From the Road

I am enjoying my time on the road with Steve Bell and co. immensely but I am also missing home so I’m looking forward to this Friday when I get to be in Vernon for 1 whole day!

To give you the quick update, I had 2 travel days, and then 2 full days of rehearsal with the group. Rehearsal was fun, challenging, productive and inspiring. Though I must admit I am more used to rehearsing for 2-3 hours at a time, not 2-3 days at a time! After our travel and rehearsal days we played Thunder Bay, ON and then went on to Regina and Saskatoon, SK. I’m now writing this on the flight to Vancouver where I will spend 3 days with Roy Salmond, my producer for what I hope will be my next CD. We’ll be chipping away at that a few days at a time throughout the coming year I think… On Thursday I fly home, and then we have our Vernon concert on Friday, then on to Victoria and Nanaimo.

In concert, Steve brings a sense of humor, musical excellence and spiritual passion that is really something to wonder at. Mike Janzen is a piano virtuoso and when he lets go it is truly amazing and inspiring to watch, for musicians and non musicians alike. Roy adds beautiful textures with his bass, ukulele (yes that’s right! it is folk and acoustic music after all!) and Gretsch electric and of course there’s me, doing my thing! Kerri Woelke is a wonderful new artist that opens the show together with Steve for 3 songs. However there’s more to this concert than Steve and the group. I have genuinely felt these nights to be going beyond music, songwriting, humor and stories. It is truly a night of beautiful worship to our Creator, Healer, Savior and Coming King.

But while we have had some great musical and spiritual experiences with the concert, what has been most meaningful to me has been the comraderie and conversation between band members. Do you ever have those times where you don’t want to leave a group conversation because you don’t want to miss anything? (no matter how tired you are for example!) So although I am a bit road weary already, I am finding life and inspiration on many levels with the people I am spending time with.

Here’s an example of what we’ve been talking about… The writer SCOTT CAIRNS asks the question ‘what makes a poem a poem?’ The presence of the ‘poetic’. Which begs the question, how do you know the presence of the poetic? Maybe the presence of the poetic is the sense of chasing after something, an attempt to discover or uncover whatever it is you’re chasing after. Maybe the writer is chasing after a new way to articulate some feeling or story. When you read that poem or hear those lyrics, you sense the chase and you join in somehow. As a listener you identify with the words and you attach your own meaning to them. The trick for the writer is to not end the chase, but to leave it alone - to not have to attach meaning to whatever it is they are trying to discover and share with you. The moment the writer attaches meaning to the chase, the listener can no longer attach their own meaning. Maybe, just maybe that’s why there are some pop songs that are just pop songs, and others that are both pop songs and true poetry. They are commercially viable yet deeply meaningful and life changing. The interesting thing is, (in my humble opinion) even with ‘Spiritual’ music you can still have ‘Christian’ lyrics and not have a sense of the poetic, not because the lyric isn’t Truth, but because the questions have all been asked and answered (for better or for worse) in 4 minutes or less and the ‘chase’ is over.

I’m not meaning to generalize here - just provoke some worthwhile thought. I’m in the studio right now, writing and recording - so I guess I should go enjoy the chase.

God bless, Jon