such an honor to hear Sarah Lee Guthrie & Hoping Machine sing my song at the Climate March in DC!

Translate

new CD available on band camp click on cover image below to download tracks

new CD available on band camp          click on cover image below to download tracks
contact: spiesarts@gmail.com

Friday, December 26, 2008


Rivermass Song
Twelve thousand years of tears are standing in my throat
A hundred million fears are woven in my coat
Illusion and memory are all the same
Can you tell me, what is my name?

Beyond the mountains I move along
My voice is hidden, then my voice is strong
After so much silence and separation
Will you praise my beauty, my reparation?

Rising, falling, known, unknown
My water blossoms in your bone
I am the heart of tree and bird
I am the river, a holy word


c 2007 words and music by JoAnne Spies





Watershed Waltz

Come on, let’s dance
Can we skip? Can we prance?
I’ll try not to step on your toes
I saw you there with the clouds in your hair
In your shimmering, glimmering clothes
I didn’t know how the steps go
But you showed me every day

When the eagle flies back to her nest
Where the blue heron stands for her rest
When the salmon jump early in spring
Dance with me

In the river where the deer drink
In the middle of the woods by the muddy creek
In the way we listen and the way we speak
Dance with me

Come on, let’s dance
Can we skip? Can we prance?
I’ll try not to step on your toes
I saw you there
With the clouds in your hair
In your shimmering, glimmering clothes

I didn’t know how the steps go
But you showed me every day
When the eagle flies back to her nest
Where the blue heron stands for her rest
When the salmon jump early in spring
Dance with me

We’re doing the watershed waltz

c 2007 words and music by JoAnne Spies








By Water I Am Led



I am standing by the riverside

Lost and rambling in my pride

Never knowing in my heart and my head

That I am water and by water am led


Let the memory of the soft green ground

And the majesty of each simple sound

Hold me when I’m tumbling down

I am water, I am missing and found


Landlocked, full of fear

Sound your torrent that I may hear

Where I am stubborn, let me flow

Where I am ignorant, let me know


Let the spirit of the earth and sky

Keep me when I die

Carry me to the river and sea

I am water and I am free

c 2007 words and music by JoAnne Spies

Friday, November 28, 2008


Red Red Robin Singalong for CATA

January 30 2:30 pm

where: Crispina ffrench's studio (old Notre Dame church) 40 Melville St. Pittsfield

Who: Anyone who'd like to join in singing or humming "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along"

What: "Red, Red Robin" Video Project

Mission: Create a music video of CATA Art Cart participants (who are predominantly elders) singing this song. Residents sing this song with gusto (and their own lyrics!) every time I play it on the guitar. The goal is to videotape a number of participants,including family, staff and other local participants and artists, edit a 5-8 minute video, and premiere it at the May 2/3, 09 CATA GALA weekend.

Here's a link to Doris Day singing "Red, Red, Robin" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ScH-X91qmo

I prefer Steve Goodman's version, but you get the idea how the song goes.

Thank you to Crispina, Youth Alive and Stefanie Weber for making this taping special!

Erica Spizz, Rodelinde Albrecht, Will Curtiss and Keith Emerling: crew extraordinaire!



Sing, Giovanna, Sing!

My Sicilian grandmother from Chicago, Rosaria Dolce, instructed me to sing whenever I could. If I felt blue in the back seat of the car as we headed out on a Sunday drive, Grandma Dolce would boom out: "Sing, Giovanna, sing!" If I was cross at the kitchen table while she cooked pasta and I set the dishes: "Sing, Giovanna, sing!" No matter how rotten things were, "Sing, Giovanna, sing!" was the cure-all.

See the NPR link below for more on the power of song.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Move it, Sound it, Write it!

This essay on NPR by one of my favorites:

Singing: The Key To A Long Life
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97320958&sc=emaf


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

a suggestion from mike doughty:

why not donate $5 or $10 to Doctors Without Borders?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evelyn Glennie: How to listen to music with your whole body

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/evelyn_glennie_shows_how_to_listen.html

Scottish percussionist and composer Evelyn Glennie lost nearly all of her hearing by age 12. Rather than isolating her, it has given her a unique connection to her music. Full bio and more links


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Since October 2008 it's been exciting to tailor my "Move It! Sound It! Write It!" program for teen girls at the Youth Alive! studio in Pittsfield, MA. Funded by Mary Campbell Case's "Claiming Our Voices" organization in Great Barrington, these empowerment workshops for teens are part of a pilot program to encourage girls to speak their truth and 'claim their voices.' Read about it here: (http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_10895169.)
We've been using rhythm with boomwhackers to find songs from our words, movement based on breathwork and rhythm, and writing inspired from drawing. We are all learning from each other as we create new dances, write songs and draw different self-portraits: animal, super-hero and 3-D boxes.
We had a special class with Marla Robertson November 11th teaching the girls how to embody words in their movements. It was great to watch each girl choreograph her own dance with new meaning understood through the movement.
Thank you to Mary Campbell Case, the "fairy godmothers" who support "Claiming Our Voices," Shirley Edgerton and south county teacher Senta Reis.


