Show Me Your Treasures, Gypsy.

Here are a couple random things that delighted me recently. They were found at the Spring Art Festival downtown this last weekend. I first came across Mystic Pieces, out of Phoenix (she’s on Etsy.com). The artist creates jewelry out of old antique watch clocks, which thrills me. We had a great chat about leaving the normal world of upper management and reliable paychecks to enter the manic one of self-promotion, gigs, bills (and paying them through art…or not paying them, because of art), backward schedules and how long it has been since we could afford to see a movie in the theater. It was a lovely moment that only a festival experience can provide.

Next up was the much sought-after Wonky Mug. I feel as though I’ve been scouring the earth for years in search of coffee mugs that stray from smooth, clean lines, shiny finishes, and (in some cases) generally sound logic. I found a couple mugs over a year ago that captivated me and happened to be the right price. The look was perfect. The design? Laughably bad. The handle is all wrong and one inevitably sustains major burns while using it. Seared flesh scares me not, however. A good mug is worth martyrdom. And now I have finally found another good mug. No martyrdom required.

The artist is Tom Alward, a Prescott local who, through his studies in Flagstaff, was awarded a grant to design and build a wood-burning kiln on campus. Through his work and recognition, he received other grants and studied in Virginia and Australia, experimenting with different indigenous clays. The thing I love most about his work is that he is a creator who almost seems like a messenger or mediator for a natural artistic process. He fires the kiln so hot that the ashes actually melt and create designs that are inconsistent, hugely diverse, and undeniably unique. The shapes of his objects are imperfect and organic and unapologetic, and they have an extremely satisfying weight to them.

I would like to think it’s a bit like the song writing process: when you start, you think you have the means and the ability to just write a little song, but during the process, the damn thing takes on a shape of its own, so to speak, and there are little discoveries and directional changes on the way to the end product. You end up somewhere unrecognizable, but it’s fun and it keeps your interest as a writer. I hope I’m correct in drawing this parallel…except that a finished song might have parts or phrases or chords that never sound right in the end and sometimes the whole thing is just a miserable failure. I’m guessing that doesn’t happen to Tom Alward.

Maybe his ceramic process isn’t as unusual as it sounded to me; I know nothing about ceramics. However, I know exactly how hard it is to find a good Wonky Mug of high craftsmanship, so I couldn’t be happier that this funky mustachioed potter, this crazy clay Creator, is out there (not too far away) melting his pretty ashes into little holy grails.

And that this fallen songstress got her hands on one of them.

~g.

Interview, Votes, and the 2011 Folk Alliance International

Hello Fellow Tumblers! It has been a whirlwind month or so but here’s the update: we had an interview with Andrew Johnson-Schmit of ArtsBeat in Prescott. He’s clever and I’m not. You can hear evidence of that here:

Also, we’re excited to announce that Tumbledown House has been nominated for a Buckey Award in the category of Outstanding Musical Artist of the Year. If you would like to vote for us please click here and click the link under online ballot, then type in Tumbledown House under that category. It’s simpler than it sounds. Many thanks for your support!

This last weekend we attended the Folk Alliance International in Memphis. We tried to describe it in our last blog; it’s basically a kind of freak show wherein 800 or so artists and 1200 music industry people converge on one hotel downtown, much to the chagrin of hotel staff, other hotel guests, and a few local restaurants. Meetings, panels, and workshops take place all day long with interspersed musical acts, and then nonstop shows go from, say, 2PM to 3:30AM, simultaneously, on 3 different floors. Halls are crowded with instruments, people, applause, and many Shhh!ers. No one sleeps. Impromptu jams happen in the stairwells and lobbies. It was manic and fantastic.

We enjoyed meeting, re-meeting, and/or hearing several acts including The Two Man Gentlemen Band, The Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble, The Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra, The

Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra


Elephant Revival hosts clothing-optional rooftop pool party


Hillbenders, Datri Bean, Steel Wheels, Raina Rose and Rebecca Loebe, David Wax Museum, Alexa Woodward, Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade, Elephant Revival, Charlie Faye and her large crew of Austin cohorts (including Bettysoo), Lake Street Dive, Lail Arad, and many, many others. We roomed with two talented individual singer-songwriters, Natalie Gelman and Megan Burtt who are doing well in their tours out of NYC and Denver, respectively. Don’t miss an opportunity to see any of these artists live.

We got to hear a ton of music, we made some great new friends, and if all goes well, we might get some killer opportunities out of it, possibly around the world.

Picture of an Irish girl taking a picture of Memphis at sunrise

We even got to try some famous Memphis “dry rub” bar-b-que downtown (and later sang an improvised drunken anthem on the subject with the Hillbenders in a stairwell at 6AM). When all was said and done, we were exhausted, broke, and sick. Well, one of us got sick, but sick enough to count for two. In conclusion, we had to fork over a ridiculous amount of money to attend this thing and we think it was worth every penny. We’re saving up for FAI 2012.

Thanks for reading!
g.