Coming Soon

Well, I know. Talk is cheap. I know I promised — online concerts , new songs and new takes on old favorites. And then there was Covid.

I made it through, as most of us did, by avoiding most, if not all, of our most stupid and thoughtless impulses, and by the grace of God and good friends. I did manage a new album of songs and stories during this past year of isolation, and it’s not bad, according to those who’ve heard it. Some other stuff of mine that’s been stuck behind it is getting picked up again, and one – the text version of the 2nd 5 years of the radio show, is newly available from me and Amazon. The Audio version is in the cue and will be addressed soon. And so it goes. Also in early stages of production are albums by my singing partner Mary Alexander and the Boys-In-the-Band, the wonderful trio of Bo Brown, David Wilson and George Horne of Undergrass Resurrection fame. Again, we ain’t done yet, so – Watch this space!

Hottest off the Press

LATEST ALBUM“AN AMERICAN FRONT PORCH: Stories and Songs from the Missouri Ozarks”   By Marideth Sisco with Mary Alexander

ALSO HOT, OFF A DIFFERENT PRESS: THESE OZARKS HILLS: Years Six through 10 – Audio version coming soon

FOR ORDERING INFORMATION, GO “YARNSPINNER MEDIA

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Come Sit a Spell

Howdy. I suppose you’re wondering why I called you here today. I’ve been singing, writing and telling stories about these Ozarks hills for a very long time, collecting pieces of the culture, music, and always poignant, sometimes hilarious and often inexplicable stories that, trust me, are probably not available on reality TV. I have been saving them for you here, and you can stop by any time for a laugh, a story, a tune, and some food for thought. Come back soon, and come hungry.

For booking information click here.

Listen to Marideth’s monthly radio show, These Ozark Hills, on KSMU here.

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Booking information, contact
maridethsisco@gmail.com

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Latest Audio of “These Ozark Hills”

“This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills.

The weather this spring, or one recent storm in particular, reminded me again of a night long ago in a land far away, when I had occasion to attend a concert in a large but spare concert venue, likely a high school or small college gymnasium. It was too long ago actually for this elderly brain to remember the location. I don’t even remember if I’ve told you this before. Apologies if I did, but here goes.

Despite memory lapses, that scene is etched in my mind. I almost didn’t go, because the weather forecast didn’t sound good. But it was Dave Brubeck and his bunch, and it was one night only. So I went, and was soon consumed by the rich, tumbling notes, the mysterious timing of Joe Morello’s drums and Paul Desmond’s delicious, buttery saxophone. All this was soon accompanied by the intricate and seemingly well timed light show glimpsed through the gym’s high windows as the storm approached. The thunder, too, seemed to be keeping time, rolling nearer, readying itself for a solo, perhaps, if offered. Then all at once, a flash, a sizzling, explosive, deafening bang, and the lights went out. But that wasn’t the amazing part. Obviously it was planned if unrehearsed, but the band shifted between one note, one beat and the next, from Take Five to Stormy Weather.

“Don’t know why, there’s no sun up in the sky…”

It wasn’t the storm or my memory of it, but that calm, measured reaction to it, that has cast it into my memory and made it an archetype a “a recurrent symbol or motif, like in literature, art, or mythology.”

Earlier this week, or earlier this month, like all the times before, a storm roared through the Ozarks and did its level best to throw our stuff in the air, damage everything it could and scare the bejeezus out of everybody. And then we got up the next morning, assessed the damage, grabbed boots and saws and work gloves and said “OK, let’s get to it.”

And that’s the thing about we humans, or at least the ones that live here in these old hills. We don’t stay scared. We may tremble in the moment, and cast fervent prayers to whoever might be listening. But then when it blows over we get up and do what needs to be done.

I do sometimes wonder what’s to become of us, with our vivid imaginations, our gullibility even, to be caught up in ever more far fetched notions that feed our fears, dislodge our personal phantoms and lead us down rabbit tracks into a wilderness of the almost real, the “reality” that isn’t really, the rumor apocalypse. What will we believe tomorrow, and how will we know that it’s true, or not?.. Today, if we tire of the reality based universe, we can just go with the virtual. Put on our goggles, play the game, and see what world we enter when we take them off.  Will it be just a regular day, or the stuff of our dreams – or a nightmare. Like the Terry Pratchett character In a world of change that it is forbidden to notice, who asks “Yes, I know that’s always been there, but yesterday? Yesterday, had it always been there then?”

