Monday, December 12, 2011

That Kind of Cold

The snow is cold enough to wage war with the heat of my skin.

Not like the early flakes that almost immediately yielded to the change and trickled down my arms and nose in their newly liquid state. No, not now.

This is ice-crack, broken-glass-twig-and-needle, gravel-packed and mud-caked-solid-around-the-tires cold.

At least it is -- most likely -- that kind of cold in Millersburg, OH, Goshen, IN, and (most certainly) Oymyakon and Snag in the Yukon. But I am elsewhere. The question is where?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas is Good: The Gift Giving on a Budget Dilemma Continued

I wrote about my frustration with materialism exposed by the holidays (in me and others). That's only a part of the picture, though.

Gift giving (and receiving) has been really meaningful for me as well. I really like Christmas gift giving in the family I grew up in. My parents and sibling go out of their way to make or buy things that are quirky, unique and somehow fit the person. There are always surprises that make you laugh. It's also about more than just us: one family member often finds a creative way to give to people in need as part of the process as well (buy a fairly traded gift, make a donation in your name, etc).

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Meaningful Gifts on a Budget Dillemma Continued

My general approach to the Meaningful Gifts on a Budget problem has been to create something: cards, art, write a song, etc. I've gotten better at creatively dealing with this annual dilemma myself, but until this year I never thought that others might be dealing with the same thing - until I googled it.

I struggle with the sell, sell, buy, buy, thing that happens during the holidays. It can be depressing. So it's easier to judge and bemoan the state of the materialistic west (or try to ignore it) than think of making a difference somehow. Besides how important is giving gifts anyway?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Creative Meaningful Gifts

More on meaningful gifts: some of my favorite gifts are things my family or friends made for me -- a drawing, a hat, or handmade card to me is worth far more than the time put into it.

Not everyone has time or interest in making things, however. Another idea: give something someone else made. Etsy has some great and affordable art.

Christa and I put together three art and music specials this year made up of paintings, writings and music we created before starting our sabbatical.

If you'd like to give a gift of art and music from the Reuels, here is a chance to do it on a budget.

Specials run until Dec 7.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Meaningful Gifts Budget Dilemma

Most years the holidays are a mix of joy (Christmas songs have that part covered) and the angst (a less common holiday song theme) of trying to find or make gifts that are meaningful. On a budget. A CNN article from last year had some good ideas -- being honest, regifting, etc.

Christa and I have also learned a few things through trial and error in this area. Reflection helps. Patience is called for. Also - creativity, planning and (go figure) trust!

If you're facing a Meaningful Gifts Budget Challenge this year may you find grace for yourself and others and take the chance to learn something in the process.

Friday, November 11, 2011

November Brings Strange Drawings

Figure this one out. Or better yet just enjoy it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photos from the last two shows

I promised you photos from the last two shows. Here they are. (Yes, I prepared this post before I went on sabbatical. Well, actually on the second day as I was still wrapping up little fun things).

The first two photos are from the last show at the Ballroom at the Goshen Theater, in, yes, you guessed, Goshen.

The last three are from the MennoHaven gig near Tiskilwa, Illinois. The pillows, sleeping bags and blankets were strategically placed to muffle the sound and fit the camp theme.

Despite the slight trepidation we caused with our volume, this ended up being a great evening with an engaging and appreciative audience. And yes, we lowered the volume and passed out complimentary earplugs, nice rock and rollers that we are.

Monday, October 10, 2011

May I Remind You

If you would like something different to read, may I recommend the two titles in the Reuels library? Jonathan's first collaborative book (a collection of short stories from what would become Seledor) from the mid 90s is, alas, no longer in print.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Old Drawings

Yes, I'm still off the radar, and yes, I wrote this before I left.

My End-of-September gift to you is some drawings.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Alternate Gesture Drawings Cover

This was my first idea. I liked it, but it didn't fit the concept as well as the sketch.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gesture Drawings: A collection of Rough Demos, Orphan Tracks and Living Room Recordings

If you're looking for a fun way to support the Reuels' sabbatical and hear a few of Jonathan's rough musical ideas, you're in luck. Introducing "Gesture Drawings: Rough Demos, Orphan Tracks and Living Room Recordings."

First, to be clear, this is not another quality studio album! Gesture drawings are often used as warmups, and these recordings are sort of "first drafts" of songs. If you want quality recordings, listen to Watershed and (some of :) The Best of JRL. If, however, you want seeds of songs not yet fullgrown, look no further.

These songs are available on Itunes, Amazon and a couple other online distribution spots. Search for "Jonathan Reuel" or "Gesture Drawings" and you should find it. Have fun picking and choosing -- or go ahead and splurge, it goes to a good cause!

