Pete Seeger

I’ve never been afraid of the fallout for my personal views and both agreed as well as shared positions -to an extent… not in all points- with the late Pete Seeger.

Here are three lyrics I wrote last year that lean to the school of Pete, Guthrie, Dylan and Bruce Cockburn in terms of activist concerns. Not yet recorded but shall be. Not standard blues as I mostly write these days… but blues just the same.

I don’t expect tacit agreement. I am indeed happy to agitate where such salt might prove a help to those in need.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

THE WORKING POOR
(c) 2013 Glenn Kaiser

v.1
Rustbelt trains keep rollin’ on
Movin’ Chinese goods to every town
The union songs ain’t sung much more
Wall Street barons closed the store

Chorus:
Welcome to the ranks of the working poor (2x)

v.2
College grads go back to school
Ain’t no jobs but you ain’t no fool
Women’s equal pay is on the floor
The boss man chooses, that’s for sure
The boss man chooses, that’s for sure

Chorus

(bridge)
They told us if we worked real hard
We’d own a fine house with a dog in the yard
That we could be anything that we chose
The emperor’s wearin’ his new clothes

v.3
Hey hey ho ho activist
No sense hangin’ like a passive fist
Most sit on the couch an’ just complain
Dance between drops in a soakin’ rain
Artful Dodgers at our core
Or we hide inside an’ lock the door
Silent architects of the working poor
Hail the architects of the working poor

EDUCATED GUESS
(c)2013 Glenn Kaiser

v.1
Last night I heard tell of a patriot
And mostly he is smilin’
Like a president for the two percent
Bank accounts in the Cayman Islands

Chorus:
If I’m right
I think I’ve been left
Just an educated guess

v.2
Conspiracy theories don’t pay my bills
Nor do trickle-down ethics heal my ills
It’s the talk of caring when outsourcing rules
And they literally bank on a nation of fools

Chorus

v.3
Been a student of history, profit and loss
The power of money regardless the cost
The rich and the shameless too often the same
As long as we’re buyin’ they’ll sell us the same

Chorus, end.

MOTHER OF EXILES
(c)2013 Glenn Kaiser

v.1
You might be different
You might be strange
Probably come
From some other place
You dress pretty funny
An’ what an odd name
Why don’t you go back
From wherever you came

Chorus:
“Give me your tired
Give me your poor
The wretched refuse
Of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless
To our golden door…”
But does the mother of exiles
Shine anymore?

v.2
They came from the north
The south, east and west
We welcomed them all
And near-passed the test
But those differences
That we might celebrate
Seemed to challenge our power
And made us irate
It seemed competition
To who we’d become
It was never an issue
Cuz we always won

Chorus

v.3
The broken, the orphans
Some returning vets
Minority people
And the tribes that are left
The foreigner, addict
All those we don’t like
Boiled up our fears
Challenged our way of life
To share became odious
Taxing us raw
Enough is enough
We ain’t open no more

Chorus, end with:
Does the mother of exiles
Matter
Anymore?

My Friend Janet Cameron (Rez, Cornerstone Mag, More) Art Exhibition!

janetcardTom and Janet Cameron have been friends and co-workers of ours for many decades.

Tom first played blues harp in Rez Band, then became exec. producer of all but one Rez record as well as producing all of my solo projects.

His sweet wife Janet’s brilliant artwork graced most every Rez album cover, several of my solo projects and did the same for many other Grrr Records artists, etc., as well as others’ records, cds and such.

Over its long existence, Cornerstone Magazine’s covers and much inside artwork was hers.

Our newly opened Wilson Abbey (Chicago) and Everybody’s Coffee shop will be doing various concerts, workshops and more- including art shows.

We wish to honor Janet and showcase her brilliant work! If you’re anywhere near Chicago during the dates listed you won’t want to miss this!

Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚ -Glenn

Little By Little

I haven’t taken the time to look through my own blogs to see if I’d written about this phrase before, but it’s a fave of mine.

The fact is that some days it truly feels like- and other days it indeed IS an uphill climb to progress in personal character.

For those of us serious about loving others, it can be quite the shock to look in the mirror and see how much we lack in loving people like Jesus did and does. BUT…

Though I’m posting this in mid-winter during the polar vortex (!), this past autumn in our sweet side-yard garden a morning-glory bloomed and climbed right up the wall in great beauty. I mean it was glorious!

Now to be clear, I’m NOT saying “that’s ME” in the least… but as a father and grampy I have often been so amazed and blessed at the growth in my kids and grandkids.

The same goes for watching progress among friends who have served together in ministry for years here at JPUSA Chicago.

It is SOOOOO cool to see forward progress, that upward climb, maybe just a little here and there and in small spurts, but when you are graciously gifted by seeing that happen in a person’s life it truly helps make your own climb a bit easier.

I admit, that can be a selfish thing in one sense… but I also know a few folks who beat themselves up over the speed (lack of it) such a process seems to move at. It can feel molasses-like! This is where getting our eyes off of ourselves and also not judging God as some sort of celestial dictator with a bad, spiteful and hateful attitude comes in.

