Aplscruf's Music Blog

Jeff Finlin: Man On Fire

Jeff-Finlin-A-Love-So-Contagious

Jeff Finlin. Photo Credit: Aidan Finlin

Jeff Finlin is on a hot streak lately, as prolific as ever. This year, he published a new book of poetry, a retrospective 20-song album dropping this month, earned certification as a Yoga-for-recovery counselor, started a RecoverYoga therapy and consultation program, has two books in the works regarding the program, and will produce a new album later in the year. Oh, and he’ll embark on a European tour, hitting The Netherlands and Ireland in November and circling back to the UK in 2017.

Aplscruf: Jeff, let’s start with your new organization, RecoverYoga, which you created to integrate the aspects of recovery from various forms of addiction or trauma with the practice of yoga. Is this something you can do from your home base in Colorado, or will you be training/counseling others off-site? Will you offer workshops? Do you have a book on the subject in the works, too?

Jeff Finlin: I can do RecoverYoga from anywhere. I’ll be doing workshops as well as counseling. There is one of two books that will be released next month called “365 Days of RecoverYoga”— It’s a 365 day reader.

The Seduction of Radha just published this summer. Please explain the meaning behind the book’s title as well as the common theme of seeking, restoring and uniting The Beloved throughout your poems.

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The Seduction Of Radha comes from yoga and life intertwined with writing and creation. In the Bhakti traditions of Hinduism that focus on Krishna, Radha is the incarnation of “the feeling of love towards Krishna”. She is considered to be his original Shakti [the female principle of divine energy]. As I’ve been practicing and reading and living, I’ve been able to become aware of how these fields of energy manifest themselves in relationship to my life, if I pay attention. The book is basically about the courtship we go through with the opening of our hearts and the dimensions of love and awareness we allow within our lives, and how that seems to work in the end. Although the story is not over.

Finlin recently produced a captivating, spoken-word video of one of the poems from The Seduction of Radha, called “A Love So Contagious”directed by Erik Lunde of Lunde Creative.

Here’s what Folk Radio UK had to say: http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2016/08/video-premiere-jeff-finlin-love-contagious/

You have a retrospective album coming in September from Man In The Moon/Warner Records. Life After Death: The Essential Jeff Finlin is a 20-song collection from your extensive catalog. How do these 20 songs represent you, and was there meaning or a method behind picking each? Do some speak to you more than others, or represent the man you were at a certain period of time in your life?

I think in picking the songs, I was trying to be aware of the songs that stuck out as unique or different, somehow. It was also important that the record held together as a piece of work—that it had some flow and could stand up on its own rather than just being a collection of songs thrown together.

Order your copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Life-After-Death-Essential-Finlin/dp/B01I6MJE28

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A brand new album in the works: The Guru In The Girl. Are you still in the recording process? What is your songwriting process? What inspires you to write? How do your songs stream in? Lyrics first, and then melody? Do they flow in together?

I’m still planning on finishing The Guru In The Girl—it’s just sitting there waiting on the right time. My writing process is very disciplined. I’ve written three-and-a-half books in the last six months. Book writing is different than songwriting or poetry. The latter of the two is more of a stream of consciousness to me at this point—it’s all action and no thought—just falling back on the muse and trusting that. As soon as it becomes intellectual, it’s over. Usually lyrics [stream in] first. I tend to be limited the most musically–basically I’m a drummer. There, I said it: The D Word.

You have two tours coming up, and will be playing with BJ Baartmans of The Wild Verband throughout The Netherlands. Have you played with him before?

Me and BJ go back a long way, and I recently hooked up with him again for the last tour of Holland.

After The Netherlands, you’ll be in Ireland with Clive Barnes and Pete Bruntnell. Are you looking forward to touring with them again?

I love touring with those guys. We have more than our share of fun. I also have one date with Pete in London next February.

