From The Top of Willamette Mountain

Theres no reason to be excited, except!!! for the fact that we're all going to HELL

Dirt Dinner / Four Weeks of Travel / New Thought on Thinking.

It was a total of 28 days. Being away has grown to mean a different thing since the arrival of one of the most incredible human beings I have had the chance of knowing, Mr. Oliver Fred James. Traveling has grown to be a part of my being and I can’t deny it’s ambivalent effect on my state of happiness and progress. It is out amongst the wide-open space of consiousness that I find my darkest and brightest days. There is a wicked righteousness to its stinging and stark realization of life and death. I find that it cures me (for the most part) and aids the slow to heal cuts that life inflicts along the way.

Evan and I left for Australia March 3rd to tour with the great Neil Finn of New Zealand. I knew that my heart would long for my lover and my boy, but one (me) must carry themselves through the flame of existence and adventure before taking on the cargo of weight that another is tethered to, across the great lake of death and life (and even then should they?) that ALL are expected to see. And with ALL of that we boarded the jet-airliner. The plane took us 14 hours from Los Angeles to Brisbane, Australia where the time would eventually make our minds wake at un-god-lee hours and cause our brains to suffer from a mild case of sleep deprivation. There were so many (I might even say too many) life altering experiences along the in and out roads of the Australian hi-ways and by-ways that I couldn’t begin to start on such things or we might be here until next week, and we can’t have that (YOU CAN NOT). We learned to drive on the left side of the road, we drove through some of the most beautiful country that my eyes have had the privilege of seeing, we met Neil Finn, who, for some reason let us play before him every night on his Australian tour in some of the finest cities and venues that the OUTBACK has to offer. We went from

NAMBOUR  (log walkers. faux talkers)

to

BRISBANE  (jungle -ites)

to

CANBERRA  (A Call. A Whistle. BIG SKY)

to

GEELONG (Roos make no fuss / Animal Kingdom)

to

MELBOURNE (on the 100 acre farm, high above the city)

to

ADELAIDE  (Children leading childlike)

to

PERTH (Boy meets Boy / Beach-Side Behavior)

to

SYDNEY (moments before taking the ferry to the Opera House)

INSIDE THE HOUSE OF THE OPERA.   Best Friends // Best Life.

where we ended the tour at the infamous Sydney Opera House, we spent the night(s) with people we had never met, but yet were willing to let us invade their homes and spaces for days, allowing us a freedom to explore the “REAL” culture of Australia. We surfed off the coast of Geelong and Perth and danced with the waves of the Indian Ocean. Kangaroos accompanied us on our morning jog when staying on a beautiful 100-acre farm outside of Melbourne. We have been supported by an amazing Australian Record Company (Cooking Vinyl), and by many of the people that were in attendance at the shows throughout our time in the land “down under”. The three weeks that we were able to spend there passed us by like the whipping wind and before we were able to notice we were aboard the Virgin Airlines flight # DL146 heading to Los Angeles, California.

            The flight was a horrendous 13 hours from Sydney to Los Angeles dropping our overly exhausted bodies off at the gate that lead into the zoo of an airport. LAX. It was 7am local time and we had left Australia at 11:30am, the same time. We had traveled back in time, literally leaving us 4 and a half hours younger than when the wheels of the plane had lifted. We wandered around down town L.A. before popping our heads into Amoeba Record Store. The morning and day (for that matter) felt strange and spacey. Our bodies hadn’t rested (properly) for over 30 hours by the time the night sky came. At around 4pm we contacted the owner of the Hotel Café to see if there were any available spots that night to play. Our brains and bodies wouldn’t allow for a day off and we were determined to do some singin’ somewhere/anywhere. “You’re on!” said Marko through my digital device. We played, though highly exhausted, from 10pm to 11pm and decided it was time to call it a day.

HOTEL CAFE  (Mirage Image / Ghost of Evan) photo by Chris Stills

            The following day we played in Solana Beach at the Belly Up before heading to Ojai to play for the kids of the Thacher School. The experience in Ojai was magnificent. We finished our singings by 8pm and the school had provided a hotel for us to stay at while visiting the small city along the coast. We loaded our stuff into the hotel room and headed to a small restaurant/bar that served 100’s of different types of beer and wine. Evan and I sat across from each other, reminiscing on what had just occurred in our lives and the fortunate state in which we found ourselves as musicians and human beings. Oh! The wonder some adventures that we have been able to have. We are thankful. Eternally & Forever (we are). Before we knew it the features on the wall started to come in at a slight blur and the conversation continued with a heightened sense of laughter and silliness. We walked back to the hotel where I convinced Evan to join me in the hot tub. Two boys, a bottle of wine and world of wonder to discuss lead us to the wee small hours of the morning, examining the road that is laid out before us. The travels and times, the possibility of family expansion and children. The constellations written in the sky. Life, death and the ever-evolving concepts of the fate of us both kept the night’s discussions interesting and evolved. The morning came earlier than expected and I read a good portion of the George Jones autobiography “I Lived To Tell It All”. I loaded my backpack in the rental car and told Evan that I was going to try and hitchhike to the next town and to call me when he was leaving. I walked a good couple of miles before anyone picked me up. Zach drives a ’99 Chevy Blazer, he is a middle aged man with an apparent lack of direction to where is he going and why. He explained to me that he had no plans, near nor far, for what he was embarking on. I found him beautifully composed and collected with how his life was turning out and he didn’t seem to be concerned about changing that any time soon. He dropped me off near the Ventura exit, where Evan picked me up and we drove the remainder of the way into LA. We played the Troubadour that night and I was off to see my baby boy and my lover in the morning.

TROUBADOUR  (The Ghost of George Jones / Choices)

            As I sat there on the jet way, waiting for the other passengers to exit the plane, I could hardly contain my excitement to see my two lovebirds. They were there at the security gates, waiting my arrival, and it took my breath away to hold them close. The travels of my life have brought me from one coast to another. I have found inspiration in the eyes and the voices of many that I have had the chance to meet and learn from. But amongst it all, through the late nights and blurry mornings, the singing and the sights, I find my heart returning to this place. My greatest joy, my soul and my THUNDER belong in the arms of my lover, in the eyes of my boy. We spent the whole two days together. We dug trenches and planted early wonder beets, golden beets, Amarillo carrots, Little finger carrots, Dandy half long carrots, rutabagas, and blue kale before weeding around the small garlic stalks that are beginning to break their hands through the soil.

