More P12, Canjo Pics

As per my last blog, here are a few more photos from the Project 12
opening week and also of my new 2 string slide instrument (a “canjo”
or “canjoe”).

The “neck” is about 26 inches from an old discarded mop handle, hand
sanded with 60 grit. Simple as that. Bridge-to-nut scale is 20 inches.

Black Bean can because I play blues on this one. It’s named the Black
Bean Special.

So many think they can do little or nothing with basic junk… and it
ain’t true! The fact is that building a 1 or 2 string guitar you can
learn to play in about an hour (if you’re truly un-gifted… otherwise
you’d likely learn to play this in about 20 minutes) with a slide
(mine is made of copper pipe… you can buy fake slides like this (and
the parts for the tuners) at Home Depot, Menards or Lowes building
supply places or any hardware store for about 70 cents per piece).

The fake tuners are (each) made of a 1/4 x 3 inch eye bolt, a flat 1/4
inch washer and a 1/4 inch wing nut. Simple. You might need a
screwdriver or needle-nose pliers through the eye to tune when really
tuning the string(s) up high and tight, because these tuners truly
bond into the wood no matter what you use for a neck.

I often use thumb or carpet tacks for “fret” position markers, but on
this one just put a black permanent magic marker dot in 4 spots and
the P12 students kindly created their art around those dots. Very
cool.

There is a bolt in the can with a little groove I cut in the neck for
the “bridge” and I did the same for the “nut” as well as put a couple
wood screws in to use as string guides. The strings are about .052 or
.054 (low E, wound) and a .013 unwound string, both electric but
acoustic would also work fine.

And yes, that’s a handle on the neck. A little “flair” idea I had ๐Ÿ™‚

You can hold it like a regular guitar, down in your lap or on a table
top. You can use any slide object, your fingers or a pic to pluck the
strings, or use a slide for the pitch (positions) and a pencil or
larger dowel or even lighter drum stick to bang the strings rather
than pluck/pick them.

Rhythmic, melodic fun. Creativity R Us! ๐Ÿ™‚

-Glenn

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Project 12 & GK Art & Creativity Teaching

“The Gathering”, Project 12’s opening week sessions (JPUSA’s 10 month
Bible/Discipleship intensive) was amazing. I must say the staff and
students in this year’s Project 12 are truly cool.

The Theme this year is “Friends of Jesus” and the classes all reflect
a deep study of the Person of Jesus.

We began the week with worship, I spoke on John 15 (the text dealt
with Jesus’ works on being His friend) and opened the message with
quotes from Proverbs on what biblical friendship with God and others
is and is not.

About 2/3rds through the week prior to my leaving for Iowa shows and a
church service, we had an excellent picnic out at Argyle Lake State
Park which is about forty minutes from Cornerstone Farm where we’ve
been learning allot about the Lord and one another.

I finished my fifth class with the students, then everyone just read,
hiked through the park trails, tossed a frisbee or football and had a
great cookout. The weather was sunny and cool, just really beautiful.

I was blessed to share on Art and Creativity and the students seemed
to really focus well.

My next blog post will contain pics of the “canjo” or “canjoe” which
is sometimes a 1-string guitar but can also be a 2-stringer which is
how I made mine.

At the end of the week I built it to illustrate using “found objects”
where one can be creative, artful on several levels (learning, as a
teaching tool, basic music instruction, song-writing, performance and
as a art piece as as well as ecological in keeping stuff out of
land-fills).

I asked the P12ers to get out their markers and paint up the neck with
whatever they’d like -they did FAR beyond anything I’d have though of!
Major “cool factor” in my opinion ๐Ÿ™‚

Now to re-wire the pickup (installed it too quickly, gotta re-wire)
and get practicing… I’ve already been inspired to write some stuff
from this little instrument.

My core points this week:

-Inspiration- what it is and some of the ways we receive it

-Imagination- details as above

-Imitation- how all of us get started and progress in finding our own
artistic (no matter the mode of art) “voice”

-Some of the issues why local churches do or do not understand artists

-Why God calls and gifts us beyond mere creative expression to serving
Him and others via our publicly shared offerings of art

-That art rightly understood is a sort of icon- that is, “window”
though which we can pray (both listen to and speak with God) as well
as reflect Him to others in our work

We also did some writing and other exercises with various art forms
(photography, etc.) by Spoon River, a few miles from our property.
They did a fair bit of writing, note and picture-taking, perhaps a
short video clip. I think one or two may have did some sketching and I
was able to share a fair bit of history about this tiny village (the
sign says Population 9), cool old car and railroad bridges there, and
a white massacre of native Americans that has been left out of the
history books.