Check out an article on Jeff, Clive, and Peter here: http://www.nottinghampost.com/peter-bruntnell-getting-fellow-folk-singers-jeff/story-28547885-detail/whatson/story.html#SdS3ZXPASe7WIWhf.01

Check Jeff Finlin’s website for store, tour, and other news: http://jefffinlin.com

Find him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jeff-Finlin-103176566463598/

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Many of Finlin’s poems and lyrics cross back and forth between the earthly and the ethereal. Here is my favorite poem from The Seduction of Radha:

While In Prison

While in prison

On my pillow

In my orange jump suit

(there’s a reason the prisoner and the monk both wear orange)

I contemplate the hours and her face

In mine

Still doing time

I look for the key

To the lock

In the physical

Underneath the vulture screaming

marking my days on the bedpost

For what?

What would I do if I got out?

Talking to her behind the glass

I contemplate her body

Twisting in the loft

Of a barn

In the Midwest

In another life

this tornado of imagination loves itself

and loves love

and Venus’

mouth

in retrograde

waiting for the archer

to sling his arrow across the sky

only to penetrate

and flower as emotion

and a love that

is really just my own

incarcerated by itself

banging its love me cup

on the jail bars of life

only to discover

the key is in the lock


Another video from Jeff Finlin from his previous album, My Moby Dick, entitled “I Killed Myself Last Night”. Move past the disturbing title and discover a powerful metaphor for spiritual awakening – the killing of one’s former self. What remains is Love. Shot and directed by Jeramey Johnson, Stagwood Pictures. Find the song on Jeff Finlin’s previous album (2013), “My Moby Dick”.

Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play in small clubs and venues. Support quality music.

 

 

 

 

 

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August 30, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Jeff Finlin | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Believers Play Oak Harbor Music Festival Sept 3, 2016

The Believers, featuring Craig Aspen and Cynthia Frazzini, are playing Oak Harbor Music Festival this Saturday, September 3 at 7pm. Originally from Seattle, they currently reside in Nashville and are coming back this week for the festival. They’ll join the rest of the original band, including: Dan Tyack, Stevie Adamek, and Garey Shelton.

The free, three-day festival begins Friday, September 2. The motto of the festival: “Inspire Our Community With The Power of Music”. Thirty bands of various genres are scheduled to play, and all ages are welcome. Food, beer, and arts and crafts booths will be available, too.

I’m looking forward to seeing The Believers play with a full band. Aspen and Frazzini played a beautiful set in Fremont in 2014 at private club. Check the review of that wonderful night here and see another video from The Believers: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/dusty-45s-and-the-believers-at-a-private-club-in-fremont-wa/

 

August 28, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Americana, Oak Harbor Music Festival, The Believers | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SC4M: Americana Music Festival in South Central…England!

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SC4M Festival is an annual Americana music festival in South Central England–Winchester, to be precise. This year’s Festival will prove to be a great success. It’s a guaranteed “No Mud” event, as all shows are inside The Railway Inn in two locations: The Attic and The Barn (not a real barn–but a larger room inside the venue). The line-up alone is worth a drool, including headliner John Murry and festival mascot Peter Bruntnell. The festival begins at noon and runs into the wee hours. Check the full lineup and schedule here.

I posted a more concise article for No Depression here.

Oliver Gray, founder and promoter of SC4M, is a language instructor, author, musician, and all ’round music lover. Over the last dozen years or so, he’s been dipping his toes in that river of Americana music and its related tributaries and booking The Railway with the genre’s best artists. The annual non-profit festival is going on its seventh season at The Railway. According to Oliver, he founded SC4M “not to make money…but simply for fun, and because if we didn’t bring Americana to Winchester, no other bugger would. We had to accept from the start that this would be a hobby and not a business. Over the years, if you add everything up, we have made quite a substantial net loss, but had a huge amount of fun and satisfaction.” Oliver and his wife Birgit even offer up rooms in their home to the artists in order to keep expenses at a minimum.

I had the pleasure of meeting The Grays in April:

The rain poured down the day my husband Pat and I were supposed to meet Oliver Gray in a little village on the outskirts of Winchester. After touring Winchester Cathedral and paying my respects to beloved author Jane Austen (i.e., crying my eyes out at her grave), we hired a taxi to take us into the village.

