A funny little elfin creature jumped up on my left shoulder this morning and shouted loudly in my ear. “IT’S TIME FOR A SALE! A CRAZY SALE! EVERYBODY LOVES SALES!” I nearly jumped out of my skin, giggled fiercely, then conjured up a sale the likes of which I’ve never offered before.
All CDs 33% off, & FREE U.S. shipping until Dec. 31, 2014
One year ago I had just returned home from six weeks in the hospital after being paralyzed by Guillain Barre Syndrome. Holiday lights and candles shone and glittered like they never had before. They still do. I’m grateful for so many things this past year including good health, goals accomplished, time spent with family-and-friends, and your continued enthusiasm for my music even during a quieter time, musically speaking. Thanks for passing on my recorded music to others who might enjoy it…
Stay Warm just got a nice review on the German website Folkworld, written by Swiss reviewer Adolph Goriup. Thanks Adolph! Here’s a translation I tweaked a little after running the German through Google Translate:
FolkWorld #53 03/2014 – CD Reviews
Esther Golton “Stay Warm” – Tiny Cabins Records , 2013
Esther Golton (vocals, dulcimer, flutes, keyboards) was born in Philadelphia and in 1997 moved into a cabin in Talkeetna, Alaska, where she led a simple life and released her two previous CDs. At the moment she lives in New Haven, Connecticut, and has just released a new album with nine original songs and two cover versions.
” Yula “, a song in the Congolese Lari dialect by Borrina Mapaka is driven by rousing Afrobeat , two djembe, shakers and drums, Esther sings and plays dulcimer and flutes on this beautiful World Music Song.
“Where is the field” is a great folk-rock ballad with cello, electric dulcimer, flute, fretless bass and drums.
Esther also offers the folk ballad ” Chokecherry ” which she sings accompanied only by the dulcimer .
“What Can I Say ” is a funky song with organ, clavinet, bass, drums, dulcimer and cello.
On ” Face” Esther thrills us with a great game on flute, dulcimer and piano. Drums and bass provide the pace along with a notable saxophone solo in this rhythmic song .
The album ends with the gentle title song “Stay Warm”, sending thoughts to friends up north .
Esther Golton has a beautiful voice, her playing on dulcimer and flute is a delight, and the band centered around the co-producers Pat Fitzgerald (drums, percussion ) and Robin Dale Ford (bass , vocals) is excellent.
I’m happy to report that just 3 months after being paralyzed by the rare neurological autoimmune illness Guillain Barre Syndrome, I’m 99% back to normal. Hooray! (That’s an understatement!) I feel so very lucky; the nerve-damage aftereffects of GBS often take 1 to 2 years to clear up. My own experience has been far more rapid.
About 3 weeks ago the nerve sensitivity in my hands began to dramatically improve, and now my fingers feel perfectly normal. I marvel that my dulcimer strings don’t feel like torturous knife-edges anymore, and that I can play evenly and expressively again on both dulcimer and flute. That means I’ve begun practicing my music in earnest to rebuild my chops (I just wanted to say “chops” because that word makes me smile. “Chops!”)
On March 9th I’ll play a house concert in New Haven, CT. This is the only show I had lined up pre-GBS that I didn’t have to cancel. I’ll be sharing the afternoon with a local folk-bluegrass band called The Nameless Trio. Last winter Matt, Morgan and Pat employed me to sing (and flute) a very sweet boy-girl duet for their new album Explore!. You can listen to samples (I sing on Track 10, “All The Way Home”) and buy it here. If you live in/near CT and would like to attend the concert, please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the host, my wonderful friend Louis Audette.
The GBS experience definitely rocked my world. In my 47 years before this event, major illnesses were always the “stuff that happens to other people”. Now I truly (and a little anxiously) realize that random, unexpected “stuff can happen” to me or those close to me at any time. Of course I always knew this intellectually, but now I feel it in a tangible way. I’ve talked to friends who’ve gone through big health challenges and they nod knowingly … wide-eyed … at this change in perspective. It’s made me more compassionate towards anyone dealing with health issues. It’s made me want to decide consciously how I spend my days on this beautiful earth.
