Comment

Starlings and Toilets

It's spring break for my 8-year-old and I'm hanging with him all week. We watched a murmuration of starlings for about an hour this morning and now we're building a prototype toilet. Good times. 

Speaking of good times, come see us live and check out The Byrd Word podcast. This week, I'll be reading a bunch of poetry from my new book 'You've Changed,' in preparation for March 2nd, my first public, ticketed reading show at St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Hillsborough NC.

We also have a handful of shows in the midwest in March. The dates:

 

WED FEB 21 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Eno River Rats

WED FEB 28 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - a special night in memory of Paul Ford

FRI MAR 2 - St. Matthews Episcopal Church - Faith & Arts Series - Hillsborough NC - a full-length reading show featuring poems from my new book 'You've Changed'

WED MAR 7 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Eric Bannan

WED MAR 14 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Kyshona Armstrong

FRI MAR 16 - Journey Church - Nisswa, MN

SAT MAR 17 - The Warming House - Minneapolis, MN

WED MAR 21 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Jim Watson

FRI MAR 23 - Red Bicycle Hall - Madison, IN

SAT MAR 24 - Open Prairie Church (Princeton Coffeehouse) - Princeton, IL

 

Your fan,

 

JByrd

IMG_2349.JPG

Comment

Comment

Wild Ponies and live shows

This week, my son Rowan asked if we could talk about my song Wild Ponies, so we made a podcast about it. Check it out http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-byrd-word/2018/2/13/wild-ponies-with-rowan We listen to an early demo version of the song and break down the lyrics, which I'll share below.

We'll be on WCOM, Carrboro's local radio station, at 10am tomorrow. Tune in to https://wcomfm.org/ and listen live. Catch a show this month:

WED FEB 14 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - Valentines Day!

THURS FEB 15 - Carolina Theater - Durham NC - opening for The Earls Of Leicester

WED FEB 21 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Eno River Rats

WED FEB 28 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - a special night in memory of Paul Ford

FRI MAR 2 - St. Matthews Episcopal Church - Faith & Arts Series - Hillsborough NC - a full-length reading show featuring poems from my new book 'You've Changed'

*********************

Wild Ponies

She had legs like daggers and eyes like oceans
and her heart locked up in a hard combination.
I took her to the island, to see the wild ponies.

See, I had a friend who had a concrete boat, -
it don't take as much as you might think to float-
and he lived out on the island with the wild ponies.

We made a fire in the live oak trees,
and listened to the pirate breeze blowing.
And wondered how a man could be
so far from home, and still know where he's going.

She drifted down from a shipwrecked town
and landed here on the Pamlico sound.
She'd heard out on the islands, there were wild ponies.

I gave all I could give to her:
a chance to see what she had heard
and a night out on the island with the wild ponies.

But she didn't stay here, like she didn't stay there,
always looking for somewhere a little greener.
Every time I see the ponies run-
scared and hungry, wild and young- I see her.

I heard somebody say she died
drinking one night on the ocean side,
swimming to freedom, like a wild pony.

I wish her well. I wish her peace.
It's got to be lonely to be so free,
always running, like a wild pony,
living your life like a wild pony.

********************

Wild Ponies is on an album called Cackalack, available from the store.

Your fan,

JByrd

wild ponies.jpg

Comment

Comment

The First Day

We're doing a lot of work at home, building a better stronger show to take on the road later this year. There are already tour dates up for the midwest and Texas at http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/schedule/ .

Thanks to The Daily Tarheel for writing about our residency at The Kraken: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2018/01/shake-sugaree-0130 . Check out The Byrd Word podcast over at http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-byrd-word/ . You can subscribe and listen to The Byrd Word on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. By the time you read this, I'll have the newest one up with New Folk winner Wes Collins.

We're stepping out Friday to Dahlonega, GA at Cavender Creek Vineyards. Saturday, we’re honored to be a part of the very first Martha Bassett Show at Reeves Theater in Elkin, North Carolina.

 

WED FEB 7 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Wes Collins

FRI FEB 9 - Cavender Creek Vineyards - Dahlonega GA

SAT FEB 10 - Reeves Theater - Elkin NC

WED FEB 14 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - Valentines Day!

