Newsletter

Thunderstorm Dreams

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in newsletter | 0 comments

Thunderstorm dreams. Early morning songbird serenades. Cloudy sunshine purple crocus afternoons. Mother Earth is waking up from her long winter slumber, keeping her promise to all beings that the seasons will indeed change and that new life will again be born.This mysterious process of transformation works its way through my internal world as well, composting the layers of fear, shame, and anxiety that exist in my mind into opportunities for love, service, and new growth in my heart.

As I write this I am aware of the many generous beings who share their time, energy, wisdom, smiles, laughter, and love with me in ways that allow me to continue on my path. I am so grateful to Allison for her many precious gifts and to the diverse spiritual and musical communities to which we have the privilege of belonging. Because of these community gardeners, I have been able to plant winter seeds in spring soil.I have been busy working on several recording projects, performing on my west coast tour and back home here in Michigan, and helping to facilitate songwriting workshops from Bainbridge Island to Ann Arbor. I am working on two new children’s albums: Diversity, a collection of songs that celebrate inclusive community in many forms, and Decomposers’ Poop, a short collection of songs about compost-related topics.

In addition to these projects, I am working with the Dream Seekers Youth Group at American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit on a new album of original contemporary urban Native American songs. Allison and I are also starting to record a few Spirits Rising tunes for an EP and future album!

I am excited for these new recordings to evolve and grow during this season of hope and life. I will let you know as soon as they are ready to bloom and invite you to share them with your friends and families.

I am happy to continue to share this little gift of music with the world in ways that support happiness, creativity, and community. Let the music flow and may our hearts grow, all season long!

Love,
Joe

Snow Day!

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in newsletter | 0 comments

Snow is falling down on the street

I’ve got my slippers on my feet

I’ve got my hat on my head

It’s a snow day I’m going back to bed!

 

Its snowing, its snowing

Snowing for me, snowing for you

And all of the animals

Its snowing for them too

 

Those lyrics are from a new song that I wrote last week while on retreat at the Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple in Detroit. In the relaxed stillness of the retreat, I was finally able to hear my inner songwriter again and I wrote three new songs, this one inspired by the simple magic of the falling snow. 

 

Snow is a wonder of nature that I can easily overlook with feelings of frustration and trepidation when I have to drive somewhere or “get something done.” But because I had the privilege of being able to stay in one warm place while it was snowing, I could appreciate the simple beauty and transformation that was happening all around. And I was inspired to sing about it!

 

I am so grateful to have been able to take those few days in retreat, to take refuge in community and in the spiritual practices of prayer, meditation, and songwriting. These new songs will be added to a children’s album I will be working on this year called Diversity. I am excited to collaborate with Allison and our fellow musician friends to produce this fun collection of songs.

 

Today we are enjoying another snow day here in Michigan, where we received about 16 inches of snow in the last 24 hours. I am reminded of yet another recent snow day I experienced last month while on tour with the Earthwork Music Collective in Kalamazoo.

 

We were scheduled for a concert in Traverse City that evening, normally a 3-hour drive from Kzoo. The snow was coming down all night and day and thankfully we made the collective decision to postpone the concert until the spring and stay put in Kalamazoo.

 

The result was a wonderful gift of being together with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Michael and Laurel of Red Tail Ring invited everyone over for a fish fry and we enjoyed visiting, eating amazing home-cooked food, laughing, telling stories, listening to vintage records that Seth had just found at a local thrift store, and making music together. What a gift the snow gave us!

 

Like the retreat, the snow is a wonderful reminder to slow down, to let go of my busy agenda that seems so important, and enjoy the moment. I am grateful to be safe and warm in this moment, to be with my love, and to have music in my heart. I am looking forward to sharing music with you soon, weather permitting!

 

Love,

 

Joe

 

Community Gardeners of Peace!

Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in newsletter | 0 comments

Reflecting on the new year that lies ahead and the year that has just passed, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the many ways in which the Great Holy Spirit is alive and working in my life. 

I am so thankful for Allison and for the love, music, and laughter that we share. I am thankful for good friends who are there for me no matter what. I am thankful for all of the opportunities I have had to create and share music with talented musicians and supportive audiences all across Michigan and beyond. I am thankful for good health, for warmth and shelter, for healthy food to eat and clean water to drink. What a gift it is to be alive in this moment!

I am grateful for this opportunity to take stock of these many blessings and to lift myself from old habits of self-pity, fear, anxiety, and the other internal obstacles that can prevent me from enjoying happiness in the present. Thank you for helping me practice living with an attitude of gratitude!

At this time of gratitude and renewal I am also aware that violence continues to pervade our humanity. From that which is self-inflicted, to the violence that exists within families, communities, nations, and religious sects, we all know these cycles too well. We sometimes overlook the corresponding violence towards animals, plants, and the earth that is caused by our human developments. 

I also know that peace prevails in so many hearts, homes, and communities on our earth. These are the stories not usually reported in the daily news. I know that such peace is possible in every situation, even the most dire and destructive.

Within each of us are seeds of this peace. We need to be gardeners of these seeds in order for them to germinate, grow, and bloom. When our own seeds of peace are blooming, we are better able to support the growth of peace in others. We need to be Community Gardeners of Peace!

I am grateful to be part of so many communities who help me weed and water my garden of peace. I often need a lot of composting, and it is too big of a job to do alone!

The Earthwork Music Collective is one such community and I am excited to start the New Year off with a 4-city tour of Michigan’s lower peninsula with fellow Earthwork artists. The tour will feature performances from Red Tail Ring, Seth Bernard, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, Joshua Davis, Dede and the Dreamers, Micah Ling, Max Lockwood, Gifts or Creatures, Sam Cooper, and yours truly. Each concert will showcase these talented artists and will also feature the power of spontaneous combustion through collaboration, some rehearsed, and some improvised.  The tour will also highlight local community organizations at each concert that help support the Earthwork mission. Each show is certain to inspire audiences to dig deep, open their hearts, smile, sing, dance, and celebrate the power of community.

Earthwork Music Collective

I am also grateful to return to the Pacific Northwest in late February and early March for another Artist in Residence program at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island, a performance at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, and a special community concert on Lopez Island. 

My fellow Community Gardeners of Peace, let us go forth into this new year in gratitude, unafraid of our ability to cultivate peace in our own hearts, in one another, and in our world.

 

Love,

 

Joe