& Win Grace
News January 30, 2007!!
Dear Friends of Grace(s),
Goodness me! I can't believe I've almost let 2 years
go by without a word. In case you're wondering where
we went and what happened, here finally is the inside
scoop on what we've been up to:
Paul and I are having a sabbatical (root word sabbath -- a
time for rest, reflection, honing of skills and
rediscovering inspiration) from the music
business. We're still playing music, though!
We have picked a few choice performances in the last year:
- A September performance of our Lewis and Clark
program, A Campsite Frolic, at
the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis
(The Arch) for the Final Signature Event of
the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. At this
event, along with our former Discovery String Band
mates, we were awarded the Missouri Lewis and Clark
Bicentennial Legacy Award for our CD, "Most
Perfect Harmony" Lewis and Clark: A Musical Journey.
- We scored and performed the music for the TRYPS
(Theater Reaching Young People in the Schools) play, Little
House on the Prairie in October. What a
blast! Here I am finally putting my B.A. in Theater to
- We played at First Night Columbia,
Columbia's alcohol-free New Year's Eve
celebration of the Arts. I
was Festival Coordinator/Artistic Director of First
Night for 4 years and it was quite a pleasure to see
what a great community tradition it has become. I felt
good to see that this event that I worked hard to
"grow," sometimes at great personal sacrifice, had
become a vibrant and strong festival. It was almost
like seeing a grown child who is thriving!
But the concert we played at First Night was very
exciting for us! We played almost all new material --
the songs that we were excited about and passionate
about regardless of whether they were highly polished or
not! I also played 3 songs on the piano, which was
equally scary and fun all at once. A sampling of the
songs we played: Just A Closer Walk With Thee
(my secular humanist version!); After the Deluge
by Jackson Browne, written in 1974, with my added
30-years-later verse; When the Doors Start to Open
and the Windows Come Down by Bob Dyer; The Hawk
and the Dove by Tret Fure; The Hero and the
Straightaway by James Keelaghan; I Ain't Got No
Home by Woody Guthrie; When the Ship Comes In
by Bob Dylan; and last but not least, Fields of
Gold by Sting (a special arrangement of the song
that was my gift to Paul for our 30th Anniversary last
We will be picking a few choice gigs to play in the
coming year as we continue our sabbatical, but if you
can't hear us play live, you can always get the complete
collection of our CD's from the
Grace Family Music Store.
And now, you may wonder, why a sabbatical? We have made
our living as touring folk musicians for 25-30 years, with a
few part-time jobs here and there to help us over the slim
winter times. We say 25-30 years, because it's unclear when
we actually started making it a business. Was it the first
time we played on the street in Crested Butte, Colorado with
friends and got tips? Or was it the $15 gig at the Ninth
Most college professors take a paid sabbatical every 7 years
to write, learn, research, and gain perspective. As
musicians, we are self-employed, and while we've been able
to support ourselves and our daughters Leela and Ellie, we
have always lived financially on the edge. Quite often we
lived below the federal definition of the poverty level,
though we never felt that poor since we know how to stretch
a dollar. We live in an energy-efficient home, are cautious
about taking on monthly payments and debt, and simply don't
buy "things" if we don't have the money on hand. We have
always figured that this was the price we paid for the
freedom to be our own bosses. BUT there is never extra
money lying around, and certainly not a whole year's worth!
We have to admit too that after 25 years of uncertainty, we,
(Paul especially) got tired of wondering if we would be able
to make the next month's bills. And then we really needed a
break to remind ourselves of the joy and inspiration and
community we find in music.
SO in order to have our sabbatical, Paul got a full-time
job! It took about 4 months and a zillion applications for
the right job to roll around, but by jove, I think he's
found it! He is a Home Coordinator for 8 developmentally
disabled individuals and supports them in an Individualized
Supported Living situation. They all have their own
apartments (two groups of apartments) in the community, and
there is a full-time staff for each group.
