Joe Jencks

Happy New Year! (& Seattle Concert)

Happy Holidays Folks! Thanks for a great year.  What follows is:

  1. My annual holiday letter/ Seasonal Reflections.
  2. One gig announcement for a special show in Seattle this week.

Wishing you all the best in 2009!!!

In Gratitude & Song


Dear Friends,

As 2008 winds to a close and 2009 lights the horizon, I find myself reflecting on the year. In the Christian tradition, the four Sundays before Christmas mark a season known as Advent. It is a time of solemn preparation. In the tradition, it is a time of contemplation, preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Christmas Day. Now we know historically that Jesus existed. And we know that he was not born on the 25th of December. Beyond that much of the Christmas story is a matter of tradition and faith. Very little is historically verifiable. But the tradition is beautiful. It is a celebration of light during a time of darkness.  My wife Lynn and I try to take some time every day that I am home light the candles, one every evening of the first week, two the second week, three the third week etc. It is a few minutes out of every day when we just sit together and share a little about our day, out thoughts, our lives.

As one who was raised Catholic, and is now a Unitarian Universalist, I wonder how to honor this time. I still feel the need for this time of reflection and solemn preparation. I feel a need to honor the traditions of Christianity, especially the spirit of slowing down, taking time for friends and family and spiritual growth. It is a time of year when community becomes the center of everything. We may feel all at once blessed by the people in our lives, and isolated by the fairy tale visions of family that haunt our radios, televisions, and computer screens. Is there something wrong with me that my family/community does not look like this Norman Rockwell picture I keep seeing displayed?

Fear not beloved ones Norman Rockwell was an artist. Not a journalist. We love his work because it reminds us of what has been perhaps, or what could be but we still must love what is here and now however imperfect. If your family/community does not look like the department store ads, you are totally normal! None of us look like that. They try to sell us a fantasy. They try to sell us on the idea that if we shop there, buy those things, consume that food and drink, that we will feel as safe and secure and connected as those people seem. But it is a lie. And we all know it and yet our desire to be connected is so strong that we buy into the illusion. And for a few blessed moments or even days we feel the way the picture looks. But then it fades that horrid day after Christmas feeling hits and this one moment we have been building toward is over. And the festive hues of green and red and gold fade, and leave us with various shades of blue. This is why I love Advent. It gives me time to consider what the season is about not just one day of frantic gift giving, but also a season of reflection, gratitude, generosity and celebration.

I also LOVE Chanukah! It too is a many day celebration. A time when families gather, light the candles and spend some good time together. Lighting Candles in the time of darkness, remembering a time when God shined a light so pervasively it could not be extinguished. Lynn and I have celebrated Chanukah for several years now. It started with a gift from an artist friend of a gorgeous metal sculpture Menorah. (The traditional candelabra that holds the Chanukah Candles). Not being Jewish, I ask the indulgence of my friends for any factual errors in my understanding of the tradition. But it is important to my spirit of the season, so I want to share.

The Menorah sat on the shelf for a few years. I loved it as a gift and a work of art, but I had no idea what to do with it. Then, shortly before Christmas about five years ago, I was giving a concert in New York City, and Lynn and I stayed with our friend Bruce Markow after the show. It was the last night of Chanukah. Bruce lit the candles and shared with us stories of his childhood and of his familys ways of honoring the traditions. We talked about Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, and all the various traditions of light that are celebrated at this time of year. They were long burning candles, and went on for a couple of hours.

As the last of the candles faded, I realized that those hours with Bruce had given me more of a sense of the Christmas Spirit than I had felt in years. It was not about illusions and false images it was not about gift giving and cards and feasts it was about a few people spending a few hours in the light of each other, honoring their differences and their commonality. It was COMMUNITY! I was so hungry for that. We get so obsessed with our comings and goings and doings we sometimes forget to make space for our being. Thanks Bruce. We still honor the spirit of that light, and every year we do a little more research and do a little better at honoring a tradition that is not of our family, but of our choosing.

As Lynn and I are still settling in Chicago/Evanston, I feel a certain disconnect with the idea of community. And I also feel a rich blessing for the community I am a part of all over the country. Some of you are new to the Joe Jencks music web. Some of you have been with me since the beginning. Every concert, every church service, every rally and picket line where I have played music is part of my sense of community. And yet we are very separate. I cant invite you all to a Holiday party at my Apt. First off, you would have to come in shifts for days on end. Not a bad thing really to have so many amazing people in ones life. Second, you would not all be able to travel to Chicago for a party. Thus for more pragmatic reasons, we gravitate toward our home communities at this time of year.

There is much to celebrate. And for many there is much to mourn. Losses are most present in our hearts this time of year. People, dreams, goals, places, relationships; we mourn the loss of what the year has taken from us. And this too is an important part of the celebration of light. To hold those matters in that light and honor those feelings. To celebrate how we have grown, how we have evolved and the many blessings that remain to grace our lives, tables and hearths.

As odd as it may seem to many people, some many-thousands of you spread across a continent ARE my community. And so I invite you to this moment of virtual cheer a cyber-toast to our health and wellbeing. I invite you to this table of ideas and this feast of creativity as my guests. I pour for you a cup of gratitude and raise it in your honor. I offer you a slice of life, shared as our communal bread. And I thank you for your friendship and your support of my artistic and musical visions.

I wish you all the very best of holidays, whatever traditions you honor. I wish you love and abundance, peace and friendship, a heart humble and grateful for the many rich blessings we all have and share. And most of all, I wish for you a sense of peace and contentment. Rest assured, that we will all find the path to realize the worldly goals that occupy the rest of our lives, in good time. But for now, light the candles of your tradition. Pause for a moment in the glow of that light and the glow of loved ones, and know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Happy New Year!

In Peace, Gratitude and Song

•Joe Jencks

December 08

Upcoming gigs
(as always feel free to check the website for more complete listings:

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
7:30 PM  Seattle, WA
Joe Jencks in Concert - Bringing in the New Year!
With Special Guest Wes Weddell
Beery House Concerts
1419 19th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122 USA
Phone: 206-323-0396
Suggested Donation Sliding Scale $10.00-$20.00

My first concert of the new year... celebrated with dear friends Max & Teresa Beery.I played my VERY first house concert at their place back in 1999. So, call it a ten year anniversary! My good buddy and compadre Wes Weddell will bring his mando and guitars and add to the festivities with his unique wit, and superb talent.
The concert with be at 7:30 PM with an optional pot-luck at 6:00 PM. Come for a visit. Stay for the concert and have a lovely break from other holiday events. 1419 19th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122Info: 206-323-0396 or Suggested Donation $10-20 sliding scale.