Small Batch is no stranger to collaboration in the arts. There are five permanent members of the local Americana/bluegrass group, four of whom will perform next Friday at CSA LIVE. Between them, though, they are part of 15 different musical groups.
Reva Williams, singer/songwriter and member of Small Batch and Ancient Warfare, and Emily Hagihara, solo artist and drummer in Ancient Warfare, both sat down with LAL to provide a glimpse into the collaborative, creative process that lays the groundwork for art making in Lexington. Reva will be performing with both Ancient Warfare and Small Batch at CSA LIVE. Emily will be performing her solo work and with Ancient Warfare, but will also be appearing in place of Small Batch's bass player.
“Collaboration definitely depends on the people you’re with,” Williams said. “When you’re working with people who realize the creative process takes time it gives you the chance to come up with something truly organic.”
"I love collaboration. It's comforting to form those relationships and grow by performing," Hagihara said. "I try to say yes to as much as I can."
“To me, the only thing I’m interested in is good work that speaks something to the human person,” Williams said. She and the other musicians were given the opportunity to choose the poets who will be featured in CSA LIVE. After reading See How We Are, a book featuring Lexington Poetry Month writers, the musicians decided that work by Kentucky poets Savannah Sipple, Leatha Kendrick, and Marianne Worthington would fit best in the show.
Williams said that she, along with the rest of Small Batch and Ancient Warfare, believe Lexington can provide great things.
“We work hard to support the local economy. Not out of sentimentality, but because our local things are excellent,” Williams said. “Lexington is ripe with art…a lot is going on here.”
While artistic fellowship is a main focus for these musicians, organizing practice times between their busy schedules of work and rehearsals can become a task all its own.
“Sometimes it’s a struggle to puzzle piece things together because we all have jobs and our own lives,” Williams said. “It can be crazy, but it’s always a rewarding and fun experience,” she said.
Small Batch’s first experience with CSA was being part of the April crop with their seven-inch vinyl contribution. Williams said being contacted by LAL was perfect timing, because they needed an impetus to get in the studio to start recording.
“Having cash up front to record music is expensive,” she said. “It was great having the funding to continue doing what we wanted.” Small Batch is now in the studio adding to their CSA contribution in hopes of releasing a full album soon.
"The financial aspect of creating our art is no easy feat, especially pressing vinyl," Hagihara said. "CSA allows that to happen and gets material into the hands of people who wouldn't normally buy it or see us perform."
The music scene in Lexington is an interwoven web of creative resources. It’s not uncommon for artists to roam from band to band exploring new depths of musical talent with a myriad of people, feeding artistic energy of all kinds. CSA LIVE is designed to be a testament to the ongoing cross-pollination of the arts.
“Most of Lexington’s music scene happens when people are asleep,” Williams said. “CSA is a chance to introduce that music and art to people who haven’t had a chance to experience it yet. People don’t know the richness of music here and that it can add a lot to their lives.”
See Reva Williams, Emily Hagihara, and the rest of Small Batch and Ancient Warfare at the Lyric Theatre next Friday, June 27 at 8pm. Tickets are $15.
Printmaker Charlie Campbell grew up attending a Pentecostal Church in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, an experience which he explores in his work for the Spring 2014 CSA crop. He discusses the cultural and religious complexities of his up bringing in his own words:
My contribution to the Spring "crop" is a two-color relief print (linocut) on 140# French's Pop-Tone. It depicts a snake-handling worship service at a fictional church in Eastern Kentucky - held by anthropomorphic, cartoon animals. In its style, it's similar to something you might see in a children's book or Highlights magazine.
I grew up Pentecostal (Church of God) in Hazard, Kentucky during the "Satanic panic" of the 1980's. I was raised to fear Dungeons and Dragons, heavy metal music, and all other forms of "devil-worship" and witchcraft.
Though we share many of the same rituals and beliefs, our snake-handling neighbors (most often Pentecostals, themselves) were often associated with these things. They were vilified and forbidden - just like Metallica and Magic: The Gathering. In much the same way as popular culture, their ostracism from my church and community gave them an air of "forbidden" mystery and appeal.
Since growing up, moving on, and thinking more independently, I've been fascinated with these themes in Appalachian and religious culture.
Even (without the snakes) our church services were a strange mix of fear, awe, and comfort. It's intimidating to experience some of these services through the eyes of a child. There's shouting, violent, full-body spasms, stomping, incomprehensible languages, interpretation of these languages by a "medium," the laying-on-of-hands for the sick, talk of judgement, eternal damnation, and hellfire. On the other hand, there's also the spiritually uplifting community, supportive friends and family, reassurance that the poverty so many of us experienced was merely temporary, and that heaven awaited to solve all of our problems.
In this print, I attempt to imagine what it might be like for the children of an Appalachian holiness church like this - projecting my own experiences. We have so much in common: the fear, awe, and reassurance mixed up in confusing and sometimes unsettling imagery. It's very much like the mysticism and ritual you'll find in the fantasy genre of popular culture that these churches (like mine) so often demonized.
I chose to depict this scene in the same sort of visual language as children's media because in my own nostalgic journey, it matches the era in which I was attending these services. It's also a convenient way to illustrate "comfort," child-like aesthetics and innocence as a foil to the threat of danger (real or spiritual).
Want to get your hands on Charlie's work? Become a CSA Shareholder!! Click below to #getyourshare! And don't forget to join us Friday, April 25 from 6-9 to celebrate this season's fresh batch of Community Supported Art work!
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All Lexington Art League programs are made possible through the generous support of LexArts. LexArts allocation of $50,000 represents the largest single donation to the operations of the Lexington Art League.
The Kentucky Arts Council, a state arts agency, provides operating support to the Lexington Art League with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by Lexington Parks & Recreation.