Thursday, March 27, 2008

Working for JRL

Jon's been asking me to write on this blog--to write about the music, my experience of it, my review of the new recording, etc. So you may see more here from me in the future. Being a part of JRL, in the past and in what's to come, is something I appreciate a great deal. Not all artists are as generous with their hearts, their time, their ears and their stage space as Jonathan Reuel. Thinking about Jon's music quickly took me back the road to when I first knew Jon--and his early recordings, which I wore out playing over and over--on cassette. One of my favorites was a mix tape of original music Jon made up with hand-drawn cover art. That's one thing Jon has always been good at, making the music personal, bringing it home to each of us.

I started singing with Jon somewhere along the way; eventually we got in our heads that it was a good idea for a bunch of folks to move down to Charlottesville, to work on music, art and being more like Jesus. For me, the year in JRL was something I would have dreamed of as a kid, but in reality a larger dose of hard work is mixed in with the fun and laughter. Caught in the Paydirt is the fruit of our mining for ore... figuring how to put time and money into music when those resources aren't so easily found. Jon's music provided the core of what we were out there working up, supporting and sharing. The songs provided the opportunity.

JRL Now gives us a solid view of those core bones; the center of what JRL gives to each listener. I love how in concert and various recordings the songs take on different shapes: rooted in bass grooves, peppered with horns, rolling with organs, swelling accordion style, swampy snare drums and the like; but it all comes back to Jon and his guitar and that is what Now has hand-delivered this time. With more to come soon.

Amber Butler is a former member of JRL (2005-2006) as vocalist and bass guitarist. She jumps in on vocals whenever she finds herself at a JRL show and hums harmonies at any given moment. She currently resides in Goshen, IN.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

JRL Incarnated with Trombone, Accordion and the Lap Steel

Last night JRL put on a whirlwind show prepared in one week's time. Jon was traveling through Goshen in order to reconnect with the newly minted Goshen College Songwriter's Collective, an organization he helped to kickoff with a workshop earlier this year. When Jon noticed the open Friday evening at The Electric Brew, he began scheming on who he could ask to sit in with him. This time the motley crew included Isaac Lederach on trombone, Kent Beck on accordion, Jerimae Yoder on lap steel, Michelle Milne on percussion, Kim Glick and Amber Butler on vocals. This ensemble brought rousing horns (a ten year dream come true for the artist) and swelling drones to support Jon's singer-songwriter prowess. While the arrangements were somewhat haphazard (with Jon often leaning over to whisper suggestions to Isaac midsong), they often came out something beautiful, almost accidental, and possibly, forever unique to that one evening. The discovery of these familiar songs incarnated in unfamiliar instruments made the evening delightful; mistakes infused with humor, taking a risk yields moments of surprise.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Meditate On This!

Jonathan has taken a step beyond. JRL "Now" has a companion set of meditation cards you can use to help guide your thoughts while listening to the new album. The set is comprised of twelve cards printed in color from Jonathan's watercolor originals, each matching up with a track on the album. They are signed by the artist and will soon be available to buy in the JRL store.

The cards are to be used for reflection, meditation and prayer, and will help you think about connections in your life, memory, dreams and the present moment. Jonathan was first inspired to create this type of card after encountering a similar set that Paul Grout, of A Place Apart had put together. Jonathan is giving you an exclusive sneak preview of three of the cards here on the JRL blog.

The Cyclone card is paired with "Better This Way"

The Love card pairs with "If You Were Mine"

Fences pairs with "I Don't Mind Waiting"

The couplings of of the rest of the cards and tracks are found below:

Promises (I Went West)
View (Back Then)
Loneliness (We've All Got This)
Dream (Someone Else's Dream)
Grateful (Memories and Towns)
Wish (Nothing but Empty)
Found (Nothing Left)
Rest (Camellia Drive Lullaby)
Stay (Better Yet)

More on how to purchase soon to come!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bring Jesus into it

JRL is hitting the road this coming Wednesday. Along the way he’ll be at Bluffton College and Goshen College, as well tracking more time in the studio in Wilmington, OH.

This week JRL offers another track to share recorded with Mark Bovee and the crew from Woodland Park, Colorado, recorded at a house concert with windows open to the Rockies. “Daughters and Sons” features a zydeco sound with Bovee on a harmonium. Jon shares these thoughts:

"Jesus has been important to me for years. I'm looking for ways of bringing this part of my life into my writing for JRL in a way that is interesting and beautiful to anyone, whatever their experience and thoughts about Jesus. I'd love to hear whether people connect with this song and how it strikes people to whom Jesus is not central."