Songwriting is about risk-taking. One simply needs a safe, open space to say or do anything in order to see/hear what wants to stick to the page. In a collaborative effort, all must be open to trial and experimentation. Without complete freedom of expression, a song will lack the necessary truth required to give it life. Without truth, a song is just a song. It may be clever, or sound pretty, but it may not fly as high. In order to create a great song, one must be willing to trade in clever for truth, especially when the truth doesn’t feel safe to share. It’s playing by these standards that songwriting becomes an adventure for the courageous.
Meet Raining Jane: a female-foursome of risk-taking road veterans who have toured extensively on their original music for more than a decade. They are also the co-founders of The Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls, Los Angeles, an intensive program that empowers young women to rock in all aspects of their lives.
I first met Raining Jane, in September of 2006 at the University of Redlands. We were on the same schoolyard festival bill. With thoughtful lyrics, brilliant harmonies, diverse instrumentation, a high energy percussionista, and good looks, they were a tough act to follow. I played alone, nervously hammering through my set while begging forgiveness. After the gig I bowed to them, suggesting we collaborate. A few months later, we gathered at my home studio for the first of what has now become a long tradition of annual writing retreats known as ladies’ weekend.
Within the first few writing sessions, Raining Jane and I unearthed a few songs that would transform all of our lives. Songs like Silent Love Song, which we donated to San Diego’s Fire Relief Project in 2007; Collapsible Plans which won best original song in the Hollywood Film Festival for the amazing documentary The Big Fix; And Beautiful Mess, which has gone on to become a concert classic.
It didn’t take long for The Janes and I to realize we shared the same core values and shared a passion for truthful, healing songwriting. Our shared vision is to use our creative gifts to improve the world, not belittle it. Whenever we make time to write together, it’s always magical, and as you can imagine, the songs have started piling up.
For the next two weeks, The Janes and I are exploring what it would sound like if we were to record an album together. Stay tuned for updates, leaks and previews as this surprising new story unfolds. In the meantime, enjoy this clip of The Janes and I performing together for Feeding The Soul back in 2010.
Airports have become so familiar to me that I’m beginning to build friendships with airline staff and TSA employees. Even the customs officials welcome me home or see me off with congratulations on my gigs. Homeland Security officials grew to know me over the years, mispronouncing my name at first, to questioning the validity of my jobs overseas, to eventually asking for autographs and pictures. Their gradual awareness has become the meter on which I have measured my success. Thanks TSA. You’re my TMZ.
The Heathrow lounge teems with quiet excitement like a study hall. It’s here, on my way to Istanbul, that I get time to brush my teeth, lengthen my spine, and thanks to free wi-fi, share an awesome video with you.
As you may or may not know, I keep track of flights and offset the carbon emissions by planting trees and supporting organic farms and gardens. Below is the TED talk from Graeme Sait, who’s research linking soil health to human health will open your eyes and blow your mind as he connects the health of our food to the health of our whole system. As both an organic farmer and a man of the world, this TED talk speaks directly to me, proving that there IS hope for humankind. All we have to do is humbly bow to the Earth.
In the age of information, ignorance is a choice. Thanks for spreading the message and doing your part. xo
When I lose someone, the hardest part is that I am no longer able to tell them I love them.
The music community celebrates Felipe Canete, who sang, danced and played guitar as an integral member of Luc & The Lovingtons. His Chilean heritage brought an authentic latin flavor to the heart-centered band, fusing music of many rhythms and styles to help create their unique sound.
This weekend I had the pleasure of performing again with the new generation of The Lovingtons’ musical family, who are currently on the road fulfilling the tour that Filipe booked. (You may remember The Lovingtons from previous years’ tours, or by their hit THE FREEDOM SONG, which I recorded for my album last year.)
In a small private setting yesterday, musicians and friends who knew Filipe gathered to sing and share stories, shake his percussion instruments, and honor the mystical, magical spirit of a friend who will now live on inside all of our hearts. His passing reminds me to celebrate life.