Yes, friends, Paul is a boss! During Paul's second month at
work, he was talking to one of his staff members when she
got a phone call. She said, "Just a minute, I'm talking to
my boss." At first Paul kind of looked around, and then he
realized that HE was the afore-mentioned boss! What a
shocker! Of course, he kept his cool and continued to act
like a boss. There is a steep, steep learning curve with
the job and as you might imagine, lots of paperwork. The
job does allow for a lot of flexibility and so after Paul
settles in, we may get back to more performing.
In the meantime, we are playing music for fun, trying to
finish the remodeling project we started a year ago (ack!),
and spending more time at home and in our local
community. In December we each (separately) had a 4-day
self-directed retreat in a hermitage south of St. Louis. We
both found it wonderfully refreshing to take a deep breath,
step back and get a "good view."
Since one of his clients is deaf, Paul has been taking an
ongoing American Sign Language class. He also recently took
an Introduction to Yoga class which he is loving.
For myself, I have a million things I hoped and hope
to do on this sabbatical and I've even done some of
them, but it's amazing how busy I've been with the pure
functionality of life and family and catching up on the
"piles" in the music office. Among these things
are: pursuing drawing and making more of my famous magic
marker pieces; learning about web design and maintenance -
currently I'm taking an Intro to Web Design course; learning
new songs, honing my skills on autoharp, voice, accordion,
and especially piano; enjoying dance and loving
Jazzercise; trying to keep up my French language skills -
took a course in Intermediate Conversational French;
learning graphic design and database programs on the
computer; organizing the house!!; doing some work and
learning in the accounting field; and learning how to market
our CD's which I have never gotten around to!
We've both been going through a tremendous change in outlook
and priorities, and have re-remembered our original desire
of many years ago to live lightly upon the earth in a manner
that made the world a better place instead of just seeking
for our own or for our children's benefit. We've discovered
that we don't need all that much in the way of "stuff" and
actually, feel that we have more than enough of it! How
truly fortunate we are! And how often we forget this!
That's our story for now!
you each walk in Beauty. May we all find Peace.
warmest regards, Win
News March 29, 2005:
Grace Friends and Fans.
guess you were all wondering why you hadn't heard from us for a
while. Well, life just intrudes sometimes and we can't seem to get
everything done that we'd like. But hey, we're still here and
ready to let you all know what's happening.
We've finally put the best selections from our first three
(from 1984, '87 and '90) on a 77-minute CD and have titled it Fiddle,
Folk and Foolishness Paul & Win Grace: The Early
Years with Leela and Ellie Grace. A
CD Release and Grace Family Reunion Concert with
daughter duo Leela
and Ellie Grace will be held in Columbia
(Missouri) on May 7th. Hope you can make plans to attend.
Check out our calendar
to see if we'll be in your area this year. Our schedule has us
performing in Michigan, Nebraska, Colorado and Illinois as well as
Missouri (of course!) with tours to Kansas and South Dakota (and
who knows where else - maybe France?) in the works. Come up and
say "Hi" if you make it to a show.
Meanwhile, it's SPRING here
in good old Boone County and green is starting to show all around
while the spring peepers are singing nightly. We're actually
getting to be home a little more right now and are able to
experience the season. We hope you have a lovely and fruitful
spring and that maybe we see many of you down the road.
After the original Discovery String Band
performance on August 7, 2005, Paul
& Win Grace will resign from the Band
in order to focus more on their musical pursuits as a duet
(including a new Lewis and Clark program that they've developed!
See below.). Not to worry, though -- the new Discovery
String Band will proceed on in its grand style,
occasionally performing as a trio, but often as a quartet with
fiddler Kelly Werts joining in.
Paul & Win
have developed a new program about the infamous journey: Lewis
and Clark: A Campsite Frolic. This
program includes and builds on the Metis fiddle and feet,
the French voyageur songs and traditions, traditional songs, and
the rollicking hoedowns that Paul
& Win performed with the Discovery
String Band and recorded on the CD "Most
Perfect Harmony" Lewis and Clark: A Musical Journey.
Win Grace is the contact for booking Paul
& Win Grace, although she can always pass
inquiries about the Discovery String Band on.
