Perennials: 1 Band. 1 Year. 52 Songs. 12 Charities.
Midland Beach, Staten Island - 11/4/12
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"When we were younger, we always wanted to change the world - we thought we could. But now I think we're smart enough to know that we're just here to help the neighborhood." - Rick Danko (The Band)
This week's dispatch comes from Jonny, who, like the rest of JSS, has been trying to make sense of last week's events and hopes to help in some way all of those suffering on account of the hurricane. We're featuring two different organizations this month, rather than our typical one. Please take a look at Jonny's note about these great causes and then check out the backstory for today's release, Lost My Shadow :
It's been a week since Sandy and thousands of people still need help. Parts of Staten Island, the Jersey Shore, and the Rockaways resemble war zones and thousands of people in places like Red Hook are still without power and heat.
A little bit on Red Hook in particular: It's a neighborhood in South Brooklyn and is a 10 minute walk from my house. It's one of my favorite places in NYC and I seem to find myself there every weekend, taking a walk, sitting out the pier at Ft. Defiance (or at the restaurant by the same name), and most consistently, playing the weekly bluegrass jam at Sunny's Bar on Saturday night until they kick us out.
Sandy really messed up this amazing place. The Red Hook Houses (Brooklyn's largest Public Housing Development and home to 5000 residents) is still without power and heat and it's getting colder here. The local businesses were badly flooded and are still closed. I spent the last few days volunteering at Red Hook Initiative (see below) and Staten Island and have been humbled and inspired by the kindness of everyone I've seen helping each other out.
As a band, we're lucky to have our little "Perennials" project because it gives us a chance to get some music out there and direct people to causes that we feel personally connected to. Here are a couple that we wanted to spotlight this month:
Featured Charity of the Week = Red Hook Initiative:
In 2002 the Red Hook Health Initiative began as a program of a local hospital, in response to the severity of health and social issues in Red Hook. Over the last decade they have developed into a well-regarded community-based institution and have been absolutely necessary to the Sandy recovery effort by serving hot food, sending deliveries of supplies to homebound folks, and coordinating the volunteering effort in the neighborhood.
Featured Charity of the Month = Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
This weekend is Veteran's Day and when we conceived "Perennials" and hand-picked our favorite non-profits, IAVA was at the top of the list. Something we can all agree on as Americans is that it's our duty to make sure we do everything we can to take care of our Veterans when they return home. IAVA is the first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. With over 200,000 Member Veterans and supporters nationwide, IAVA strives to build the New Greatest Generation. They are also coordinating Sandy relief efforts in NY/NJ this weekend after the Veteran's Day parade so check out www.iava.org for specifics.
And now to the music...
Story Behind The Song = "Lost My Shadow" f. Liadain Clancy
I started this song in Edinburgh, Scotland of all places in May. I had never been there and literally got off the train, dropped off my bags, sat down to eat, and just started writing. Something about the city felt familiar - I immediately found a folk jam to play at that night, folks were super nice, and the air was crisp and briny. It was the weekend of the Edinburgh marathon and the entire weekend, the city was overtaken by runners in the streets. And the weather was beautiful (a rarity in Scotland…)
But I was going through a rough patch at the time and despite this pristine day, found myself in an old dark restaurant writing what at the time was a really sad song. I felt lost, exhausted, and generally not myself. But every time I looked up, I saw the sun shining in through the window - calling me outside to enjoy this amazing city (which I eventually did.)
I didn't finish the song on the trip but when I returned home, I did one of my favorite things in NYC - especially when writing. I walked to aforementioned Red Hook, ate breakfast at Ft. Defiance, and took the water taxi to lower Manhattan. Then I jumped on the Staten Island ferry and rode it back and forth while finishing up the tune. Then Danny and I went to Sunny's and played bluegrass until they kicked us out… In other words, a nice little Saturday.
Paul sent out the final mix Sunday night as I was walking home after spending this weekend in Red Hook and Staten Island and it felt like hearing it for the first time. Maybe it was seeing the NY Marathoners running around Staten Island helping folks out. Maybe it was the sight of an empty, gutted Ft. Defiance and a flooded Sunny's but seeing the neighborhood rally to help clean up and restore the hood. Maybe it was meeting a retired NYPD detective who just lost his house but was out there still helping his neighbors. But it was probably the same thing I saw in Edinburgh - a little sunshine shining through the window, reminding me that everything is gonna be ok…
*** Special thanks to the amazingly talented Liadain Clancy, who lends her beautiful voice to this tune. Liadain is true blue - a dear friend who has been singing professionally since she was 4 with the Clancy Tradition. We recorded her parts at Sloan Wainwright's studio in Katonah, NY (thanks Sloan!)