FIRST WORM. Ollie-Ver in The Land Of Cauliflower.

DIRT DINNER  (A Lesson In Horticulture)

We also were able to start, under our grow lights, our year’s tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and the like. It is some the most exciting times, for it is THE ONLY TIME THAT EXISTS. The beautifully terrible “PRESENT”. She is always here and never leaving or arriving, to find her is to find my muse.

The day ended with a wonderful recipe taken from Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Every Day” cookbook.

Pan Fried Mung Beans with Tempeh (we opted out on the yogurt)

Ingredients 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce
225 g tempeh, cut into pencil-thick strips
255 g broccoli or broccolini florets, trimmed into bitesized
pieces
Fine sea salt
225 g cooked mung beans
Grated zest of 1 lemon
20 g packed fresh coriander leaves, chopped

85 g Greek-style yoghurt or crème fraîche

Procedure
Whisk together the olive oil and shoyu in a wide shallow bowl and add the tempeh. Toss gently until
the tempeh is well coated and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
Place the tempeh, in a single layer, in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Reserve any
left-over olive oil mixture; there should be about 1 tablespoon. Cook the tempeh until both sides are
deeply golden, a few minutes on each side. Remove the tempeh from the pan.
Add the reserved olive oil mixture to the frying pan over medium–high heat. Stir in the
broccolini and a couple pinches of salt. Cover and cook for just a minute to cook it through. Uncover
and stir in the mung beans. Sauté, stirring constantly, until the broccolini is bright and slightly tender
and the beans are hot, another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and
coriander.
In a small bowl, stir together the yoghurt and 2 pinches of salt.
Turn out the bean mixture onto a platter, top with the tempeh and a few dollops of the salted
yoghurt, and serve immediately.

______________________________________________________________

It is good to be home, even if it is just for a spell. We are to leave Wednesday for San Francisco and I am excited (ALWAYS) to be able to sing and dance with some of the greatest boys ever. The “PRESENT” is the only adventure, for tomorrow never arrives. Long for the current of life!

Oh, my heart is full!

The fullness of which I could never tell!

Joshua Fred J.

Records and Ice. Under the Gun and The Land Down Under.

Time quickly trickles through the start of yet another “NEW” year.

February and I am barely learning to live in 2014. March has her hand already grabbing at the handle and I feel that my life is slipping away from me with no one / nothing stopping it. My time, or at least what I would deem “MINE”, is arranged and scheduled up till the last minute of day light (for better or worse). I find little time to do anything but make music, record music, listen to music, feed myself, feed my boy, feed my lover, and do it all again the next day. It is an intense, or at least has been since the New Year, way to exist. I find it exhausting / invigorating / and wonderful. I feel to be the most fortunate human being. I am able to eat, to sing, to love, to live and to exist in a beautiful and wildly “conducive to creativeness” environment. And though my days are filled with much, MUCH busyness I still am grateful for it all.

In this already incredibly eventful year I have made the mighty leap to try something that I had only dreamed about in years gone by. My heart beats quicker every time that I find myself gripping the edge of a cliff, scaling and scurrying up its magnificent face. The summer months are filled with such rushes and activities. But the winter!? Oh, what of the winter!? I had heard whispers from local climbers of an activity that some might deem “reckless” or dare I say “negligent”, a little thing they call ICE CLIMBING. My good friend / comrade / confidant invited me to go with him and his brother up Bridal Veil Falls to indulge in this breakneck activity, and I wasn’t about to turn it down.

“ABSOLUTELY!” I cried out when he called me early that Monday morning. “Ok, we are leaving at 7am, bring a warm pair of pants, thick socks, and a very heavy pair of gloves.” He announced with vigor. My heart leapt from my chest as I hung up the phone. Was I really doing this? Was I prepared to throw an axe into the side of a mountain of ice and scale its icy mask? Well, prepared or not, I was going. The morning came and I reached for my alarm. 5:40am. Time to wake. I made coffee and gathered my things. As I drove to Eli’s house my mind was moving at a million miles an hour, ever contemplating the risk, the wildness, the adventure! We made small talk from his house to the base of the climb. After hiking up to the where the climbs would begin I felt chills run up and down my spine. I was instructed to put “crampons” on my boots and get ready with my harness and axes. I did as was instructed and place myself at the bottom of what appeared to be the angriest slab of ice I had come into contact with. “Ok, climb on partner!” Eli said through his undeniably charming smile. I dug the axe into the ice, and with alarming sturdiness it held my weight. Little by little I made my way to the top of the mountain. I reached the top just as my arms were about to give up the ghost of muscular life. I was safely let down to the bottom before repeating the process a mere 25 minutes later, each time letting go of the harbored fears that I had held onto since hearing of this seemingly dangerous hobby. By the time we were hiking down to take refuge in our vehicles I had grown quite fond if this “ice climbing” and made a promise to return to the icy cliffs as soon as was possible. I had taken on the fear of an unknown CREATURE and beat it within an inch of its life. AHOY!

ICE CLIMBIN’

In other news. I have recently been holed up inside of Willamette MTN, setting up and tearing down microphones, guitar amps, drum sets and pushing keys to record the sounds of some mighty musicians. The most recent recordings have been of my good drumming friend (new to be father) Timmy The Teeth. We decided to do the record together and started the very next day. It was a whirlwind of singing, drumming and recording over the course of 6 days before we finished it. I am ever so grateful that he would trust me to be the man behind the board. As we put the finishing touches on Timmy’s record we were all the while getting ready for our (The Coyote Howlers and I) show in Provo at the much loved / respected Velour Live Music Gallery. It seemed that it was one thing after the other and the show went on without a hitch. We sang from the top of our lungs, playing each part with vigor and intrigue. I am AMAZED at the feeling that a guitar or a microphone can give a man. As we finished our show and headed to the back room of VELOUR the crowd cheered on, asking for one more song. I headed back out and played a song that I have never sang for anyone but my loneliness, after which Evan and I sang George Jones’ “Choices” while asking Timmy and his lady with child to stand in the middle of the audience. The crowd formed a circle around them and we sang our last number of the evening. It was a moving moment for me, personally. My care for Timmy and the rest of the boys runs deep within me and I am a fortunate man to know such beautiful human beings.