The new Discovery String Band will
continue to perform the program of original, traditional and
period music interpreting the journey: Lewis
and Clark: A Musical Voyage of Discovery. Beginning
February 15, 2005, Bob
Dyer (660-882-3353) will be handling booking inquiries for
the new Discovery String Band.
Dec. 15, 2004
to all --
I hope this finds you all enjoying the true spirit of the season and
the delicious give and take of Love. Paul and I are hunkering
down a bit after a wild year of touring.
But before I forget... it's not too late to order some Grace-ful
Music for Christmas presents. We ship by First Class Mail on
the day we receive the order or on the next day if it's later in the
day. Please feel free to contact us by e-mail to have CD's
autographed or inscribed in a special way. Here is a listing
of the CD's. We're also running a special SALE
on two titles -- a free cassette with the purchase of CDs by
the same title.
To order: www.GraceFamilyMusic.com/shop.
But I digress, back to more Grace-ful news: These days,
we're thinking of family and friends, planning get-togethers,
eating too much (putting on that winter coat), trying to stay
warm, trying not to accumulate so much stuff in our house (and
lives) that there's no room for the people, and trying to learn
how to slow down and find balance in our lives (my current
We had a fabulous time performing last Saturday for KOPN
Community Radio's Lee Ruth Everybody's Got Love
Tribute Concert. See www.kopn.org --
CD's are still available! Oh my -- 24 acts performed
Lee's songs. What a range of styles, what a body of work Lee
has! We are proud to know him! Especially notable
were performances by Chris Vallillo (http://www.ginridge.com) and
by Pete Szkolka, (http://radioranger.org/LeeRuth/OhBeJoyful.htm)
who also happens to be the ace recording engineer who we worked
with on the Lewis and Clark CD, Most Perfect Harmony.
Paul and I did research on Mark Twain's favorite songs for
underscoring the Mark Twain Birthplace video, and our interest in
Twain was really piqued! His writing, his life, his taste in
music -- we are totally intrigued! We have recorded 18 songs
to underscore the video, with a few more still to go.
We look forward to performing at First Night in Springfield,
Missouri this year. For those of you who don't know about
First Night: these are alcohol-free community celebrations
of the arts that take place around the world on New Year's Eve.
They almost always include a participatory procession, hands-on
public art, fireworks, and entertainment of endless variety
AND for all ages. Families, singles, teens, and couples ALL
will find something fun to do. I am dedicated to this
concept -- I spent four years as Festival Coordinator/Artistic
Director of First Night Columbia (MO), but left the position
to dedicate more time to playing music. Look at this web
site (http://www.firstnightintl.org) to
find a First Night near you. If you don't find one, think
about getting one started!
Last, but not least, at the following link is an Open Letter from
me written on November 8th in response to the election results.
Included after my letter is an excellent article by our friend
Open Letter: http://www.gracefamilymusic.com/paul-win/post-election
To all of you who are able to see the inter-connectedness of all
of us on the planet: Thank you for all you do to take care of more
than just yourself and to make the world a better place. You
may not believe that you have made any difference, but I see a
change. Keep honoring what you are called to do, and
following that calling. Even a small act of kindness makes
the world a better place. Thanks especially to all of you
who worked so selflessly on the November election.
Last week I was able to hear Tibetan Lama Younge Khachab Rinpoche
speak. He spoke of the great desire for world peace, and
said that was a worthy goal, but that a way to attain it was
for each of us to find personal peace. And so my wish for
all of us in this season and for every season --
May we all find Peace, Win
on Oct. 17, 2004:
Whew! What a beautiful day it is -- think of me in a
little while walking along Cedar Creek in the bottom field
basking in the crisp October sun, avoiding the cow pies (she
said hopefully), saying hello to the curious calves, their
protective Moms (who seem to understand me when I tell them,
"I don't eat you.") and the deer who stare curiously
at me for a minute and then leap across the field over fences,
into the woods, in great bounds higher than I can believe, white
Paul and I have just had a whiz-bang year -- actually, it's been
our best year ever. In the midst of it, we had a wonderful
5-day respite by the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, taking a
guided canoe tour on an inland lake led by naturalist Alan
Wernette, a great campsite jam with Max and Ruth Bloomquist (www.RuthBloomquist.com)
that created quite a stir, gorgeous walks in the Michigan woods,
long and longer walks along the beach, a 130-step climb to the
top of the Lighthouse for an amazing view including the
curvature of the earth (Okay, I admit it -- I only made it
halfway. The see-through steps got to me. Paul just told
me about the view.), and -- my favorite part -- great rides
on the waves of Lake Michigan. I can't get enough of that
water! It was freezing cold, but I just waded in gradually waiting
until I was numb all over, and then I had a great time.
