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I'm proud to announce that my song, "I'm Gonna Walk It With You", co-written with Ellie Grace and recorded with her in 2016 as the duo Claflin & Grace, has been selected for inclusion on the compilation Hope Rises, produced by Noel 'Paul' Stookey of Peter, Paul, & Mary fame, through his nonprofit Music2Life.

For more info on downloads, CD purchase, Press Release, and the official Trailer, see the Hope Rises web site:

"Hope Rises"

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Here is the official Music2Life press release:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 17, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT: Randi Herath - info@musictolife.org - (301) 906-1905


North Carolina Artists Featured on New Album Produced by 60s Folk Icon of ‘Peter, Paul and Mary’

 

New Compilation by Noel ‘Paul’ Stookey, HOPE RISES, Celebrates Social Change Music

(WILDER, Vt.) — Americana duo Brian Claflin and Ellie Grace of North Carolina and Missouri are among 15 hand-selected activist artists featured on a new album released today by Music to Life produced by the nonprofit’s co-founder Noel ‘Paul’ Stookey of the folk trio “Peter, Paul and Mary.” 

The first major release by Music to Life, HOPE RISES, co-produced with Neale Eckstein, draws from artists with diverse genres, backgrounds and styles. With over 100 submissions nationwide, a review panel — including musicians Peter Yarrow, SaulPaul, Tom Paxton, Kathy Mattea, Deidre McCalla, Janis Ian and Eliza Gilkyson — selected artists who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to activism through their songs, passions and community work across various issue areas. 

As songwriting partners, musical collaborators and old friends, Claflin & Grace use stunning two-part harmonies to bring people together. For Claflin, music has long-been his primary form of activism. “I grew up listening to my parents singing John Prine, so music like his ‘Flag Decal’ song informed who I am as an artist and as a person,” he said. 

The same can be said of Grace, who has spent her life performing as a singer, multi-instrumentalist and percussive dancer. She’s directed schools of music and dance in Missouri and North Carolina, and has been a master teacher at camps and festivals across the country. 

“Music and activism are inseparable for me. My music is the medium through which I work to create change, build hope, share resistance and speak out. My activism is the fire that sparks me to write, teach and perform,” Grace said. 

The duo’s featured track, “I’m Gonna Walk It With You,” was written in response to the 2016 presidential election, and to this day, is still sung at rallies, protests, churches and concerts around the world. 

“Action often needs a rallying cry, and we all need expressions of mutual support, so hopefully songs like these can help us all keep hope alive during these truly dark times,” Claflin said.

For Stookey, the popularity of  “I’m Gonna Walk It With You” lies in the unique artistry of the talented duo. “Rarely does an acapella rendering command the kind of attention that these two dynamic singer-songwriters have acquired. Their vocal interplay is both clever and engaging and the energetic harmonic support for each other in this song is particularly symbolic and authentic,” he said.

HOPE RISES is available on CD Baby, Spotify, Apple and Amazon Music.

About Music to Life: Music to Life is a national nonprofit that empowers local musicians to become champions for change in the areas of civil rights, climate advocacy, poverty and health. Music to Life’s Activist Musician Accelerator, the first of its kind for activist artists, builds partnerships between musicians and their communities to create measurable change through music. It is based in Wilder, Vermont. For more, visit www.musictolife.org  

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"(Just Like) Indiana In The Summertime" - for (& about) Mike Pence 

Some songs become topical all over again! This song title is a direct quote from Mike Pence from the Iraq war. If you weren't an Indiana native, you might not have heard much about him for a while after that - - until he became second in line to the throne in the U.S.! Read the news story that described the event here: NPR: Pence Calls Baghdad "Just Like Indiana In the Summertime"

Download of the song available at: Brian Claflin - Music page

"(Just Like) Indiana In The Summertime" (words & music copyright ©2020 by Brian Claflin) 

I'm a national guard from the Hoosier state,   
my guts were saved by this armor plate 
when I took a bad hit to the side of my head 
they say I'm lucky to be more alive than dead 

there's a shade of a chance that I might walk again 
my speech may return but I guess until then 
I'll just keep these thoughts to myself and see 
what my elected official has to say about me 

