Devils Lake / Wisconsin.
Timmy The Teeth / Devil’s Lake / Bike O’ Die.
We piled in the last large box of miscellaneous merchandise into the back of the 1999 Ford Econoline 150 that has (for some magical reason) been our fairly faithful road chariot for the past 7 years. We had a 22-hour drive ahead of us and it felt as if it was the first time I was doing this. It had been 9 months since the last time we were traveling from city to city, singing songs, giving our best effort to ward away the dark that accompanies any weary road traveler. Within the first two days I was back in the rhythm of a past life, being reminded, in a constant fashion, of years spent sleeping on the floors of strangers, waking and driving to the next unknown adventurous (or non) city only to sing more songs that I might or might not want to sing, all the while feeling slightly fulfilled and slightly empty from the experience. Past lifes are non-existent. I can hardly feel any sibilance with the man that i once was. And should i be expected to? I look at that man in the past, whether though song, photo or thought and feel very little for him, and hope to feel the same for the one that is currently speaking, (in this pseudo-real online journal) in the coming years. Now I am no SNAKE, but the shedding and sloughing of my current self to re-emerge as something different, stronger, better (oh yes, better? could it be?) is the hope of any progression in the human experience (I think). And would you expect said snake to crawl back in his crippled scales? To regress to his former body and thought? AH, such a silly concept really. It all is.
Two wheels to Four / Iowa
And so on to road we were. We pulled into Spring Green, Wisconsin, a town of 1200 people, and a gorgeous one at that. We swam in their river, drank their coffee and felt a kinship with its people, truly. We were out amongst people looking to live and feel, experience SOMETHING, god, ANYTHING. I think I felt that from this midwestern town. We headed into and made our way through Iowa, playing Cedar Rapids and Minburn, two of our favorite places to sing and people to learn from. The experience in these towns was only accentuated by the fact that we had decided, before leaving, to bring bikes on this tour. We were able to see the city from a much different view and (futuristically speaking) I have NO plans of touring in any other fashion. BIKE OR DIE. Really.
Boys with boys on boys.
After our incredible Wisconsin and
Iowa visits we made our way to Illinois. We were scheduled to play one of the
greatest venues that we have had the pleasure of singing at. S.P.A.C.E. is
located just outside of Chicago, in Evanston. Upon entering the place you feel
instantly welcomed and at home. The kindest kind of humans run the place and
are happy to offer a hand, a smile, a microphone upon request. I have NOTHING
but the BEST of things to say about that place/about those people. The
experience of singing in that environment, on that night, felt right, TOO
RIGHT (as if). The sharing of our “human-ness” through song and light
conversation filled me with the giddiest of feelings. OH, how grateful I am and
will always be (that I could ever predict such a thing (what a fool)) for the
chance to sing for anyone, and that anyone would care to listen, YES, that
overwhelming"ness" of it.
After Evanston we headed into North Dakota and then back down into Nebraska where i was able to see the two great people that gave me life. Since leaving home at 18 I have had constant contact with my parents, but on a very semi-regular basis. For me it feels inevitable for the distance (emotionally speaking) to grow with so little FACE-TIME involved. I find it hard to connect with things outside of my own selfish world. I know it to be silly but feel that the world is just this (me, looking around this current coffee shop, staring at the man in the suit, speaking French on his cellular device and looking smug. The girl in the corner on her apple computer and headphones on seeing the world through a screen of likes and dislikes, at least for the current moment.) my world of streets and mountains, struggles and cigarettes, singing and trying, children trying to raise more children. The weight and the wonder is everywhere but seem to only reside on my shoulders; I have never been good about RISING above it and viewing my emotions as a submergible thing. I live in them as I do my body, as I do my mind, all things swirling together to form what you may call “A PERSON” or “A SOUL” or really any label you would care to attach to such a thing. In those few days that I was able to see my parents I felt that connection and desire for such come trickling back in. But as soon as it came it slowly faded away as we pointed the van toward our home state, our minds filled with thoughts of how the life back home will be. Cupcakes on the counter, clothes on the dryin’ line, lovers in lace and showers of praise. Isn’t it funny what a mind can muster?
