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Heidi’s Blog

New CD Release – Up Hurricane Creek

Bob and I are excited – our latest project is on its way to us right now! Up Hurricane Creek is our first songwriting-based CD in eleven years. We released Seeing Things in 2005 with original songs and traditional tunes. In 2011, we made the winter song and holiday CD Light the Winter’s Dark, that had a little bit of original material, several Appalachian carols and some cover songs. Then in 2013, we recorded Dulcimer Moon, with more instrumental music and fewer vocals, and a couple of originals, but all songs and tunes4PAN1T had the mountain dulcimer in common.
So we are thrilled to release a CD with eleven of my own songs written over the past few years, plus the Loudendale mandolin instrumental that Bob instigated… and two songs from our dearly departed songwriter friend, TR Ritchie. We had some fantastic guest musicians helping us out in the studio: David Vallelunga (Chico, CA) on accordion, Mark Eubanks (Enterprise, OR) on bassoon and contrabassoon, Caleb Samples (Joseph, OR) on fiddle, Matt Bell (New Orleans) on swing rhythm guitar, Roger McGee (Enterprise, OR) o
n Native American flute, and William Pint & Felicia Dale (Marysville, WA) on hurdy gurdy, uke and vocals. Other wonderful vocalists on the project included Tracy Spring (Bellingham, WA), Sharon Porter (La Grande, OR), Janis Carper (Enterprise, OR) and Carolyn Lochert (Lostine, OR).

The CD features songs of place and story songs, moon songs and songs about ticks and hummingbirds. There’s the gripping story of Helga Estby, who walked across the US in 1896 in
the hopes of saving her family farm. There are songs about our Wallowa County home and a song to travel home by. Three tracks are new, improved versions of the ones I contributed to the Songs From the End of the Road compilation CD: In Wallowa, Traveler, and Keep an Eye on the Moon. For the entire list, find Up Hurricane Creek on our Books & CDs page. Lyrics and notes appear on their own page (see list on home page). Check out the Listen tab on the home page for a couple of new songs you can preview.

Bob did a great job on all the recording, mixing and mastering, with the exception of Pint & Dale’s tracks recorded at David Lange Studios in Edgewood, WA. Cover photography was shot by Ellen Morris Bishop, showcasing the beautiful scenery of the Wallowa Mountains and Hurricane Creek itself. Bob’s photo of a winter moonrise graces the inside panel. Graphic design was ably done once again by Janis Carper. CDs are available by mail order and at all of our concerts.

Announcing Dulcimer Moon CD Release!

Bob and I took the month of August to record a brand new CD. After being asked many times, “which CD has the most dulcimer?” we made one that has dulcimer on every track. We used five different Appalachian dulcimers – two made by the late WV luthier Pete Belcher, one by the late Ray Epler also of WV, a Sunhearth 4-equidistant string dulcimer, a baritone dulcimer made by Rick Probst, and a wormy chestnut “moon & star” dulcimer by an unknown builder (initials MRB – know who this is?). The nine instrumentals and five songs with vocals are backed by mandolin, guitar, cello and bowed psaltery, plus our friends Rich Shirley and Caleb Samples added upright bass and electric bass. Titles include my originals, “Dulcimer Moon,” “Blue Mountain Lake Waltz,”  and a re-recording of “Cassiopeia”; “Calling Ellia” written by Bob; the old standard “Over the Rainbow”; old-timey medleys, and a cover of the Malvina Reynolds song, “Turn Around.”  I also sang one of my favorite old folk hymns, “How Can I Keep from Singing” and Bob and I sang one of his favorites, the Zulu children’s song, “Guabi Guabi.” And there’s more!

Please look for us to play in concert near you this fall – we have a number of Northwest concerts planned from October to December. Check our tour schedule for details!

October light

Fall is here in West Virginia… after a rudely hot summer that appeared to have no end, like a circus it packed up and left in the night and Autumn arrived with a gorgeous full harvest moon. For me it means a return to teaching and projects after wonderful summer travels to Wallowa County, Oregon, where Bob and I taught at Wallowa Fiddle Tunes camp and joined our friends at the Summer Fishtrap Gathering. We made a cross-country drive returning through Glacier NP and Bear’s Paw Nat’l Battlefield and later I took a solo trip to Seattle and the Pacific Coast of Washington, and reveled in daily sightings of The Mountain.