It was a real joy to get encouraging feedback from students and staff
and I hope I stirred up some creativity among them that brings them
far beyond this week’s “getting feet wet” stuff. The larger and local
churches and mission fields at home and abroad need them and such
activity!

So- as usual my sweet Wendi blessed me on several levels, she and the
rest of the staff taught on many important subjects, shared a lot of
Bible and personal experience, our varied prayer, worship and play
times were good and the week was a real pleasure!

The weekend GKB shows were great, P12 staff and students are now all
home in Chicago embarking on the shared journey of study,
inter-action, community living and service to Jesus and others.

Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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Iowa GKB Weekend

GKB did shows west of the Mississippi River in Ames and Gowrie and a
Sun. service in Harcourt, Iowa this past weekend. Very kind (and great
coffee too!) friends asked us over to Ames, ditto a couple pastor
buddies who serve the people well in these small, quiet (except for
us) old farming communities. Each of them and the kind
audiences/church service congregants made it (as usual) a treat for
us. And the sweet corn was good too ๐Ÿ™‚

Some sweet grand daughters of the pastors asked if they could braid my
beard after the Sun. service- of course I said “Sure”! The one pic is
me with a little baby clip… they ran out of hair ties ๐Ÿ™‚

Good to be home… now to clean the place, do laundry and such… my
Wendi comes home from the Project 12 teaching week… gotta get things
in order!

Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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Project 12- “The Gathering” @ Cornerstone Farm

It’s opening week of a brand-new year for JPUSA’s Project 12
Bible/Discipleship school. We’re enjoying a bit of everything, rain,
sun, some clouds, wind and most of all Jesus and one another!

The theme for this year is Friends of Jesus and this is what we are
discussing at length in a load of different ways.

Curt, Jon, Wendi, Neil and myself are sharing, the students are
getting to know one another and the staff, and our staff is doing an
excellent job in all areas of practical as well as fun activities.

Thanks for your prayers. I’ll post more later in the week and
hopefully add more pics.

GKB is doing 2 shows and a service all in Iowa this weekend so I must
leave a few days prior to students and staff returning to Chicago.
(For info. on those shows please see http://www.grrrrecords.com in the
Shows section.)

But it’s really cool group and we’re digging into up to five classes
per day, break, worship and fun times as well.

Thanks for your prayers, and for stopping by! -Glenn

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“Cardboard Box” In-house Release Party

By now most of you know about the new cd I’ve done to benefit
Cornerstone Community Outreach, JPUSA’s longtime homeless shelter and
it’s many programs and specifically, for it’s many residents and
growing population in need who come to us for assistance.

The cd’s been out for a couple months but Grrr wanted to bring JPUSAs
together, with a very few guests and visitors to celebrate so threw a
very fun party with lots of dvd footage of the project being recorded
at our Tone Zone studio, etc., etc.. A lot of folks made incredible
food and deserts and the place was full. And full when we left ๐Ÿ™‚ Yum.

My amazing harpmeister (harmonica master) friend Joe Filisko and his
sweet wife Michelle came, Joe blowing on one of the songs he played on
the project, I did one solo and also asked him to do a tune- he pulled
out an old blues number about “nobody gets out of here alive”… and
what an amazing job he did on that!! Joe is at:
http://www.joefilisko.com if you’re not hip to him. Amazing stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

In time we’ll tour this project around some, we’ll post the details as
shows get confirmed. Check http://www.grrrrecords.com in the Shows
section for that and other confirmed dates.

What a wonderful night! Many thanks and kudos to the brilliant staff
at Grrr Records, Tone Zone, our sweet JPUSA family and of course
Cornerstone Community Outreach staff who are my heroes for the love
and service they bring to the poor every day!

Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

An Art Muse…

Resurrectionicon

In truth I’m a lyricist long before I’m any sort of poet. On occasion
my prose becomes a lyric but I tend to write prose when not writing
song lyrics.

Long ago I enjoyed looking into various aspects of Greek Orthodox (and
other forms of eastern Christian faith) worship and when doing so of
course one can’t help but notice iconography.

Rightly understood, icons are -not- themselves objects of worship but
rather art upon which one meditates seeking Father, Son and Spirit.
The concept is that by such focus, the icon perhaps functions as a
“window” through which one apprehends God.