What does this mean for my music? I can’t wait to play my “comeback” concert on March 9th! Then I’m headed to Alaska for the entire summer to sell our house and 10 acres, work for my sister in her wonderful Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe, reconnect with friends and breathe the wild, open spaces. I’m sure I’ll play a few low-key gigs, and will search out new gift shops to carry my Alaska-infused CDs. It will be a great time for writing new songs, and letting music be music, and savoring everyday life.
Thank you again to all who sent me good wishes/cards/vibes while I was hospitalized. I can’t help but attribute my strong recovery to the love that flowed my way, right through my soul into my nerve endings. Also thanks to all who ordered my CDs during the holiday season. That income really helped ease the financial impact of all those cancelled gigs. I love imagining my music playing in your kitchen or car or headphones…
By the way, I’ve achieved almost half of my 2000 album goal, which means our “mystery painting” is almost halfway filled in. I still have to go out and sing pretty for a lot more people to fulfill that goal so stay tuned. And … stay warm!
Photo of bundled-up Esther taken at 2012 Fairbanks Alaska World Ice Art Show
WOW! My toes are all warm and tingly — and it’s not my Guillain Barre, ha ha. John Apice over at No Depression just wrote this GLOWING review of my work on Stay Warm. Oh goodness … that does feel nice … No Depression indeed!
… The title track “Stay Warm,” places Esther comfortably in the realms of Leonard Cohen as a disciplined wordsmith with melodies that are like milk and whiskey. …
… This CD is a little glorious achievement. Most artists, talented as they are, don’t create a single album as good as “Stay Warm” in their entire careers. There isn’t one filler tune on the entire collection. Each holds its own wealth equally and none sound as if repeated listens would diminish their strength. …
Please “Share” on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. as No Depression will elevate it to their front page (a big deal for us indy musicians) if enough people click – thanks!
On Thanksgiving day, I came home on a hospital day-pass for the first time since being diagnosed with the rare autoimmune illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. (You saying “Huh?” Go here to read my story.) Home was filled with welcome signs and flowers and a very happy dog. Talk about thankfulness!
I have huge appreciation for all the well wishes sent my way via snail mail, email, Facebook and thoughts. Every little bit has helped. Every day I make a little more progress towards normalcy.
Now I’ve been discharged from the nursing-rehab facility. I just spent my first wonderful night at home and have started outpatient therapy. I can do a lot of day-to-day things but don’t have much stamina. Still, I’m walking up stairs, cooking eggs in the kitchen and doing my exercises on the floor. Look at ‘er go! Woohoo!
Although I continue to feel upbeat and motivated about re-gaining my health and strength, I’m also facing the reality that I’ve had a huge and unexpected setback in my music career. I was so excited about putting together my big winter-long “Stay Warm Tour” as well as working out the final touches on my first-ever radio campaign and attending my first NERFA music conference. All the shows I’d worked so hard to book and rehearse this autumn and during the holiday season had to be cancelled. That was really, really hard.
But all is not lost.
I may not be able to travel and perform right now, but I can still ship CDs from home.
If you’ve been thinking about buying or gifting my CDs, now is the perfect time. You’ll give the magic of music … you’ll contribute to my occupational therapy … you’ll warm my hands and my heart.
For those who love holiday sales (like me!): If you order 4 or more CDs, I’ll add an extra CD for FREE. You can tell me which CD you’d like as the extra in the order notes, or via email. The second I get your order, I’ll sign ‘em and lovingly pop them in the mail to you and/or to those special someones on your holiday gift list.
This morning I pushed myself up into a sitting position with my own power. I was shocked and delighted. Progress for sure. I slid along a wooden board to shift into my wheelchair and Stacey, the nurse’s aide, washed my hair for the first time in over a week. Eureka! Those small things… matter.
So many times I’ve recited the mantra “Enjoy each moment – you never know when a curve ball will come your way.” Guess what? Curve ball!
