power of music

Singing the Truth – Bob Dylan’s Words of Wisdom

– from Bev

In one of the non-televised ceremonies of Grammy Weekend, Bob Dylan was honored s Person of the Year by MusicCares – the arm of NARAS (the Grammy organization) that provides financial assistance to working musicians with healthcare needs.

The full transcript of Bob’s speech is here, full of anecdotes, acknowledgements of acts that propelled his career forward and words of wisdom about songwriting


Sometimes the Truth Just Isn’t Pretty

truthDylan lamented a bit about the critics who have fixated on his raspy voice, talking his way through songs. He related a story about when Sam Cooke was told he had a beautiful voice. He said: “Well that’s very kind of you, but voices ought not to be measured by how pretty they are. Instead they matter only if they convince you that they are telling the truth.”

Be still my heart. That truth – that’s what I long to hear in a performance. Its what I hope I’m remembered for. The truth doesn’t mean it really happened. It just means you believe it.

All the vocal calisthenics heard on American Idol, and in virtually every pre-game performance of the national anthem, just leave me cold. Greg says “there’s no there there.”

I can close my eyes and remember a handful of magical musical performances – I can hear them in my mind. One, is songwriter Allen Shamblin singing I Can’t Make You Love Me – the hit he co-wrote with Mike Reid, made popular by Bonnie Raitt. Allen isn’t a great singer. But everyone in that small coffeehouse in San Jose ten years ago knew we were hearing the truth.

And don’t get me wrong, beautiful voices can sing the truth – beautifully. At the Folk Alliance International Conference several years ago, Greg and I were walking through the crowded, noisy hall way between myriad rooms of ‘official showcase’ performances. We walked into one room and heard Canadian songwriter John Wort Hannam sing this song and it just melted us both.


Striving for Truth

Our friend and fabulous songwriter Cosy Sheridan said this of Greg and I several years ago, when we asked her for a quote:

“In a world of fast food and empty calories, Bev and Greg speak their truth and do it well.”

Words we strive to live up to.

Honoring the Forgotten

Greg - HomeFirst MemorialSanta Clara County-based HomeFirst envisions a community where everyone has a home.

However, dying on the street happens with far too much regularity. An annual memorial organized by Homefirst is intended to put names to the numbers, and provide dignity and closure to those who died homeless. Homefirst has organized this memorial annually since 1999, and since then 793 homeless have been remembered. The silver lining is that the annual toll has been trending downward in recent years — dropping from a high of 81 in 2008 to 33 this year.

Greg was asked to share a song at this year’s memorial, and he chose Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic. He’d sung it in 2012 for the memorial of his friend and band mate Bruce Bruckelmeyer, and it seemed a fitting tribute both to Bruce, and to those remembered here.

Read more and see more photos in the Bay Area News Group article.

The names of 28 men and five women slowly were read. Their average age was 56. Causes of death were not listed. But living on the streets was, at the very least, a contributing factor for all of them. Candles, placed in the shape of a heart, flickered for each one.

John Beech, 55, 10/6/2014
Daniel Brillhart, 52, 11/28/2013
Gloria Bush, 72, 11/28/2013
Scotty Davis, 55
David DeLima, 61, 11/19/2013
Dionne Douglas, 47, 6/20/2014
Edward Garcia, 59, 2/6/2014
Manfred Geister, 57
Valerie “Bunny” Good, 73, 4/24/2014
William Graham, 70, 6/19/2014
Andrew Greenleaf, 48, 12/5/2013
Oscar Gutierrez, 38, 3/5/2014
Phillip Haughton, 56, 3/1/2014
Darrell Howington, 49, 11/1/2014
Joseph Indalecio, 56, 12/30/2013
Craig Jackson, 54, 5/9/2014
David Kibbe, 52, 3/13/2014
Jeffrey Knipp, 49
Jeffrey Lim, 56, 7/30/2014
Glenn Masuda, 57, 12/27/2013
George Merino, 50, 3/3/2014
Daniel Moore, 53, 12/5/2014
Sheree Mullin, 38, 2/7/2014
Patricia Orozco, 54, 8/19/2014
Robert Pelech, 51, 3/31/2014
Troy Reichman, 46, 12/20/2013
Steven Ritesman, 57, 5/26/2014
Enrique Rubio, 56, 12/4/2013
David Sanchez, 58, 10/10/2014
Stanley Saso, 59, 4/24/2014
Larry Vallejos, 69
Harold Vaughn, 61, 1/30/2014
Judy West, 68, 10/30/2014

