culture, specially in the music industry where ageism is such an epidemic? We grow up in a society that segregates its population based on age. Marketing in almost every capacity is targeted to a specific age group and as we grow up there is little contact with others who are not in our demographic. It seems that many mentor programs, probably built with good intentions, are hierarchical. I wonder if we are missing a bigger picture? There is a richness and depth available to both those climbing the mountain and those traversing down and I don’t think it just applies to our mother and daughter experience. I wonder if it is possible to create and nurture this image, giving opportunities for young and old to find this deep connectivity? I think it is attainable, remembering when one falls we all fall, when one is honored we are all honored.

 

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Welcome Home Weekend

20130501-170532.jpgIn April, we made our way from New Orleans, LA up to Green Bay, WI. Our trip north coincided with a booking that we were offered to open for Ruth Moody and our CD release party for “Over Land and Leas”. The morning of our arrival we were welcomed by a snowy northern spring and dear friends that we had spent 2006-2011 with. These were the friends that listened to our dreams and desires, that shared our woes and joys. They are the friends that helped us build our bus, pack up our home, and encouraged us on our way. And so, it was with great anticipation and excitement that we pulled into this most recent home town of ours.

Three hours after our arrival we connected with our host family, The Walls, then went to the Brummel home for welcoming hugs and drinks. For dinner, we went to our favorite, El Sarape Mexican restaurant where the Gokey’s meet us. Followed with more friends joining us for a wild Wisconsin night of cosmic bowling. The next morning, all of us girls went to the Y for Zumba and coffee at the Jitterbean. And for lunch we had a visit on our bus from Team Thomas and the VanFossen’s.

Whew! Shortly after lunch we loaded up our gear and went over to the Cup o Joy Music Venue to prepare for our CD release concert that evening. Having played there over the course of the last five years, there was a comfortability and familiarity as Mark, our sound guy, met us at the door and welcomed us back. We had a quick sound check, and went to the green room for dinner. Paula brought us pasta and salads, and Jan O brought us dessert. Yosemite showed up on time and brought their joyful presence with them. A young reporter from UWGB, the local university, arrived to do an interview with our family. My brother and his family arrived a little early to say “hi” and then the Blumreich’s came back to welcome us. Excitement was building and we were ready to roll.

Yosemite, (Greg and Kevin) gave a wonderful offering of music and quirky stories of studying abroad, girls, etc… They delight us every time and eased us into the night perfectly. After a short intermission, we took the stage. It was the first time we performed our new songs in their entirety and in any other setting, nerves would have been high. But here we were on a fantastic stage, in capable hands, with our kind listening ears and bright smiles cheering us on. The exchange was simple and spiritual.

Our son, Banjo, who is going through quite a transformation, blooming from adolescence and into manhood, but not quite yet, was the darling of the night. There is a greater demand on a percussionist, their tone and tempo can make or break a song, such a big responsibility for an 11 yr old but he was spot on! And, Graciana, who is branching out even fuller, came into her own and surprised a few, I’m sure. As parents, it is an honor to perform alongside our children, this was a proud moment and one we will cherish well after this is all said and done.

The next day we found our way to the Neenah Public Library for a lovely afternoon performance and then made our way up to Sturgeon Bay for a couple of nights with family. My brother, sister-in-law and 5 precious darlings, live there. Memories came flooding back of our time living just down the street from them in 2001-2006. It was fun to be back in our old neck of the woods and of course, Pizza night at the Arnold’s was the highlight of our Door County run.

Although our time was filled with community gatherings with more friends, homeschool and family time, by the middle of the week we were coming down with a cold. The weather didn’t help matters as the snow and freezing rain continued to pound Northeast Wisconsin. It was dark and gloomy and we were all longing for our time in Louisiana, where it was warm and sunny. Honestly, if it wouldn’t have been for the obligation to perform that weekend we would have probably started to drive south.

