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...
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
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.