Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Believe it or not, I'm a Believer

Hello everyone!
Well quite a bit has happened since the last blog post. And in this post I want to let you know what I believe and what I don't. What you believe and whom you believe is up to you. But this will touch upon politics, business, and social areas, as well as my favorite area, Celtic Woman. Why the title? The name of the new Celtic Woman show is, Believe. We'll get to that later.

We are now in the last year of the current presidency of the United States. I do not believe we are headed in the right direction. I do not believe we have people in leadership positions in significant numbers to turn it around at any level of government. I believe the people are being summarily dismissed by the vast majority of elected officials. I do not believe in socialism. I also do not believe in anarchy. But somewhere in the middle of all of that is the constitution. I believe it is being bent, twisted, and corrupted by those in power to say what they want it to say to support their policies. I do not believe it is a "living document". If words are always open to interpretation then they lose their essential meaning. They mean what they meant when they were written. If you want to change things then there is an amendment process to do that. But those in power know the people do not support their increasing encroachment on every aspect of life and that any amendments that enable that would fail. So they go around it. I do not believe the President is legitimate as too many facts show he was not born in this country. I do not believe he is even remotely a Christian. I believe we have a great plenty of non-white candidates who could have done a far better job. i do not believe our government wants the country to succeed as an independent, free market, republic. I believe globalism is killing western nations and that Asian nations and others are laughing at us. I do not believe the government actually cares about education or health care. Follow the money. If the people are ignorant, poor, and dependent, then they are easy to control. "Education" died long ago when it became politically correct and about nothing but passing tests to receive funding. Likewise, if the people are given mediocre health care as they are in other nations with socialized medicine, then more will die. Fewer people are easier to control. Conspiracies? Maybe. But it is clear that the governments of western nations have joined others in having arrogance in power. They will not listen until they are too scared not to. I believe the 2012 elections will be the most vicious ever, and that neither party has the answers or truly wants to fix what they have done wrong. I believe every citizen needs to be fully educated in order to vote and that education cannot come from a biased media. If you believe in the constitution as written and in a better life for generations to come then please take an active interest and get involved regardless of your political persuasion.

Statistics lie. Both unemployment and inflation are at far higher levels than quoted. They will get worse. We are not in a recession, we are in a depression. The dollar will continue to loose ground as they print more to pay for things the people don't want. But I do not believe it is totally a government issue. I believe it also comes back to corporate greed. It is the relentless search to squeeze that last penny from people whether it is what a company charges or how it pays and treats its employees. Corporate America has become as bloated, inefficient, and arrogant as government. Less competition means you can treat your customers with less respect. Higher unemployment means you can treat your employees with less respect. I believe both are bad for our nation. Yet it is the same elitist mentality that runs both government and corporations in America. And once again, follow the money. It is all some care about. It is their god. I believe outsourcing and globalism are disasters and harm the great majority for the benefit of a few. I do not believe in isolationism, yet I do believe in taking care of your own first regardless of what country you are. No nation should be beholding or under the thumb of some larger entity whether it is the EU or the UN. The Robin Hood syndrome only produces more misery as the middle class shrinks, the poor grow, and the rich get rich at the expense of both. Helping others and charity should never be forced or it is resented as are the ones who supposedly get the aid.

I believe all human beings are equal in the eyes of God. I do not believe in political correctness or in perks to various groups done out of guilt. I believe all humans err but can and are forgiven. I do not believe that entitles people to continue treating others poorly. I do not believe it is our right to condemn another person. Yet I do believe we have every right to condemn someone's actions and hold people accountable. I do not believe in special rights for specific groups but equal rights that are already in the constitution. I do not believe in abortion or in homosexual "marriage". But I do believe that each must decide for themselves and not be persecuted for it. That we do not agree with someone does not give the right to commit violent acts against them in a free society. I believe we as Americans must be a united people in spite of our differing views and beliefs. I believe we must drop the hyphens and simply be Americans for a nation divided against itself cannot stand. Yet our own government and media do just that in dividing the people.