We played in Sioux City, IA (a fabulous arts community there!!)
and at the National Museum of Music in Vermillion, SD.
What a great place -- we saw the biggest playable accordion (So
big that only Shaq could play it, or maybe Ella Ewing.) and
the smallest playable accordion (about 3 1/2").
We performed at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO for 3
weeks -- the longest job we've ever had as musicians. We
were honored to be part of a 30-minute presentation performed 3
times daily: A Musical Journey with Lewis and
Clark. We sang songs as part of the script to
carry the story line along. The show was conceived by
producer Marty Schmitt and written by incredible actors
Richard Young and Jim Waddell. Sets, lights, costumes --
the whole thing! What fun! Since I have a degree
and have worked in theatre, this was a joy to me.
It looks like a Mark Twain theme is developing in our lives:
We will be underscoring a film on the life of Mark Twain for the
Missouri DNR and in late 2005 we'll be developing and
performing original and traditional music for a children's
[Jill Womack and TRYPS (Theater Reaching Young
People in the Schools)] production of Huckleberry
Finn in Columbia.
The Lewis and Clark theme still lives on, though, as we just
finished several extremely well-received concerts with the
Discovery String Band, with another Grand Concert coming up in
Well, enough about us. Now -- how about the rest of the
DO live in interesting times. Don't worry, I'm not going
to tell you who you should vote for. My only thought
as you make your decisions, and it is something that I try to
live by (not always successfully), is to BE NOT AFRAID.
Don't let fear be your guiding light. Listen to your
heart, be guided by love, trust your instincts -- don't let
others tell you how to think or make you think that you don't
have what it takes to make the right decision. I would
love to see neighbors and friends and politicians return to a
time of being able to respectfully disagree. I believe
that true strength and a balanced course of action is found in
listening to each other, in learning from each other.
Paul and I have recently experienced a threat to our career
and attempts to silence us simply because we helped organize a
fundraiser for a mainstream Presidential candidate (See www.GraceFamilyMusic.com/fundraiser).
We have chosen to forgive, move on, and continue to do what we
are guided to do. We believe in democracy and will
continue to work appropriately to make this a better world.
We do not believe in forcing our political views on our
concerts attendees, but we will continue to actively participate
in the democratic process.
I find debates for the elected offices to be the best tool
for determining how to vote. They aren't completely ideal,
but watching an entire debate -- NOT just sound bites, NOT just
reading an excerpt, NOT hearing the spin machine on it -- gives
an excellent idea of the integrity, honesty, intelligence,
character, experience, values, stance on issues, and
knowledge of the candidate. The issues facing our
representatives are, at all levels, extraordinarily complex, and
30-second sound bites and smear ads or one-issue litmus tests
simply cannot begin to inform us of what we need to know to work
together to solve the crisis that we find ourselves in as a
country and a world today.
My wish for ALL: May we rest
in the Grace of the world and know that we are Free.
Here: Win's "Quote
of the Month" 8/21/04
on July 21, 2004:
The Discovery String Band had a great tour of Kansas and western
Missouri -- no vehicle breakdowns and great audience response!
