How Music Saved My Life by Annabeth McNamara

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I recently had someone scoff at the idea that I may have ever been through really dark times. 
I am wanting to be vulnerable and share that I have spent a good part of my life struggling with suicidal thoughts. 


I know for a fact I'm not alone, as I hear there is a veritable epidemic of "deaths of despair" going on these days...


A big part of my journey has been learning how to stay balanced and grounded as waves of dark emotions crash over me, seeping up under me through the night and waking me with an icy splash in the face, drawing me unwilling back to harsh life and its million tiny pressure, responsibilities, and miseries. 


Over the years, I have learned to become a hunter, with my golden arrow of focus pointed at things that will lift me up out of these dredges and into a brighter shine.


As a result of my predisposition for darkness, I've become obsessed with positive psychology: the psychology of happiness.


Yes, there is a science to it. Yes, anyone can learn how to raise their emotional set-point.


Flow state is one petal on the flower of happiness. That is, getting lost in an activity...


Music has been a lifeline for me-- it's always been there no matter what. It's a touch-stone I can always reach for, as easy as reaching out to a warm wooden instrument and seeking the harmonies latent in its strings. Music is this magical key to my life-- I can sing and suddenly I'm present, filled with oxygen and resonant frequencies that please my bones. I can sing with others and suddenly we're connecting in a rapturous state of transcendence. I can sing and suddenly I'm plunged into a watery world of wavelengths where I can shut my eyes and dive beneath the waves and forget my troubles, erase my troubles, or express my frustrations and swim past them.


In this bubble of harmony, the harsh pain of 3-dimensional life eases into a wondrous doubt-- that perhaps this "real world" we attribute so much gravity isn't actually as real as the subtle sonic gossamer we're cocooning ourselves in. That it's merely the flimsy, shiny sheen that hides beneath it a huge and vastly deep current that is the Source of Life, where we go when we die, and can't music be heavenly? Don't you just sometimes die a tiny death and rise up on a sunlit cloud of feeling when you hear a beautiful strand of music come to take you home? 


The fact that sharing my heart-songs has become a big part of my career never ceases to amaze me. And now I've gone another step along the path to share my knowledge, to press the golden keys and hand them out to the beautiful young people who have come to knock on the door to music, so they can learn to speak and write and dance and live and breathe this medium as well...


Yes, I've been through dark times. But you wouldn't know it, because I have built a house of song around myself where I can sleep sweetly while I'm awake.

So. If you haven't gone to my kickstarter page to hear me talk about why I'm making my next album, you've got 44 hours to donate and add fuel to my creative fire: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/…/larkspur-needs-your-help-to-r…

Sharing the link is also a great help!
Thanks so much to everyone who's donated so far. You really see me and honor my gifts. It's an amazing realization.

xxxxooAnnabeth

5K in 6 days! by Annabeth McNamara

Dear everyone,

We raised $5,000 in 6 days!

My girl-band, Larkspur, launched a Kickstarter fundraiser at the beginning of the month. We weren't sure we'd make our goal, so we hedged our bets and asked for 5K as an extremely modest sum for an album.

Due to an up-swelling in support we couldn't have imagined, we made that goal in just 6 days.

It feels really remarkable to have some of the energy I've put out there, touring and gigging and wearing my heart on my sleeve, coming back full circle.

Of course all this money will go straight back into the project to feed and nurture my craft.

Our minimum goal covers the very basic costs of recording to create digital files.

Now we're focusing on our next goal of $10K, so we can really *do this album right.* 

Click the link below to visit our page. There's a video update and details about what the next 5K will be used for.

There are also exclusive merch options you might wanna check out before they're all sold out...

See you there!

Go to the Kickstarter

 

 

Explore the arts of West Virginia this weekend

I'm excited to be a part of the festivities at this up-and-coming arts festival in Davis, WV. This is a very special corner of the country which has popped up with many talented artists quietly making art in this quaint town with a backdrop of wild nature.

