"High Tea for Poets" in final production...
Because I will be touring some behind the new CD, I am choosing to delay its release until winter with the plan to safely and reliably get out and play these new songs throughout the summer and fall of 2023. I'm so sorry for the delay, but it is for the best.
Meanwhile, we have shot most of the videos for "Big Switch" and "How I Became a Ghost," with plans in the works for two more, likely "Pareidolia" and "Remembrance Day." The first two will be published just prior to the record release.
About "High Tea for Poets" ...
I did not intend to write a record so directly involved with death and its reverberations; it just sort of happened. High Tea for Poets is in fact a record about life and possibility in death's long shadow. Think of it as "a happy little record about death."
The title "High Tea for Poets" comes from a line in my song "Love at the Funeral":
It's high tea for second-line poets and takers
Love be a safe house tonight
Love make these dark hearts right
The losses in death are of course many. What interests me most is what we, the living, do with it. Death is never far away for any of us, whether its threat is personal and immediate or merely gently reminding of its inevitability from a pleasing distance. Some of these songs are earnest, some comical; my hope is that all are restorative.
You can click the site player below to preview "Pareidolia" and "How I Became a Ghost" as you read...
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 my usual contributions 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 Hoosiers Ron Kadish and Keith Skooglund anchor on upright bass and additional guitars. Songs include Big Switch, Pareidolia, How I Became a Ghost, Remembrance Day, Fear, Indiana, Love at the Funeral, I'm So Anxious (bluegrass take on Southside Johnny oldie!), Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us (Sam Phillips cover), and Something New.
Jeff Pens Official Bloomington, Ind. Community Song
(June 1, 2018) -- 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.