We'd like to share a story with you. It's a little long, so first here's some brief bullet-pointed bidniss.
- We released our official video for "Thank You," please watch it and share!
- The full album will have an exclusive pre-release stream on The Bluegrass Situation on September 5th.
- The full album is out everywhere September 12th.
- Our upcoming shows are September 13th at The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, NY, and September 14th at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC.
- We just ordered new shirts and stickers! Support us on Patreon at the $5/month level, and we'll mail them to you just as soon as we have 'em!
Alright, here goes, a not-so brief backstory of the new video:
The Saga of Sparkle Joe
I’m not a superstitious person, really. I’ll knock on wood for fear of “jinxing” something, and if my team is down in the ninth inning you know I’m going to flip my hat inside-out and wear it, but otherwise I’m not a huge believer in fate or the supernatural. But I do believe in signs, in the suggestive power of coincidence.
In the summer of 2015, Jenner and I participated in the band competition at the American River Music Fest in Coloma, CA. I remember our first night there, the night of the contest, I noticed, as we waited to go on, a man near me in the back of the crowd. He had long gray hair and was wearing a sequined cape and I thought, “Alright, I am really glad we’re here.” We saw him again the next day dancing by himself in the hot sun at the mainstage, eyes closed, interpreting the lyrics, thumbs up, smiling. Sparkling. I thought, “This guy is having a great time and doesn’t give a shit what anyone else thinks.” I was really inspired.
We met him around our campfire that night; he was camping in his van not too far from us. He told us he was from Texas, that his name was Joe, and he offered us peanuts out of a Planters can. Beer and peanuts, he told us, had been his last meal every night since he was in college. He stood behind our circle and danced, still in his cape, while we played tunes late into the night. I remember him saying he wished Jimi Hendrix’s song could instead go “Hey Joe, where you going with that smile on your face?” We made sure to get Joe's phone number before we left the festival; even then we had a hunch we might want to make something with him.
A couple months later, I was in New York City with my friend Sarah. We were getting drinks with a friend of hers from NYU Law, Rebecca, who’s from Austin originally. This was just before I was going to move there, so she was giving me recommendations, getting nostalgic, trying to do that impossible thing of explaining in words what you love about your hometown. She knew I was headed to Austin for music, and said she wanted to put me in touch with her dad, who was still living there and was connected to the old school hippy scene. She started describing his life, that he spent most nights in a tent, that he traveled on the west coast in the summers going to music festivals, that all he wanted to do since he got a knee replacement was dance… I asked, “Is your dad’s name Joe?” She looked at me wide-eyed. “Wait, how do you know my dad?”
After meeting Rebecca, it seemed like seeing Joe again was inevitable. But I didn't know how soon it would come. Before I moved to Austin that January, I found a place online where I could stay in a tent for free in exchange for working odd jobs a couple hours a day. Camp EZ, my first home in Texas (and still a place of great importance to me.) When I first arrived, it was nighttime and already dark, and I wasn’t sure how to find my host or where I should set up my things. I interrupted a young woman vacuuming the inside of her van to ask her where I might find the property owner, and just then walking into the dim yellow light came Joe. I shouted “Hey Joe!” to him, and he turned and smiled and said, “Oh hi, yeah, I heard you might be coming down,” without a shred of surprise. I knew I was in the right place. Turned out I was going to be camping just 30 yards from where Joe had his tent pitched for the winter.
And now, here it is, our video with Sparkle Joe, directed, filmed, and edited by our photographer/videographer extraordinaire, a “Band’s Best Friend,” Kendall Rock. We hope you enjoy it, it was so fun to make and we’re really proud of it. THANK YOU Kendall, THANK YOU to our illustrious producer Russell Brown, and one more, big THANK YOU to Joe, a pivotal character in our young band’s life.
I also want to mention, that besides being an amazing dancer, Joe is a lawyer and lifelong environmental activist. He’s served on the City of Austin’s Environmental Board and worked for 20 years in the Environmental Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Since 1975 he’s participated in many citizen efforts and organizations to protect his beloved Barton Creek and Barton Springs, which we have discovered to be our favorite part about Austin as well. He's volunteered for years at Kerrville Folk Festival and Old Settlers Musical Festival. He calls himself a “litter picker-upper.” We think he’s a gem.
And THANK YOU for letting us share our art and our process, as always. More soon!
Raph, & Jenner & Hans