Celebration on last day of "MoveIt! Sound It! Write It!" JoAnne, Cheyenne and Rachel

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A wonderful organization advocating change through celebrating your own and everyone else's music:

Music for People
http://musicforpeople.org/

http://www.musicforpeople.org/graduates/joanne_spies.html

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

some photos of "Sounding the River" by Keith Emerling:


Elfie Six and earth gong


Marafanyi leads procession to the river

procession to the river



Stayena Anada leading a prayer by the river





Shirley Paukulis


Pauline Dongala and Carol Ramsay of Women's Interfaith Institute of the Berkshires





Michael Sellon



Ed Mann


Shawn Stevens




JoAnne Spies









JoAnne Spies and Shawn Stevens with prayers on birch bark

here's the link to many more photos:

http://keithemerlingphotography.lifepics.com/net/Pro/Default.aspx

Click on the event on the home page and follow the instructions on the site.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Click here: Pumpkin Hollow Retreat Center

Sounding the River


Sunday, July 13th

Join us in the morning

10am - 12 noon

Lecture by Mohican scholar Lion Miles

Shawn Stevens, Mohican Drum Leader of Nanapowe will share songs and stories


2pm - 4pm

Sounding the River Performance

A celebration! A procession! A Sound and Rhythm Event!

Celebrate the river at Pumpkin Hollow in a procession of rhythm and song


Follow the river to the beat of drums and the sound of gongs

join with

Shawn Stevens, Nanapowe Drum Leader and Storyteller

Members of KDZ, Kripalu Drummers

Youth Alive Step Line and Drum Team from Pittsfield, MA

Marafanyi Percussion

Shirley Edgerton Trio

Vikki True

Beth Craig

JoAnne Spies

Ed Mann, noted Frank Zappa percussionist and sound artist

and other special guests

as we honor the land and river and celebrate different traditions

At Pumpkin Hollow retreat center the beautiful Taconic stream caterwauls into a waterfall and then heads out toward the Hudson. Sounding the River starts at one end of the river and ends by the waterfall and peace pole area.

Early Registration suggested:

$10.00 - Lecture and storytelling only: 10am - 12 noon

$10.00 - Sounding the River performance only: 2:00 - 4:00

$30.00 includes all activities and lunch 10:00 - 4:00

Bring canned goods for Hillsdale Helping Hands Food Pantry

To register call:

Pumpkin Hollow: 518-325-3583

For information about performance e-mail: spiesart@aol.com


Lesley Beck, then-editor of Berkshires Week, who took part in the first Sounding the River performance as a member of the choir, wrote a glowing review. In its first incarnation the celebration was called RiverMASS: http://joannespies.com/page5.php


Funded in part by the John A. Sellon Charitable Trust and the Women's Interfaith Institute of the Berkshires, donations from Staples in Great Barrington, MA are in place for writing workshops before the event and we look forward to welcoming new art partners and collaborations within Columbia County.

Thank You to Jody Rael of Solaqua in Chatham, NY for providing his solar-powered sound system


TAUKH WNAUKOOTWAUKUN HKEEK TONNEH

To write letters of welcome to Mohicans

e-mail: movesound@gmail.com




Rivermass Song


Twelve thousand years of tears are standing in my throat
A hundred million fears are woven in my coat
Illusion and memory are all the same
Can you tell me, what is my name?

Beyond the mountains I move along
My voice is hidden, then my voice is strong
After so much silence and separation
Will you praise my beauty, my reparation?

Rising, falling, known, unknown
My water blossoms in your bone
I am the heart of tree and bird
I am the river, a holy word


c 2007 words and music by JoAnne Spies

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Youth Alive

Raphael and Jerome of Youth Alive
photo by Keith Emerling c 2005

One of the highlights of the RiverMASS performance at St. Stephen's in 2005 occurred when Raphael drummed a solo on his bucket and the Nanapowe drummers all stood up with smiles on their faces looking to see what grooves he was laying down. That curosity and appreciation helped shape the line-up for Sounding the River. We will all have a chance to sit in a circle together and learn each other's songs and grooves. Debra Winchel will be hand drumming and singing Mohican songs Sunday morning, July 13th, teaching new songs and old.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hudson River: Looking Upriver from Bear Mountain Bridge


The Hudson River, called Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk in Mahican, is a river that runs through the eastern portion of New York State and, along its southern terminus, demarcates the border between the states of New York and New Jersey.

