"High Tea for Poets" set for March 1 Release

About "High Tea for Poets" ...

I’m continually moved by what people do when faced with difficulty. High Tea for Poets is a record about the beauty and new life that can emerge from hard times. Some of these songs are earnest, some comical; I hope all are restorative. 

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 
They could feel beautiful 
And find love at the funeral 

You can click the site player below to hear the songs from "High Tea for Poets": 
"Big Switch," about the drive for "one more day" when facing an ending; "Pareidolia," about finding forgiveness after a loss; "How I Became a Ghost," a lighter romp about being devastated by deception; "Remembrance Day," about our need to periodically take time to remember after a loss; "Indiana," about the drive toward a better life; "Love at the Funeral," about the regenerative side of death and its relationship to love; "I'm So Anxious," a bluegrass reworking of the angst-ridden classic by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes; "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," about the muses upon whose shoulders we stand; and "Something New," an embrace of the inevitability and gravitational pull of wanderlust.

The all-acoustic-instrument "High Tea for Poets" features 10 songs 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 Jamey Reid anchor on upright bass and hand percussion.

Jeff Pens Bloomington, Ind. Community Song

BLOOMINGTON, IND. -- 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.

Ride (The Bloomington Song)

I took a ride with the world at my side
Through the hills and the fields and the skies

Where the sun warms that part of my Bloomington heart
Where I hold precious memories apart

It fills and I grow
Like higher things that flower 
In these hills of Monroe
With roots below and room enough to rise

 Won’t you come and ride with me Through these Indiana streets
Past the limestone, the hearth and the home
Where the families of today still remember yesterday
Yes we always remember our way

And so we ride, we don’t race
And we wish this gift of grace for the world
From our Bloomington home.

 Remember when you chased the sun around
Until you finally reached the light?
Your letter said, “Give me the comfort and
The breeze of our Indiana ride.”

 And so we ride, we don’t race
And we wish this gift of grace for the world
From our Bloomington home