The Blinking Lights at Willamette MTN

Assistant Engineer Oliver Fred

D7 during “Timmy The Teeth” Recordings

Timmy The Teeth

My days are running few before my departure to the unknown (unknown to me) lands of Australia. Evan and I are to join Neil Finn on his Australian tour starting March 3rd. The adventures will surely become another large chapter in my life as a singing, traveling merry man and I will do my damndest to keep a well-documented journal of my whereabouts and adventures. Following the Australian tour we are flying to Los Angeles to start a US tour that will run through April and into May. My mind is acclimating to the idea of leaving my boy and my lover, my home and my animals to travel and journey to places I have never been. I am torn and intrigued at the thought of leaving again. My heart belongs here, but my heart belongs there. Is it possible to possess a heart that belongs nowhere and everywhere all the while? If it is, then I am burdened / blessed with it (such a thing, OH, such a thing). I have a head full of hope and a mouth full of song. I am to journey to the end of my world, and with a joyful sound I will.

joshua

IF I GO UNDER WATER. I ONLY MEAN IT WELL.

There is a light grounding that can occur with the LOSS of one’s mind. Be it in love, be it in music, be it AT ALL.

My Broken Heart #1

My Broken Heart #2

There is a strange place that exists in reality that is anything but (reality). A beautiful and intoxicating place that is reserved for the maddening of the mind. I haven’t the foggiest of ideas of what it might/should/could be called, but it IS real. It is a definite place, and it is under THAT mighty, HEAVY hand that I will find myself entrapped, succumbing to its needy demands.

I should (should I?) expound.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege to record a local and talented musician that has peppered the musicality of the valley for years now. I felt a sense of pride when I was approached to be the producer of his recordings. I promised him that we would take it (the direction of the song) to where each song would send us, not looking back, marching further into the abyss of unknown possibilities / creation. When I find myself recording and or writing for an extended period of time I go into a place that I would have to / hate to call distant from “most” realities. My mind becomes obsessive with the “task at hand”, the vision of my current state/reality. And though I can’t stand to admit it to myself I become despondent and reclusive with both my conversation and the sharing of common/similar/related thought.

A minor close down. A sabbatical of the brain.

The record took a week to do and when the following Monday found her way onto the plate of the present I was just coming out of the cloud. Slightly confused and slightly alarmed at that which I had been under. It can’t really make too much sense with the phrasing that I am currently using, in fact it probably shouldn’t, but I felt it necessary or at least prudent to document my state of being. I am happy with what we created. Musical and pretty.

FOREST EYEZ (John Allred and SONGZ)

I am now finding my way into the slow and slightly startling realization that there are many musical jaunts / departures / arrivals that will be happening in the coming months. We are fortunate enough to be playing in Australia with the beautifully talented Mr. Neil Finn . And then will continue our journeys into April around the United States. Quickly there after we have the plans of recording the next set of songs / record. That sense of excitement is powerful and (at times) overwhelming. There is a strong current of adventure that sweeps me down the river of traveling and singing. Moving and living. It is strong and eager, aggressive and un-relenting. I reach for the hand of my lover and my boy and drag them into IT ALL, along my side. Hoping (and always so) that it is the correct (or one of the correct) trail to march along. BUT in all reality, what can that really mean? Is there a CORRECT trail / path? I have (my mind) a hard time believing it to be so. There is good. There is bad. Be good. Do good. Find kindness (self) and give. If you are bad then you should just die off. The world is too hectic / stress filled / big to take the UNKINDNESS, the inflation of ego, the perversity, the darkness (though darkness is rampant). That should be what the world lives by, it could / should be as simple as that.

Be Kind Or Die!

That’s it.

Joshua Fred.

Seasonal Delights. A Hearty Hand Can Kill A Man.

Tis The Season for Cutlery by Father James

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Christmas.

Holiday.

“THE SEASON”

It’s a constant tension with the lightest release. The season of snow and Santa, the curious addiction to buying unneeded “EVERYTHINGS. Her grasp starts even before the day of Thanksgiving arrives and gets comfortable while stretching her already over reaching grasp throughout the rest of the year. Engraving her name into the brains of our modern day culture. Now, that being said it is hard to slander the season for her unrelenting desire to push the American mind to  B U Y  everything in his/her sight out of true (if it is indeed true) desire to  G I V E  to the sister, the friend, the father, the neighbor.  I am not saying IT / THIS to sound ungrateful for that which I have been/was/will be given. I say it because I just can’t shake the pressure, the looming energy that surrounds the shopping malls and online purchases, causing my Cortisol levels to break nearly from the point of no return, and sending my heart into a Paul Simon-esque rhythm. It is all together terrible/un-needed/un-welcomed and non-sensical.

I need to drink more water, breathe slower, see more mountain. During such a “trying” time of the year I can’t help but believe that my body gives up double the time that it initially intended to live. I feel too young to suffer from such a stress-riddled season. Tour came to a close. I returned home. And it was time for a break from heavy living/breathing.

I see my parents on a very irregular basis. I felt determined to spend this time of cheer/stress and color with the ones who gave me life. I would stop at no expense. If it was my pocket book that should take the brunt of their travels then so be it. They were spending it with us. No question. No excuse. I rung my Mother on the telephone and explained my plan.

You are to spend the Christmas season with me.” I muttered with a strong sense of determination.  “Is that right?” She responded with the same amount of retort. “I haven’t seen you or Papa for a good while now, wouldn’t you talk to him, in regards to spending Christmas here? It would mean so much to us. Emma and Oliver would just be tickled to be able to open gifts around the tree with you two.” There was a silence. “I will talk to him tonight.” The next day my Mother informed me that they would be coming out for the season and that they were excited to see us. Flights were booked, and it became official. The realization of their staying became something of twitch in my mind. The house/MTN was a disaste.  And for five days? What would we have them do so that they not loose their hard working minds? Those two are not the kind to sit around while the television turns their brains into non-thinking / non-functioning jelly. I had to think of something.

