Noe Venable

Coming Soon! A new album from Noe Venable

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013

Coming Soon!   A new album from Noe Venable

Five years in the making, Noe’s seventh release, C A S C A D I A , is now almost finished and ready for release.  All that remains are a few final steps– mixing, mastering, and CD duplication.  We are aiming for a June of 2014 release, with several celebratory concerts to follow shortly thereafter. Stay tuned for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign, featuring album samples!  Video!  And of course, prizes, prizes, prizes!  More...

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First Foray

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013

First Foray

Dear listeners, dear readers, It has been some time now since I maintained any kind of web presence beyond occasional updates on Facebook.  So much has happened during that time…  I went back to school.  I started a teaching career.  This past year, miracle of miracles, I had a baby. Given all these happenings in my life, I haven’t played shows in a while.  But it’s more than that…  Withdrawing from playing shows has  been one aspect of a broader pulling back from a lot of things I once cleaved to.   So many ideas I once held dear I have now departed from.  So many sureties abandoned in light of the discovery of necessary new uncertainties.  So many places where my priorities have rearranged themselves to accommodate new life and new possibilities. Amongst these changes has been a big shift in my relationship to technology.  Whereas once I delighted in new gadgets (primarily musical ones!), and shaped music accordingly, I now seem most drawn to things un-electric.  Hand hewn or God hewn.  Candlelight.  My acoustic guitar, unaffected, the way it sounds in my home recording space.  A wooden recorder; when my little son, Ember, gets into something on his own, I can pick it up and cheer us both with a tune.  The way the sunlight looks, filtering through branches in the park. Over the last years, books such as The Shallows have bolstered my determination to limit media usage in my life.  My worklife as a Waldorf teacher has been an conducive environment in which to do so. While some teachers face pressure to respond to e-mail multiple times during their work day, I happily purchased a granny phone to free me from the potential perpetual distraction of texting.  I removed all screens from the living areas of our home. It wasn’t just communicative media I began to release from my life.  I also stopped listening to much in the way of recorded music (though I never lost interest in recording it myself!)  Instead I joined a chorus, and even led a few.  I fell in love with what it feels like to sing with people in a room, how alive it is, a song just breathing in the air between you all, raising you up with its beauty. When I reflect on how my life has changed in the years since I pulled back from performing,...

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Meeting the marimba

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013

Meeting the marimba

Before I met Payton MacDonald, I was mostly familiar with marimbas from the music of Tom Waits.  I thought of them as a clomping along instrument, one that spoke in staccato.  If music were a sentence, the marimba would be the punctuation, while violins and voices sang the thought. Then I heard Payton play, and that was when I really met the Marimba.  In his virtuosic hands, mallets somehow produced swirls and swooping gestures and delicate textures.  I recruited him for my last album, The Summer Storm Journals, and the marimba is the instrument that you hear in Army of Nows, and others.  (To me what he plays in the intro of that song sounds like a cloud of butterflies.) I collaborated with him again on my new album, Cascadia.  On this album, I wanted to integrate even more pitched percussion, and to have that element run through the entire record, rather than just a few songs.  Payton’s playing was a big part of my inspiration to do that. Here’s a still from our video footage, showing Payton at work in the studio.  Foortage was shot by Eric Daniel Metzgar....

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Not into Common Sense but into Love- Bewilderment and the Life of Study

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013

Not into Common Sense but into Love- Bewilderment and the Life of Study

An essay written during my studies at Harvard Divinity School. I am somewhere in Widener library, that same Widener library of dustless display cases and bronze founders overlooking a stately marble entranceway, but from here, the view is different. I am in a dense and airless space, an elevator, headed several stories underground to the Pusey library, apparently a sort of underground tomb connected to the main library by a web of catacombic tunnels. I am in search of a book. It is a testament to the scope of the Widener library, and also to the peculiar layout of the building, that I have been to the library three times so far to study, and this is the first time I’ve actually discovered where the books are. Unlike most libraries, in which the library collection is kept in the reading rooms, the books of Widener are kept in an entirely different portion of the building, a many-floored vault of stacks, all of which are accessed through a single room. But my book is even more deeply hidden, in the Pharaoh’s tomb at the heart of the pyramid. I watch the light signaling the floors go by as the elevator descends. I didn’t know Harvard went down so far. Does it? Feeling slightly claustrophobic, I have the sudden wild thought that I’m headed somewhere else, boring down through the place where Harvard ends– some place in space and in mind where my own thoughts of my studies meet the thoughts of the encompassing earth.   The elevator doors open, revealing a winding, windowless corridor through which I make my way, following maps on the wall with raised graphics for the blind, and the occasional red arrow proclaiming “Pusey!” Reaching my destination, I find it to be a vast though low-ceilinged room. There are too many books to allow them to all remain accessible at once, so the layout features motorized shelves, which mechanically part to reveal their holdings. Having found the right aisle, I press a red button and a corridor of folklore slides open before me. I see books of Latvian fairytales, books on witchcraft, tales of the Brothers Grimm. I wonder how long it has been since these shelves last slid open to admit a like-minded seeker. Running my fingers ancient spines, blood brown and green, I locate my book. Taking it from the shelf, however, I notice...

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