Monday, December 30, 2013

Recommendations of 2013

These are some of the highlights and inspirations I came across this year. Not all of these came out this year, but this is when I crossed their paths.

Music:
Winslow. Left of the Right Direction.
Randi Driscoll. December.
Rachel Roberts/ Sexis Sixes.
Brett Dennon. Smoke and Mirrors.
Medicine for the People. Dark As Night.
Colin John. Two Sides of the Coin.
Tegan and Sarah. Hearthrob.
Noah and the Whale. Heart of Nowhere.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Self Titled.
Joseph Arthur. Ballad of Boogie Christ.
The Speedbumps. Harbors.
Charlie Mosbrook. Something to Believe.
Hey Mavis. Honey Man.
Michael Franti. All People.
MC Yogi. Pilgrimage.
Alan Semerdjian. Quiet Songs for Loud Times.
Local Natives. Hummingbird.



Books:
In Freedom and Peace. Bernard LaFayette
Strength to Love. MLK.
Stride Toward Freedom. MLK.
The Gospel of RFK.
Jesus. Deepak Chopra.
A Gandhi Reader. Gandhi.
Book of Hours. Rilke.
The Animal Manifesto. Marc Bekoff.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Tao of Recording

Recording is a process I have been through countless times over my 15 year career. Hours have been spent professionally recording my music, helping others record their music, or working on demos and other unreleased projects.

I've hears what feels like hours of kick drums being mixed. Put up with way too much pizza and Chinese carry out, and poor light.

Yet, I learn so much each time. Even more about myself, than with the actual recording process.

We start with ideas about the songs, and they always end up in a different space. A song starts off mellow and becomes a rollicking tune. Some songs get mellowed down. You never really know how a song will end up.

It causes us to be flexible and not be attached to our preconceived notions for these songs.

Each recording also challenges us in unexpected ways.

This project has had its fill! First of all this was a very long project, and the time frame found me moving from joy to despair to boredom back to excitement. I found myself ready to give up on it. Found myself disliking the songs. And then I found redemption in the music, and new life in totally changing my vocal style.

We recorded a new, more soulful version of Surround Me for this project. In doing this, we decided to change my vocal approach to the song. It took me into some very tentative places, vulnerable places. Uncomfortable places. And yet, in the end, it pushed me through to a place where I now have a new skill in my belt.

I like working with my band, and enjoying their creative input. That's part of what helps a song to grow on its own and go to a place where I might not have taken it. A random mandolin part can suddenly take a song in such a random tangent - a tangent so far out of my ideas for the song, that it was physically uncomfortable. Until I stood back and realized the song wanted to go there.

It's all a process of letting go.

Of realizing the best take is usually right after the worst take. Once we stretch ourselves beyond our ability, we find a new comfort zone.

Of finding our antidotes.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lessons of Lennon

Like many young folks, my life has been dramatically altered after deeply listening to the Beatles.

High school was just beginning. I was a basketball player. Summer was rolling around, and I began to have a severe pain in my abdomen. After a couple days of fighting through it, I went to the hospital. Who had no idea what was going on. So I went to another hospital, and they had no idea either. Nearly a month had passed before our family doctor suggested looking at my appendix.

It had ruptured. I should have been dead.

But my body contained the spewing poison. Worn out from the weeks of inaction, and the drugs and pain from the surgery, I was facing a lengthy recovery. As I lay in a hospital bed, sad to be missing the joy of running in the summer sunshine – hours of backyard football and basketball, sleepovers, and all the many joys of being a kid at summertime – someone had brought me in music to help cheer me up.

A cassette for my Walkman.

The White Album.

The oldies channel was my favorite channel, so the Beatles were not a totally new experience for me, but this was the first time I actually listened to the songs.

I was hooked by the time Dear Prudence came on and jumped into their catalogue whole-heartedly.

Almost immediately I was intrigued by John Lennon. Gravitating towards his music and personality, I dove into his solo records as well. There was an honesty and power to his music. It meant something beyond just a clever rhyme. My eyes were opened to the power of an artist with a cause.

Music can change the world.

And someone who is willing to put their career in jeopardy to stand for what they feel is right will inspire many. John worked for Peace. He wrote political songs and used his music and art to make statements. His power was so great, that Nixon felt he was a large threat! That is some power!

Lennon opened my eyes to Peace, to activism, to the role of the artist.

My life has brought me to this point largely because of this early influence.

So I celebrate all that John created and its impact on my life. Today would have been his 73rd birthday.
Imagine is his best record, in my opinion, but my favorite is Walls & Bridges. Enjoy it here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL91BD49EA1107B70B


  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

October Tidbits

October times
Fall is upon us. The cooling breeze swings through the woods setting off a new bird song. Leaves of brilliant colors dance their way through the cloudy afternoons. Sweaters and hot tea, soup, and pumpkin pie are all here and quite welcomed.

Most of my energy has been focused on Peace Week and Evening for Chuck, but I’ve experienced a few cool things I’d like to share.

Serena Ryder’s record has been on my Ipod since I loaded it on a few weeks ago. The chanting of the Radha Temple Singers and the Maha Mantra are still in daily rotation, as is George Harrison’s first record All Things Must Past.

I just began The Shambhala Principle by Sakyong Mipham. This book outlines ideas to create an enlightened society. It is terribly important in these tough times. Even 30 pages in, I have gained some valuable insights. Definitely a recommendation.

As I haven’t encountered much fiction I have wanted to read in the last few years, I picked up Herman Hesse’s “Beneath the Wheel.” Well, perhaps it’s not all fiction… it seems to be about Hesse, at least in some ways. His writing is always engaging, and half-way through, I am finding it interesting.