OLLIE-ver at Coffee Kingdom. (Preparation Planning) #radboyzonly

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Bring down the blankets! FATHER is coming!

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Preparatory Measures

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My mother came out three days before my father and we spent the days in a strong cloud of cooking fine food, feeding the farm animals, watching movies, listening to The Carpenters sing Christmas songs, and catching up on any and all of life’s current and past events over what felt like thousands of cups of hot tea. I am grateful for her heart and willingness to open up to me. After my Father arrived to the airport early Christmas Eve morning we swung by the coffee shop and shared opinions and thoughts on the current climate of Utah/American politics before heading to the MTN. As soon as we arrived back we started in on the sour dough baguettes. I had made the leaven the previous night and we made the dough so to let it rise properly before baking.  We then spent the remainder of Christmas Eve day under the protection of the SEASONAL ANGELS.

THE BAGUETTES!

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Christmas Eve night arrived and we (Mother, Father, Brother, Lover & Son) huddled around the house with graham cracker built houses and buckets of high fructose corn syrup laden confections for decorative purposes and put out hands to work, building the finest of ginger bread houses sans the ginger bread (graham crackers seemed to suit us fine). Every shingle, door, wreath, and gutter was constructed from some sugary refinement. The decorating came to a close and we wept at the beauty and individualistic spirit that each and every house seemed to whisper. My Mother’s was the best. She has a true gift. The night ended around the fire, talking and drinking home brewed kombucha.

The morning came and with it, Christmas. As a child I can recall the almost unbearable frenzy that the mentioned morning would send me into. I would wait at the top of the stairs until my parents would call us six children down to feast on stockings stuffed with oranges and chocolate and indulge in the unwrapping of so many unknown offerings. It is a time that has come and gone, one that I surely do miss. The morning of Christmas 2013 felt different. The goats still needed fresh water and hay, the chickens their respective feed, the dogs their morning attention, and the like. It was as any other day but with a different name. The sun still crested the mountains, the wind still whipped and my mind still wandered. The three boys headed out for a Christmas morning walk while Emma prepared Ebelskivers for the gang. We sat around the table that morning, discussing the New Year and the many adventures that the 2014 might bring. The day quickly passed her responsibilities to the nighttime and we found ourselves hungry after our gift giving and receiving, our visiting and vocations and I had just the magic ticket for the occasion. I had made the plan of preparing a traditional Venezuelan Christmas cuisine (minus the animal flesh). My intention was to prepare hallacas (click on link to see recipe) for the guests in attendance that Christmas night. The preparation was a bit more time intensive than I had originally anticipated but the payoff was worth it. They turned out lovely, and it was with those beautiful creations that we shared our dreams and plans for the future around the table that beautiful Christmas night. My parents found themselves possessed with the spirit of Morpheus and didn’t resist his influence. They crept off to bed while my brother and I sat around the fire talking of the mysteries of our minds. The hour turned to 1:00 am and our bodies needed the rest.

HALLACAS / My Tribute to Venezuela (My Intention)

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Christmas Day Walkin’ #radboyzonly

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The following day, after the sun had set higher in the sky, we set off to find solace and serenity in the mighty mountains of American Fork Canyon. With shoes that defy the natural crushing/decaying of the snow’s molecular structure we stormed up what is known as “Tank Canyon” and witnessed a beautiful scene. The soft wind, the glow of the condensation, the warmth of love in the group, it was all such a wonderful reality that we were living.

Lover / Mother / Canyon Ghost

OLLIE-ver Conquers the Mountain. #radboyzonly

MOUNTAIN GANGZ. #radboyzonly

After we returned back to the car we headed home and spent the remainder of morning and nights in a similar fashion. Cooking and talking, connecting and singing. I am/was overwhelmed by the joy that they (my parents) brought to the house. The days have passed by like leaves in the wind since their arrival, and I feel a void since their departure. How mighty love is/can be. And for it I am in debt. It’s abundance is a blanket of comfort and peace. I feel fortunate this season. I am happy. I am free.

Merry Christmas. May we buy less and love/feel more this coming year.

SHA SHA!

Joshua Fred.

In Wales There Lives A Tale of True Heart/True Gifts/Real Love.

Rental Car Tragedies. No Time for Tales of Such Lacking INfluence.

Life’s marvelous inconsistent way of sending mini quakes of trembling vibrations into the “PATTERNS” of what one’s day should/might/could consist of is one of the MANY mysteries, to which I have no answer.

It was November 18th, the boys and I had settled into the traveling; the singing, the vagabonding and we were getting better at it. The grey clouds, that often accompany the various towns/cities, swirled in the atmosphere and we made the drive from London-Town in a reasonable 3 and half hours, arriving safely to Cardiff, Wales. A pizza shop on the corner, a café that served “holiday haggis” around the corner, and a Tesco supermarket adjacent to it were what our eyes were given before playing that night at the early hour of 8pm.  As with most shows on the tour through Europe, this one was great. Those in attendance allowed us to push and pull songs through the loudspeakers of the club, making our way through most of “From The Top Of Willamette Mountain” and dipping into other “these’s and those’s” from past and future releases. The crowd was rowdier than shows in the past, but respectful. Fiery with a strong reverence.

Grateful for them.

Grateful for it.

As the Temperance Movement boys were playing their second to last song a short, sweaty, and obviously intoxicated man approached the counter where Tom (the wonderful boy/man from York, UK, that sold merchandise for The Temperance Movement) and I were pedaling our appropriate music’s. “Give me that shirt,” the man abruptly shouted. “That’ll be fifteen quid, mate.” Tom respectfully responded. “FIFTEEN FU*&#N QUID? Who’s gonna fu&*#n’ pay fifteen quid for a T shirt?” Now, I could tell that things were getting a bit strange when the man asked to try on a shirt and removed his sweaty, well worn white T-shirt to put on the Temperance Movement one. Immediately after putting it on, he gave himself a smug look of approval and threw a bill for 10 pounds on the table, turned, and walked away. Tom did not find this amusing or acceptable. He informed the security of the club about the missing 5 quid from the purchase, which resulted in quite the tussle between the security guards and the short, smug man. He was tossed onto a small plastic table that, underneath his weight, immediately gave way and was crushed underneath the man’s body. He was then torn out of the club by what I would call a “choke hold”, and that was that…UNTIL, while loading out after the show the man came at Tom in a belligerent and uncoordinated manner, claiming that Tom had “FU@#ED HIM OVER!” As his friends held his body from getting any closer to Tom and the rest of the boys we (Tim, Ike, Evan and I) hopped into our Ford S-Max and zoomed off to our site of couchsurfing for the night.

