Fall 2023 Tour Dates & Thoughts on Radical Hospitality
Friday, September 29, 2023
Dear Friends in Music,
It has been far too long since I have written, and that means it was a busy summer and early fall. Among the highlights of the last few months were multiple Mainstage sets at the Falcon Ridge Folk Fest (and getting to meet and talk with Livingston Taylor about songwriting). And, teaching at the Pinewoods (Music & Dance) Camp in Plymouth, MA; as well as a wonderful tour in Ireland, from which I have just returned.
I have some great concerts coming up this fall, as well as some much-needed time at home to catch up on admin, start work in the studio on my next album, and ground myself with some good sleep, home cooked meals, morning meditation, and regular visits to the gym. FAB.
Upcoming concerts include:
9-30-29 ~ The Linden Tree Coffee House, Wakefield, MA
10-7-23 ~ Oktoberfest, Sauganash Community Church in Chicago, IL
(Sharing the afternoon with Jenny Bienemann & Kaia Fowler)
10-11-23 ~ Daily Antidote of Song ~ Song-leader (Online)
10-27-23 ~ Swallow Hill Concert Association, Denver, CO
10-29-23 ~ Quantum Arts Presents, Ft. Collins, CO
11-2-23 ~ Joe Jencks & Deidre McCalla at Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem, PA
11-4-23 ~ Joe Jencks & Deidre McCalla at The 8th Step (at Proctors), Schenectady, NY
11-5-23 ~ Joe Jencks & Deidre McCalla at The UU Society of Springfield, MA
11-16-23 ~ Oak Park Library, Oak Park, IL
11-17-23 ~ The Ten Pound Fiddle Coffee House, East Lancing, MI
12-8-23 ~ Ethical Brew, Teaneck, NJ
12-9-23 ~ Another Chance Concerts (Philly area), PA
*More concerts are being added weekly, and concert dates well into 2024 are already posted. So, please do check out the concert calendar regularly: https://www.joejencks.com/calendar
*Please also note below, an essay below reflecting some thoughts about my recent time in Ireland, and my return home.
I look forward to seeing many of you out on the road somewhere, soon!
In Gratitude & Song,
~ Joe Jencks
(Athy, Co. Kildare, IRE)
Choosing Radical Hospitality, Regardless
Copyright, 2023 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music
I was born (unbeknownst to me until my late teens) a citizen of The Republic of Ireland. A Republic which from its inception was defined by stories of heroes and villains, patriots and traitors, laborers and radicals, alongside the ordinary and the innocent. A country whose history is complex and whose people are gracious in spite of countless generations of challenge and struggle. It was not until I was in my late 20s that I truly heard the call of this other motherland. But when I did hear her clarion call, I knew that my future was inextricably linked with my Granddad’s past, in Ireland.
I am returned via Aer Lingus from Shannon to Boston. I look up in the terminal and immediately see a sign with a “male” stick figure and an arrow denoting the direction to a men’s room. I am surprised not to read the words “An Fir.” Irish for The Man. I don’t speak Irish. I understand a few words, phrases, and idioms. And yet after 2 and ½ weeks in this other motherland, it is odd to return to the U.S. and see signs only in English.
Less than 5% of Ireland speaks Irish as their native tongue (though about 40% can speak some of the language). But this is enough to have bi-lingual signs everywhere. Roughly 20% of Canada speaks Quebecois (French Canadian) and they acknowledge that they are a bi-lingual nation. Nearly 15% of the U.S. speaks Spanish as their native tongue, with countless more speaking it as a learned language. And still, we refuse to acknowledge that we are bi-lingual. Food for thought.
When I am in Ireland, I hear the Irish language spoken and some part of me still expects to understand it. It is the language of generations of my ancestors. I understand its cadence, its musicality, its emotional content. But I don’t know the words. Even less so than was my mother, am I a child of two cultures. I am an American. What claim do I have to this extraordinary land? And yet the laws of The Republic declare me a Citizen of Ireland by birth. And I claim it with pride, with confusion, and with gratitude.
I am a dual U.S. / Irish citizen. And in some parts of the world I will be confused for being Irish first. Usually I am tagged as being Canadian. I’ll take that too, if someone is offering. I have roots in Quebec. But I am, by cultural inculcation, an American. That is a complex thing to own these days. Especially when traveling abroad. But we must each reconcile our contradictions and complexities of identity in some fashion, and this is part of mine: to be of multiple cultures and ideas, and to keep finding a way to feel at home both in my locations and in my own skin.
I love the ocean and I love mountains. I could not wait to move to Seattle after my senior year at music conservatory. Both mountains and ocean in one place. Marvelous! I met a lot of Irish ex-pats there. Then I began traveling in Ireland, and my love of the Puget Sound region made more sense to me. I go to Ireland now, and I am struck by how many parts of the island remind me either of where I grew up in northern, Illinois or they remind me of Washington State. Both places feel like home to me.
And still, I have lived much of my life on the road. I live a life seeking a deeper understanding of MANY cultures and places. Through friendships with people from other lands and cultures, by getting to know people from different cultures within the United States, and through cuisine and music and literature and spiritual practice, I seek to know more. I seek to understand my place in this world, and to understand better, how I can help others feel more welcome.
And for now, this is my détente with the complex notions of cultural identity. We are all strangers, born into a complex social system we did not choose, and over which we hold little or no sway. But we do get to choose how we act in the world. We can choose to be gracious, hospitable, welcoming, inclusive, generous, and aware. And in doing so, we are a part of transforming the idea of refugee into guest, of immigrant into neighbor, of stranger into friend.
It may seem reductionist, but sometimes I think it really is that simple. We get to choose how we are in the world, how we will be. And we help transform the experiences of others, by choosing to be our best selves, as often as we can. At home or abroad, in our homes or in public, in our own houses of worship or in another’s, we extend kindness to others, and amazingly enough, we usually receive the same in return.
In the face of people and systems who feel a need to divide and separate us from one another, I will do my best to keep choosing radical hospitality as my primary means of navigating this world. No matter what country or state I am from, no matter what passport I hold, no matter who is in front of me, I will aim for kindness and welcome as my first response, and see where it goes from there. More on Ireland, another time.
~ Joe Jencks (9-29-23)
Joe Jencks, Lucy Kaplansky, Steven Kellogg, and Tracy Grammer, and Jody Prysock at FRFF, 2023