New Year's Resolution...FUN?? 

New Year's Resolution...FUN??

So…how's the New Year's resolution going?   Anyone having FUN yet??

Seems that most studies have shown that folks don't stick to their resolutions for more than a few weeks, especially if it's particularly challenging. Include me in that demographic. But I'm considering taking on FUN for 2024.

I'm not good at fun. My idea of fun is a sweaty hike up a mountain, a century bike ride, or a 5am hot yoga class. Even when it comes to music, I don't “play” guitar…I “work” on a song…or “practice” a riff. But recently I listened to a TED talk (yah, I listen to NPR…for fun) featuring Catherine Price, who speaks of the importance of fun in our lives, and breaks it down into 3 components: (and yes, we're about to scientifically dissect fun!) Playfulness, Connection, and Flow. Playfulness involves a lighthearted activity where we are not concerned about the outcomes, not taking ourselves seriously, and letting go of perfectionism. Connection points to a shared experience…yes, we can have fun alone, but it's much more potent when shared with another person. Flow is the state where we are so engaged in the activity we may lose track of time, when we are “in the zone”. When we experience all three at once…we are having FUN! Fun energizes us, helps us be present, unites us, and even makes us healthier. The opposite of fun is not work…it's depression.

Plenty of serious stuff to face in 2024…ongoing conflicts, climate change, elections…and we should do our best to take all that stuff pretty seriously. But maybe we should add in a little fun too. Life IS short…and looking back on it all, I remember the laughs as much, if not more so, than the work. PLUS…I'm a grandpa now. If I don't step up my fun game, I'm gonna get left in the dust!

And seriously…I can't think of a place where I'm more in the fun zone than on stage sharing songs with you. And as previously stated, fun must be shared! I've got some great shows coming up soon with all the links below, including a a gig at Front Porch Music in Valpo, IN with my pal Patti Shaffner, a crazy foursome in Feb with Sammie Hershock, Mike Ward, Travis Atkinson and I at The Stray in Grand Rapids, then on the road to Florida and Ohio…If you know folks in Columbus or Central Florida, please pass this on! And if you get a chance, hit me back with your fav fun activity. 

Now. Let's have some fun.  :-)

Saturday January 27, 7pm EST, 8pm CST Front Porch Music, Valparaiso, IN

-Split show with Songwriter Patti Shaffner

Saturday February 3,  7pm The Stray, Grand Rapids MI.

-Writers in the round with Mike Ward, Travis Atkinson and Sammie Hershock

Saturday February 17, 2-4pm, Winter Park Library, Winter Park FL

-Hosted by Central Florida Folk, Debbie Barnes opening

Saturday March 23, 7pm, Columbus Mennonite Church, OH

-Part of the Columbus Folk Music Society’s Americana/Folk series

Saturday April 28 2-4pm Allegan First Presbyterian Church, preceded by a songwriting workshop with Richard Bair at the Allegan High School from 11:30-12:30 Cabin Fever Concerts

June 7-9 Nor-east'r Music Festival, Mio MI.


Silent Night and Stage Fright 

Silent Night and Stage Fright...

My song prompt for December is “winter”, and so I’ve been writing about the winter solstice…the longest night of the year.

As a kid, I was afraid of the dark. I would have to feed the horses at night, and I’d often run as fast as I could from the barn back to the safety of our house. As a young adult, fear became a constant companion. I feared pubic speaking, large social gatherings, scary movies, athletics, roller coasters…heck I even feared Fear itself. And so I learned to run from my fears, or at least avoid them as often as possible.

But as I grew older, I came to understand that running from my fears was holding me back from the things I wanted to accomplish in my life. I’m reminded of the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy comes to the fork in the road and has to chose between the brightly lit path and the dark woods. And she knows that the only way home was to face her fears and move through the terrifying darkness. 

I finally decided to walk that road as a late teen with terrible stage fright. It was my first time playing guitar and singing in front of a live audience at the old Village Players Theater in Paw Paw (now the Lucky Wolf). It was a Christmas show, and I was to play “Silent Night”. I sat down alone on stage with my guitar, strummed the first few chords, then opened my mouth to sing, but…NOTHING came out! I tried again…nothing. Then panic set in, which only worsened the situation. But then, this amazing thing happened. The audience quickly recognized what was happening, and bless their souls…they began SINGING. And as I heard their voices I began to relax, and could finally sing the words along with them. 

I realized that night that those folks in the audience were WITH me, not against me. They WANTED me to succeed. And even though my worst fears at that moment DID manifest themselves, they were conquered by that beautiful act of love and compassion. And if it hadn’t been for that Christmas moment, I may have never stepped on a stage again. 

So this Holiday Season, I am THANKFUL for all of you who have supported my music through the years…and if you get a chance, come sing along with me at one of my upcoming shows listed below. I’ll be appearing in South Haven, Grand Rapids, Valparaiso, Florida and Ohio through the winter/spring months. 

Love and Peace to you all this Holiday Season!


John Denver and old Chevy's 

John Denver and old Chevy's...

You might have seen it by now…the new Chevy holiday commercial featuring the grandmother with Alzheimer's, and the granddaughter who takes her out for a drive in a ‘72 Suburban with John Denver’s 
"Sunshine on my Shoulders" playing in the background, in an attempt to revive her memory by visiting some of her favorite childhood places. 

Well Chevy, you got me.

Thing is…I learned to drive in my Dad's 72 Blazer. And I listened to John Denver albums on our family's new turntable. And we lost my mother in law a few years back to dementia. So yah, Chevy pushed ALL the buttons on this tearful demographic!

"Sunshine" was not my favorite JD song growing up, or even as an early songwriter. Seemed too simple, too direct, too fluffy to be a great song. Great songs had to be challenging, aloof, tricky…you know…Bob Dylan kinda stuff. But as I've worn a bit of tread off my tires, I've realized how deceptively challenging those simple truths can be to capture in both art and in our lives. Think of this verse…

If I had a day that i could give to you

I'd give to you a day just like today

Simple. Touching. Brilliant.

So friends…my wish for you this Holiday season is that you rediscover the simple truths in your own lives…and hold them close to your hearts throughout the year. And I hope that our paths will cross again soon :-)