Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Here's an article for anyone who thinks we've got good regulations for the Oil and Gas industry.


The distinct feeling I had in reading this was deja vu ...

Over the Weekend

The last four-five days have been flying by. And of course I forgot my laptop.

Wednesday and Thursday I journeyed out to Philadelphia. The mountains were dressed in the autumnal best, and the sun was grinning the whole way. I found myself in Philly because of the Shale Gas Outrage. They had asked me to be a part of their event and protest. Bill McKibben, Josh Fox, Doug Shields and more took the stage inspiring the crowd of 1,000 plus people. A few of my fellow Tour de Frackers made their way out also. It's always an inspiring time to be around folks motivated to stand up for justice and what is right. 

I just saw a study today that said nearly half of all folks that leased their lands for fracking regretted doing it.

Then the crowd and I sang I Want a Future Too and we marched through the streets of Philly. The rally was a little surreal, as we were set up in front of the Convention Center where the Oil and Gas industry was conspiring - i mean, meeting. Occasionally some of their folks would come to windows and look down on the crowd. 

After the march, there was a beautiful interfaith blessing of the waters service, followed by the after party, where I performed along with the great Freebo. For lunch I managed to get a yummy vegan chikin broccoli dish at an all veggie Asian restaurant in Chinatown. The folks that I met give me great hope that we can fight and win this battle. 

We just need the rest of us to wake up, stand up, and speak up!

Square fest.

The big highlight for me (aside from seeing many great friends and having a cinnamon roll from Ms Julies) was getting rained off the main stage and relocated into Annabell's upstairs. Though I've played the downstairs before, I'd not yet done the upstairs. Charlie and I had a blast doing the duo set. We don't get to do that as often as we used to. We met some awesome new fans from Canton and New Philly - who came all the up to the fest just to hear us! Plus, several folks danced through the aisle with me, and that always makes my day!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pearl and the Beard

I've loved this band since I first heard them a few years back.

Here's a cool song and video for your day.


And another:

and wow, this is the most amazing cover I've heard in a very long time (not Pearl and the Beard, but you need to watch this!!):



Thursday, September 13, 2012


Along with love, compassion is the face of altruism. It is a feeling from deep in the heart that you cannot bear others’ suffering without acting to relieve it. As compassion grows stronger, so does your willingness to commit yourself to the welfare of all beings, even if you have to do it alone. You will be unbiased in your service to all beings, no matter how they respond to you. - Dalai Lama

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Back in 1999, as I was approaching the first election where I was eligible to vote, I found the Green Party. They are a worldwide party, with more representation oversees than in the US. Ralph Nader was their candidate then, and after hearing him speak a few times, I found myself very involved with the Green Party, even having the honor to perform at their state-wide convention.

They have always been close to my heart, though I have been more conventional in my recent voting ... for fear of the alternative.

This is an issue 3rd party candidates have been faced with since before the 2000 election.

Jill Stein is the candidate this year for President for the Greens. Check her out: www.jillstein.org.

She spoke brilliantly about this fear, which she calls fear politics. Interestingly enough, this fear politics has brought us exactly what we were afraid of. Another good analogy she has is that both parties are like 2 sinking ships, and perhaps one is sinking faster, but they are both sinking.

Here is a video of Jill Stein. http://www.jillstein.org/video_green_new_deal

Im not asking you to change your vote, or to even vote for her. But the more information we have, and the more we know, the stronger we can fight and make this democracy work for us all.

We are in desperate need of a cultural revolution. A sweeping revolution that says our main purpose in life is to help each other. Where we can say our biggest goal is not to be successful, but to be happy. Both political parties are seriously culturally and spiritually malnourished. It is refreshing to hear a voice of reason and hope, however small and shouted over it may be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Peace Week

Akron Peace Week
Sept 29 - Oct 8 

September 29
with Wild4Ever
Camp Christopher
1930 N. Hametown Rd.  Bath
5 – 9:00pm
Experience wildlife encounters with Medina Raptor, Operation Orphan & Foggy Bottom Farms.  For more information call (330) 825-2434

September 30
5623 New Milford Rd Ravenna
Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary Inc. is a non-profit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and provides an adoption program for abused, abandoned, and neglected farm animals.

with Tajalli
Learn how to reconnect with our natural environment through a series of meditations and experiences.

