Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I just read a wonderful article by a talented musician, Carsie Blanton.


The value of music is an interesting topic.

What do you think, can a song be bought and sold?

Music is magic. All art is magic. It deals in the realm of emotion and spirit. It's territory is a place deep inside the soul, certainly much deeper into our being than most products (ie the ice cream cone or iphone).

As a music fan, music is a mystical experience. My life has been outright changed by music.

How has music changed your life and what is it's value to you?

Martin Luther King Day

Memorials are not best built of stone, but in our lives.

Someone spoke of this during a Hospice memorial that was for my father and others who passed around the same time. It stopped me in my tracks then. And continues to inspire and prod me along my path.

It's easy to keep someone in our memory. It's much more difficult to live a memorial to those who inspire us.

Everyday, I see that Love is what is called of us. Every word I read points to compassion.

But what few realize about Love is that it is not passive. It is not weak. It's not just some big idea.

Love is action. Love is work. Love is difficult.

Perhaps what sticks us is that we don't really know what Love is. It's used in so many contexts, so often out of context. So often used to describe things that aren't really Love.

So, what is Love?

(baby dont hurt me, no more ... sorry, couldn't resist that reference ...)

Radical compassion. Radical compassion means we include all beings in our compassion. It means honestly living the golden rule.

Which isn't easy.

As we celebrate Dr King's teachings and legacy, I cannot help but think about his comment that the great evil of this time is not the people doing bad things, but the silence of the good people.

This is the difficult line to walk. A task that takes a lifetime to attempt.

And we will fail, sometimes. And we will fall silent.

But we must never let that stop us from speaking up again. Our voices could be ragged and tired, sore and soft, but they should always try to speak for compassion.

As we live in times where the Golden Rule is booed in public, we cannot allow any excuse to keep us from doing something.



You can start with yourself and your significant other or friends and family.

But start somewhere. And keep on going.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Best Of 2011

Lots of new inspirations came across my path this last year. New music, books, and movies always inspire me in so many ways.

So, I'd like to share my favorites of the year. Hopefully some of these inspire you too.

(So im not sure all of these were released this year, but I associate them with this year ...)
- Fitz and the Tantrums - Pickin Up the Pieces
I love this band and this record. Soulful. Funky. And passionate. Good for anytime, and it still makes me want to dance.

- The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart
Really nice harmonies, but a fuller sound than the Civil Wars.

- Augustana - Augustana
Kind of like the Killers. But like their good songs. Off their first record. And a little less synthy. Good songs. Good melodies.

- Neon Trees - Habits
The title track makes this record worth it alone. Great rock band.

- Blind Pilot - We Are the Tide
This Portland band really caught my ear with their single. But the whole record is good.

- Trevor Hall - Everything Everytime Everywhere
One of my favorite artists. Brand New Day is a great song. The whole record is good, though it took a little time to grow on me. But it's worth the investment.

-Peter Bradley Adams
Singer/songwriter record.

- Oh Land - Oh Land
Something different. And Sweedish...

- Young the Giant
Good rock/indie band. Infectious songs.

- Bon Iver
I love Bon Iver. This record is beautiful and haunting. Wow. It continues to grow on with each listen.

-Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto
I am a Coldplay fan. This is a strange record for them. Its much more of a pop record than previous ones, but it's still got some great catchy tunes.

- Peter Gabriel - New Blood
An interesting record done with strings and vocals. some cool versions of Gabriel classics)

- Donny Hathaway
I fell in love with his 1970 Everything is Everything record. Especially his live version of The Ghetto.

- Lissie
Great voice. Honest.

Fun is putting out a new record next month as well! This is on my list. Mumford and Sons is expected to have a new record this year, too.

(I doubt any of these came out this year, but I stumbled upon them this year)

- Three Men in A Boat
A classic. British. Hilarious. Brilliant.

- Hafiz - The Gift/ The Subject Tonight is Love/ I Hear God Laughing
I have not been so moved by any poetry. It is divine. Mind blowing. Beautiful.

- Mark Kurlansky - Nonviolence
One of my favorites that I have read on the subject. Very informative and readable, and yet inspiring!

-Tolstoy - the Forged Coupon
A great tale that winds itself around itself over and again.

- The Animal Manifesto
A wonderfully caring and compelling treatise on respecting animals. Very informative and inspiring (and this is coming from a very active vegan!)

- The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi
I go back to this book all the time. It is one of the books that would need to be with me on a desert island.

- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - Celebrating Silence
There is so much brilliance in this book. It's a collection of sayings of Sri Sri. Each saying is worthy of a long meditation!

- MLK - Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community
Amazing. Could have been written today.

- Daniel Pink -Drive
An interesting look at what motivates us.

- Chip and Dan Heath - Switch
A great look at how to accomplish change when change is hard, which is most times, i think.

I dont get a lot of time to see films, but these are what I saw and really liked.

