Chris Kemp White

A Mixed Tape Saved My Life


Catalysts can take so many forms. Joyous or tragic events most often: marriage; parenthood; a new job; the death of a loved on. They can also be little things that almost go unnoticed: a spilled coffee; a movie, or better yet, a concert. That tape was the first of many waypoints in my life; moments when I can remember visualizing two paths laid before me and consciously choosing one over the other.


Happy New Year!


I’m pretty excited for 2019. I made some major changes last year. Now I’m ready to settle into them and see what happens. To review: 1) I left teaching—I had been a middle and high school social studies teacher for 6 years. It was great, but I was ready for a change; 2) I started doing carpentry—I’ve been doing repair work for years and wanted to do more. I have a lot to learn, but I’m now building houses (and furniture at home); 3) I played a mess of gigs—and I plan to play out at least once a month, either solo or with CatHaüs.


I want to keep the momentum going, so here are a few of my New Year’s Intentions:


What am I doing? Why?


I’ve never been good at elevator speeches. I have a hard time just answering “what kind of music do you play?” Even though I have a hard time explaining to others, I should know what I’m doing and why, right? 

Okay, then. . . here goes. Short answer: bringing people together.


Giving is good


. . . and not just because it’s the “giving season” either. Giving is part of an energetic exchange, a cycle of giving and receiving. It’s no coincidence that the word currency derives from the Latin currere, meaning “to run” or “flow.” Currency is more than just money—it is a medium of exchange—give and take. But money is just one form of exchange. There are many ways to give, and the more we give the more we receive. Share your gifts, receive what you most need and want. I recently wrote a song, “No Excuses” (video here; recording coming soon), which addresses this: 


Loving and giving

Make being worth living for

Living with nothing but giving

and giving more


In this spirit, I’ll be doing some giving this month. 


Pause for Reflection


3 months ago I left teaching to pursue music and carpentry. In those 3 months I have played 12 gigs and worked close to full time building, fixing, smashing, and lifting. With the kids and all the plans that come with summer I have been busy. . . really busy, but not stressed; fulfilled. 


When we seek and carry out our outer purpose (what we do with our everyday lives) even the otherwise tedious chores are joyful. For example, every Tuesday (theoretically) I do the finances—a chore I used to put off with dread. Now I kind of look forward to it, because I am the source of my income, and the expenses are directly related to the work, creating an energetic exchange. Moreover, the income and expenses are part of the story, reminding me of my accomplishments and deeds. 


Though it’s been a busy summer, I have time to pause and reflect this fall, and I will be thinking heavily on recent blog topics: 1) the role of words in music; and 2) what I have learned from watching other performers.


Inspired, not Envious


Once upon a time, when seeing a really good new band, I might have been jealous or depressed, wondering why I bother to make music at all. Granted, I was a lot more sullen in my younger years. These days, I get really excited to see/hear good music, often getting ideas for how to improve my own songwriting or performances. I had the chance to encounter two new (to me) artists this weekend at the annual Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine (one really should attend at least once in their life, if not every year).



Words and Music


As a songwriter, I deal with words as much as music. Lately I have been feeling that the words struggle to match the power of the music. How can they? When Bowie belts “is there Life on Mars?” it’s not the query that prickles my skin and makes a lump in my throat, but the impassioned delivery, striking interval, and climactic music. You may be a poetry lover, yourself, but I am a music lover....


Chris Kemp White Newsletter June 2018


I have been thinking a lot about this. Last weekend I took a trip to Mars Hill to play a gig. A long way to drive to play a couple sets to a small group of people. It went well—I was satisfied with my performance and the audience genuinely enjoyed themselves and showed their appreciation. But so much more happened to make this trip special.

A couple months ago. . . 




A month or so ago I wrote what seemed to me like a Seussian sort of poem called “Unknown.”


I used to know 
and now I don’t
The way to get to there


I try to recall
But think I won’t
Find it anywhere


What is music?


Music is: universal communication, a backdrop to our lives, my personal escape room. 


What is music for you?


Newsletter September 19, 2016


Welcome to the first of many newsletters to come. Let's start with a recap of the year-to-date: I've been busy since releasing my 4-song E.P. in June. Thanks for all who purchased it and for the kind words and encouragement. If you have yet to hear it, it can be found at chriskempwhite.comCDbabyAmazoniTunes, and you can stream it for free on YouTube and Spotify.

Major kudos to all who came out to hear me play Make Music Portland, the Back Cove Neighborhood Association Block Party, and to hear my musings on 21st Century Creativity at PechaKucha Portland

I was honored to get spun by Sherry Thomas at Fallen Rock Zone, and will be on rotation with Dan Herman at Radio Crystal Blue this month. Phew--that was a lot of links!

Upcoming: I returned to the WBLM studios (for the first time since 2008!) to tape forGreetings from Area Code 207 with Charlie Gaylord. It will air in October, and I will be plugging. . . wait for it. . . 


It's Never the Right Time


Wait, wait for the right time

You’ve been waiting all your life

The right time never comes


These opening words to a song I wrote earlier this year, “It’s Never the Right Time,” illustrate a theme in a lot of lives, including my own. What are we waiting for; the right job, the right relationship, the right opportunity? There is truthfully nothing stopping us from grabbing hold of our lives . . . except fear.