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Free Music #4 – “Save The Moon”

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At high noon on April 22, one hundred and twenty five years ago today, thousands of people rushed to claim land in the Land Run of 1889. Within hours, the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie were formed with populations of more than 10,000 souls. The idea was simple, go quick and take what you want from the the edge of our new empire to expand our new empire. Ironically, a few years earlier America committed to another radical community building experiment and dedicated Yellowstone National Park as the world’s first national park. A declaration of common interest in a common good that no one person could possibly own.

I am fascinated by these two very different exercises. I wonder what forces inspire people to lay claim to patches of earth and fight to the death to retain them (even when such claim and warfare mean decimating Native people with priceless ancient culture). And what inspires people to preserve land for the common good, calling it exceptional, worth preserving for all to share.

One of my favorite new songs is Save The Moon. I wrote and recorded it in Traverse City, Michigan during a composer residency for ISLAND – Institute for Sustainable Living Art & Natural Design. This amazing arts and ecology center is dedicated to connecting people with nature, art and community. They asked me to come stay in their wooded cabin and write new music about The Commons – the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth.

Alone in ISLAND’s quiet November cabin, hearing only faint muzzle pops of distant deer hunters, I thought about a more recent American land run. The Cold War, a fervor that sent us racing to the moon to plant a flag. I recalled stories of secret submarines placing a Russian flag on the ocean floor exactly under the North Pole, claiming the most profitable shipping route on earth once we thaw the polar cap.  I wondered, who owned the moon? Because somebody owns the moon, right? And who is going to own and operate the public transit system to space? Who will build the condominiums and sell the luxury cruise packages? Is the moon still a critical concern of the American people, or the new plunder of transnational corporate interest?

Space is the newest edge of empire. I hope we can can see it as more than another patch of ground to claim, divide, sell, and pollute. I hope I’m wrong in thinking that the cold dark side of the moon will become a trash heap for nuclear waste. I hope we will understand the value of a shared moon, clean orbital paths, and natural wonder worth preserving and sharing. Maybe we can be a bit more Swiss.

So I wrote this song as a set of personal questions. Questions about rabid nationalism, manifest destiny, and the immense personal and natural destruction that comes from unchecked private profiteering. My most nagging question is ‘why not more National Park and less Land Run?’ We can be mindful of our irreplaceable as our moon… right?  If so, can we decrease the death, drought, and devastations wrought on this earth for the sake of private water, air, oil, and other earthly treasure? Perhaps we can save the moon. I hope so. But for now, we have NASA-funded space barons.

 

Free MP3s have expired but you can read posts from #1, #2, and #3.

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My year of giving music away – #1

VidaThis year, I will give away my music as singles. Download for free or pay what you want while the song is available. Subscribelikefollow, or google+ to hear when I post new tunes.
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Para Tu Vida (For Your Life)
This song began as a tribute to my musical hero, Bobby McFerrin. It came to me one day while I was at the piano singing nonsense and daydreaming about music I’d like to play with Bobby if I ever when I get the chance. My 3-year-old daughter began dancing along to the music so I knew it had the right spirit. Bobby’s motto is “sing for your life.” I borrowed a piece of that wisdom for the title as homage.

Months later, I shared the tune with my band while prepping our U.S. State Department tour of Nicaragua for the 2013 International Jazz Festival. Now, rather than a silly dad yodeling out a tune for his dancing daughter, the song was cranking with Bill‘s crunchy guitar chords, Paul‘s thumping bass and Jeff‘s bubbling beats. We made the song our show closer and tour anthem, tagging it onto our version of the Nicaraguan anthem “Nicaragua Nicaraguita” (check out this fan video). Para Tu Vida became our thank you note to the amazing people of Nicaragua. It also reminds me how it felt to enjoy their great culture and energy. When the band got back to Seattle, we met audio wizard Scott Colburn at Gravelvoice Studios to recorded VIDA.
Rulon Brown and band Recording live at Gravelvoice studios in Seattle.

Why am I sharing this song on New Years Day? It’s bright, driven and carries with it many of my favorite memories from 2013. Plus, who couldn’t dig Bill’s insane guitar distortion ringing out like a new year bell. Hoping your new year is filled with joy and music!

