Johan the Angel

There are moments when convention ceases to exist entirely. I think it is in those moments that we understand something greater than ourselves and a lot more about who we really are.

Those may be two dramatic sentences to begin an entry about my experience in an epic folk band as a vibraphonist, but the whole thing means a great deal to me. I have lived nearly my whole life under the cloudy notion that I was not a music maker. Though creativity ruled, (sometimes unhealthily) every other aspect of my life, I was terrified to sit down in front of the piano without the notes in front of me. About two months ago I received an email asking me to take the place of our friend Lisa who was going on a mission, in a band called Johan the Angel.

I nearly immediately replied back that I was certainly not the person for the job. To be honest I was totally afraid to even try. My friend Carl, the bass player in the band, and one who has always displayed a complete confidence in my abilities, even when I didn't have them, convinced me to at least give it a try. I conceded timidly on the condition that it had always been a dream to play music in a band.

I won't explain the whole evolution of bandness in this moment, though I think at some point it would be worth hashing out. I will say however that this weekend I was in Rexburg, Idaho playing a show on a very small stage with nearly 200 people watching. It was perhaps one of the most fun moments of my life. And I suppose when I say fun, I am referring to that butterflies in your stomach feeling when you know you are participating in something beautiful, and you are not participating in it alone. I talked to some kids after the show and I was explaining to them how I felt and they said, 'we felt it on the other end!'. I don't write any of this to bolster myself as an excellent musician, because I still feel terribly humbled to be part of such a talented group, but I write this to perhaps say that we should always do the thing we think we cannot do.

We were on tour with another band, Canoe, who are such great people and really doing things for the right reasons. I knew that I loved all of these people before, but it was so wonderful to sleep in the same hotel room and hang out all day and support each other. One of my favorite moments of the weekend was when we played a show in Logan and a mom and a dad and their six young kids showed up and sat on the front row, the dad and the 12 years old girl knew all the words to Canoe's songs. It seemed so important.

I could go on and on about a lot of things, and perhaps at some point I will, but for now, I suppose I just wanted to say how grateful I am for the times in life when things happen that don't seem to have much reason except to be together and to learn from each other.

I don't know how to add music on here, but here is a link to the my space page:


Club Narwhal said...

this is so fabulous. you guys should tour DC so i can come watch you rock that vibe! (did you know that i played vibraphone in my middle school jazz band? it was so awesome)

hybrid said...

Birdie -
I must agree with narwhal. You must tour DC. You will have groupies, and you will get fans, and there will be snacks.
Yes, there will be snacks.

Sofia said...

Ashley, you are such a joy. Your birding and thoughts inspire me to be more like myself and play my harmonica when going on walks with Caribou, planting flowers and things like that. I think you hold the essence of life and love in your heart. I wish you well in your purposes to El Salvador, be careful.

Heather said...

Cousin! Hi! Sorry I didn't make it. I was feeling a bit under the weather. Anywho, check out my blog. A little flock of birds stopped by...

Regan Johnson said...

You and Johan are so hot together.