When I learned of the passing of my cousin this week, this song became a prayer and requiem. I had already thought of the title, “A Man Walks Into a Clearing” and it seemed right for one who had lived such a life as my cousin, Clayton. I recorded an iPhone video of myself playing it for my Aunt.
Vox Universi (the sound of the Universe), is a little wood engraving carved from a block of Resingrave. It is a simple reflection on “non-profession music”, prayer, a celebration of the concertina, being slow, planting oak trees: things like that. If you want to buy one they are available here.
This song, from the days when I had time to make such recordings, I have not shared before. I always have felt that my recordings are more a like “sketches” or fragments of ideas (what would it be like if…) than any finished songs. I admit that I’m self-conscious of this material, from the engineering, to my voice, and the songwriting itself. But it has sat gathering dust. As an artifact of the story it should be laid out in the light. AMDG
If you listen, thank you for listening. If you read, thank you for reading. If you see, thank you for seeing. Go On, V
I began as dust, heavy with the sweat of God’s fingers as He formed my flesh; a heap of particles still ringing from the sound of His voice. His breathe came as a holy wind, compelling me to breath, myself.
“i am erth.”
In my senior year of high school, the man who had been my art teacher since fourth grade, gave me some advice. I was struggling with the conflicting dreams of pursuing the hope of becoming a musician or studying to become a visual artist. His counsel was simple and wise: “you can’t do both.” At that point of decision, it seemed that since I was largely a self taught musician, I could conceivably continue to be so. Instinctively I knew that there was so much that I needed to be taught and learn and so much time I needed to devote to the disciplines of drawing and painting. So, I chose art without regret. The music, however, has never left. I have outgrown (mostly) the delusions about being a famous musician. It has become an intensely personal discipline. It is a language through which I speak to my God and through which He speaks to me. It is a language I bless my children with. It is a language I use to share my heart with those that are close to me. Times have changed and technology that did not exist or was just emerging when I was young has made it possible for me to share what I have largely kept to myself, my family and my close friends. It was not an easy decision to share publicly what has been so private. But this, I have done.
The name of the album is Cry The Blood. The blood is Jesus’ and the cry is mine, though there are many quiet voices beside me. I chose to recorded under the pseudonym, i am erth. (The “a” is missing on purpose, a decision which spell check is relentless in punishing me for.) The land is a passion of mine and a place of meeting and learning as I live as a son under God’s sky. I am close to the erth, and it is never far from me.
For the curious: I wrote the songs, sang all the parts and plucked every string, blew every note, squeezed every box, recorded, mixed and stabbed out every digital pulse. It is far from perfect. I blame myself for the flaws, you can decide if there is beauty in them. You can hear my kids, and my animals, the wind and the rain, creaks and clicks and bonks, and probably a freight train. I’ll thank my friends who encourage me and hold me up in the testing. There is one among those who deserves more credit than any, but I know he prefers anonymity. If you want to thank him, eat a steak or go fly fishing in Montana.
Through the ideas and labor of many, this album will (if not already) ultimately be available for downloaded from major online music retailers. Below is a link to iTunes, where it is already available.
You may be interested in what Elizabeth Duffy has on her blog. Elizabeth is my friend, but she began as a stranger asking me questions. She has been instrumental in pushing me to make the music available and has written a very encouraging review of as well. In addition, Elizabeth has included a portion of her interview with me as a means of introduction. It has been a rare opportunity for me to express what I believe and why I do what I do. I couldn’t have voiced it without her asking and without the creative, sensitive and trustworthy nature of who she is. Thank you, Elizabeth.
In a final bit of disclosure, I began an instagram feed early last fall. While I still remain ambivalent towards much of the usage, I have come to value it as unique for sharing imagery and stories on a different platform and immediacy, it is kind of a microcosm of the posts I make here. My user name is @baumwerkj if you are interested.
I continually thank you for your support here over the years. It has been 8 years since I began this blog. Your quiet interest has given me encouragement to continue working. All glory and honor will be and ever remain His.
Jack Baumgartner, Rose Hill, Kansas Jan-19-2015
Sangcræft is old english for the art of “singing” music, including on a musical instrument. I am using it here to announce a permanent page for music at this website. You can find it labeled “music” under the work heading on the menu at the top of the page, or use this link.
My Name Is Ash guitar and voice.
“Rootrill” I hope that you will forgive me for posting an eleven minute song in the twenty first century. Mostly, I hope that you enjoy it.
Lift Earth Rise , compositional sketch on guitar
For many years the story and name of Obed Edom have struck deeply within me. His story in the bible is pretty short. As with many things I have tried to make my work a path into exploring this mystery. This print is now finished. To go along with its completion, I have included a song that I wrote a number of years ago of the same subject and with the same goal in mind. I hope that they are moderately fitting accompaniment to a powerful story and special man who I know very little about.
There is the first part of an interview about my Puppet Theater here at UK artist, Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ blog if you would like to check it out. Thanks everyone for the visits.