…if we all stand together and be a little brave, you never know where we’ll go.
– Dean Jones
Rosendale’s Grammy Award-winning Dean Jones launches new album this week
Every time Grammy Award-winning producer Dean Jones makes a new album, I have to have it and can’t wait to listen to it. His latest solo release When the World Was New is yet another collection of fun, positive songs with a great sound and engaging lyrics.
“Stand with Me” is an especially soulful tune on this album. As soon as I heard it, I envisioned people of all ages singing this together for generations to come: “Until every little soul in the world gets to shine, stand with me…. if we all stand together and be a little brave, you never know where we’ll go.”
How did this piece come about? “‘Stand with Me’ was written in the woods,” Jones shared with Kids’ Almanac. “I don’t remember exactly what inspired it, but it’s really where we have to go as humans. ‘Against’ isn’t working. If you stand with someone, you don’t have to be standing against anything or anyone.”
That perspective is part of the foundation of his entire album, and perhaps anything Jones has ever done, whether shining a light toward children or adults: “If we can un-isolate people who are on the edge, they won’t be as isolated and outside. And if we all know each other and feel connected…that’s where we should be headed.”
Like many of Jones’s previous albums, When the World Was New seems to have a life of its own: “I often have an idea for an album, and then it goes somewhere completely differently. For this album, I decided to do a completely acoustic album, really stripped-down and simple. I was even going to record it in the backyard. It was the first beautiful sunny day, about this time last year. So I wrote one song and started recording. And then one of my neighbors started up some [bleeping] leafblower. In April. A leafblower in April! That is absurd! So the whole album shifted.
“It started with the song called ‘Absurd.’ And as is the case with my mind, a little thing like the contrast between a beautiful, sunny spring day with fresh buds and birds and regrowth and rebirth, and the evil leafblower, got my mind onto the topic of how humans got to this reality – and deeper into evolution. And then also the death of one of our area’s most compassionate and inspiring people, Doug Ruhe, brought on some other songs. ‘A Sparrow’s Soul’ came to me from thinking about where Doug was headed. And I roped in his daughter Shamsi to sing ‘Stand with Me’ and his son Jamal to master the whole record.” Jones dedicated his album “to Doug Ruhe and everyone else working for peace and evolution.”
On the lighter side, have you seen the adorable and humorous, letter-writing-inspiring video of his funky song “Snail Mail”? And I definitely had a lot of fun listening to “Prehensile Grip”: “‘Would we ever have become the top of the food chain without it?”
Jones creates sincere music: The kid-oriented Dog on Fleas albums are fresh and playful, with songs that tend to reflect a childlike way of experiencing the world, such as the series of code words that he references in “Cranberry Sauce Flotilla,” or giving a thoughtful twist to traditional songs and stories like “Big Black Snake.” He makes such good music while maintaining a lightness of spirit that just makes me want to listen to more; and his collaborations – like with Shamsi Ruhe, Eli McNamara and Marianne Tasick (you know her from the Sweet Clementines) among many others – bring added dimension to the compositions. Jones’s solo albums go even further into exploring sounds and textures and clever lyrics, conveying questions, thoughts and ideas about our very existence, rallying us together with deeper connectedness like “I Feel Like I Live in a Dream” and “Stand with Me.”
But Jones walks the talk, too: After the Haitian earthquake in January 2012, he was inspired to produce an album to support the Haitian people, which resulted in Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti, the proceeds of which go to Haitian relief efforts. This unique collection features songs by different artists including Pete Seeger, Elizabeth Mitchell, Dan Zanes, Gustafer Yellowgold, Grenadilla, They Might Be Giants and many more. Jones believes what he sings about, loves what he sings about and lives it. And by sharing it with the rest of us, the world is better for it.
When the World Was New comes out on Mothers’ Day, May 12, and is available online at CDBaby, bigkids.com and dogonfleas.com for $12.97 or $9.99 digitally, as well as at local retailers such as Rhino Records and Enchanted Toys in New Paltz. For more information, visit www.dogonfleas.com
High school jazz musicians join Aaron Diehl Ensemble onstage at UPAC
Speaking of great music, celebrated jazz pianist and composer Aaron Diehl credits his beginnings in jazz to his grandfather who played trombone and piano, and to his friend Eldar Djangirov, whom he saw perform jazz at Interlochen when Djangirov was 13. I imagine that influence of seeing a peer perform, coupled with Diehl’s belief that “Jazz is, or should be, a living, breathing language,” undergirds his commitment to youth in our community.