October 1
(w/ American Friends Service Committee)
1720 Shatto Ave, Akron
6:30 - 8:30pm
HOW TO START A REVOLUTION profiles Gene Sharp, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and is a portrait of how one man’s thinking has contributed to the liberation of millions of oppressed people living under some of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.

October 2
(w/ Free Akron Yoga)
First Grace Church
350 S. Portage Path, Akron
7 – 8:30pm
By taking control of the body and breath, one can provide the ground to achieve tranquility of mind.

October 3
“Making the Most of Your End-Of-Garden-Season Goodies”
Ms. Julie’s Kitchen
1809 S. Main St, Akron
Ms. Julie follows a diet of only raw foods, believing that fruits and vegetables are better for the body when eaten raw. Call Ms Julie’s at 330-819-3834 for more info.
October 4
(w/ the Sierra Club)
Big Bend Area of the Sand Run Metro Park
1337 Merriman Rd, Akron
This walk/hike takes place during the park’s Fall Hiking Spree.

October 5
presented by The Camp
Ms. Julie Café
446 E. Exchange St, Akron
7 – 8:30pm.
The Camp has taught this nonviolent team-building workshop in schools, prisons, and business settings for a number of years.

October 6
(w/ Countryside Conservancy)
Howe Meadow
4040 Riverview Rd, Akron
9 – Noon

with Akron Art Works, Downtown Akron Partnership, and Akron Peacemakers
5 – 10:00pm
Members from the Akron Symphony, Spring Garden Waldorf School band, and Zach & the Bright Lights will be performing at the Trolley Barn! The Akron Peacemakers will be at various locations with information about their program and campaigns, and more. Join us for Reiki and massages at the Ice House location.

October 7
(w/ the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad)
Mustill Store/ Cascade Locks to Rockside Station
10:00am - 2:00pm
Bring your bicycles and wear visible peace signs. We will be departing Akron at 10:00am and riding to the Rockside Station, where we will be picking up the “Peace Train” and returning to Akron. There will be a slight $2 fare for the train. Pack a lunch.

(w/ Market Path and the Highland Square Drummers)
Market Path
833 W. Market St, Akron
1:00 – 2:00pm
Drumming, dancing, chanting for peace. Bring your own drum, though some extras will be there.
Join us for Garba, a dance originating from the Gujarat region of India, with the Art of Living Foundation!

(w/ Akron Time Bank)
Market Path
833 W. Market St, Akron
Bring a vegan/ vegetarian dish to share. This is also a chance to find out more about the Akron and Kent Time Banks, and to meet members of those groups. http://akron.timebanks.org/

October 8
(w/ the Akron Shambhala Center)
133 Portage Tr, Suite 202, Cuyahoga Falls

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ohio Officials

Democracy only works when we work it. We all take it for granted that it just works, that somehow when we elect people they magically know what's going on and are working to solve it. Or we feel that they are useless to progress and only working against us.

Neither of those is the truth. They only have time to listen to what their constituents say and what the lobbyists say. When the constituents are relatively silent, then all they hear is one side of the story. It is up to us to educate them on our side of the story. When enough people speak up, the folks we elect have no choice but to listen.

You should check this link out. Find out how your state representatives voted on the last fracking bill, voted on back in May. We need to write these folks, meet with them, and run against them telling them our views.


An Intense Day

“Art is not a pleasure, a solace, or an amusement; art is a great matter. Art is an organ of human life, transmitting man’s reasonable perception into feeling.”—Leo Tolstoy

Summer weekends tend to find me performing multiple venues each day. I take gigs for various reasons. Yes, sometimes, the money is good. Sometimes the cause and people involved are great.

The day started off with a set at Earth Fare to celebrate their birthday in Fairlawn. It was an outdoor celebration, and the weather wasn't sure whether it should support us or not. My set had no power as the ground was still wet, and puddles were on either side of the stage. But I played on anyway. roaming and troubadouring around the parking lot, singing to patrons and dancing with the Menchie's mascot. Sometimes I enjoy this sort of performing more than being up on a stage separated from folks. People live in blinders and fall into a set routine. This is not inherently dangerous, but it does lead to less risk taking and can lead to shutting off many brilliant aspects of life and many wonderful people. In my own little way, singing to people in random locations and following them around as they shop, is an attempt to awaken people to the unexpected joys life can bring if you are open to them.

