Highlights of 2007:

Concerts were limited because of recording projects underway during 2007. Concerts included:
1. Troy Music Hall, Troy, NY
2. Glens Falls Civic Center for a Celtic Festival, Glens Falls, NY
3. Kribstock
4. Inlet Concert Series, Inlet, NY
5. The Victorian Streetwalk, Saratoga Springs, NY
6. The Black Sheep Coffeehouse, Loudonville, NY

New MYSPACE sites were set up in 2007 for The Spirites Consort and Saratoga Faire.

From June 9 – June 16, Lise’s Goldenrod CD was chosen as one of the editor’s picks for New Age Adult Contemporary at CD Baby and is still listed in their Top New Age Adult Contemporary.

New radio play in 2007 for Wing’d With Hopes included stations in Ireland, England and Australia.

New listings included:
1. The Wing'd With Hopes CD was listed as one of the top albums for the genre of Renaissance on DarkLight Nocturnal Entertainment.
The Goldenrod was listed with The Healing Music Organization.
3. Saratoga Faire was listed on Songs of the Celts website.

Lise began to learn the Celtic harp. Recorded tracks of her first attempts will be heard on the upcoming Saratoga Faire album.

Exhibits included:
1. Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Center, members’ exhibit (April – June)
2. “Structures”, a juried exhibit at Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Center (September – October)

Special shows and exhibits around the holidays included The Art Center of the Capital District and Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Center.

Lise and Jim Lestrange started up a new graphics company.

Lise’s role as curator for Fulton Street Gallery in Troy, NY was a woodworker’s invitational exhibit that ran from February 16 – March 17 and an exhibit called “Our Community” featuring local scenes & artists. More information about the exhibits and artists can be found here. 

Lise’s web-diary follows:

January 3, 2007

A whole year has gone by since I wrote for this web-diary (with the exception of an appendage to the last one)!

Well, first off, 2006 is the year we buckled down to get our CD done (we still have some more perfecting to do, but it will be released this year, God willing), so we didn’t apply for any performance venues; the ones we played contacted us. That’s always nice for a change! 

We are particularly grateful to Bruce Cole of Crandall Library, Eric Trahan of the Canajoharie Library and Brian Kaiser of the Cobleskill Concerts in the Park Series and funding from the New York Council for the Arts for these particular concerts.

We (The Spirites Consort) especially loved the wonderful concert hall of the Van Alstyne Homestead, the performance space for the Canajoharie Library concert series. The view of the river off of the grand balcony, the wonderful 1700s architecture, and the audience we had there couldn’t have been more pleasant. Perhaps our Renaissance costumes didn’t look so out of place in this old building!

We also wish to thank the Kingsbury Coffeehouse where we had a wonderful turn-out and to the folks who run and attend the Inlet Fall Festival. This was our fourth year playing for Inlet and it’s always nice to be part of their community on this day to share in their arts as well as play along to a dragon roaming around the shire (Steve Gratto). The Inlet staff invited us this year to be part of their arts-in-the-park summer concert series on the lake (where they tell me there will probably be a beautiful sunset the night we play), so come and see us! 

We (Saratoga Faire) also performed at a Celtic festival at the Glens Falls Civic Center. John Cromie was on stage with us lending his whistles, voice and songs to the event. The other band playing at the festival was the McKrells.

Other concerts included The Country, Bluegrass and Celtic Music Festival in Schenectady Park, Schenectady, NY. Aged in the Hills and Sweet Cider were also featured. We also performed at the annual invitational fundraiser, Kribstock. It was a record-breaking crowd this year and also very lucrative for the fund (thank you!). And then there was our annual appearance at the Victorian Streetwalk in  Saratoga Springs, NY followed by Saratoga Springs First Night where we again traded off with Sweet Cider. 

Jim and I are now working on an EP together of material that is a huge departure from what we usually do with our bands. It’s a secret for now, but will be revealed all in due course… 

One big surprise I can tell you about, came for me over the holidays. My sweetie gave me a Celtic lap harp! I saw a big package. I thought that maybe it might be a couple of canvases to paint on or maybe a big easel. But, was I surprised (it’s been my dream to play one since the early nineties!). Jim contacted George Leverett who makes harps for The Harper and the Minstrel (our friends, Jay and Abby) and he made a beautiful one out of walnut and maple. George's wife, Anwyn, painted some Celtic and Renaissance designs on the front. Ever since I unwrapped it, I’ve been playing it. Harp has such a pleasant sound that it is an easy instrument to practice for hours on end. Our violinist, Frank Orsini, plays a little bit of harp and gave me some very useful instructions to get started. Even so, I see that it's a difficult instrument and will take years to perfect, so I have even more admiration for Jay Michaels, Lisa Lynne, Kim Robertson, Martha Gallagher and other harpers I have known throughout the years! 

Exhibits for me this last year included 3 shows at The Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Center (including an Artist of the Month exhibit), a juried show at Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts, and many shows around the holidays.