I can't decide if it's amusing or cruel, they 
sent a delegation on April Fool's 
declaring the capital of the front line 
safe as mother's milk, just like Indiana in the summertime 

it's hard to know exactly whether to take 
it all seriously or as an honest mistake 
those Washington boys always hedge their bets 
maybe it's a joke that I just don't get 

the sun shone down on the Congressman 
for all the eyes of the world to scan 
in a bullet proof vest, a twinkle in his eye 
while a few black hawks circled up in the sky 

with a hundred good men being all they can be 
out for a Sunday drive in their new humvees 
feel like I've been here before, what does this remind me of? 
Oh, I've got it! It's just like Indiana in the summertime  

bridge: 
he came to my suite at the VA club 
and said he'd fix the leaks and replace the rug 
then he flew to the market where I took my hit 
and charmed us all with his wisdom and wit 
you know, he's a veteran himself, so I guess 
I should trust in him, 'cause he seems to know best 
he says everything is perfectly fine 
out there in the desert, just like Indiana in the summertime 

when I first signed up I would never have thought 
that I'd really end up having served and fought 
even just taking shots at University kids, 
let alone 'round the world, doing what I did 

coming home to where nobody seems to know 
what the news cameras all still refuse to show 
winning a purple heart, and losing face 
between "a rock" and another hard place 

there's car bomb going off down the street 
that was close, I nearly got out with both my feet 
what with that, the snipers, and the odd landmine 
it's a sweet haven, just like Indiana in the summertime 

I'm a national guard from the Hoosier state 
did I miss anything? I'm sorry I'm late 
the pain's all gone, and I'm walking proud 
through the ticker tape in the cheering crowd 

the birds are singing in the bright sunshine 
and I'm seein' all these dear lost buddies of mine, 
I swear to god, I thought you boys was dead 
last I knew, you were wrapped up in blue white and red 

Who knows if the senator's wrong or right 
it hardly matters from within this white light 
so strangely familiar, and so sublime 
feels just like home, just like Indiana in the summertime

Edibles, Audibles, Applaudables! 

Starting Thursday October 1st, I am partnering with Odd's Cafe on Haywood Road in West Asheville to offer a FREE weekly Americana singer-songwriter showcase, which we're calling, Edibles, Audibles, & Applaudables!

Each week I will be hosting, sharing a song or two as a mini-opening-act, then introducing my guest, and reminding everyone to toss some cold, hard cash into the cookie jar for the artist.

I'll also be reminding everyone to use their dollars to show their appreciation to Odd's for supporting this community event. Odd's serves a dizzying array of baked goodies, fine teas, Counter Culture coffees, sandwiches from Asheville Sandwich Company, and more. 

Odd's is my personal favorite cafe around town, which by design serves as coffee shop, gallery space, meet-up spot,  and community center. It was the first place I thought to approach with the idea of a regular music series, and they've welcomed the project with open arms.


For our opening night, I'm proud to welcome my friend Nate Spencer, with whom I recently shared the stage at Magnetic 375, in a songwriters-in-the-round show which also featured Matt Townsend and Hannah Kaminer. On Oct 1st at Odd's Nate will be joined by Kevin Harvey and yours truly. Nate has been an important part of a songwriter circle that I joined 3 years ago, which has completely reinvigorated my writing. We've done some co-writing, co-produced and played together on our friend Hannah Kaminer's debut CD, and played a handful of small gigs together. He's one of my favorite songwriters anywhere, and I'm going to be sad to see him move to Boston soon - all the more reason why you should come out to see this farewell performance if you're in the Asheville area!

"Edibles, Audibles, and Applaudables at Odd's" will feature original songs by local artists. No covers! (But being lovers of traditional music, we will allow the occasional Public Domain song.) :)

Join us Thursdays at 7pm at Odd's Cafe, 800 Haywood Rd in West Asheville. 

Here's one of Nate's songs from the Magnetic 375 show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8Jh-dboRSg

Here is the Facebook event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1664137753843641/

Odd's Cafe web site:
The Odd's Cafe Web site

Don't get mad, don't get even - - get Odd's!

A Program of Action! 

Something about my frenzied work with Ellie Grace on our duo CD in July seems to have propelled me forward, to try to keep making things happen.

For 5 weeks now, I've been posting a new song every day (that is to say, not a brand new song, but a brand new video of me playing something from the Claflin catalog) on The Claflin Cafe on YouTube.

I'm returning to the Magnetic Theatre - or rather, to its new home, the venue Magnetic 375, for the first time in 3 years, bringing in 3 of the very best singer-songwriters Aseville has to offer for a round-robin. Hannah Kaminer, Nate Spencer, Matt Townsend and I will be singing original songs. Additionally, it will be the EP Release for my studio version of "Cesspool of Sin" (and a music video shoot), and, sadly, it will also serve as Nate Spencer's farewell-to-Asheville show, but he'll be back to visit and perform in a few months.