More Upcoming Shows

Photo by Renee Byrd www.willfrolicforfood.com

Photo by Renee Byrd www.willfrolicforfood.com

As a small life update, my days have become quite, quite full. As a highly-sensitive person, I can only handle doing a few things a day. This becomes problematic when my jill-of-all-trades skills start becoming in high demand! #firstworldproblems

Yesterday I hosted my first-ever student concert at my home. It was adorable, to say the least. I never thought I'd find so much satisfaction and pride in the accomplishments of children. These days I'm just trying to shine the light on their innate awesomeness, as we tackle the Mountain of Music Theory that lies before us.

I'll also be creating another Midsummer's Masquerade at IX Art Park in Charlottesville, VA, which will be happening July 8th. Along similar lines, we're planning a Lillith-Fair type of event later on in the month. 

Moral of the story

Building a musical career winds up being a lot like patching together a quilt from seemingly disparate skill-sets. It's not always ideal, but it keeps my dreams warm...

And what are my dreams? To live a life of creativity, in harmony with nature, helping to awaken myself and others to the beauty-drenched heaven that is all around us, if we open our eyes, if we open our hearts...

Cultivating my place in a music-centric culture by Annabeth McNamara

Photo by Renee Byrd

Photo by Renee Byrd

 

I've been teaching music since 2012, mostly beginner piano, banjo, guitar, and voice. 

While it's always been an interesting way to make money, I feel I've only just hit my stride in finding a rhythm to the lessons and a trust in the material to take us where we need to go.

I have a piano student who told me this week, "This must be so boring to someone as experienced as you," to which I replied, "No, it's not boring at all! It's like holding the pure marble brick in your hand, that will become a temple." 

Similarly, a voice student told me this week, "You know so much about music, I'm just in awe of you," to which I replied, "Being a life-long learner of music, the progress never seems very fast. But slowly but surely I'm laying brick after brick, building on a foundation of knowledge that is constantly growing as I push myself to be a better musician. So I know that when I'm old I won't feel that much more advanced, but the bricks will have added up to a mansion." 

I haven't used my fancy-pants college education nearly as much as the direct investment of music lessons that I received have turned into music lessons I've been able to give. Paying for private music lessons for a child is actually an investment in their overall education, as it grows their intelligence and helps them to be well-rounded. But it can even lead to having a career skill in their back-pocket when their formal schooling doesn't pan out.

I'm excited to begin teaching a young student (I call her mini-me because she reminds me of me at her age) with a real musical appetite how to use the garageband app to begin to record her original compositions. This is baby-bach-level exciting! It's the new digital wave, which will be a truly important part of the foundation of any future musician's wheelhouse. I'm excited to see how her potential pans out with these technological tools woven into her grasp of theory and aesthetic.

The most rewarding thing, which I've heard teachers mention, is how much better a grasp of the material I have when I teach it. Teaching music keeps my hands in the sonic garden, honing my awareness of time signatures, key signatures, tempo, discipline, and the power of practice. Above all, it helps me stick to my personal practice, to just be out there digging in the dirt with the kids every day. It also boosts my self-esteem to work with people who hold my musical capacities in high regard and admiration.

My quick update is that I've been busy taking on a bunch of new music students. I'm also playing a fun lil' run of house shows this month, accompanied by Bram Crowe-Getty on percussion, plus I'll get to play with my mystical friend Megan on a couple songs, and with my long-time buddy Oil Derek opening for a night. Contact me if you'd like me to serenade you and your favorite people in the comfort of your own home (or if you're interested in a special invite to one of the shows).

The reason why I moved to Charlottesville was because I knew it had a surprisingly dense population of people who value music within a relatively small cityscape. (I can't hang for long in the big cities). This month I'm really feeling the abundance of an arts-centric local culture. #gratitude

Big things in the works by Annabeth McNamara

Hello Cute Sprout,

It’s here---

The biggest show of my life to date.