Then we come to the passion of my life for the past four years, Celtic Woman, and its artists. I believe they are the premier ensemble of artists ever created. I believe each has exceptional talent that has blessed them in rising beyond in a nation packed to the rafters with talented artists of all kinds. I believe each of the artists know that they have been blessed and still remain humble in large measure. I believe the operation of the tours in the states can and should be better. I believe communications internally between the various aspects involved can be much better especially between the promoter and the various PBS stations. Once again, in Atlanta, we saw what happens when it works right and when it doesn't. The first night was totally handled by PBA30, the Atlanta PBS station. will call was efficient and the venue wonderful with its staff. The seating for those who pledged was excellent. That combined with an incredible fan gathering, and a beautiful new show to make for a perfect day. The audience rose in song after song to give ovations and move the artists as they had seldom if ever been before. They earned every bit of it in this latest David Downes gem. The primary artists, Chloe Agnew, Lisa Lambe, Lisa Kelly, and the feisty Máiréad Nesbitt combined with their marvelous band and choir as well as a children's choir, and bagpipe band, to make Believe a huge success that will doubtlessly tour to very receptive audiences. I believe in spite of an ever more poor economy that this ensemble will weather the storm. We need what they offer. I believe they offer what no one else in entertainment does and it is positive and uplifting for any generation. I believe most music in this day is forced upon a public by labels and promoters and it is all about money. While the Celtic Woman artists certainly want to be paid well, I believe for them it is still largely about the music and the performance. i can see it in their eyes in show after show as they interact with their familiar faces who love them so much. In the pub after the show the first night the fans mixed with band, choir, and techs, and it was pure family. Certainly there were some fans who sought autographs or photos, but it was not the mobbing some might have predicted. It is just not our way. Celtic Woman fans for the most part respect that private space and time. Yet the artists were gracious in stopping by our table and chatting with us later on. The fans at my table kept using that same word, family, and it was a premier day from start to finish for all involved.

But the next day once again the inefficiency and lack of communications made itself known again. Three stations were involved in pledging for that day. Will call was offered starting much later than the day before. That created angst in the avid fans enough so that dinners were cut short to get in line early. If you were there early things went smoothly enough yet it did not have to be such a rush. The Fox Theater staff are first rate and the stations staffed several will call areas. I would recommend the Fox to any performing group and to anyone attending a show. Once again, though, most of those who pledged were "treated" to poor seating. While the average person who attends a show could really care less, the avid fans who pay more for a ticket should be given the premium seats. That is especially so when they travel form all parts of the country. Again, as happens on tour, those who pledged were never told their seats or even the sections they would be in. Most were in the back 1/4 of the venue. This is something I relayed to PBS President, Paula Kerger, back in April after the near disaster at Springfield Illinois. Every station MUST have the tickets in hand when they take a pledge, and MUST offer the best seats to those who call in first. Neither GPB, nor the two Tennessee stations did that. I have worked with dozens of stations since 2007 and am building a good file on which ones do things right and which ones do not. In this event PBA30 did it right just as they did on the spring tour. GPB and the others did not, from that silly lottery meet & greet that wound up with vacancies on the spring tour, to the poor seating at this show, they need to get their act together. Something else that I have to say as well. The avid fan communities made a concerted effort to turn out big for this recording. They did so and drove the audience that first night to an all time high. the next night, while still a decent audience, it could not compare as the vast majority of the avid supporters were well back in the audience and those in the pit seats seemed glued to their chairs. That is disrespectful to the artists to not provide them the very best. I give kudos to the artists and even Scott Porter for the responses given on Twitter after the events. However, I do believe that once again Mr. Porter missed a golden opportunity to connect with the ones who are the biggest contributors from the fan base. We were in the venue the entire day that first day. Yet he was "too busy" to stop up for five minutes. I do not believe that. He also had the chance to pop into the pub afterwards and do the same and again chose not too. I am at a loss as to why he evades fans personally as though they have the plague. I am also at a loss as to why the principal four were once again carted off the first night and not in the pub. The fan base has proven itself time and again yet the paranoia of keeping them under close guard continues. It was nice, however, that some fans were treated to seeing them by the stage door the second night. It would seem though that there is still this fear of male fans on the part of those calling the shots. I do not get that sense from the ladies themselves and never have. The avid fans are every bit as protective of these precious gems as the ones internally charged with guarding them. I do not believe that the recording in Atlanta had anything to do with the cancellation of the UK tour. Everyone went on a break. While I think these hard working artists deserve lots of breaks, they had just come off a long one after the German tour. American fans should not be blamed by UK fans for what happened. I do not believe the group will tour the UK in the future as they will no longer be welcome after two cancelled tours. That having been said, the continent is embracing the ensemble quite well and has already been booked for next year.

So, another long speech. Some will like it, some will not. It is what it is. All of life is what it is. But for me this past four years I live for life's experiences, its relationships, and its beauty. I have found no greater beauty in humankind than in the music and magic of Celtic Woman and its artists. Perfect? No. But nothing else and no one else have ever inspired me to write the volumes I have in poetry and prose. God owns my soul. A certain fiddler owns my heart. Love, if it is real, is both unconditional and giving. an unrequited love is still love and it still produces positive things if channeled properly. I believe we are headed as a world and a nation into incredibly dark times. But I believe in the power of The Holy Spirit, the power of music that comes from it, and the power of love that can and does overcome any challenge. In those things I am a true believer. What do you believe? I Believe I'll go see more Celtic Woman shows, God willing. God bless 'em in spite of the flaws in the system. Cheers, Scott

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