Welcome to my personal diary..

Thank you for joining me here.. I am a music maker and love sharing the artists I work with and meet in my adventurous life. I make short movies while traveling festivals around the country. I'm also into cooking and making jewelry and Mosaic art... I hope you will enjoy what I share...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A magazine story about our touring life...

Hi everyone! The text of the story is below the images. I've been meaning to post this which came out in the current issue of the Folk Harp Journal. They asked me to write a story about our road tours, (during a road tour) so it was easy and fun to do.  I hope this gives you an idea of what our life is like when we are on the road. I have posted many videos on this blog of our actual tours, and this is what  what happens behind those scenes.

Three weeks into our current month-long string of shows I’m sitting in the back seat of my trusty van with the little white trailer behind us. We have been traveling and performing this tour for three adventurous years. This current tour includes flights to the freezing Midwest and driving to fifteen shows from California to New Mexico. Right now, we are passing through long stretches of desert lands with luminous clouds floating as only they can do in the rich skies of the Southwest.

Fronted by illustrious Celtic storyteller and wire strung harpist Patrick Ball, our trio blends stories and music to create a theatrical experience that is rich in history, humor and, of course, music. Aryeh and I play nylon-strung harps as well as Swedish nyckelharpa, cittern, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, bodhrán and Irish bouzouki. We all have vibrant careers separately, but were delighted when Patrick saw our duo show and shared his idea with us to create something new together. 

Our original show Legends of the Celtic Harp traces the stories, myths and historic writing about the harp as it travels through the centuries. Our seasonal show is called A Winter Gift. Our current tour is our newest show called The Door Between the Worlds about the mysterious Celtic “Otherworld.” 

We have performed throughout the U.S., including Hawaii and two Alaskan tours; often traveling by air, usually by land and even by sea. On our last month-long tour we drove from California to Rhode Island, down the eastern seaboard and back across the country. We had to abandon my tired, fluid-expelling van in Texas and travel home in a U-Haul with my faithful little trailer behind us. Now we’re in my new van. Patrick is in the front passenger seat reading from his abundant pile of books, Aryeh is at the wheel listening to his favorite podcast and I am, as usual, working on my laptop. 

As we move through this beautiful scenery I think a lot about the troubadours of the past. A story in our Legends show tells the epic saga of “Gwilan’s Harp,” by Ursula K. LeGuin, a tale of a young girl’s journey with her harp and her life of music and rebirth in Ireland circa 1000 AD. Unlike Gwilan, for us there is no horse and cart. We have cruise control and a GPS. But the mission is the same—to share in the love of harps, music and connection. 

For our Legends ofthe Celtic Harp show Patrick’s opening monologue is quick to point out that we never thought of ourselves as the legends (although our mothers might think we are). But we have such an appreciation for the Celtic harp we wanted to share with others some of the history and legends of this instrument that we love so much. There is no one more suited to deliver this collection of stories than Patrick Ball. With a master’s degree in Irish history and a deep love for spoken word, he is among one of the most beloved storytellers in the world. The San Francisco Chronicle calls him “an American master of the Irish instrument, a peripatetic modern day bard.” He has been frequently recognized by the National Storytelling Association and awards from various arts councils as well. The man has sold over half a million albums, and Aryeh and I smile every time someone brings him their vinyl copies of his early work to sign. 

Aryeh is a masterful musician. We have been working together as a duo for eight years now and we are a duo in life as well. I had admired him from afar long before we met for his wondrous hybrid of World and progressive music. Aryeh started violin lessons as a toddler. Classically trained on violin (his mother is a violin maker), he later also taught himself to play many other instruments including Celtic harp. He was invited by some fiddlers to perform a large concert in Sweden and it was there he discovered a love for Swedish music—particularly the Nyckelharpa that he now considers his main instrument. He still plays a lot of harp in our shows, but he has become known for helping to introduce this rare instrument from the 14th century to folks in the States. He is a top-notch sound engineer and producer as well and when we’re not on the road you can find him most happily working away in our recording studio. 
As for me, I started guitar as a young kid, electric bass as a teen, playing with heavy metal, classic rock, and Top 40 cover bands to make my living. I discovered the harp in my early 20s and taught myself by playing along to my Pink Floyd albums. I went to Musicians Institute of Technology in Hollywood for further studies of bass, but when I put together my first harp band, it was clear that this was my true love. I did a lot of unusual gigs and ended up busking on Venice Beach selling handmade recordings. I traveled around the country for years playing at malls and festivals in the U.S. and Canada, I started my own record label, and then signed with Windham Hill. 

The tragedy at Columbine changed my direction when one of the families was finding my music useful to help their critically wounded daughter sleep. I visited them with my harp at the hospital and then told the harp chat group online I wanted to get the young girl a little harp of her own. Donations came from harpists around the country and with the help of Triplett we got her a full size Celtic harp. This inspired me to start music programs in various hospitals in California starting with City of Hope National Cancer Center. We had concerts in the lobbies with artists such as Kim Robertson, Sylvia Woods and Alfredo Ortiz, hands-on experiences, daytime music in the patient care areas, and loaner harps for the patients. This program continues to be successful, and I enjoy sharing what we have learned with others. Whenever possible, I still fill my van with 20 harps and do tours of cancer centers, schools, rehab centers and similar facilities.