We’re glad we stayed however. The performance opening for Ruth Moody at Luxemburg High School Auditorium was sheer delight. We didn’t know much about Ruth before hand, only that she was in another group called the “Wailin Jennys” which we didn’t know much about either, but found out that they were on Prairie Home Companion, which is a dream of ours. So, then it all made sense. She was a darling young lady and her band was very impressive. Even with a terrible head cold and Craig breaking a string two songs in, our performance went fantastic. We shared a half hour set of Holland tunes, including a few from our new album as well at Old Man’s Town and Morning Star. We invited the stoic crowd to sing and clap along and by the end of our set we all felt like old friends.

Our last night in town was my very favorite. Girls night out, Sushi and Sauna. One of our favorite foods is sushi and believe it or not, Green Bay, WI has one of the best sushi restaurants called Koko’s. The “A” club”, well it’s not really a club, it just how it all worked out, Kara, Tara, Sara, and Paula met Graciana and myself (Jana) at Koko’s. (Get it? All of our names end in “A”) Anyway, we had a feast and after dinner we went down the street to the Downtown YMCA for a sauna.

We couldn’t have asked for a more fantastic welcome home. Life is rich and we don’t take it for granted. We are grateful for those who love us and allow us to love them back. See you in July Wisco!

The Process of Communal Creativity

We met Joel Pritchard on a warm Sunday evening in Feb, 2012. Actually it was my birthday, but after hitting forty, I had lost the appetite for big celebrations. We were performing that evening in the court-yard of a big suburban church in Phoenix, AZ and Joel was there because he was the young, hip art director at the church and friends with the opening band. After the show, we went back to the bus, which was parked in the lot adjacent to the court-yard, and planned on heading to bed. As we were winding down, a knock came to our door and Joel and a friend asked Craig if he wanted to go out for a drink. Always up for a party, Craig said, “sure.” I was a little miffed because it was my birthday, but honestly, I was tired and happy to have some alone time. They left, the kids went to bed and I relaxed with my glass of red wine and a book. I was lulling to sleep when the phone rang. It was Craig. He asked if I was still up. I said, yes, but just about to sleep. Inconspicuously, he asked me to stay up. I questioned but said, OK.

IMG_2971About 15 minutes later the fella’s arrived at the bus with gas station ice cream bars and big smiles on their faces. “Happy Birthday!” they exclaimed. I started to giggle and blush at their spontaneity and thoughtfulness. We ended up staying up sharing life for another two hours.

We kept in touch with Joel over the course of the year. When we visited again this January, Joel asked if we would lead a workshop at an art event he was hosting. We were delighted to be included. We had just finished laying down the base tracks for our CD and beginning to work on ideas for the CD artwork. I had a concept but am no visual artist. We had been keeping an eye out for an artist to partner with and Joel came on our radar after we saw his work at the art event. We were really inspired by it and by him. He was prayerful, had technical knowledge and most importantly he was a friend. So we asked if he would be willing to work on our project. He said, yes. We didn’t have any audio files to send him yet but he was happy to work off of the premise of the album and the lyrics. It was exciting waiting to see what inspiration he would have from our thoughtful words.

565618_590049887672574_1743006125_nHis first draft of an idea arrived and I have to admit, it wasn’t exactly the direction I was anticipating but I did like certain aspects. I shared my feelings gently and He assured us it was only a starting point and that he was going to spend more time contemplating ideas. I trusted him.

579102_591322334211996_892571188_nFast forward, we were three days before the artwork had to go to print and Joel sent me a sketch that diverted from his original work and mentioned a caricature drawing of our family riding a turtle. Parts of the sketch resonated with me,  I let Joel know I really liked the eye with the house but was struggling to find connection with the rest. And, the turtle idea was a bit cheesy sounding but I was happy to take a look. Over all, I was feeling a little panicked and unsure of how the piece was going to come together. However, I  continued to wait, pray and trust.

