Steve and I just received Scott Docherty’s pictures of the Winterfolk Concert held on Saturday night at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon.  Winterfolk is a music benefit for the beloved Sisters of the Road Cafe who feed the hungry and homeless in Portland and provide nourishment for the body and soul with dignity and grace. They have helped countless people get back on their feet in Portland and Winterfolk has been an annual backbone of support to raise money for the meals they make. The music benefit has produced more than 150,000 meals over the years and we all have been honored to play a part in their beautiful mission.

It’s a highlight for us to get to play in the lineup at Winterfolk but participation goes deeper than songs or billing on the poster; just being a part of the event is an annual reminder of the fine line between the have’s and the have-not’s and the sink or swim situation we are all faced with, if not for ourselves then for our neighbors, friends and relatives and we remain grateful to be part of the survival team Sisters invited us to join.

For many years, Utah Phillips donated his performance as a friend and brethren of Sisters of the Road. He knew their history inside and out; he ate their food and he loved their founder, Genny Nelson and the many people she served. Utah was always generous in performance and he engaged with everyone in a way that made us laugh, cry and believe that we were all related to the same heart and that in itself was a great gift we took personally. He strengthened the cause and was a rich thread in the fabric of humanity and the history we shared. He taught us all a great deal about being a good folksinger and a true human being. We loved him and he loved us with his music and his friendship. There was never a better storyteller than U. Utah Phillips, RIP.

Our songs this round transcended the oldest of bonds and grew a few new ones, both in the audience and backstage, as they brought me all the way from my first musical memories in Portland in 1981 to last night thirty-years later to sing on one of the city’s historic stages in a benefit to feed the hungry with songs from the heart that sing about what matters.

Our friendship with Sisters of the Road goes back twenty years when Artichoke Music started selling raffle tickets for a damn good guitar, selling tickets starting on the day after Thanksgiving  and pulling the winning ticket during intermission at the Winterfolk Concert.  Artichoke Music still carries on the tradition we began all those years ago and for that, we are grateful.

The lucky winner would also win ten hours in Big Red Studio with prime time recording engineer, Billy Oskay at the board. We could see the wave of eyebrows rise on more than a few musicians in the house as they registered the magnitude of the prize, “Wow.” A good guitar and ten hours in a world-class recording studio was no small thing and very desirable for the many independent musicians and songwriters in the crowd. This was Portland, after all.

This year a volunteer behind the curtain on stage right was perched for destiny. To her surprise,  Cinda Tilgner, got lucky last night and won a gift that promised to keep on giving.  A star volunteer, Cinda always shows up, smiles like she means it (and does) and says “What can I do now?” and “What’s next?” “How can I help?”

Little did she know when she grinned at us as we headed onstage with her thumbs up and  “Go get my guitar!” that we would do just that.

Artichoke Music’s generous benefactor, Richard Colombo, held a ticket-filled gold metal raffle barrel in his both arms. Steve cranked the barrel to twirl round and round and said funny things until I motioned and whispered, “Stop.”

I turned the little latch on the side of the barrel and thrust my right hand in to dig, fingers searching, swishing, digging some more and reached for a ticket that had the feel of an underdog waiting to be found. My hand closed on a ticket underneath the pile and pulled it out to read into the microphone, “Oh my God!” I grinned. Written in neat blue ink was the name, “Cinda Tilgner!” and the place went wild with a mix of the joy of the ecstatic and groans of the disappointed.  Oh well, there’s always next year.

Cinda was one happy, stunned, dazed but grinning winner as she was called to the stage to accept her prize and realized it really was her turn this time and the gods had chosen to grant her wish with the prize.

We would all go home happy that night. There would be food for the hungry paid for the next while. Camaraderie would continue amongst the musicians and the crowd at the after-party in southeast Portland. By the end of the festivities of the night, one little redhead down from the mountain would be driving back to Welches with her new best friend in the shape of a pretty guitar she named “Sweet Kate.”

Get tickets for Winterfolk for great music and good karma...Get your tickets and take a seat for one of the best shows in the new year to celebrate music and feed the hungry of Portland. Winterfolk XXIV, hosted by the great Tom May, who will serve up an evening of handpicked musicians from the folkscape of Portland and the nation.

This event is the main fundraiser to create meals for the hungry with grace and dignity in Portland at the Sisters of the Road Cafe. Utah Phillips was a long supporter of this event up until his death a couple of years ago. The legacy continues in his memory and for the sake of Portland’s own.

