In another lifetime... Circa 1983, Auckland, Aotearoa

Creativity is what you do, not the label it wears...

I did not enjoy being in a gigging rock band, and for a long time after that ended I stopped making music. But it was not possible to completely bury such a deep instinct, and moving to Chicago in 2001 proved to be the cure for that particular form of denial. In this city music refuses to be ignored. If you feel it, you have to do it - play, listen, dance, argue... In other words, be creative.

Late 2007, during some very challenging personal circumstances, I started to compose again, really as therapy. While I was back in New Zealand, Richard Tollenaar and I made simple recordings of four songs as a collection I called Conditions For Arousal, which you can access from the Music drop down menu. 

Music is like oxygen in many parts of the U.S. I remember seeing family groups that included small children all the way to great-grandparents playing together in the South, seemingly just for the joy of performing and power of community: virtuosos alongside novices without distinction. In my mind this was contrasted with the rise of shows like American Idol, which certainly encourage performance and participation, but also send problematic signals about motivation and validity. Many young people I speak with are intimidated and disinclined to attempt playing music or writing songs. A majority of those prepared to try are focused on what other people want to hear, not what they desire to create or have to say.

I am much more interested in testimony than persuasion, so in 2008 started hosting events called Music By The Pool in the basement of our big old Victorian house. Folks were invited to come play 8 ball and an inclusive variation for multiple participants called "Kelly Pool". Near the table there's a drum kit, many guitars and amps, a keyboard, microphones, mixer, and speakers. As each evening wore on, we would take turns playing music, always with an open invitation for anyone to join us or step up on their own regardless of their experience or level of confidence. Before too long these events morphed into small house concerts. It was especially gratifying to see young people collaborating enthusiastically with those of us in whom the AARP takes an unhealthy interest.