Keeping the Pirate Flag Flying

by Bev Barnett

I subscribe to Chris Brogan’s weekly emails. They are free – I highly recommend subscribing. Chris says that as independent entrepreneurs, whether we are musicians, software designers or coffee shop owners, our job is to focus on keeping the pirate flag flying. Its not to go after the fleet.

LoveflagI might change that slightly to say our job is to keep the love flag flying. To keep the music coming. To make sure that we not only creating great music, but that we are mindful about creating a sustainable existence so we can continue to serve our community and create more music, more love.

Our friends Roman Morykit and Cilette Swann – Gypsy Soul – are in the middle of an IndieGoGo fan funding campaign to not only fund their next CD release, but to launch the next phase of service to their community. To create more awareness for the causes they support. To educate other independent musicians based on what they’ve learned.

They are asking for help to keep their love flag flying. Click here to find out how you can help.


Our Season of Dreaming

This is the season of darkness, but not of gloom. It is the season of cold, but not of bitterness.

In the Spring, the trees – and all of nature – are in their glory. The leaves dance, the blossoms sing and if we listen, they have so much to tell us.

Season-of-DreamingBut in the darkness of winter, if we ask the trees for their wisdom, they might just answer….

“This is our season of dreaming. 
We will speak again in Spring,
when it is warm, and we have leaves.”
-Wayne Porter

Bev’s friend Wayne posted this photo on Facebook earlier this month, taken with a three-year-old cell phone near his home in Ohio. She casually posted a comment on the photo… “what are trees saying to you?” He responded with this beautiful verse, and we wrote the song within the next two hours.

Wish wish you the happiest of holidays, and all that you dream of ….


Happy Anniversary to Us! How Love has Changed Our World

weddingAugust 24, 2012 is our tenth wedding anniversary. This photo is of us exchanging our vows – singing Buddy & Julie Millers’ Holding up the Sky. We started to write our own, but couldn’t’ have said it better than they already did.

Wow. Ten years.

It seems silly to say, but it has truly taken everything  we’ve have been, and every circumstance we’ve each been through to become who we are.  Our love for each other has inspired and spilled over into the love we feel for everyone and everything in our lives. Our deep love for our children (and now our new grandson)… for people of all cultures, faiths, and lifestyles… for the things and circumstances that have forced us to grow… for friends with whom we disagree, but love for who they are.

Love is a very powerful thing. And make no mistake, love changes the way we look at the world and everything around us. We are all love, because love is all there is.

Our gift to you, in celebration of our ten years together, is a free download of our love song, Sonnet.

Just click Download to get to the download page then click Buy Now and enter zero (0) for the amount. You’ll see the green download button. No email address required, its just our gift.

Here’s a video of a live, acoustic version of Sonnet from earlier this year, at Russ & Julie’s House Concerts.


Bev & Greg

Loving Colorado and Dreaming of Rain, a gift from Jan Garrett & JD Martin

Its all over the news, Colorado is being hit by heat, extreme low humidity and the worst wildfire season in its history.

Colorado is near and dear to our hearts for many reasons. Greg lived and played music in the Aspen area during the late 1970s, and that experience had a big influence on hint of country rock that seeps into the songs we write today.

