Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a new one

Pete Seeger, Paul Simon, John Denver, Woody Guthrie, John McCutcheon, Raffi, Stan Rogers, Roger Whitaker, Bruce Cockburn, Steve Bell, John Bell, Chuck Neufeld, Tom Paxton, Bob Franke, Fred Penner, Graham Kendrick, Kris Kristofferson, James Keelaghan...

And the most recent one, as of this past Sunday: Jack Johnson.

This is a quick off-the-top-of-my-head list of names that people have referred to after one of my performances, saying "You know, you (or "your voice" or "your music") really reminds me of __________."

Invariably this is meant as (and I am glad to accept it as) a compliment. It's fun to hear from people what they hear in my music that connects with other music and musicians that they love.

Presumably there might also be those that would say "You (or "your voice" or "your music") really reminds me of _________, and I think they suck." But thankfully no one has actually come up to me and said that. Yet.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

apocalyptic climate change advent song

There has been a very steady stream of downloads of my "I Will Trust In You" song, which is recommended as a theme song in the Advent worship resources published by Leader magazine. And along with the downloads has come a steady stream of e-mails asking about notation for a piano accompaniment for the song.

We're working on it! Charlene Nafziger, who plays piano on the recording, is working on a piano arrangement, and it's ALMOST ready... I'll let you know as soon as it is...


Thursday, October 15, 2009

amazing grace(s)

After a month at the receiving end of hospitality in so many places, I am profoundly grateful. Meals, rides, a bed with extra blankets, an offer to do some laundry, an invitation to visit, or to rest... and one of the generous gestures that moved me more and more was the simple act of prayer.

Around so many tables, before so many meals, I was led in prayer by folks who prayed for me, and included me in their intimate and ordinary conversations with God about the day-to-day stuff of life. As time went on I found myself more and more moved by this simple but powerful experience.

Including a special "welcome home" supper last night, with the (rare, but delightful) experience of being led in prayer by our own 12 year old son.

Amazing grace, indeed.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

one more sleep...

... one more gig... one more train ride and it's homeward bound... can't wait to be home with Julie and Matthew again...


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

surrounded by art

Touring is definitely an experience of being "immersed" in one's art... I still have to shake my head and give myself a pinch, knowing that I get to travel around and sing my songs for and with communities all over the place... and in the last few communities that I've visited I've been particularly struck by what an affirming and life-giving thing it is to be surrounded by art, including art of your own making.

As I write this I am sitting in Hilda and Jake's living room... a couple in their eighties that have been generously hosting me here in Saskatoon... and as I look around I see 4 beautiful paintings by Hilda on the walls... and a series of 6 framed drawings that were made and given to her by her grandfather, who carried them out of Russia... that art is over a hundred years old...

At supper last night we enjoyed Jake's homemade wine made from buffalo berries and choke cherries that Jake and Hilda picked themselves (Hilda showed me the bush during our walk yesterday). This morning we had choke cherry and buffalo berry jam on our toast.

And the night before I did a house concert (and later slept) in the living room of the old schoolhouse which has been lovingly and beautifully restored by and is the home of Colleen and Jeff, sister and brother, in Duval Saskatchewan - both amazing artists in their own right, Colleen with songs and the written word, and Jeff with his pottery...

Before the house concert we had a potluck meal with about a dozen people, and every plate, cup, serving dish, pitcher... all of it was made a few feet away in Jeff's pottery studio... with more pottery displayed on shelves and bookcases all through the house. And during the concert Colleen sang one of her songs and dedicated it to Jeff and Nadia, who got engaged less than 24 hours before...

Even in the few hours I was in their home in Regina, I could tell that Ron and Toby are experienced - and take great delight - in their artistry as hosts (their home is known as the "Grace Mennonite Guest House"). Talking with Margaret and Gary about their pastoral vocation, and watching them interact with their community at the Hanley Community Centre on the evening of my concert there on Saturday, I was struck by the same kind of care and delight and artistry and quiet confidence...

There is something so affirming, so encouraging, so good and right about having a sense of vocation, of seeing and enjoying the fruit of your labours, together with friends, neighbours and strangers... something not always easy to find or experience, but what a joy when it is... A reflection, I'm sure, of the delight and creativity and satisfaction of a generous and creative/creator God who looks around the workshop (the garden, the kitchen table, the community centre), intimately acquainted with the process and materials of each and every piece, and says, with a great big smile...

"It is good."

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Monday, October 05, 2009

pre-concert bike ride in hanley, saskatchewan

I thought I'd go for a quick spin around the block at Margaret and Gary's place.

It's a big block.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

fun in edmonton, grueling days ahead

My Edmonton hosts definitely got the short end of the stick, train-schedule-wise... Tim W-N graciously picked me up at the train station just before midnight on Wednesday night... and the other Tim (Chesterton) is heroically getting up at the unearthly hour of 4:30 am to take me to the bus station - that's right, bus station - for my 6:00 am bus to Saskatoon (the one part of the trip where I couldn't get the train schedules to work).

... a long bike ride with Tim W-N down the Mill Creek Ravine path (is that the right name?) and along the North Saskatchewan river... an informal "song circle" gathering with some folks from First Mennonite... a late-night-and-mentally-taxing-but-astonishingly-fun game of "Pandemic"... an enjoyable afternoon discussing various things theological and ecclesiological, and hearing yet more great songs from Tim Chesterton... a fun concert at St. Margaret's Anglican Church, where it was a special treat to do a couple of songs together with Tim (including his "Jonah" song which I recorded on the new CD)...

It's been a full and good time in Edmonton. Now begins the most grueling part of the trip... a 7 hour bus ride tomorrow, followed by 3 performances (or 5, depending how you count them) in 25 hours in 3 different Saskatchewan communities... and 6 (or 8) in the next 5 days... crazy, I know...

Time to catch a few hours of shut-eye.