Garden Green / Land Of Cauliflower / Willamette MTN
Garlic Greatness / Willamette MTN
Melon Madness / Willamette MTN
Smug and Home / Willamette MTN
As wondrous as it is to speak to another it is equally as wonderful to not, to say nothing and bask in the mysterious creation and destruction of life. I find it more common than anywhere else inside of the “LAND OF CAULIFLOWER” out behind Willamette MTN, where we grow our vegetables. I arrived home in time to harvest our garlic and onions, beets and cucumbers, carrots and cauliflower. The simplicity with which one is able to learn the most primitive of procedures to grow food is somewhat of a joke. Plant a seed. I am FOREVER in awe of it. Every year i feel even more amazed / confused at how the whole things works. And every year it does (works).
Praying at Dinner / Willamette MTN
Padre and Beauty / Willamette MTN
I am now in the final stretches of finishing what will become the new record. I am somewhat of a nerve-wreck in its details and lyrical vulnerability. BUT, my gawd, isn’t it beautiful when you can let it go and believe that said exposition would be safe with those that you surround yourself with?
Boy, I hope so.
On and On and On and On
(SEE THE CARROT PEOPLE BATTLE FOR RIGHT AND WRONG BELOW)
Carrot People / Tin Man
Carrot People / Pants and Dogs.
Carrot People / Darkness from Below
Carrot People / 4Four Legs and a Dimple
The last 30 days have passed in the blink of an eye. I find myself in constant amazement at the amount of time that passes between each entry inside of this online journalistic endeavor. 30 bloody days is a long time to not remind yourself of the absolute beauty that is found in your existence. NOW, lets just be TRUTH-full, it isn’t that one “needs” to record, report, analyze/over-analyze every move, moment and occurrence in ones life, BUT, as a forgetful and often time irresponsible man I find that reminders of what is and what has been keep the proverbial “DARK DOG” farther from my door (again, proverbially speaking. Most dogs I meet bring very little “darkness” to my life).
There has been much activity over the past month and I am happy to have been thrown into the whirlwind of Summer’s plethora of outdoor activity. In late June we headed to Zion National Park to meet up with my family and try our hand at face-to-face communication and connection. The time was well spent amongst my bloodline. We took the latter part of the last day of the trip to visit a waterfall that is found in the middle of the desert. This waterfall is found shortly after engaging in a rigorous five-mile drive along a (very) wicked and rocky road that eventually spits you out in front of what is known as Toquerville Falls. This oasis is one that I have heard of for several years but had not, up until this point, found myself in the right time/mind frame to visit. Funny how time shows ya that it ain’t you, it’s her.
Ollie / Sun-Glassed.
Mama & Child. Toquerville Falls.
Fotos of my GANG /Toquerville Falls.
Emerald Pools / Zion National Park / Ollie-ver.
It was a nice 6 days before the 4th of July
weekend (post-Zion). The garden had quickly turned from plant to produce,
serving up baskets of beets, garlic, onions, carrots, summers squash, potatoes,
cukes, kale and comfort. The brassicas, tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peppers,
melons, and their siblings have been taking their time with their appropriate
growth. The 4th of July came quickly and we decided to skip the
American pageant/parade/fiasco that can render very little inspirational thought
and in stead headed to American Fork Canyon where we found ourselves at the
Silver Lake trail head. With a child carrier device, an apple, granola bar and
two bottles of water we started on the 5 mile round trip hike up to an oasis of
water and vista. OH!! The majesty of the mountains. I had yet to hike up to
Silver Lake and was amazed at the beauty found there. Upon arriving to the top
our bodies were hot and felt the need to cool off in the low temperatures of
the lake. Off with clothing and in we went. The water felt revitalizing and
real (this might sound odd, but it really did feel “REAL”). We ate our apple
and granola bar and made it safely back down the mountain. The night of the 4th
we found ourselves in the comfort of our friends and neighbors, watching as
they lit off their grocery sacks of spitting, sputtering, popping and poofing
fireworks. Ollie was taken a back at the magic that can be found in the
combination of fire and gunpowder.
Silver Lake Hike / Mille & Ollie / “Caravan Hiking”
Silver Lake / My Lady.
Gardens / Rad Boy / Ollie-ver.
