the human connection

Last week we celebrated 365 days on the road. One year of constant travel, spent living in our 19-foot trailer from the 50’s, driving all across North America. We marked the occasion with a picnic dinner on top of a mountain:

What this year and this project really comes down to is human connection. The whole impetus for Music in Familiar Spaces was a desire for greater human connection, first with one another as husband and wife, and second with the people with whom we share music. I think we've all had this conversation: “the internet, social media, TV – they’re replacing real human relationships. People are turning more and more inward, unable (unwilling?) to give what is necessary for a true friendship to flourish.”

Music in Familiar Spaces sought to create opportunities for real human connection on multiple levels: Steuart wanted to connect with the people for whom he was playing beyond the final applause and bow. We wanted audience members to connect with one another, whether they knew each other or not, in a comfortable, inspiring and energized atmosphere. We wanted to connect with small businesses, people who are passionate about creating the very best product they can by honing their craft. We wanted audience members to connect with these local businesses and find places in their community where they can come around a shared interest and having meaningful dialogue.

photo: Kimberly Micciche

photo: Kimberly Micciche

photo: Mathias Reed

photo: Mathias Reed

In this last year we found more opportunities to connect with people than we ever imagined. Every one of you who opened your driveway and your home, invited us for a family meal, shared with us your hopes and concerns for the future. Everyone who came to a concert, whether we had a chance to talk afterwards or not, gosh we are so grateful that you chose to spend your evening with us. And those who stayed long after the music finished to tell us what it meant to you, how the evening, the music, and this project touched and inspired you. All of the managers, brewers, coffee roasters, pastors, event coordinators who thought it would be a good idea to open your space to a classical music concert, and collaborated with us on something totally new for you. The strangers we met while camping who all had stories to tell over the campfire. Each one of these connections gave us the fuel to keep this project moving. 

This last month was no exception when it comes to wonderful human connections! First, we had time to connect with one another as well as nature during our drive from Oregon down the coast of California to San Francisco. Our first stop was to sleep among the Redwoods. Standing next to these giants was to be reminded not only of our smallness, but the greatness of the created world. We took our time driving down Route One, stopping at several spots so Lucy could swim in the Pacific Ocean. We couldn’t help but drive very slowly along those winding roads with trailer in tow, but with those views, who would want to rush?

The stump of the Redwood tree was about the size of our trailer!

The stump of the Redwood tree was about the size of our trailer!

Our parking spot along Route One, and the view from outside our window.

Our parking spot along Route One, and the view from outside our window.

When we arrived in San Francisco we were immediately fed: we were staying with my grandfather who happens to be an amazing cook of all things Italian. After too many years of not seeing my West Coast family, it was a special time of re-connecting, often over a plate of homemade pasta and sauce of course. Our first concert in the area was at a home in Santa Cruz. The hosts were absolutely lovely and created the perfect atmosphere for the guests to connect with one another and the music being offered. Steuart was also able to re-connect with his freshman year college roommate and dear friend Chris Mallet, a virtuoso classical guitarist in the area who joined him for an encore:

Steuart's friend Christ Mallet joins him for an encore at the Santa Cruz house concert.

Drying out some homemade pasta

Drying out some homemade pasta

Our San Francisco concert was a Bach & Beer show at the appropriately-named Harmonic Brewery. These rock musician-brewers were fantastic collaborators! We were a bit worried that it would be tough to get people to a Monday night concert in traffic-ridden San Fran, but we had a full house. One of the most special connections that evening was with a woman who had first seen Steuart play at the Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam, then again in The Hague and now across the globe in San Francisco where she had recently moved!

Collaborating with the brewers at Harmonic Brewing. photo: Chris Sampang

Collaborating with the brewers at Harmonic Brewing. photo: Chris Sampang

Talking with an audience member after the San Fran Bach & Beer. photo: Chris Sampang

Talking with an audience member after the San Fran Bach & Beer. photo: Chris Sampang

From San Francisco we headed to the Paso Robles Wine Country where we were invited to stay and perform at the kukkula Winery. For both Steuart and I, the winery isn't exactly familiar territory so we didn't quite know what to expect. What we found was inspiring: the Jussila family had built (literally built with their hands) an immensely beautiful winery that they operate with their heart, souls and sweat. Kevin's passion for creating bold and thoughtful wines was contagious and Steuart's collaboration with him for the concert was really special. Here's a short clip of Steuart's improvisation at the very end of the concert (it cuts off because my phone ran out of memory...):

The beautiful kukkula winery in Paso Robles, CA

The beautiful kukkula winery in Paso Robles, CA

After leaving kukkula we had a few days to camp in the Los Padres National Forest, just outside of Los Angeles. It was there that we celebrated our year on the road. We're now in LA for a few days where we just had two concerts: one at the home of the lovely Sanders Family, and the other at the Last Bookstore. We'll share more about those concerts in the next post. 

From here we'll head to the southwest for the final month of the tour! We've just posted all of our remaining concerts on our calendar page. We can't believe it's almost over...!