Gesture Drawings includes: "Balloon" my favorite song from the album of the same name (no longer in print), new versions of Water Fall on Me (with an added verse, just to shake things up a bit), Despite Hell (only available as a video previously - and that only if you knew who to ask), 5 new songs (written and recorded in July, 2011), 3 songs from earlier CSM deliveries (Conflagration, Saint Cross, Holy Cross, In the Place of), I Don't Mind Waiting (Balloon version) and You Do (Thumb). 14 Tracks. Only available online.

*Please note: members of Jonathan's CSM may have downloaded some of these songs already -- some of them were previously released there.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Genre Revisited

At some point in late 80's a duo of untold genius and musical prowess took the midwest by storm, sweeping up fans like dust particles from Indiana to Pennsylvania. It's mind-blowing (or numbing), fantastical works of pop-hook-laden, folk-influenced, slightly-boy-bandish genius were irresistable. The band's name?


This is the last known tshirt from the epoch, hand-painted by one of the band members.

Although it is showing some wear and the weight of the years (unlike, of course, the perpetually-youthful musicians who created it), the magic of the era lingers still in it's cottony folds.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birthday Gifts

Today is my birthday. No I'm not breaking my silence or coming back from sabbatical. I wrote this about two months ago. Hope you all are well. I wonder what I'm doing.

My birthday gift to you is a couple photos I've been saving. Enjoy.

The first photo is Christa and I on our last anniversary. In Cleveland. The second is me with the mustache that no one appreciated. Ha, it returns! The last is me a number of birthdays ago. In Bolivia.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Best of JRL online

When JRL was ending we made a limited run of hand made "Best of JRL" cds. For those of you who never got a copy and want to check it out, it's on Itunes and Amazon now. Look up "Best of JRL" and you should find it. There's a bunch of good tracks on it, recorded over a period of 4 or 5 years. There's a couple gems on there that aren't available on earlier albums, including "Advertised" and remixes of a number of the Balloon tracks.

Think I picked the right option for the virtual cover?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Transition is easy. It works like an old water pumps and pipes. The pressure builds until something happens.

No, I am not cheating. I am still on sabbatical. I scheduled this to be posted for your viewing pleasure months ago.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Drawing the Wolf Queen

I drew this for a friend (Chris Freeman) who has a new doom metal project. He also played on Watershed (although not doom, still very 70s)...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Watershed on Itunes and Amazon

The Watershed album is online now, so if you've been waiting to get a hold of it (or want to cherry pick the tracks that sound good to you) you can do it now! The tracks are already live on Itunes and should be up on Amazon in the next week or two. Happy picking.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Last Post from the Edge of the Wilderness

Yes, I'm on Sabbatical now. This is day two, and I'm on my way out. So, while I'd like to make this very, very long, I will follow my own advice and aim for short, clear and deep (with a touch of metaphoric poetics).

I am at the edge of the wilderness. I am a field soon to be fallow. I am a tree in winter, at rest, surrounded by stark beauty. Or I will be. I approach jubilee.

"What?" you say, "are you talking about?" Christa and I are taking a break. We're going away. We are turning off our phones. We won't be blogging. We will not be on Facebook. We probably won't be coming to your town and saying hi. If you try to call or email us, we won't be there.

We are tired. We are rethinking our lives. We are falling in love again. We are letting go of responsibilities. We are facing facts we've been ignoring. We, no, we are not fixing the world, not right now. All of our normal responsibilities (leadership work, web design business, coaching, consulting, etc, are being handled by competent individuals and teams -- this was part of the 9 months of preparation we just finished).

"What?" you say, "are you having a breakdown or gettin a divorce? Is this some kind of artists' mid life crisis?" Hmmm. No to #1 and #2 and "kind of" to the third, although really it's more like if burnout was a town we could see it's glow on the horizon before we whipped the car into reverse, found a crossroad and headed into the wilderness.

I'll miss writing, we'll miss you, but we will love the space. (And I pre-scheduled some fun posts, so check back). We'll see you on the other side, once we the paths turn into trails and the trails become lanes, and the lanes turn to gravel roads, the signposts begin to appear again and cell reception returns.

Post you later...

Silly in Sabbatical

Lots of serious stuff happens in sabbatical, but for some reason I'm stumbling into the silly.

This is the last day I will post for at long time -- probably about six months.

I did, however, prepare some posts ahead of time for you, so think twice before you drop me from your reader (or if you don't use a reader, check back from time to time) -- at least if you want to see what I THINK will happen over the next six months.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Watershed Reflections

The second book is finished and available. All you kickstarter people, it's coming -- we ordered a copy to make sure everything is good, and then we'll order and ship yours out. The rest of you, take a look. Hope you like it. Photos of the art, lyrics and photos of the process. Fun stuff.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Watershed Coursebook

The Watershed Coursebook is done and posted online. You can order it if you'd like. Those of you who get it as a reward for Kickstarting the project will be getting your copies once we get them and ship them to you (so it will be a while yet). It's exciting to be done with this.