We also have a lot of friends in Colorado. We were just there this past weekend for a music conference, and witnessed first hand what it’s like to be anywhere close to a raging wildfire. When we drove north from the Denver area last Monday, we didn’t get clear of the eye-stinging, throat parching smoke until we were half way through Wyoming.

Since we’ve been back we’ve been seeing the heart breaking images of the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs, and we’re gratefully getting reports via Facebook that the Flagstaff Fire near Boulder was largely contained and didn’t force friends from their homes. And we’re hoping that our friends near Ft. Collins are safe from the High Park Fire that started just West of there more than a week ago.

The people of Colorado are doing what people do… raising funds to help the displaced families, housing evacuees, praising the firemen. Help Colorado Now is a new Web site sponsored by the Colorado Department of Emergency Management and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. Its a good place to start, to determine how you can best help.

Dreaming of Rain

Here’s something everyone can do. Dream of rain for Colorado. A lush, drenching, cleansing rain.

Several years ago, our friends Jan Garrett and JD Martin recorded a beautiful song called “I Dreamed of Rain.”  It began as a poem that Jan wrote in the midst of the devastating Colorado wildfires ten years ago… “I dreamed of rain, and then it rained for real and even the pictures on the wall looked fresher, the colors washed clean…”

They  have been known the perform this song in drought-ridden areas, to find at the end of the evening that it has indeed begun to rain.Visioning is a powerful thing.

Jan and JD are gifting this song to you, to us, to everyone… to dream, sing and dance for rain. Download it at the link below. You’ll also be able to download the original poem and the story behind the song. Spread it wide, and please dream of rain for Colorado.





Teachers: their love changes the world every day, and Donors Choose helps you help them

Robert Pronovost is a second grade teacher at Belle Haven Elementary, a San Francisco Bay Area high poverty school that sits in the shadow of Facebook, Google and Apple. He’s a strong proponent of effectively using technology in his classroom – he has a classroom set of iPod touches, Macbooks and iPads.  And they weren’t donated by those high powered Silicon Valley Companies – they were donated by caring individuals, through DonorsChoose.org.

So given all that technology, what did Mr. Provonost do over Spring Break last year? Well, it really wasn’t all that technical, but it certainly shows a creativity and love for teaching. As soon as the last student left the classroom, he started sanding. Each desk. He sanded, primed, sanded, primed and sanded again… then painted the desks, work tables and the door with white board paint.

Why? So his students could write on their desks. That’s right. He WANTS them to write on their desks.

Since then, the magical things have happened – all from a decidedly non-technical change to Mr. Pronovosts’ classroom. Read more about it on here on his blog.

It may not have been a technology project, but whiteboard paint isn’t exactly cheap – this was another project that was funded by Donors Choose.

There are thousands of projects, with more being posted daily. Whether you want to support a school in your own backyard or across the country – whether you believe in funding academics or arts – there is something that will pique your interest on the Donors Choose Web site.

So why not start shopping now? Thousands of teachers post projects to donors choose, so there’s no shortage of options for you if you’d like to help a teacher fulfill a dream for his or her classroom.

We’ve just contributed to Mrs. Antilla”s plan to teacher her class music this year at Canterbury Elementary School in Arleta, California. She’s fund raising for recorders and music books for her classroom on Donors Choose and she’s got less than $50 to go.  All donors get thank you notes from the project teacher – the person who completes the project with the last donation required gets a whole slew of thank you knows from the students. C’mon… just think about opening that package with all those wonderful notes of gratitude.

CLICK HERE to complete Mrs. Antilla’s Music Education Project. Put those recorders in those little hands, and let’s just see what happens!


Calico Heart

Sometimes the love that can change the world is as simple as a waltz.

We love our friends from Americana band Houston Jones, and we loved singing this song, written by Chris Kee, with Travis Jones and Glenn Houston during our TrueWind Tuesday Webcast on January 24.

When you know you can’t do it all

“Will you stand by and do nothing, because you cannot do it all…”
– Ellen Stapenhorst

We delivered 25 coats and $110 in cash donations to Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose after our November 13 concert and One Warm Coat Drive here in Santa Clara California.