The next day (July 5th) would, though EXTREMELY
unforeseen/unpredicted, change my life/mind/look on the love and living of
one’s existence. David Helfrich sounded kind through email, our correspondence
stemmed from his desire to make some recordings here, inside the MTN. We had
settled on July 5th and had plans of recording 6 cover songs that he
had a deep connection with. As the morning of the 5th arrived I tidied
the studio, wrapped the cables and sat on the back porch, coffee in hand,
waiting for my mystery man to arrive. David rang the doorbell and upon opening
offered me his hand and a smile that could crack a crook. I showed him the
house and the animals after which we headed up to the studio where our next five
days would be spent. Over the course of those five days I found myself falling
deeper and deeper in appreciation for this man. I am in the “business” where
meeting and conversing with complete strangers has become somewhat of the
normal protocol, but with David, it felt much less strange and much more
strangeless (huh?). Our recording sessions went from intense focus on the music
to even more intense conversations of children, music, cycling, travel, the goodness
of humans and the like. As our five days came to a close I felt a small piece
of me leaving with him, as he drove his way back to California. The way that
people come and go, passing through our vision of the world is what weaves the
reds, blues, and greens into the tapestry of the indescribable “human
experience”. I am thrilled that David made his way into mine.
David Helfrich and Me.
Ike RuRu / Basser / Mix Notes / Roof-side.
Evan - The Train / Octave Mandolin / TRUE Love.
Last Day of Mixing JITTERS / Thunder Storm Dancing.
It is now mid-July and I am to leave for a 10-day tour through the midwestern states of the USA. I am happy to be singing for a spell. To be with my brothers and comrades. To breathe the air of the open road. To taste of the potent and intoxicating elixir of a TRAVELING LIFE.
On we go.
THROUGH LIFE and the living.
Finding it all out and finding out nothing in the stroke of a breath.
Darlins of the Trail / Timpooneke Trail / Summer 2015
Ollie-VER / Tank Canyon / Cave Dwellin’
Summer has stolen my heart, just I like I knew it would / could. The sun’s constant ray of life giving light comes early and fades late, just how it SHOULD be. It is the season of the dancing king and I am finding it just as enthralling as ever. The year is slowly creeping by and I have been fortunate enough this year to be asked to work on EVEN more recordings for artists that are on a MUSICAL journey. Over the last 7 years or so I have taught myself a bit here and a bit there about the mystical world of recording. Apart from my own music I have had the GRAND pleasure to be a part of the process with so many artists. At the end of 2014 I had the notion to try and compile one song from each of these amazing artists that I have worked with and put them all onto a record. As I approached each one of these artists/friends the response was unanimous with a resounding “YUP”. And so, after the record was compiled I approached local graphic artist / friend Jess Smart Smiley to draw a rendition of the painting that hangs on the west wall here inside of Willamette MTN. The cat with human hands is an animal that both Emma and grew quite fond of. He lived here with us for quite sometime before his passing. It is (still) a story that gets my eye’s reservoirs filled to the brim of overflowing.
Jasper, the past king of the MTN, and his kind eyes watch
Jasper in Paint / Willamette MTN / Painting by Brian Koch
Pedal Children / Willamette MTN
And with that direction, Jess went to the (quite literal)
drawing board and created the artwork for the compilation about which I ramble.
Once the artwork was finished we submitted the music and art to a reproducer of
vinyl records and waited for the arrival of what is now known as “Made Inside
The MTN”, 12 songs from 12 different artists around the country, all
made/recorded inside of Willamette Mountain. I am proud to call these artists my friends, my amigos, my compadres.
The songs are as follows:
1. Ancient Days - Grayson Schick
2. Million Missing Pieces - RuRu
3. Black Knees – Andrew S. Burden
4. Stardust - Westward The Tide
5. Conscience - Joshua James
6. Dollar Train - Timmy The Teeth
7. Flood - Aaron Joseph Puzey
8. You Really Got A Hold On Me - Kenz Hall
9. Seven Seas - John Allred
10. Lung - Kyle Henderson w. The Coyote Howlers
11. I’m Not Home Yet - Armon Jay
12. For You I Built A Mountain - Luke Mitchem
Boy and Pa / Made Inside The MTN
The record has arrived and each of the artists found above have copies of the album that will be sold from venues around the states. It is a family and culture that is desired. Like mindedness, kindness, pursuit of love and art. This desire and dream ‘s first offspring has been pressed into the grooves of a polyvinyl chloride disc that can be purchased here and will ship out on it’s release date of July 7th 2015. The compilation will also be made available on Itunes, Amazon mp3, Spotify and the like with 100% of the digital sales to be donated to the World Food Programme .
Support LOCAL business. LOCAL Art. LOCAL humans.
Summer is here and we’re all lookin for a bit of groove.
Joshua Fred James