A bit about this book: I wrote the coursebook as a way of 1. getting some of my thoughts about transition and growth on to paper, 2. using the lyrics of the Watershed album as a launching point for reflection, 3. giving people who want to dig deeper into some of the album's themes a way to do it, and 4. trying spiritual and personal growth together with the art and music of the Watershed Project.

This is the first time I've attempted anything like this, so it's exciting and scary. See what you think. I'm excited to find out -- six months from now -- if it is helpful to those who pick up a copy. I am, after all, headed into the wilderness... this FRIDAY!!!

The art and illustrations are by Christa and I. I wrote the text. The book is 7x9 inches, black and white, 114 pages. Please note that even though some of the photos show up in color in this preview, in the actual book THEY ARE ALL BLACK and WHITE. It's some strange glitch in the system. Just wanted to be clear.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Into the Wilderness

We finished our last two shows. Both the Illinois and the Indiana shows had some amazing moments. Hope to write more about them and post a couple pictures before we go off the grid and into the wilderness...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jitters in Millersburg

We had a pretty diverse audience. There was a baby in the crowd as well. Fun night.

Photo by Heather McDonough.

Spent our anniversary in Cleveland. This is us. Rings by Kristi Glick. Was the first anniversary we had Eastern European food. Last year we went to a zoo. Philadelphia. What's with anniversaries in midwestern cities?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Screaming Rooster was Loud

Great to be able to open for my friend Joel's band last night (Lo-Watt Radio) at the Screaming Rooster in Cleveland. First time we've played there. Drove around a bit and had Eastern European food at Sokolowski's on University. If you find yourself in Cleveland and like sauerkraut try it.

The venue was good. Lo-Watt played well. It was a rough nights for me and the Brilliant. I broke two strings, couldn't hear myself and couldn't keep my guitars in tune. If it wasn't for Toby it would have been a train wreck. As it was we scraped and leaned our way through it. I know you have nights like that but they still throw me. The audience didn't throw anything though, and a number of people said they liked it. There were a few brilliant moments when everything was hitting hard and loud, though, that were great.

Tonight is the last Ohio show of the Watershed tour -- in Millersburg which is where I spent a good chunk of my elementary school days. Nothing like playing in the small town you grew up in! Never played Jitters before.

We've got the Indiana-Illinois loop yet and then the Watershed tour is over. I'm looking forward to ending strong and then having time to reflect on the project and the tour.

Last Ohio Shows

Well it looks like you have two (or maybe 3) more chances to hear the band before Christa and I disappear into the land of sabbatical (more about that later).These shows are kind of loud and rocky and fun. I hope I get a chance to see you at one of these. (We may add an Akron show yet).

Date/Time:Friday, June 24 at 7:00pm - June 25 at 1:00am
Location: The Screaming Rooster
15527 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, OH
Type of venue: Bar/music venue. Opening for my friend Joel's band.

Date/Time: Friday, June 24 at 7:00pm - June 25 at 1:00am
Location: Jitters Coffeehouse
1545 S. Washington St.
Millersburg, OH, 44654
Type of venue: Christian Coffeehouse "whose goal is to intentionally reach our community with the message that they can know God's voice and relate with him through Jesus Christ."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

With SoS at NH

Show went well. Smaller audience than I expected, but generous and fun. A good evening. Really enjoyed the Surge on Smith set. Kelly did well and I like the stripped down snare and kick with an upright bass set up.

My guitar teacher sat in on a couple tunes -- three actually -- for the Jonathan Reuel and the Brilliant part of the set. This was a lot of fun. A highlight from the evening for me was the end of Where Nothing Remains the Same where we traded guitar leads. While we were both drawing deeply from blues roots, his solo was well-constructed, well-executed and just plain good. Mine was messy, chaotic, and full of noise. I thought they worked together perfectly. We did some improvising at the end and the rhythm section took off and took over which was great. Nothing like not being able to shut your band down. But when they're brilliant that can be a good thing.

I talked to a guy whose musical perspective I value after the show. He said he enjoyed it. Why? (I asked). "Because there is something great about three musicians just making noise together. The audience was wondering part of the time whether those notes and sounds were supposed to be there and I liked that. And the art had some anger in it." (I'm not quoting him well, but it's the essence of what he said.)

Several people talked about questioning my move from acoustic music to this, especially now when there is such a large surge of energy in that area. The iconoclasts like it though. From where I sit I've been waiting to do this for over two decades -- I'm just happy to take this opportunity that opened up by divine kindness -- and damn the torpedoes!(Nod to the general and Tom).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Watershed is Different

Here are six reasons:

1. I'm in the early stages. I always love the early stages -- when you're learning like crazy and you don't know what it will become.