We’re expecting several thousand friends of friends to flock to the Pavilion’s concrete shore. Sure, the timing is tricky. Our set is 40 minutes, starting at 5:30pm. And getting there on time is almost impossible because their world and his dear sweet mother will be trying to pass through the delicate arteries of Charlottesville that day.

Which is why I know you will plan accordingly to arrive a bit ahead of time, settle into your spot, perhaps grab a drink if of your predilection, and listen up.

I am specially requesting folks dress up in a solid color of their choice. My preference is for skittle / chakra / rainbow colors, but just wearing a single color that resonates with your mood (and what’s actually in your closet) would be grand as well.

Different hues of the same color are acceptable as well. The vision is that folks will stand up next to the stage and dance and sway and gently be part of a vision for other folks to gaze upon. This is living art! Be a part!

At Lockn' Festial playing a set for staff and volunteers on opening eve.

At Lockn' Festial playing a set for staff and volunteers on opening eve.

 

As for recording, we’ve finally got a couple of recording dates lined up for and it feels GREAT.

Mid-September we’ll be taking our gypsy-chic wagons to Norfolk and taking two days to get all our instrument parts tracked for a 5 song EP.

We’ll also be playing our first show in Norfolk while we’re there! It's going to be at an art opening for our favorite artsy friend Angel Graves on September 16th. Info here.

 

It’s going to be a full few days of musicking and I absolutely can’t wait.

I’ll never forget the time my carpenter friend told me that making a good album is like building a house. We sat in his permaculture chalet, an old stone shepherd’s barn he had gradually fixed up by dragging equipment and supplies up a kilometer mountain ridge. I didn’t want to believe him then.

I wanted to believe that the wave of bliss and excitement that usually sweeps me up in recording was the sign I was on the right track. I didn’t want to sober up and put in the careful hours to perfect a song over the course of years of test-driving it live, tweaking it in rehearsal, tuning into the ether to listen to what was missing or what could be carved away, and then investing the time and resources to honor it with the right recording and production.

Well, we’ve been laying out the blueprint all summer-- honing in on the songs for our EP and ship-shaping them up. This is the first time in my musical career I’ve really gotten to ask myself how I’d exactly like each of my songs to sound. I trust our producer Jake Hull, as I’m a doe-eyed fan of his previous works. Even if I give him no guidance, I’m sure I’d be stoked on his output.

Scratch that, recording an album isn't quite like making a house, it’s like building an ark. And the desert is our cultural landscape. And the rain is the rush of creativity we're all capable of.

"It doesn’t make sense, it’s crazy, why would you build a boat here?" 

"The economy sucks, you're such a smart girl and could do anything you want, why waste your time making an album?"

Because the flood is coming, a tide of darkness via the brainwashed hypnotism of a bought media. I think very few people really understand how easy it so to have their minds changed simply by listening to the same false information every day, or watching TV with very fast frames that the conscious mind doesn’t pick up on, but the subconscious absolutely does. I don’t write this to scare you, only to help you be aware of your dear, sweet impressionability, and to really take great care what you subject yourself to.

Art about love will get us through, will wake us up, will re-set our loving hearts. Will have the seeds we can plant on a land scoured clean by these dreadful times.  Let’s put the kind back in humankind.

In a world post-robot, music and art could be our major export. Rather than sad lost wars and subsidized cancer-causing corn, our national offering could be amazing marvels of music and beauty, like a bouquet we fling on the world stage.

More soon I hope!

xoAnnabeth // Larkspur
 

Super Saturated by Annabeth McNamara

Our project is blessed with a super-saturation of talented photographers.

I would say we're lucky, but I believe we may merely be a-muse-ing.

Guillermo Ubilla made a storyboard of Larkspur's last show at the Ante Room.