THURS FEB 15 - Carolina Theater - Durham NC - opening for The Earls Of Leicester

WED FEB 21 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - special guest Eno River Rats

WED FEB 28 - The Kraken - Chapel Hill NC - a special night in memory of Paul Ford

FRI MAR 2 - St. Matthews Episcopal Church - Faith & Arts Series - Hillsborough NC - a full-length reading show featuring poems from my new book 'You've Changed'

 

'You've Changed,' my first book of poetry is still selling like hotcakes. I'm working on another book of poetry and photography of horses with the incredible Rodney Bursiel. Here's a sneak preview:

The First Day

When is grandpa going to die, he asked.
The mare had broke her water in the night.
No one knows, said Mama. We are tasked
to help with that transition when it’s right.

She tied a rope around the single hoof,
her hands the boy’s and horse’s God entire.
She said that they had waited long enough.
The boy fed bits of wood into the fire.

The head appeared and split the mare. She heaved,
the laminated foal reluctant yet.
Although to see the light would mean to breathe,
the winter in its lungs would seem like death.

The horse was born. The old man passed away.
The evening and the morning were the first day.

 

Your fan,

 

JByrd

 

 

Johnny Kicks The Bucket.jpg

Comment

Comment

Stream a Little Stream of Me

I’m performing my first full-length reading performance at a private show this Friday (Feb 2) in Carrboro NC. I’m excited to develop this different type of performance- thank you for witnessing this work in progress. $20 suggested donation, RSVP to this email for details and directions. Space is very limited! If you RSVP, it is essential that you show up. Cancellations will be blacklisted from future invitations to private events.  A month later, March 2, I’ll do my first public reading performance at St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Hillsborough NC, as part of their Faith & Arts Series.  

 

Thanks to everyone who has been listening on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and more. To answer a popular question, yes, I do get paid. This month, while you jammed my tunes you also quietly paid my gas bill. 

 

Thanks also for the success of ‘Youve Changed,’ my first book of poetry. Can you really download a book? There’s the gentle breath and flap of a flipped page. The dry rub of your hand spreading the spine open. The clean smell of a crafted product. You can hand it to someone. Not only does it never need recharging, it recharges you. It’s reusable, recyclable, and 100% biodegradable. If cared for, it will last lifetimes. 

 

I autograph every copy ordered from my web store: http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1

 

Wednesdays at The Kraken are rockin’! The support for our new residency has been overwhelming. Thanks to our special guest Jess Klein for a fantastic show last week. You can listen to last week’s The Byrd Word podcast with Jess here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-byrd-word/id1337844620?mt=2&i=1000400570089

Subscribe to The Byrd Word to get an episode every week. You can also follow the Jonathan Byrd channel in your Apple News app. Here’s last week’s blog and podcast https://apple.news/ATMQ7j9w9TfCnu47qkRRhTQ

 

*********THE SHOWS************* 

 

WED JAN 31

The Kraken

Chapel Hill NC

special guests John Saylor and Stan Lewis

 

FRI FEB 2

Private reading and music

Carrboro NC

RSVP for details

 

WED FEB 7

The Kraken

Chapel Hill NC

special guest Wes Collins

 

FRI FEB 9

Cavender Creek Vineyards

Dahlonega GA

 

FEB 10

Reeves Theater

Elkin NC

 

*first ever full-length public reading performance*

FRI MAR 2

St. Matthews Episcopal Church

Faith & Arts Series

Hillsborough NC

 

Your fan,  

 

JByrd

FullSizeRender.jpg

Comment

Comment

The Byrd Word podcast!

Big news today. But first- we’re playing The Kraken this Wednesday with a very special guest, the incredible Jess Klein. We’re working up a country duet especially for this show. We’ve also been fortunate to be joined by Austin McCall on drums. Y’all come have a drink with us after work. 

 

January 24th, 7-10pm

The Kraken

Highway 54 West, Chapel Hill NC

 

January 31st, 7-10pm

The Kraken

Highway 54 West, Chapel Hill NC

special guests John Saylor and Stan Lewis

 

we’ll continue the Wednesday residency and announce special guests as we add them. We have two special shows in February:

 

February 9th 

Cavender Creek Vineyards

Dahlonega GA

 

February 10th

Reeves Theater

Elkin, NC

 

**************** 

 

Ladies and gentleman, presenting the first edition of The Byrd Word podcast. I read a poem inspired by my eight-year-old son, and we discuss it together. If you enjoy the podcast, share it! You can also leave a review on iTunes. I'd love to know what you thought about it.

 

Listen on the podcast app:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-byrd-word/id1337844620?mt=2&i=1000400263206

 

or in your browser at:  http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-byrd-word/

 

Every week, I'll share and discuss the written word. Subscribe to The Byrd Word in your podcast app. 

