People don’t even read websites anymore so you’re awesome for just being here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my project and learn about who I am and what I’m about. I generally don’t like talking a whole lot about myself, but I figured it’d be rather disingenuous to invite people to come journey with me through this project and not shed light on who I am. So here are a couple things that might help you know me better:
I play guitar, piano, mandolin, bass, drums, and most recently hammered dulcimer. I try to approach instruments like my son approaches toys: never serious enough that you aren’t having fun (after all, they’re toys – they’re meant to be fun!), but always serious enough that you do the toys justice (if you don’t let the train whistle make some noise, you’re disrespecting the toy). With music, I don’t think the two sides are mutually exclusive.
Because half-hearted kids are a bore to play toys with.
So here’s my bumper sticker: don’t let modern western culture steal your magic. As an artist, I have to hold on and cherish the mystical, the otherworldly, the mysterious sense that there’s a lot more to our world than our cold and often arrogant modern minds think. And don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater: just because fairies don’t exist (or do they?), we shouldn’t throw away the entire mystical realm as a bunch of medieval garbage. St. Francis definitely talked with a wolf, and I believe he genuinely received the stigmata. That’s my kinda guy. A poor wild man who knew how to love.
Let’s get some more Francis’ in our culture.
I’m generally a fairly mystical person. Maybe I’ll define mystical here as “spiritually mysterious” things. Yes, I believe in miracles, visions, dream interpretation, healing, encounters with angels/demons, etc. I’ve had mystical experiences myself, and I know a ton of people who have as well. It’s just not on our grids as much here in ‘Merica. I think this is where the West has become too rigid, scientific, and naive.
I teach songwriting at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Northern Michigan. It is really quite a magical place where young artists from all over the world come together to grow in their craft. It's forced me to work on my craft as well - over forty Mount Valor songs were written since I began teaching here.
To all my former and current students, may these songs be a deep well to draw from on your journey as artists. You don’t always have to like the songs – tastes vary and styles change – but I know you can learn from them. They’ll teach you a hundred times more than I’ll ever be able to teach you in class.
You are loved.
Being a father is such an amazing and humbling experience. Amazing in the sense that you are directly responsible for shaping and training and teaching and nurturing these young ones into becoming the full expression of who they were created to be. Humbling in the sense that you are directly responsible for the shaping…need I say more? To my children, hopefully one day you can understand what these songs mean to your dad, and what I hope they can mean to you. You are all called to be poet-warriors in your own right. And if you’re reading this, I managed to keep this content online for at least 6-8 more years. Good job on being able to read at a high level. And glad to know the internet’s still working.
As an artist, I am completely fascinated with the kingdom of God. It has everything so profoundly backwards and upside down and messy that it’s able to invade us with the rarest purity. It is the raw intoxication of poetry and the exquisite beauty of mathematics. It is built on paradox after paradox, the wisdom of the Grand Artist himself. Do you want to become first? Become last. Do you want to be rich? Become poor. Do you want to be powerful? Become weak. Do you want to be satisfied? Become hungry. Do you want to be a leader? Become a servant. Do you want to feel alive? Become a dying soul. It is offensive on every level, at every turn, at every thought. It is so foreign to the human condition, and yet it feels so uncomfortably close. Just when we think it’s some external thought we try to swat at like a fly, we find it in the inner depths of ourselves, reverberating in our core. It is beyond religion, beyond philosophy, beyond any pseudo-spiritual notion that we are the universal being. It is reality, the beautiful, wild, demanding, and hope-filled reality calling people throughout the centuries, calling through war and tyranny, deception and manipulation, abuse and oppression, riches and success, pride and vanity. It is a reality that must be entered into, and not on our terms. So there's that.