Old Order Believers

I don’t know what happens to a culture when its performers and artists are dropped from the invitation list. Totalitarian regimes have kept a pretty tight rein on them, brought them into line, turned them into shills for what prevailed. Other kinds of regimes have turned them into decorations, sidelines, cartoons. Artists, not lawyers, are often the early casualties of an ersatz revolution.

Artists and performers are self-unemployed with a vengeance now. The slow opening and now closing again of the social commons has changed little for them. It’s always been an iffy life for the 99% of performers you’ve hardly heard of. Now, in the time of the Second Wave, that is savagely, mercilessly true.

But they are front line, essential workers for a culture trying to figure itself out, trying to  decide what it is willing to endure for the sake of its deep values, what it believes in. Artists and performers are prismatic practitioners, willing the mechanics and casualties of culture up into the light of day, unwilling to look the other way. Artists and performers: Old Order Believers. Believe: An Old English word meaning ‘a deep and enduring and uncommon kind of loving’.

Consider Mr. L. Cohen’s vow:

I can’t run no more with that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places say their prayers out loud.
They’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up a thunder cloud.
They’re going to hear from me.

That’s the business. That’s love, too.

I don’t count myself in that company – the practice is extreme – but I’ve been on the boards with the real thing a time or two, and I’ve been accorded ‘associate’ status from time to time. Nights of Grief and Mystery happened at all because there were artist performers who decided that what I was up to was worth their curiosity and their discipline, and devotion.

Not many performers I don’t guess are figuring that this is an ideal time to release a record – no, what the hell, make that two records – into a zoom and gloom marketplace of unrestrained opinionizing, relentless content and utterly free-for-the-taking music. But Hoskins and I did.  For those inconstant practitioners of involuntary solitude, for those citizens still willing to consider that consequence and responsibility remain the greater part of whatever rights we genuinely are entrusted with, for those willing to tune in to a makeout record that doesn’t leave the world behind, we’re sending two little paper boats out into the cacophonous current, the surge tide that is the close of 2020, The Year of Ordinary Danger. They’re faithfully outfitted for duty.

Drop a handful of dimes for the sake of a couple of Old Order Believers, if you can spare it.

Then drop the needle (if anybody does that kind of thing anymore) and settle in.

Let your solitude,  your sorrow, your silver lining, get its groove on.

Stephen Jenkinson

PS: Both albums are now printed and ready for release into the wild this Thursday, November 19, 2020. All pre-orders made before Thursday will receive signed copies. Digital downloads will be released on Thursday as well. Order now.