The Quotable Thoreau has been sitting on my bedside for months, and I finally delved in. This isn’t the only book of Thoreau in my possession, but it’s a wonderfully complete collection of various thoughts and sayings. Thoreau is an interesting man, filled with brilliance and difficult hypocrisies. We are all works in progress.


Friday, September 20, 2013

World Peace Jubilee!

I so love this event! I cannot wait to be back performing and partaking in all the amazingness that is the Jubilee!!

Jubilee Peace Fest
October 17-20, 2013 ~ 6:30 am-11:00 pm 

All ages, Kids Program is FREE
Register for one session, one day, two days, three days or all four days.  Attend for as low as $18!
CURRENT SPECIAL DISCOUNTS…
10% off on 2-Day Pass
15% off on 3-Day Pass
20% off on 4-Day Pass
Fifth Year Anniversary Celebration with locally and internationally known teachers, musicians, authors, artists, and chefs unfolding the path to world peace.

Live Music, Yoga Workshops, Meditation Practices, Vegan Cooking Classes, Health & Fitness Seminars, Spiritual Activism, Organic Gardens, Hiking Trails, Labyrinth Walking and More. 

Musicians:
Sticman of Dead Prez, HuDost
Luminaries, DJ Cavem, Ajeet Kaur, Oakes & Smith, ThePeace, Amy Ferguson is Grandma Dirt, Zach Freidhof

Yogis:  
Erica Jago, Julie Kirkpatrick, Marni Task
Mimi Loureiro, Kathleen Kastner, Anna Ferguson, Chris Belanger, Jutta Daeschlein, Lara Heimann, Ashley Hunt, Rachel Roberts, Ximena Savitch

Chefs:  
Afya Ibomu, Hannah Kaminsky, Jason Wyrick
Amanda Nicole Smith, Mark Stroud

Speakers:  
John Pierre, Will Tuttle
Patrick Murphy Welage, Alex Lippert, Jenna Schroer

If you have not yet been able to officially sign up for the 2013 event, we are connecting to make sure you knew to sign up and register for the Fest here: https://jubileepeacefest.cincyregister.com/2013.  There are work-trade and volunteer opportunities as well as scholarships available for the World Peace Diet Facilitator Training here:  http://jubileepeacefest.com/work-trade-volunteer-scholarships/
Also, the first 99 registered attendees who "like," "comment," and "share" the Jubilee Peace Fest poster or use the image as their cover or profile picture for this year’s Fest will receive a gift bag with a unique blend of items from the sponsors. 

Do you dare to invite your friends to sign up for 4 days of peace on earth?  Here is a link to the Facebook event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/506254679423598/ and let them know about our new website (found at:  http://www.jubileepeacefest.com) as it has the weekend’s full schedule of events, list of presenters, speakers and the food menu for the yummiest vegan food on the planet! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Akron Beacon Journal and Provenance

Today, the Akron Beacon Journal published a wonderful story/ review of Provenance.

Read it here: http://enjoy.ohio.com/sound-check-zach-is-back-with-album-of-collaborations-1.429970

Or pick up a physical copy somewhere!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Other News

I recently watched "Sleepwalk with Me", a film by Mike Birbiglia, http://birbigs.com/. This film is based on his stand up special of the same name. It's a hilarious account of his life and trouble with sleepwalking. Ira Glass helped bring the film to fruition as well, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Every bit as enjoyable as the stand up. I recommend this film. He's one of my favorite comedians, too, and I love all his CDs. Check out some youtube of his stand up here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYl9BSiV-P4

"The Yoga of Jesus" by Paramahansa Yogananda has been on my shelf for a while, and I finally got to it recently. Yogananda is best known for his divinely inspiring Autobiography of a Yogi. He has a unique and interesting view of Jesus, and his idea of Christ-Consciousness. I always seem to learn great insights about the teachings of Jesus from other religions. A lot in this book spoke to me, as I believe that we all are creatures with the Divine soul within, and looking at Jesus' teaching through the lens of spirituality and the Bhagavad Gita provided many insights.

"Chant and Be Happy" is a little collection about the Hare Krishna movement, featuring interesting interviews with George Harrison and some stories from the Vedas. The power of the mantra Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Hare Krishna Krishna Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is well documented. I have noticed an improvement in my own happiness since chanting this mantra a few times a day. It's worth a try, and any spiritual practice involving singing and dancing is pretty a-ok with me.

"Stride Toward Freedom" by Dr. King is his account of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. King's insight and understanding of nonviolence is always inspiring. I have read and continue to reread all of Dr Kings writings as we can learn so much from his brilliance, and what he accomplished. We can all keep up the fight to create a peaceful and just society.

Got a good chanting CD by the Radha Temple Singers, which was produced by George Harrison, and features the Hare Krishna Mantra, which actually topped the British charts in the early 70s.  

As I'm typing this, I'm listening to Augustana's first record and Owl City's latest release All Things Bright and Beautiful. The latter is a guilty pleasure of mine. It's so bubbly and happy. Sometimes you just need effervescence. And there's some clever writing there as well. As for Augustana, their latest release is one of my favorite records of the last decade, and I haven't had a chance to get into their earlier records til now.

Speaking of guilty pleasures, I've been helping my gramma move into an assisted living place and helping my mom as well; hence my mom has had the TV on a lot, and I have been watching it as I spend time with her. She loves these two shows, which have now rubbed off on me - The Mentalist and Castle. Both are crime drama shows with a very light bent to them. I think there's some clever writing in them, and they are both in repeat on some cable channel. I need to pry myself away from the television, as it just renders me useless for awhile, and I have far too much to do. That's my confession for you.