We were originally going to meet Oliver at a local pub, but due to the incessant rain, he invited us over to his home instead, as he didn’t feel like venturing out. He gave us his address. That’s it? There were no numbered streets or house addresses–only names in the style of manor houses posted willy-nilly in front gardens and near doorways (think of your favorite English novel: Wuthering Heights, Thornfield Hall, Mansfield Park, etc., but in an average, residential neighborhood)–it was nearly impossible for us to find his home. Our taxi driver gave up and drove off a few minutes earlier after cruising up and down the neighborhood and checking Google Earth. We were stranded. “It’s got to be on this street, according to the GPS,” Pat said. Frustration etched his voice as the rain dripped off the hood of his jacket.

I looked up, and a familiar-looking man crossed the street and approached us. After a tentative introduction to make sure we were indeed Lisa and Pat (and he was indeed Oliver), he guided us directly across the street and up a set of stairs to his lovely home. Their house sign was posted high, near some shrubbery–we’d never looked up. He sat us down, served us tea, and said, “My wife Birgit asked me how I came to know you, and I really don’t recall. Right. So. How do I know you?” Laughter ensued as we became acquainted with each other.

As a writer and lover of music myself, I found Oliver through a Facebook group called Rollercoaster Records. I noticed we had several mutual musical friends. When I realized Oliver booked The Railway, I contacted him to inform him we’d be in town on holiday in April and hoped to meet up or go to a show. Unfortunately, our Winchester visit was on a Monday, and we missed a few shows around town by a matter of days; but we hit a home run by spending time with Oliver and Birgit that day.

Back to SC4M…

Oliver has a lively article on his SC4M page regarding the formation of SC4M, the festival, and the various mishaps of being in the booking/promotion business including flaky agents, drunken behavior, and a near murder, just to name a few. Of course, even the worst incidents are canceled out by fantastic bands, sold-out shows, and life-long friendships with artists and patrons. There is also a section dedicated to the nearly disastrous 2013 festival, and other bits of lore that took place over the last decade.

I included a snippet of Oliver’s article, which includes the birth of SC4M:

“It was at the Tower Arts Centre in Winchester and it must have been February 2000. My friend Richard had begged me to come and see a guy called Peter Bruntnell.

peter-bruntnell.jpg

“I had always had a strong prejudice against country music, with its attendant visions, in my mind, of soppy lyrics and redneck attitudes. It wasn’t rock. But Peter Bruntnell and his band did rock – like hell. The ridiculously young James Walbourne was simply one the best and wildest electric guitar players I had ever seen. There weren’t many people there, but that evening changed my life. Richard and I decided to become alt-country impresarios. Not to make money…but simply for fun, and because if we didn’t bring Americana to Winchester, no other bugger would.”

And so began Oliver’s foray into the world of promoting Americana music in Winchester.

the railway

The Railway Inn, Winchester, UK

“We also had the perfect venue, in the form of The Railway in Winchester, a cosy pub that has a back room that feels just like a Texas roadhouse, with black walls, a sticky floor and a sweaty rock and roll vibe….We certainly didn’t think we’d still be doing it [thirteen] years later.”

The Lucky Mascot Returns:

“If you look at the list of our shows, you’ll see that the first one (on May 1, 2003) featured, naturally, Peter Bruntnell. Well, it would have to. The Bruntosaurus, as he is affectionately known, has played for us over twenty times…Peter is officially designated as our lucky mascot. In our opinion, he is the UK’s premier songwriter, but far more importantly, he is an absolute legend as a person. Luckily, our audience shares our enthusiasm and any show he features in will always draw a healthy crowd.”

Recently, I asked Pete Bruntnell about his experiences playing SC4M:

“We’ve been playing in Winchester for quite a few years now thanks to Oliver and Birgit. It’s always one we look forward to what with the great atmosphere they create, and the cheese and wine back at Chez Oliver’s after. If every town had an Oliver I’d be a rich musician!

Pete’s latest video, “Mr. Sunshine” is featured on his new album Nos Da Comrade:

Per Oliver, the 2016 lineup will be smashing with John Murry’s return to the stage:

“Since he more or less demolished the place two years ago, we’ve been gagging to have John Murry back, this time in duo format with Neil Quigley. Headlining in the Attic we have one of Winchester’s greatest success stories, This Is The Kit, featuring Kate Stables and Rozi Plain. A massive bonus this year is a solo slot from our special guest Andrew Combs, whom we love to death.”