But when there are so many large and very successful One Warm Coat drives underway all around us, we were tempted to feel like we hadn’t done enough. We hadn’t managed to motivate thousands – or even hundreds – of people to donate, after all.

Then, on the way home, we thought of a song written by our friend Ellen Stapenhorst. Ellen sang the song at the Artichoke Music concert we shared with her in Portland at the beginning of November.

If not you, then who?
If not now, then when?
Will you stand by and do nothing, because you cannot do it all…

We can’t do it all, none of us can. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do SOMETHING.

The folks at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church know that as well. For the past 24 years, they have hosted an Alternative Gift Fair on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, through Alternative Gifts International. Last year,  Sunnyvale Presbyterian represented the largest AGI donor group in the US.

Our friends at Sunnyvale Pres invited us to provide musical inspiration at this year’s Alternative Gift Fair services on November 27, along with several other outstanding musicians. We were so thrilled to sing “There’s a Light,” but as is typical, we were the ones who ended up being inspired.

Alternative Gifts International offers a way for each of us to give a gift of life and hope, in the name of those on our gift list. And large or small, when these gifts are collected they make a real difference in the lives of people all over the world. For example, a hen for a child in Bolivia is just $27. A solar oven for a family in The Gambia is $17. A book for a library in Nicaragua is $6. Groceries for homeless family in the US or Canada for one week is $45. Legal fees for a girl rescued from sexual slavery in India are $77, and 1 day of post court care is $44.

Love Without BoundariesHere’s one that spoke to us.  Love Without Boundaries has been providing high-quality infant formula to orphaned children in China since 2003, with dramatic results. When children are fed high-quality formula, all aspects of their health improve. In addition, specialized formula is provided to orphans with specific needs, such as premature infants and those who fail to thrive, saving the lives of many vulnerable babies each year.

Through Alternative Gifts International, you can donate 1 case of high-quality formula for $110. Or, you can donate one week’s worth of formula for $8. Perhaps you can’t afford to purchase a case, but why not purchase a week’s worth? For the infant who gets that formula for that week, that is enough.

We can’t do it all ourselves, but we can find ways to do what we can. Click here to donate to Health and Hope for Infants in China and to find out about all the projects you can support through Alternative Gifts International.

Listening to Our Own Words: Love Can Change The World CD Release Nov. 13

Our new CD, Love Can Change The World, has been out for a little over a month. Airplay around the US and in Europe is increasing, and we’re getting wonderful feedback on the songs, arrangements, production, and most importantly, the message.

A few months ago, we were on track to orchestrate a BIG CD release event here in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were looking at renting a theater, creating a plan for sponsorship, dreaming about sets and banners and using the BIG lights… you get the picture.

Then, we remembered what this collection of songs is really about. It reflects where we are – where a lot of us are – in our lives. It’s about simplification. It’s about paying attention to what’s important. It’s about being grateful for the love in our lives. It’s about understanding that what we already have is exactly what we need. It’s about recognizing that all around us – from the poorest village in Africa to right here in the Bay Area – there are children who are hungry. People who are cold. Families who need help.

So, we’re celebrating the release of Love Can Change The World on a smaller stage, at Mission City Coffee Roasting in Santa Clara California. And we’re combining it with a One Warm Coat drive to benefit Sacred Heart Community Services in San Jose. This alone won’t change the world, but it’s something we can do, to start.

7:00 pm Sunday November 13, 2011
Doors open at 6:30 for dinner, seating and coat donations

Mission City Coffee Roasting Company
2221 The Alameda, Santa Clara California

Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon, with Dan Robbins on bass, John Hasty on drums, Dave Allender on guitar and Deborah Thacker on harmony vocals

We are not selling tickets in advance, but reservations are highly recommended as this is an intimate listening room.