Despite emergency hospitalization, paralysis of my lower body, partial paralysis of my upper body and face and having to postpone / cancel all of my upcoming gigs, I feel incredibly lucky.
On Oct 23rd, having just returned from a wonderful Ohio music tour, I woke up with numbness in my arms and legs, tight muscles, and huge fatigue. A few days later, back spasms. Ouch. Then increasing weakness until my legs were buckling under me when I tried to stand. I got scared. We went to Yale-New Haven Urgent care. The good doctor there sent me right to the Emergency Room. I remember him saying “Time is precious.”
A spinal MRI. Three spinal taps (not the band unfortunately). A fancy shock-the-nerves test called electromyography (EMG). Several neurologists asking me to squeeze, lift, push, pull. Knee reflexes absent. Arm reflexes absent. Nurses and aides guiding me gently to the bathroom … until I can’t walk at all any more. Bedpans. No interest whatsoever in food. Breathing tests every four hours. I need to be turned in bed. Weaker and weaker all over.
I have been diagnosed with a relatively rare and completely random condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. It’s pronounced ghee-YA-buh-RAY but I’ve heard it pronounced twenty five different ways.
In Guillain-Barre syndrome, your immune system — which usually attacks only foreign material and invading organisms — begins attacking the nerves that carry signals to your brain. In the most common form of Guillain-Barre syndrome, the nerves’ protective covering (myelin sheath) is damaged, and this interferes with the signaling process, causing weakness, numbness or paralysis.
Here’s the good news: I’ve been handed an illness that 80% of the victims recover from completely. Thank Goodness. And I have incredibly loving, helpful support from Jim, my family and friends. So very lucky.
As of now I’m an acute rehab patient at Gaylord Hospital. I’m on the upswing. My nerves are beginning to regenerate, and each day there is notable progress and increased strength. But it will be months or longer for me to regain my body. There’s no way to know exactly how long it will take. I’m going to have to work very hard.
Today, holding on to parallel bars and being spotted by Dan, my fabulous physical therapist, I stood for the first time in two weeks. Like the rusted tin-man in the Wizard of Oz, my first steps were clumsy and felt strangely robotic. I am ecstatic.
There. Now you know. You know why I haven’t replied to email or returned phone calls … why my gig calendar says POSTPONED DUE TO ILLNESS all over it.
We were not sure what effect this paralyzing condition would have on my ability to play my instruments or sing. When I was handed my dulcimer for the first time a few days ago, I thought for a minute … awkwardly formed a few chords … then this is what came out…
Looky look! I’m the featured performer, and I’m teaching 2 workshops and a masterclass! All the detailed info is at Jerry Rockwell’s website. The Friday relaxation concert and Saturday concert featuring me plus all the instructors, are OPEN TO ALL. Well, everything is open to all, but you’ll enjoy the workshops most if you bring a dulcimer.
Hello all – I’m back in New Haven after a wonderful 3-week woodsy retreat in Michigan. The trees have started to turn, and I hope you feel like I do – invigorated with crisp autumn energy.
Lots of news: Good things happening, good things to come…
Stay Warm is receiving radio airplay all over the world!
With the help of Tracey Delfino and her crew at Trespass Music, Stay Warm has recently been delivered to folk DJs far and wide. It’s gratifying to know that this music I created is delighting random new ears. Here’s a list of radio and web programs that have been playing tracks from Stay Warm. This is a great time to request my songs on your local radio show. If your station doesn’t have a copy, let me know and I’ll send one out, or you can steer them to Airplay Direct.
Ohio Tour in mid-October
Please pass the word on to all you know in Ohio – I’ve got a sweet little tour set up for mid-October! Tour dates are here, including house concerts in Pataskala, Wellington (near Oberlin), Columbus, Peninsula ( a “lay-down-and-listen” relaxation concert with the lovely dulcimer player Jan Hammond), and performing/instructing at the Southeast Ohio Dulcimer Festival in Stewart (near Athens.) I so look forward to this trip – I kind of have a thing for Ohio-ans!