He is patient and kind. We are not. He is perfect. We aren’t by a long shot! He is working more of that patience and peace in us and sometimes the best way to find hope is to work with those judged “hopeless”, notice what HE does in their lives and over time realize we’re all a lot alike!!

Little by little is how things get done. Humans often want the quick fix, a sort of kindergarten-to-Master’sDegree in a week. Ain’t gonna happen. How often quiet are the small, almost unseen movements of the Holy Spirit working among His people in this moment, that moment, this day and that where we then begin to see- often only in retrospect- growth and maturity taking place.

Some sit on a fence and even dig a hole and plant their feet in cement with rebellion. They judge their heavenly Father as one who does nothing in them. They may judge His hand on their life as interference to their own interference regarding spiritual growth!

Some live in deep sorrow, rue the day they were born and consider themselves impossible disciples only fit for hell. God is not God enough to produce the fruit of the Spirit in them, so they figure.

Both, in my view and experience, are plain wrong.

Little by little… whether you realize it or not. The seed planted is going to grow. Keep watering and tending. Let the sun and rich soil do it’s work. Daily Bible study, prayer, confession of sin, praise, thanks, worship, intentionally linking with godly (imperfect but genuine) disciples of Jesus, this is rich soil indeed. Learning to reach out to others and get your eyes off yourself is certainly part of it. All these are elements of the ground of spiritual growth.

Don’t forget: we are not alone in this garden.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

How To Discourage Artists in The Church?

Just read a wonderful article online sent to several folks including myself, by a longtime friend, musician and artist Ralson Bowles.

In it, author Philip G. Ryken makes a core statement and asks a question I’d like to try at least in small part, to answer.

The full article: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/05/28/how-to-discourage-artists-in-the-church/

He writes: “[Christian artists] have extraordinary opportunities to honor God in their daily work and to bear witness to the grace, beauty, and truth of the gospel. How can pastors (and churches) encourage Christians with artistic gifts in their dual calling as Christian artists?”

He goes on to give answer by way of his aptly-titled piece, and there are truths here worth living out. A very worthwhile read.

My thoughts on this short snippet quoted above?

Artists, pastors and churches in general need to both face and reflect the lament factor written all through the Book of God as well as human history.

Philip Ryken wisely added: “Do not allow space for lament. The artist’s call is to face the darkness while still believing in the light, to sense God’s silence and sorrow.”

I couldn’t agree more, but think we need to go deeper on this brilliant point.

So how do we encourage artists to live out their dual call? What strikes me as obvious is that -all- Christ followers need to be biblical (see John chapter 15) disciples, not merely converts. There are plenty and obvious ways to help people who are open, to healthy spiritual growth. And yet it must be voluntary on the part of each artist.

Secondly, our call to create and share our creative offerings must include… wait for it… lament, not only nor purely, light.

Both artist and Christian community must quit expecting, even demanding the bulk of artistic offerings (regardless of art form) to -only- reflect the “grace, beauty and truth” of the gospel. You read that correctly. And I happen to be an evangelist.

Please read on.

Paul tells us genuine followers of Jesus are “the scent of death” to those who do not believe and are perishing. He writes “the gospel is an offense”, which it certainly is to many if not most in society. Christians as well as non can fall into a very human tendency to deify ourselves. We are not God but truly wish we were! And believers sin. Sin is not limited to pagans!

Jesus not only demonstrated His love, He also said “weird stuff” that pulls our nose hairs, sayings like “The one who does not gather with me scatters” and “If anyone would follow me he or she must deny self, pick up their cross and follow me”. “If they loved me they will love you also. If they hated me and my message they will hate yours also”.

I am not a morose person, but we need to “weep with those who weep”, not -only- “rejoice with those who rejoice”.

Why is it the Book of Psalms is most populated with “laments”?!

How is it that we only sense the immediate truth of the Good News when our own sense of being kissed with grace and beauty are involved… but rarely when pain, suffering and rejection surface in our life? Am I the only one who struggles with such matters? God IS good, and the gospel IS true… but does not always feel like it. How would it be blasphemous or always wrong for a Christian artist to also reflect such realities via our art?

I thank GOD this isn’t the whole picture, but there is this “both/and” in that we are both welcomed by Him as well as needing to face His “Forsake all, come and follow me”! Of course we want to camp in the “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” rather than the first part of this phrase of our Lord- “In the world you shall have tribulation…”

The whole truth of the good news is that it’s bad news on several very real levels. We can no longer serve another master, including the worst of these… self.

There is not only truth but indeed grace and beauty in this “shock of corn that must fall into the ground and die in order for it to bear much fruit”, but let’s not kid ourselves, most art that is widely acceptable to most Christ-followers could not be considered dark. It is THIS side of art (and sometimes artist) that may be as neglected as it is rejected in the churches.