Please enjoy our petite journey by clicking this link

 

Upcoming Larkspur shows:

Sept. 9 - Charlottesville, VA - Fridays after Five @ Sprint Pavilion opening for Chamomile and Whiskey - 5pm - free

Sept. 16 - Norfolk, VA - Art Opening at Cure Coffee 6pm-close w/ Pyrrhic Whim - info here

It's Recording Time by Annabeth McNamara


Hello ginger hearts,

Two years ago, I cut my last record. That album is still out making new friends. It really could snowball to cult classic status in the next decade.

But hopeful fantasies aside, I've been writing new songs and making a new sound that needs honoring. I'm fortunate enough to have some recording times lined up.

In just a couple weeks I'll be creating a single with Hotel Appalachia in my hometown. I met some of these dudes in 6th grade, and it warms my heart that we've circled back around to create some Art together.

This will be an in-studio "live" session to really just capture our current sound with a butterfly net and put it in a jar for you all to see.


I'm also extra-stellarly pleased to announce I'll be joining forces with producer Jake Hull to make my next album, an EP of mostly-new songs.

He lives by the beach, so this album's inevitably going to wind up in the mermaid genre.

Why work with Jake? Well, he's got the right blend of acoustic know-how and modern flair to help me build a sonic ship to launch a thousand seas. 

But surprise surprise, I'll be releasing it under a new monicker:

LARKSPUR

 

Larkspur is a type of flower. Poisonous but pretty.

Larkspur is a type of flower. Poisonous but pretty.

 

After a couple of years of working together, my back-up band and I are ponying-up and becoming a full-fledged band. Please do follow us on instagram: @bandlarkspur.

This leaves my solo career free to keep exploring, while helping me take the girl-band project to the next level. 

To give you an idea of our dynamic, we're like an all-girls Power Rangers squad

Basically, together we kick butt.

Renee Byrd is already a social media mini-tycoon (with 27k+ followers @willfrolicforfood).

Laurel Humiston has an entire DEGREE in music performance. Which leaves me in a perpetual "hats-off" state towards her.

I hope you'll join me in homage by never wearing a hat around her.

JK, she's really accepting of hats. 

Both of these ladies have heaps of common sense in both life and music composition, as well as dozens of other strengths that they bring to the table, which usually leaves me a bit floored that they'd want to pool their powers with me.

That last phrase gives me a nice visual of a fantasy fiction film where three elegant elf-queens have a bird-bath basin in the center of their castle where they literally have a pool of power. Anywhoosle.

Weddings. Vineyards. Bars. Cafes. We're going to wheedle our way into every nook of the local music scene like a microrhizome, until one day the entire place erupts with Larkspur mushrooms. Poisonous, purple, delicious Larkspur fungus that we are.

Also, I want to take the focus off of Me, the little-ego-public-persona, and shine the light directly on Whimsy with a capital double-You. 
 
With this change of name, I want nothing less than to capture the imagination of the masses. And to be honest, my own as well. 

It's still all my songs so far, the ones I unfurl out of my ribcage like awkward, quick-drying wings. 

This new name is about taking away limitations and allowing something more viral to bloom. It's also all just a grand experiment, and I thank you for your patience and encouragement as we all Figure This Out together.

Something quaint is that people often get the impression that I'm ON TOUR when I'm gigging around Virginia. It has long been my goal to play one show per week within a 100 radius of my bed, so I can come home and crash in that sweetest of slumber pods.

I think it's safe to say I have achieved that goal, judging by the June dates listed below.

In July we'll be RECORDING and working our cute boots off to get the best, most-polished versions of our songs. Do stay tuned for ways you can support us in this epic endeavor.

Upcoming shows:

Jun 02    The Farmhouse    Charlottesville, VA
           w/ Jeremy Moore  -- TOMORROW
Jun 08    The Golden Pony Harrisonburg, VA  
            w/ Dr. How and the Reasons + Lillie Lemon  -- Next Weds.
Jun 17    Cristina's Cafe    Strasburg, VA    
Jun 24    Crossroads RVA    Richmond, VA
            w/ Shama Llama and the Ding Dongs

Season of Love by Annabeth McNamara



Dogs, cats, babies, friends, friends' dogs, lovers, down comforters.  