 

Podcast notes and links can be found at http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-byrd-word/

 

Your fan,

 

JByrd

FullSizeRender.jpg

Comment

Comment

The Price Is, Write

We’re in New York and it’s cold. The city lights shine crisp on the river, stars across the void. it’s good to see friends like Kaia Kater, Corin Raymond, Sam Baker, Jefferson Hamer, all at this crazy industry event known as APAP. I kind of wish I’d seen The Price Is Right traveling show. They were here, along with every tribute band known to man. 

 

Eight of us Roots/Americana acts rented a beautiful old theater on Bleecker Street and put on a four-hour show for maybe thirty people. Arts presenters. DJs. Music writers. A few enterprising fans. We watched each other and had fun. Thanks to Mavens Music and the Val Denn Agency for the opportunity and support. 

 

We’re looking forward to bringing Kyshona Armstrong home to The Kraken with us this Wednesday. My friend Korby Lenker is coming from Nashville. I know there’s snow coming. If The Kraken is open we’ll be there for you. Our sympathies go out to Armand Lenchek, who was suppose to be with us but is in the hospital getting over this crazy flu. Get well soon buddy! 

 

This Saturday, first ever show in Myrtle Beach!

 

***************** 

 

JAN 17 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC

 

JAN 20 SAT

Myrtle Beach Train Depot

Myrtle Beach, SC

 

JAN 24 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC



JAN 31 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC

 

FEB 7 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC

 

FEB 9 FRI

Cavender Creek Vineyards

Dahlonega, GA

 

FEB 10 SAT

Reeves Theater

Elkin NC

**************** 

 

Order ‘You’ve Changed,’ my new book of poetry, right here http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1

 

I’ve mailed copies to Spain, Denmark, and Australia this week. Every copy sold will feed a hungry child in North Carolina. I have one in mind. Your fan, 

 

JByrd

IMG_2101.JPG
IMG_2142.JPG

Comment

Comment

Holy Water

 “that’s a PREACHIN’ book. Loved it.” — Andrew Calhoun, Waterbug Records

 

There are only 25 copies left from the first printing of my new book of poetry, ‘You’ve Changed.’ I’ll sign every copy ordered from my web store: http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1

 

******************* 

 

If you want us to come to your town, this is for you: We’re going to the APAP conference in NY, NY on January 15th. If you have a performing arts center or a theater in your area, they may be going to APAP to book their season. Tell them about our showcase! Forward this email right to them. We'll be in the beautiful Loreto Theater on Bleeker St at 8pm, Monday night, January 15th, along with a host of fantastic artists. More details below. 

 

This week is also the maiden voyage of our new residency at The Kraken on Highway 54 outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Join us for three hours of fun and music! 

 

JAN 10 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC

 

JAN 15 MON

APAP Conference

Sheen Center- Loreto Theater

18 Bleeker Street

New York, NY

W Corin Raymond, Kaia Kater, Session Americana, and more

 

JAN 17 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC

special guests Korby Lenker, Armand Lenchek, and Kyshona Armstrong

 

JAN 20 SAT

Myrtle Beach Train Depot

Myrtle Beach, SC

buy tickets

 

JAN 24 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC

special guest Jess Klein

 

JAN 31 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC

 

FEB 7 WED

The Kraken

Chapel Hill, NC

 

FEB 9 FRI

Cavender Creek Vineyards

Dahlonega, GA

 

FEB 10 SAT

Reeves Theater

Elkin NC

 

Your fan,

 

JByrd

IMG_2099.JPG

Comment

Comment

The Kraken and the Wolf

There’s a little roadhouse on hwy 54 outside Chapel Hill NC that’s been there since I was a kid, the kind of place my mom would be scared to go into. You’d see a couple motorcycles outside. A neon sign. A dude smoking on the porch.

 

A few years ago, my old friends Kirk and Jody took it over and called it The Kraken. They planted flowers. They put up a sculpture of the mythical sea creature. They started inviting local and nationally touring musicians to play there.

 

The Kraken has become a destination for music out here in the sticks. I’ve been discussing a residency with Kirk, and we’ve finally settled it. Starting January 10th, Johnny and I will play from 7-10pm every Wednesday at The Kraken on Highway 54. We’ll play songs we’ve never played on stage before, songs from old records, and songs by friends like Corin Raymond and Anais Mitchell. We'll have special guests- in fact, we’ve already lined up Armand Lenchek, Kyshona Armstrong, and Korby Lenker for Jan 17th, and Jess Klein for January 24th. 

