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Blog — "music"

Light City Baltimore

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore" art music

Light City Baltimore

When I first started hearing about Light City Baltimore, I had no clue what it was. All of the descriptions were incredibly vague and didn't really explain things much. Essentially, I knew it was going to some sort of innovative festival dealing with lights, installation art, and technology. There was going to be a conference aspect as well.

As the festival neared, I learned more about it through various outlets. A friend of ours and a co-worker of Andrew's was working on a team for their firm to create an installation on the Living Classroom's lighthouse (pictured above) in the Inner Harbor. Andrew would tell me here and there about what he knew about the installation, and I learned more tidbits through the grapevine as well. Slowly the concept of the entire festival was coming together.

On Monday night, Andrew's firm hosted a happy hour to celebrate the beginning of the festival and the reveal of the light house installation. Afterward, we were able to take in the first evening of the festival, and it was spectacular.

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While each of the installations obviously involves light in some way, many of the installations also have musical and interactive aspects to them as well. There was something so incredibly excited about walking around the Inner Harbor amongst a crowd of people that were happily and excitedly talking about the art. Music from the installations drifted through the air, live music performances were taking place, and the city was aglow.

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We didn't have time to make it to each of the installations, but we plan on visiting the rest of them by the end of the week. If you're a Baltimore local, the festival runs through April 3rd, so there is still plenty of time to take in the installations and performances. I also highly recommend visiting the Light City Baltimore website, so that you can either plan a route or create a plan of attack since there is really so much to see and do.

Have you ever been to an installation art festival? Does your city put on similar festivals? If you're from Baltimore, have you been able to explore Light City?

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Southern Sun

Heidi Shenk music

Before anything else, I wanted to say thank you for all of your comments and responses to yesterday's post about adult friendships. I loved hearing all of the different perspectives, and more than anything knowing that we're not the only ones experiencing this weird phase in our lives. A lot of you in your late 20s and early 30s seemed to relate, which seems incredibly indicative to how transitional these years can tend to be. And if I lived closer to you all, I'd hang with you! ;)

I wrote in this week's Happy List about the arrival of my Boy & Bear album that I'd ordered over a year ago. While I'd been listening to the album for quite some time on Spotify and my iPod, it feels like an important album for me and I had wanted to add it to my physical collection.

Many of you know that I spent time living in Australia and also recently traveled back. As a result I often keep an ear out for new Australian music that I wouldn't otherwise stumble upon here in the US. Boy & Bear is one of those bands. I'm not sure what it is that draw me to them so much, but whatever it is I can't put a finger on it other than to say that their sounds is purely Australian. Maybe it's the lead singer's unaffected Australian accent coming through in his vocals, the open and airy sound of their music that makes me imagine driving through the hot desert with the windows rolled down, the carefree and playfulness of it all that reminds me of the wild south pacific ocean. It's hard to conjure up an appropriate description, but as weird as it may seem, I can almost feel that warmth of the southern sun while I listen to their music.

I ordered their second record, Harlequin Dream, last January. For some reason, there was a major delay-- maybe they had to press another batch or hunt down a copy, I'm just not sure, but I forgot that I had ordered it. A little over a year later, it arrived, and at the perfect moment. Here we are, in the last fit of winter, pushing through cold, gray, blustery days, and when the needle dropped on the first track, "Southern Sun," it was almost as if I had been transported back to that strange and beautiful land. This morning, I put the record on for another spin, and as I listened, the sun began to slowly creep out from behind the clouds and blue sky reappeared-- a reminder that warmer days are soon to come.

What are you listening to these days? Are there any albums that transport you to a different place or time within your life?

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Call Off Your Dogs

Heidi Shenk music

It's hard to believe that it's already Friday. This week has flown by, and sooner than later, January will be over. I'm going to stick with my music theme on Friday because I'm always rocking out on Fridays, knowing that I have a little rest and relaxation ahead.

This week, I'm sharing a recent favorite of mine-- the latest single 'Call Off Your Dogs' from Lake Street Dive. Lake Street Dive is one of my favorite bands within the last few years. They offer a sultry, bluesy pop sound which almost hints at a motown vibe. It's hard not to start tapping your toe while listening or even stop yourself from dancing along. In fact, Lake Street Dive's last album Bad Self Portraits has become a popular kitchen dance party favorite in our house while cooking our dinner.

'Call Off Your Dogs' has a cruise-y beginning vibe leading into another great set of vocals from singer Rachel Price. The single leaves me anticipating their latest upcoming release, Side Pony, which will be out on February 19th.

What have you been listening to lately? Are you a fan of Lake Street Dive? We saw them live last year and had a blast.

