Recordings and Songbooks
TRANSLATION OF SONGS & STORIES IN ENGLISH OR SPANICH
On April 25th, 2014, in Amherst, MA, Karen Brandow performed her first and only solo concert.
She was soon to travel to Guatemala, making one last visit to the country where she had lived as a human rights worker for 8 intense and dangerous years, 1986 – 1994. The purpose of this trip was to make a gift of the guitar she had lovingly crafted some 30 years ago to Otto Argueta, a compañero musician during those Guatemala years.
Seven months prior to this concert, in October 2013, while traveling in Indiana with the Journey of Hope (a grassroots initiative working to abolish the death penalty), Karen learned the results of tests showing multiple tumors on her liver. Further tests offered no effective treatment. Prognosis was a rapid decline and not much time. It was suggested she put her affairs in order. Giving away her guitar and this last concert emerged as high priorities for her. Karen continued to live well and fully until her death in October 2014.
This live concert recording is a gem. The quality is remarkable and consistent; the songs well-chosen; the stories beautifully crafted and artfully told. It is a brilliant reflection of the life she lived and the lessons she learned on her long Guatemala journey. The encore, “Blackbird,” was the first song she learned as a self-taught student of guitar in high school, and her “party piece” when singing with friends in Guatemala and the US.
What you hear on this CD is what we heard that night. The sole exception is the bonus track – Susan Werner’s “May I Suggest.” Karen fell in love with this song on first hearing, well before she received her cancer diagnosis. This track is a live recording from a concert Karen & I did in St Louis on March 2nd, 2013. It was the first time she performed the song and the quiet intensity and confidence of her delivery still amaze me. Every song on this recording is as performed - no subsequent trips to the studio to overdub or re-do.
Karen gave so much in a life that was all too short: as a friend, a partner, a counselor, an activist, and a singer & guitarist of great passion and skill. Friends who encouraged her to do this last concert reminded her that her skill and passion were never so apparent as when she sang in Spanish. Listen, and see for yourself.
PLEASE NOTE: Photo credits for Guatemala Journey were incorrectly assigned. Correct attribution is to Mark Liebowitz, a gifted visual artist. You can see Mark's work and that of his partner Nancy Katz at this link. Our sincere apologies to Mark for this error.
1. The Young Girl 0:30
2. En Estos Dias 3:44
3. A Massachusetts Yankee in Daniel Ortega’s Court 2:20
4. Bella Chavala Liberada 3:43
5. The Road Less Traveled 2:51
6. Que Sera de Mis Hermanos 3:46
7. At the Gym 3:29
8. Rigoberta 3:29
9. Confessions of Coke Addict 1:43
10. Otra Vez Octubre 3:22
11. Disappeared is Not a Verb 1:54
12. Levántese Compañero 3:23
13. Strolling Down Sixth Avenue 2:21
14. A Story About Love in Guatemala 0:30
15. Te Quiero 3:39
16. A Shocking Shower 2:46
17. Soy Pan, Soy Paz, Soy Mas 4:14
18. Song Interrupted 3:29
19. Plegarias 2:33
20. At the Gay Bar 2:53
21. Ay Amor 2:51
22. Is a Greyhound Bus Such a Hardship? 2:13
23. Cancion con Todos 2:04
24. I Will Love You 1:03
25. Te Amare 3:19
26. Encore: Blackbird 2:48
27. Bonus Track: May I Suggest 4:02