Four musicians, with guitar, banjo, bass and fiddle. They comprise the Lonely Heart Strings band.

“Your ear is a muscle,” said Paul, the ukulele workshop tutor.

To be alive is for the muscles of your ears to engage their most minute fibres to keep you balanced. Sometimes, you are a fiddler, balanced on a tightrope of septuplets and bodhrán with just enough give that you may make a calculated small hop and keep your footing. Sometimes, you are a guitar, balanced in the middle seat of a car packed to the roof with banjos and flutes and boxes. Sometimes, you are a blues harp, balanced on a rough circle of plain, equidistant stepping stones which you help decorate while mandolin does cartwheels and summersaults on them and then plops back down while you take your turn. Sometimes, you forget that you were supposed to be balancing. This might lead to an entertaining gymnastics of recovery, or might alternatively derail you from your tightrope or seat or stepping stone. Sometimes, the best parts are where you know you don’t have to balance right now and you choose not to, to sit on the sidelines and let the acrobatics wash over you, to swap seats and curl up with a pillow by the window, to sit on the warm, moist grass just beyond the circle.

Sometimes, you feel most alive when music is balancing you and unbalancing you and just letting you be. I got back from the Auckland Folk Festival today 1am and I felt oh so alive all weekend.


3 responses to “Alive”

  1. This has really made me appreciate how great diversity is. Folk music festivals sound awful to me, but you clearly love them, and enough other people love them too that you can put together a festival. It’s nice to live in a world where so many things can exist, and I think we all benefit from the range. Even if folk festivals / cricket games / vodka shots / whatever sound like the last thing I’d personally want at any given time, it’s comforting to know that if I change my mind there’ll be a whole culture right there to welcome me in.


    • You should come along to the final concert next year to see if it indeed is not your thing or whether in fact you may have fun. Even within folk, there’s huge diversity of genre too. And yes, Festival is a very very happy, welcoming place 🙂



  2. Also, as someone who doesn’t know anything about fiddling, I’m deeply amused by the image of you balancing on septuplets. Sounds like a solid circus act. 😛


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