Monday, December 27, 2010

Ending 2010; 2011 Horizons

(Mountains, Lake: Dusk- painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, acrylic on canvas)


As I write this, a late December storm is swirling snow hard into dark pines and spruces, making a world of whites and grays in lines and layers.

The first thing I want to do here is offer my gratitude for all who have supported and shared in my explorations, expressions, and meditations in word, sound, and image!

2010 was a sometimes-challenging year for me; but it was also a year of deep engagement with my inner and outer worlds; of expansion and discovery. As ripple and result, I felt a turning point--a hinged door swinging open-- in late summer.
I had taken to visiting daily a certain place on and in the cold, clear Dog River, letting the peace and power of stone, sand, water, sky cover and fill me. One day I spent hours skimming the same blue shard of slate, recovering it from the river-bottom from under clear water, skimming it across surface tension again, finding it...and sometime during all this, in one rushing moment, I felt the truth of my situation and words came to me: "stepping into the river of gratitude." That river is cold with snow and ice now, all these months later, but the moment still moves, warm in my heart.

Thus it's probably somewhat fitting that my main work in music and art during 2010 would flow together in this video:


As for the 2011 horizon, it seems that there might be a bevy of books approaching.
In the spring I plan to release a mystery novel called HIGHWAY IN THE BLOOD. It's set in Vermont in the 1970s, and features a strong component of vintage country music and steel guitar lore. I'm planning a book launch and reading with live performance on steel guitar and dobro. And in the fall, look for the third book in the Liam Dutra New England mystery series.
There's also a novel in manuscript--I'll be digging into further drafts with the new year. Right now I can barely remember anything about it, which is exactly where I want to be when I return my attention.
I hope you'll be around for some of this-- and, of course, whatever else might come along...


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gray Day, But Something on the Horizon...

NOVEMBER PASSAGE; HORIZON MEDITATION 2-- Paintings by Kevin Macneil Brown, acrylic on canvas, November 23, 2010
Today the monochromatic November sky inspired me to work mostly with the last of a tube of Payne's gray. As I worked on the first painting, NOVEMBER PASSAGE, I somehow began to think of Bartok. So I listened to the Viola Concerto while I made both pieces. In the second movement-- the "Adagio Religioso" --I always hear light breaking through, and that's what I wanted to paint.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day's Edge, Water's Edge

QUIET WATERS 8, QUIET WATERS 7- Paintings by Kevin Macneil Brown,
acrylic on canvas, October 2010
Contemplative energies at two edges of the same day in the same place.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Places Water Seeks

Lake Light, September Morning- painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
watercolor on paper, 2010

Places Water Seeks


River and sky exchange
Intersticial gleamings and
striations of low-toned
light in September:

to steel to
silver to


I am walking in the
shallows and
stalking a heron;
the heron is
stalking the shallows,
watching the water;

The morning is mostly bedraggled
but also


It’s like this at the places where water seeks
the level of flowing, fulfilling--

else becomes the guide to its own


At the Dog River, it’s the
smoke-blue of White Rock Mountain
quiet and looming beyond the bend

At Lake Champlain, it’s those
strong, jagged ranges ringed hard all around

At Good Harbor, the Atlantic at Cape Ann,
it’s Dogtown’s high granite, yes--
but also the lucent gleamings,
twinned and soft-hazed, of
The towers of the Church of
Our Lady of Good

I am so often looking
up and over, into and
beyond the limit…

It is, after all,
water itself
that rises

To push at, then hold.
the entire sky
and more.

Kevin Macneil Brown

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seeking Shadows, Holding Light: Music for the Fall Equinox

Sept. 23, 2010

I step outside with coffee mug in hand at 5:32. Clouds riding low on morning horizon, but stars and Jupiter in clear sky above, and a bright satellite moving across from NW to SE. Cricket song hazes the warm air. There’s a band of light, rising pale and high, directly across from where the sun will soon appear.
Coffee half gone at 5:50. I go inside, sit down with my steel guitar, and begin to play, tuning my heart and thoughts toward autumn’s arrival. The music rises, its simple and somewhat stark harmonic motion conjuring for me the image of a web of slow, wide ripples—and also, somehow, the ghosts of British Renaissance church music living on in American mountain ballads.
I listen and play while the morning light arrives on the first full day of fall.


