Heather Aubrey Lloyd

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I was so busy last month, I didn’t send a mailing list. My next-door neighbor grew concerned when weeks went by without a glimpse of me (during pandemic, we crossed paths at least once a day as I pruned, or painted, or adjusted a stone). “Is everything okay?” she asked cautiously, finally catching me loading up my car. “Oh, yeah,” I said. “This is my normal level of busy.” 

So far in 2024: 

I opened for Livington Taylor in Philly, judged entries for the Bernard Ebb Songwriting Award, had countless rehearsals for multiple projects, gigged with lute band Ayreheart and my band ilyAIMY, and volunteered with NERFA (alongside my usual livestreaming and gig schedule). Today, begins my annual arrangement project for Chords of Courage. Performance is a passport: I put on a classy black velvet dress to sing in Welsh at pricey-plate, multi-course soirée, and the next week donned scissor-cut pink crinoline to play “Johnny B. Goode” for an adult prom. 

Both dresses were from Goodwill. Both experiences were fascinating. 

It got me thinking about other times music was my ingress to hidden worlds.

Today’s 2-Minute Tale 
(Updated Journal Entry, orig. Oct. 2014)

“Contrary” Mary of Caney, KS, was a sheriff’s wife, so she had to be good. She also (whether she had to or not) kept pretty much to her husband’s jurisdiction. She never ventured farther than Bartlesville, OK, less than 20 miles over the state line. And since she and I had this conversation in a Kansas nursing home (a decade ago now) … it’s safe to say she never did. 

I had the opportunity to mistake Mary's gift of a crocheted bible bookmark for a friendship bracelet only because I met her while on tour performing a murder ballad program. There's a sentence. The local community college lures educational entertainment to the high school and nursing homes of a town I knew only from a movie line (in “Reign of Fire,” Coffeyville, KS, is where Matthew McConaughey’s character slayed a dragon at twilight). 

Mary was neither proud of her stick-town-itiveness, nor troubled by all she missed out on. She was simply satisfied. I guess that’s the trick: A person’s satisfaction with their adventures – not their scope.

I was not yet satisfied, and my current scope was a 45-day, cross-country tour. When I arrived at my next waystation, the star-splattered blackness of Daniel, WY, I was exhausted and eying the guest bed. But the moon was full and impossibly bright, enlivening my less-weary shadow to pull at me like Peter Pan. “Stay up late! Where else will we ever see a lunar eclipse so clearly?!?!”

At 4 a.m., I dressed for the cold and went out alone. Reverent, I watched the moon turn a brownish red until only a sliver was left. Then back again. Then finally to bed.

In the daylight, Wyoming's sun-bleached and wind-whittled landscape made me feel blissfully insignificant. The great aches of my life felt small - the coyotes and the mountains and the barbed-wire fences had stood through them all and were not concerned with them. The fences have other things to be concerned about: My host says the wire heights are precise, the top at 30 inches and the bottom at 20, so pronged antelope can dig under, and moose can step over, lest they get tangled up and die.

By the time the band passed through Yellowstone's caldera, I was both wonderstruck and mourning over the landscape. I am allowed to stand right here, but not a foot away there – the illusion of safety atop a super volcano. In a cataclysm of ash and fire, one day all of this will be gone. I am an aperture, compelled to witness … to take it all in while there is enough light.

The night we left Contrary Mary behind, we drove into a sunset field of wind turbines. I knew the blades were spinning incredibly fast, but at that massive size, each turn seemed glacial. A sprawling herd of the creatures, existing in their own relative timeline. A great migration. Another apocalypse unfolded in my mind as the collection became a culture: They are the only ones left, leaned into a wind that never unmasks an ash-obscured sun. Barely sentient, they know only one thing. An urge, a need they do not understand, an imperative driving every single turn. Maybe it is no different from the nameless, placeless, unsatisfied need driving me: 

Get there

photos, rob Hinkal (2014)

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That girl at the wheel, so empty and so open, rail thin and wearing the relics of her lost love. She doesn't know where “there” is any more than this woman does now. Everyone’s “there” is different, the mythical place and circumstances where we are satisfied. A decade since, it seems my beeline is more serpentine than ever. And I keep trying to cram more in. Lucky for me, this year features a whole extra day, and one can now Zoom standing in place.


FEB. 29 - Stevensville, MD - Click for info


I'll have Zoom shows THREE TIMES in March, including turns with the Greenwich Village Folk Festival (Mar 3) and the Folk Project of New Jersey (Mar 12 & 14). The Honey Badgers join ilyAIMY at New Deal Cafe March 15. And after Chords of Courage wraps mid-March, I'm going to take a brief breather.


Write me. Add me to your mailing list. Come to a show. Get there.





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