John Murry gave an emotional tribute to the Grays:

“Oliver and Birgit Gray mean more to me than I could ever fully express in words (and I’m told that I have a way with those damn things, though I’m unsure as to whether those who say that I do mean that I use them artistically or that my use of them tends to get me in trouble quite often…). Everything they do, they do out of the love; the love of music, the love of art, and the love of the artist.

“Playing SC4M and Winchester and, in earlier days, Southampton, has always felt like a brief vacation from the pressures of touring while staying with the Gray’s. I’m certain that, if shows I have done have been good, then the ones I have done in Winchester must have been some of the best I have ever done. Like playing for family I have never really had, I have always wanted to give those shows more than I have in me to give, only to see the wry excited smile that creeps across Oliver’s face as he stands in the audience that indicates I have done well. He’s the finest musical barometer I have ever met. His taste is immaculate, his understanding of the art behind it all is immense, and his love of rock and roll is insatiable. He and Birgit have seen more amazing acts perform than most of us could see in multiple lifetimes. They are heroic to me. Sincerely. Not because they ask nothing in return for the love, hard work, and money they put creating and promoting each yearly SC4M festival, but because they do it out of a sense of duty and responsibility with a dignity and humanity almost alien to the selfish world we live in today. I’ve played large festivals on a few continents, but I have yet to play a festival as superbly curated and consistently amazing to both perform at and attend as SC4M, and I doubt I ever will. It is more than an honor to headline this year’s festival, it’s a challenge. I WILL make Oliver and Birgit dance or cry or something! I have to. They’d expect nothing less. From any of us.”

Murry rocked The Railway in 2013:

Meanwhile, back at Chez Oliver’s…

Besides booking The Railway throughout the year and the annual SC4M Festival, Oliver and Birgit also host intimate shows in a beautiful pine-wrapped outbuilding on their property called Swiss Cottage. It’s quite a treat to meet a couple who love music so much that they built a place for bands to play on their property. It holds about 30-40 people, and the top-notch musicians who are invited to play at either venue are also invited to sleep in the Grays’ home, just steps from the cottage. Money collected for the shows goes directly into the artists’ hands.

The Grays support not only UK and European artists, but also American artists. Some Americans have actually enjoyed much more success overseas than in the US. There are too many bands to list, but a few who played Winchester include: John Murry, Richmond Fontaine, Jeff Finlin, The Believers, Dead Rock West, Chuck Prophet, and Fernando Viciconte.

I’ve played Swiss Cottage, too–well, okay, I played a mean round of ping-pong in Swiss Cottage on a rainy Monday afternoon.

believers oliver

Craig Aspen, Oliver Gray, and Cynthia Frazzini at Swiss Cottage

Craig Aspen of The Believers, a Seattle band currently residing in Nashville, recalls his experience of their short stay with the Grays:

“Simply put, Oliver Gray is a taste maker. The Believers included The Railway on our last tour to the UK, because Oliver was booking acts that we loved and had shared the stage with back home in the States. People like Chuck Prophet and Jesse Sykes.
“I remember Cyd [Cynthia Frazzini] and I waking up very jet-lagged and rehearsing while Oliver and Birgit cooked dinner. After we ate, Cynthia went back to bed. Oliver and I went out for pints. I don’t care what anyone says, the best beer is made in England so don’t miss a chance to get out to the pub.
“We ended up at The Railway on a double bill with our friends from LA – Dead Rock West. What a great night. And then we were ‘off’ to the next place the morning after and didn’t even get to see The Winchester Cathedral. That’s always how it goes on tour…”

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The rain stopped. Oliver gave us a historical walking tour through the village. We strolled across the bridges of the twin rivers and arrived at the small train station to catch our ride home. Pat and I had a lovely time, and we were so pleasantly surprised by the Grays’ hospitality to a couple of Yankee strangers who shared their love of music.

If you plan on being anywhere near the UK in September, grab some tickets to SC4M Festival and go!

Support Oliver and Birgit and their unwavering commitment to bringing quality music to Winchester. Purchase Railway Tickets for SC4M here

See the complete SC4M lineup here

SC4M’s Facebook Page

Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play in small clubs and venues. Support quality music.

 

 

 

August 10, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Oliver Gray, SC4M, The Railway, Uncategorized, Winchester Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment