Gregory Hoskins, also known as ‘The Band’ who has been traveling with Stephen Jenkinson this fall on his DIE WISE tour shares some words about his experiences traveling and accompanying Stephen at various events.
Beneath the Truth
Lie the bones
Of a Truth
And I’ll bet everything I own
It’s a Truth that’s bittersweet.
Tonight I will walk on to a stage with a remarkable man in a theater built in Austin, TX, in 1871. It will be the sixth tiime I’ve done so on this tour, and the first time I’ve ever strapped on a guitar in Austin. After the whistles and clapping die down, he will start talking, and I will wait.
I will make a few tentative sounds,
my fingers trying to find
the spaces between his words.
My listening will turn into the kind
that forgets the moment that has come before
and is unaware of the one coming next.
And I have a suspicion that this is the way it is
for many in the audience, too.
At some point he will make room for me to sing
and I will try to remember to sing softly
so as not to break the spell cast on the room.
It has taken me a while to understand
that long, liquid, and legato notes
are the order of the evening.
Time will dance on through the night, or, in this case,
will move properly and headlong
toward the past.
The end will come,
book signing lines will dwindle slowly,
and we will ask each other in a stolen moment
“Well…how’d we do, Boss?”
You’d have to ask Stephen himself what these night “are” to him. To me, they are art and subversive acts of the highest order. Sometimes it is the building itself that is subverted: a recital hall, a stately ballroom, a modern concert hall, a conference room in a State Capital building, a bookstore, this opera house come Masonic temple…but mostly it is the thing that passes for Culture on this continent that is subverted, and most of what stands for Counter Culture, too.
It is not the kind of art designed to distract or entertain, nor is it the kind that takes some kind of severe gymnastics of the mind and heart to trust. It is the kind found on cave walls that simply and skillfully tell the story of the day with all of its’ sorrows, horrors, and challenges along with its’ tenderness, victories, and graces. Over the course of the evenings, the pendulum swings a wide arc…sometimes unbearably so…and standing firmly at the center is Stephen Jenkinson, more with the people than separate from them, whether they want him there or not. And given our proclivity to throw heroes up the pop charts and teachers onto crosses, the resistance to simply seeing him as a man of hard won truths and a gift for singing them is sometimes shocking.
From up where I’m standing on stage…slightly up stage left in a muted pool of light…there is only one way to measure the evening:
Was every moment,
Every vein opened,
Every chest cracked
Every word spoken,
Every note struck,
Every clunker hit,
Every word sung,
Every story told
To a point, the answer is…and has to be…and IS
So here’s to the highs
And here’s to the lows
The human heart endures
And so it goes…
The bittersweet highs and lows.
October 16, 2015
Learn more about Gregory Hoskins at gregoryhoskins.com