A typical day on the road.
We’ll pull up to our venue for sound check around 4:00 PM, or earlier, grateful to have GPS. Some venues are impressive state of the art theaters; a fancy place where helpers with dollies await our arrival. Or a venue may be a dusty old church we’ve rented so we unload and roll everything in on our own. Aryeh likes to be left alone to set up the stage and sound board, and we have chosen to do our own sound from the stage. The unique qualities of the harps provide challenges so we have learned it’s better, faster and less stressful if Aryeh controls the sound. This set-up makes my Triplett harp, Aryeh’s Dusty Strings harp, Patrick’s Jay Witcher wire strung harp (made for him in 1980) and all the other instruments sound their best. I will then start setting up our sizable CD table, which includes about 30+ CD offerings between us, with rich table cloths and golden framed signs. We have sheet music books, t-shirts, posters and, sometimes, my mosaic work. We have descriptions for each CD, email lists, postcards and upcoming event brochures. It’s quite a presentation but selling merchandise is crucial for our bottom line and supporting these tours. During intermission and after the show we are always here to chat with folks and sign merchandise.

We’ll do sound check and get dressed in our finery and wait for the folks to come in. We often sell advance tickets online or we might just have to wait and see about the audience. I worry sometimes if all our promotion efforts will work, but as the people line up to enter I want to hug each person for coming.
No matter how tired we might be, from the first moments we start, and the first musical sighs and laughs of the audience, it is heaven. Patrick kicks into high gear. He is like the captain of a big ship that everyone boards. Aryeh and I are quickly switching instruments throughout the show but we still can marvel at all the smiling faces. The show features us playing both together and separately and Aryeh and I will tell a story or two as well. The audiences are diverse and the stories and music connect with people from every walk of life. It’s always a success and I feel like the luckiest gal in the world by the time we hear the generous ovation and do an encore. After the show if the venue is small enough I put my harp on the floor and invite audience members to play along with me. I play a left hand pattern and enjoy watching their delight as they pluck out a perfectly random harmonious melody, while their companions snap photos and videos of the moment. Patrick will chat with his admirers and we start the process of breaking down and loading up. 

After the show we head to our accommodations for the evening. The venue might provide a hotel, but usually we are given shelter by local supporters and if we are lucky there’s a lovely spread of food and wine waiting for us. We are always famished after a show so my best intentions for eating healthy on the tour go out the window yet again. The hosts are generally wonderful, but we’ve had a few interesting experiences too. We rise the next day, find caffeine, drive for hours and do it all again. Along the way if we have down time we hang out in a coffee shop doing online work or find a local thrift shop to browse for unexpected treasures. 

When we put together a tour, we usually start with what is known as “anchor” dates. These larger venues are usually somewhere Patrick has long-term relationships with the theater or cultural arts series. Often the cultural arts organizations are affiliated with local schools so we find times to present programs to entertain kids from kindergarten to high school. We have special stories for them, and explain each instrument and origin which I love. With the major dates confirmed we look at a map and find various smaller venues that make sense on the map. Those are often called “satellite” dates a couple of hours away in any direction. Aryeh writes letters to churches and sometimes harp chapter leaders around the country. If they agree to help us create an event, sometimes with workshops, then we create the route. If we fly, Aryeh and I are usually able and grateful to borrow harps from the local community, but Patrick always takes his wire-strung harp. 

After the dates are confirmed I get to work on all the publicity six weeks before the dates. I write press releases, print, and mail posters ahead. I fill out calendar sections in newspapers and city websites and reach out to folk radio program hosts. I also seek out the arts and entertainment writers and bloggers. Writing to them personally often results in a newspaper story or radio/TV appearances. I seek out local folk musicians, Celtic groups, literary groups, college professors for music and world studies, and harp teachers to say hello and give them all the information regarding the show. It takes a lot of computer time but that’s the only way to make a tour work. I have worked hard to figure out the best ways to keep track of all the accounting and other do’s and don’ts. It has been such a learning process that I’m now writing a book about how to create successful concerts and tours for both the performers and the presenters. My new book will be a guide for both artists and venues to use for successful events. I hope the book will be out this year to help independent musicians take advantage of new opportunities we have in the music business. 
So what is next for us? After this tour ends we will go about our normal gigs until the next tour starts. Patrick will go off to a European castle or some other wonderful place to enthrall his listeners in a solo show. He just finished a new double CD release recording of his “Tristan and Iseult” story. He will spend time with his wife and grown daughter and beloved dog Max at their beautiful ranch style home in rural Northern California. 