Our host for Cardiff, Wales had, two days prior, let us know that she would not be able to be there when we arrived because of work in Germany. She left a key, hidden underneath of a brick in front of her old cottage house. We arrived and on the front door it read:

“Dear boys, I am sorry that I am not here with you all to usher you into my home. Please help yourself to any food in the cupboards, and there is plenty of wine next to the fireplace. I will see you all tomorrow. Welcome. –Jenny.”

We wandered around the house, getting an overview of what was included in the spirit and décor of the place. Upon a bit of running around we noticed something quite unique to other places we have stayed. One, being the room filled with everything that a child could imagine to play with (dolls, tea sets, fake foods, veggies, cookies, etc) all HAND KNIT, it was SUCH a sight to see. Second, underneath a couple of floor boards we noticed small dolls living their lives “underground”, something that you would see in the film “The Borrowers”, and third, a house rabbit that we promptly named Lucinda Williams after discovering her existence, pouncing around from one corner of the room to the next.

LUCINDA AND ME. (HOUSE RABBITS)

FLOOR BOARD CRITTERS 1

FLOOR BOARD CRITTERS 2

We decided to keep ourselves inside of the kitchen, drinking Spanish wine and discussing the incredibly unique situation that we were currently in. The night ended around two and we headed out in the morning to get a better view of Cardiff. Not much happened apart from a small jaunt through the forest, and a quick stop at the “American Diner” (see picture below),

where American cuisine is obviously heralded as a bucket of greasy fries, a hamburger and a giant thermos of coffee, and with reason, that IS, unfortunately, a common culinary practice around our country. Shame shame. We returned to Jenny’s house around 4pm. We knocked on the door and Alex, her pseudo-husband/partner, greets us. His bright smile and mild manner was comforting and he welcomed us into the home. We wandered downstairs where Jenny was quickly putting her grocery purchases away and had already started cutting and chopping vegetables that would be part of one of the greatest meals my buds have had the pleasure of tasting.

A Table of Tales

JENNY. A TRUE SAINT

            Jenny is a 64 year young Child, Mother, Grandmother, Adventurer, World Traveler, Cook, Wine Enthusiastic, Conversational zing, SWEETHEART. Upon meeting her I was instantly taken aback at how much I felt at home with her around. She was the country mother/sister that I had pictured during some of the fantastical, beautiful fables that I read as a boy. She welcomed us to help at the chopping counter to help cut green peppers, leeks, and potatoes which would make their way into the boiler to form a delicious Potato and Leek soup (a very common dish found in Wales). As we chopped, the suggestion to open a bottle of red wine was tossed into the realm of possibilities and was quickly embraced with Jenny’s approval. After some more preparation we were asked to be seated at the dinner table, Jenny at one end, and Alex at the other. The conversation and wine pouring ran wild. Jenny shared with us of her travels around the United States, as a girl of 19 years, she would hitchhike via aero plane, asking pilots to give her a lift to San Francisco, or New York, Chicago, Tallahassee, and all around the massive North American continent. Dinner lasted a good 2-3 hours, with multiple different dishes being brought to and fro and many bottles of good Spanish wine opened.

Queen of The Kitchen

Feasting Eyes. Table of Trouble.

After dinner we moved a couple feet into the room adjacent to the kitchen, where there was a wood-burning fireplace that kept us warm as we continued the conversation. We discussed things about life that I have been afraid to talk about with even my closest of friends/family, with ease.  Jenny  gave us the grand tour of the house, stopping in the room where all of the knit toys were. She pulled one doll down from the cupboard. “Bob The Builder” was his name, all hand knit, every shirt, pant, tool on his person was knit by Jenny. She turned to me and offered him as a gift to my son, my heart leapt, this wonderful woman that I had met a mere 8 hours prior was giving me something that had taken her MUCH MUCH time to create, all out of the desire to help and better someone else’s existence. There was a lightness of weight in the air. As the 7th bottle of wine was opened the time read 3am and it felt as if the day had been 3 years long, fading in and out of the realm of reality and dipping into a state of sub-consciousness that I have rarely had the opportunity to experience. As I lay in bed that night I couldn’t help but think about the wildness of human diversity. The millions of different experiences that one human has from another, the mother, the father, the child, the weather, the routines, traditions, foods, drinks, interactions, et CETERA. And YET!!! I was in Wales with this amazingly kind woman and man, experiencing something I had NEVER before, and I think the thing that caught me MOST off guard was the fact that two days prior we were COMPLETE strangers. None of us having known each other. They opened their home to us, the shared secrets, experiences, stories, food, wine, love, all without even being ASKED TO, or PAID, or BRIBED, merely out of the GOODNESS of their hearts. If I had tears to cry that night, I would have.

OLIVER with BOB THE BUILDER. A Reunion of Soul.

The next morning arrived with a slight spin of my head cage; Jenny had gotten up early to make Danish cakes and coffee. We were thankful and made sure she knew. We were to drive to Birmingham that day and had a few short hours to spend before continuing on our vagabonding/singing crusade. We joined her as she walked to the market to get groceries for a lunch we did not know was being made in our behalf.  As we were walking back to the house I felt a small twinge in the back of my brain, knowing that we would have to be leaving shortly. When we got back Jenny made us sandwiches and packaged up other foods for our drive to the next city. She walked us to the door and with a hug and a kiss we lamented to have to go. All the boys felt it, the slight discomfort to know that MAYBE, just MAYBE we would never see this amazing woman ever again. The time that she shared with us was one of the most beautiful days I have had in my life. Her kindness has changed me, her willingness to be a REAL person…INSPIRATIONAL.

I wish I had the time to mention every single person that has shown us kindness during our travels around Europe. There are too many to count. The human being is GOOD. We are GOOD, we just must CHOOSE IT. And we can. By GOD, WE MUST!