We love the birds at this time of year… we’ve had a resident catbird singing his little head off in the tall oak tree. There’s a pair of something we can’t identify (we don’t actually see them) chortling daily to greet our chilly mornings. The leaves are coloring and letting go, while there’s a gentle golden light filtering through the trees. Dark comes not long after 7:00 pm– seems so early. Bob’s got his projects in the recording studio, several folks making CDs with his help… he’s also building box dulcimers for our school workshops coming right up in Pocahontas County. We’ve handed the Music Mentors program at the East End Family Resource Center to two young teachers who are coming over for dulcimer lessons, so they can keep the tradition going that we started five years ago. They already got new African drums this past summer so the place is hoppin’.

With the onset of autumn, I’ve been pondering how to “be” more in the midst of all my “doing.” Every week I spend a day teaching elementary and middle school children guitar and dulcimer in a town in the southern coalfields. I have a new dulcimer class in Charleston with eight feisty ladies, plus continuing lessons. It’s my turn to lead the Almost Heaven Dulcimer Club into Christmas music while our other teacher, Dave Haas, is busy with his prison ministry. There are performances popping up all over, especially this coming week… and I also have just taken the position of being Music Coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation here in Charleston, so add Sunday service music to the mix. It all feels good. I love the vibrant activity of it all, and this week we travel out to Marlinton two different times for teaching and performing, where we can drive past the fall colors of the higher mountains… So even though I love all this “doing” — it’s a gift to be able to make a living with music, and open people up to the music in themselves — the task for me is to keep watch on how I spend my in-between time, so I can maintain a quiet center and not lose myself in busyness and organization. Remember before computers, the way we used to renew ourselves? Reading, sewing, walking in the woods… October is the perfect time to visit the birds, watch the leaves drift down like feathers, and soak up the golden light of autumn.

Dulcifying with Gail Rundlett (aka Finnie)

The last week has been one of those joyful work weeks, where you hit the pillow with songs in your head, tired from doing what you love. After a delightful visit from Stephen Seifert two weeks ago — with all of us here working on taxes, then celebrating with a fab dulcimer jam late into the night — Gail Rundlett flew down from Boston to work on her new CD. Bob’s her recording engineer in this studio that we call Treehouse Recording. It’s our old diningroom. It looks into the upper stories of a tall, old oak tree with its resident squirrels and woodpeckers.

In the last seven days, Gail has done the basic work on 12 tracks. It’s her first solo CD since she released Full Circle in 1995 (you can find it on CDBaby). Since then, she also made recordings with her vocal group Taproot. This new work features her spritely dulcimer and some fingerpicked guitar, and as ever, her beautiful vocals that have gained her such a following in the Boston folk scene. In the last two days we brought in two players from the Mountain Stage band, Ron Sowell on harmonica and Ryan Kennedy on bass and lead guitar — great stuff! VooDoo Katz percussionist Mark Davis got the rhythms smoking with everything from drums to finger cymbals. Gail’s got more studio work ahead of her in Boston, featuring her son Julian and daughter Hannah. The project should be in final form by fall.

Gail and I go way back… over 35 years, in fact. We were roommates in college and we sang together at coffeehouses like the Sword in the Stone in Boston in the 70’s. We’ve done reunion concerts now and then over the years. It’s been fun to sing harmony and play guitar on this project… and we co-wrote a new dulcimer tune, and are playing it together on the CD. Bob’s also added his sweet cello and mandolin. Definitely check out Gail when you get a chance and stay tuned for updates.

Snow Days – Snow Dance

Hope you’re all staying warm and dry out there, and are enjoying the snow shoveling if you live in one of those places where it’s been coming down. It’s actually one of my favorite thingso. I don’t need to shovel much of it here in Charleston but I put in my time growing up in New Jersey.

Along with our snow days here, I got an email from my friend Doug Imbrogno at the Charleston Gazette that he used my song “Snowdance” to accompany his new slide and video show online at the paper! You can watch and listen at http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201002110451.

My favorite shot is the train, and then the ending. Enjoy!

PS — I’m now on MySpace — check out my new pages at www.myspace.com/heidi.muller and myspace.com/heidimullerbobwebb, which is where the music files are posted.