Now don’t misunderstand me. I may be old, but I’m not yet some Luddite who believes we should go back to pre-technology days and burn our computers and cell phones. I admit to being a great fan of all the ingenious things created in the machine age – but I also believe there would have been far more axe-murders during our pandemic isolated winter if we hadn’t had Zoom and Facetime and Instagram and all that to fall back on. All those are good things, and played a great role in our ability to step away from the terrifying uncertainty and awful sameness of this past year. But while we are now anxiously awaiting a return to something we think of as normal, I think it bears mentioning that we probably should pay some attention to that new normal, and weigh the wisdom of returning altogether to how and who we were back then. Perhaps we should weigh our attitudes and beliefs of the past against what we have learned in that very educational time in between, the time we spent alone. We learn a lot when there’s time to think. That’s why those sages go up on mountaintops and discourage company. Certainly we get well acquainted with our fears, and we can be overwhelmed by them. But like the morning after a storm, there is a new day to consider, new thoughts to think, new things to learn, new depths to our character added just because we made it through another night. Add to that the utter simplicity of what we’ve become accustomed to: curbside pickup, on-line ordering, working from home – or not. We entered a place of great peril both to our health and our finances, but on the other hand there were suddenly no costs for eating out, driving to and from work, all those things we just had to have. We were pared down to the essentials, and by that learned a good deal about just what those essentials are. We have a lot to think about.

A great deal has been made over the past year over real and supposed limits to our freedom. For me, those sensible limits were worth it to curb the risks, and most of us were able to be adults about it. But i can tell you from recent experience that there is no feeling of freedom equal to that moment when you mask up, go somewhere, see a friend, flash the 2-finger V sign meaning you’ve had both shots, and hug for as long as you want to, fearlessly. We’ve earned those hugs, those hands holding fast, those deep sighs of relief. I know there is some anxiousness about the vaccines. But really. Tell me you go on line and check out the ingredients on sausage and hot dogs before you eat them. Tell me you read all the printed material that comes with every prescription.

I know. We hear things that scare us. But we also know  human nature. We know some people just make things up, sometimes to scare us, to win us to their way of thinking, and sometimes just to get attention. And we also know there are hostile governments that are actively working to damage us, including trying to scare us away from the things that would keep us strong and healthy. For me, I trust my doctors over anything on Facebook or any other unverified source. I trust them because they’ve already saved my life more than once, and I expect them to keep on doing it.

Well, anyway, here I am on the verge of turning this into a lecture, and that’s not what I’m here for. I went down this rabbit track out of thankfulness for many things – that Monday night’s storm wasn’t any worse, and that we’re waking up to the normal of spring’s sun filled, windblown  sometimes dramatic mornings, and life is as it should be, normal or not. We are nearly out from under this long, dismal dark cloud of the pandemic, and I’m grateful it wasn’t any worse, or lastedany longer. I’m sincerely hoping you’ve gotten your shots so I can hug you when I see you, and you can trade that V for Vaccinated with everybody you know and love, and that you’re ready to weather all the storms life sends you in these Ozarks Hills.”

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Empty Doors – Marideth Sisco and Accomplices

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Empty Doors is an acoustic, honest, Folk/Americana masterpiece, ringing with the rich rural roots of the Ozarks highlands’ unique musical tradition, but here taking the listener not to the past but to the roots of emotion, a place both timeless and timely. Marideth Sisco and writing partner Robin Frederick have crafted a collection of songs written from notes, scraps of lyric, wayward melodies that demanded a voice, and fragments of songs spanning almost 50 years of creative imagination and collaboration. Some were begun long ago, others are only moments old. Together they speak of loss, disillusionment, deep pain and deeper passion, crafting lasting truths from the simple language of the heart. The singer, Marideth Sisco, is the featured singer and music consultant on the Oscar-nominated film “Winter’s Bone”

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Listen to this album at Bandcamp

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This New Album – Empty Doors

From Sarah;

I just listened to Marideth’s new album at Bandcamp where is is listed for digital purchase and it is ever so sweet!

If you want to get your signed copies, or just one, check out the Squareup store today. You can save on postage when buying five or ten signed copies of Empty Doors. Enjoy!

I’m ready to rock and roll tomorrow, the first shipping day!

 

 

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These Ozark Hills; August 2016

MaridethThis is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. It’s time for another episode in this long journey that starts in my head and ends on the radio, and sometimes when I’m stuck, I look over my archive of random bits for some jumping off place, a place to begin.

When I go there,  I am always surprised at how many things I talk about that seem to revolve around the garden, from the food it produces to the attachment to the seasons it provides and all manner of stuff. And as you probably know, I recently put out a whole book of such thoughts, and I thought I’d pretty much covered everything.

But still, even when it’s too darn hot to be out there, it’s the first place I go in my thoughts. You’d think that with that kind of attachment I’d be growing lots of flowers and trees and objects of beauty. But actually not so much. Just the odd Echinacea and a few blackberry lilies, a dwarf buckeye in a pot. And some perennials and self-seeding annuals that just spring up whether I remember to plant them or not. And of course there are the houseplants of which there are too many to contemplate.

I think I must have picked up the habit in childhood of placing the vegetable garden in the center of my universe, especially the seasonal part and the relationship I always make between the food harvest and good fortune, riches, actually, because although I’m in my 70s now, we didn’t have supermarkets or big box stores or year round produce vendors when I was a child. We didn’t have so many things that others in more prosperous parts of the country had for decades before us. We got a television when I was 9, a telephone when I was 13, indoor plumbing at 15.