Thank you Jenny, thank you all for the time we spent together.

I am home now and the travels seem as distant as a fairy tale story.

Joshua Fred James

But, You Are Here For Right Now

Being Present // Hönö Island, Sweden // Rock Water.

Day 5 in what started out to be an eternal string of days in which the boys would I would be navigating ourselves around a part of the world that we knew very little/nothing about. The morning had already filled us up with a sense of security and familiarity, staying at the home of Anders, a couch surfing host, living in Gothenburg, Sweden. We had spent the previous evening discussing US vs. Swedish politics, poverty, fermenting wild berries, collecting wild mushrooms, tree counting and the like. He had risen early (we had gone to bed at 3am) to prepare us a wide variety of things that would nourish us throughout the day. There were three kinds of homemade bread, marmalade, goat cheese from Paris, cheddar cheese from the local farmers market (made in Sweden), avocados, granola, cereals, yoghurt, milk, tea, coffee & local honey. We fell into great conversation as we cleaned up after breakfast before heading out in Anders’ car for the island called Hono. We took a short 15 minute ferry ride that dropped us off on the other side of the water, where we walked around some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life. The other three boys had fallen behind on the trail, taking photos, and overwhelming their senses with the current state of affairs, as Anders and I sauntered off farther around the coast of massive boulders that surrounded the bay.
“Do you miss your family? Your son?” asked Anders.
“..Yes, yes I do I suppose…”
With which he responded:
“But you are here for right now. Learn from where you are RIGHT NOW, and help your son learn to do the same.”
After which he looked into the distance and walked slowly toward a formation of rocks that had caught his interest.
I sat there, amazed, stuck completely in thought about what he had said.
BUT YOU ARE HERE RIGHT NOW.
I needed that. Too often during my travels around I find myself longing for something that won’t arrive any sooner than when that day/time comes. And pretending/dreaming/hoping for it to arrive is robbing myself of my current surroundings and ability to enjoy/learn from my current state.

Hönö Island, Sweden // Rock Formations. 


We finished walking around the island and stopped on the walk back at an area that was filled with thorny bushes that were bearing a small blueberry-like fruit that Anders called Sloe Berries. He noted that they were “great for using in Vodka”. He pulled out five plastic bags and said:
“We each fill up a bag, and then we go.”
The task seemed daunting but semi-adventurous and the boys and I began to pick. I found myself falling deep under the spell of the Sloe-berry waltz. I tried to better my technique with each pluck, hoping to increase speed and decrease any bruising of the fruit while picking.
Our bags were nearly full when Anders said:
“Now we go.”
We headed back on the ferry and drove the 25 miles back to Anders’ house, where he pointed out three different kinds of Rose Hips and their proper usages in the kitchen.

Juanita // Ander’s House-Mate // Post Sloe-Berry Plucking // Gothenburg, Sweden. 

The time read 5:45, and the hour was near for the boys and I to head into town. We had been approached during our show the night before and asked to have dinner with two wonderful people that enjoyed listening to our music from inside the City Center of Gothenburg. We were happy to go.
We knocked on door number 6 outside the building that our trusty GPS had lead us to, arriving just five minutes past the hour of 7. Bo & Mia answered the door with grins and a perfume of one that had been cooking a feast for famished, traveling children (such as ourselves. We entered the house, removed ours shoes (as is the respectful custom in Sweden) and immediately were invited to sit down to eat. Bo had been in the kitchen all afternoon baking a potato, parsley and beet layered casserole along side a mushroom risotto.
Conversation came quickly and soon dinner was over and the group moved to the living room where coffee, dark chocolate and a mandarine liquer was served.

Dinner with Bo & Mia // Coffee // Chocolate // Conversation. 

It was revealed during dinner that Bo and Mia had met due to their fiery passion for the art of dancing. As we sat around the table in the front room we egged them on to show us a dance, and one of their choosing. They didn’t play shy, they were happy to oblige. The TANGO was the dance of choice and they chose a rhythmic appropriate tune. As they held each other in arms and closed their eyes, their feet and bodies began to sync together, moving and breathing in line with one anothers proposition. The look on their faces, their searching hands, the sound of their feet moving across the floor. I had really never witnessed such a thing, and certainly not at such close proximity and examination. I was enthralled and completely taken aback at their true love of the dance.

Bo & Mia // Tango // Gothenburg, Sweden //  Lovers.


The dance soon ended and so did the evening. We thanked both Bo and Mia for the wonderful experience and they wished us safe travels during the remainder of the tour. As we were walking out the door Bo called out to me:
“Never leave your boy without saying goodbye, make sure he always knows that are you coming back…”
It seemed as though for some reason I was being given the mysteries of fatherdom by complete strangers, people that for some reason felt a inkling to give me tidbits of advice for my remaining years of life. I was appreciative and we shook hands. The day had proven to be great, as have all the days. Our traveling bodies had been refueled and i felt a lightness in my walk as we made the quick trip from the car back to Anders’ house, where he was waiting with Rose Hip soup before bed time.
To many more adventures!
To many more ramblings!
To our families, our lovers, and our friends!

You Are Here, RIGHT NOW.

Joshua and Coyote Howlers ( HOOOWWWWLLLLL).

Homeostatic. A Child of the Sun. European Jitters.

Summer Bike Days. Ikey, Carissa, Teeth.

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The fiery heat of summer has quickly slipped past us. As the leaves begin to lose their bright green brilliance and the garden soldiers let down their posture there is crispness in the air at Willamette Mountain that only says one thing.

Winter.

So many years have passed since my intrigue with what the last few months of the year are able to offer a boy in Utah. The frigid air and the white precipitation that accompanies it always comes at an inopportune time for me, but there really never is a good time for such weather, not for me. I am a child of the heat, the sun and the summer. But with every good thing that the journey of existence offers, it comes to an end. And this season is quickly approaching her demise. With all the current changes that surround me there is much more than the winter that is on the brink of transition. And there is much to be said for ALL of it.

Over the last 18 months I have had spurts of what some might call “down time”. During this said “down time” I have been spending the better part of it in my home studio with a variety of different artists and musicians. Recording sounds into microphones and calling on the studio spirits to guide us through the millions of possibilities that lie between the potential and the possible. I have been so fortunate as to have had such opportunities, and there is BIG part of my heart that has grown from such things. During those times in the depths of the studio I have found some time to work on songs that are not my own or those of the artists I have had the pleasure of recording. In fact, some of the songs that I have been able to record are those of GIANTS (or so I would call them).