2. A band of peers. You can't take away any of these parts and make it work. Many of my past bands were all interchangeable parts with me being the only constant. I like a constant of three at the core instead of one.

3. I'm being honest. I wrote music for Christians, for God,for people outside the church. Then I just wrote whatever I wanted and quit playing live. I got to this album and picked what fit together. They are songs about what matters most to me -- a lot of which has to do with God. We play it wherever -- bars, churches -- and see what happens.

4. It's cool and passionate. Being on stage playing rock and roll -- there is a distance between you and the rest of the band and the audience. This is "coolness." At the same time you throw yourself completely into what you're doing -- and sometimes the audience does too. This is the heat. It's a strange mix of distance and zeal. Great juxtaposition.

5. You don't have to talk. Part of why I like writing music is that I get to experience and communicate something that goes beyond words (although it includes words it uses them in a different way -- creating images, textures, emotions, a space -- rather than just saying something directly). As a singer songwriter your personality and your words a big part of why people listen to you, or how they listen to you. You can be an inarticulate rock star -- or poet.

6. Dancing on the cliff -- occasionally.
I'm finding I can express things with electric guitar that I couldn't on the acoustic. On solos I want to tread the edge of what works -- the edge of melody, rhythm/timing, etc -- I love it when it feels like it is almost falling apart but it isn't. I want these moments surrounded by the solid, steady, powerful, loud unity of the rest of the songs.

7. I didn't do it all by myself.I love to create and work with others. It was bigger than I could handle from the beginning and I got the help I needed as I went. Once the producer and I discovered the focus for the project, he was responsible to keep us on track. That freed me up to focus on my individual parts. We created something together that surpassed my ideas or my vision, something that I really like. Many times my collaborations have created something less stunning than what I could do myself. Not this time. We were all surprised by what we created, we are all thankful to be a part of it.

The Final Watershed Artwork

Prints available. Unfortunately small, but great nonetheless. Total length - over 30 feet.

Texas Brilliant live

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prints of Watershed Artwork

We ordered prints of the Watershed Artwork -- all 40 feet or so of it compressed down to a foot and a half or something. Should be getting them in time for Friday's show. Can't wait to see them. Pretty amazing to see all this stuff coming together.

Also -- almost got some radio promotion in the Dallas area this week. It fell through at the last minute. Sad.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Last 2 Chances to See Surge on Smith and Me

Friday. June 17th. 7:30 pm.
Venue: NHCC.
1100 W Brown St
Wylie, TX 75098
Suggested $5 donation

Saturday. June 18th. 8:00 pm.
Venue: Epoch Theater, 201 Legacy Drive, Plano, 75023
Cost: $5 at the door

Last chance to catch us on this tour in Texas. Come see us!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Watershed is Different

After five live shows of the new material and innumerable hours spent recording, I still love this stuff. It gets time in the car cd player. This is different than all but one of my past recordings.

Playing the stuff live is really fun. It's scary too -- stretches me to the edge of what I can pull off, but it's great. It's loud, it's good. Christa says it's the tightest (most together for you non-music folks) I've ever sounded. In 23 years of making music. It's strange.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sons of Hermann Hall

The show last night was very, very good. Amazing venue, great crowd and one of the best debut concerts (Surge On Smith) I've ever been a part of. TX Brilliant lived up to their name. I love playing these tunes. Pics or video coming.

Friday, June 10, 2011

30 Feet of Art

We're working on getting prints made of the 30 foot-long piece of art Christa made for the Watershed Project. But there's this last little thing she wants to try. I guess 30 feet of art is not enough...

Texas Brilliant Truly Brilliant

Over a month ago I had my first practice with the TX Brilliant. Tonight we had our second. We play tomorrow night. I was very scared. Now I am only a little scared.

Hooray for hardworking gigging musicians! I got to the practice tonight and not only do the guys know the songs, the bass player has everything charted including bpms for each tune.

At the end of practice tonight we improvised. At some point I started doing atmospheric washes and Joel (TX Joel the bass guru, not OH Joel*) and Greg went off into outer space switching into strange time signatures and playing in some eastern European scale I've never heard of. Glorious. I feel so wealthy. Privileged. This is how I've felt every time I get to play this music live with either Brilliant.

* Also known as "the-drummer-who-learned-on-cardboard-boxes-with-paint-stirring-sticks."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Just say no

I remember hearing the virtues of saying no extolled when I was in school. No to drugs. No to premarital sex. While the methodology of the message was often pretty effective, the message itself is one that I'm realizing needs to be heard -- at least by busy people who are used to saying "yes" to worthwhile opportunities.

Which includes me. My current attempt to work at it is this: unless I have a clear sense that it's important, confirmed by my wife, I'm saying "no" to new opportunities that pop up between now and the first week of July when we start our sabbatical.

