The other day my husband and I took a bike ride to grab a bite to eat. I was rounding a corner when a man walking a few yards ahead of me pointed to his bald spot and started yelling, "Jesus Christ personally did this to me personally. PERSONALLY." He continued his frightening rant about what Jesus did to the size of his genitals, but I won't repeat that among company like yours.
Portland is as weird and shocking as they say, but it's wonderfully creative and I love it.
Some mornings I walk my dogs past the windows of small businesses on our block in hopes of catching a few seconds of a photo or video shoot. Our neighborhood is a hot spot for ad agencies and video production companies and I sometimes find myself wondering what it would be like to work in a corporate creative environment. The creative energy here oozes through the walls and energizes me as I pass.
Obviously, Portland's creativity isn't limited to the offices on my block. Just the other day I attended a singer/songwriter gathering at a new friend's house. Of course it was wonderful to share songs, but the best part of the evening was writing a song together about what Donald Trump would be like if he were nicer. We based the hook on a comic one of the musicians published entitled, "Decent Don." You would've loved to be a fly on the wall that evening, and I was feeling lucky to be there in person, joining in on the chorus.
This is where I live now. Portland.
Already I'm completely invested and I've only been here for a few months. I even find myself picking up trash on our block! However, I've yet to embrace it creatively. In the midst of so much creative energy I find I'm stuck, unsure of my place as a musician. Aren't you supposed to become more self-assured the older you get?
I think I'm feeling stuck because more than ever before, my creativity is facing off with community. It's different here. In my old hometown you ventured out to experience new things. Here, culture, adventure, and creativity is the very fabric of the streets I walk on everyday. More than ever before I have the opportunity to add to the fabric of a creative local community and I want it to count.
If you've (somehow) kept up with me over the last couple of years, you've probably noticed that I've tried out new musical styles, hair colors, and projects. You've also probably noticed this past year I've tried new things at an accelerated pace.
Here's an abbreviated version of what I've tried and why I stopped:
1. I started Wanderwilds, an Etsy store featuring vintage accessories. I loved the creative part, but I quickly discovered it wasn't enough of a passion to push me past the parts I hated. I let my beautiful sister take over the shop, and she's now running it successfully.
2. I also released Volume 1 in an EP series called Hymns for the Wanderer. The day I released the EP I realized all I really wanted to do was write original music. Though producing hymns stretched my production skills, I put an indefinite pause on the project to make room for writing original's.
3. In hopes of making more original music that scratched a different musical itch, I started a group called Wishling. I loved making music with my friends but we have since put a pause on making music due to life stuff. We will definitely music again when life allows, but in the meantime we're letting it be what it may.
4. Honorable mentions include blogging, vlogging, and teaching voice lessons online. All wonderful endeavors, but not sustainable in the way I was approaching them. Though these are not off the table completely, they have also been put on pause.
Though I've started and stopped these projects for one reason or another, each of them has been a stepping stone to where I'm at right now. Though they came and went quite quickly, because they were necessary steps, I don't regret the trying or the pace.
WHERE I'M AT NOW
I feel my deepest calling is to serve through the art that I, or the others I help, make. I believe one of the world's most powerful connection and communication tools is art. What a better way to connect with hearts around us?
As I come to rediscover my calling I am focusing on just that; connecting to hearts through art.
Coming full circle, this is why learning the needs of my local community is so important. As glad as I am that I've worked quickly up until this point, diving deep into community takes time. Consequently, my new direction is somewhat ambiguous at this point.
With that I am putting a (mostly) permanent pause on all things Alison Brook Music until I have figured out my place in community. I promised an album by 2018 and demos to go along with it. I'm hoping that will still happen, but I'm not sure how or when.
Besides wanting to make music in the context of community, I'm itching to try new things musically. This might mean I start another band, side project, or start writing for other artists. I'm not quite sure. All I know is I have music seeping through my pores, so the music will be made one way or another.
Finally, whatever my next step is, I want to approach music with a far more open hand than I have in the past. At times I've been so prescriptive with what I've communicated through art. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with having something to say from time to time, this approach gives you little room for growth. I intend to allow others to give to me creatively as much as I give to them. I hope this makes me a better listener, storyteller, and a more honest and healthy artist.
My heart is heavy and a few tears are threatening to spill on my blushed cheeks. Even though I know that whatever comes from this will be a good and beautiful thing, it also means saying goodbye to something. It's the heaviness you feel at high school graduation: pure elation mixed with a feeling that things will never be the same again. There are good things to come, but we mourn the passing of an era.
I will do my best to update you on my journey. Thank you for being a part of it. I am open to questions and comments if you have them and I'm beyond thankful for to those who have opened up their wallets, homes, venues, churches, iTunes or social media accounts to support what I do.
Until next time, much love to you.