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Wide Open Life

Bonita Open Road

As most of you who know me already know, I’ve always had a curious nature, and I’ve rarely let fear of change or risk prevent me from living the life I want to live. Whether it was leaving music as a jazz bass player in my late 20’s to become a CPA, or returning to it in my late 30’s as a singer-songwriter, or creating companies from ideas, or traveling or moving where my heart led me, I’ve rarely hesitated. Of course all this comes at a cost, and the cost is you don’t get the things one gets from living in a straight line. What you DO get is the knowledge that you’ve turned over the rocks and seen what’s under them— occasionally finding treasure, joy, and sometimes heartbreak, of course. We all choose our road and that’s the road I’ve traveled.

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I remember when I returned to music as a songwriter in my late 30’s a friend said, “NOW you have something to write about.” That was true for me. Unlike some writers who are perhaps more gifted than I (and maybe wiser), I had to go out and do it all for myself to “get it.” Of course, I also got to gain the tapestry of experience that goes with that. I guess what I mean by all this is that the closer I followed my True North of music, the more I yearned for new experiences to feed the creativity. I also think I was born, like my Mom and Dad, with a lust for life.

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For better or for worse, age hasn’t tempered this essential curiosity, and I continue to reach for dimension. In 2011 I met a kindred spirit in Kathy and in 2013, after 3 years of commuting, we made the decision to move to Los Angeles and to Malibu and we built a beautiful life here together. This was something I’d always dreamed of, and SoCal was also on Kathy’s list of places to live, after having lived for a decade up North. We found a spot where we had a view of the ocean and mountains and our circle of friends and associates expanded quickly. I found myself in the middle of LA’s stellar music community; a community I’d never found before in Boston, Nashville, New York or London. This experience gave me a perspective as to where I fit as both an artist and an individual. LA is unique in that the economy here is entertainment-centric, which means it’s the norm to be an artist. This is different from anywhere else in the world, and I desperately needed this for my spiritual health, and my personal and professional growth.

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My best friend called me on a Saturday in February to tell me he had been diagnosed with an aggressive, life-ending disease the previous Monday. I flew to Tucson to see him on that next Tuesday, and two weeks later he was gone. At that time I was considering a move to Toronto for a business role with a music company. My friend encouraged me to go. He said it is important to keep creating new experiences in our lives. As good as one situation might be, it’s vital to continue to reach, to change, to grow and to trust that we can continue to find new joy in life.  Toronto didn’t pan out, but at that point Kathy and I made the emotional decision to move closer to family, friends, bandmates and England and Europe, which we both love.

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Kathy has now moved back to Boston and I will follow as we get our house sold. The van Gogh Brothers are happy about the decision and we look forward to resuming a regular performance schedule. I will revive the East-West commute and hopefully add the West-East commute to London, where I am hankering to spend more time. My children are happy to know I will live in proximity to their Mom so they don’t have to navigate two coasts, and hopefully this will mean I will see more of them. I love Kathy’s extended family and they have accepted me into the fold from the start. I look forward to a new, refreshed sense of place, and now, having lived in the nexus of the entertainment industry in LA, I have a new appreciation for the things that Boston DOESN’T have! That being said, my SoCal and Malibu heart still beats and I look forward to resuming my role as its part-time lover.

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So this fall will be a bit of a winding down period for me. I’ll be making trips back and forth between LA and Boston. I hope to schedule a few gigs in both LA and Boston and to wrap up the making of XXV, our 25 year retrospective of the van Gogh Brothers, the Voices of van Gogh and the Next Great American Song project I undertook with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, John Durrill.

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As we approach the autumn equinox, I find myself once again following the muse of a wide open life. Joni Mitchell said it best in the song Tom Rush made into a permanent clarion call for me in 1968,

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down
And winter’s closing in

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Go well on your journey, whatever it may be. I look forward to seeing you here and there as we go.

JC