This year features the great Tracy Grammer, Lauren Sheehan, DonnaLynn, Brooks Robertson, Peter Yeates, Mike Beglan, Bob Soper, the Tom May Trio and the two of us, Kate Power & Steve Einhorn.

If the Aladdin Theatre will fills to the brim for this event, many thousands of meals will be paid for to feed folks in need.  In this economic climate, the line between the have’s and the have not’s grows thinner by the day.

Score some karmic points and get tickets for you and your loved ones, friends and co-workers, neighbors and family and join us for the most meaningful concert of the year in Portland – Winterfolk XXIV at the Aladdin Theater next Saturday night.

Raffle tickets for a great guitar from Artichoke Music and a day in Billy Oskay’s divine studio at Big Red are available up until the drawing during the intermission. Show up. Get lucky. Feel the love.

It is an honor to play this concert and we look forward to singing for you and with you. See you there! ~Kate & Steve

THE ONE THING – TRAVIS JOHN, 4th of July 2011 /kate power

It’s the 4th of July. The one thing I think of is Travis John. The firecrackers have finished as night turns into the wee hours. I can’t sleep and my thoughts turn to Travis and the song.

Travis and the gift of the song he gave me changed my life. My relationship is with his ghost and his memory.  My boys knew him and remember him.  We sing his song as an act of peace in his memory. I am grateful to the countless, often unexpected, people who have supported our peace walk through music without borders. Ukuleles, banjos, guitars and voices together and alone; the songs are sent to the heart of the world from the heart of two folksingers who believe more than ever that we must do all we can to work together with instruments of peace.

It’s been eight years since the song came up as I was sitting in the woods at Fishtrap with a banjo at Wallowa Lake, hours after his  body was laid in the ground back in Portland where he was first born three hundred miles away. Steve and I sang it that night, trembling with its first time off the raw page at Fishtrap.  We’ve sung it ever since to light the candle with harmony and to remember him as though we knew him as well as our kids and his family did. As we pack to go back to Fishtrap, called to the writer’s retreat in the Wallowas, the song returns with us.

Since July 10, 2003, we have sung “Travis John” more than a thousand times in answer to a promise over the three thousand days since the beginning of the war, to sing it until the troops came home. It’s eight years so far.

Tracy Grammer joined the ranks of what she likes to call the “One Song Peace Movement” in 2007 (Book of Sparrows EP) and has sung “Travis John” – now just returned from singing it in Hiroshima, Japan – every time she walks on stage and has told the story countless times, patiently, as her peace walk, one town at a time.

Pete Seeger put our CD “Pearls” with “Travis John” in his mailbox and sent it to Bruce Springsteen after “The Seeger Sessions” a few years ago.

Time has passed and the sense of urgency remains waiting, bubbling with blood and oil as it grows to devour lives and hope.  Wars multiply with a greedy appetite for our young who answer the call as though fighting dragons. Travis was one of many brave young hearts now missed. “Travis John” is one simple hymn, a folksong.  One small thing.  What will it take? What is it worth?

We are three folksingers. “Travis John” is an offertory. I picture the real folksingers; the people in their kitchens and front porches, the shape-note singers, the church choirs, the urban peace choruses, the song circlers, the peace walkers at vigils, the soldiers; we, all of us together, lifting our voices to harmonize between the grave and the living just as a growing flock of birds migrate and home in to land one day, in peace.

I am a dreamer who sings.

“Travis John” is the gift of a song without borders.

May peace increase.

FREE DOWNLOADS of “Travis John” are available on Quality Folk website at http://qualityfolk.com/music/travisjohn.html.

TRAVIS JOHN

Under a foreign sky, my fate awaits me
There but for God go I; do not forsake me

I am a boy full of promise, full of freedom
And now the joy is dead and done
I am gone

Before the western sea, my home was in the valley
There with my family, I took to manhood early

I was the one my brother called, my mother looked to me
her fine, strong son
And now the joy is dead and done
I am gone

Finding my way to go, the call that I should answer
My country’s own hero, like music to the dancer

I am a boy full of promise, full of freedom
And now the joy is dead and done
I am gone

Under a weeping willow tree you planted roses
There in my memory, where my eternal ghost is

I was a boy full of promise, full of freedom
And now the joy is dead and done
I am gone

(kate power©2003 ℗bmi/katidoo)