Thursday, July 28, 2016

I Know No Strangers..,.

It's only when I check into a hotel room after days on the road, camping in national forest or playing music in beautiful spaces that I realize why the world view is so negative.  Yes, there's a tv in every hotel room and sometimes I put it on.  Blood, bitching and booing is all you hear and a lot of advertisements. Fear is a great way to herd the cattle and make em fall in line and buy what you're selling.   

If you watch enough of this, these messages start becoming reality and your world view starts to change.  You start to believe there's no good in the world and that you're just this one little speck of a person trying to make a difference.  But, I know better because I have the great luxury of traveling around the country and seeing a different side of things.  I'm always amazed by the beauty of our country and the views, but the people, they are amazing.  

Meet Georges and Joline Meyers.  After a hot day of traveling from Richmond to Baltimore, I stopped at a rest area to cool off with my ice bucket of Florida water.  It was the hottest day in Baltimore since 1920.  

I couldn't help but notice the huge Fiat camper next to me.  It had a nice design and knew it was shipped here because I'd never seen one.  I didn't want to bother them but was dying to meet them but I decided to leave them alone.  I could tell they were from France by their plates as I got back into my van to leave and just then they waved with a big inviting smile as if to say, "don't leave"!

I hopped out of the van and before long I'm sitting in their van/house sharing stories and looking at a huge map of their travels from Vancouver and all through the states.  They were well traveled people.  One of their other maps was of their road trips through Russia and farther east.  I asked if it were intimidating going through there with all the terrorism going on and they smiled and said No! The people are beautiful everywhere!  I smiled really big right back at them and they at me saying nothing.  It's a feeling you only know if you travel.  We bonded on such a deep level barely being able to communicate, but we spoke with our hearts.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We Are The Solution......

Yesterday, a dear friend Dustin Tomlinson, wrote that he was being sent to Baton Rouge to aid the police force in these trying times.  I met Dustin when he was right out of high school and we met because of my music and we have always had a special relationship and have seen him in many cities at my shows.  It hit me hard to see that he was being sent to Baton Rouge and it showed me how complex the situation is not only in our country but in the world. 

Dustin is not a racist, not a power hungry guy who wants to beat people.  He is a good citizen who has traveled the world and happens to be a policeman.  When I first saw the photo of the beautiful girl in a dress and the line of policeman in military garb, I was mortified.  This was the same town I grew up going to as a kid to see LSU play or to go to the night club 2010.  In those days, 2010 seemed like a long ways away, but we never imagined our future would look like this.  

I read an article the other day about the news media and it said "If it bleeds, it leads".  With the advent of ad blockers on computers, it's harder and harder to get peoples attention and violence is the only thing that will get people to pay attention.  Ever notice when driving up on a terrible accident and you can't help but look?  It's the same concept and journalist are going after the money.  These are the only stories that sell.   The media is whipping us into a frenzy and has everyone on edge and in conflict.

"So instead of reducing violence, the way the news media covers violence fuels more violence in a positive feedback loop - a vicious cycle."

I have kept quiet while watching all of this.  I'm not one to speak my mind because I don't think that my opinion is the only opinion.  I do feel that empathy is key.  If we all could wake up each day and realize that every human wants the same thing as you.  We want to feel good about ourselves and contribute to society.  

But I can't just sit and watch and not at least write in my own journals while even a terrorist attack in Paris is connected to my circle of friends.  The band that was playing during the attack was very good friends of some people I know and they come to New Orleans often.  Things are getting too close.  It used to be terror was a thing far off but now it's people you know.  Now close friends of mine are being thrown into the fire to protect us.  It's easy to see the other side as evil, but there are good people in every walk of life who can choose to remember why they're doing what they're doing.  I'm sure there are many good folks who wanted a life in politics but after a few years in D.C., they get seduced by some corporation and then they check their morals at the door and change.  It's the same for cops, businessmen, and even musicians.  How many artist sell out and play the game.  It's ugly.  But there are people out in the world who are strong and are good.  American politics is a mess and have always been a mess.  You'll see if you research it.  The left and right have always been fighting and the whole time the people have been the make up of this American life.  We are the people that make up our little communities and we are the ones living the beautiful relationships born into the complexity of what it means to be American.  

Just like Dustin Tomlinson, I was born in St. James Parish, Louisiana.  Born in a place laced with plantation homes that were built long before us.  We suited up in football uniforms and lined up with many of our African American brothers.  Sure, men before us made horrific decisions but we managed to get past it and create some beautiful, lasting relationships.  It's so hard to articulate all my feelings and thank God that I have music and song to run to.  It's hard, because our system is broken on both sides but we can choose to get up everyday and do good.  Often, I can feel powerless but then I realize that I can do good everyday.  Yesterday, I was polishing my van full of pride, when a guy from Mexico came up and asked to take pictures of my van.  He said he sent his dad a pic and they both cried thinking of their simpler times they had in the van they once owned.  Everyday, I aim to connect with people and to be present and look them in the eye.  We can make a difference.  The government is only the government and the television is just a noisy box.  The country is still full of beautiful people.  You are beautiful and need to work hard to find empathy and find the strength to love even when you don't understand.  The aim is to be selfless in a selfish society.  Nothing is more gangster than that!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Going 63 In An Overheated Country......

I set out on the road again the other day for a two month tour.  I booked back to back nights in two different cities for the first time and rushed to my second show in Atlanta and went 70mph at times.  This is something I never do.  The whole point of having my Westfalia is to slow down and live a minimalist life and to live in love everyday with my journey, in good times and bad.  When I got to Atlanta, my coolant was leaking and my van was not happy.  It was no big deal, just one of the hoses that I hadn't replaced yet, but I saw it as a sign to slow down and remember what it is that I'm doing.  

Perhaps, this is the problem with society today.  We have the cruise control set to 100mph and we want to go faster.  We're going too fast to see each other and taking in so much information.  I sometimes feel crazy for quitting a good job with good people to hit the road to play music in the age of downloading, but most of the time I feel happy.  Happy to be useful in society. 

The Brody's in Decatur, Ga. are becoming good friends after hosting two shows in the past year and a half.  I'm Myla's second favorite artist after Taylor Swift.  She thinks I play stadiums.  

Last Friday, Paul Hebert hosted a show in Madison, Al.  We played at the old Black Bear. What a sweet family and love that little town.  

Into the sweetness of the unknown.  I'm sitting in a Nashville cafe and don't give a damn about all the super star musicians.  When I peruse the magazine sections in the book store, I skip the rock god magazines.  I feel like people need to get off of their hi horses and put their feet on the ground and find empathy.  Empathy is key right now to get us out of this mess.  Man has been fighting since the beginning of time, you think we would have figured this out by now with all of our technology and cleverness.  May music find its healing powers.