Sounds “spooky” and/or strange and perhaps plain weird to some
protestants, evangelicals and most fundamentalists… but believe me,
all of them (us!) have quirks, liturgies and approaches to preaching,
prayer and various worship styles that also seem strange/weird and not
all that “spiritual” to plenty of -other- Christians! A little
humility here!!

All too often what we each find comfortable and familiar seems
“sanctified” while all others are obviously (says who?!) not pleasing
to God. But I digress…

Anyhow, I liked the basic concept of icons so much I wrote a little
pamphlet of poetry many years ago and titled it “Interviewing Icons”.

I realized then (and now) that many Christ-followers think of icons as
sacrilegious or just “over the top” and actually thought about such a
definition when I chose the title. There was a sense in which I
figured most protestants would consider an icon a sort of “sacred
cow”, or on the other hand, if they really understood and recognized
benefit (to some if not themselves) from icons, then that also made
sense due to the subject matter of many of the poems.

Today was one of those getting-toward-autumn days in Chicago. No
leaves turning yet, but it was a pleasantly cool, sunny day. A day of
work but peaceful for me, and I’m feeling SO much better from a long
bout with a cold, I felt really blessed and thankful.

Project 12 (JPUSA’s discipleship/Bible school) is about to kick off
another year and we begin with spending a little over a week together
at Cornerstone Farm where we’ve held the annual Cornerstone Festival
for many years. It’s beautiful out there and the leaves will begin to
change color while we’re there.

I’ve been studying and putting together an Art & Creativity class for
the week, and have really enjoyed considering imagination, inspiration
and have found a load of great stuff on the web, quotes and such.
We’ll unpack some key Bible verses, bring a few surprises and include
some hands-on time for students to create. I want to encourage them to
think more deeply and holistically about blossoming in the arts as
they follow Jesus.

One point I’ll accent is that the entirety of creation- woods, waters,
sky, flying/creeping/crawling and bounding animals are all a sort of
icon through which one can both hear/see/encounter the Lord- but on
the other hand that our offerings of art can themselves be brought to
Him as a type of prayer.

In every generation and in most if not all churches are tensions about
artists and art. Nothing new under the sun!

And yet (for example) God COMMANDS “a new song”. This stretches not
only the congregation/audience… it stretches the artist.

Some songs of course, are for Him alone. Some are for us to learn to
write and arrange, or to learn where new chords or melodies are as
singers or with our various instruments. Some songs are actual
prayers. Some proclaim truths for those “with ears to hear”.

Most of our songs (or drawing, painting, dance, writing or other
artistic work whatever the mode) are at least partly a revelation of
what is in our own heart. Art very often reveals what’s hidden.

All of this is quite important to understand as we behold as well as create art.

Icons indeed!

Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚ -Glenn

With Liberty and Justice

Been thinking about so many brave souls whose lives ended on 9-11-01.
About the bad communication (or none) between many of the first
responders, police and fire not on the same communications
frequencies. Such sadness. Such wanton insanity on the part of the
hijackers. What a shock to face the God Who is God alone at the end of
all that!

So many died that day, and in other times in war and “police actions”.
So many marriages and families ripped apart due to non or extremely
poor communications. Communications are SO essential to life, to
salvation on all levels really. A deep subject.

As I’m slowly getting over a rocking cold, I sat with a hot coffee
today looking out at our street here in Chicago, several flags at
half-staff honoring those fallen in 9-11.

As a child one of my first school memories are of standing every
morning in our two-room central Wisconsin schoolhouse, the entire
student body of about 25 with our one (wonderful) teacher, hands over
heart memorizing/reciting the pledge of allegiance.

I have always loved our country, marched for her, cried over her,
nearly enlisted in the armed service, then nearly left for Canada,
then became more involved in anti-war, anti-hunger and other social
service matters.

Between racism and plain ignorance, fear and sometimes harsh policies
I began as a non-political teen, a non-political adult in my 20’s and
very shortly as a songwriter began to recognize the need for lyrics
that spoke of issues it seemed a great many Christians just never sang
or did much of anything about.

I won’t bore you with lyrics from Resurrection Band or my solo or
blues projects that deal with the wide list of issues but in the end
it’s always easier to write, to sing, blog, talk or march with a sign
rather than do much that brings -more- substance to one’s belief that
people’s hearts might be changed.

In the end I’m as certain as I can be that only a genuine
relationship- and I mean a daily and surrendered one- with the risen
Christ can produce that deepest change of heart, soul and mind where
one actually HAS to act on one’s faith and put love in action. But in
the end, all of us fail, we don’t always agree and if it’s difficult
(sometimes impossible) for unbelievers to agree it is certainly also
true there are plenty of disagreements between otherwise loving,
faithful Christ-followers over political issues being raised.

