Shine A Light: Bag Of Toys

Well friends, summers coming and if you love it, I’m sure you are thinking of your summer playlists. Whatever your sounds of summer are, you should check out Bag Of Toys. These San Francisco based acoustic reggae, surf rockers have a groovy little beat. Relaxed, kicked back and a “no worries” attitude, will bring your summer into focus.

I like “Share” and “Everybody says”, but it all has that vibe and is perfect for those sunny days by the pool, by the beach or for a good drive. Check ’em out, let me know what you think. Enjoy!



Yancy Spencer

Sometimes the finality of life on this plane hits you in a way you didn’t expect. The kind of stuff that sticks to your bones. A week and a half ago, Gulf Coast surfing legend, Yancy Spencer was surfing in Malibu. Feeling chest pains, he got to the shore, called his daughter and paramedics. At only 60 years old on an idyllic California beach,  the picture of health, Yancy Spencer died.

It’s like the rug gets pulled out from under you. It takes a little while to regain your footing and understanding of what happened. Everyone, I mean everyone that surfed or spent time on the waters of the Gulf Coast knew about Yancy Spencer.

Finding his spiritual footing in Jesus as a young man, he spent his life living as a reflection of his faith. He owned Innerlight Surf Shop since the mid 70’s. I remember one location in the late 70’s in an old house on 9th av in Pensacola, that had an “upper room”, where people could go to discuss life and spirituality. I always thought that was especially cool. I have bought surf gear from Innerlight for over 30 years, just like everyone else.

I didn’t know Yancy past a kind hello in passing. I remember in later years being on the beach when the Innerlight van would pull up with a beautiful long board on top. Yancy would get out to survey the surf. It always made me feel that things were alright in the world to see him still surfing, still connected to the water and Gods creation.

Our community held a “paddle out” for Yancy last Sunday. Over 1000 surfers in the water, and another 1000 on land for a beautiful memorial. It was a reminder that life is short, but the best revenge is to live well. Yancy did that and was a ray of light for us all. Peace to you Yancy, thanks for everything.

Shine A Light: Honey Island Swamp Band

Formed in San Francisco, but comprised of a bunch of Gulf Coast boys, the Honey Island Swamp Band has a rockin’ sound birthed right where the delta meets swamps of Louisiana. Front men, Aaron Wilkinson from Pensacola and Chris Mule from New Orleans started the band after being displaced after hurricane Katrina.

Honey Island works a lot of dates, so go check them out when they come to your town.

New music is everywhere. If you are complaining about the lack of good and interesting stuff out there, then you should take a little trip to itunes. Under most of the albums is a category called “Listeners also bought”. It will turn you on to a brand new world.

Shine A Light: The Civil Wars

California born Joy Williams turned down record contracts at 14 to finish school. Maybe that’s the first sign of someone worth listening to. Someone willing to let the golden carrot go by. Eventually teaming up with Alabama raised John Paul White, the form The Civil Wars. With a huge plug from Greys Anatomy, the wonderfully beautiful song “Poison and Wine” was heard. Well you know how that goes, yup they hit the internet clickers in full force.

Minimalist production, haunting vocals; like listening in on a couples conversation in a crowded restaurant. That’s what listening to The Civil Wars music is like for me. But don’t let the simplicity of the production fool you, there is gravity in those words, depth in a way that only starkness could convey. The song

The Civil Wars tour a lot, in great venues where you can really listen. I would strongly encourage you to check them out.

Shine A Light: New Amos Lee

There was some thinking among some of my parents generation that music was meant for kids. Mine had the Buddy Holly and Elvis records, but when us kids came along, yep you guessed it, they gave the records away. Now the radio was played in our house and my grandparents played strictly Southern Gospel music, so there was music around for sure, but they weren’t buying music or overly interested in new music coming out.

I would think a lot of that changed with the Bob Dylan era. I’m thankful for that. As I get older it is sometimes a challenge to find music that speaks to me. Amos Lee is an artist that does. I think “Mission Bell” is his best work yet. Mature, thoughtful writing encased in great tracks and a voice that pulls the listener in. Amos Lee is a wonderful storyteller.

Lee was quoted as saying “There’s a real searching element to a lot of these songs”. As I continue on this journey of life, I find myself on that perpetual path of searching. Watching the world change, and my thoughts and ideas on life change all the time. Not so much back and forth, but growing hopefully on a continuum.

If you dig this type of stuff, check out Amos Lee’s 4th project, “Mission Bell”. I really think you’ll find a part of yourself in there.

A Little Old Fashioned Karma

I saw a Facebook post the other day where someone was hoping to see the “injustice” they believed committed against them to be rectified. I was thinking how much of a natural response that is. If someone does us wrong, we wish to see it balanced by something happening to that person. There was talk of revenge, sin and fairness, all of which to me, spoke more of their pain than anything else. What we really want is for them to see how much they’ve hurt us.

How do we rise above our natural ways of reaction? I guess some of it is a maturing process, but maybe even more so a process of letting go of what we never could control. A realization that our own behaviors are all that we can control. Now when someone does wrong to us, I know for me, my first thought isn’t to “let it all go”. It usually is one of anger and hurt.

I think the threads are so interwoven, so deep that we wouldn’t have the capacity of exacting true justice or balance. I know when I’ve been wronged by someone in a relationship, I can usually find signs in there. They were telling me something. That they weren’t waking up one clear day in the middle of an ideal relationship and choosing to leave it. So what was my part? Where is the justice for the other person? Very complicated and fortunately we are not in control of all of that.

I think of where all of that must leave us. How do we respond to that pain and betrayal? I know when I’ve held on to those negative feelings, they have done more harm to me than the person I was mad at. I also learned that they were living with their own guilt and regret for the hurt caused. Forgiveness comes to mind. I would think that’s all we can do is to forgive and keep moving in a positive direction.

We all pay for choices made, every single one of us. We all try to make sense and to heal from the wrongs we’ve committed and the wrongs that others have committed against us. To me that is karma coming around. I hope I am better everyday of letting go of hurt given and received. To reach out and to be reached out to. To remember about all I can control is me and that’s a really good thing.