'Grace and Tranquility'

Author and lyricist Eric Alan, along with folk duo Gypsy Soul, have integrated photography, music and the spoken word into a creative project titled "Grace and Tranquility."

The collaboration features a book of lyrical prose and photographs by Alan, as well as a full-length album by Gypsy Soul, featuring vocalist and lyricist Cilette Swann and guitarist and composer Roman Morykit.

A multimedia presentation of the project is planned at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 17, at Eden Valley Orchards, 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford.

Alan will read excerpts from the book, including "A Small Peaceful Presence," "The Beauty of Doubt" and "Letting Wounds Go," and Gypsy Soul will present an intimate concert featuring San Francisco Bay Area percussionist David DiLuloo.

A cancer survivor, Alan felt compelled to write down his meditations and reflections as seen in nature and everyday living. "Grace and Tranquility" is Alan's second published book.

"I felt inspired to explore what tranquility really is because it is such an elusive concept," says Alan.

In his writing style, Alan says he seeks to mimic the simple, universal style of Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

"I love that simplicity," says Alan. "I feel like, in my writing style, I'm trying to pare it down to as few words as possible to get to that simple core."

About a year and a half ago, Alan presented Swann and Morykit, his longtime friends, with "a pile of rough-draft words" from his book to put to music. He also gave them the freedom to add their own interpretation or change or distill the words if necessary. Swann set about writing the lyrics while Morykit created the arrangements.

Alan says the lyrics are related to, but not directly from, the book.

"The lyrics became more personal than the book in a certain sense," he says. "It seems like the songs took on the dimension of our relationships in our personal lives in ways that are not present in the book."

Morykit and Swann say composing the songs was a challenge that allowed them to break away from any preconceived ideas of what Gypsy Soul's sound is.

"It's an album by Gypsy Soul in conjunction with Eric Alan," says Morykit. "It's not genre-specific. It's just where the music takes us."

In one track, titled "Liquid," the song starts out with the guitar and "sounds like a stream flowing from a mountain, which begins to trickle and then builds and builds and then at the end, disperses rather than ends," says Morykit.

The album, "Grace and Tranquility," moves seamlessly between genres, from funk and folk to rock and Americana.

"The album has a journey, much like the book, and that's what we were trying to do rather than make it a collection of singles," says Morykit.

Tickets to the multimedia performance are $20 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are available online at www.jclf.org and at Bloomsbury Books, Music Coop and Enoteca Wine Bar in Ashland; at Eden Vale Winery and Terra Firma Home in Medford; and at Willowcreek in Jacksonville.

"Grace and Tranquility," the book and CD, can be purchased separately or together for a discounted price. For more information, call 541-774-6572 or 541-301-7469.

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