The Sacred & The Profane

The Music

by Steven Flynn

The Musician

Steven Flynn is a Northwest composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. Playing piano, Hammond organ, and keyboards, he appears with the rock/rhythm-and -blues/Americana bands Jr Cadillac, The Honky Tonkers, The John Stephan Band, Alice Stuart and the Formerlys, Tiny Giants, The Jet City Fliers, and others. He also plays solo, singing and playing Blues, Boogie, New Orleans-style piano.

Steven also plays the ney, an ancient Middle-Eastern flute, and the harmonium in various contexts which often include whirling, sufi dancing, mystical poetry, and other wildness. In the compositions on his solo CDs Rapture Rumi and Welcome To the Dance, ancient and modern musical elements combine to produce exotic soundscapes and musical narratives that ignite and inspire the imagination.

Greetings!

As we careen into this New Year, 2016, I'm having a ball playing with several bands across a wide swath of music. The Honky Tonkers play old-school West Coast Country and Western Swing one Sunday a month at Seattle's iconic Little Red Hen for country dancers and drinkers. We'll also be at the ABC3 Festival in Ocean Shores, featuring Appalachian, Bluegrass, Cowboy, Country, and Cavalry artists, Feb 5, 6, 7. The John Stephan Band, soulful blues and R&B by triple-threat guitarist/singer/songwriter John Stephan, are on winter hiatus from our first-Wednesday residency at the Pike Place Bar and Grill, but will be back there in April. Meantime we can be found playing out and about… check my schedule for latest info. Did two gigs at the Musiquarium Lounge in Seattle's great live-music venue the Triple Door, with the drummerboy himself, Jeff Hayes, and two outstanding, award-winning blues guitarists on the scene: Rod Cook, on the first gig, and Brian Lee on the second. Way too much fun. Heading for Mexico for a couple weeks February 10 to play with Ned Neltner of Jr Cadillac in what we are calling Jr Cadillac South, some great players who are converging on Barra de Navidad for some fun in the sun, recording, and club gigs. Support Live Music, it is the best! Check out my schedule, which is occasionally up to date. Be well, keep on dancing'!

Jr. Cadillac will be playing our annual birthday party/ big big show at The Triple Door on Saturday, August 20, 2016. Doors at 6:30, band at 8pm. Don't miss this opportunity to rock with Jr. Cadillac at Seattle's best live music venue. Get Tickets now… it will sell out, and the sooner you get tickets, the better seats you'll get (although, truthfully, there isn't a bad seat in the house… just, some are better). Get tickets here. Nothin' Could Be Lackin' When You're Out There Cadillacin'! See you there!

Look:

Listen: Drop Down Daddy, Alice Stuart & the Formerlys, live at the Triple Door, Seattle, 21 November 2007.

Listen: Here's Steve's presentation on The Sacred and the Profane at the Seattle Interfaith Community Church on Sunday April 6, 2008. It's got music, poetry, stories, even dancing. 1 hour (it will stream and should start playing very soon, depending on your connection speed)

The Latest: While I play a lot of music, most of my non-music time is still consumed by a huge recycling/sustainability project... to save a house. On August 4, 2008, I saw a beautiful, soulful 105 year old house that was about to go to the landfill via the wrecking ball, to make room for more condos. I decided to try to spare it that fate, and have it house happy people for another 100 years, by buying it and moving it to my lot up the hill. If you want to read about this extraordinary endeavor, check out my blog at www.stevenflynnmusic.com/houseblog. The blog is far out of date… I discovered that work on the house didn't really leave any time to blog. But it does give a good account of the birthing of the process, which continues on…

And now, about that music...

Here's the thing...

Music, like all art, stretches people beyond what they normally experience as personal boundaries; affords us expanded perspectives, insights, emotions; moves us both out of ourselves and deeper into ourselves.

I play all kinds of music, from 13th century sacred music of the Ottoman Empire to jumpin’, wailin’ Rock ‘n’ Roll and Rhythm ‘n’ Blues from deep down in New Orleans. Writing music and playing for people have been at the center of my life for more than thirty years. I’ve played many, many nights for wild revelers in barrooms, dancing, merry-making, teetering on the edge of chaos. I’ve also played often for people immersed in prayer, in deep meditative states, for the whirling dervishes, for sufi zikrs, for gospel singing; intentionally creating certain states using specific music. While technique and the trappings are different, there is a strong connection, a place where the music’s intention and function are really much the same.

From the sacred to the profane, from those drunk with God to those drunk with alcohol, from the sad lonely person seeking solitary solace in music to the jubilant person seeking to celebrate in community, from the blues singer to the gospel choir... there is a fundamental way in which music touches and effects people in all these situations: music opens, expands, creates connections to other people, other feelings, other levels of experience. Paradoxically, music is an intensely personal, solitary experience, which at the same time helps us to transcend our aloneness, to break out of our smallness, to help us see the larger picture.

An incredible diversity of music exists in the world, and every individual piece of it resonates with someone. For every human on the face of the earth, there is a music that will touch and ignite their soul; that will give them a sense of connection, a feeling of the joy within sorrow, and of the sorrow within the joy of life. In this function of encompassing all of humanity, of imbuing us all with feeling and life beyond a sense of ourselves, all music is sacred, and the acts of both creating and experiencing music are sacred acts. I don't mean serious or religious or even "spiritual"; I mean filled with the deepness of life, of our experience as humans on this planet, and the ability to transmit some piece of that depth.

Music cuts a wide swath, encompasses and embraces all humanity by its very variety, by the breadth and depth that it offers. There is a beautiful Rumi poem:

 

Notice how each particle moves.

Notice how everyone has just arrived here from a journey.

Notice how each wants a different food.

Notice how the stars vanish as the sun comes up,

and how all streams stream toward the ocean.

Look at the chefs preparing special plates for everyone, according to what they need.

Look at this cup that can hold an ocean.

Look at those who see the face.

Look through Sham's eyes into the water that is entirely jewels.

(translation by Coleman Barks from “The Essential Rumi” )

From its bounty, music prepares special plates for each of us, according to what we need, and all the streams of music flow from and back to the Ocean, the deep well of creativity within the breadth of humanity. I have been blessed to play in the taverns and to play in the temples, to play for revelers and to play for mourners, to play for meditation and to play for rowdy revelry, to play harmonium and play Hammond; to play Turkish classical music on the ney to accompany whirling dervishes and to play boogie-woogie piano to accompany Chuck Berry. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to experience the power of music in action across a broad spectrum of humanity. And I’m not done yet! I hope you’ll find something that moves you in the music presented on this site, or out at one of my live shows. Enjoy!

Steve


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