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!
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…
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
Buy the new CD Stay Warm
Physical CDs Direct-from-Esther ONLY for now. Other outlets coming soon. Order with credit card below. If you prefer to send a check, contact me for mailing address. Ordering FAQ (shipping cost, payment methods, etc)
$14.99 plus shipping
Stay Warm – a BRAND NEW collection of songs! Hear audio samples in player to the right, read description here.
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The new CD, Stay Warm, is finally done! I’m so happy to announce my new collection of eleven songs entitled Stay Warm. Woo-woo-woo-hoo! You can order it as of Monday, May 6th, 2013. In anticipation, I’m writing a series of four articles to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how Stay Warm came to life.
Wow! When did this happen? I recorded it in Fairbanks, Alaska in the five months between April and August, 2012. I collaborated with many fantastic musicians. Shortly after the audio was “in the can” I began the next chapter of life by moving to an amazing Connecticut town called New Haven. The five thousand mile transition from Alaska to Connecticut took so much time and energy that Stay Warm had to await patiently in its little can for another four months. I returned to the project in January, 2013, taking care of mastering, graphics, web presence, and mechanical production, and … four months later … finally(!) … Stay Warm is out of the can and into CD form. Here’s a long-arm self portrait taken just days ago under a New Haven cherry tree:
What songs are on it?
1. Overjoyed (Christine Kane)
2. Nectarina & Avocado
3. Fireweed Ladies
4. Yula (Borrina Mapaka)
5. Where is the Field
6. Echo Point
8. What Can I Say
10. Wintered In
11. Stay Warm
Why Stay Warm? The cold is no myth in the far north, and Alaskans frequently depart with a cheerful “Stay warm!” I wanted to express this sweet sentiment with my music. The album weaves together my 15 incredible years in Alaska with songs of wilderness, whimsy, snow, and sunlight…
Musically, this is my most diverse CD. Stay Warm mixes folk, pop, rock, funk and world with intimate vocals and harmonies. I play the mountain dulcimer and tons of flute, and I play power chords (yes!) on a solid-body electric dulcimer. I employ two djembe players, two cellists, and a classic funk clavinet player named “Mighty Dave”. I stroke wind chimes. I sing in the Lari dialect of the Congo. Just sayin’…
It’s been quite a journey. I’m thrilled with the results and think you will be too.
There’s nothing like a move from Alaska to Connecticut to cause a long hiatus from gigging. April’s daffodils have inspired me; it’s time to open up again.
I’m giving my first official concert here in CT on Wed, April 17th, 8PM at Best Video in Hamden.
Best Video? Yes, it’s a video store! And they offer a delightful listening room venue amidst shelves full of moving pictures. They also have a coffee-beer-wine bar, and snacks. You can even buy a pint of gourmet ice cream from the freezer, as well as locally popped kettle corn. What more do you need to enjoy an evening of music with me? It’s really a funky, unusual, cheery atmosphere.
If you’re new to my music, this show is just an hour long, so it’s a great intro for the curious. I’ll tell stories and include songs from my forthcoming new CD Stay Warm, plus a few from Unfinished Houses, and I’ll also spin an on-the-spot improvised flute painting of the northern lights.
If you don’t live in New Haven, but know of someone nearby who might enjoy my music and stories, please share this post with them. What can they expect? How ’bout an evening of laughter, whimsy, insightful observations, and musical expansiveness…
Here are the details:
What: Esther Golton – Solo Concert – Songs with Mountain Dulcimer & Flute
I’m so happy you’re here. Welcome! Spring is on the way and with giddy little bunny hops, I offer you my menagerie of newnessness:
New website… I hope you like it! I see this little piece of webspace as my online living room, where I’ll lounge on the couch and invite you all in to share my news, adventures, photos, stories and thoughts. You can go to the bottom of my contact page to subscribe to this blog (yep, like a magazine) and receive posts either in your RSS reader, or via email.
New location… In September I drove the long road south after 15 great years in Talkeetna, Alaska. The plan was to live in various interesting places that have milder winters and more abundant cultural opportunities. I’m still deeply connected to the wilderness and people of the far north, and will return often. Meanwhile, it’s been a great joy to have spent this fall and winter exploring New Haven, Connecticut. Orchestras and choirs! Art shows in converted Erector Set factories! An African drumming class! Theatre and movies where you get to meet the actors! Restaurants of every palate right around the corner! Colorful international faces! East and West Rock parks for my walks in the woods… all of this has rejuvenated my senses. It’s such a contrast, and a perfect start for an intentional new chapter of life.
New CD on the way… Yes yes yes! It’s called Stay Warm. 11 songs, 9 of them original, and 2 extraordinary covers. I made the record because I passionately wanted to share these songs with you all. My talented graphic-artist-fabulous-cafe-owner sister Anita is putting finishing touches on the cover art as we speak. I’ll tell you more about it soon. Promise!
New commitment… to reconnect to all of you and the wider world (meaningfully, fun-lovingly, creatively), through this very website, through live performances, and through my mailing list. And I also commit to not spreading myself out so much all over the internets. I’ll be writing more thoughts about that particular contrarian path soon.
So again, welcome, and pass the word on by whatever method you “like” best. Sheesh, when did the word “like” become something that I’d put in quotes? It’s all so … new!