Aryeh and I will go home to our cute cottage in a quaint San Francisco neighborhood. We’ll start a new album soon in our home studio, then go on to teach at music camps and harp conferences and do duo shows and house concerts. Aryeh will go right back to his usual gigs of festivals and farmers markets, where he does quite well selling CDs by the dozens amongst the spring produce and fine arts. I will use my time finishing my book, giving lessons on Skype, and writing new music. Sometimes providing background music at a casual gig is relaxing and often inspires new songs. My recordings are used in TV and independent movies, have been listed in the Top 20 of the Billboard New Age Charts, and are listed on most major streaming services, so I am lucky to own 100% of my publishing. Over the last 20 years, I’ve sold well over a million albums—from the early days of busking on the streets to the latest concerts and festivals. 
We are working now on our next tours with Patrick which will be in the Northwest for our Fall/Winter show. We’ll also have scattered mini tours throughout the year and we will tour in Ireland in 2016. If you’d like to follow our adventures in real time, you can friend me (Lisa Lynne Franco), Aryeh Frankfurter or Patrick Ball on Facebook. Since folks like to watch the adventures of my little trailer on the road I’ve been creating a video blog for some years to document my musical adventures. There are about 60 short episodes on my website, or search YouTube for “Lisa Lynne vblog.”
If you’d like to be on our email list, please sign up at my website. LisaLynne.com.
You will receive a quarterly newsletter packed with fun stuff, videos, free music downloads, and our show schedules.

We hope to see you somewhere down the road! LegendsOfTheCelticHarp.com

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Video - Luna de Amor

Here is one of my favorite songs. I wrote it in the mid-90's and it first appeared then on my "Moonsongs" CD. I re-recorded it more recently with Aryeh on our "Two Worlds One" CD. Aryeh is playing a viola that his mother made. Her website is www.woodenbabies.com

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lisa Lynne Vblog #44 Video tour of the Midwest and Southwest

Lisa Lynne Vblog #44  New Video - Our tour of the Midwest and Southwest
Off we went again, this time by plane to the Midwest and driving to the southwest. We experienced many special things and a variety of weather systems.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lisa Lynne Vblog #43 - A Video of my Northwest adventure of music & art..

A fall trip driving to Seattle, a stop in Ashland for a Mosaic conference, a visit to an organic farm, a Seattle harp conference at Dusty Strings. Concert footage with fellow musicians, Aryeh Frankurter, Kim Robertson, Patrick Ball, Erik Ask-Upmark, Beth Kolle, Laurie Riley, Molly Bauckham, Kate Power. Special thanks to Sue and Ray Mooers for hosting us all for such a great event. And the best party I've been to in a long time! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lisa Lynne Vblog #42 - Video tour across the USA!

Hi there folks, here is a video, a collection of images from our recent tour to the East Coast and back. Aryeh and I are narrating over the images. There's no way to capture all the adventures we had, and I even missed including a concert or two, but you get the idea. It was a very successful tour, but a lot of hard work as we did every aspect of it on our own. It's a new world out there for musicians and artists. Do it yourself is the new way of doing things. I will be writing a book soon about how to create your own tour and be successful on the road. So look for that soon!  All the best, Lisa

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A live TV performance on PBS

We did a little visit to a PBS station to promote a series of concerts. 
Aryeh and I played "Morning Star".. An original piece of music I wrote for a Windham Hill Christmas record. It's one of Aryeh's favorites, he is playing Swedish Nyckelharpa.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Video of our tour of Hawaii with "Legends of the Celtic Harp"

Hi Folks, Here is the latest video from our recent Hawaii tour. We were there for two weeks and enjoyed many wonderful shows and visits with friends old and new.
Here is a video montage of some of my favorite moments.

Monday, October 29, 2012

We recently toured Alaska and Washington, it was a lovely trip with successful shows. We visited schools and drove many miles of beautiful scenery.
Here is my collection of video and photo moments.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lisa Lynne Vblog #39 - Fun at Cazadero Camp 2012

Hi Friends, I haven't put up a video in several months, I have been having a wonderful summer with so many exciting events, I have so much footage but no time to edit it!  But I did get this one done, and will soon be sharing more about the recent adventures.

This one features Cazadero Performing Arts Family Camp. It was my first time there. Not long ago I was doing a concert in Oakland, and an important person was in the audience. She heard me talk about my traveling harps, and thought it would be perfect for the Camp that she runs. It's for kids of all ages to come and learn various arts and musical styles and instruments. I was happy to do it and had a wonderful time. I met many new friends and kindred spirits and learned that I actually love to teach! I have done a lot of workshops in the past, but this was every day four classes, about half the people were younger kids around eight years old.
I had so much fun every minute. I hope I can make a tradition of it.

Here is the video that gives an idea what it is like. I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what all goes on there, but you get the vibe from here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Visit to the Musical Instrument Museum

A recent trip to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. I went to check out how they do their video presentations as I will be doing something similar for a museum in Tainan, Taiwan. It was a wonderful experience that I recommend to everyone. You can visit their site at www.TheMim.org