At this point in the cold season, those of us who have survived are those who have succumbed to cuddles.

One can even somewhat snuggle, from a safe distance, with a space heater or wood stove. 

On rare occasion, even the sun makes itself fair game. 

I'm tickled to announce I'll be serenading folks at a public cuddle puddle in just one week.

First, a plug for live music-going.
Part of why I've started making a habit of going out to live music, despite the warring forces of gravity and inertia, is because I NEVER REGRET IT. 

So instead of "Here are a few of my favorite things," sung by blonde Mary Poppins, I present you with, "Here are a few things I never regret:"

-Walking. Anywhere. Anytime. It reliably massages my brain. In the winter, walking the miles between places brings me an inner warmth that few fires can match.

-Eating a salad, or greens in general. Chlorophyl = happiness high. For staying hydrated and warm, I've gotten in the habit of putting seaweed and herbs and greens and whatever else in a bowl with miso and submerging it all in just-boiled water. My very own aquarium. For dinner.

-Meditating. Even 10 minutes can work wonders in taking me from a ten back to zero.

-Reaching out to a friend when I'm distraught. The gals I've got on my speed-dial work like a charm.

-Recording musical ideas on my laptop late at night. It gives me a funny buzz I can't quite recreate other ways, even if it effs with my sleep cycle.

-And yes, going out to hear live music. It's the warmth, the friendship-fortifying conversation, the kooky decor that often shakes me out of my darker doubts.

It's a little thing called community that can restore my faith in humanity.

In these settings, romance is a gazillion times more likely than if I'd stayed at home hum-drumming and ho-humming.

This brings me to my next show.

Image custom-painted for the event by Chicho Lorenzo.

Image custom-painted for the event by Chicho Lorenzo.

Free Love: Valentine's Day Love-In at IX

For those of us in the city of Charlottesville, this is our chance to share the love. I created an evening for us like a hand-crafted Valentine-- thoughtfully, with lots of frills. 

Spend Valentine's evening submerged in art sharing sweet morsels and crafting valentines with the people you like to love.

Wherever you are on the planet reading this, I hope you'll go out despite the cold to experience the ambient ardor of this holiday of love. 

To me, this day is an invitation to celebrate love of all kinds- how do we show it, how do we live it, how to we BE the Love that we ARE as much as possible ???

I have another radio show this week to start things off. And for my Virginia friends, here are some more opportunities to catch my songs.


Upcoming Shows in VA
2/10 LIVE ON THE RADIO - WCNR/106.1 The Corner - 8pm EST
2/14 Charlottesville, VA @ IX Art Park, 7-11:30pm, $5 donation
2/21 Staunton, VA @ Redbeard Brewing Co.
         w/ Sarah Lynna & the Misfit Toys, 7-10pm
2/28 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony w/ Jeremaiah Tall

3/10 Richmond, VA @ Crossroads RVA (unconfirmed)
4/16 Charlottesville, VA @ The Ante Room - World Voice Day

-Oh, and one last never-regret: wearing earplugs at said live music events. It's a pacifier for my mind. A soft sweater for my senses.

I'm not getting paid to do so, but I recommend Sweetwater's earplugs for bringing things to a safe decibel while keeping sounds rather clear. They make both folk- and rock-level options.

I feel like a total nerd when I wear them.

Which is why I'd like to start a trend so I can hang with the cool kids again.

Something I learn as I grow older is that if I do manage to stick around on this planet for another batch of decades, it's important that I not damage myself irreparably in some stupid way.

The end.

p.s. The wintry portrait at the top of this blog was snapped by my dear friend Renee Byrd. She is a multi-faceted whirlwind of creativity, whether it's writing or photography or playing back-up in my band.

She is currently planning to make me a fairy-unicorn rainbow raw cake for my birthday which will debut on her blog. Hashtag what true friends are made of.

WAIT. So tell me in the comments below, what are some things YOU never regret ? I love hearing from you always. xxxoo