We’re offering two ticket choices, payable by cash or check at the door:

$10 plus the donation of One Warm Coat (or more)
$20, which includes a $10 donation to Sacred Heart Community Services

If you’re in the Bay Area, we hope you can join us. Love CAN change the world, and we all can play a part.

Spook Handy’s Canadian Border Crossing

Here’s a fun story from New Jersey-based folk singer Spook Handy.  Spook had a house concert tour scheduled in Canada recently that had been set up by a non-profit group called Home Routes, and his story affords a first hand look at border crossing as an event between two people, rather than between two faceless countries.

We belong to several email discussion lists for musicians, music presenters and others sharing issues from working in new media to touring. A few weeks back, Spook asked for help on the Folk Alliance list, because he wanted to make sure he had is ducks in a row with right paperwork to take his CDs into the country. There are specific rules for taking product for sale into Canada – and most countries in fact.

We’ll, Spook got a lot of advice on the list – and a couple phone calls from friends who actually knew what they were talking about. The bottom line was, no matter how big or small your operation, you need to get the paperwork in order. And the next word of advice was to  just be honest. Don’t try to scam anything, its not worth it.

This was right up Spook’s alley – he’s a pretty straight shooter.

Spook’s  most recent release, Whatcha Gonna Do is all about encouraging individuals to make a difference in the world. Check out Spook’s Whatcha Gonna Do page and send him your suggestions… as he says,

People all over say they want to live in a better world. I believe it is up to us as individuals to make a difference and not depend on someone else to do it for us.

Back to the story. Spook obviously walks the walk. In this case, he walked it right into Canada. In a time when we see and experience fear all around us – especially at our borders – we just loved  Spook’s account of his Canadian border crossing, used here with his permission:

I successfully crossed the border but not without trepidation.  I told the guard I was here to work – to play house concerts and she sent me into immigration.  There, an unhappy fellow asked me the purpose of my visit.  I said to play house concerts.

“What’s a house concert?”

“People gather at someone’s home and sit around listening to and singing songs.”

“Are you doing this for money?”


“Do you make a living doing this?

I didn’t know how to answer that.

“What’s your definition of making a living?”

He was not amused.

“Where are you playing this concert?”

“In Mississauga”

“Where in Mississauga?”

“At a friend’s house.”

“What’s their names?”

“Umm, I don’t remember.”

“How do you know them?”

“Well, I don’t really.”

Just being totally honest.

“How come your playing music at their house?”

… and on the questioning went.  I told them about Home Routes and the folk music scene.  The fellow asked for my tour book and contract which he read thoroughly.  Then he asked,

“Why would people want to do this?

I paused for a moment.  Do I tell the honest truth?  “Well, we’re a subversive anti-government movement out to brainwash the public with left wing propaganda.”

I decided to tell a slightly different version of the truth:

“Beats me”  I said.

The fellow looked me up and down, handed me my papers and said, “Enjoy Canada.”

We’d love to hear how Canadian songwriters like John Wort Hannam have been treated coming into the US on similar ‘business.’

Building community through music in Santa Barbara

Music has the power to pull people together in community. Ask anyone who has hosted a house concert or volunteered for a music festival or coffeehouse concert series.

In fact, ask Roy Donkin.

Roy remembers the magic of the Eighth Step Coffeehouse in upstate New York – now in its 43rd year. Roy is a musician himself so he knows first hand that music is powerful stuff. Roy is also the pastor of Cambridge Drive Community Church in Goleta California, which has a wonderful commitment to opening its doors to the community.

And if you asked Roy how music can build community he’d probably invite you to to see for yourself, at the first acoustic music event in the Cambridge Drive Concert Series on October 1. We’re incredibly honored to kick off this new concert series in the Santa Barbara area.

Cambridge Drive Concerts presents
Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon
Rebecca Troon opens
Friday Oct. 1, 2010
Cambridge Drive Church
550 Cambridge Drive, Goleta Calif.
Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Call 805 964-0436 for reservations

Follow the Cambridge Drive Concert Series on Facebook