Upcoming Tour Dates
March 31 ~ Old Songs ~ Voorheesville, NY
April 1 ~ Café Veritas ~ Rochester, NY
April 8 ~ The Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music Club ~ Teaneck, NJ
April 15 ~ St. Tim’s Coffeehouse ~ Skokie, IL
April 21 ~ Music on Malphrus ~ Bluffton, SC
*A more expansive list of upcoming cconcerts and festivals can be found on www.joejencks.com.
I hope this finds you well. Spring is in its full creative pendulum swing where I live. 50 degrees and sunny one afternoon, snowing and grey the next. But the longer days are making my plants happy, and me also.
I’m on the road again later this very afternoon. Headed to upstate New York with performances for Old Songs (March 31st in Voorheesville, NY – also LiveStreamed). And then to Rochester for Café Veritas (April 1st. No joke! A wonderful concert series held at First Unitarian).
Next weekend I will be in NJ performing for the Hurdy Gurdy Folk Club (April 8th in Teaneck). April 15th I will be in the Chicago area for St. Tim’s Coffeehouse, Skokie. And April 21st I will be in Bluffton, SC for another wonderful concert series, Music on Malphrus. I’ve got to have a chat with my agent about routing. HA.
In the April episode of My Highway Home (Season 5, Episode 4) I interview Annie Capps. A wonderful musician and writer from Michigan, Annie has just released an extraordinary magnum opus recording titled, How Can I Say This. Tune in for some great conversation and music via www.FolkMusicNotebook.com on Sunday April 9th at 6:00 PM ET. Rebroadcast at 11 PM ET that same night, and at Noon ET on Wednesday April 12th. Please adjust for your time zone. More info on Annie at www.anniecapps.com
Please also note the essay below on The Interconnectedness of Creativity.
I hope to see you out on the road somewhere or online, sometime soon!
In Gratitude & Song,
~ Joe Jencks
The Interconnectedness of Creativity
(Copyright 2023 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music)
Many people know that in addition to my multifaceted life as a musician, songwriter, singer, and a cultural worker, that I am an avid fan of cooking, Lego, model trains, making things with hand-made paper, and also a student of the natural world. Time in nature is restorative to me in ways that are never predictable, but consistently rewarding.
Equally so, immersing myself in any of my hobbies, engages creativity. It may not seem like time spent on one activity directly correlates to productivity in another. And in truth, most people would look at my life and see the chaos before they noticed the order. I could claim some point of erudition or eccentricity in this matter, but it would be nothing more than sophistry. The truth is, my life is a mess. One great, big, beautiful, chaotic, creative mess.
I love making a mess of the kitchen. Alchemy is real. Something that did not previously exist is being made from whatever ingredients are at hand. Baking has never been my thing. There’s more chemistry involved, and therefore more rules. But cooking for me is an improvisational practice, culinary Jazz. It is a present time practice that requires my attention to be in the moment. In this way it is a spiritual practice too. Cooking is centering and grounding, and almost always allows me to release something my mind or heart has been stuck on.
But while I cook, I am unconsciously whistling to myself, humming some fragment of melody. That almost always leads to other thoughts about the world and solutions to other problems. Not immediately, mind you. But the next time I sit down to do a thing I have been avoiding, I find I have renewed focus and a capacity to see new pathways through the proverbial thickets.
Creativity begets creativity.
My time with Lego, observing some novel and innovative means by which one might solve a dimensional problem also frequently adds to my willingness to look at problem in a different area of my life and see it too, with greater dimension and alternate solutions.
I set up a double ring of HO scale train track on the floor in my living room. I model mostly Canadian railroads (an homage to my Quebecoise roots). I don’t have a space suited for building a layout presently. But 14 months ago, I laid my Yoga mat out on the floor in the living room and figured out how wide the loops of track needed to be for me to do my practice in the center of the room and not disturb the trains. I do various practices when I am home inside that circle of brightly colored Canadian trains; one moving clockwise and the other counter clockwise. I always run them at slow speeds. And some days, especially in the winter, the gentle movement of all that color around me is both relaxing and uplifting. I sit and meditate, and the trains keep my attention in the present moment with the gentle sound of steel wheels on the rails. It is an archetypal sound for a Folksinger. The sound of the hobos, the workers, the builders, the farmers, the miners, and the mechanics.
Maya Angelou said once, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Delightfully, this is the way with love as well. The more we love, the more we are able to love. And just as creativity begets creativity, goodwill begets goodwill. Kindness, begets kindness. Joy begets joy. And hope begets hope.
May the advance of spring bring some measure of these things into your life. If you are feeling stuck, know that unstuck is just around the corner, waiting in an unexpected activity, conversation, or place. Keep looking. You may not find what you are looking for, but you will find many wonderful things!
~ Joe Jencks (3-30-23)