<a href="">Seeking Shadows, Holding Light (Music for the Fall Equinox) by Kevin Macneil Brown</a>

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Morning Shore, September Light

North Shore Passage- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
watercolor and gouache on paper, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Horizon Meditation

HORIZON MEDITATION 1- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
watercolor on paper, 2010)

trust the
symmetry until
something deeper
and more true
is revealed:

the pulsing shapes and
colors can-
not be defined
or explained but,
they are real.

vessels, structures,
openings, arrivals,
chroma, hues;
saturations of perception.

and all with breath
as solid as any
ancient stone,


-Kevin Macneil Brown

Monday, June 28, 2010

Celebrating the Lush Light of Summer

Toward the Harbor, Morning
Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor on paper, 2010


<a href="">Listening to Light (Live 6/21/10) by Kevin Macneil Brown</a>

This is an edited version of a performance at Bethany Church, in Montpelier, Vermont.
LISTENING TO LIGHT was presented from noon to one on June 21, 2010, as contemplative music in honor of the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.
Kevin Macneil Brown- lap steel guitar, guitar, composition, recording and mix.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Upcoming Event: Listening To Light

by Kevin Macneil Brown

Monday June 21, Noon to One

Bethany Church Working Chapel

Montpelier, Vermont

Free and open to the public

A live performance , in a sacred, meditative space , of contemplative music to honor the longest days of the year. Please come by to listen, contemplate, walk the labyrynth; Stay for a moment or an hour. Noon to One; free and open to the public.


Beginning with the Winter Solstice last year, I've had the honor of presenting contemplative multi-media events to mark the solar calendar, graciously hosted by Bethany Church in Montpelier, Vermont. It's long been a dream of mine to present my more meditative and ambient music in a sacred space; honoring the intent at the heart of this music: to share in sound a deep connection to nature, spirit, and the ineffable power of creative energy.
(I've also, variously, offered visual art and poetry to accompany the music. )

The idea I have for these events is that they unfold without any beginning or end other than their actual duration-- that is, people can come and go as they please, finding and taking as much or little as they need. I have also found that the contemplative attention that people bring, whether listening, meditating, praying, writing, drawing, walking the labyrynth--has a profound effect on the music--- this I find to be wonderful; surprising, exciting.

My thanks go to all who share this adventure with me. Much gratitude also goes to Mark Pitton, for the enthusiasm and commitment he has brought to this process!


Monday, May 31, 2010

In Fathoms: Dreams and Soundings

East Gloucester Liminal- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
acrylic on canvas, 2009

Avoiding the wreck
that lay at 30 fathoms
we nonetheless stirred
something from the bottom.

Stranger and
darker than any old bones--
we could not say
what it was.

But between blue basin
and silver shoal water
our captain could
thread the needle;

Through fog now, to Brown’s Bank,
where we arrived by morning,
in time to set out new lines.

-Kevin Macneil Brown

<a href="">in fathoms: dreams and soundings (part one) by Kevin Macneil Brown</a>

Saturday, May 08, 2010

At Dawn

Morning Beach

Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
watercolor on paper, 2010



pillar of
diffuse light

clouds, becoming
the point of

reach of

-Kevin Macneil Brown

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good Harbor Liminal

LIMINAL, GOOD HARBOR BEACH--Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,

watercolor on paper, 2010)

... Across a tide,

racing to greet a shoreline,

welcome as first light.



Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Every Journey Has a Soul

EVERY JOURNEY HAS A SOUL- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
acrylic and maps on canvas board, 2007)


So grateful for a world
like this,

where, at 4:30 A.M., I can be
pulled from deep sleep by

the song of a bird
I’ve never heard before.

A stepwise song, with rising and
falling intervals like the summits of
soft and wooded hills;

a green and hollow April timbre,
round with yesterday’s rain,
and clean with today’s shimmer
of sun in the moving river.

So grateful for the way all this pulls me awake
and right into the journey,

this sound that leads the way...