 

We’re excited to have a place to try new things and connect with our neighbors every week. We’ll begin on the 10th with three hours of material that has rarely, if ever, been on stage before. Of course we’ll throw in some favorites too. Come have a drink with us. Tell your friends! Check the Kraken out online at http://www.thekrakenbar.com/ and on Facebook at https://facebook.com/KrakenBarChapelHill/

 

Your fan, 

 

JByrd

______________________

 

Wind Wild and Weather Wet

 

Was a wolf in the woods

wind wild and weather wet

its eyes and mine met 

the wild world and not wild world

She the wolf and I the dog

She the weed and I the crop

The disadvantage mine

if left fending in the fallow

 

But what wild thing can wield

a not wild thing, wound to the whim

of its winder, this wild world

and all the gaping maw of nothing

not wild at all, that, the void obeys

the one rule to be all that is not

while Earth crawls like a beast

this blackened plain and barren

stretching its chain and straining

vainly as the not wild things

strain against their wildness

But wildness will have them

and find them one thing

 

The hearts of men and women

In linens and skins skimming

wilderness and weirding the wild

The feral born bewildered

Wild and not wild and weaned

Teary eyed torn from the wild

Weaponized and worn down

like bluestem under the wind

 

The cosmic wind wild as winter

Whereon fishermen ride the whim

Of water wishing they were home

Or better rich and wistful, fists full

of women and dogs not wolves

whereas that is what is wild

And not wild. The beast that crawls

to its master to burn its flank

on the hearth. Earth, the wolf,

turns ever from fire and yet

circles it, wind wild and weather wet

 

________________________

 

If you like this poem, you’ll love ‘You’ve Changed,’ my new book of poetry beautifully designed by Jon Dixon in New Orleans. Order it here: http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1

IMG_2062.JPG

Comment

Comment

Forever, Right Now

Now begins my favorite part of the year- the days between Christmas and New Years Day. Take the clock down from the wall. There are enough leftovers to survive on. All the books I haven’t read. Firewood. Four wheel drive. Town is there if we need it. Bedtime is whenever we get tired. Morning is whenever we wake up.


If we’re lucky, it’ll snow. That’s when the peace is undeniable, like heaven without death. That’s a day you remember when you’re old and senile and flipping through the brittle pages of your life. The steam from everything warm. The whiteness of the world. The laughter of children in the woods. Maybe you were one of them. Maybe you always were and you just forgot.


I’ll see y’all on the other side of heaven. I hope this time is timeless for you too. If it’s not, I hope you remember when it was. That’s how it lives forever, right now.


we are in heaven

the sky is an illusion

like any border


_______________________


If you like the things I write, you’ll love You’ve Changed, my new book of poetry from Mezcalita Press. Order your copy here http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1


"You've Changed, a collection of masterful poems by Jonathan Byrd, leaves me with hope. Takes me through darkness, past sorrow, to the other side of despair, past the losses, the crosses, beyond surrender. Offers a glimpse of the star field where there are no more words. Just the gentle glow of eternity. Hope. What more could I ask of a collection of poems?"

-- Mary Gauthier

IMG_1969.JPG

Comment

Comment

Let It shine

My wife has been out of work since August. We're running pretty lean right now, but getting by thanks to our fans. If you haven't purchased my new book of poetry 'You've Changed,' or our great new album 'Trio,' get some fantastic art in your life and donate to a worthy cause on our web store.

'You've Changed' - http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1

'Trio' - http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/trio-cd

I'm shipping tomorrow. Everything should arrive by Christmas. If you'd like 10 or more copies, email me personally at info@jonathanbyrd.com and we can work out a volume discount. Poetry and music come pre-assembled, require no batteries, and will last a lifetime.

Download 'Trio' from Bandcamp - https://jonathanbyrd.bandcamp.com/album/trio

You can also download my entire discography from bandcamp.com - 18 releases! - for $79.99. Most come with lyrics, album artwork, and more. You can choose MP3s, full-quality WAV files, and even FLAC. 

One more thing you can do: SHARE. Turn your friends on. Share on Facebook. Twitter. Google +. Get all crazy and walk to your neighbor's house. "Have you heard this guy? Can I read you a poem?" You cannot yet imagine the positive consequences for yourself, your neighbor, and me that would result from such a radical action. There's a lot of powerlessness being expressed lately and it's bullshit. You have power. We have power. Words have power. Actions have power. Love has power. Hate and fear have no power; they can only control the power of other things. Take back control of your own power and use it. This is the season of light. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

I leave you with a poem from 'You've Changed.'