I just said no to an interesting gig opportunity that would have given me a great growth opportunity and an excuse to get a pedal I've been looking at for months now...

And even so it feels good to...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another Set from Wilmington

Here's a link to another set from that same concert. If you're ever near Wilmington, OH, check out this place. Amazing sound and more amazing people.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wilmington Revisted

Last weekend I had the privilege of spending a day and a half with the band in Wilmington, OH. We played friday night to a small collection of people in one of the best venues I've ever played -- incredible sound, lights, space, etc.

Saturday we practiced and then got a chance to spend some time serving food at the noon meal that our friends at Joe's serve to people in need.

This venue puts all their concerts online, so feel free to watch it if you like. It's encouraging and challenging to listen to it for me, since I hear all my weaknesses but also feel how much fun it is and how the heart of the songs is getting through at least some of the time!

Monday, May 9, 2011

First gigs with the Northern Brilliant

I've been swamped getting ready for the Dandelion Seed artists' conference next week - not to mention trying to get caught up on everything else I got behind on that's been catching up on me. All that to say I've been wanting to really do justice to what for me was a hugely significant first set of shows in Ohio over a week ago. The first live attempt at this Watershed Project songs, and the debut of the Brilliant.

We played two nights in Bluffton, OH. The first was at the University. Played in a courtyard. Was sloppy but glorious. The next night we played in the back room of a Mexican restaurant. Handed out earplugs for people who wanted them -- and played some LOUD rock and roll.

That's basically what happened. I'll try to get at how I felt about it and why at some point soon -- in the short term -- it feels like something I've been wanting to do since I was 16 and it's starting to click. A lot of it is the band. The songs too. Switching from acoustic to electric. And there's more but I definitely have not hit my writing target here (remember: short, clear, deep) so I'll stop.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You Never

You Never from Jonathan A Reuel on Vimeo.

It's been crazy -- more than usual. Feel myself getting into that place where I forget to look up, slow down, and miss the important things. What would I do if it weren't for Love that doesn't go away, stop, or forget me?

Just a couple verses and a chorus which slipped out of me a couple days ago between other things.

Get a song, help someone

The deal is basically make a donation (you choose how much) and download a couple tunes from the album ahead of time. Driving from Asheville NC to Ohio for the gigs last week I drove through some of the wreckage from the storm. I hadn't heard about it yet (it was early morning) and I started to notice bits of pink fuzz alongside the highway. I couldn't figure out what it was. Then there were trees broken down and the traffic slowing. Then it just got worse and worse -- it was insane: semis upside down, roofs of houses blown off, people standing around looking dazed, helicopters, rescue people, etc. Finally I realized the pink stuff was insulation from destroyed buildings.

When Denice (who is helping with management, booking, etc) had the idea to put up a couple songs from the upcoming album for donation to help out with disaster relief it sounded great to me. Whatever comes in through this will give to Mennonite Disaster Service (they do great work). If you don't help this way, consider finding some other way to, even if it's just by starting by taking a few minutes out of whatever you're in the middle of to think of people whose normal life has been turned inside out, and who may still be (literally or emotionally) standing numbly as the sun rises to reveal the wreckage of what was their home and community. Sometimes these things shock us awake in new ways and we find a new life and new purpose out of it -- but that doesn't happen alone.

Friday, April 22, 2011

First Practice with the (Texas) Brilliant

After driving through a crazy hailstorm somewhere between NC and Dallas, and noticing that there is a well established group called "Texas Tornado" I have decided that it's appropriate to call the band "the Brilliant." For one, they are brilliant, all 7 of them (3 Texans, 2 from OH, 1 from MI), and second it's kind of fun to be Jonathan Reuel AND the Brilliant, since at this point when I pick up the electric I definitely don't feel like I belong in the "Brilliant" category -- although you can count me in the "deliriously happy and learning quickly" box. And, after all, this is rock and roll we're playing, and the Brilliant is good enough to play with "the loud and sloppy."

Enough of that. We had our first practice last night here in Wylie Texas and all I could think of the whole night was "Really? I get to do this?" We've got some work to do, but the guys knew the music pretty well and there were some amazing moments. I think this music is going to work live. I've had my doubts because it's a different animal than banging the acoustic guitar and adding some parts. These songs require the bass and drums to carry them much of the time -- which they are doing brilliantly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cornerstone Festival

The band and I were selected as one of the possible bands to play at the New Band Showcase at Cornerstone music festival this year. There's a pile of bands and they pick 15 or so of them based on votes and/or the opinions of music industry people. (Cornerstone Festival is a music and arts festival held every year near Bushnell, Illinois the week of July 4th.)

You can vote for us to help us get there. Seems like a small chance it could happen, but I never thought we'd get this album done either, so who knows! If it did happen it would be a great last hooray before heading into sabbatical.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Texas, Guitars and Transplants

Headed for Texas today. Have practices scheduled and our first Jonathan Reuel and Surge on Smith gig scheduled on Saturday and easter music at New Hope with the same band. Should be good.