One show I was particularly pleased to be part of at the end of last year was a group ceramics exhibit at Aimee’s Gallery in Glens Falls. I particularly enjoyed the caliber of work of my fellow potters and I felt at home with them. I think that there will be another exhibit like it at the end of 2007, and if you like carving, relief and a bit more care than straight-forward thrown ceramic forms, then this is the exhibit to go to in the Capital/Adirondack region.  

Aside from these activities, I also assisted in photographing a wedding in Franklin County, Vermont, in a rural town 5 miles from the border with Canada. Our table at the reception said “Bluegrassers”. The next day following the wedding we jammed with some of those bluegrassers! Love that part of VT! Maybe a move some day? 

Research and studies in 2006 which influenced my art and music included “Journey of Man” by Spencer Wells as well as books about gardening, farming and a continuation of the owl studies I started in 2005. I also took some advanced quilting courses with Karen Elgin and sought out feedback on my ceramic forms from Professor Regis Brodie. Marc Leithold also came to the area to show us his giant carved ceramic discs. 

Concert-going included seeing violist Tania Susi on two separate occasions (at The Hyde Collection and the Saratoga Springs Art Center), Jay Unger and Molly Mason at the Troy Riverfront Park, Cecilia Brauer on the glass armonica at the Saratoga Arts Center, Joe Davoli with The Delaney Brothers at the Van Alstyne Homestead and Kribstock (where we hung out to watch other acts of the festival after our performance with author Jim Kunstler). Fortunately our weekends are not so booked up that we cannot take in a few concerts!

2006, however, will be most remembered for its wild and wacky weather. 

For the winter we saw exceedingly warm temperatures (for the most part) and a freak wind storm (95 mph recorded at the Saratoga Airport) which knocked trees over, damaged a lot of houses (including ours, though not too bad, thankfully) and took the power out for days. Grocery stores and gas stations closed, pipes burst in a lot of houses, goldfish froze and families had to make do on what food they had in their cupboards. The local college was also without power for 4 days, and even though classes were all cancelled, a few brave students went to work anyway in some of the dark cold buildings which had these high pitched buzzers going 24/7. Without things that run on electricity, like the internet, TV, radio and the particular brand of telephone we own, our world became quite local, down to neighbors. We spent the dark nights after dinner in our big wooly sweaters playing our guitars by candlelight.

Then came the Spring which was the wettest on record with 30 times the normal amount of rain (east of us it was even more dramatic). The black storm clouds never seemed to stop coming. Farmers couldn’t hay and corn was certainly not “knee high by the fourth of July”. For awhile, I wondered if we had traded places with the weather system of the northwest. We had thought we were being smart by planting our garden earlier this year than last year, but because of the lack of sun, the crops just didn’t grow the way they were supposed to. Tomato plants were especially stunted and the basil looked pale, listless and burned and a much lighter green than is usual for these plants. 

But eventually the sun came out in fits and starts and things began to grow, even if not to the usual glory. Our crops this year included strawberries, basil, thyme, oregano, dill, scallions, chives, mint, oregano, mustard greens, 3 different kinds of lettuces including wild lettuces, spinach, carrots, turnips, radishes, beets, swiss chard, red cabbage, green cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, bush beans, peas, crook necked squash, zucchini, 4 varieties of winter squashes, pumpkins, gourds (some of these squashes and gourds cross-pollinated, so we had some interesting looking hybrids!), 3 varieties of potatoes, 2 different kinds of corn, green peppers, and 6 different kinds of tomato breeds (some of them quite unusual and heirloom from a farmer’s market). It would seem that I would have cut back the garden because of what I said in last year’s web-diary, but that entry was written January 2, 2006, about 2 months before we ran out of vegetables from our garden. When I finally had to start buying “fresh” vegetables from the supermarket, in contrast, they were horrible, listless and rubbery, not to mention more expensive than I had remembered. I had gotten spoiled. So, we hope with all of the expansion of the garden that our crops can take us through the entire winter this time until our local farmer’s market opens again in May.

Autumn also was unusual with wildly swinging temperatures. My geraniums lived through the Thanksgiving holiday (unheard of around here!). The grass was brown, the leaves had fallen off of the trees, we had some hard frosts and light snows where the rhododendrons shriveled up, the ground looked white and frozen every morning, and my geraniums were still putting out these beautiful white flowers! Unbelievable. My neighbors were mystified and thought they were magical. I thought so too and decided to preserve their magic by moving them indoors before any more frosts could test their endurance. I have not always been so kind to flowers in the past.

Before I sign off, here is one other tidbit I came upon last September. I discovered many versions of “If I Had Wings” via the internet with different lyrics and melodies. Click here to hear all of the different versions. This says to me that we, as a species, often think about having wings, and most of all, singing about it.

My new harp made by George Leverett and painted by his wife, Anwyn (above) and with my Dad at a butterfly sanctuary (below).
All photos on this page © 2007 by Jim Lestrange.