If we all interpreted The Bible exactly the same we’d be closer to
agreed, but as I often quote “now we have” and “now I have” “in part”,
partial understanding of Scripture. Communicating with one another is
essential, but sometimes people on one or more sides of an issue
aren’t really into a conversation, they want a bully pulpit where
THEIR ideas somehow reign.

With all this as a backdrop I began considering if I could easily, in
all times and situations agree with ANY government on ALL it’s
policies? I never have and don’t expect I ever will.

In light of this, I found myself staring at the flags today with mixed
thoughts and emotions.

Do I always agree with my beloved country? Even when people I really
like and perhaps 80% agree with (on occasion over the years…) are in
power at the national, state or local level? Can I in good conscience
recite the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag, any flag, even that of my
own beloved country- without really thinking about what it means
before God?

It would be a much easier question to answer for me if the bulk of
Americans truly thought about and -meant- it when they came to the end
of that pledge, which to me is about as core in it’s meaning and
intent as any national pledge could ever be:

“… With liberty and justice for all.” “ALL”. ALL? Who IS “all”? Do
the vast majority of Americans really mean that if/when we repeat such
words? Or are we in truth thinking about me/my family/those who are
like me and agree with ME, the TRUE CITIZENS of this one nation “under
God”? I wonder about this.

Micah 6.8 rings in my head: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love
kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Something to ponder on a day when freedom is so rightly considered.

Pray for our leaders and our nation. I have for many years and will
continue to do so. God have mercy, -Glenn

Business Gives Us “The Business”

Though I have not yet heard nor read President Obama’s jobs speech
(given tonight), I have been wanting to write the following as a sort
of “nutshell” of what I think are root causes of what ail us in the
U.S. with regard to politics and the economy. Here’s my “short form”:

It’s still super early in the U.S., and no matter who wins or loses
it’s doubtful that anyone but God Himself can cure the ills of our
hearts, selfish choices, growing (unreasonable and otherwise) fears
and a world-wide trashed economic situation.

What I want to know is if it has occurred to anyone that for all the
corruption in politics there seems an equal amount of corruption in
unions and non-union workers -and indeed within plenty of
corporations?

It’s so easy (and raw stupid) when you only have one enemy and they
are simply the political party of choice.

When neither party has the guts to call for and enact laws that demand
balance for mega-millionaires who own and direct the many corporate
interests (and lobby for laws and garnering votes for whatever
candidate they think will best line their pockets) the idea of
socialism is in my view, frankly -a joke. “Barking up the wrong tree”
says the old squirrel hunter!

When the powers in big business don’t make the kind of money they wish
they simply “take it offshore”. “Global” isn’t a term for any
conspiracy theory, it’s rather the key word used by corporations who
have decided The Way to Make More Money is to simply go to countries
where the politicians, cheap labor and environmental standards won’t
hold them back from greater gains.

This has been happening for some twenty or more years on BOTH
political parties’ watch in the U.S..

While people line up to trash-talk and castigate whichever politician
and party of their un-choice, will we ever stop to think about the
fact we can at least throw out and insert whomever we wish via the
vote… but can’t vote the corporate bosses in or out?! They in
effect, have immunity though what they do and don’t do (witness the
Wall Street savings and loan and banking scandals that brought us to
this economic mess in the first place…) truly places both the U.S.
and world economies in jeopardy.

We didn’t vote ’em in and we -can’t- vote ’em out.

Until (it won’t happen) enough pols have both the sense and the guts
to deal with election and lobby laws that DO NOT favor corporate
interests over all others, and until a solid majority among U.S.
citizens face the reality that it’s not any particular government that
runs things…

I doubt real change will occur. We’re too busy enjoying “free market”
and “freedom” slogans.

Pink Floyd all over again only it’s big biz doing the talking: “We
told you what to dream”. Start dreaming in Chinese. Seriously, that’s
where many major U.S. business interests are already and more are
going. As they go, American jobs vanish.

Any “Free market” lorded over by huge corporate interests isn’t free
but rather an illusion of freedom the average American buys, literally,
as liberty and truth. Check your bank statement if you think
otherwise. Check it twice and tell me you really believe the “right”
government will fix it.

If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn… no wait, we sold
that to an Asian conglomerate years ago ๐Ÿ™‚

And that’s my 2 cent rant for now. -Glenn