THE BAPTISM II

The beginning of God;
written in your face
crying in the mountains,
baptize the mountains,
the land confessing.
hair, and skin and wild honey;
saying, I am not worthy.

water: the Holy Ghost.
the French Broad River.
like a dove descending
a voice saying, I am.

into the mountains.
with the wild beasts;
preaching the gospel
time is fulfilled.

into the sea:
Come you after me
Come you after me

 

Your fan,

 

JByrd

front cover.jpg

Comment

Comment

Kyshona ArmSTRONG

  

We had a fantastic tour with Corin Raymond and Kyshona Armstrong. Check out her new single, “Maybe by Christmas.”  

 

Before we went on this tour, we made a record as a trio. Nothing more, nothing less. Like a live show in your earbuds. Buy a disc from my store. http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/trio-cd

 

Or download the sounds, artwork, and lyrics from Bandcamp.  https://jonathanbyrd.bandcamp.com/album/trio

 

Last but not least, order my new book of poetry, You’ve Changed in time for Christmas. http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed-1

 

All sales will feed a hungry child in North Carolina, and I have one in mind. Your fan,

JByrd

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Comment

1 Comment

Which Hunt

Which Hunt

 

Ha! The witches are hunting all right,

says Mama Bear pushing back her Mama chair

And Papa Bear already stuck his thumb in the socket

saying, It’s a thin line...

She says, The thin line is our bedroom door

You better know which side you belong on

Women have always been accused of strange and evil powers

Now the witches are using what little powers they actually have

to adjust the World’s Oldest Inequity

 

Baby Bear, happy and confused,

awaits his imagined immolation

so he can go back to his mama’s arms

and sit at the table again

 

Mama Bear swears a Mama Swear

If you never understood the powers of women

it’s because you never really tried

It wasn’t necessary

You enjoyed us and wondered at us

like we were some far-off star

 

Speaking of stars, says Goldilocks

the speed of light was first accurately calculated

when Europe was still burning witches

 

Yeah they never really tried honey bun

They never really tried so hard that when men walked on the Moon-

the way they always do-

They still thought the sexual revolution was about sex

 

The Big Bad Wolf howls, That’s the way it’s always been

Roar, Mama Bear says. Sit down, Grandma.

It’s time for princes to unbecome toads

The sexual revolution hasn’t even happened yet

Ooh, it’s scary to be a man-bear right now

but we have finally found the source

of the strange and evil powers

the call is coming from inside the house

 

Papa Bear shuffles in self-defense

Babe, the porridge was just right

But she doesn’t care

No one is sleeping in my bed without my consent!

Witch hunt! She huffs

Which hunt is which?

 

****************

 

You can order You've Changed, my first book of poetry here: http://www.jonathanbyrd.com/the-store/youve-changed

 

Shipping is included. Order a few and give them to your poetry-loving friends for Christmas!

 

"You've Changed, a collection of masterful poems by Jonathan Byrd, leaves me with hope. Takes me through darkness, past sorrow, to the other side of despair, past the losses, the crosses, beyond surrender. Offers a glimpse of the star field where there are no more words. Just the gentle glow of eternity. Hope. What more could I ask of a collection of poems?"

 

-- Mary Gauthier

 

 ********************

 

We’re honored to have our good friends Corin Raymond  and Kyshona Armstrong with us on this tour. It’s going to be a hot show. 

 

Nov 29 Wed

The Tin Pan

Richmond VA

 

Nov 30 Thurs

Muddy Creek Music Hall

Winston-Salem NC

 

Dec 1 Fri

Bedford Public Library

Bedford VA

***early book reading 3:30pm*** 

 

Dec 2 Sat

White Horse Black Mountain

Black Mountain NC

 

Dec 3 Sun

The Purple Onion

Saluda NC

 

Dec 4 Mon

***book reading only, 11am*** 

The Bookshelf  

Tryon NC

 

Dec 5 Tues

The Creek Stage at The Rookery

Macon GA

 

Dec 6 Wed

house concert

Tallahassee FL

 

Dec 7 Thurs

RadioLive

Pensacola FL

 

Dec 8 Fri

Hendershot’s Coffee Bar

Athens GA

 

Dec 9 Sat

Cary Theater

Cary NC

 

Dec 10 Sun

Roosters Wife @ Poplar Knight Spot

Aberdeen NC

 

Your fan,  

 

JByrd

FullSizeRender.jpg

(Thanks to @feministbear for the image) 

1 Comment

Comment

Scar Tissue

I joined the Navy before I left high school. I believe it's the only reason I was allowed to graduate.

 

In the Persian Gulf War, our ship delivered food to Kurdish refugees in Turkey. During the First Liberian Civil War, we brought Marines to protect our embassy in Monrovia.

 

The only time I saw our .50 caliber guns mounted, we were in the bay of a friendly Mediterranean country. Three days later, a mailboat went to shore. A few hours later we packed up the guns, went to shore, and got drunk. I never learned why we were there.

 

After three tense days of battle readiness, and with weeks of unspent pay and a ready supply of Ouzo, a Marine went through a window in a bar fight. A signalman came back to the pier with a new leather hat, boots, and a bullwhip, cracking the whip and rebel-yelling at the top of his lungs. A few sailors went down and carried him on board. While I was on watch on the quarterdeck, we heard a splashing sound and turned to see a disheveled chief petty officer pissing off the second deck directly onto the accom ladder- the stairs used to board the ship and, while in port, the most ceremonious place on board. None of us knew what to do because he outranked everyone on watch. Before we could take action, a couple of chiefs stepped out and dragged him back into their quarters.

 

We had never even gone to war. We had only been faced with the prospect of it for a few days. Running around the Mediterranean trying to help people deal with the effects of war, we had no idea how to deal with it ourselves.

 

Maybe things have changed since I was in the Navy. We were taught how to do our jobs. How to clean a m1911a .45 in the dark. How to put on a gas mask. How to fight fires. No one taught us how to deal with the aftermath in our minds. The women lost to too many days deployed. Not knowing your own children. The visions of friends killed by accidents in routine maintenance. Wishing they were killed by bullets instead.

 

When we were anchored off the coast of Turkey bringing food to refugees, I saw the bloated body of a Holstein cow floating in the water. The weather was still. The headless, limbless body hung around all day, bobbing slowly in the royal blue water.

 

I understood war in that moment as a natural disaster. That's still the way I process it. War happens. There is no positive outcome for the human race, no reasonable God to attribute it to, and no reliable forecast for when it will end. You might as well shake your fist at a hurricane. The best you can hope for is a short one. The most you can do is help other people deal with it. If you survive, you clean up and move on.

 

Think of veterans today as survivors. I was 19. On my ship, there were a few hundred more my my age and a handful of men to lead us. Now that I'm their age, I can't imagine the weight of their charge. We were just boys. Brave, strong, willing boys.

 

Survivors aren't always easy to get along with. Please remember that thick skin is scar tissue. We still want love, respect, and a good time. We want to know that what we did was important. Mostly we tried to help people. I never met a bloodthirsty soldier. Maybe they're out there. I just never met one.

 

All the guys I served with were straight out of high school like me. For many of us, it was the best of our limited options. We imagined that we were men. We survived. We became veterans.

 

Your fan

 

JByrd

 

IMG_1249.PNG

Comment

2 Comments

I Want to Believe

Pareidolia is perceiving a pattern in random data or unrelated events. Constellations, animal clouds, meanings in Bob Dylan lyrics- we’re so good at finding patterns that we make them up where they don’t exist. Pattern recognition is of course essential to human survival and pareidolia is the price we pay for it.

 

Different people see different patterns. One of the best ways to make sure you’re not fooling yourself is to try to see things the way others see them. If you were lying on the grass with a friend, and you both saw a cloud that looked like a dragon to you and a bunny to them, you would probably try to see the bunny. That’s the least amount of work we could do when more important things are at stake.

 

What are some examples of pareidolia from your own life? From the media you read? How have you fooled yourself?

 

****************

If it seems like we are going to Texas, it’s because we are. 

 

 

NOV 8 WED

Shipping & Receiving

Fort Worth, TX

NOV 9 THU

McGonigel's Mucky Duck

Houston, TX 

 

NOV 10 FRI 

Fischer Fest

Fischer,  TX

 

NOV 11 SAT

Cottrell Ranch

Dahlonega GA

*SOLD OUT*

 

Your fan,  

 

JByrd

FullSizeRender.jpg

2 Comments

1 Comment

The Only Place Big Enough

A year ago, MC Hansen asked me if I’d like to record with a chamber orchestra in Denmark. I said yes. It’s a good thing I had no idea what I was getting into. 