Well, Then, I’ll Go To Hell.

I was 16 years old the very first time I listened to Modest Mouse. “The Lonesome Crowded West” was left at my home in Lincoln, Nebraska by someone’s cousin. Of course, he was from California, where people knew “things” about music. Up until that point in my life it was Jim Morrison and John Lennon. There was no time for modern music when I was growing up, I never saw the point. Everything I needed to learn was lying between Beggar’s Banquet and Revolver. I didn’t really know how to think after I listened to The Lonesome Crowded West for the first time. I was confused. An emotionally distraught teenager should never be allowed access to a potentially unlimited amount of money, and I wasn’t. I stole my mother’s credit card and went to the local record store where for $38.97 plus sales tax I bought “The Moon and Antarctica”, “This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About”, and “Building Something Out Of Nothing”. I haven’t had a musical influence that has matched the potency since that day. The deviancy of my childhood was painted with Isaac Brock’s voice. 

Traveling the country to sing for strangers had become somewhat of a “norm” in the life of both Evan Coulombe and myself. It was 2010 and we were livin’, we would travel from one city to the next in a 2001 Ford Econoline van, pedaling records and singing for people whether they wanted to hear us or not. There is nothing normal about it (traveling as such). When you return home from living life like that you begin to feel empty when you’re not singin/playin/pedalin. I found that the time I spent at home was my darkest time. The time in which I would stir the most. The conclusion I came to was that the time at home wasn’t what was cankering me, it was the fact that I wasn’t creating.

Evan never liked Modest Mouse; I still don’t think he does. I told him that I wanted to record some old songs that were highly influential on me as a teenager, and that most of them were Modest Mouse tunes. He seemed disinterested, but I found with a bit of arm-twisting that he agreed to help me. The first song we did was “Baby Blue Sedan”. We did it in a couple of hours inside of Willamette Mountain. The goal was to record a song a week, quickly, and with no prior plan, we agreed that it’d be best if we both played all the instruments on the recordings, and that we didn’t take it too seriously. If you listen to the recordings you will notice that there are some “mistakes” Over zealous emotionites coming through the fingers or the throat. During “Styrofoam Boots” I sang “devil” instead of “telephone”, that’s what I always heard when I listened to that song growing up. When we recorded it, we did it in one take and right after I sang it, I realized the mistake. But, we both liked it (the take), so we kept it. It doesn’t really matter anyways. I was happy singin. That was the point.

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“Well, Then, I’ll Go To Hell” comes from an indirect quote from Mark Twain’s “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. People, at different times throughout history, have a notion of what we SHOULD BE, what society SHOULD ACT LIKE, how we should WALK/TALK/EAT/ACT (SING). But, it’s all hogwash. We got 20/50/80 years to live. Just sing something. Write a book. Build a chair. Do what you feel you need to. Because by GOD! Singin’ these songs sure beats the darkness.

If anyone out there would like to PRE-ORDER the new recordings that we did, they are available HERE. We also did a limited edition of VERY LARGE screen-printed posters on card stock paper. The poster and the CD are available together HERE.

Now that I have put my hand out, asking for not only your eyes (to read this), your ears (to listen to the music) and your money (to buy such things). I have yet ANOTHER request (And yes, I ask for too much).

My friends, young and old. We (Evan, Isaac, Timmy, and myself) are embarking on a great and LONG adventure. We are to leave this next week for a far away land, to sing and dance, to rejoice in existence with people that we have never met. We are going to EUROPE!

We are playing a long stint of shows while there.

SEE HERE

And to start off these shows, we are performing this Saturday night (Oct. 5th) at our FAVORITE VENUE (link) in the western United States of America. Velour Live Music Gallery in Provo, Utah.

To celebrate our departure into unknown lands and for the sake of the song, I will (along side my faithful lover, Emma) be baking many loaves of bread to share at the concert. They will be topped with the honey that the “Bees of Willamette MTN” have worked/slaved over this last summer, and I am thrilled to have the first 100 or so folks that arrive taste/rejoice in it. 

To end this long and what some might call “NEEDY” blog post I wanted to an offer a bit of an INFORMATIONAL reward. The brassicas are in full bloom around these parts and cabbage is one of the GREATEST of that said family. We were fortunate enough to have some space in the garden this year to plant some Ruby Red Cabbage seeds and much to our JOY we had some heads pop up during that latter part of the summer. We decided to try our hand at some different recipes using them and one of our favorites was plain ole “Cabbage Soup”. Here is a recipe if your heart (and your mouth) so desire!

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RUSTIC CABBAGE SOUP

(taken and adapted from 101cookbooks.com)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a big pinch of salt
1/2 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups stock (see head notes)
1 1/2 cups white beans, precooked or canned (drained & rinsed well)
1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons

more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it’s o.k. to uncover to stir a couple times. Stir in the garlic and onion and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit. Now adjust the seasoning - getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. Taste and add more salt if needed, the amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is.


Thank you all for the constant care. I am forever in debt.

Always,

Joshua Fred James

One Light Year After Another. Travel For What Seems To Be The Whole She-Bang.

Too much travel can make a person start to feel OUT OF TOUCH.

I have spent the better part of two weeks driving to Oregon, and then back to the valley of the city dwellers, which then lead me into my next adventure.

Elko, Nevada.

My little brother is a gold miner. He is a strong hard working father of two. After years of pinching every penny that the mining company would trade him for what felt like a lifetime of backbreaking work my brother purchased his first investment.

A trailer home, single wide, beat up and blue. He took much pride in the trailer; it had become his home, and the home of his wife and baby boy (just one at that time). Years passed on and he felt the time had arrived that his family of two boys, a wife, two dogs and himself needed a new place to reside. He decided to keep the trailer as an investment and rent it to others looking for a place to hang their hat while in the town of Elko.

Well, that was two years ago and my brother still is taking much pride in the trailer.  I received a phone call two weeks ago; a familiar voice came across the phone lines. It was my brother, asking if I would join my other brother and father in visiting him in Elko to help paint and put up new drywall in the trailer to ensure the condition of the trailer would remain DELUXE.

