Joe Jencks

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Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers

Friday, August 14, 2015

Photo by Jayne Toohey

Dear Friends,

At the end of the Summer of 2009, I received a phone call that changed the course of my life. The sister of my dear friend Jason Larche rang to inform me that he had chosen to end his life. One of his last wishes as expressed in writing, was that I sing at his funeral. Jason and I went back to college theater days, and while he continued very successfully on that path, I applied myself with equal enthusiasm to music. Our friendship, as well as the manner of his passing, left an indelible mark on my life. As a playwright and composer, Jason had a knack for looking at people on the edge, people in transition, people in struggle, people seeking transcendence from suffering and stuck in the difficult places of decision.

In early 2010, I wrote a song in honor of Jason called Going Home. And while the song was written in his memory, it is really a litany of the stories and ideas he would no longer be here to bring forth. It is a piece of music that has inspired the creation of a brand new collection of original Joe Jencks songs and compositions. I am recording these songs along with some thematically complimentary pieces written by a few good friends including Kat Eggleston, Jon Brooks, and the late Jack Hardy.

The new project is titled: Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers.

The songs range from grand cinematic ballads and stories of people who dared to dream and paid a high price, to intimate songs of personal evolution, growth, and transition. The underlying tone of the new record is adventurous and hopeful, while never shying away from the difficult truths of the world in which we live. From the tragedy of 18th century Prison Ships bound for Australia, to a ballad about the Shoah and a small town in the Ukraine called Trochenbrod; from stories about Veterans and PTSD, to a celebration of Pete Seeger and his courage in standing up to HUAC in 1955, the underlying theme of transformation, both personal and societal is evident throughout. Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers, is the most thoughtfully arranged and composed record of my career to date.

In addition to carefully cultivated songs and arrangements including strings, horns, piano, choir and other acoustic instruments, a host of guest artists have lent their time and talents to help bring this to life. Musicians include: Ysaye Barnwell (of Sweet Honey and The Rock), Peggy Seeger, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Tret Fure, Harpeth Rising, Edie Carey, Heather Styka, Jon Carroll, Jim Robeson, Cheryl Prashker, Grace Jencks, Charilie Pilzer, David Glaser, Bob Beach, and Charlie Bernhardt. Most of the recording has been done with Grammy winning engineer, Charlie Pilzer (Airshow Inc., Takoma Park, MD) and it sounds AMAZING!

I am writing to you now, to invite you to be a part of this important project. On the creative side, it has been a community “barn raising.” I now need to ask for your assistance on the financial side to help complete the project and put roof on the proverbial barn. I have been financing this out of pocket thus far; and I am hoping that together we can raise at least another ten thousand dollars that is needed to finish this collection of songs and stories so sacred to my own heart, and others.

The best way you can help is to order copies of the CD in advance. I have set up a crowd-funding website here and as always, checks can also be mailed directly to me. Please send me a note for a mailing address. (

In addition, I have also secured several thousand dollars in Challenge Grants from a few enthusiastic private donors. It’s money on the table and you can help raise an equal amount via crowd-funding to access that support. ­ Please join me in making this a reality.

The result of your generosity will be not only the completion of this CD, but it will also support an outward ripple affect of good deeds. Several of the songs on the project will go out into the world as singles – in support of other communities.

I have been doing work with a group based in Spokane, WA called Warriors Heart to Art. This wonderful organization helps Veterans tell their stories, and integrate their experiences through the arts, as they endeavor to live more fully in spite of their ongoing struggles with Post Traumatic Stress. Your support will allow several thousand copies of a song I wrote with the Veterans called, One Piece At A Time to be distributed free of charge to Veterans across the country by Warriors Heart to Art. In addition, the project’s Bass player, Jim Robeson (a Vietnam Vet) has volunteered his services as a video producer, to create a music video using this song, to help honor the Vets.

A ballad I wrote called Children of Trochenbrod about the insanity of the Shoah / Holocaust, has already been donated as part of the film score for an independent film, called Lost Town. The film is now available on DVD. With your support to complete the project, the song will keep traveling through the communities of descendants, survivors, and allies that we may continue to learn from and avert genocide and hate-crimes (all too present in our world, even still).

Your role in this project will create opportunities to donate other songs for suicide awareness and prevention, mental health awareness, as well as contributing music to several Labor organizations, and to the ACLU for it’s ongoing efforts to defend Civil Rights. Last but not least, several hundred copies of this record will be sent to Folk DJs for their efforts to keep acoustic music alive and well on the airwaves. You are a necessary part of the success of this effort.

None of this can happen without your generosity. Order copies of Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers for yourself and for friends. Order a copy to give to a local radio station or a local library. Please also consider giving a gift of 100 to 1000 dollars. The more money we raise, the more CDs we will be able to give away. Every dollar given beyond the ten thousand needed to complete the project will be spent sharing this work with communities that can benefit from the music. It is a musical portrait of humanity I would very much like to share, in the hopes that music can help heal what is broken in our world. Your generosity is a critical component to begin that healing. And in advance, let me say thank you for your generosity.

This has been a labor of love. Every one of these songs has a story. Every one of the musicians and engineers has donated some or all of their time, in the effort to help bring this project into the world. You are also an integral part of this community. Please feel free to contact me for more information about how you can help bring this record into the world.

In Deepest Gratitude,


Joe Jencks

Turtle Bear Music

updated: 1 week ago