 

I’m still a little jet-lagged. I met the orchestra musicians yesterday. I’m learning to translate “take it from the bridge” to “begin at measure 43.” We had a few hours to rehearse and now we have a few hours to record everything live in their concert hall. Then we play two shows:

 

OCT 27 FRI

KUMUS

Maribo, Denmark

 

OCT 28 SAT

Kulturwerk Norderstedt

Norderstedt, Germany

 

My life seems to consist entirely of these leaps of faith. I don’t know an artist who thinks they have art figured out. It’s not like making a cup of coffee. It’s like inventing a new beverage every morning. After trying a few dozen of the basic ideas, you’ve got to get pretty crazy to come up with anything new.

 

Besides jet lag and impossible deadlines, another thing I do to find new ideas is explore my previous work. What’s missing? I look at the map to find the ideas I haven’t visited.

 

This album is about love and time. I was reading an interview with Jason Isbell, and he was talking about his song If We Were Vampires. Jason says, “...to write a love song, you have to write a death song.” I’d go further. In order to think about life at all, we have to conceive of a beginning and an end. And of course Jason is right: life is the only time we have to love. 

 

The planets turn. Light rips across the void. On a tiny, insignificant speck of dust in a sock drawer of the universe, there’s a bit of moisture and a little creature that loves so much that it considers the infinite in others. We need eternity. It’s the only place big enough to put this feeling.

 

Light is universally equated with goodness, hope, holiness, and even the creative source of all things. The rules of physics say that light experiences no time or distance. Light is always here, now. I believe love is the same. Love exists in all dimensions equally, universal and immutable, whether you accept it or not. Time is essential for the existence of the matter we’re made of, but love defies time and even physical closeness.

 

Thanks to The Sentimentals for trusting me with this incredible project. Thanks to Ensemble Storstrøm for welcoming a few heathens into your sacred space. We are also fortunate to work with brilliant arrangers Dalal Bruchmann and Annie Rosevar, who live in California. We’ve been telecommuting across nine time zones for much of this year, and anyone who has traveled to another country to make an album will tell you: time is real.

 

Then again, what do I know? I’ve never done this before, again. See you on the other side. Your fan, 

 

JByrd

The sock drawer of the Universe.

The sock drawer of the Universe.

1 Comment

1 Comment

Happy Indigenous Organisms Day

Columbus Day is a good day to remember why we are crashing billion-dollar spacecraft into planets rather than leaving them to crash on possibly life-harboring worlds.

 

Tardigrades are micro-animals that have survived at least five mass extinctions. They are found everywhere on Earth. Tardigrades can survive below the background temperature of the universe, above the boiling point of water, the pressure at the bottom of the ocean, and radiation that would kill us hundreds of times over. They can survive without food and water for thirty years, and have traveled on the outside of spacecraft and returned to Earth alive. Tardigrades eat, among other things, algae, which has also survived unprotected space flight.

 

The early universe may have been warm enough that planets didn't even need to orbit stars to have liquid water. Life certainly had everything it needed eons before the Earth was formed. Geneticists have speculated that life may have needed 10 billion years to evolve to its current state on Earth, which means it would have come here from elsewhere.

 

**************** 

 

I'll be invading Denmark next week, bringing infectious music and ruthless desire for gourmet licorice. I'm only playing a few shows. Mostly, I'm recording an album with The Sentimentals and a seven-piece chamber orchestra called the Danish Chamber Players. Thanks so much to The Sentimentals for finding the orchestra and the funding, and thanks also to Guldborgsund, DPA, and Koda for their financial support  

 

In all my reading about physics, it has not escaped me that the field of quantum mechanics was born in Denmark, which is how we know today that the entire universe is made of tiny building blocks called Legos™.

 

OCT 21 SAT

House Concert

Skibby, Denmark


OCT 27 FRI

KUMUS

Maribo, Denmark


OCT 28 SAT

Kulturwerk Norderstedt

Norderstedt, Germany

 

Your fan, 

 

JByrd

IMG_0655.JPG

Happy Indigineous Organisms Day

1 Comment

1 Comment

Ghosts

"Just like your own wounds, the world's wounds will call for attention in increasingly devastating ways until they are acknowledged" -- Charlene deGuzman

 

"If he's a lone wolf, why are there so many of him?"  -- Ivan Coyote

 

The largest mass shooting in US history was not two days ago. It was December 29, 1890 near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Nearly three hundred people were killed, including two hundred unarmed women and children. Twenty US soldiers received the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

 

Then there was the Colfax massacre  on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana, when 150 black men were murdered by Southern Democrats. The state historic marker erected in 1950 says "On this site occurred the Colfax riot in which three white men and 150 negroes were slain. This event on April 13, 1873 marked the end of carpetbag misrule in the South." The marker still stands. 