Took my guitars in to get worked on yesterday. The Godin has a broken neck which is now being fixed. The other one functions. Can't wait to see how well.

Looking forward to seeing what my southern band (which may include a Californian transplant) can do. What a privilege to do be doing this.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Song Preview

I added another song to preview on the music player found to the right of this post. the new song is Name Me. "Bring Some Trouble" is the new name for the song that used to be called "I'll Never," so if you listened before you may recognize it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Midlife Video

Ok, so this was written when... oh never mind, no apologies. Hope it makes you laugh, wince or something.

Midlife from Jonathan A Reuel on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Midlife Song

As Christa and I move towards sabbatical (and work on this music, art and writings with transitions themes) we've been running into midlife crisis-type questions. Or maybe they are just transition questions. I can picture my past self, my present self and who I thought I'd be getting together. It's not all that pretty, but since conflict makes good stories, I thought I'd write a song about it. Here it is -- rough, recorded minutes after writing.

by Jonathan Reuel copyright 3.30.2011

Who I was caught up with who I am today
'Was' was spoiling for a fight
"Man," 'Was' said, "You've compromised,
Gone soft (not wise)
You're a disgrace to what's right"

'Is' straightened his back and shrugged
"Say what you want, but you're still 'Was'
Sometimes what you want is what you'll be
Sometimes it's what you give up to get free."

Who I am caught up with who I thought I'd be
'Who I Thought' walked past without noticing me
"Man,I thought I'd be a little better known
A little better off, and a little less alone."

My pseudo future self was pretty well dressed
He had a tie like mine but his shirt was pressed
He had his peers admiration and a friendship with God
He drove a fast, smart car passed churches and bars

This pseudo future self wasn't showing his age
Until a stranger walked up with a light in his face
Future man got a panicked look and ran from the scene
Like some scavenger pack that picked the bones all clean

'Who I Was' took his cues from the future me and left as well
I was stuck with this stranger, I was all by myself
And in that peace-filled silence I found my feet
And a place where Love could get to me

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Going Electric

It's been a bit of a challenge booking concerts for this new musical direction. People are used to me doing acoustic concerts, and it's simpler, easier and cheaper than setting up for a band. Plus I'm a little nervous about it.

The good news is that as people are hearing bits and pieces of the upcoming record I keep hearing "You've got to find places to play this AS A BAND!" Pretty encouraging. And I haven't been booed off the stage yet.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Two Very Good Things

I carried the recording master out of the studio yesterday. No more tweaks or adjustments. No more rethinking. We're done, completely, done, thanks in great part to the effective, focused and creative work of the producer, Grant Beachy.

I also turned over my contacts and booking responsibilities to Sprouted Acorn booking and management.

In both cases it was a little hard to let go and it is/was a privilege to work with people who are both creative and competent. I'm controlling less and doing better work. It's been a long time coming -- and a VERY good thing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Radio, Part II

Today I met with Jason Samuel, general manager of the Globe in Goshen, IN (which was, by the way recently honored as the IBS member station of the year). An inside look at how radio works has me rethinking my strategy in this area -- the market is glutted with new music, so much that radio stations are throwing away piles of cds weekly. I don't really want to add to the waste, but I do want to get this music out more widely than I have before.

I'm looking for and thinking about creative, less wasteful, ways to do that.

Thank You, Radio and a Report on the Kickstarter Campaign (which is over)

The Kickstarter campaign ended well and will allow us to get the record out. We doubled our minimum which was great, and a lot of people gave to the project, and made significant contributions.

We're looking at doing a radio campaign, which wasn't in our original budget, so if you missed the chance to support the record but want to help out, track me down or leave a comment and I'll let you know how you could help out.

Thanks again to everyone who gave expert advice, encouragement, skilled labor, money and prayer during the first phase of this record. I wouldn't have made it anywhere with this project alone -- and while that's always true, it's been much more the case this time than with most of the records I've done. It's partly because the scale is much bigger, partly because I have less energy, time and partly, I think, because this project is a watershed -- lots of tributaries are pouring into larger streams and rivers and we'll see what it looks like when it hits the sea.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Watershed " cut from the Watershed Record

Grant and I met yesterday to make final decisions on the album. We cut one song, ironically the title track, Watershed. We were questioning it since the beginning, but after getting feedback from a number of people we decided to not put it on the album. It will be available as an outtake.

We gave the "almost final mix" to 15 or 20 people with some questions to help us make decisions (favorite songs, least favorite, other comments). Besides deciding to cut one song, we also changed the title of a song from "What the Sun Shows" to "Into the Wilderness" -- a great suggestion from Paul Householder which gets at the heart of the song (and album) better.