That world then, in a tiny town in the Missouri Ozarks in the 1940s and 50s and a little bit of the 60s was so different from the places we live now as to be almost on another planet. We wrote letters. We talked to our neighbors face to face. We got our milk from an uncle who farmed, and made butter and cottage cheese from it. We washed our clothes in water drawn by hand from a well pipe and more than 60 feet of rope, which is what it took to get all the way down to the water.

The gardens we grow now are likely to be tilled by electric engines and filled with small stands of whatever delicacy we like to eat that the supermarket carries, but only in the gourmet section.

I grow Black Krim tomatoes because I like them. And bronze fennel so I can harvest the seeds to make Italian sausage. And six kinds of potatoes so I can decide which one tastes best. It’s silly, really, a good deal of this gardening fetish. I remember back when I was starting to garden seriously on my own, and my two aunts would laugh at me and say, you know you can get all that and more at the store. Why bother.

Well, it may be easier and cheaper, but homegrown is way fresher and tastier, I would argue. But I’m in my 70s now, the same age they were then, and I’m just now using up the last of my green beans canned a couple of years ago. Now I plant just 6 seeds of Fortex beans against a fence and they give me plenty for eating fresh. If I want more, I’ll buy them at the store. They won’t be Fortex, but that just makes the ones I grow in summer all the more precious.

Recently I cut my garden space in half and I still have too much garden for what I want to grow. But this elderly me has a supermarket and a farmer’s market and just about the whole world at my fingertips. Times, as they say, have changed.

When I was a child, my family could grow a garden that would feed us all year round if we knew what to do with it to make food we could store, and if you had a little patch where you could raise a few chickens or a hog just on garden leavings and table scraps and if wild grapes and blackberries and Indian peaches were plentiful, and if Uncle George shared his catch of, and if other assorted relatives shared the contents of their rented freezer drawers at the local locker plant.

Families who were fortunate had their own chest deep freezes. The rest of us canned that meat, along with peaches, berries, green beans and gallons of tomatoes. By October our cellars were full to bursting, the upstairs or a back bedroom packed with sweet potatoes, hickory nuts and black walnuts; the Irish potatoes in their slatted crates buried under stacks of burlap sacks on the north wall of the barn. By spring, all those shelves and crates and bushel baskets were empty except for a few wizened spuds, and dinners were heavy on brown beans, fried potatoes and bread from home ground corn. Looking back from a safe distance, we say those were the good old days. Those with better memories concede they were the pretty darn hard old days, too. Not that we are living in paradise. Today’s world has its own challenges, and some are enormous. In fact I think it’s fair to say we lived in simpler times then. Simpler to us, who knew what to do with 40 lbs. of thawing beef, or 100 lbs. of freshly dug potatoes, or 50 lbs. of hulled but uncracked walnuts. We made do, just as we did when the food ran out too soon and we were grateful to God there were enough little leftover spuds and ears of dry field corn whose seeds grandpa got from that old Indian, and we could shell and pick enough black walnut meat to afford a nickel’s worth of pinto beans. Or somebody could, and was willing to share. That’s what we did. That’s how you got through a cornbread winter. Nowadays, when we know so much more and have so much more, I worry at how we seem only capable of finding ways to divide ourselves from one another, making those we see as others either irrelevant or untrustworthy. Perhaps someday we can each have our own planet and just not be bothered by our differences. But I’m reminded of that old Ozarks saying that stated so clearly our interdependence and the necessity of having our means of survival spread beyond relying on just one household. It went like this; If we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs – if we had some eggs. This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills, and I’m just gonna say right now, if times get as hard as everyone worries about, I’ll bring the biscuits and the blackberry jam.

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Fundraiser for Carolyn Colbert

Howdy, pals. As you may or may not know, Carolyn Colbert, wife of Blackberry Winter banjoist Van Colbert, was seriously injured in an auto accident last week. She survived and will, if fortune allows, be fine. But in the meantime she requires an extended period of convalescence. Since her university job was considered part-time and since Van is a freelancer, and since their insurance coverage was minimal (the other party was at fault, so presumably they’ll eventually have hospital expenses and such) and since Van’s work time is limited because she needs full time care, they are in need of short term funding for covering their expenses while they’re waiting for the lawyers to duke it out. Hence, members of Blackberry Winter are joining with members of Brixey Creek to offer a benefit concert at the Yellow House in West Plains, MO on Saturday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. Please join us if you can. If not, contributions may be made to Van or Carolyn Colbert, P.O. Box 434, West Plains, MO 65775. If you wish to help this kind and gentle family, please consider reposting this announcement on your page and on whatever lists you’re on. Message me on FB with any questions. Thanks in advance. Marideth

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