Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

the blessing tree have just split up and gone their separate ways for the time being, but not before playing 4 great shows in the DC area. these last 2 weeks have been great, finding our new identity in new places, and learning new songs. in the last 3 weeks together we added no less than 10 new songs to our already brimming repetoire. it was wonderful to have the problem of needing to leave out some songs that we love to play, simply because there were new songs that we also love to play.

ben returns to montreal, ashton to st. louis, and jessica to boston, while i will be continuing on tour for the next 6 weeks. for the time being i am in raleigh, NC, and will be playing my next shows (after tonight) in Georgia - my old stomping grounds. cant wait to get back to the fecund south.

one of the most moving moments of this tour was visiting the national mall together. it was a first trip to DC for ben, ashton, and jess, and first time to the mall, for me in about 25 years! there was a kite flying festival, so the sky was filled with bright colors around the washington monument, and a feeling of delight pervaded the park. but the moment that meant the most to me was walking into the lincoln memorial (which i have painted in a mural!) and being greeted by that great, suffering, and heroic image of lincoln, and then to read these words, of hope, humility, and redemption, from his 2nd inaugural address: (pardon my including the whole text, but i can only hope it will touch you as deeply as it did me)

Fellow Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'. With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Member of the Blessing Tree Family

Jessica Hays, the newest Blessing Tree member is currently on a plane down from Boston to play flute with us for 3 shows in the DC area! hurrah!


Fri, March 26, 7PM

The Saylor’s Residence

15296 Surrey House Way

Centreville, VA 20120

Tel. 703-830-1134

Food and drinks provided.

Please bring a side to share.

Sat, March 27, 7PM

Baughman Residence

4421 Seminary Rd.

Alexandria, VA

Tel. 703-751-0694

Light refreshments

Sun, March 28, 3PM

The CS Reading Room

910 16th Street, NW

Washington, DC

Tel: 202-255-2235

Light refreshments

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hurtling Down To DC

beginning to sing in Grand Central Station...

a machine gun toting policeman causing us to end our singing in Grand Central Station

OK! yesterday morning we awoke in New York's lower east side at 5, and scooted down to Baltimore to arrive for a noon performance at a Christian Science Reading Room in a mall. it was a bear getting out of the city, and at one point only the great care of a policeman who stopped traffic for us as we had gone a VERY wrong way on a huge bridge, kept us on the right track.

the good news is we arrived at the RR in good time, walked around to all the stores and let everyone know that we were going to be playing. we drove through a very depressed portion of baltimore, filled with boarded up buildings, etc. and this mall was quiet, with many empty stores as well. it seemed that the call was for unrelenting acknowledgment of the presence of Life, the spiritual ever-presence.

over and over i am moved to see that these are not "concerts" so much as they are states of mind. what are we thinking as we are singing? what are our interactions with these other folks consisting of? and always in the wide open world you never know what someone is going to say or think or do. it is wonderful to have the opportunity to strive to bring brightness and overbubbling enthusiasm to any environment, especially one like this seemingly quiet and a little depressed mall.

then, down to DC we shot, to prepare for a show at 1st Church of Christ, Scientist, DC. we were warmly met, set up the space, and waited for the wednesday evening service. the service was deep and inspiring, the reader pacing himself like a runner. it felt like a steam engine of spiritual thoughts.

then, a warm and sparkling show. there is no end of the delight in causing perfect strangers to sing along.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Blessing Tree is On The Road!

Hi friends,

we are now in NYC. Played and sang to a rockin crowd in Washington Square Park on Sunday. we are having adventures in singing publicly - this wild thing of being in the wild open world and simply lifting up the voice, and letting it draw folks.

Yesterday we made our way down into the subway to sing to passers by. First thing in Times Square station we saw a group of young folks wearing shirts saying "prayer changes things". we decided to go sing them "Ever Near" - one of our a capella songs about God singing our lives. Turns out they were from Hope College in Michigan on a mission trip. they loved the song and asked if they could pray for us. we joined in a circle and thanked God together.

later, after a dissapointing failure at performing on the subway we found ourselves eating slices of pizza on a balcony in Grand Central Station. Ben, with the light of God on his brow pointed out that we could sing to the great broad masses passing by. with a bit of trepidation in the immense hall, we opened our mouths and sang our 3 a capella songs. We watched with great delight as lots of the folks below turned their heads, searching for where the voices were coming from. finally, they began to realize that we were above. lots of people stopped and watched and listened. when we finished there was scattered applause.

We sang for about half an hour, going through a little set of songs. people coming and going. at the end of each song, giggling to one another at the spectacle we were creating. our 3 voices mingled in the air over all the people, and at each pause we could hear them bouncing around, echoing across the immense room.

this wonderful concert ended abruptly when the machine gun toting police came and let us know that this was not the place to be singing without a permit. as we happily left we waved down to the folks who were watching the whole moment. they waved back, sweetly, and we could feel the love that had been shared between the voices hungry to share, and the ears, hungry and adoring to hear.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Solo at New Church in JP

Hi all,

dig this video on the website of a new church starting up in my hometown, Jamaica Plain, MA. I performed the solo there a couple of sundays ago. The lesson sermon was on "Mind", and the song is called "Mind Of The Holy One".

check out the whole great site, and the video of the solo is the first under "JP church videos.


Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm Not Dead!

hello? is there anybody out there?

i know, i know, i've been away forever.

but, i've been writing songs like crazy. its quite amazing to see how many thoughts we have, and then, to see how much our thoughts change as we navigate life, praying, seeking, adventuring.

and all kinds of new songs come along, along along.

lets see, what songs have been written since i came home from the tour in january?

kindness is a mountain
press on
i'd rather be good than rich
walk on the water
it's you
oh, brother
mind of the holy one
holy happy

a whole new album is arriving, every day a little more, like birds on the back lawn.

how are your thoughts changing?