Vincent

“I’ll never amount to anything  

as an artist … I am sure of it.”    

Vincent van Gogh
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Dear Friends,

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Here we are, over 100 days in and 100,000 gone. It seems like the first week of March was just here and everything seemed fine. Off in the distance, buried deep in the news feeds was a story about China, something about a virus. Like many of you, I could not conceive our world … health wise, community wise and economically … would be turned upside down for so long.
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Here we are. Social distancing, hand washing, living in a new society where going into a bank with a facemask is not only encouraged but appreciated. A couple of months ago you might have been handcuffed.
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Here we are. My musician friends staring at their calendars with deleted concerts, empty entrees, empty months, empty futures and a collection of unused and unusable deposit slips.

“We must be the change  

we wish to see in the world.”

Gandhi
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I’ve been staying very busy, how about you? I think I have power washed, stained, rebuilt, maintained and cleaned up every square inch of this log cabin. I’ve polished, changed strings and treated the finger boards of all my long neck banjos and Martin guitars. I’ve created 6 different oil paintings, started writing my third movie script for The Painter (imagine Vincent van Gogh returning in 2020 to see his work, once so reviled, globally revered)
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But still, here we are. Volume 50 of the Acoustic Rainbow was released to radio featuring singled from 16 new album including the new single by the legendary Judy Collins. Hard to believe, but we produced and released 50 of these suckers (AcousticRainbow.com )
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The Legacy album is still going strong, fans are still trying to identify all the artists referred to in the song. It is being called the America Pie of the 21st Century, certainly high praise. I was listening in to a commercial rock station as they got ready to air an interview I did with them and they actually played American Pie and Legacy back-to-back … 15 minutes of commercial radio time for just two songs. (MichaelJohnathon.com/LegacyCD )
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SongFarmers are still here, an incredible creative board and a spectacular community of front porch minded musicians. Over 73 active chapters were flourishing when the virus hit. Everyone is patiently waiting, hoping things will open up soon so they can again gather as friends and families, singing and playing and bringing their home towns together in song. Many of you know I have a strong interest in America’s “front porch.” Some think I sound like a snake oil salesman when I talk about it, but since there is $0 in it for me or anyone else, I will preach away because it is truly important to me (SongFarmers.org )
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Highbridge Spring Water is sticking with the Troubadour Concert Series. What an amazing home town company, lover of the arts and community minded business. They are champions of the region they love, Kentucky is their home and they are committed to keeping the arts alive. Connie Harrison, Corday Piston, Rick Rushing and the other long time volunteers are ready, hoping and waiting for the day we can begin presenting national level concerts at the Opera House, Lyric Theatre and the Castle (TroubaShow.com )
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And here we are, the amazing WoodSongs crew sticking together, waiting day by day for some glimmer of news that the show will actually be back in production. Because of the very long shelf life of the program, WoodSongs has been one of the very few syndicated shows sending brand new content to radio stations during the crisis. Because so many stations had to furlough employees, WoodSongs has been picked up by many new affiliates including Spokane Public Broadcasting in Washington, a huge family of stations across southern Illinois and many others. But none of this could be possible without so many of the crew, led by Bryan Klausing, Isaac May, Mark Thompson and Jerome Gallt, keeping the shows alive and fed to the affiliates.

“We are coming to understand that the arts incarnate the creativity of a free people. When the creative impulse cannot flourish, when it cannot freely select its methods, when it is deprived of spontaneity, then society severs the root of art.” 

John F Kennedy
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And how grateful we are to the many partners and supporters of WoodSongs. Did you know that VisitLEX has single handedly kept to national PBS broadcast of WoodSongs on the air for nearly 15 years? How grateful we are to them, and how exciting that our home town radio/TV show has a great hometown partner. They kept us going and will keep us going when we all come back. Here’s the list of restaurants that would rote sending meals for upwards of 40 people, crew and artists, week after week for 1000 shows all free of charge. If you love WoodSongs, order some carry out from one of them soon:
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Azur Restaurant & Patio, Bourbon N’ Toulouse, Dupree Catering, Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken, Lexington Diner, Pasta Garage, Stella’s Kentucky Deli, Ranada’s Bistro, Johnny Carinos, Highbridge Spring Water, Nate’s Coffee, City Bar-B-Q, Oscar Diggs
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And we can’t invite all the artists from around the world to visit Lexington to be on WoodSongs … for free … unless we could welcome them with comfortable lodging. That is where the hotels of the Bluegrass Hospitality Association became one of our most important partners. Every week, they took turns giving the artists … whether Tommy Emmanuel or Bela Fleck, the Mavericks or an unknown artists … comfortable accommodations. For free.
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The Campbell House Curio, Clarion Hotel Conference Center North, Courtyard Marriott Lexington North, DoubleTree Suites Lexington by Hilton, Embassy Suites at Lexington Green, Embassy Suites Lexington / UK Coldstream, Griffin Gate Marriott Resort, Hampton Inn I-75 Lexington/Hamburg, Hilton Lexington/Downtown Hotel, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Northeast, Hyatt Regency Lexington, Residence Inn Lexington South/Hamburg, The Sire Hotel, TownePlace Suites Lexington Keeneland/Airport, 21c Museum Hotel

“To have great artists,  

there must be great audiences.” 

Walt Whitman

Van Gogh never really thought he would amount to much. Thoreau thought he was a failure as a writer. Normon Rockwell would never call himself an artist because he felt he wasn’t good enough.
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I mention all of this to show how much work goes into any enterprise of the arts. Every album, every song, every script, every project, every concert, every book, every partner, every relationship takes tremendous care, patience and kindness to develope. And to keep intact.
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And yet it can all be so easily, quickly, tragically destroyed. By a virus. By time.
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By gossip.
But here we are … we are still here.
Protect the arts by protecting the artists.  
 
Protect the arts by supporting those  
who support the arts. 
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Be part of what you can. Visit a local shop or cafe. Become a WoodSongs Partner, join the SongFarmers community. Buy a CD from an artist you like.
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Stay safe. Stay busy … and wash your hands after every song 🙂
Michael Johnathon

from the Log Cabin

 

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