New CD "High Tea for Poets" due this winter!
What a year. The all-acoustic "High Tea for Poets" features 10 songs on death and change accompanied by The Virtual Strangers, a collection of stellar string band players from across the US: In addition to Jeff on vocals and acoustic guitars, there's David Dick on banjo, Sean Staples on mandolin, and Roger WIlliams on dobro, all from New England; from New York Alex Weiss Hills on accordion and piano; from North Carolina Susan Anderson on fiddle; and Hoosier Ron Kadish anchors on upright bass. Songs include Big Switch, Pareidolia, How I Became a Ghost, Fear, Indiana, I'm So Anxious (bluegrass take on Southside Johnny oldie!), Love at the Funeral, Remembrance Day, Something New, and Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us (Sam Phillips cover). For a preview, look for Pareidolia and How I Became a Ghost on the site player.
"Ride" - The Bloomington Community Song
Jeff Pens Official Bloomington, Ind. Community Song
I'm proud to announce that today the City of Bloomington, ind., my home for the last 22 years, released to the public my song "Ride," which I was commissioned to write in honor of the city's bicentennial. You can find official audio and sheet music versions of the song, from full-band to solo acoustic, from piano-vocal to choir, from orchestra to concert band to marching band, at bloomingtoncommunitysong.com.
I've been overwhelmed by the amount of community support I've received around this project since penning the song last Spring. To date more than 35 other artists have participated in its many parts My goal was to capture in song the fertility of our amazing city and its unique progressive-traditional tension. My wife and others have told me stories over the years about how important are their memories of going for a "ride" with a parent as a child and the continuing importance of the memory to this day. The image stuck with me, and ultimately inspired this song, which celebrates the idea that here life is a ride, not a race.
My hope is that the song will become a permanent part of the local cultural landscape, and will perhaps help to preserve those values.