News for December 2010

Not So Independent

This last weekend was loaded.  On Friday I had the privilege of playing a house concert and carol sing up in Mora, MN.  In a few weeks I’ll be up there again to play at Calvary Lutheran – January 5th, be there!  In Mora someone brought a copy of their boy.girl CD along.  Who’s boy.girl?  Read on.  On Saturday Kjellgren and I went to see Tangled Blue (Joel & Aimee Pakan) at the new Dreamcoat Coffee and on Sunday River’s Voice (Rich & Trish Bruxfoort Colligan) played at Humble Walk.  Then on Tuesday I got a flier in the mail for Outlaw Ranch in South Dakota and saw that in July and August all three of us are artists in residence.  We went from three consecutive winter days in MN to three consecutive summer weeks in the Black Hills.  And this got me thinking.
I’ve known Joel since 1995.  We didn’t know each other well then, but we knew each other.  He was a senior at Concordia and I was a freshman.  He was (and remains) much cooler then I.  He already had a band then that played real gigs and he was into fringy Christian rock like VOL and Hokus Pick and the Lost Dogs  and Mike Knott’s 20 different monikers.  He introduced me to Steve Knight who subsequently introduced me to Russel Munson.  I believe Joel was at the Pierce Pettis show where I met Blaine Howard.  Blaine and Russel were in the band Trace.  A few years later there were looking for a bass player and I suggested Micah Taylor and the foursome (Leah Howard being #4) put out what remains one of the most beautiful albums I’ve ever heard.  Not to mention last years Becoming Liturgy album was recorded at Russel’s studio, Small Circus.  Back in 1999 Joel recorded one of my first bands, boy.girl featuring Rachel Kurtz (girl, now Kurtz May), Jason DeBoer-Moran (then just Moran) and  Rev. Matt Mass (who at the time was, yes, part of the priesthood of all believers, but no, not ordained.)   Rachel and I still have a few copies of that disc, but they’re getting rare and you probably can’t afford them, so we’ll just hold on to them for now.  Who am I kidding?  We’re independent musicians, name your price.
A few years down the road Joel moved up in the world when Aimee said yes and the two of them have been a full time musical duo ever since, touring as Tangled Blue. (There’s other stuff in there, but I’m not their biographer –  this is just a tangential reflection on my relationship with Tangled Blue.)  Two years ago I played one of their house concerts and last year I got to add slide guitar to a version of Amazing Grace they did.  On Saturday I was reminded not only how incredibly talented this duo is, but how fortunate I am to call them friends.
I’ve known Rich since 1997.  But he doesn’t remember.  And that’s fair enough.  He was recording an album for Youth Encounter and my teammate Tracy and I came in and sang three phrases on one song.  Or more accurately, one phrase three times: ‘come alive, come alive, come alive.’  It took about 15 seconds.  I wouldn’t remember me either.  Since then we’ve been in each other’s peripheral circle through things like Outlaw Ranch and friends like Jonathan Rundman, but we’d never really officially met. So it was a great honor to meet Rich and Trish Sunday night face to face, to listen to a bit of their story and hear a bit of their music.  And throwing food and pouring water into their son’s mouth from about 5 feet above him?  That was just a bonus.  (The other bonus of the night was that Jason and Rachel were at church and I got to tell them about the couple with the boy.girl CD in Mora.)  Again though, what talent!  Afterwards Rich and I swapped CD’s and I’ve been putting them in one after the other, getting caught up on all their great music, and I’m just at the tip of it – those guys are prolific.
I’m not a morning person so waking up at 4:45 this morning was not on purpose, nor was it welcome.  But what kept me up was thinking about how amazing these relationships are.  How deeply connected we  become over time.  I get to be part of this amazing musical community and it keeps growing.
Later this morning I’ll record the final touches for my next album.  Justin and Angie Rimbo are coming over to do a little singing, bassing, and xylophoning.  Then I’ll need one last harmony by Erin Deboer Moran (putting the Deboer in Deboer Moran since 2005)  and then it’s off to mixing.  Another album, another milestone along a not-so-independent Lutheran singer/songwriter’s journey to the… well wherever it takes me.
I’m just glad I’m not alone.
That’s my shmaltzy ending for Christmas 2010.
Thank you all.
Posted: December 23rd, 2010
Categories: friendship, music
Comments: No Comments.


Our Vanagon is changing our life.  This isn’t actually ours, but it’s identical to the one we own that is resting in our garage.  Hopefully not in a final resting sort of way.  I had no idea when we bought this thing how much koolaid we were sipping into.  It’s a Vanagon cult out there people!  Nor did we do much homework on this thing.  It was cheap, we had savings (note use of past tense), we had dreams, it was time!  And now?  Our dreams are changing.  And yes, this Vanagon is changing our life.  (I’m using the singular in the sense of the life of our family – just in case you were wondering.)

I’m an independent type that relies heavily on community.  My interests fit that well.  Writing songs is solo – performing songs is communal.  Working on bikes -for me- is solo.  Riding bikes is communal.  Baking bread, solo.  Braking bread, communal.  I think there is the same sort of independent/communal dichotomy to the Vanagon as well.  I was hoping to jump into the communal aspect without the independent time.  But it looks like the new dream is learning how to replace head gaskets.  Or more accurately, learning what and where the head gasket is.  Then we’ll dream of replacing it.  Same with CV joints and starters.  It might get into some body repair too.

Admittedly I’m bummed that it’s going to take this much time and energy to get out there and join the community. As much as I love (and this is not sarcasm) riding down sloppy snowy streets with my guitar on my xtracyle,  today is one of those days a second car would be nice.

So we spend some time alone in the garage, or with a notebook and pen, or flour salt oil sugar yeast, or in bed, and we work on these dreams and join the community.

On second thought maybe its not such a dichotomy – maybe there’s more overlap then I realize.  Maybe the community of vanagon forums will allow my independence to thrive.  Just as listeners and neighbors and family allow me to write, tinker, and bake.  Dichotomy was the wrong word.  I’m not so sure you can separate the individual from the community that  succinctly.  It’s way more messy than that.

Coincidentally, based on the Vanagon community’s input, so is replacing head gaskets.

Posted: December 7th, 2010
Categories: bike, bread, friendship
Comments: No Comments.

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