"I'll Never," "Carbon Blanket" and "Timepiece" were the favorites so far, with "Stars & Oceans" following closely behind, although that was also several peoples' least favorite. Other least favorites were "When the Enemies Close In" and "I'll Never." Wile taste varied, the feedback was consistent enough to really help us make decisions, and hopefully, a better album.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guitar Solos and Parachutes

I am wary of guitar solos. Maybe because I grew up through grunge. Maybe because there are a lot of technical players who aren't bringing something fresh to the art. So I went in thinking there would not be guitar solos on the Watershed Project.

And while there aren't really much of what you'd call traditional guitar leads happening here, we ended up giving Chris some space on the record to try stuff within and he pushed the boundaries of the key and timing in such a way that the leads are interesting and energizing -- he's a good enough player to push the edges and still land squarely where and when he needs to (as opposed to some other players, myself included, who can sometimes get the plane off the ground but their landings are spotty, often requiring the use of parachutes and other methods of escape).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Light bright enough to hurt your eyes

Yesterday was quite a day. Chris Freeman drove over three hours to come play guitar on the record -- got there before noon. This was the only day that worked for him. Grant (the producer), however, got called in to jury duty the same day so we didn't know if or when he'd be available. We're on a tight schedule with tour coming up, and Chris was going to play on most of the songs, and was essential on half of them, so this mattered.

Grant got dismissed from the jury around noon (yippee!)and we started tracking guitars. It was amazing. Chris worked almost 12 hours (a couple breaks) and then drove the three hours home after midnight. He was an animal. He was a machine. I'll post a video at some point.

The tracks are, in my opinion, stunning. Serious energy and a precision and level of excellence to his playing that took the record up a level but still fit in with the ragged, raw, all-out feel of the record.

So the day felt like a series of miracles (and I'm only telling a few here). If this album becomes something of value to people, it will be partly because of the musicians who not only invested the fruit of years of playing and practice, but also time, sleep, energy, money and heart into it.

I can't wait to see how people react to these songs. It feels like something is happening with them (and this whole project) that is beyond us which people may pick up on. I hope so.

We're hoping to finalize the order and final set list for the record this weekend
(the big question is whether all 12 songs make it or we cut one or two). I'd like to get the record designed and sent off to be replicated by early next month, so that we can have a cd release sometime in May.

I thought I'd post a shot I took from the plane coming back from California -- the way the light was in these clouds was stunning, surprising, glorious, strange and bright enough to hurt a bit, but you just had to keep looking back, it was so beautiful. That's a bit what yesterday was like at Electric Angel Studios.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today We Go Live

Today at 2:07pm the Watershed Project goes live on Kickstarter. Thanks so much to everyone who has given to it. It's been a lot of fun. If you want to support it now that the deadline is past, you'll have to track me down yourself -- the easy route is over! Now it's time to finish the record, get the books together, plan the tour and get the art and music out that all those people helped make possible.

Chris the guitar guru is driving down from Detroit to record his parts today but Grant (the producer) got called to jury duty. We're hoping he's not there long so we can finish up the guitar parts before he has to drive back to Michigan!

Got a bit of time with some friends from Asia today who are in the states going back to school. We were out talking and grabbing a bite to eat and drink and I heard a number of songs in a row from power trios (bands with bass, drums and guitars for you non music nerds). Man, I'm excited about playing some of this music. Got a call as well from a guy in Alaska -- there's a chance I might get to do some concerts up there. If so it will be 7 years since I did that. I can think of few places I'd rather play a concert during the summer (and few I'd rather NOT play in the winter).

Sorry this is so long -- got to go back and read my writing target post.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cutting Songs from the Record

We're so close to done with this record now. I've been listening over the tracks, waiting for those last guitars to be added and thinking about possibly cutting a song or two. I'd rather have a great album with ten songs than a good album with 12 songs. We've put so much time and energy and heart and attention into this, really thinking about it as an album not just a collection of songs, that it will be worth being brutal to make it great. We're going to get some feedback from different listeners to help us decide whether to cut songs or not.

Think of us this week as we wrap up.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What am I trying to do here

Exploring the space between garage rock and folk.
Skimming stones across the surface of the sublime, and hoping to regularly


Is there a way to move between the sun-soaked, ice-sharp ache and beauty of story, epic love and sorrow


the grit and rumble, stutter-start scratch
muscle-stretch push which is the daily struggle towards


Friday, March 18, 2011

First Listen

If you look to the right of this post there is a little music player that has four songs on it -- 2 from my upcoming Watershed record, and two from Surge on Smith's upcoming record (which I co-wrote songs, played guitar and sang some background vocals on).