I'm going to NYC for an unofficial mini-reunion of Sarah Lawrence peeps and other NYC-area friends I've not seen in quite some time, at a gig at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn, followed by a trip to Cambridge, MA where I'll do a show at the Fayerweather Street School.

When I return, I'm doing a house-concert at Hanger Hall (not the school, but the residence), and will be organizing a Thursday evening Americana singer-songwriter series at Odd's Cafe in West Asheville.

I'll be helping Hannah Kaminer, and perhaps another musical friend or two, to record a new song or few in my home studio.

On my To-Do list is to finish some edits, and add some music, to the complete audio recording of my mom Lola White's book of poetry, The Seed at Center.

And of course, finishing the Brian & Ellie CD.

Here's hoping I can maintain this momentum a while longer...!

As you were.
 

My 15 Minutes of Obscurity 

I'm ready for my close-up. Actually, scratch that. The mid-distance shot in low-res is hunky dory with me. Hey everyone! I'm a YouTube channel, The Claflin Cafe! What does that mean? Damned if I know, but I've been playing around with the camcorder, so I thought I'd start posting simple performance videos of songs. I don't know if Andy Warhol was right, but I can tell you that if I'd gotten famous when I first wanted, I'd probably have been dead long ago. So here's to better late than never!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzVpv053VLlIFUEngJUjxGQ

Moral Monday and Beyond 

Thanks to Saro Lynch-Thomason for lending her voice on stage today at the rally. Here's a distant shot of us.
Thanks also to Ellie Grace for adding harmonies to the studio recording I'd started with Saro. See the Music page here to grab the song.

And thanks to Nate Spencer for loaning me his Martin for the gig (as well as for me to play on last week's recording sessions for Hannah Kaminer's forthcoming EP). I need me a Martin, dag nab it.

Not much more to report. Later gators.

And so it begins. 

Egad, what have you wrought? Giving me a blog is like giving a monkey a gun. Which reminds me of a song I meant to write.

But I digress.

Howdy, gang! Here's one of my newest songs, "Tearing My Mountain Down", as recorded by my housemate with her phone, on my back porch:

"Tearing My Mountain Down" by Brian Claflin - Porch video

It's my anti-Mountaintop Removal (and, by association, anti-Fracking) song. I've been invited to sing it on August 4 in downtown Asheville at tjhe "Mountain Moral Monday" rally:  Mountain Moral Monday August 4, 2014 

Saro Lynch will be joining me on stage, a film crew will be documenting the event and putting together a more produced music video for the studio version of the song, which I'll soon be recording with both Saro and another frequent collaborator, Ellie Grace.

Speaking of Ellie, she & I have formed a singing and songwriting partnership, and are polishing up the final touches on our debut duo CD. We aren't quite sure what to call ourselves yet, but look here soon for a link to our duo web page!

I seem to be surrounded by incredibly talented musical women in Asheville. I am also currently rehearsing with Hannah Kaminer and friends, for her first real studio recording. It's gonna be great, the songs are really shaping up.

Yes, I do sometimes collaborate with males. The very talented Nate Spencer is a fellow Kaminer band-mate, and the three of us are working towards a set of songs as a trio. Alas, my storyteller dad Willy Claflin will not be at the National Storytelling Festival this year, but rest assured I will be joining him in October of 2015.

And that's all the news that's fit to pixilate! Thanks for stopping by.

Brian

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WORLD TOUR 2015 - - by which I mean, occasional shows...

Previous events

Brian Claflin

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Jubilee Community, 46 Wall St, Asheville, NC

"Mystic Cafe" singer-songwriter series presents Brian Claflin With guest, poet Brook Van Der Linde $10-20 suggested donation (Tix: night-of, no advance sales) (doors 7pm) Snacks & hot beverages available. This is an alcohol-free venue.

Equinox of Song in the Cesspool of Sin (Songwriter Round-Robin and EP Release)

Magnetic 375, 375 Depot St., Asheville, NC

Songwriter round-robin with Matt Townsend, Hannah Kaminer and Nate Spencer - and EP release party (and video shoot!) for my "Cesspool of Sin" EP.

Brian Claflin

"Mountain Moral Monday" rally, Pack Square Park, Asheville, NC

Last year this event drew 10,000 people, and was voted by The Nation Magazine as “Most Valuable Protest” of 2013.

Hosted by the Mountain People’s Assembly, a coalition of WNC organizations, and regional WNC NAACP Branches, this non-partisan program will highlight the destructive policies enacted by the North Carolina statehouse over the past year while strongly focusing on the voter empowerment campaign, “Moral March to the Polls.”

Featuring the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the NC NAACP and other guest speakers, as well as musical entertainment - like me, joined by Saro Lynch.