The Collection’s Listen to the River was Worth the Wait

The first time I heard The Collection’s music, I thought my heart was going to explode. I’m always listening for lyrics, but it wasn’t David Wimbish’s earnest songwriting that resonated with me, it was the image of him turning his group of talented musician-friends into an orchestra.

When The Collection toured their first full-length album, Ars Moriendi, the then thirteen-piece band wedged their van and trailer full of instruments into a DC parking space and covered every inch of the first floor of my house with sleeping bags. I don’t know how we had enough sheets and blankets for all of them. We have hosted many memorable shows in that house, but if I could go back in time to experience one of them again, it would be that night.

page_1_thumb_large.jpg
That time I found myself in The Collection’s band photo and then on the cover of a Greensboro, NC arts magazine.

In a world in which it is more common to communicate via technology than face-to-face, Wimbish brings friends together to create music with him and spend weeks at a time in the confined space of a tour van. It’s really everyone’s fantasy at 23: “let’s all quit our jobs and tour the country together as band!” From what I observed while hosting The Collection, they did it with grace and great enjoyment, like a group of kids on a mission trip but without the need for chaperones. When asked how they were able to get along so well, it was clear that they shared deep love for each other. This made their music feel all the more real—the passion exuded in the music continued into their visibly grace-filled behavior toward each other.

While The Collection’s first EP drew primarily on biblical themes with poetic honesty and earnest hope, Ars Moriendi reflected on the untimely deaths of friends and carried heavy questions about salvation. Listen to the River was recorded after Wimbish “found his faith and courage left at the bottom of a spiritual well.” The album’s liner notes explain:

Listen To The River is the story of the rope that he used to climb out, one that’s strands were made of great spiritual writers, from Rumi and Kahlil Gibran to Herman Hesse and Lao Tse. The process that followed was a re-examination and reorientation of both his spirituality, and his marriage to member Mira Joy after mutually deciding to divorce last year, ultimately leading to an album created together, hoping to honor the past while accepting the present.

I can’t imagine the tension of going through a co-creation process with an ex-spouse. But The Collection’s music has always embraced tension, just listen to the introduction to Fever

“I was singing by the river, waiting for my troubles to be gone
and you were coming through the speakers, sliding down my ears and played their drums”

or The Art of Dying

“Death sits inside his office as we wait for the verdict
he speaks our fate with a nervous tick; do we get the cure or the sickness?
and when we die, what will it be – a graveyard grave, or a golden fleece?
And will we fight or will we flee?
Will you still have faith in me?”

And this, perhaps, is what tugs at my heart so strongly: to end a relationship and still be attached, be plagued with trouble yet feel close to God, to wonder about the afterlife after watching peers die. Wimbish writes challenging questions into his songs and chews on them with strings and woodwinds and perfectly timed percussion.

Listen to the River holds this tension too, but there’s evidence of some settling in. And the thirteen-piece band has been stripped down to seven, resulting in a meeker sound.

“There are so many people
They float like the lashes that fall from my eyes
I know between them, they believe everything
So I don’t have to be right” – So Many People

Now contending with the complexities of his mid-twenties and asking big questions about faith and existence, Wimbish continues to turn harsh realities and lack of certainty into honest, reflective songs. And he continues to involve a wide circle of musician-friends, resulting in a co-creation process that speaks more volumes of hope than lyrics ever can.

Advertisements

Squarespace for Meredith Flanagan Events

Am I going to get in trouble for posting on WordPress about building a Squarespace site?

My cousin, Meredith Flanagan, freelances as a wedding and special event planner in the Washington, DC, area and asked me to build a website for her business. She just needed some online real estate—a place for people to learn about her services and get in touch.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 9.34.17 PM.png

I originally built the site on Weebly but found the templates and style to be a dated and inflexible. For photo-heavy sites, I really like superscrollorama formats and found that Squarespace had such templates in a variety of styles.

My first step in this project was to look at other wedding planners’ sites to see what kind of content they included and how it was displayed. Based on my comparison of these sites, I decided what text to include in Meredith’s site and wrote it. Next, I uploaded high-resolution photos of weddings Meredith has planned.

One challenge was deciding which voice to use. In my comparison of other wedding planners’ sites, I came across a Menu of Services and Contact Me form in first person and found them very inviting. If I did that too, though, I though it would be incongruous to have Meredith’s bio and business statement in third person. So, I made all of the text first person. Since Meredith Flanagan Events is a one-woman show, I think it works well.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 9.34.31 PM.png

Squarespace for business comes with one Google Suite domain and Meredith is pleased to have a business email address and separate place to store her professional documents. Her new email address is hello@meredithflanaganevents.com. So cute!

River Whyless Embraces the Role of Musicians in Times Like These

River Whyless recently released a recording of their take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son and have been playing it (in pussy hats) on tour. I’ll admit that it strikes me as a bit contrived, but I do love the song. The visuals in the YouTube video are scenes from the Women’s March on Washington, which they attended.

 

On Repeat: Dream in Blue by The Stray Birds

I think I can thank the great folks algorithms at Spotify for introducing me to this song.

From their website:

All originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, The Stray Birds started as a duo of acoustic buskers in early 2010 when Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven met with their instruments, their voices, and their songs. It didn’t take much convincing to get bassist Charlie Muench on board, and with the addition of a third unique and powerful voice, the group began to define its captivating sound. Seven years, three original records, and some six hundred performances later, the band is best known today for its songwriting, its tight and forthcoming vocal harmony blend and its commitment to an impassioned delivery of original material, both on stage and in the studio.