Sarah Stephens Collaboration

We sat in the front room with our instruments strewn across the floor, our laps heavy with songs for the Old Ones. We had met each other through a mutual friend (the wonderful Sarah Helser!) to see if we were a good musical pair, with the idea that we would play in nursing homes around the city. What followed was a season of about two years where we sang old timey songs for people who are at the very end of life, and well, it was one of the most beautiful periods of my musical life. And I also made a dear dear friend in Sarah Stephens. 

I'll never forget one rehearsal, where my worry colored the notes and Sarah stopped me for a moment. We'd been practicing our songs together for a while now, and she sensed the day was darkening for me. One kind glance from Sarah and I poured out my fears, financial worry and stress. Her answer? To take me by the hand and lead me outside. To sing a song from a time I've never known, and whirl me around until I was laughing and light. She does this kind of thing all the time - reminding you of the Grander Joy, the simplest pleasures, even the reality of what pain can teach us. 

On Friday night November 14th Sarah will be playing her music in a cosy home, with images of mine projected on a screen behind her. Her music is whimsical - childlike even - but there is another layer, then another, then another, and before too long as a listener you've been both a child and an old man and everything in between. She captures the essence of what it means to be human on so many levels, and she is a true storyteller. I wanted to capture the peace and whimsy that comes through with images of my children and the land I love, but also focus in, on a very primal level, the details and patterns that are beneath our feet that we often don't see. When we take a closer look, we find ourselves entering into another layer or unknowing - rocks become constellations, seaweed becomes a satellite image of a desert, icicles become fragile shy creatures. Sarah embodies that clarity and mystery for me in her personality, which is what makes her such a true gift. Here are just a few images that will be shown on Friday. If you can come to the show, RSVP here. It will be a real treat.  

Until the Light Comes - Sarah Helser

Earlier in the year I was honored to shoot the models for Sarah Helser's upcoming gallery at Hidell Brooks in Charlotte, NC. Sarah is one of my most treasured friends, and I am delighted to share her work with you because not only is she a phenomenal artist, but she is a soul that writes from a deep, profound and revelatory well. In Sarah I have a friend that I can share a secret language with and that is a great gift in this life. If you've followed my music at all you may recognize her work on my album covers as well.

Here are just a couple of my photographs alongside Sarah's paintings and a poem she wrote that accompanies the work. Sarah has beautiful, powerful things to say to this world and its an incredible experience to collaborate with her. 

If you are in Charlotte please visit her gallery that runs through December 20th! And tonight, her reception is from 6-8pm at Hidell Brooks. 

father and mother unlock your doors
on nights of summer. bare
feet gliding through hushed sighs, they love
waiting for tomatoes crimson to climb and magnolias grow
larger than whales, white on the terrace
spraying delicious scents around the homes
of hands, stirring quiet to lift quilts and escape
out the window and into the night. 

in the damp heat, smallness is grand
crashing waves that wear the years away,
and I am bathing with the midnight birds
black feathers wet and they sing
"the moon is a lamp
the stars are chandeliers
and you my dear are a moth
trapped in an earthly body
jailed by the summer night"

-Sarah Helser