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New York singer-songwriter to spend week writing songs in Houston – The Caledonia Argus (subscription)

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Submitted Singer/songwriter Harry Graff Kimball.

The thought certainly crossed my mind: Why should I go to rural Minnesota for a week to write songs? Harry Graff Kimball, a New York singer-songwriter, is the first artist of three Citizen-Artists-in-Residence (CAIR) to spend a week in Houston County, exploring the area, and writing songs based on the stories he finds.

The residency program, Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency, based just outside of Houston, Minn., received applications from creatives hailing from all over North America for its inaugural year. Specifically designed for individuals willing to fully immerse themselves in the cultural landscape of Minnesotas driftless region for one intensive week, each CAIR will ultimately produce work based on their time in the area.

What makes Crystal Creeks program particularly unique is the keyword: citizen-artist. A citizen-artist is one who engages in the daily life of the residencys community; not working in solitude, but in conversation with the region around them. Unlike many artist residencies that simply offer a quiet place in which to work, the CAIR program encourages their artists to be curious, ask questions, stop and have conversations. For Kimball, this was a draw, explaining, I think a lot of artists would love to be alone with their thoughts for a week with no interruptions or expectations but this is different. It forces a duality: look inward and outward at the same time.

The program works in partnership with the Houston Arts Resource Council (HARC), a non-profit organization devoted to promoting arts in the region. HARC jumped at the chance to work with the Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency, understanding that the interactive component can foster new ideas for creativity, growth and sustainability for the area. When the opportunity to establish the Citizen-Artist Residency was presented to us, we eagerly pursued it, believing this level of community collaboration can benefit all of our target audiences: arts and cultural organizations, local artists, young people and everyday residents from family members to educators, noted HARCs treasurer, Diane Crane.

Kimball, who is also the bassist and co-founder of Los Chinches (Spanish for The Bedbugs), a New York City band that falls within indie/punk/Americana categories, hopes to create an album from the experience. The songs that he expects to write in Houston County will likely be folk-oriented. Some of the times Im like a singer-songwriter, some of the times Im in a rock band, and for this Im trying to focus on people and place, so Im calling the art product place-based story-songs, Kimball told Inspire(d) magazine earlier this year. But yeah, folk songs.

This being his first time to the area, Kimball is looking forward to spending time driving area back roads, fishing, and getting to know its people. Ultimately, it was the areas vibrancy and beauty of the region, and the enthusiasm of its people that live there [that] made it easy, even necessary, to apply to the program. After initially questioning it, he realized, Of course I should! There are a lot of songs there, and I bet people there are already writing them!

Kimball will be in Houston County from July 16 until July 22. He is hosting a Meet & Greet on Tuesday, July 18, at 6 p.m., at the KARST Driftless Guidepost (111 Cedar St., Houston, Minn.), and a Community Workshop on Thursday, July 20, at 6 p.m., at Cross of Christ (210 S. Chase St., Houston, Minn.). At the workshop, Kimball invites locals to share their stories and help turn them into song. Attendees are welcome to bring an instrument, although no musical experience is required. Both events are free and open to the public; pre-registration is required for the workshop. To register, contact Residency Coordinator Erin Dorbin at [emailprotected], or visit

About Crystal CreekCitizen-Artist Residency:

The Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency invites three creative individuals from different disciplines to discover Minnesotas Driftless region and to connect with the people and places of Houston County. The selected Citizen-Artists-in-Residence (CAIRS) will respectively spend seven days producing new works inspired by, and in conversation with the region. CAIRS will also share their skills with the community in a series of hands-on workshops.

Residency 1: July 16-22 (Harry Graff Kimball); Meet & Greet: 7/18; Workshop: 7/20

Harry Graff Kimball (NY) is a songwriter, producer, and builder-storyteller who strives to capture places and spaces in lyrical story-songs.

Residency 2: Aug 11-18 (Melissa Wray/Todd Melby); Meet & Greet: 8/13; Workshop: 8/15

Melissa Wray (MN) says community and stories are at the heart of her creative work. She grew up in Houston County and often feels an internal tension between her rural roots and her present urban life. This tension informs much of her writing and community work.

Todd Melby (MN) is a reporter, interactive producer and filmmaker. His radio stories have aired on MPR, Marketplace and The World.

Residency 3: Sept 10-16 (Cimarron Corp); Meet & Greet: 9/19; Workshop: 9/22

Cimarron Corp (Victoria, BC) is a geographer whose interests focus on landscapes and the role sound and images play in our construction of place.



About Houston ArtsResource Council:

HARC is a 507 (c)(3) non-profit organization, established to promote the arts, artists, and artisans of the Houston, Minn., area.

Continued here:
New York singer-songwriter to spend week writing songs in Houston – The Caledonia Argus (subscription)

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