As I danced over and around a family in line to get some face-painting, singing "Perfect," I came to be aware that the young daughter was deaf. She seemed to enjoy watching me dance around, but the family said they wished they'd brought a balloon so that she could feel the music. This is an amazing idea to feel music through the air of the balloon! With the day being a celebration, we were able to find a balloon quickly, and it was promptly in the arms of this happy little girl.

Her face lit up.

Completely lit up.

She stood there, grinning a mouth a teeth and spaces, holding that balloon with both hands, watching me sing. She started dancing a little.

"I could be perfect if I was someone else. Maybe I'm perfect as pieces of myself."

At that moment, there could be no better job in the whole world.

We've built up this large elaborate society. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we bring a little joy to someone else's day. To someone's minute.

To  help someone hold a balloon and dance to the joy of the Universe.

If only for a minute.

My set ended, and I had a delicious lunch of vegan lasagna, with a little mock chicken salad and Asian noodles. And a cupcake. The lasagna and cupcake came from cooking demonstrations going on that afternoon, and were a perk of performing.

From there, I helped a friend who is moving into a new apartment before heading over to Thorncreek Winery.

Thorncreek has beautiful grounds. There's a flower-filled patio and a great second patio area surrounded by shrubs, trees, and a field. With the weather overcast and chilly, I played in the heated patio area, covered by a large tent.

The downside to the winery is that is can get loud from conversations. Music is a part of the atmosphere there. It is not the main attraction. The roar of voices, laughter, and the like compete with the music on occasion.

This is the risk that comes with performing there. I acknowledge and accept that or I wouldn't perform there. Over my shows there, I have had good night and bad, but overall, I've met a lot of nice people who liked the music and what I do.

I like wineries. Much more than bars. Folks at wineries tend to be a little more calm, and not as crazy drunk as I have seen in bars. The idea of the music and atmosphere are in general a little more important to the patrons. One of the main reasons I stopped playing in most bars is because of the drunks and their attitudes. My music is about compassion, and I do what I do, mostly original music, with only a handful of other tunes that are important to me. Bar crowds typically don't get it. They want the cover band, the human jukebox.

That is not me.

People at wineries still ask for requests, but they usually ask for one or maybe two. If I cannot play their song, they generally understand and go about their evening.

And this brings me to this weekend.

A group of four folks were sat in the closest table to me. They were having a boisterous conversation, but after a few songs, began listening to the music attentively. They applauded after each song, even. Smiles were on their faces, and even when they went back into conversations, they seemed to be enjoying my music.

And then one of the ladys asked me for You've Got A Friend, the James Taylor tune. Great song. That I do not play. I kindly thanked them, but told them I was unable to play it. After my next song, they repeated their request, which I again politely told them I was unable to play it. To which, she got slightly angry, saying "Really? I can't believe you can't play it. Why won't you play it?" Again I politely said I don't do a lot of other people's songs, and I did not play that one. From there I promptly went into two back-back originals, allowing no time for banter in between. As soon as the second song ended, she shouts out "Eagles. Play the Eagles." Again, I kindly told her I do not play any Eagles. This angered her, and she scowled some sort of death stare at me the entire next song.

Once again, I finished my song and went right into another original.

She started shouting out "Kid Rock! Play f#@$in Kid Rock! Play Eagles! Bon Jovi! Kid Rock!" throughout the entirety of the song.

What bothers me most about this situation is that her three other friends, who all seemed to really like the music, did nothing to calm her down, remove her, anything. They just sat there like she wasn't doing it.

As I was finishing the song, she started saying quite loudly, "I hate him," as she was looking at me.

Luckily their bill came and they left shortly after this, but this was the closest I've ever come to stopping my show to deal with someone. My luck has been good (knock on wood) that I haven't had a lot of unruly folks at my shows. The few times people have gotten a little out of hand, either the club or their friends removed them. So, this was a new sort of experience.

When did it become completely acceptable for people to behave in an unacceptable manner in public? She obviously thought she was acting as the situation called for, but her friends went along with it. One near-by table left because of her rudeness, though they did not inform the winery of this woman.

Things ended fine, and most people were very happy and inspired by the music I played all day.

Have you been in a similar situation? Share your stories and solutions.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Typically I get to see far less live music shows than I'd like.

So when it happens that I'm invited to see someone perform, and my evening is open, I go. 

Last night I went to see Jason Mraz and Christina Perri at Blossom. I haven't been to Blossom in a good 12 years or more. The evening turned out to be lovely.