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RESTLESS – Rulon Brown’s Portrait of The American Dream

Rulon was inspired to create art about the American Dream during a 2011 artist retreat in Costa Rica. He fell ill and received emergency medical care from a Costa Rica clinic (publicly funded universal healthcare system). The emergency care cost him the equivalent of $20 USD. Meanwhile back home in Seattle, one of Rulon’s family members was skipping doses of the medication that kept her Multiple Sclerosis in remission because insurance companies rationed her life saving prescription drugs (non-universal, exclusive, private system funded by public and private funds).

RESTLESS is the open catalogue of Rulon Brown’s work inspired by The American Dream. It began with music and now includes film, jewelry, community art, and interactive art installations.

RESTLESS CD coverNEW SOLO ALBUM
RESTLESS features 12 songs written, performed, and produced by Rulon Brown while touring North & Central America. Rulon crafted this concept album about the American Dream using only a simple microphone, laptop, and keyboard. Every sound from RESTLESS is Rulon playing real instruments, or triggering synthesized sounds, midi loops, and audio samples. The music comments on American ideas of opportunity, prosperity, safety, equality, exceptionalism, immigration, the environment, community, the common good, and much more.

UNITED Pendant from Rulon Brown's RESTLESS collectionWEARABLE SCULPTURE – Handmade Jewelry
by Rulon Brown. NOW AT TWILIGHT GALLERY
Rulon began working metal at age 14 while working as an apprentice in band instrument repair. He started making jewelry as an adult after inheriting silversmith tools from his late-grandfather and namesake.

Each piece from the RESTLESS jewelry collection is wearable sculpture hand-made by Rulon and elegantly paired with music from his RESTLESS CD. These unique artisan designs make memorable gifts and are handcrafted from precious metals and coins from the U.S. and Canada. Available exclusively by special order or gallery exhibition.

RESTLESS exhibition June 6 - 16 in SeattleART EXHIBITION & INTERACTIVE PERFORMANCE
“An oddly communal, intimate experience. Headphones usually isolate the listener, but in Restless they unite [the audience]… It’s a neat bit of group choreography, with the 50 different compositions suddenly joining together in the high-ceilinged space.”Seattle Weekly, Arts Editor Brian Miller

Rulon shared an interactive art installation, hand-made jewelry, and performances June 6 – 16, 2013 at Paul Rucker’s Open Studio Project located at 301 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104. All events were free.
JUNE 6, 2013, 5:30 PM, First interactive performance w/ six repeat performances every half hour. Nightly Performances continued at 6 PM through June 16.
MATINEE CONCERT, 2 PM, Saturday, June 15 with Jeff Busch, Bill Horist & Paul Rucker

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT TOUR WITH BAND
Live show in Leon, NicaraguaRulon Brown and band, Photo by Oscar Navarrete Aguilar for La Prensia newspaper
Rulon and his band premiered music from RESTLESS while touring Nicaragua for the U.S. State Department sponsored Nicaragua International Jazz Festival. The band features interdisciplinary artist Paul Rucker (cello, electric bass), experimental improviser and composer Bill Horist (electric guitar), and Rulon’s long-time rhythm collaborator Jeff Busch (world percussion, drums).

VidaNEW BAND CD, VIDA features prog rock anthems from RESTLESS and a tribute to the people of Nicaragua. The band recorded the album live at Gravelvoice studios with renowned audio wizard Scott Colburn working the faders. Band Mates

 

COMMUNITY ART PUZZLE, MUSIC & FILM a limited-edition commission for Seattle Artthrob
Seattle Artthrob shareholders assemble Rulon's art puzzle

THE BACKSTORY OF RESTLESS
“The America Dream has inspired some of the world’s most intoxicating ideas,” notes Rulon, “and no matter how vivid, all dreams are just improvisation and synthesis. We make them up and then we wake up. But the ideas we cherish from our dreams inspire our best and worst actions. So I set out to synthesize sound dreams about America’s greatest export—our ideas of happiness, individuality, community and success.”

“I began RESTLESS to vent specific frustration with America. But creation is a healing act, cathartic. RESTLESS became a portrait project about my homeland, the things I love and a few things I hope to help improve.”

SPECIAL THANKS TO: