Hitting Pause

Kaia Fowler

Dear music friends,
It’s been nearly a month since the winter solstice when a companion and I sat in an unlit room surrounded by the sounds of David Hykes Hearing Solar Winds album, meditating and breathing and being. There, my consciousness floating in the dark, I realized a need for rest and comfort lay unmet inside me, lost in the fullness of daily life. I needed a hug and a nap and permission to be without doing anything. I needed to hit the pause button on life and give my soul a chance to catch up. 

I am thankful that I listened and responded generously to that need communicated to me in the dark. I have been resting more, taking gentle walks, and soaking in hot baths soothed by the scent of lavender and the suspension of time. After the meditation in the dark, my companion and I lit a string of cheerful light bulbs, celebrating both the wisdom of the darkness and the comfort of light. We selected the album Kom Regnto by Norwegian artists Anne-Lise Berntsen and Nils Henrik Asheim to welcome the lengthening days and acknowledge the complex feelings surfacing with our awareness of the passage of time. 

Winter holidays awaken memories of past celebrations, evoking nostalgic reveries tinged with melancholy.  Experiences like the stars bright in the crisp night air as I stand in my yard and the mysterious drifting of freezing fog as I drive along rural roads remind me how small I am in the scope of time and space. The same realization filled me recently in downtown St. Louis where I observed the stone edifices standing resolutely nearly 100 years after they were built by ambitious developers keen to create something that would last. Do we all, at some level, hope to create something enduring?

I recently watched episodes of Jazz by Ken Burns, and a segment on Louis Armstrong’s trumpet solos resonated with me.  The narrator commented on Armstrong’s gift for distilling a melody down to its essential notes and then releasing them over the frenzy of the jazz band in such a way that he seemed to stop time. During an era when life felt increasingly busy and hectic, when time became precious and demanding, Armstrong suspended time with his trumpet solos. They soared above the bustle of the rhythm section, reassuring in their grace and beauty, unattached to the driving beat, free. Armstrong’s trumpet notes, whether sweet or sassy, lifted spirits to that timeless space, pausing cares and responsibilities, inviting listeners to simply be there and then with the music. Thanks to recordings, we have the ability to experience that gift of suspended time with his music even now, so many years later. His genius endures. 

For most of us, life has gotten busier and more demanding since the jazz age. I find that I seek opportunities to slip free of time and space as often as I can while still achieving what I hope to achieve with my days. Music, whatever the genre, whether recorded or live in concert, gives us the chance to be in a time-free zone for a while, even as our body feels the pulse of time passing. Once again, I thank each of you for your support of the music I make. I hope you find yourself free to enjoy music, and to escape into timelessness, often in this New Year. 

That concludes my musings, now for some news. I have begun recording my new album, One Breath, and am working with some wonderful musicians for accompaniment. I believe it will my most satisfying work yet, and I look forward to sharing it with you. Target release date is mid-May. Watch for more details and a pre-order fundraising campaign to be announced within the next month.

Wishing all of you well, always. I am forever grateful to you for your enjoyment of the music I create. Hope to see you at a show soon!

With love in shadows and in light,
2018 concert schedule (more TBA as dates firm up):

Feb. 16 at 7pm | JustGoods Listening Room, Rockford, Illinois

March 2 or 16 at 8 or 8:30pm (final date and time available soon) | Café Carpe, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

March 10 at 7:30pm | The Coffee House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (with SistaStrings)

March 23 at 3:30pm | Marquardt Village, Watertown, Wisconsin

July 19 at 7pm | Crescendo Expresso Bar + Music Café, Madison, Wisconsin (with Beth Kille)

Nov. 10 | Private House Concert, Washington D.C.


The latest schedule is always at kaiafowler.com/shows.

Thoughts on Promises

Hello Friends in Song,
If you’re in a hurry, fall concert dates are below. But if you have a minute, I have a couple thoughts I would like to share with you.

Yesterday evening I took a walk under the full moon with my older son and my dog and welcomed the crisp cool air against my face. Lately I have been reflecting on the past year with awe and gratitude. When I decided to get back into performing my music after taking a break following my husband’s death, you were all there for me — even those of you I hadn’t met yet. I starting booking again, feeling nervous about how difficult it might be to get the attention of venues after being away from performing for nearly three years. Because of some enthusiastic fans reaching out to venues and suggesting they book me (thank you – you know who you are), I quickly gained momentum. Now I find myself scheduled on the Madison Folk Music Society stage for the Willy Street Fair, something I dreamed of doing a year ago. Opportunities keep opening up for me because of the warm, supportive community of fellow songwriters, venue operators, music promoters and listeners. Whatever category or categories you fall into, I thank you wholeheartedly for being with me on my journey. 

I have also been thinking about promises we make to ourselves. About 10 years ago I decided to give myself the gift of health for my birthday. I hadn’t been paying much attention to taking care of my body and was on the road to serious health problems later in life if I didn’t make some changes. I am far from perfect when it comes to nutrition and exercise, but, overall, I have kept that promise to myself and am enjoying the results everyday. When I got back into performing, I promised myself I would give myself enough time with my music to be the best I can be. Our lives fill up quickly with family, friends, homes needing work, and the things we do to provide food, shelter, and clothing to ourselves and our dependents. Still, I wanted to dedicate the time and effort it takes to create music at a level that people would want to listen to it. I have been given songs to share and a voice to sing them with, so I am putting in the time to serve the songs and you, my wonderful listeners. I intend to keep this promise to myself and to you: to be the best performing singer-songwriter I can be by embracing the work and pouring my heart into all I do.

You make it all so much more meaningful. Thank you again for being there, for your attentive minds, your kind hearts, your smiles and nods, and for singing along when the spirit moves you. I am looking forward to many more years of enjoying music together. I hope you can make it to one or more of these upcoming concerts. Say hello if you do!

Sat Sep 16 — 2pm — Willy Street Fair, Madison, Wis. 
Fri Sep 22 — 6pm — SchoolGrounds Café, Cottage Grove, Wis.
Sat Sep 23 — 9am — Fort Atkinson Farmers Market, Fort Atkinson, Wis.
Fri Sep 29 — 6:30pm — Fisher King Winery (in the round with Wisconsin Songwriter Circle)
Fri Oct 6 — 7:30pm — Wild Hog in the Woods, Madison, Wis. 
Sat Oct 7 — 7pm — opening for Anne Hills at Cotter Creek House Concert, Shawano, Wis.
Sat Oct 13 — 8pm — co-bill concert at Cafe Carpe, details tba
Wed Oct 11 — 10:45am — Oregon Area Senior Center, Oregon, Wis. 
Thur Oct 19 — Sun Oct 22 — Folk Alliance Regional Midwest Conference, Iowa City
Sat Nov 18 — 7pm — The Coffee House at Chestnut & Pine, Burlington, Wis. 

See the full schedule on my “shows” page.