Joe Jencks


March Tour Dates & Let It Breathe ~ Song & Essay

March Tour Dates amp Let It Breathe nbspSong amp Essay

Dear Friends in Music,

It is my joy to be on the road a great deal this year. I traveled nearly coast to coast just in the month of January. February had me touring in Canada. And March has me traversing a broad swath of the U.S. I hope to see you at one or another of my upcoming shows.

March 8-10 in Texas: Georgetown, Austin, and San Antonio.
March 15-18 in Illinois and Wisconsin: Downers Grove, Kenosha, Shawano, and Rockford.
March 22-24 in Virginia: Residency at Averett University and a concert in Charlottesville.
March 26-27 in New York: Artist in Residence at SUNY Oneonta.

Here is a link to a new song, one that many of you have been asking for since I debuted the song last summer at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. A studio single will follow later this year, and I will be working on a new record this year as well. Stay tuned. For now, please enjoy this LIVE performance recorded earlier this week on FOX 7 - Good Day Austin.

Please check the Tour Dates page for full concert listings
Please also see the essay below: Let It Breathe – offering some thoughts about what it means to me to be revolutionary by offering compassion, and how some words written and spoken by friends and colleagues helped me make a hard decision.

I look forward to seeing many of you at concerts, in the coming weeks!

In Gratitude & Song,

~ Joe

Let It Breathe
Copyright 2024, Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

I received an invitation to sing live on a FOX News affiliate: Good Day Austin, on FOX 7. I was delighted. Major network air in a place like Austin is a thing. I was honored. And then they asked me in advance, what I wanted to sing. One song. What do I want to say? The temptation to be the activist is ever-present. The chance to do so on a FOX station? Nearly irresistible. But there are many ways to be an activist. Many ways to offer contradiction to the difficulties of the moment. And as much as I wanted to sing about immigration issues, labor, gun violence, environmental issues, racism, and more; I got one song. What to do?

There is no way you can put yourself into the world, authentically, and not take risks. And art, all by itself, is risky and revolutionary. Pete Seeger said many times in general and a couple of times to me in particular, “A song does not need to be about the revolution to be revolutionary.” That is to say, if what is needed is a lullaby, or a love song, that too is part of the evolution and revolution of that moment.

Baked into the cake of what we think of as the role of a Folksinger (at least in much of North America) is to be a champion of the downtrodden. Many have followed in these footsteps, and many have blazed new trails as variations on a theme, uplifting complex social issues and those who are most affected by them. And yet we find ourselves in a time when the divisiveness is becoming so toxic that we are pitted neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and sometimes family member against family member. And as we defend our views, ideas, and perspectives, actual progress seems always just out of reach.

I am all for rigorous debate, and I am definitely for social justice, racial and gender equity, the right of laborers to organize, the staunch defense of Civil Rights, the advancement of climate justice and awareness, the deconstruction of exploitative economic models, and the sovereignty of one’s body – especially as pertains to women’s reproductive rights. And yet, there is a need for the healing power of music in ways that sometimes needs to sidestep one idea of what it means to be a Folksinger to uplift another: Making people feel welcome, and deciding not to “other” another person. There is a tacit call to build a relationship of some form, and then carry the dialogue forward having first humanized another person and bothering to know some piece of their story.

Crys Matthews wrote a beautiful song released on her Changemakers album that I have been privileged to sing with her on several occasions: Exactly Where You Are. Look it up. Stunning. It is invitational but not sidestepping differences.

Plains and trains and buses too
No us and them just me and you.
And every person’s like a book with a story yet to tell,
A hidden gem buried deep within the depths of their well,
Hello how’s it going, how’s your journey been so far,
Nice to meet you, nice to meet you, exactly where you are.

Nearly 20 years ago, John Flynn wrote a song speaking to these differences, and a desire to overcome them. A choice to see what we share rather than what divides us. Not that the differences don’t matter, they do. Our stories and lived experiences are real, and our need to give voice to them and be witnessed for the lives we have lived is real. But maybe we get to a better place by offering compassion as we are able to cultivate it, rather than continuing the endless back and forth volley of assertions and assumptions.

There’s No Them There
Copyright - John Flynn (used by permission)

I want to
Go where there’s no them there
There’s no us there, somewhere we share
What we’re given, This ain’t livin’
and I’m dying to go

It’s more than intuition,
or a strong suspicion
A whole lot more than wishin’
I know it in my heart
Races, creeds and nations
are false separations
and we can replace them
with love it’s time to start (Chorus)

Colors of the rainbow
bend together and show
how we can blend also
If we look beyond
the things that divide us
to what is inside us
May their beauty guide us
from this dark road we’re on (Chorus)

From fear we’ve learned to cherish
and hate we’re taught to nourish
the light of hope may perish
if soon we do not find
a brand new way of seeing-
a brand new way of freeing-
our fellow human beings
by simply being kind (Chorus)

Thinking of these two beloved colleagues, and thinking to myself, “What would Pete do in this moment?” I decided to sing a new song of mine called, Let It Breathe (Love Has You Surrounded) for my one moment of fame on FOX 7 in Austin. I wrote the song last summer, in part inspired by a Haiku written by my friend and colleague Jenny Bienemann. I expect to release it as a single sometime this spring or summer. But so many people have been asking for the song after hearing it in concert. So many people have asked for lyrics and for permission to learn the song. Sometimes the world tells us what is needed. Not a protest or a lullaby, but a song of welcome. A song inviting compassion for the self and others. And that is a good place to start when figuring out how to move forward.

Sometimes the most revolutionary act we can engage in, is compassion. This song comes from that place, a place of compassion for others and for self. We are all in need of mercy and compassion. May you find some in this song.

~ Joe Jencks (3-8-24, Austin, TX)

Joe Jencks ~ Let It Breathe (Copyright 2023, Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP)
Link to the FOX 7 broadcast performance:
Lyrics below.

Let It Breathe (Love Has You Surrounded)
Copyright 2023 – Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

Lay down your weapons
Love has you surrounded
There is no easy way out
Lay down your shield, and
Let your heart break, just a little
Let Love remove all doubt

You go through the world
Everybody’s sweetheart
Keeping up a front that wears you down
But in a quiet moment
The truth comes out, Somedays you
Feel like you’re about to drown

There is no reason
To play this charade
You can be loved for who you are
And for every troubled thought
That crosses your mind, please hold that
You are someone else’s shining star

What do you need?
By what measure would you know, that
You are more than what you achieve
When you look in the mirror, Is it
Possible to see that
You are enough, so let it breathe

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