Diehl has led master classes with Kingston Middle and High Schools for the past year, and this Thursday, May 9 at 2 p.m. at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC), he and the students are doing a concert together. The Center for Creative Education in Kingston, UPAC and the Catskill Jazz Factory present the Aaron Diehl Ensemble performing with the Kingston High School Jazz Band and the Kingston High School Jazz Ensemble. Tickets cost $6 and may be purchased in person or in advance at (845) 339-6088.
UPAC is located at 601 Broadway in Kingston. For tickets or more information, call (845) 339-6088 or visit www.bardavon.org. To learn more about this dynamic program and the musicians, visit www.catskilljazzfactory.org and www.aarondiehl.com.
Short films by Flickbook Studio artists with Tofu Decoy and the Lighthouse performing at Fiberflame
Mark your calendars for another showcase featuring some very talented youth: “Reel Voices: An Evening of Video & Music” on Saturday, May 11. The doors at FiberFlame Studio open at 6:30 p.m. for a family-friendly evening of Flickbook Studio stop-motion animation and short films by students and local artists, and live performances by two local youth bands: Tofu Decoy and the Lighthouse.
I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Flickbook Studio, so I know that the participants seem to love it, but I asked Flickbook Studio owner Keiko Sono about the joy that she experiences doing this work: “Laughter. We are constantly laughing out loud in our studio, regardless of age. Especially the moment when we first play back our clip – that is always magical. Their eyes widen, and they break out huge smiles, from 6 to 63 (the age range I’ve had so far). It’s always pretty silly, but there is something about stop-motion animation. The process is slow and the result is pretty crude, with a definite homemade feel, but there is an irresistible charm about it. I also like the fact that it combines hands-on artmaking with the convenience of digital organization, and instant gratification of sharing online. Now that we are transitioning from a kids’ workshop to a community video production team, I find tremendous pleasure in working with artists of all ages.”
Screenings of stop-animation by Flickbook Studio youth will show the work of: Hudson Cherrit, 8 (Rhinebeck); Giona Kleinberg, 12 (Saugerties); Jaea Kleinberg, 12 (Saugerties); Sadie Reeds, 12 (Saugerties); Marlon DuBois, 12 (Woodstock); Wyatt Shakespeare, 16 (Goshen); and Etolie Steinlage, 10 (Saugerties). Short clips by these local artists will be screened as well: Christy Rupp, Beth Humphrey, Jacinta Bunnell, Neal Hollinger and Polly Law.
Shea Lord-Farmer, co-owner of FiberFlame Studio, shared: “We are thrilled to be partnering with another woman-owned business right down the road. We love that both businesses are bringing new energy to this stretch of 212 between Saugerties and Woodstock: the stretch we fondly refer to as Saugerstock. This is also the first time we’ll be using our film screen to showcase locally produced film, and think it is fantastic that the works of young filmmakers are the first to be featured on our screen!”
In addition to great video and delicious food available for purchase outside from Tin Cantina, there’s terrific live music: Tofu Decoy, whose members are Lucia Legnini, 9th grade at Onteora; Dante Kanter, 7th grade at Woodstock Day School; and Jack Warren, 9th grade at Onteora; and the Lighthouse, the Kerhonkson-based group who just won First Prize at the recent Battle of the Bands contest that I mentioned here in Kids’ Almanac a few weeks ago. The Lighthouse band musicians are Matt Conde, Andrew Cymbal, Ihor Shuhan and Paul Maczaj, all from Rondout High School. Inspire your family and support these youth for only $5 per ticket. FiberFlame is located at 1776 Route 212 in Saugerties. For more information, call (845) 679-6132 or visit www.fiberflamestudio.com or https://flickbookstudio.com. To learn more about the musicians, visit their respective pages on www.facebook.com.