In addition to being a father and a good friend, Felipe was also a teacher, blending language lessons with music to help his students connect more intimately and joyfully with the classroom curriculum. Joy was his modus operandi. Joy and Filipe were never not seen apart.
Despite having a diagnosed condition, Filipe only always lead with this heart; suggesting to me that having compassion for your weaknesses only makes you stronger. I will miss his smile, his accent, his dance moves, and immeasurable excitement to improve the attitude of the world, but he will live forever in the music and through the many hearts of those his touched.
The Los Angeles community will honor Filipe & The Lovingtons this Tuesday, July 16th at the Roxy’s intimate upstairs room in West Hollywood. Send your love!
Last weekend I ran in the Hey Day 5k alongside pal, Jesse Billauer, to raise money for Life Rolls On, an organization he founded to fund spinal cord injury research and to help those with spinal cord injuries continue to live extraordinary lives. Jesse was injured & paralyzed in a surfing accident 17 years ago when he was just 17. After spending now half of his life in a wheelchair, Jesse mustered up the strength and courage to use what limited ability he has remaining in his arms to roll his first official 5k. We came in together just under 30 minutes.
On the run were many other athletes, some there to run, some there to roll, some to raise money, but all having fun. Thanks to those who donated and/or came out to strengthen our numbers and muscles.
At the starting line just before the race, I met Misty Diaz, runner on a mission, and walking canes! Born with Spina bifida, one of the most common birth defects with a worldwide incidence of about 1 in every 1000 births, Diaz has undergone 28 surgeries to stay on her feet. Most people with spina bifida never walk, but Misty is on zero medication and runs 5ks, 15ks, and half marathons to inspire others; showing us that one’s dreams can still be reached, no matter how long a road may seem, no matter the circumstances we are given, just so long as we never never nevergive up. Misty’s finish time was an impressive 45 minutes.
After learning about Misty’s mission to share Never Never Never Give Up with others living with spina bifida, I sent her a copy of I Won’t Give Up (9 Theory Remix) to add to her race-day playlist hoping it would support her mantra and keep her looking up. You can hear I Won’t Give Up (9 Theory Remix) by clicking on the icon below or visiting my soundcloud page.
It was election day when we arrived in The Philippines, so the streets were tame; a big departure from the usual parade of jeepneys, taxis and motorcycles that clot the highway arteries in one of the world’s most populated cities.
This mini-tour of Asia, and the upcoming tour dates for 2013 for that matter, are taking us to THE PLANET’S MOST populated cities. Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Manila, Moscow, Istanbul, and the 2nd most populated city in the world that I’d never heard of until now, Guangzhou. At first I thought, what are the odds that we’d get to travel through this top 10 list of most populated cities? How cool. But then, as slowly as a winter sun rises in the arctic, it dawned on me. Duh. It’s where the people are. It’s like that time I flew home from college, NYC to RVA, and I couldn’t believe the guy I was sitting next to was from my hometown! What are the odds I’d get sat next to a guy from Richmond VA on a flight from New York to Richmond VA? We had so much in common. Like our des’DUH’nation. …Say no to drugs, kids.
Besides Filipinos being the most spirited and most in-tune of audiences, they are also the craftiest and most clever poster-makers, hands down, (or up rather.) Looking out at the crowd last night there were almost too many good signs to consider, like “I voted for you yesterday” and “The No Wang Wang Zone” (whatever that means) and my personal favorite, “Merritt Me?” Well done Manila. Thanks for giving us such a warm reception home.
While there I also had the pleasure of catching up with the immeasurable Cecelia Oebanda from the Visayan Forum, an organization that rescues girls from trafficking. In addition to the hard work Cecelia does to keep the organization up and running to house and rehabilitate the girls, she also has to deal with death threats from traffickers who wish she’d stop interfering with their business of kidnapping and selling young girls into servitude and sex slavery. WTF? How was your day at the office?
In addition to funding and awareness, Cecelia could use more volunteers, those in psychiatry, healing, and social work to help the girls recover from their experiences. If you know anyone who can help her mission, please spread the word, share the link below and send her some love.