As a pastor as well as evangelist and artist I find myself lamenting for so many Christian artists. Their sometimes unwillingness to sit still among church folks is only matched by the unwillingness of church folk to welcome them with all their strangeness and eccentricities. This does nothing to encourage their discipleship nor does it bring vibrant, honest art to the church.

Are some artists truly rebellious adult children acting out? Absolutely, just as some church folks are “don’t rock the boat and cause our growth by doing so with that weird ‘art’… or whatever it is!”

“Feel-good” rather than “weeping with those who weep” art may seem to shed the light of Christ, but I would argue Gethsemane, stumbling up the hill under the cross, thorns and blood do also. And of course real-world life goes far beyond strictly “Bible” story representations.

Worse than the artist or art being rejected is that those who do not (or at least do not yet) walk with the risen Savior see us as some in the U.K. say derisively, “the happy clappies”. They see our art and decide we apparently don’t suffer as they do. Or worse, that we live a pretend life on this planet. Perhaps Jesus suffered, but not us -not by the art we allow.

Yet everyone knows all is not “sweetness and light”.

I do think too many Christians (artists, pastors, believers in the churches) expect and demand “the bright side” while it rings hollow in light of the writings of Scripture from the rebellion in the Garden, Cain and Abel, Saul, the very end of the Book of Jonah right down to several accounts in the Book of Acts, Paul’s letters, the Book of Revelation and even in little letters like Jude.

IS there GOOD NEWS in the Good News? Absolutely! Ought we to be bringing uplifting works of beauty, grace and light into the sanctuary and other Christian and outreach events? YES!

But when our art only reveals light we are only giving half the message. Good News with no contrast, no everyday reality in this broken, fallen world and indeed among imperfect, sometimes sinning saints. This is less than truthful and less than beautiful.

I do not mean to say every artistic offering must focus on pain, I am simply saying too many wish our life on earth to literally reflect what it shall be in heaven.

We’re not home yet.

We’re on the road!

We live in the “soon but not yet”!

Walking, crawling or stumbling, let’s keep seeking Him and reflecting Him and His values… along with stories that at times, like those in the Bible, don’t end well.

Such may ignite the beginning of an earned credibility many outside the Christian faith have yet to give us. To me, the depth of the beauty of Jesus is in His absolute honesty. Truth encompasses beauty but also plenty of other things we often wish to toss out of mind and out of our artistry.

Last point: consider the vastness of light and darkness in the Bible stories of both Testaments! The writers were in fact artists. What does God’s own Word allow and therefore teach us?

I would encourage balance in both artists and the church in general or I suspect the good news we offer may in reality be less than beautiful, gracious and true by God’s own artistic standard.

SAGAH BROTHERS Webcast

Wow. Just wow! The webcast last night (1-23-14) was amazing, really almost overwhelming to me in a good way. I’m so aware of my flaws that it’s pretty humbling to hear how what we’ve done has been encouraging to so many. Really good questions from Shawn and Greg as well as those who logged on. A friend who was down in Mexico emailed me this a.m. encouraging me on the show as well. Anyhow, it’s archived and will be available for folks to watch again as they wish. Look for SAGAH BROTHERS in Facebook which will take you to the Spreecast site.

So glad we can be at this year’s AudioFeed Festival again as well- these guys are core in putting that fest on.

Now off to the burbs to get Wendi some good yarn via a Craigslist friend.

HA, a rockstar’s life? Not even close… thankfully!

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Canjo Build

Image

One of the truly tripped-out things I make when building a guitar is a little thing called a canjo (sometimes spelled “canjoe”).

So far, mine are all 1, 2 or 3 string instruments meant to play with some sort of slide, that is, a piece of copper pipe, glass pill bottle, 1/4 inch copper T connector or whatever. I will being working with frets or at least paper-clip frets (!) soon.Image

 

The can itself becomes a small resonator and it’s amazing how -even without a pickup, these little things sound cool!ImageImageWhenI can’t get my fave diet soft drink (diet Vernor’s Ginger Ale) I dig diet Mountain Dew. No endorsement money coming my way, I just love ’em ๐Ÿ™‚ImageImage

A longtime friend named Ron asked for me to make him one and in that it only takes an hour or 90 mins. and is pretty basic, I did. I’ve 4 friends waiting for cigarbox guitars from me… sorry guys but my schedule has been crazy recently. I’ll get ’em done soon as I’m able.

Ron lives right across the street, I had to get this one out fast… and still between one of my grandson’s hospital visits (home and doing well now!) and etc., my friend still had to wait several days.

Anyhow here are pics as I was able to finish and get it to him tonight.

It’s a little 2 stringer, gave him a copper slide and a pic with it, looks cool and sounds great. No pickup but not all that hard to put one on these. Two wood screws near the top and bottom of the can hold it to the oak neck, both strings help as well. The oak bridge is epoxyed in place. The strings are .036 and .026. Didn’t check the tuning but I normally (as this time) tune them to what would be (think “doe ray me”…) “DOE” for the low string and ย “SO” for the higher one. Simple 2 string chord really.

Amazing what you can do with very little!

Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚ -Glenn