 

The term "lone wolf" was coined by White Aryan Resistance (WAR) founder Tom Metzger in 1983. America has wounds we've never acknowledged. They will call for attention in increasingly devastating ways until we do. 

 

**************** 

 

Like every working musician, I couldn't help but be shaken by a massacre at a concert. Not the first one. Sadly not the last. 

 

Then the loss of Tom Petty brought home how much music means to us. We never met, but he taught me as much as any teacher and soothed me as much as any preacher. 

 

So I go back on the road teaching, preaching, and soothing. It soothes me just to see your faces every night, to know we share a love for music and meaning, and to shake your hands after the show. 

 

Johnny is taking a break for the month of October. I'll be appearing in-the-round in Black Mountain with my songwriting friends Chuck Brodsky and Jimmy Landry, and with The Sentimentals and a chamber orchestra in Denmark and Germany. 

 

OCT 7 SAT

White Horse Black Mountain

Black Mountain, NC

 

OCT 21 SAT

House Concert

Skibby, Denmark

 

OCT 27 FRI

KUMUS

Maribo, Denmark

 

OCT 28 SAT

Kulturwerk Norderstedt

Norderstedt, Germany

IMG_0585.JPG

1 Comment

Comment

Progress

I've been reading a lot about physics lately. My seven year old son asks good questions. He's teaching me a lot.

 

For most of history most people thought that different rules applied to the heavens. It was common sense. Enormous things don't float around in the air down here. The world of the Moon and stars seems very strange and special.

 

Isaac Newton wondered, What if the same rules applied universally? If the apple is falling, then the Moon is falling. Earth is falling. The Sun is falling. Newton explained the motion of planets and moons and apples perfectly, but that wasn't the big shift. The confirmation of universal laws laid a new foundation we could finally build an accurate model of the heavens on. Gravity was the first fossil in the archeology of the Universe. 

 

To make progress in our understanding of the world, we might have to challenge the common sense of our families, our countrymen, and even the thousands of years of culture and society that produced us. The weirder things get, the more potential there is for change. Chances are, we're all wrong about something that's been in the intellectual bedrock for a long time. Maybe forever.

 

Am I applying one set of rules to myself and another to others? Am I applying one set of rules to humanity and another to the rest of Creation? What am I absolutely sure of? Is old knowledge keeping me from understanding new information? 

 

Your fan,  

 

JByrd

 

**************** 

 

SEP 27 WED 9pm

SEP 29 THURS 4:20pm

IBMA World of Bluegrass

Raleigh NC

 

SEP 29 FRI

Transylvania County Library Amphitheater

Brevard, NC

 

OCT 7 SAT

White Horse Black Mountain

Black Mountain, NC

 

OCT 21 SAT

House Concert

Skibby, Denmark

 

OCT 27 FRI

Fuglsang Kunstmuseum

Maribo, Denmark

 

OCT 28 SAT

Kulturwerk Norderstedt

Norderstedt, Germany

IMG_0568.PNG

Comment

Comment

We Are Made Of Light

We're 99.9999999% empty space, a grain of dust exploded and then held together by massive amounts of energy. A kilogram of matter has more energy than hundreds of atomic bombs. A pair of shoes. A few potatoes. A King James Bible.

 

E=mc²

 

The energy of anything is: the thing's mass times the speed of light, times the speed of light again.

 

Multiplying a Bible times the speed of light seems totally whacko. It is whacko! The universe is so exciting.

 

Joules = 1 kilogram x 300,000,000 m/s x 300,000,000 m/s

 

joules = 90,000,000,000,000,000

 

A joule is a watt per second. If you divide it by 60 watts, a decent Bible can power your bedroom light for fifty million years.

 

**************** 

 

SEP 22 FRI

Deep Roots Music Festival

Wolfville, Nova Scotia

 

SEP 26 TUE

IBMA World of Bluegrass

Raleigh NC

 

SEP 29 FRI

Transylvania County Library Amphitheater

Brevard, NC

 

OCT 7 SAT

White Horse Black Mountain

Black Mountain, NC

 

OCT 21 SAT

House Concert

Skibby, Denmark

 

OCT 27 FRI

Fuglsang Kunstmuseum

Maribo, Denmark

 

OCT 28 SAT

Kulturwerk Norderstedt

Norderstedt, Germany

 

your fan,  

 

JByrd

 

IMG_0403.JPG

Comment