Friday, February 27, 2009

Reuel Music is Not Over

A number of people have asked me recently "So what are you doing after JRL?"

This is a good question, and I have a couple answers. But first: something bothers me about this question -- it seems that people assume that wrapping up JRL means I'm quitting music. I'm not. I know it's confusing. Let me try to explain:

In my life I've had three musical phases:

In the first I wrote "Christian music" -- and by that I mean music whose point was to challenge and encourage Christians in their faith and walk with God. This stage lasted around 7 (89-96) years and included Genre, Jade Dagger, Sharon's Rose, Boanerges Brothers and a few other projects. Sons and Warriors was a transition project between this phase and the next. I mainly played these songs in Mennonite churches.

The second stage was my "Worship and Prayer" phase. It lasted approximately 7 years (96-02) as well. During this time I mainly wrote songs to or about God. This phase included Sons & Warriors and Sonchild. I played these songs in a wide variety of Christian denominations.

The third stage was JRL. It lasted about 7 years (02-09). This phase was about writing and playing music that anyone could enjoy, whatever their belief system or life was like. The goal was to write music that was fun, interesting and meaningful,and give it to whoever wanted it. I also tried for a deeper layer of meaning put there for anyone who would dig for it. I played these songs in coffeehouses, churches, bars, parking lots, schools, camps, colleges, and houses. Other projects during the JRL years include: CDR, Landline, the Vermont Project and Child of Motion, all of which to a backseat to JRL.

This brings me to the present. The JRL stage is ending, but music is not over. I don't know what the next season will be like musically, but my goal is to take everything I've learned so far and build on it.

Reuel music is not over.

Helping a community

So I've had this idea about donating tickets for the Final JRL gig -- that people or groups (businesses, churches, etc) could buy a few tickets and they could be given to someone who lost a job or their home.

Cool idea, didn't know if anyone would do it. Well, someone has. Got the first donated tickets given yesterday. Six tickets. Hope to see a bunch more. Man, stuff like this makes is so much fun. By the way, we're not making a big deal about this (we're not announcing it at the show or taking names), but if you want to help, let me know.

Elkhart County where this show on the 20th will be has 16 or 17% unemployment!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Great Night at the Brew

The Electric Brew show last Saturday was one of the most fun concerts I've done in a while. Amber and Nate Butler showed up and lent energy and quality to the sound, and Kaleem wandered in with his flute and took the night to another arena.

I love improvisation and the unplanned magic of live shows. For me it's often those things that you didn't plan that make the evening memorable. That and people singing along, clearly becoming part of the experience, and somehow being better off because of it.

These things happened. What a gift. Also for some reason I was more relaxed and comfortable than usual. I tried to outplay Kaleem, which was of course, ludicrous but funny. Wish you all could have been there.

Come on the 20th of March.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Christa blogs about art, death and the end of JRL

Abstract artist Christa Reuel is creating artwork for the final JRL event. Check out her blog at
She has one post about the JRL event, the rest of her posts relate to theme.

Hard facts on the last JRL gigs

Here's some hard DATA regarding the last JRL gigs:

At the Electric Brew, 8pm. Saturday, February 21, 2009. This will be a simple, acoustic show as befits this great venue. The cover is usually $5.

The FINAL show (with guest bands, musicians and artists) will happen at the Goshen Theater, FRIDAY, March 20, 2009. Tickets will cost $10.

Come on out, hear these shows, and celebrate the end of an era!

What kind of "Funeral" is needed?

What would it be like to lose your job? What about your home? Would it feel like a place that had been safe had suddenly become a danger? What would it be like to wonder whether the next day you'll still be there or not? What do you do with all your stuff?

Would you feel weighed down with your possessions or sad about what you'll have to get rid of? Would you be exhausted by the idea of deciding what goes? Would you be afraid because you don't know where to go or when you'll have to decide? Where do you move if you're evicted? What landlord will take you? How can you get a job with no address?

Would you blame yourself or others? Would you feel abandoned by God and try to find a way back into divine approval, or run the other way? Could you face your own heart or would you hide yourself in work, worry, fear, complaining, entertainment?

What do you do when you feel so trapped? Do you ask for help, and if so from who? What does it mean that God will take care of you?

Most of us have never faced these questions or felt these things. More and more people in the US are, though, and especially in Elkhart County where this final JRL gig is going to happen.

I don't think there's a quick or easy way through things like losing a house, a job, a marriage or a dream. JRL is a dream and a job that's ending for me. Other people are losing other dreams, jobs, and homes. My struggle has been to find courage, hope and God in the middle of all the losing. I'm hoping we strugglers will be transformed in the midst of loss.

A friend wrote this to me today: "What kind of a funeral is needed?  The sisters at the convent of Grandchamp in Switzerland speak of the day of one’s death as the day of resurrection."

Losing dreams, jobs, homes, relationships are a kind of death. Can they be a resurrection as well? If so, how? Ever hear of jazz funerals? Maybe what we're doing on March 20 at the theater is a bit like a jazz funeral...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

At the Brew next week and the Best Of Cd

Thanks everyone who sent ideas for the best of cd. I made many, many different options for it, and took into account your ideas. I actually made a chart that said how many votes each song got. I'll include the almost-for-sure list at the end of this post.

In the meantime, I'm playing the Electric Brew as JRL for the last time next week. Goshen, IN. Undoubtably the most consistently great gig venue for JRL over the years. Come if you're near. Saturday, February 22. ( It's the first official time in Goshen to pick up the last JRL studio record, Balloon.

The list:
Second Floor
Sunfire Faces
Just To Be Loved
We've all got this
Better This Way
29 Years
I Don't Mind Waiting
Past Yourself
Anywhere My Love
Camellia Drive Lullaby
You Could Break My Heart
Better Days

I'd really like to put Enough for Now on it too but I'm not sure what to drop.

JRLs final gasp

The dream of a big final concert is actually happening! Can't believe it. There's people from all over the country showing up. The band is going to be killer. The venue is amazing ( I sort of didn't think this would actually happen, but it is. Amazing.

March 20. The Goshen Theater, Goshen, IN. Please come. Bring all your friends. Invite some strangers. Come celebrate 6 great years of music, mourn the ending of this era. Bring your own "deaths" and let's together throw a funeral for things that have died or are dying, and move into the next part of our lives, whatever that is.

If you'd like to help, we could probably use it. Send an email to who is one of the team leaders for this project. Her name is Kimberly. She's oboe genius of paydirt fame.

We're recording this live show. Christa is doing original art for it.

Sometimes in life in the middle of sadness comes a huge gift.