Thursday, March 17, 2011

In the Basement

Here are few photos from the basement of the building I've been recording in. Electric Angel studios operates out of the Goshen Theater which is an old, interesting building. In picture: Nate (Drums), Grant (producer, engineer), Toby (bass). The wall has multiple-decades-old show posters on it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

6 Days Left

We're less than a week away from the end of the fundraising phase of the Watershed Project. We passed the bare minimum budget a while ago, just recently hit our second landmark, and now we're just under $1500 away from a solid, workable budget. So if you're wanting to pledge to this project but haven't yet, you've got until March 22.

The record will come out in May thanks to the 27 backers who got behind it so far and the generous work of the musicians, producers and artists involved.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Watershed Art

We boxed up all the art (over 120 pieces that together make up the massive Watershed painting) and shipped them east before we left California. Now we're looking for the right place to install it. It's got to be the right place -- high ceilings, good lighting. We're looking at galleries and churches around Goshen, Indiana. We could also transport it to Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina or Texas if the right place opened up. If you have ideas, leave a comment. We're dreaming about setting it up for a show or two on the tour if it works out, so it won't be available for a more permanent installation until June or July.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guitars, Divine Alchemy w/o Timetables

Today it was finally my turn to actually record something as opposed to help the other musicians create and shape their parts. It was humbling and frustrating. My guitar teacher told me today that there's some things that I can do better than him in my playing -- something to do with barely controlled chaos. Which is good for the songs that need that (about half of them on this record). The other half need someone to play simple parts steadily and I can't do it. Very frustrating. Great news is we have another guitarist working on this record with me who can do about anything, and who is incredibly precise.

After all these years of making music it's not much easier to see my own weaknesses and inadequacies -- and no less amazing to feel and sense something beautiful happening in the midst of them. How does that work? Why is it still feel so vulnerable? I give the little piece I have to give, as incomplete and flawed as it is, leaning into this hope for some kind of divine alchemy, that I've experienced enough times to know it's worth the risk, but also knowing that you never know how or where or when love will show up and turn your little gift left on the altar to gold. There's not printed timetables for this stuff.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Transition & Rest

Two themes run through the songs and art of the Watershed Project -- transition and rest. After a couple of days away from recording (spent w/ Christa hanging out/packing up/moving out of CA) I realize that a. we're definitely in the middle of a large transition, one of the largest we've been through, and b. I haven't been doing so well with the rest part.

Over the last few years Christa and I have developed some helpful patterns of rest -- taking a day off each week, trying to do a retreat periodically, etc. Since I started recording I haven't done my normal weekly days off. Hmmm...

This is me seeing the irony/hypocrisy in that and turning/getting excited about living out the themes of the record while I'm making it... :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

California Breather

I'm in California with Christa. It's amazing to be able to step out of the apartment and walk without a coat, hat, gloves, etc. This is not Detroit! It took a while to get there (left Detroit at 6am) but I woke up at one point when the plane was flying over the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and snapped this shot.

We're in CA packing up now. The art looks amazing! 15 feet is longer than I imagined. It fills the room. I thought I'd post a picture of that too, for those of you who have been following it's evolution from 50+ blank canvases to this! We're doing official photos of it for the book tomorrow.

Lyric Excerpt

I've seen you mine what I couldn't even find
Out of my head
You take your time drawing water for your wine
Out of my head
I've been a slave bowing to the fear
Here in my head
Love take this cup, fill it over, bring it up
Out of my head

- from Out of My Head (J.Reuel 2011)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Watershed Set List Revised

We finished recording drums today! If we were making a main dish it just got spicier. Thank you chef Nate. Now we have a short break (in which I get to see Christa for the first time in weeks and catch up on other work) before recording bass, guitars and vocals. I wrote a song a couple days into recording drums and it made it on to the album -- surprise -- and a few songs got booted. Here's the current track list.

Carbon Blanket
Sun Show
The Everything Change
Stars & Oceans
Name Me
When the Enemies Close In
The Way You Are
Out of My Head
I'll Never
Where Nothing Stays the Same

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kickstarter Min Goal Nailed!

Well, we did it -- reached the $2500 minimum* goal. This is big news. It means we can actually do the recording. The response was quicker and more generous than I expected.

Was also a big day musically. The producer took what Chris (guitar/arranger) and I developed earlier to another level (chop, adjust, rearrange, repeat). The drum sounds are amazing -- we start recording them for real tomorrow. Surprises for everyone ahead...

The art: after almost two months of work ALL the canvases have paint on them. Here are some pictures of the work in progress -- remember this thing is 15 ft. long.

* $2500 is the minimum goal because it's the least we could get by with and still put a record out. We hope to do much more (including cover materials costs for the painting, do a better than minimum job on things, cover travel costs and pay participants something!) If you want to help, visit (or revisit, or send a friend to) the Kickstarter page and make a pledge. We got the boat in the water now - help us take it all the way to the ocean! It's a pretty long trip from the source of the watershed to its destination, but it looks like it'll be a great trip!