After arriving home from Oregon I left the next morning for Elko.

Brother C. drove my father, my mother and me to the small mining town in Nevada.

Day one proved to be a bit harder than anticipated. We taped all the windows of the trailer to begin the painting process as the mighty hand of “mother” decided to drop her buckets of precipitation onto the land, putting to waste our early morning endeavors. And so…to the inside we marched. We hammered out the hallway ceiling and began to hang new light boxes and drywall where there once was a saggy, water damaged particleboard. It was looking better.

The tenants of the trailer weren’t there but had left many, MANY signs of human habitation strewn about the place. There was no doubt that someone of much hunger and taste for alcoholic concoctions had been nesting in the quaint spaces of my brother’s trailer. The day continued as such, hanging drywall, fixing the molding that laced the carpeted floors, chipping away at the proverbial block. We finished the day around 8pm and headed back to my brothers home.

The sun rose early in Elko that next morning. Maybe it was ache in my lower back, maybe it was my mind that wouldn’t let me sleep through the high pitched squeals of the two caged critters (ferrets) that sounded as if they would love nothing more than to tear the flesh off of my face while I lay asleep, but whatever it was the sun seemed to call early that morning and I, like a stumbling fool, answered. I headed outside into the rainy morning and passed around the neighborhood, half asleep, moping about and gazing at the old architecture that surrounded the “downtown”. 

I returned an hour later to a home filled with the smells of cooking.

My brother’s wife had begun what appeared to be a complex medley of flavors and possible delights for the tongue.

I sat down at the table where the rest of the gang was already deep in conversation about the inhibiting weather that painted the Elkin (Elkin? Elkon/Elko) sky. Painting was out of the question.

"ALRIGHT! Breakfast is served!" the excitement in her voice was something that you might hear at a pep rally right before the game that determined the fate of the years high school football team.

Out came the plates, on each was found a beautiful tower of 4 biscuits who were supporting an assemblage of gravy with chunks of sausage, strips of bacon and fried eggs. This pyramid of American cookery was widely known as a “Pitchers Mound”. Though tempting it was to return to the world of consuming animal flesh after getting up to bat I restrained my inner animal and ate an apple.

On our way to the trailer we stopped to grab more drywall. The plan for the day was to drywall the bedroom seeing as how the weather was being uncooperative with our desire to paint the outside of the trailer. When we arrived to the trailer there was no one else there. We started removing the bed and other belongings from the room. We covered the clothes and dressers the best we could with plastic tarping and started in. 9 hours later we had replaced the light box with a new one, removed and replaced the ceiling and mudded the seems between the sheets of drywall. We went to my brother’s house to grab his vacuum so we could ensure that no particle of dust was left behind. When we returned one of the tenants was sitting on the porch with a pack of Camel Blues in one hand a Bud Light in the other. The look on her face was solemn and semi-focused. 

"You couldn’t fu***n’ tell me that were going to rip my bed out of my room and drop sh*t all over my clothes before comin’ in here with your band of brothers to fu***n’ do all your home improvement sh*t?"

I had been under the understanding up until that point that the two tenants that occupied my brothers trailer were in agreeance with our fixing and patching some things inside. This was the first I had heard of the miscommunication. 

My brother asked to see what had been ruined by our renovations and to show him exactly. The two headed inside and the remaining three of us stood outside of the place in part embarrassment and part concern for what was to happen.

We had yet cleaned up any of the small pieces of particleboard that surely had fallen all over the bedroom.

"All right, lets finish this thing up,” muttered my brother when he came back out. Apparently they had come to an agreement that we would clean up the mess and that my brother wouldn’t finish any renovations until the following week, when the tenant was scheduled to move out.

In an attempt to “keep the peace” when entering the trailer I tipped my hat to the tenant, in return I received a shaking of the head and what I sounded like a snarl.

I quickly retreated into the bedroom to finish the job.

DONE.

We returned back to my brothers house just in time for his sons 3rd birthday party.

I spent the remaining time in Elko talking to my father, mother and brothers. Discussing current life choices and ones that have come and gone. The re-connection was wonderful. The next morning we rose early and headed back to the valley, leaving my father and mother in the care of the Delta Airline Corporation. 

After all this travel I needed to commune with something other than the inside of a car, a trailer and the haunting recollection of the peppery tenant that surely was cursing our names that early Sunday morning.

My communion of choice? 

The mountains. Always the mountains.

The mightiness of them.

After getting home I remembered that I needed to pick up Ollie because his Mama was workin. (It’s funny, but not so funny, how I forget to do VITAL things like taking care of the little man that has consumed my thoughts and deeds (I AM NOT NEGLIGENT)).

I went to my in-laws house and got Ollie and headed straight up the canyon. I met my brother and his lady at the mouth and we headed in. It just so happened that it was their 1-year anniversary and my brother wanted to take her rock climbing. And so we did. 

There is very little that I have found in my life that makes me happier than being in the mountains. Maybe its the sweet scent of the pine trees, or the disconnect from the lower part of the valley. Whatever it is, it’s real, and it breathes in me. In his short 5 months of life, Oliver appears to feel the same. I take him out as often as I can, and he never seems happier then when jaunting about, strapped to his papa’s chest, while hearing the whistlin’ tune of an old George Jones song, high on a mountain side.

AJ CHEEK. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.

I am now in Los Angeles (I came the very next morning) mixing 2 records that I had the privilege of recording and producing inside of Willamette Mountain. There are strong whispers (if you can call them whispers) of future travels around to sing for people, to taste the different rains and get lost in the backcountries of far and distant lands. There is much to be happy about. There is almost too much.

To the red headed girl who didn’t know we were fixing her roof.

To my Father, Mother, Brothers and Baby Boy.

To those that entrusted me with their songs.

To the mountains that let me walk their pathways.

To my lover who let’s me wander.

To my friends who keep my cheeks rosy and my belly full of laughter.

To my brothers who travel with me, who sing with me, whom I love.

To the many mysteries of existence, who without life might just become BORING (god FORBID).

To you, and to me.

travelin’ wanderin’ wonderin’

Joshua Fred.