Kray Van Kirk

About: Kray Van Kirk

Calvin once told his tiger Hobbes "I must follow the inscrutable exhortations of my soul", and Joseph Cambell exhorted his readers to "follow your bliss". The Roman poet Horace (and Robin Williams) advised his listeners to harvest the day (carpe diem), and Tennyson sailed an aged Ulysses out from Ithaca once again with the words " purpose holds to sail beyond the strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

A rather dramatic bunch, I must say. But correct, in the end.

A few years ago I came across a little book I made in the third grade called "All About Me", in which I said I wanted to be a "singer and a guitar player" when I grew up. In the years since then, I've wanted to be a lot of things, and it seems funny that all of them should serve as stepping stones back to the third grade. I end up quitting graduate school in 1990 (I was studying theology and languages in Berkeley) to run off and play music. I ended up in Jackson, Wyoming, and the Wort Hotel there was the first place I began to play regular shows and actually get paid for doing it. Years before, John Fahey and Leo Kottke had sat together on the same stage, under the same lights, playing music that would shape decades of guitarists. I think that fact intimidated me far more than the audiences!

These days my hair is much shorter and the lines on my face are a bit deeper. I'm a single parent, working on a PhD, and the only way to reach the town in which I live is by air or water; there is no road access. I have a different approach now to writing and performing music. I no longer record CDs; we've got enough things headed for the landfills, and more than enough "stuff". But I also don't charge money for my songs, although a number of people have encouraged me to do so; they are free to anyone who wants to listen to them and give them a home. I used to be so focused on CD sales and the business end of things it took away from the whole point, which is to create music that gives voice to Calvin's exhortations of the soul. So one day I dropped the entire thing.

That's "music without borders, music without cost". We'll see where it all ends up!

I divide my time between Alaska and playing concerts on the road. Every time I finish a new song, I let it sit for a bit, and then it gets recorded and given a home on the music page with all the other little digital penguins, waiting to waddle their way across the world, leaving no footprints in the snow.

Of course, maybe I should get myself a stuffed tiger too.

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