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A Few Thoughts on David Bowie

Heidi Shenk "a few things" music



On Friday morning, I excitedly opened Spotify to give David Bowie's Blackstar a test drive. It is what I often do when new albums come out that I am excited about. There wasn't much precursory information about the album, but of the information available, I was intrigued and excited. In addition, my brother in law had written his quick review about it on Facebook ("it was a bit weird"), which further piqued my interest. Having been a huge fan of David Bowie since middle school, this was a big deal.

As the title track of the album began playing, the "a bit weird" review made sense. It was dark and cacophonic and mysterious in a way that only Bowie could pull off. It was a new sound to my ears. I quickly shot my sister a text stating, "It IS a bit weird, but it's Bowie and Bowie is weird, and I sort of totally love it!" I sort of totally loved it enough that I played the album in full three or four more times to try and process what I was listening to.

Later that night, while cooking dinner and washing dishes, I played the album for Andrew. His first reaction was, "That's a bit morbid!" It was morbid and dark and deathly-- exact words I used to describe what we were listening to, but I couldn't shake it. Something about the album stuck in both a wondrous and unsettling way.

Yesterday morning, upon waking to the news of Bowie's death, I knew. I knew why I couldn't shake the feeling the album gave me. The album was meant to be released in this way, in time with his death. It was a final farewell in the same theatrical way that he'd always presented his persona-- almost a perfection in his art. He had created a piece of art that was meant to embody his death. He had succeeded. And it was heartbreaking.

This past weekend, I had already decided that I wanted to share a few words about Blackstar with you, much as I had shared a music post with you this past Friday as well as in the past. However, on Monday, I decided I needed to process what had happened instead and gather my thoughts on paper, so to speak.

In sixth grade, I began listening to the band Queen. My sister and I became quickly obsessed and one of my biggest music idols became Brian May. Naturally, through Queen, I learned about David Bowie. He was fascinating. He pushed the boundaries on so many levels through both his music and his various personas, and for lack of a better way of putting it, he was a weird dude.

Bowie made weird the new cool. And I resonated with that. I was the weird, odd one out. I wore whatever I wanted rather than following any fashion norms, I said what was on my mind even if it didn't align with the ideas of those around me, and American pop culture was mostly foreign to me since I didn't really grow up with many of the same experiences as my peers. Bowie made it ok to be weird, and so being weird was ok.

While my friends were listening to the Backstreet Boys and 'Nsync, I chose to listen to Bowie. I plastered my walls with photos of his various personas instead of photos of boy bands, and I hung a Bowie calendar from my bedroom door instead of one of Justin Timberlake. While my friends had crushes on Timberlake, I did not have a crush on Bowie. Rather, I was inspired by his creativity.

When I was in seventh grade, he released an album entitled Earthling. It was like nothing I had heard before. It was a mish mash of pop and electronica and trance and grunge guitar. It pushed the boundaries of what music was in my mind and made it clear that music didn't need to fit some formula for Top 40 radio. Without his music, I don't know that I would have the drive and hunger for finding new music like I do today.

On Monday, as I listened to Blackstar yet again, I found myself purchasing a vinyl copy of the album to keep. While the album is saddening, I wanted to have this piece of art in hand as a way to celebrate a majestic and innovative life the way I think he had wanted. It serves as a reminder for us all to continue choosing the path that is right for us even if it goes against social norms. Bowie loved what he did so much that he was willing to pursue his creative endeavors and push the boundaries of his art up until his death, living one incredibly full life. It may be a bit weird and strange and beautiful all at the same time, but if weird was ok with Bowie, then weird is ok with me.



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Change of the Guard

Heidi Shenk music

I'm a music listener that makes selections based on my mood and energy level. During the holiday season, I somehow stumbled upon the song Change of the Guard by Kamasi Washington. And it was epic. An epic mood booster. And epic productivity booster. An epic vibe. An epic song. Epic jazz.

I described the song to Andrew just as I have to you, and then quickly looked up Washington, so that I could listen to whatever amazing album the song had to have come from. And when I finally came upon said album, I chortled with laughter as I found it was so wonderfully titled, wait for it.... yes--  The Epic.

Understand, Change of the Guard, is just over 12 minutes long, and that's only a fraction of this 17 song, nearly 3 hour long, 3 disc album. And I soak it in. All of it. Again and again.

Washington is a 34 year old saxaphonist and composer with a large resume for such someone his age. And while jazz isn't the first thing I'd normally put on the stereo, something about The Epic speaks to me. It's original and fresh and contemporary, yet plays a variation of them on other pieces you may be familiar with at times. Not only is it epic in a figurative sense, but it is truly an epic in the sense of the literal word meaning-- a long story. I say that because as you listen to the album you feel as though you're hearing a story through the music which leads you on a journey from start to finish.

And on that note, I'll be heading into my studio, The Epic on the stereo, preparing to launch into another productive day to the vibes of some epic jazz.

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