-The Way
By far, one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time. Inspiring. It's a change your life sort of movie.Ive seen it twice now, and Im sure Ill buy it when it comes to DVD.

- Beginners
Touching film. Ewan McGregor is great.

- King's Speech
Great film. Worthy of the acclaim

-The Muppets
Just fun. Really fun.

- Paranormal Activity
The first one. Yeah, i just saw it this year. Creepy. Creepy. Creepy. Would sleep with a light on, but Im not sure that'd help!

- Got the Facts on Milk
Well done documentary. Informative and yet entertaining.

- One Peace at a Time
Such an inspiring movie. Movies about the problems of the world are seldom inspiring and uplifting!

Edward Shapre & the Magnetic Zeros - Amazing!! Wow.
Fitz & the Tantrums - dance party!
U2 - really good show. Better than I anticipated.

What are your favorites?


2011 Wrap Up


A year of highs and lows. But since my glass is always half full, I want to focus on the highlights.

As 2011 kicked off, my band, the Bright Lights, went into the studio and began recording what turned into my 14th CD, Luminosity. The sessions were fun and organic, much of the recording was live, and yet we had some fun experimenting with vocals, and sounds, and things like the electric glockenspiel.

Was asked back to the 30A Songwriter Festival in Seaside, FLA. So much fun with Augustine, Carmel Mikol, Blake Gutherie, Effron White, and more.

In May, I turned a milestone in my life, 30.

And immediately left town.

For Wyoming.

A great summer Mountains and Meadows tour ensued. Great news folks and house concerts. The heavy and long winter kept a lot of my favorite mountain trails too snowy for me, so I found a few new trails, which became some of my new favorites! Lots of great communings with bears.

A young Grizz walked right in front of my car. A couple times.

On a back road, a mother Grizz with 3 young cubs stepped out of the woods. And she stood on her hind legs! I've never before seen a bear do this for real, not on TV! Incredible!

Some great shows back in Ohio. Painseville Party in the Park. Burning River Fest. The CD Release Show in the Gothic Building.

Rocked the Rathskeller in Indianapolis!

Peace Week grew bigger and better. A film series was started. Lots of yoga and meditation events, a living yoga peace sign, the windows and mirrors Afghanistan art exhibit, and a drum circle! The Civic Theatre hosted a Love Initiative performance. the Bright Lights rocked and we had the whole audience dancing and moving, spiritually and physically. We helped to bring the Human Values Awards to NE Ohio. A very moving ceremony of music, poetry, and recognizing the great members of our community, including Suzie Graham, Julie Costell, Happy Trails, Stewart's Caring Place, and the Akron Peacemakers.

I traveled to Buffalo and Covington KY for NACA conferences. In Buffalo, my friend, Maurice martin (of the band Winslow), met the man who gave us the 10 steps to being successful musicians (1. be humble. 2. dont have an ego. 3. be humble. 4. practice... that was all we got...). Met some great other musicians there too: The Other Mark Miller, and The Bergamot.

Crossed the country to Oregon for the Folk Alliance conference. Got to stand on a 1500 year old lava flow. (Swung thru Wyoming and got to hike my favorite canyon, Cascade Canyon, with no other people!! So amazing!!) Met some great folks there too. Mother Hen, The Whiskey Poets, Woody Moran, Kress Cole, Tatam Reeves, Kerry Patrick Clark, the Blackberry Brushes String Band (http://theblackberrybushes.com/).

Spent some time in Portland, OR. Great all around. Good food! Good people! Powell's Books!

Music Millennium

Finished off the year with the Winter West Coast Tour. Several great shows with my friend Randi Driscoll. Some great house concerts, including the Cal Tech one, where I met folks who worked on the Mars Rover, the guy who de-planet-ed Pluto, and other crazy smart folks. Had a moving experience at the Self- Realization Fellowship in Encinitas. Debuted at the wonderful Zoey's in Ventura with Mimi Gilbert. Got to hike in the San Romero Canyon, where a coyote led us down the trail quite a bit, and we looked out over Santa Monica pier at sunset. Traveled over to Channel Islands National Park (Santa Cruz Island). Looked over picturesque cliffs and the blue and turquoise ocean. Saw pelicans, sea lions and seals, and dolphins. I family pod of Orcas crossed the boat's path. They all came right up to the boat, including the 2 young calves. They communicated and spoke to us. Then the adults mated. 

Finally, the year ended up in Wyoming, where there was some snow, but a surprisingly little amount. Snowshoed. Cross country skied for the first time. Communed with Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, Mule Deer, Elk, Moose, Bison, Porcupine, River Otters and Coyotes. Had a licked-clean car wash by 3 Big Horn Sheep. 

Stopped in Omaha on the way back to Ohio, and had a black bean burger at the largest restaurant Ive ever seen, the brewing company in Omaha. Then had dinner in Chicago with the Bodhis.

A lot of cool stuff happened this year!

May 2012 be even cooler.