What could be better? We are really, really proud of our
Grand Concert, which we present mainly when we have an
indoor concert/theatrical setting. It begins with Cathy
Barton's amazing piano overture, and includes readings from the
Journals of Lewis and Clark by Bob Dyer to "set the
stage" for each song. We proceed loosely in
chronological order, from the Louisiana Purchase (Bonaparte's
Retreat) to bringing the Corps home (The Way Home). Here
is a link to some photos taken of the Grand Concert that we
presented at the Crest Theatre in Great Bend, Kansas:
Thanks to Don Shorock for organizing and spearheading our
appearance in Great Bend (a town that must shoot more fireworks
per capita than any town in the nation!) and for taking these
We had a fabulous time at the California Traditional Music
Festival that takes place at Soka University south of Los
Angeles. The whole concept of the festival is to encourage
the audience to become part of the music, and there is ample
opportunity to learn just about any acoustic instrument you can
imagine. Thanks to the amazing Clark and Elaine
Weissman for conceiving and carrying out this grand design and
to Entertainment Director Kathy Qualey for her vision and
As far as the flight to California goes, I cannot say that the airline
industry cares a bit about musicians and the potential
career-damaging disasters that they can (and have) inflicted on
us. Frontier Airlines was about as difficult as they could
be, having oversold the flight and being faced with four Graces
who had checked everything we had except for two instruments
each. I know that the Folk Alliance has made some attempt
to negotiate an agreement with the airlines, but the 19-year-old
at the Frontier Airlines desk said that this written agreement
did not apply. He also flatly refused to let us speak with
his supervisor, said he didn't have one, they were in Denver,
couldn't be reached on the phone even.
As folk musicians, we live on the edge
financially and in many cases, we must fly to do our job.
Paul and I believe we have an idea of how we could do things
differently next time we fly, but our fellow folk musicians who
fly more often tell us that the rules are CONSTANTLY changing,
and they have never figured it out. It's simply dependent
on the whim of whoever is at the counter. We put our
livelihood in their hands every time we fly. Enough
bellyaching -- sorry!!
We're looking forward
to voting next week. Missourians, if you've ever
put your hand over your heart, faced the flag and said, "With liberty
and justice for all," I hope that
you find it in that same heart to vote NO on Amendment 2
which seeks to put discrimination and injustice into our state's
constitution. Here's hoping that here at the heart of the
Heartland, we come through for liberty and justice on August
Grace-ful Friends --
No time for cleaning out the garage or really to do anything but
music. Paul and I along with the Meriwether Pranksters
(Paul, Win, Cathy Barton, Dave Para, Bob Dyer a.k.a. The
Discovery String Band) are on the road playing lots of
There have been some really nice articles written about us
recently. One was written by Matt Watroba in the
highly-regarded national magazine of folk music, SingOut!
Here is a link to the table of contents: http://www.singout.org/482toc.html.
Another was in a
local paper written by a journalism student: Go to this link and
search for Discovery String Band and the article
We're heading out to perform in California next weekend at the
fabulous CTMS festival along with Leela and Ellie! This
will be our first performance in California AND first experience
flying with ALL our instruments. We're flying Frontier
Airlines and since there's a total limit of 3 pieces of
"luggage," checked or carried on, and given the fact
that each of us has two or three instruments to bring, we've
decided that we don't have any room for clothes. So this
should be a good performance to catch! We'll have 6
folkies on one Frontier Airlines flight -- Leela, Ellie, Cathy,
Dave, Paul and I -- so given the general level of song and
merriment that we tend towards when we go out to eat, we could
be either very beloved or.... by our fellow travelers.
We'll talk atcha later. Come up and say hey when you're at
a show... Enjoy, relax, breathe!!
Here: Win's Quote of
June 16, 2004
me back in time to Old News Page:
13, 2004 News
5, 2004 News
19, 2004 Newsletter
6, 2003 News
30, 2003 News
6, 2003 Letter
1, 2003 Letter
9, 2003 Letter
2, 2003 Letter
10, 2003 Letter
5, 2002 Letter
2, 2002 -- Letter from Paul
2, 2002 News of Paul & Win
2, 2002 News of Leela & Ellie as told by Win
of Leela & Ellie's June 15th (2002)
Performance at West Plains Old Time Music Festival.
1, 2002 Letter
1, 2002 Letter
31, 2002 Letter
12, 2001 Welcome Letter