my music and performances

Tunes for Turtles

by j on October 18, 2014 · 3 comments

in my music and performances

Ralph and I played a set at the turtle pond this afternoon. It was a gorgeous, sunny, 85-degree day and all the turtles came out, along with a bunch of friends from around the UT-Austin campus. Carlo snapped a great set of reflections in the water, presented here, upside down.

We opened with one of my songs, I Can See You. Check out all the background noises: birds, planes, bells, trucks… the hum of the buildings and the buzz of the Friday afternoon exodus was our backdrop.

We closed with a cover of Cat Stevens’s If You Want To Sing Out Sing Out:

Soundcloud player: If You Want To Sing Out Sing Out

reflection in turtle pond of j and ralph playing guitar

j and ralph w guitars, reflection in turtle pond

Jessica snapped a pic of me after everyone had gone and caught some cool colors in the sun flair.j w guitar infront of turtle pond

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Gray and Lauren got married a few weeks ago, so I worked up this old favorite to perform at the wedding. How much more simple, beautiful and true can a song get?!

Love is real, real is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved

Love is you, you and me
Love is knowing we can be

Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved

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Asleep In The Shade

by j on September 22, 2014 · 0 comments

in my music and performances

Meditation takes many forms and for me sometimes the most effortless is losing myself, late at night, in the soupy, loopy delay of a slow ambient guitar progression. (Especially when I have new loop and delay pedals to play with.)

Adding simple layer upon echoey layer bakes a nice end-of-day dream. I use this to help slip past a long day out into the night sea.

For the gear-heads, here are the tricks I’ve got up my sleeve on this track, along with an Ebow.

loop and delay pedals

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I’ve finally started doing something I’ve wanted to do for like the last year: Sundaysong Singalong. The idea is simple: have a singalong instead of church. Put another way, it’s like an old Pete Seeger-style folksong singalong, just with a Sunday-morning sort of setlist: songs of  love, beauty, gratitude, wisdom, work, wonder… songs that evoke higher powers, that are sacred without feeling sectarian.

So yesterday I finally gathered a small group to test the concept. A dozen of us gathered in my living room where I projected the lyrics on to a sheet hanging from the hearth. I didn’t snap any pics — the one below of Gray and I playing at the back of the room was by Dan — but I did have my recorder going. Here is a medley of seven of the songs we sang to give you a flavor of the morning’s songs:

j-gray-singalong-7-20-14Setlist

Rise Up Singing Songbook

  1. This Land Is Your Land (p.5)
  2. Moonshadow (p. 30)
  3. Big Yellow Taxi (p. 34)
  4. Day-O (p. 49)
  5. The Times They Are A’Changin (G)
  6. The Water Is Wide
  7. Rivers of Babylon (p. 63)
  8. Lean On Me (p. 66)
  9. With A Little Help From My Friends (p. 68)
  10. Keep On The Sunny Side (p. 87)
  11. Amazing Grace (p. 92)
  12. I Shall Be Released (p. 102)
  13. Blowin In The Wind (D) (p. 115)
  14. Imagine (C) (p.116)
  15. Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore (p.62)

Beatles Songbook

  1. Let It Be (p. 206)
  2. All You Need Is Love (p. 18)
  3. Across The Universe (p. 10)

We only made it through #12 before it had been an hour and we called it quits, chatted by the fruit and the donuts, and went our separate Sunday ways. The whole thing was an easy success judging by the effortless joining of strangers in song, the sharing and the smiles.


Last weekend I inaugurated the first Sundaysong Singalong’s touring version, because we were in Houston for the weekend to catch the Magritte exhibit at the Menil. I invited a few Houston friends to join us on the lawn of the Menil for the hour before the museum opened at 11, so at 10 AM, Maile, Anais and I spread our blanket beneath a shade tree and laid out our picnic. Before long Ritiban, Jasmine, and their boy Ian had joined us. Before we were done another mom and her girl had found and joined us.

While Ritiban and I strummed, the kids drew with sidewalk chalk and the mothers watched and talked. (Ian had to be chased down the block several times as he made breaks for it.) It was a wonderful hour after which we all went into the  gallery to roam around in the cool surrealism.

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DIVERSIFY

by j on May 16, 2014 · 0 comments

in my music and performances

I had my appendix out a few months ago and when I got home from the hospital there was a card signed by a bunch of my coworkers. On top of that, they pooled $70 and pledged it toward my next song on Patreon. I was so touched. So I wrote a song for all the folks I work with fitting as many names and division acronyms in as I could.

It’s the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (at UT-Austin), so I called it DIVERSIFY, and spelled it out imagining everyone singing it with me as an anthem. This week we had our all-division staff meeting and I had a chance to sing it to over 200 collegues. As you can see below, it was a lot of fun and folks got into it. Listen to the the studio version on SoundCloud.

DIVERSIFY

D-I-V-E-R-S-I-F-Y
Don’t you know that if you want to grow got to diversify
D-I-V-E-R-S-I-F-Y
Don’t ya know that we’re here to show it to the university

I’m not just talkin bout color
Not just talkin bout race
Talkin bout gettin out of your bubble
And seeing it another way

Talkin bout your teachers
Talkin bout your staff
I’m talkin bout your leaders
You do the math

Talking globalization
And what will keep us strong
’bout difficult conversations
That help us get along, making us strong

D-I-V-E-R-S-I-F-Y

Sherri’s got the plan
Betty Jeanne’s gonna teach
Stella got the research
Simon gonna do IT

Ralph is gonna hook you up
Tatiana is doin the books
Helen and Heidi are holdin it down
While Milly and Thais are spreadin it round

Leslie’s got the story
Ron’s got design
J gonna make some web sites
Virginia got write some lines

Erica is on the board
Dr. V. is on the scene
Ruth has got the proof
Hannah’s got the VIP

Susan is writin the points
Patrick is takin it on
Jennifer is runnin it right
Leonard is fatherin sons

Maurice is puttin it on
Suzanne is writing it down
Robiaun’s making friends in high places
Angie’s putting smiles on all the kid’s faces

D-I-V-E-R-S-I-F-Y

We got the MEC and the GSC
with a space where you can truly be
LCAE, LCSP and NLP
gonna keep em goin to the university

The OIE and the CCRT
gonna make sure we got some equity
The triple A, B, PE and the HFSA
gonna make sure we got all kinds of faculty

The SSD got our ADAA
The UIL gonna run the race
The HOGG keepin us mentally healthy
The CEC gonna rock the East

The RFL is gonna find you funds
CDSI gonna make you rich
The LCCE gonna sign you up
The SJI make you an activist

D-I-V-E-R-S-I-F-Y
Diversify your money, diversify your mind,
D-I-V-E-R-S-I-F-Y
When you get out of your comfort zone you’ll know what it is to be alive

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