Jason Mraz is a solid performer and he's got a great voice. His percussionist on this tour, which I think is a different percussionist that his last tours, is incredible! She was mind-blowing on their duet "You F-in Did It." And the sing-along ending of his latest single "You Are Not Alone" was a powerful end to the night. 

But I have to say that I think Christina Perri sort of stole the show. Her band was fantastically tight. The sound seemed to be a bit more dialed in for her set as well. Her drummer, Elmo, was a greatly inspired drummer. It was hard not to be impressed. I had never heard of her or her music before last night. Her voice reminded me of Lissie, and though I didn't hear that amazing hit-quality tune, she captivated the audience with her solo piano version of her big song "Jar of Hearts." Her voice was so powerful on that solo number, that she got a very impressive standing ovation by the entire audience, something I've never really seen for an opener.

A lovely night of music.

Here's a link to some Christina Perri (she sounded better with her band live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v_4O44sfjM&list=ALYL4kY05133r-OaXHEr_NOpfCsxhcoQpa&index=1&feature=plcp

And anyone not familiar with Jason Mraz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vge_zVye8u4  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Broadview Hts Ballot Initiative

I first became aware of the group MADION (Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhood) this spring. They had been collecting signatures to get a citizen initiative banning any new fracking wells in Broadview Hts on the November ballot.

Their passion to change their neighborhood was deeply inspiring. Over 106 wells are in (or will be by year's end) Broadview Hts. That's a lot of wells, in a relatively small amount of land. So, of course, many of these wells are in neighborhoods, schools, and a little bit of anywhere else. Little can be done about these wells popping up. Homeowners are being deceived by the oil and gas companies in magnitudes that if any other company or industry did, would have them wrapped up in tons of lawsuits. As one man (who was making quite a lot of money off of the wells on his property) said, "If a gas company man is talking, he's lying." Plus, the state has taken away the ability of the local governments to decide if they want wells, and where they might or might not want them.

Despite these odds, the MADION group spoke with the city council and were given all the guidelines for getting an initiative on the ballot. They followed each one to the letter of the law, and they collected more than enough signatures.

Which means they got their initiative on the ballot, right?

Not exactly.

Apparently, the city council can still vote to decide whether to allow initiatives on the ballot. Even after they had been vetted by the state. 

The city council was weary of the initiative, with the law director strongly suggesting that they vote against it.

At the last council meeting, I spoke with several of the council members, including the aforementioned law director. Many of them were personally very much in favor of the initiative. They were not happy that so many wells were plaguing their city. Their concerns stem from if the issue passed, this initiative would be in violation of state law, leaving them vulnerable to lawsuits. They felt that rather than fight this fight on a local level, spend the energy on the state level.

Their arguments have credibility and weight. Yes, they would be supporting an unenforceable law. Yes, they would be vulnerable. Lawsuits are expensive to fight and could leave the city in trouble should they have to fight a prolonged battle, or if they should lose. Yes, ultimately it's the laws and people in Columbus that must change.

Admittedly I left this meeting downtrodden and disheartened. Is attempting local change and local bans possible? Is it the right way? Is there any way of realistically stopping the oil and gas industry?

I do not envy the position of elected officials. They swear an oath to protect their citizens. In good conscience, they cannot accept fracking and its major health ramifications. Yet to place the city coffers up for depleting is very risky as well.

However, this is clear to me.

What is at stake here is our very democracy. We should have a say in what is happening in our neighborhoods and towns. Our voice is heard when someone's yard isn't mowed, or when we have a concern over paving a side street. Yet, our voice has been ripped from our throats in the issue of fracking. Our towns cannot decide how to plan or lay out their city and their city's future, as they are beholden to the oil and gas industry's whims. We decided long ago that industry and homes do not mix well. People got sick. People died. Yet, we once again find ourselves locked in a choice-less situation. When you once used to have to live near the loud and polluting factory because that's where you worked, or that's what you could afford, now quiet and peaceful neighborhoods are turning into factories over night when wells are drilled.

Democracy is at stake when the people have collected the signatures that our city constitution calls for, when people have followed the steps of democracy and the law to assemble an initiative on the ballot, so that the citizens can have their fair say, and yet a city council can deny that this issue actually makes the ballot. Not only is democracy at stake, the hopes and dreams of this country are held hostage. For if your voice is stripped after you followed due process, what hope do you have in the rest of the system? The democracy of our forefathers, the democracy so many have sacrificed, bled, and died for is undermined and the hopes of "we the people" are squashed yet again when the government refuses to listen to it's people.