When Henry Hudson first encountered the Mohicans, they referrred to the river as "Mahicannittuck," meaning "the place of the waters which are never still" or "the continually flowing waters." There are variant spellings for these words but, generally speaking, "Muhheconnuk" meant "place of the Mohicans" and "Muhhekaneew" meant "Mohican people."
It was not far south of Schodack Island that the Mohicans first met Henry Hudson as he sailed up the 'Great Tidal River.' Schodack Island was the seat of the Mahican's Council Fire.

In our Sounding the River celebration we will have the opportunity to welcome descendants of the Mohicans who are members of Nanapowe, the Mohican Drum. They will be drumming at Pumpkin Hollow in Craryville, NY by a waterfall and stream that joins the Hudson.
We are inviting schoolchildren and people of every age to write letters of welcome to the Mohicans.

Send letters of welcome here: movesound@gmail.com

Thank you for joining in the celebration! We look forward to seeing you on July 13th when these letters will all be received by Nanapowe during the Sounding the River performance.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Notes from RiverMASS ~ forerunner of Sounding the River



When I first heard about Housatonic River Summer in the Berkshires I was intrigued by the fact that the east and west branches of the Housatonic join near Pittsfield. This confluence of water is a powerful symbol for the revitalized energy in Pittsfield. The need for a ceremony to honor the river seems natural. Art, spirituality, and activism come together in RiverMASS. The word 'mass' in RiverMASS refers to the state of Massachusetts, to the definition of earth weight as mass, and to the performance that is a celebration of nature by different traditions and people. Perhaps music originated in our innate sounds of reverence and awe as we imitated nature with our voices. When we express our reverence and awe for the world around us in song we can begin a powerful process of change within ourselves and the world around us. Let's make a joyful noise today by singing or shaking a shaker and acknowledge the majesty of the river.


The name RiverMASS surfaced in January 2004. The making of RiverMASS includes freshets here, rivulets there: the story of the Pittsfield man who rafted down the Housatonic as a boy and rolled in the mud by the railroad tracks at Clapp Park is in RiverMASS; the bed-ridden woman at Hillcrest shaped the songs in RiverMASS by her intent listening; the textures and sounds in the voices of the children at Morris School in Lenox who took on the roles of mammals, birds and wind in the river orchestra are in RiverMASS ; each performer and reader today brings their unique rhythm and vision to honor the river. "To put your hands in a river is to feel the chords that bind the earth together" (Barry Lopez).The river is a boundary, a mirror, an indicator of movement. It is a map of early industry, sacred route of the Mohicans and repository of modern manufacture. It invites us to create legends and re-direct its flow, see where it is dead or stagnant and restore its vitality. By sharing stories and studying the history of the river we can understand better where we are now and re-direct our future.



If you get in a canoe off East New Lenox Road in Pittsfield you will be amazed at the thriving life on the river. In a 2 hour ride that was part of the Upper Housatonic River Valley Course for teachers studying the river, I saw two blue heron, turkey vultures, darning dragonflies laying eggs in the water, mayfly larvae, silver maples laying over the water, linden trees and arrowhead bushes. While we struggle to clean the river of poisons and PCB's, the river shares with us its resilience and beauty."A river sings a holy song conveying the mysterious truth that we are a river, and if we are ignorant of this natural law, we are lost" (from Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life). The river holds all our voices. We are once again listening to and learning from the river.



At the invitation of puppeteer Meredyth Babcock http://marmaladeproductions.com/ I wrote six songs for a performance called " The Watershed Waltz" that explores the dynamics of a healthy watershed. "The Watershed Waltz" was written and performed in schools with funding from the Highland Communities Initiative, a program of The Trustees of Reservations and http://www.westfieldriver.org/.

Many groups locally and nationally have devoted themselves to cleaning the river. Resources to continue honoring the river: Housatonic Valley Association, The Housatonic River Museum , Housatonic RiverWalk, Housatonic River Initiative, Hudson River Sloop Restoration, Inc., riverkeeper.org, rivernetwork.org, Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail and many more.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

W.E.B. DuBois

"For this valley, the river must be the center. Certainly it is the physical center; perhaps in a sense, the spiritual center. Perhaps from that very freeing of spirit will come other freedoms and inspirations and aspirations which may be steps toward the diffusion and diversification and enriching of culture throughout this land."

~~~W.E.B. DuBois, "The Housatonic River,"
Delivered to the Annual Meeting of the Alumni of Searles High School, July 21, 1930

Illustrious native son of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W.E.B. DuBois is the grandfather of the civil rights movement and his visionary statement about the river informs 'Sounding the River.'

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nanapowe, Mohican Drum Group in Stockbridge, MA


Nanapowe in front of Stockbridge Library
after drumming on front lawn in a performance
funded by the Laurel Hill Association

Friday, February 22, 2008

By Water I Am Led







We call upon the waters

That rim the earth horizon to horizon

That flow in our rivers and streams

That fall upon our gardens and fields

And we ask that they teach us

And show us the way


~ Chinook Blessing