Concert dates in the Northeast and beyond
New shows are listed on my tour page, with dates in New Haven and Seymour, CT, the Philly area, Baltimore, and my first Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) conference in NY. I’m actively adding more, including travels to further-away regions like the West Coast and the Southeast, so check back.
List of shops carrying my CDs
I’ve posted a list of the wonderful array of shops that carry my CDs. If you’re in Alaska and want to pick up a copy of Stay Warm, you can buy copies in Anchorage, Talkeetna, Cooper Landing, Palmer, or Fairbanks. Aurora Borealis is available in many more places in Alaska plus a dulcimer store in Sedona, Arizona. Of course you can also order/download my CDs via my website store.
Our Alaska property is for sale 10 beautiful acres with a fully renovated log home plus 2 cabins and a carport/barn/workshop (give this link extra time to load slideshows). This was the home of Whole Wheat Radio’s webcast and house concert series. It’s the perfect place to live your Alaskan dream and run a business, school or retreat center. And the 48-foot long cathedral ceiling is covered with wild 1980’s folk-art paintings of Alaska … it’s quite a special place!
Thanks, as always for your support. I hope to see some of you at upcoming concerts. I promise to sing pretty for you!
20 Feet From Stardom is a current documentary about backup singers. I found this film moving, inspiring and insightful, both for the music story, and as a metaphor for many life aspirations. (Goosebumps, teary eyes, don’t-I-know-it laughter.) I’ve seen it twice and would see it again. I urge you with enthusiasm – if it comes to your area, go! Here’s a list of cities where it’s playing.
I’m back East after a wonderful trip to Alaska, in which I shared songs from Stay Warm in 4 magical concerts, laughed with many old friends, played hard with my 7 year old nephew Oliver, and watched the trees leaf out in fast-motion under the early June sun. I think there’s a distinct Identity-with-Place that is unusually strong for long-time Alaskans. Even if I’m not living there now, Alaska’s wild beauty and independent, quirky culture is a huge part of my identity and always will be… Thank you, Alaskans, for your welcoming spirit and big support of my new album!!
Today I happily discovered a sweet review of Stay Warm written by Cile Stanbrough, who’s been a great friend and true music-appreciator since the early days of Whole Wheat Radio. I’ve copied her essay here:
Keeping Warm with Esther Golton – A Review on cilesfineline blog – Sunday June 9, 2013
I have been listening to Esther Golton’s new offering Stay Warm for a few weeks now and enjoying the full sound and sweet expression only Esther can elicit in her musical offerings. I’m a big fan of Esther’s instrumentals and I can hear in this album the force of this aspect of her talent gaining momentum, rising and merging with her songwriting making Stay Warm a multi-faceted and genuine delight.
Esther really shines in telling stories about her life in Alaska; in finding the words and music to express what it is like to live on the fringes of an America that is so intimate with the brutality and beauty of wilderness in the Alaskan bush. Her songs Fireweed Ladies, Wintered In, and Stay Warm reflect directly her experience in these wild places. While topical in this way, the album explores some of Esther’s more personal side in the songs like Overjoyed by Christine Kane, and her own songs, Chokecherry and Face and the sobering Where is the Field add a poignant and personal depth to the compilation. The cover Yula by Borrina Mapaka, besides being an outstanding interpretation of the tune, features Esther’s exceptional command of foreign tongues in song. For some of us long time fans there are new and exciting renditions of well-loved songs like Echo Point and a delightfully rocking, What Can I Say making a strong and clear comment on our addiction to wasting in this culture. There is also a whimsical tune called Nectarina and Avocado. You can listen to excerpts here.
My neighbor stopped in as the CD was playing and made an immediate comment on the striking quality of the sound and I had to agree that it is notable. Esther allied herself with talented musicians and the highly capable sound support of 10th Planet Studio in Fairbanks, AK, making this a beautiful offering from an artist that has indeed brightened many lives with her talents. Buy and enjoy Stay Warm and melt into Esther’s spirited message. Take it to your heart and let it glow.
Esther’s CD (or MP3’s, if you prefer) Stay Warm can be purchased through her website or at CDBaby or Bandcamp