Life is good for local musical duo
With the release two years ago of their fifth CD, “Calling on Love,” Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald’s
primary goal was to play more gigs on the folk music
With their seventh CD, “Fool’s Paradise” to be released nationally next month, the Penn Valley couple believes they’ve surpassed that goal.
Not only that, they’re comfortable with where their music careers and life in general are today.
The title song on their newest CD easily reflects that satisfaction as it describes Kamm’s reconciliation with choosing a dream world, in his case working as a songwriter and musician.
It’s a touchstone, or as Kamm explains, a way to remind themselves that it’s OK to have chosen this life.
“‘Fool’s Paradise’ is obviously a cliche, it’s a term coined to refer to something which is a place of innocence perhaps where you’re not dealing with innocence. It means living in a dream world,” said Kamm, who wrote the song last year.
“It is an uncertain life but it’s still the only thing that’s called to me,” Kamm philosophized. “At this point of my life, looking back from where I am, I don’t mind that I chose this life. If it means I’m living in a ‘fool’s world,’ oh well.”
MacDonald agrees with Kamm’s assessment: “I’ve lived the life of an artist or an alternative lifestyle since I was a teenager.”
The couple, performing original contemporary folk music for 21 years as a duo and touring nationally several times a year for the last 14 years, shares a stage less often in their own community. But they try to do at least one big concert a year here; hence the CD release concert for “Fool’s Paradise” Saturday in Grass Valley.
“After being somewhat isolated in the studio for a lot of this year, it feels like we’re staring at microphones too long,” Kamm said.
They’re anxious to sing on a stage, especially in their hometown.
The couple relishes Nevada County.
“We still choose to have a life so we choose not to live in a car all year round. We have a life we really enjoy sharing, and community and family,” said MacDonald, whose CDs are on their own label, Freewheel Records. “We choose to do the music career on our terms. We are our own bosses.”
She admits it’s harder to achieve commercial success by coming home for long periods rather than driving nonstop town-to-town across the country.
“But it’s paying off. We’re getting recognition. But I always have to come home,” MacDonald said. “I love my animals, my friends, love my roots, I ground out. It maintains sanity.”
Recognition includes “Calling on Love” receiving ample national airplay and enthusiastic reviews from trade magazines. The CD stayed on the Folk DJ-L top 50 list (an Internet mailing list for folk deejays) for five months and the Top 100 artists/albums list of 1999.
And starting in two weeks, Kamm and MacDonald have out-of-town gigs almost weekly, from Freight & Salvage with Nina Gerber in Berkeley to the Palms Playhouse with Utah Phillips and Bodhi Busick in Winters to First Night Festivities in Williamsburg, Va.
But roots, just like in MacDonald’s case, are everything to Kamm.
“The point is some people are still looking for where they will put down roots,” Kamm declared. “We try to incorporate travel with a home life.”
When they’re home, they’re entrenched with everyday chores, i.e. mowing the yard, feeding the horses, shoveling manure and paying bills.
“Life is a lot busier now than when I was 20,” Kamm, 42, said. “When there’s spare time, it’s to do chores.”
Music, however, takes a priority.
“We make a point of, if the muse is there, to turn the phone off. We make time for that. We’re trying to act like grownups,” Kamm said.
And today, when asked what their primary goal is, the two simultaneously reply, “we want world peace.”
“That’s the most pressing thing for us and for others in the world – the dire straits of the world,” MacDonald noted.
The couple attends events and meetings of the Peace Center of Nevada County.
“It’s a personal thing, something we believe in strongly. I look at my friends’ babies, I look at my daughter and it reduces me to tears what we’re doing to the planet,” MacDonald added. “Eliminating violence, coming up with peaceful solutions is something we want to be involved in until it doesn’t need anyone’s involvement anymore.”
Accompanying the couple at Saturday1s concert will be Mikail Graham, Pete Grant, Tony Unger, Tom MacDonald, Steve Holland, Gary Campus, Rob Bonner and Mary Fairfield. All but Fairfield appear on the CD. Fairfield used to be in the vocal trio A Rose By Any Other Name with MacDonald.
3Fool1s Paradise² CDs will be at Harmony Books, Record Connection and Herb Shop Records after Saturday and on-line at http://www.kammmac.com in January.
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald in a CD release concert
WHEN: Saturday at 8 p.m.
WHERE: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley
INFORMATION: 274-8384 or (800) 594-8499
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