Tonight, we can stand proud, at least for a moment, that the Broadview Hts city council allowed democracy to survive to fight another day. They passed the initiative, and it will be heading to the ballot. The citizens of Broadview Hts will have their say.

This fight is far from over. The people of Broadview Hts have to educate themselves on what wells are doing to their communities, and the people need to vote in November. The people need to still petition Columbus to change their unjust laws, and if Columbus refuses to listen, we all need to vote in people who will. You see, democracy is not some sort of right, it is our active duty. It only works if we work it.

So let's get to work!    


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

The Art Works/ Downtown Akron Partnership folks know me well. They had me a part of the Summit Art Space festivities for the Art Walk. The Summit Art Space was also the space where a vegan pot luck & Meet Up were happening, and Courtney had her living wall sculpture piece on display on the 3rd floor. It was definitely the building I wanted to be in.

The pot luck was delicious, though I had little time to eat and truly sample all the dishes. There was a spicy wonderful zucchini slices pizza (with a salsa sauce) and a rightly amazing apple pie. There were also cookies, brownies, a green bean in tomato sauce (Courtney and I made), a falafel wrap, several salads, and more than I can't recall. As I said, I had little time to really sample everything.

The set went well. Several fans stopped by from the Riverfront days and requested a few Face With a View tunes. Of course they sang along wonderfully to Hello and Chase Me Away. Then they asked for Hitchhiker Joe. And a very young girl came up and asked for Psycho Killer. For the latter, a dance troupe was in the room and was improving some great dance!

We ended the night at Luigis, where I haven't even been since the last Civic show, almost a year ago.

A second pot luck was scheduled on Sunday. This was a movie themed pot luck, and by far the coolest dish was a tempeh version of the Hollywood sign, complete with little broccoli trees! The tastiest dishes were a veggies in peanut sauce and a butternut squash dish that my friend, TM Gottl, made. Also, there was a Men in Blackberry cheezecake. I've never been much of a cheesecake person, but this stuff was really good. Good job Chad and Libby! The night ended with a fun round of Apples to Apples. I won three cards, and it's jokingly said that those cards describe you. If that's the case then I am hot, devious, and dead & gone. Though I am still very much alive & here!

Labor Day itself was a day of laboring... it seemed to be the perfect day to clean out the basement. Said chore has been on my list for a while, and so I gave the day to clean it up. And clean I did. The basement is like a totally new place! It's hard to let go of stuff sometimes. It has some sort of memory, however minor, and holds such a power that someday I'll need it again, though it's been packaged up for decades. I couldn't throw out old school papers and tests and notes, but most of the rest is now gone. Finishing an all-day task is a wonderfully rewarding experience as well. After reorganizing my vinyl and some Chinese veggies and Tofu in a garlic sauce, I had a wonderful night sleep.

During the clean out, I found several old mix CD I had made, and subsequently put them on as I worked. My favorites from the late 90's - early aughts. Neil Young's Change Your Mind, Nirvana's Lithium, several Nine Inch Nails, Our Lady Peace, Sarah McLaughlin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Doors, Bonnie Raitt, and some other tunes I have't listen much to since. All good songs still!

What are some of your favorite songs from your high school or college days?


Saturday, September 1, 2012

I Want a Future Too

The first time I heard about fracking, I was pretty appalled. Then I attended a meeting with Doug Shields as the speaker. The point of that meeting was to bring local electeds together to hear how the City of Pittsburgh banned fracking. Mr. Shields made a great presentation and highlighted many facts I had been unaware of. Yet, most of the electeds walked away confused and have not used any of that information to work to stop fracking in their wards, city, and our state.

So, I wrote this song, I Want a Future Too. I've also taken a number of actions, including the Tour de Frack, contacting local and state representatives, and working on planning committees for more fracking events.

This song will be available for a free download soon. I will let you know.

The Bright Lights and I recently recorded a moving full band version of the tune. Here is a powerful video Katy Robinson helped us put together.


I hope you share this with many folks.

Even more than that, I hope you write to our electeds and tell them we don't want fracking. At the very least, we need to return control back to the local governments and citizens. As of right now, the state has taken away our democratic rights to decide whether we want gas wells in our town, and where those gas wells go, if we did want them.

We need to change this. It's gonna take a lot of voices and marches to demand our employers (the government) work for us.