-Kevin Macneil Brown

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Good Harbor, Morning

GOOD HARBOR, MORNING- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
acrylic on canvas, 2010)

.... seaweed, kelp, and keen of gulls
where the liminal begins (can liminal have a beginning?)
and bells ride the wind and tide.
I might find, in any sky, that the light makes real the world...


Monday, March 22, 2010

Atmospheric Skip and AM Country Music Dreams

As I finish up recording and mixing THREE MILE BRIDGE-- an EP, I guess, not quite an album-- of my most recent country songs, I realize that I've never let go of an obsessive memory from my teenage years. It's that of late night/early morning radio, coming up on WWVA from Wheeling, West Virginia in the 1970s.
On Saturday nights I'd stay up all night, transistor radio under the pillow, to listen up close-- as close as I could, anyway, through all the static, the distance and drift. Live music with steel guitars and fiddles; singers, some well-known, others obscure; Coffee-and twang-fueled truck driving songs from the Jamboree.
I liked the voices, the stories; the sense of something timeless reaching through those late nights and early mornings; across the plains, up the Blue Ridge Mountains, or from who-knows-where; sounding in the gray-blue pre-dawn of my New Hampshire mountain home.
I can't let go of the yearning and joy those sounds brought to life inside me. So I keep coming back to my own imagination of them; in my own way. Most of these new songs are about places close to home here in Central Vermont.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Upcoming Event: Finding Light

(Spring Sky From Shoreline- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
watercolor on paper, 2009)

Finding Light: Music, Word, and Image for Equinox Arrival
A meditative and contemplative celebration of Spring's arrival, with live ambient music, poetry, and images by Kevin Macneil Brown.

Saturday, March 20

Noon to One O' Clock

Bethany Church Working Chapel
Montpelier, Vermont
Free and open to the Public

Friday, February 26, 2010

After Snow, Looking North

Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, acrylic on canvas, 2010)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Late-winter Horizons: Poem and Painting.

YOU ARE MY HORIZON III (detail) Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, acrylic on canvas, 2010)


The angel arrived
having the mass
and volume and
hugeness of a mountain range,

While at the same
time the weight and shape and distance
of an entire cloud-massed sky,

and then
The shore-destroying beauty
of breaking

And the angel’s message,

silent, was:



And again,



-Kevin Macneil Brown

Monday, February 01, 2010

Following Trails and Abandoned Highways: Some Notes About Writing the Liam Dutra New England Mystery Series

My first novel, COMPASS,WATER, STONE AND TIME, began in my consciousness with the vague image of a lonely, whiskey-drinking trail runner who finds himself caught up in a solitary search for something lost in the woods of steep-sided Irish Hill in Berlin, Vermont. I’d been running regularly in the area, around Berlin Pond and up into those woods, exploring trails and an abandoned town road that I’d come to call “the ancient highway.”
Months later, the intersection of two events pushed a story to the fore.
First, a coyote on the trail ahead of me on the ancient highway actually led me to an old cellar hole. (It was covered then in brush; now, years later, I notice that the brush has been cleared, and the old Stewart farmhouse foundation has been exposed to the sky and to the eyes of visitors.)
Then, a boxful of VERMONT HISTORY magazines that I turned up at a library book sale offered a serendipity of articles: one chronicling the history and culture of the Irish in nearby Northfield, on the opposite slope of the hill; another offering an account of the Fenian Invasion of Canada in 1866.
A story and characters began to churn inside me. I got the first draft done over the course of a summer, sitting outside in the sunny mornings before work, writing in longhand with pencil or ballpoint pen in a bright orange surveyor’s field notebook that my mother had found at a yard sale in New Hampshire and sent to me.
Another vital inspiration at the heart of the book came from what I can only call The Muse; in this case, a vision of a dark-haired, dark-eyed, sweet-tough woman who somehow stirred my imagination to create Shawn Donahue, the woman who pulls protagonist Liam Dutra out of his loneliness and shares in his quest.
Liam’s real quest, his deepest yearning, is for connection--communion even-- with the landscape he lives in, including its hidden past. Shawn, I think, having grown up in this place that Liam has come to love, embodies that landscape: physically, culturally, even spiritually. In this, she turned out to be crucial to the story, crucial to Liam’s ongoing journey from solitude into engagement.
Subsequent drafts-- I was using the computer by now-- showed me how hard it could be to write a mystery novel. Changing one small aspect of a character or shifting one event slightly in time might cause a narrative to slide off its foundation and into a horrible abyss. There were some desperate times when I wanted to pull out my hair, rip up the pages, delete all the files; just quit...
But I kept going, thinking and stewing, scrawling notes to myself, shuffling the plot and character details I had notated on blue index cards. Things began to fall into place.
Writing the book within the book-- Neal Donahue’s 1866 journal-- came later, in the winter. It was mostly a pleasure, with Donahue’s voice often flowing clearly and without much effort onto the page. The historical research was enjoyable too; I still carry fond memories of old books, window-focused sunlight, and quiet investigations at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.
First—and second, third, and fourth—readers kicked my butt in good ways, inspiring further changes and rewrites.
In hindsight, and with three more books in the series written now, I see COMPASS as a dark, dense, and sometimes lonely woodland of a book, with sunlight and water --and love-- offering redemption and hope. ( A few drafts in, I noticed the way some kind of water-- rain, stream, lake-- tended to be part of the scene whenever Shawn was around.)
Another thing I’d like to say is that in writing COMPASS I wanted to offer homage to the writers who inspired me: John D. MacDonald, James Lee Burke, Robert B. Parker, Raymond Chandler; Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau. But I also worked hard to find my own voice, and particularly, to honor the northern New England landscape and the way people live, and have lived, in and upon it.