Meanwhile, we were parked in Lafayette, LA with the Campbell’s aka the”gift givers.” We were connected with them through our friend Chaz, who is mentored by them while attending school in Lafayette. Their home was buzzing with students coming and going during the three days that we neighbored with them. It was life-giving to be around so many young minds, all longing to grow and express themselves as spiritual beings.

20130421-200242.jpgAt one point, Kari Campbell spontaneously pulled out a few art supplies and five or six hands began to craft a piece of artwork. Chaz, a gifted artist, took the piece and added the final touches to create a colorfully, dynamic hot air balloon.

At first glance I knew it was meant to be included in the CD artwork. However, I hadn’t heard from Joel and didn’t want to undermine the hard work that he was doing. So, I called him just to see how he was coming along and he responded that he was really stumped and hadn’t been able to move forward. I told him about the inspired piece and asked if it was possible to include it or at least the concept in the CD artwork? He was keen to give it a go.

Thirty two hours later Joel sent me the draft for the final product. It was perfect! Everything about it was amazingly perfect.

Hollands_Over-Lands-&-Leas 908285_592422774101952_546274192_n

We have the original balloon piece displayed in our bus as well as the most thought-provoking artwork on our CD, including the turtle drawing which we have fallen in love with, and a phenomenal sound track that encompasses everything our family has encountered on this journey. Whatever may come, Over Land and Leas will be a treasure that will be passed down from generation to generation. It is a deep refection of community and connection, beauty and trust. It is a gift to have met so many precious souls along our way. It is a gift to have had the opportunity to create in community. It is a gift.

Over Land And Leas

http://thehollands.bandcamp.com/album/over-land-and-leas
http://thehollands.bandcamp.com/album/over-land-and-leas

We are excited to announce that “Over Land and Leas” is available for purchase.

Get your download or hard copy today!

This album gives narrative shape to the pilgrimage through the storms, blue skies, daily work, and dreams of our common lives.

Featuring songs like Washerman’s Field, a riotous song with a strong word of warning to those consumed with power and war. Written in the spirit of Woody Guthrie, Traveling Man is a rowdy composition empathizing with those who have no place to call home. Lanie Done Did, is a murder balled, which chronicles the journey of a young prostitute. The Amaryllis is a precious tale that laments a mothers death and rejoice the birth of a daughter.  Lillian’s Daydream is a beautiful guitar piece that preludes the title track. Over Land and Leas is a old Scottish folk tale sung with a haunting remembrance of times gone by.

Old Man’s Town makes an appearance on this album (first debuting on Ashes To Beauty in 2011) Originally sung as more of a ballad, this new version offers more of the high energy The Hollands! share during their live performance. Haiti was written on an airplane from Australia to the US. Using words from a crossword puzzle as inspiration, this dramatic song ends up being a harking call to help those in desperate situations. Russian Lullaby is an evocative song that tells the tale of those who suffer at the hands of war.  The Great Lake Plains is a rollicking song, written in a Dolly Parton vane and pays homage to Jana’s family history and involvement in the underworld back in the 1920-30’s. Rain was written after a personal bout with cancer and is a tender cry for healing.

The Album ends with the traditional, Wayfaring Stranger, composed and performed Holland style, displaying beautiful harmonies, mouth harp, banjo, mandolin and Craig’s brawny rhythms.

All lyrics were written by Jana Holland, except Lanie Done Did and Lillian’s Daydream, written by Graciana Holland.

Recorded & Engineered by David Fuller at Sun Room Studios in Portland OR

Produced by David Fuller and The Hollands!

Art and Design by Joel Pritchard

The Hollands! are Jana Holland, Craig Holland, Graciana Holland and Banjo Holland.

This album includes the creative contributions of David Fuller, David Baumgartner, Joby Morey, Tom Cameron, Joh Behr and Dony Wynn.

Copyright The Hollands! All rights reserved Dutchy Love Records