The second book of the series, THE HAWK OF THE INTERVALE was much easier to write; indeed the first two drafts were often intense and instantaneous in the way they came to me. Sometimes I’d have multiple scenes and conversations unfolding simultaneously in my imagination while I was out on long autumn trail runs. I’d run home and feverishly write things exactly the way they had come to me. It was exhilarating beyond belief, and only slightly exhausting.
HAWK allowed me to discover more about Liam and Shawn’s characters, and to deepen their relationship. Virgil, the Abenaki fisherman and poet who is at the center of Liam’s quest, allowed my poetic side to speak freely. And the Gloucester part of the story was a very satisfying way to immerse myself in my own roots and some haunting childhood memories. The prologue, with Virgil presenting his testament in a dream, came from an actual dream I had; Liam’s meetings with Ferrigno echo actual experiences that I had as a teenager in Gloucester, tracing the steps of my hero, the poet Charles Olson.
While COMPASS lingers in my writer’s memory as a sometimes dark and shadowed book, thinking back on HAWK summons up for me a sense of spaciousness, of clear horizons. Even the manuscript itself seems lighter, with more blank space on the pages!

I’ll add my thoughts about the third book at another time.


Monday, January 25, 2010

February: Mystery Series Author Event and a. minor's Arty Party

It looks to be a fun and busy February!

First off, I'm excited to announce my upcoming author event/reading/ book-signing, Tuesday, February 16, 7 PM at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont. I'll be celebrating the publication of my Liam Dutra Mystery series with readings from COMPASS,WATER,STONE AND TIME and the other books in the series. I'll also be talking about the process of writing fiction inspired by the power of place--landscape, culture, nature, history. I look forward to answering questions, too!

To visit Bear Pond Books on-line:


Artist a. minor is presenting a party featuring her dynamic live video art at the Lamb Abbey in Montpelier, Vermont on Saturday, February 13 from 7-10 PM (FREE admission), and I will be providing quiet live ambient textural music to accompany the visuals.
a. minor's work, often inspired by the light and rhythm of ancient Mayan textiles, is a wonder to behold. I'm really looking forward to this event!

Also, my exhibit of acrylic paintings, LIMINAL HORIZONS, continues at THE SHOE HORN in Montpelier through February.
Thanks again for reading, looking, listening!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Downloads Available Now

I'm excited to announce that some of my long-form ambient compositions are now available for purchase as loss-less downloads.

<a href="">First Light on Dark Waters by Kevin Macneil Brown</a>

<a href="">Three Shoreline Transformations by Kevin Macneil Brown</a>